Large Carnivore Conservation

NAMIBIA

Namibia

2 - 12 weeks
NOW OPEN!

Flexible

6 - 12 people

Age 18+

From $1,550

Namibia

2 - 12 weeks NOW OPEN!

Flexible

Flexible

6 - 12 people

Max 12

Age 18+

From $1,550

What's the project about?

Namibia is home to 25% of the world’s wild cheetah population. The country’s unique desert regions are also home to brown and spotted hyena, and leopard – all endangered species. Our carnivore conservation project has two dedicated research sites, focused on the monitoring of large carnivores and smaller desert-adapted mammals. The project is ideal for adventurous volunteers who want to experience true desert wilderness and contribute to the studies of Namibia’s wild carnivores.

How will I be contributing?

Carnivore conservation volunteers assist research staff in the monitoring and tracking of the large carnivore and mammal populations in the area. The Desert Retreat site is dedicated to studies of wild hyena, plus land rehabilitation and studies of the local desert ecosystems. The Winelands site is home to highly adapted wildlife including cheetah and leopard. Volunteers at both sites will record wildlife information, conduct game counts, collect data and experience desert living.

What makes this project ethical?

These are two truly worthwhile carnivore research programmes. Volunteers can be sure they are supporting the conservation of Africa’s big cats in a responsible way. Volunteers contribute to long-term wildlife management programmes through the monitoring of large carnivores, and other desert-adapted species. Both research sites are dedicated to land rehabilitation and responsible land use, where possible removing game fences to allow uninhibited movement of local animals, including oryx, springbok, ostrich and the bat-eared fox.

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Project information

This is a 33,000 hectare habitat in the Namib Desert – a photographer’s paradise, with endless red dunes and spectacular night skies. The area has been transformed into a wildlife reserve, with no internal fences, and is a haven for a variety of desert-adapted wildlife – the ideal environment to perform research and observations of wild carnivores.

The project site and neighbouring farm comprise an area of 352 square km of stunning desert scenery; with a mix of red sand dunes, vast grass plains and ancient camel thorn trees. The site borders the Namib Naukluft Park and is an important link for huge scale wildlife conservation.

The main flagship carnivore species in the area are brown and spotted hyena, cheetah, leopard and a range of other desert-adapted species. It is text-book Namibia, with picture-perfect scenery and spectacular sunsets.

Activities at this research site include:

Environmental mapping
The basis of professional management of an area is an accurate map. These are used to evaluate plant and animal population data and guide future wildlife management decisions.

  • Join researchers and use a GPS to map everything including wildlife observations, habitat features and fixed points such as roads, waterpoints and fences.
  • Learn about desert-adapted flora and fauna and identify the tracks and signs of local wildlife;
  • Mapping means spending time in this fantastic environment exploring on foot and encountering different species of wildlife.

Carnivore Monitoring
GPS satellite tracking is the best way to track how wildlife utilise the reserve and how they interact, especially for species such as brown hyena and leopard.

    • Identify areas of regular carnivore activity (dens, riverbeds, tree markings etc);
    • Place cages and fit animals with GPS trackers;
    • Follow the satellite information from study animals and produce reports;
    • Gather data for the spotted hyena project: monitor the local collared hyena, enabling updates to be provided to local farmers, leading to increased tolerance from landowners.

Radio Tracking
GPS trackers give good information on day to day movements and interactions, but does not tell researchers about their breeding, prey selection or health status. Direct monitoring methods are also used.

  • Learn to track animals using telemetry
  • Track collared animals by vehicle and on foot
  • Collect meaningful information through observation of behaviour, feeding and social interactions

Game Counts
The area is home to large herds of migratory and desert-adapted oryx (gemsbok) and springbok, but also lesser known species such as klipspringer and Greater Kudu. A large number of game counts will be conducted to establish baseline populations of each species in the area.

