Program Details

This project is for those that care enough to get up and do it. Those willing to make a personal sacrifice for a belief in the ability of anyone that cares to make a difference. That hunger for not only adventure and wisdom, but the satisfaction of givi
Windhoek, Namibia
Program Type:
Study Abroad
Degree Level:
Gap Year
Year Round

Program Overview

Program Description:
The Desert Elephant Project is about making a substantial difference to the conservation of the desert elephants....conserving the desert elephants and ensuring the safety and security for the communities who live with the local herds.  It's a hands on conservation project, a not for gain organisation and the volunteers are the most crucial element in the conservation work. It's back to basic living, cooking over the camp fire, sleeping under the stars - all with one of the world's most beautiful deserts as its background. You are situated in true wilderness and it’s highly unlikely you will see any tourists during your time at the project. You get to spend time learning about the desert elephants of the region and witness them in their own habitat with highly knowledgeable project managers. The desert elephants are one of the most special groups of elephants you will ever see.  This project gives volunteers the opportunity to be exposed to the work they do in the field and a unique chance to make a personal difference and a real contribution to conservation and biosphere development in Namibia. This is about real, spearhead conservation work in a harsh desert environment where small bands of secretive, desert adapted elephants roam vast wilderness areas.  Where subsistence farmers eke out an existence and need all the help they can get in their confrontation with the elephants competing for precious water resources.

This project is for those that care enough to get up and do it. Those willing to make a personal sacrifice for a belief in the ability of anyone that cares to make a difference. That hunger for not only adventure and wisdom, but the satisfaction of giving some back to what we have taken for so many generations. You will learn to be one with nature, awake long-lost memories, do hard satisfying work, and walk away with a longing to be back under the desert stars. The first week at the project is spent building protection walls around water sources or building alternative water points for the elephants and even the areas newly released black rhinos. Volunteer teams live in mobile base camps in the vicinity of the homesteads and elephants.  Tents are provided and all cooking is done over the fire. You work in pairs, taking it in turn to be on kitchen duty, from providing the first cup of coffee to everyone in bed, to preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Evenings are spent talking and relaxing around the camp fire, listening to the sounds of Africa.  Building walls is sweaty, hard work but each volunteer does what they are capable of, and you work as a team to complete the project.   During the second week, teams pack the Land Cruisers and leave on Elephant Patrol. This is an amazing week where you join the trackers on a (mostly) vehicle based patrol where you travel through the area to track the local herds of desert elephants.  The aim of this week is to track the elephants, record data on births, deaths and new elephants, GPS their positions and take ID shots and notes about each and every elephant.  During patrol you sleep at a new place every evening, depending on where the days’ tracking has taken you.  You sleep out, under the stars and for many volunteers this is one of the most magical experiences of the project and indeed their gap year or career break! It is likely that you will see no other humans the entire week; your only company will be the area’s wildlife.

Included in the program fees are transfers between Windhoek or Walvis Bay and Swakopmund on arrival, one night's dorm accommodation on arrival in Swakopmund, transfer to the project on a Monday, meals and accommodation once at the project, transfer back to Swakopmund at the end of your project experience, one night's dorm accommodation on departure in Swakopmund, transfer back to Windhoek or Walvis Bay on departure, and a donation to project.
Setting Description:
This project takes volunteers to the northwest regions of the Namib desert. This harsh tribal wilderness area runs parallel to the Skeleton Coast National Park, and is home to a small population of desert - adapted elephants. The area is a vast, scarcely populated communal trust land. It is a transitional zone between the high rainfall area in the east, and the Skeleton coast in the west, and is therefore regarded as un-farmable on a commercial basis. It has become a natural, unfenced refuge for desert adapted animals, and the area in general is still regarded as one of the last true wilderness areas left on earth.
US$1300-00 for each 2 week period.