During your time on the project, you will take part in most (if not all) of the activities listed below. These activities will take place on a rotational basis, with other activities not listed here potentially taking place too.
As baboons are thought of as pests in Africa, many of them sadly end up being shot and so the sanctuary takes in a large number of orphaned baby baboons who would simply not be able to survive on their own in the wild. As a volunteer, you’ll help to care for these very social animals and accompany them on enrichment walks through the bush, where you’ll certainly be used as an extra climbing frame!
Cheetah Run & Observation
Take the chance to watch the world’s fastest land mammal in action! Whilst spending time with the resident cheetahs, you’ll observe and assess their physical health by taking part in this enrichment exercise activity. A pulley-system lure is put in place for the cheetahs to chase, mimicking hunting in the wild, as well as exercising the cheetahs both physically and mentally. Make sure to grab your camera and don’t forget to use a fast shutter speed!
Join the sanctuary’s resident carnivores for their mealtime as you help to prepare and throw food to the lions, leopards, cheetahs, and wild dogs! Enjoy a front-row seat as you watch the carnivores enjoy their meals whilst the project facilitators share their impressive knowledge with you. This is an opportunity to witness the animals at their most wild and is an experience you won't forget in a hurry!
Food Preparation & Animal Feeding
Grab your chef’s hat! Whether it’s arranging a vegetable platter for the herbivores or preparing snacks for the meat-eaters, you’ll help to create nutritional dishes for all the animals at the sanctuary. Fruit, vegetables, meat, food leftovers from volunteers, mielie pap and milk formula for the little ones will all be on the menu, so prepare to get your hands dirty! Alongside playing chef, you’ll also become a waiter as you distribute the food and bottle feed the baby animals along the way!
Help the sanctuary staff make fun and creative enrichment to keep the animals stimulated. Enrichment is extremely important as it enhances the quality of life of captive animals, allowing them to explore their curiosities as they would in the wild. Previous enrichment has included introducing new scents, puzzle-type toys and even papier-mâché animals for the carnivores to rip open! Creativity is encouraged so don’t be afraid to put your ideas forward!
As a volunteer, you’ll help care for the project’s resident horses by feeding, cleaning and exercising them to keep them fit and healthy! You will learn how to canter and gallop as you head out across Namibia’s scenic landscape, keeping an eye out for local wildlife (such as zebras, ostriches, and giraffes) as you go. Please note, if you volunteer between the months of July and September, this activity may not be a part of your itinerary as the horses require their annual vaccinations during this time.
A necessary part of the project is the continued cleaning, building and maintenance work. All these tasks allow the sanctuary to create the most natural, comfortable, and safe surroundings for the animals living here. Tasks such as the construction of new enclosures or remodelling existing ones, building animal playgrounds, and fixing roads and fences could be on the agenda, as well as enclosure cleaning to ensure all the animals, whether they are long-term or short-term residents, have the best lives possible.
Clever Cubs School
On-site at the sanctuary, you will find the Clever Cubs School. This is here to help educate the children of the local bushman, as well as some of the children whose parents work at the sanctuary. Volunteers can opt to spend an afternoon with the children where 1-hour will be dedicated to a fun, educational activity, followed by a sports activity to really get everyone’s endorphins going! This opportunity will allow you to immerse yourself in the region’s culture whilst giving back to the local community.
Reserve Research & Animal Tracking
Join the team in retrieving camera trap images from the neighbouring reserve, sorting and analysing the data in order to better understand the animals in the area. Using GPS tracking, you'll go in search of a whole host of wildlife that have previously been released onto the reserve. You’ll also take part in spoor tracking led by a highly skilled San tracker, learning how to tell the carnivore density, activity and favourite habitats from their footprints alone!
High-Profile Species Monitoring
Whilst working on the neighbouring reserve, you'll also help to monitor the free-roaming, high-profile species such as elephants, rhinos, wild dogs and even lions. As these are endangered and vulnerable species, it is vital to collect and monitor data that shows how these animals are adapting to life on the reserve, and by doing so, you’ll gain an insight into true conservation management out in the field.
Have what it takes to become part of the Anti-Poaching Unit? Head out into the field in search of the resident rhinos, helping to track and monitor them as you go. You’ll learn what it takes to protect endangered rhinos from the very real threat of poaching and illegal snare traps, whilst spending a wild night in the African bush. During this activity, you’ll have the opportunity to get to know and learn from skilled rangers, as you acquire knowledge of navigation and tracking techniques that all play a vital part in the protection of rhinos worldwide.