  • Participate in regular all-species game counts to assist environmental assessment
  • Learn about the differences between desert-adapted animals and their forest and plains relations
  • Understand how wildlife use the semi-arid desert on a seasonal basis and what impact that usage has on predatory populations

Trail Cameras
Volunteers will get involved in the placement and setting of 24/7 motion-triggered trail cameras. These capture information on all animals which pass before them including birds, reptiles as well as large and small mammals.

  • Set trail cameras at key locations (e.g. water points, caves, known marking points etc)
  • Maintain cameras and go through images
  • Help assess the number of individuals, breeding successes and territories

Cheetah Feeding
The project is home to five rescued cheetah from the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary in Windhoek, who are the residents of a 7 hectare fenced area on the red dunes. Caring for these semi-habituated cheetah has become a vital aspect of the programme, as these animals were the victim of the human-wildlife conflict prior to their rescue. There is no handling of the cheetah allowed and, in accordance with Namibian law and ethical animal management practices, they are not used for breeding.

  • Prepare food and feed the cheetah
  • Maintain and clean enclosures

This project is famous for its sundowner drive. Enjoy the tranquility of the Namib Desert and the breathtaking scenery as the sun sets and paints the desert red, orange and purple. Marvel at the night skies and the nightly displays from the Milky Way. You will have the opportunity to go on night drives and camp-outs to observe the nocturnal wildlife and for an anti-poaching presence. You may also do evening and night time waterpoint monitoring.

WATCH: Desert Retreat project video.

Wildlife Sanctuary – add-on

The Namibia wildlife sanctuary was established in 2005 to protect and improve the lives of Namibia’s animals, and work towards an Africa where humans and wildlife can thrive together. The 8,000 acre sanctuary and wildlife reserve provides a safe forever home for orphaned and injured animals, with a focus on rescue, rehabilitation and long term care. Residents include leopard, cheetah, African wild dog, primates, antelopes and a variety of other large and small, wild and domestic animals.

Volunteers are critical to the daily care and feeding of animals in rehabilitation or permanent care:

  • Assist with daily food collection, preparation and feeding, focusing on herbivores, carnivores and omnivores;
  • Clean and maintain enclosures;
  • Raise baby and juvenile animals, from bottle feeding (often through the night);
  • Accompany baboons on bush walks, encouraging natural behaviours such as foraging, jumping and playing;
  • Work with a range of species including zebra, ostrich, owls, raptors and bush babies, plus a range of domestic animals and birds.

Click for more details of the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary Programme, and see the Rates and Dates tab for combination pricing details.

WATCH: Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary project video.

This project is located in northern Namibia, just south west of Etosha National Park. The reserve covers an area of 25,000 ha and has a focus on the relocation and monitoring of conflict animals.

Currently cheetah, leopard and brown hyena occur within the reserve and there are plans to relocate African Wild Dog and lions from the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary. Additionally rhino and elephant will be introduced over time.

Omaruru is a brand new nature reserve to the programme, and work has only just begun in the area. Volunteer are proving invaluable in terms of mapping the area, identifying wildlife populations and monitoring focus animals.

You will be involved with ongoing wildlife research efforts and the management of the native and reintroduced animals within the reserve.

Volunteer activities include:

  • Wildlife tracking – the research team shows volunteers how to identify tracks and marking from animals, plus how to use GPS tracking equipment.
  • Camera traps – place camera traps at strategic points to establish biodiversity. You will also organise and catalogue camera trap images.
  • Game counts and biodiversity studies of all focus species including large carnivores.
  • Additionally volunteers will assist in internal fence removal to assist in environmental rehabilitation and with maintenance and building projects.

Wildlife Sanctuary – add-on

The Namibia wildlife sanctuary was established in 2005 to protect and improve the lives of Namibia’s animals, and work towards an Africa where humans and wildlife can thrive together. The 8,000 acre sanctuary and wildlife reserve provides a safe forever home for orphaned and injured animals, with a focus on rescue, rehabilitation and long term care. Residents include leopard, cheetah, African wild dog, primates, antelopes and a variety of other large and small, wild and domestic animals.

Volunteers are critical to the daily care and feeding of animals in rehabilitation or permanent care:

  • Assist with daily food collection, preparation and feeding, focusing on herbivores, carnivores and omnivores;
  • Clean and maintain enclosures;
  • Raise baby and juvenile animals, from bottle feeding (often through the night);
  • Accompany baboons on bush walks, encouraging natural behaviours such as foraging, jumping and playing;
  • Work with a range of species including zebra, ostrich, owls, raptors and bush babies, plus a range of domestic animals and birds.

Click for more details of the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary Programme, and see the Rates and Dates tab for combination pricing details.

WATCH: Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary project video.

Immerse yourself in nature and take in some of Namibia’s most breathtaking scenery! Natural water springs, meandering canyons and a network of river beds make this unique property perfect for adventure-lovers! The area is also home to highly adapted wildlife including wild cheetah, leopard and hyena.

On Adventure Week you will explore the majestic Naukluft Mountain range and hike through a maze of ancient canyons, with a unique underground cave system, fascinating geological formations and natural fountains. 

You will live amongst Namibia’s famous red sand dunes, an hour from the iconic Sossusvlei Dunes and 3 hours south of Windhoek.

Adventure week – what you’ll be doing!

  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Team building
  • Sleep outs
  • Animal husbandry
  • Wine tasting
  • Witnessing outstanding night skies and spectacular sunsets!

Animal husbandry

The site is home to seven cheetahs, brought to the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary after being involved in human-wildlife conflict. The cheetahs were too habituated to be released, so live in a 7 hectare fenced area. You will assist in their daily feeding, giving you great photographic opportunities!

Hiking

You will hiking every day of the programme, so be prepared to walk a minimum of 5km over uneven terrain. The longest distance will be just over 10km. However, the rewards for your hard work are amazing! You will have the chance to experience breath-taking rock formations and you will also visit two of the most popular tourist attractions in Namibia: Sossusvlei and the Olive Trail.

Sossusvlei

Explore Big Daddy, the Deadvlei and Sesriem Canyon – three of Namibia’s most iconic destinations! Your day at Sossusvlei will also include lunch and a cool-down swim at one of the local lodges.

Sossusvlei is just an hours drive and is a must-see destination while you are in Namibia.

Namib-Naufkluft National Park – hike the Olive Trail

During Adventure Week you will hike the infamous Olive Trail in the Namib-Naukluft National Park, a 10km route through the mountain range. If you are lucky you may see wildlife such as klipspringer, duiker, baboons, jackals and mongeese, and you may even see tracks for leopard and hyena.

After the hike you will have lunch by the natural water springs for an afternoon of relaxing and swimming!

Wine Production

In addition to all the adventure activities, you will also get the opportunity to sample unique wines, grown in the second driest vineyard in the world. You may also get the chance to help with the harvesting, bottling and labelling of the wines before they are sent for distribution.

Wildlife Sanctuary – add-on

The Namibia wildlife sanctuary was established in 2005 to protect and improve the lives of Namibia’s animals, and work towards an Africa where humans and wildlife can thrive together. The 8,000 acre sanctuary and wildlife reserve provides a safe forever home for orphaned and injured animals, with a focus on rescue, rehabilitation and long term care. Residents include leopard, cheetah, African wild dog, primates, antelopes and a variety of other large and small, wild and domestic animals.

Volunteers are critical to the daily care and feeding of animals in rehabilitation or permanent care:

  • Assist with daily food collection, preparation and feeding, focusing on herbivores, carnivores and omnivores;
  • Clean and maintain enclosures;
  • Raise baby and juvenile animals, from bottle feeding (often through the night);
  • Accompany baboons on bush walks, encouraging natural behaviours such as foraging, jumping and playing;
  • Work with a range of species including zebra, ostrich, owls, raptors and bush babies, plus a range of domestic animals and birds.
Click for more details of the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary Programme, and see the Rates and Dates tab for combination pricing details. WATCH: Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary project video.