Shiloh Wildlife Sanctuary
The Shiloh Wildlife Sanctuary is home to rhinos and elephants that have been affected by poaching incidents, whether they have been orphaned or injured themselves. Here, they are expertly cared for, and as a volunteer, you may have the extraordinary opportunity to nurture and care for baby rhinos that have had a traumatic start to life. Please note, this activity is not guaranteed and depends on whether there are vulnerable rhinos in need at the time of your stay.
Free Time & Extras
Weekday evenings, as well as Saturday and Sunday afternoons, are free for volunteers to relax. During the evenings you can relax with your new friends or head in for an early night. On the weekends, you can enjoy time by the pool, or for a small fee, sign yourself up for a trip into Windhoek or for lunch at the luxury lodge. On Saturday nights there is also a traditional braai (BBQ) where you’ll be able to socialise with the staff and your fellow volunteers.
TimBila Nature Reserve
For an additional $182, you can swap one of your weeks at the sanctuary for a week at the TimBila Nature Reserve. Dubbed “the place of second chances”, this 30,000-hectare reserve is home to lions and wild dogs that have been rescued from conflict areas and given a new lease on life. Here, you’ll spend your time monitoring the relocated conflict carnivores, as well as aiding the research efforts to allow for the future introduction of elephants and rhinos to the area. Tracking the carnivores using GPS and spoor methods, collecting and analysing camera trap data, carnivore research and even participating in the release of wildlife could be on the cards during your stay!
Kanaan Conservation and Research Site
Also available for an additional $182 is the option to swap a week to visit another research site, this time in the stunning Namibian desert! This research site is surrounded by sand dunes and as unforgiving as the desert may seem, numerous wildlife species (including cheetahs) can thrive here. You will help to record statistical data on the species found here, ultimately aiding the long-term management of the area by taking part in activities such as mapping, radio telemetry and game counts. Kanaan is one of the most picturesque areas in all of Namibia and is also a vital location for the conservation of big cats. Where possible, you may even be able to take part in cheetah feeds, making this one unmissable wildlife experience.
You can volunteer at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary in Africa for 2 to 12 weeks. Whilst on the project, you will be divided into smaller teams to ensure variety and equal opportunity when carrying out tasks and joining activities. Below is an example of a two-week stay, which will repeat for those who stay longer.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
Upon arrival into Windhoek Airport, you will be met by a project representative and transferred to the sanctuary (a drive of approximately 45 minutes). Once at the sanctuary, you will settle into your accommodation and spend the rest of the day getting to know the other volunteers and project staff, as well as having some time to relax before your first day's work!
Day 2 - 14 - Project Days:
Your working week runs from Monday to Friday, with each day beginning with breakfast at 7am before a morning meeting at 8am where you will learn about your activities for the day ahead. After, you will begin your morning activity which typically runs until 1pm when lunch is served. Your afternoon activity will take place from 2-5pm, after which, you will have some time to shower and relax before enjoying dinner. Evenings and weekends can be spent at your leisure, and there is the option to go into Windhoek on a weekend or just relax and play games with your fellow volunteers.
Day 15 - Final Day:
Today will be your final day at the sanctuary. After fond farewells, you will be transferred back to Windhoek Airport in a private vehicle in time for your return flight, or to commence your independent travel plans. If you are staying in Namibia after your time at the sanctuary, it is also possible to be transferred to another accommodation in Windhoek.
Dates, Availability & Price
Important Information: This project is extremely popular, with dates getting fully booked up to 6 months in advance. We therefore recommend that you secure your place as early as possible to ensure you can join on your preferred start date.
To secure a place on this project, a deposit of $245 is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.
Select a duration below to see the available start dates. All dates shown are currently available for you to join this project!
Updates & Outcomes
This project directs all its efforts towards the long-term rehabilitation of animals within the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary. Sadly, not all of the animals housed here are able to be released back into the wild, as many are orphaned and have been hand-raised, meaning that they have become too used to captivity and would simply not survive in the wild.
Volunteers are key to the success of the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary, and their participation ensures the rescue, survival, and rehabilitation of the animals which have found a safe home here. Since 2008, the sanctuary has also rescued and safely re-released over 80 cheetahs, leopards and brown hyenas. These re-located carnivores are then monitored via tracking collars and GPS in order to assess their welfare within the new regions in which they have been released.
- posted on 25/10/2021
- by Eszter Toth
Volunteer Eszter joined the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary team back in May this year and decided to share with us some of her favourite moments, as well as a few helpful tips for future volunteers, read all in today's blog!