Desert Retreat

You will stay in a beautifully renovated farmhouse with shared rooms and bathrooms. The house has electricity, but please remember to bring your own South African socket adapters to charge your electrical appliances (large round three pin).

You will take your meals at the house or out in the bush if you are spending the day in the field, but remember to buy snacks and drinks before you leave Windhoek – staff will remind you and take you to the supermarket. Because of the remote location, some fresh produce will only be available on a seasonal basis. Vegetarians and those with dietary requirements can be accommodated with advance notice.

There is no cell phone signal in the area and the internet is for emergency use only, so it is time to get back to basics and enjoy being surrounded by nature.

There is a maximum of 6 volunteers on this project which means you are guaranteed a small group experience with lots of hands-on opportunities.

Omaruru

At Omaruru, volunteers stay in a renovated farmhouse with shared rooms and bathroom. A laundry service is available on selected days. The house can accommodate seven volunteers in two large rooms, and there are three campsites with tented accommodation for busier times. There is a maximum of 12 volunteers at any one time. There is an option to upgrade to luxury chalets (maximum of two people per chalet), depending on availability. 

There is limited cell phone reception in the area and no WiFi is available.

Volunteers receive three home cooked meals per day. A standard breakfast of cereal, fruit and toast; lunch could be sandwiches, burgers, quiche or salad and will either be served at the house, or will be a packed lunch in the field; and dinner is a hot meal of meat and vegetables, with pasta, rice, potato or salad. Vegetarians and vegans can be catered for but due to the remote nature of the project, some produce is only available seasonally. There is a small farm shop which sells drinks, alcohol and snacks which you can purchase with cash (SA Rand or N Dollars). 

Adventure Week

You will stay in a tented camp across from one of the natural springs. Tents are shared between two people (same sex sharing) with shared bathrooms. The main area has a swimming pool and braai (bbq) area. It is an intimate and homely camp in a stunning location.

Volunteers will receive three meals a day, and one night a week will be a traditional Namibian braai and a volunteer favourite – brick oven pizza night! Vegetarians and those with dietary requirements can be accommodated – please just let us know on your booking form!

Its time to get away from it all – there is no internet except for emergencies, and the area has absolutely NO cell phone coverage. There is a landline which can be used for emergency calls.

“I was also really pleasantly surprised by the food. I’m a vegetarian and brought jars of peanut butter and dozens of protein bars assuming I wouldn’t have much to eat. To my surprise, they had vegetarian meat at many dinners. I never went hungry.”

When can I volunteer?
Desert Retreat transfers are on a Saturday (so please arrive into Namibia on the Friday), and for Omaruru transfers are on a Wednesday (so please arrive on a Tuesday). Return flights should be booked for the day after your project finishes, as the transfer time back to Windhoek is between 4-7 hours. Accommodation at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary on the night before and night after is included in the project price.

2021 project pricing:
2 weeks (16 nights): $1,550         8 weeks (58 nights): $5,500
3 weeks (23 nights): $2,225        9 weeks (65 nights): $6,125
4 weeks (30 nights): $2,910        10 weeks (72 nights): $6,750
5 weeks (37 nights): $3,595        11 weeks (79 nights): $7,350
6 weeks (44 nights): $4,250        12 weeks (86 nights): $7,950
7 weeks (51 nights): $4,875

All prices are in USD.

If you would like to combine both research sites, you will need to stay for a minimum of 3 weeks and include 1 week at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary.
A short stay (minimum 9 days) is possible, but we do recommend a minimum of a two week stay to ensure you get to experience all the activities. Please enquire if you are interested in a short stay.

2021 Adventure Week pricing: $775 per week

What’s included in the cost?

  • Project contribution: this goes directly to our project partner, and provides funding to ensure the programme can continue to meet its goals. For this project it will cover things like staff costs, equipment purchases, maintenance of buildings, equipment and vehicles, veterinary fees, animal feed, fencing etc;
  • Accommodation and three meals per day;
  • Return airport transfers;
  • One night accommodation before the programme and one night after at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary (subject to availability);
  • Volunteer uniform (three t-shirts per volunteer);
  • Comprehensive orientation and supervision;
  • Practical instruction by experienced staff members;
  • Equipment and materials required to do your work.

What’s not included?

  • Flights or travel to Windhoek, Namibia;
  • Visa fees (if applicable – please see the FAQ tab for details)
  • Travel insurance (compulsory);
  • Personal expenses such as souvenirs, drinks from the bar, snacks;
  • Additional excursions.

View our booking terms and conditions. **March 2021 UPDATE: view our updated terms and conditions**

Namibia volunteer packages 

We highly recommend combining your carnivore research programme with time at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary, where you will get to experience working with a diverse range of small and large animals.

Combination project pricing 2021:

1 week Carnivore Conservation / 1 week Sanctuary: $1,305
2 weeks Carnivore Conservation / 1 week Sanctuary: $1,980
1 week Carnivore Conservation / 2 weeks Sanctuary: $1,835
2 weeks Carnivore Conservation / 2 weeks Sanctuary: $2,510 – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Longer durations are available, please enquire for pricing.

Click for more details of the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary Programme.

Requirements for entry into Namibia (updated 30th March 2021):

–       Negative PCR test (Covid-19) taken in the volunteer’s place of departure – no older than 7 days on the day and time of arrival in Namibia. PCR tests less than 72 hours old at your time of arrival will incur no further action in Namibia. If your PCR test is more than 72 hours but less than 7 days old you will proceed to the project as normal and will be required to take a further PCR test on day 5 (N$2200).
–       Itinerary and details of accommodation booked in Namibia (we will provide this).
–       Completed health form from the Namibian Ministry of Health (we will provide this for you to complete).

There are no quarantine requirements upon arrival.

If the test result on day 5 give a negative result, volunteers can then transfer from the sanctuary to their research site. However, should the test reflect positive, the tourist will be taken to the isolation facilities identified by the Ministry of Health and Social Services and treated at their own cost. The project is a registered isolation facility, so in the unlikely event of a positive result, volunteers can remain with the programme.

Arrival into Namibia:

For now, tourists may only arrive via Hosea Kutako International Airport in Windhoek. Walvis Bay airport is still not operational.

Airport transfers:

Volunteers will transfer directly by project vehicle to the sanctuary. The project have limited the number of passengers in transfer vehicles to allow for spaces between volunteers. All vehicles are equipped with hand sanitiser. Volunteers and drivers must wear masks when in vehicles, and volunteers are expected to bring an adequate supply of appropriate masks.

On arrival:

On arrival at the sanctuary, all volunteers will receive temperature screening and will need to complete the contact tracing form.

If applicable, on day five you will be retested for Covid-19 on site by the sanctuary doctor. Test results will be given on day seven, after which you will be permitted to travel onwards, or travel to one of the Carnivore Research Sites. On-site testing will incur a cost, paid locally, of N$2,200 per person.

If the results are positive, volunteers will need to stay in a government isolation facility – at your own expense. Luckily, the sanctuary is a government registered isolation facility, so any isolation period can be done on site. Should you need medical care, the sanctuary is close to some of the best medical facilities in the country.

Communication

All volunteers must get a Namibian telephone number for contact tracing purposes. SIM cards and top up credit can be purchased at the sanctuary on arrival.

Activities

While you are at the sanctuary, you can participate in all the normal activities. On receipt of your negative test result, you will then transfer to the research site and continue with your programme as normal.

Health and safety procedures – please ask for clarification or more details on any of the points below, we are very happy to help!

  • Hand sanitiser will be available at all times in any location where volunteers will be present.
  • All vehicles will have a supply of spare masks, however we do expect people to have and use their own masks.
  • Restriction to the number of passengers in our vehicles to allow for spaces between guests (all vehicles have hand sanitiser).
  • No more than 4 people to sit together at meal times.
  • Plates of food will be dished up by kitchen staff for volunteers, instead of self-service.
  • There will no longer be daily housekeeping.  For the first seven days only the volunteer is permitted in their own tent. after the 7th day with a negative test result, housekeeping will clean the tents.
  • All staff have received training on the new procedures and strict hygiene rules are in place which are monitored by management. This particularly applies to the kitchen and housekeeping staff due to an increase in sanitising requirements.