Find out what volunteer Doug had to say about his time at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary: from aiding conservation to making friends for life, it's easy to see why this project was such a fantastic experience for him!
- posted on 16/01/2019
- by Ellie Hutchin
The Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary has been working closely with an organisation to develop technology that enables wild cheetahs and leopards to be tracked simply by using pictures of their footprints. This is revolutionary in the sanctuary's efforts to mitigate human-carnivore conflict. Read on to find out more!
Is this trip for you?
During your time on the project, you will stay in a fixed canvas cabin/tent. Each of these has plug sockets, electric lighting, and an adjoining open-roofed private bathroom with a western-style toilet and shower. Hot water is available for showers, however, as it is provided by solar energy, please be aware that it cannot always be guaranteed.
The accommodation is provided on a twin-share, same-sex basis (except for couples who will be accommodated together), but it is also possible to pay a single supplement to have your own room (depending on availability).
If you’d like to spend a night, a weekend or more of your volunteer experience in luxury, you can book a chalet at the beautiful on-site lodge. Each chalet boasts a private veranda overlooking the bushveld, air-conditioning and an en-suite bathroom. The lodge itself has a tranquil dining area with stunning views, a bar, and a swimming pool.
A night at the luxury lodge is charged at an additional $182 per night for a single room and $140 per night per person for a double room, and includes transfers, dinner and breakfast. For more information or to check availability, please contact our travel team.
Three meals a day are provided for you at the sanctuary, with water, tea and coffee freely available. Breakfast includes toast, cereal, fruit and juices, whilst lunch typically consists of pasta, burgers, stir-fry and wraps. Dinner includes meat, fish, vegetables, potatoes and pasta served in a buffet style, and on weekends there is often a braai (a traditional African barbeque)! A vegetarian option is always available, and vegans can be catered for too. Additionally, a range of snacks and drinks (including alcoholic beverages) can be purchased at the sanctuary.
You will take part in a range of activities on this project including construction and maintenance tasks, therefore, a moderate level of fitness is recommended. No specific skills are required; all we ask is that you arrive with a willingness to get involved with all activities and that you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty! Respect for wildlife and the ability to work as part of a team are also important qualities for any volunteer.
There are no specific vaccination or medical requirements needed to join this project. The vaccinations required will depend on the individual medical history of each volunteer. We recommend that you consult with your doctor/GP regarding your own vaccination needs as this will ensure you are protected and prepared to travel. In conjunction with this, we also recommend that you take a look at the Fit for Travel website for more helpful information on how best to prepare for your experience.
When is the best time to volunteer?
As this project is based at a wildlife sanctuary, there are animals here year-round, meaning there is no favourable time to volunteer regarding wildlife. Weather, however, can impact some people’s decision, and there are two distinct seasons which are explained in more detail below.
October – April: The day time temperature during these months is between 28-32°C (82-90°F) and it remains warm at night with temperatures of around 15°C (59°F). November to March is also the rainy season with some rain expected every few days, but not too much.
May – September: This is the driest period of the year with nearly no rain at all. It is also cooler during the day, however, temperatures still reach 25°C (77°F). The biggest difference during this season is the night time temperature which is much colder and averages 7°C (45°F) but can drop below freezing. Therefore, if you travel during these months you will need some warmer clothes for the evening.
You will need to fly into Windhoek International Airport (also known as Hosea Kutako International Airport) on your project start date between 7am - 5pm, where you will be met on arrival and transferred to the project. This transfer will take approximately 45 minutes.
There are several daily flights here from the South African hub cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town, as well as daily flights from a range of international destinations.
Citizens of most countries, including the UK, Germany, USA, Canada, Australia and most of those within the EU, do not need to obtain a visa to enter Namibia and are granted entry for up to 90 days upon arrival. You will, however, need at least 2 blank pages in your passport for the immigration officials to use and your passport must be valid for a period of at least 6 months from your date of entry.
If you are unsure of your individual visa requirements, we recommend speaking to your local Namibian embassy at least 2 months prior to travel.
What's included in the price of the project?
- Three meals per day
- Water, fruit juice, tea and coffee
- Transfers to and from Windhoek International Airport or Windhoek City
- Full orientation and support from the project managers for the duration of your project
- A contribution to the project itself, including funding for items such as building materials, food, and animal medications
What's not included?
- Soft and alcoholic beverages
- Volunteer uniform (t-shirt & trousers/shorts) - approx. $42