“Returning the wild to the wild”

The mission of these two desert-based carnivore conservation research programmes is to conserve the land, culture and wildlife of Namibia, and support keynote species affected by ever-shrinking habitats. The human-wildlife conflict is one of the biggest threats to Namibia’s wildlife, and the project aims to mitigate the conflict through research projects and education of rural landowners.

The overriding principle of all the research activity is to develop a greater understanding of the wildlife that come into conflict with humans, focusing in particular on leopard, cheetah and hyena.

The vision of the organisation is to use responsible conservation tourism to support their wildlife projects.

The carnivore conservation sites are release areas for captured and collared big cats. The carnivores are relocated to mitigate conflict situations with farmers, and translocated to new areas where they can thrive in peace. The project are also dedicated to responsible land use, allowing animals to move freely within private areas and removing game fences to allow uninhibited movement of animals including oryx, springbok, ostrich, bat-eared foxes and other desert-adapted animals.

The research conducted at these two sites is used for long term human-wildlife conflict mitigation – to find a balance between the needs of the human inhabitants and its spectacular wildlife.

Namibia is home to the largest density of free roaming cheetah in the world, and has 25% of the global cheetah population. It is also one of the few African countries which has free-ranging populations of 6 species of large carnivore (lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, spotted and brown hyena). Their habitat is increasingly threatened as human populations grow and expand. Settlements, farming and roads are destroying the open grasslands that cheetah favour, and loss of their natural prey brings them into conflict with farmers, as they then attack livestock instead.

Carnivore research and the fitting of GPS collars allows for mitigation between farmers and the animals they view as pests.

The two carnivore conservation project sites are both used to release problem animals. Research teams study the territories, behaviour and populations of these animals. Volunteers chart the progress of released cheetah and leopard in a spectacular environment and live in one of Namibia’s most stunning and diverse wilderness areas. This project is ideal for adventurous volunteers who want to experience the heart of one of Southern Africa’s most unique locations.

There are currently two core research projects:

Human-Carnivore Conflict Research

Namibia is one of the few African countries which is home to six species of free-roaming large carnivore – lion, leopard, cheetah, African wild dog, spotted and brown hyena. The aim of the research is to keep wildlife safely in the wild, through conflict mitigation strategies with some of the 3,500 commercial farmers and landowners.

Through a better understanding of Namibia’s carnivores, tolerance levels can be increased and persecution levels reduced.

Spotted Hyena Research Project

This research programme is focused on the spotted hyena of the Namib Desert. The aims of the study are to identify population dynamics, prey preferences and spatial ecology. These findings are used to create and refine conflict mitigation plans for local farmers who report problems with the hyena.

The research also contributes to population density and distribution maps of hyena in the area, aiming to reduce conflict by identifying potential high conflict situations and providing information and resources to reduce or eliminate the problem.

For the latest travel updates, please visit our Namibia destination page.

Who should volunteer on this project?

This programme is a wonderful experience for volunteers of all ages, where you can experience Africa is a safe environment, work hard and see the impact that your contribution is having. Volunteers come from all backgrounds and nationalities, with varied animal and wildlife experience – bring an open mind and a willingness to participate in all activities, in a variety of weather conditions!

You should be able to communicate reasonably well in spoken English.

What level of fitness is required?

Winelands – volunteers should be able and prepared to walk between 5-10km a day on a fairly regular basis, over different terrain.
Desert – a good level of fitness will make your time more comfortable, but there is less hiking on this project.

Volunteers should be prepared to work in a variety of weather conditions, including cold winters, short rain showers and hot summers. Please check the prevailing weather conditions before you travel.

How old do I need to be?

The minimum volunteering age for solo travellers is 17 years and six months – you must turn 18 within 6 months of your volunteer date. There is no upper age limit, subject to the fitness levels above, but for volunteers aged over 65, we do require your medical form to be signed by a doctor.

How many people will there be?

There is a maximum of 12 volunteers at a time at each site.

When can I join?

Transfers to both research bases are early on a Saturday morning, returning late on Saturday afternoons. Volunteers should plan on arriving into Windhoek ideally on a Thursday, but a Friday is also acceptable, and return flights should be booked for the Sunday, as the project cannot guarantee what time they will be back to Windhoek on the returning Saturday. Prices in the Rates section assume an arrival on the Friday, and departure on a Sunday. Longer stays at the Sanctuary before and after are welcome!

When is the best time to come?

Namibia experiences on average around 300 days of sunshine a year, with hot summers and mild winters (with cold nighttime temperatures).
The dry season runs from May – September, where daytime temperatures are a pleasant 18-25 degrees. Night time temperatures plummet, sometimes falling to below freezing. Pack warm clothes, lots of layers and a sleeping bag!
The summer season from October – April consists of hot days, ranging from 25 to over 40 degrees, and cooler nights. From November to March, Namibia has its ‘rainy’ season, being blessed with sporadic rainfall and spectacular thunderstorms.

Do I get some time off?

At the Winelands site there is the option to take a day trip to Sossusvlei which is highly recommended. The remote location of the Desert Retreat site means opportunities to get off the reserve are limited, but there is so much to do and explore that you will never be bored!

We highly recommend taking a guided or self-drive tour to some of Namibia’s best landmarks, either before or after your volunteer programme. Car hire and tours are very affordable and there is lots to see – from the unique salt pans of Etosha National Park, the magnificent sand dunes at Sossusvlei, or Namibia’s adventure town of Swakopmund. See the Namibia Tours section of our website.

How long can I volunteer for?

The minimum project length is two weeks, and the maximum stay is three months.

How much spending money should I bring?

We recommend allowing $100 per week in USD to cover personal expenses such as drinks, souvenirs, snacks, tips and internet usage. There are ATM machines at the airport and we suggest you withdraw cash there for your time at the sanctuary. The currency of Namibia is the Namibian Dollar (N$), but the South African Rand (ZAR) is also accepted on a 1 to 1 basis.

Do I need a visa?

Volunteers should apply for a three month tourist visa, which normally takes around three days to process at the Namibian Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence. Currently, volunteers holding one of the following nationalities do not require a tourist visa (for visits of less than 90 days): South African, British, Australian, German, American, Canadian, Japanese.

To find out whether or not you will need a tourist visa you can visit VisaHQ and select your country of origin.  For those travellers who will need to apply for a tourist visa please note you will need to submit the following paperwork in order to process the visa:

  • Your itinerary
  • Bank statement
  • Letter of employment
  • Letter of invitation (we can supply this)
  • Copy of a yellow fever vaccination certificate (if required).

Remember that you may not work if you are in Namibia with a tourist visa. It is your responsibility to check your visa eligibility prior to arrival.

What animals will I encounter?

The sanctuary is home to large carnivores, including lions, leopards, cheetah, wild dogs, caracals; primates including vervet monkeys and baboons; a host of birds including peacocks, vultures, owls and eagles; antelopes (oryx, duiker, springbok and kudu); small mammals such as meerkats, polecats, genets and warthogs, and lots of farmyard and domestic animals. The reserve in which the sanctuary is based is also home to free-roaming game including giraffe, zebra, kudu, hartebeest and jackal.

What vaccinations do I need?

Please consult your GP or travel clinic for detailed medical advice. All volunteers should make sure their Tetanus, Polio and Hepatitis A and B are up to date. A rabies vaccination is recommended. You must bring your vaccination certificate with you!
Malaria – the sanctuary and carnivore research project sites are regarded as a low-risk malaria areas, but please consult your GP for guidance.
Please visit this UK government website for more details.

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