Turn your holiday into an adventure! Get your hands dirty and get involved with a huge range of activities, working with a number of small and large African animals.
This project gets deep into the heart of volunteers, with many returning time and time again, or even becoming staff and never really leaving.
As a wildlife sanctuary volunteer, you are critical to the work the sanctuary is doing, enabling the long term care of the animals and their rehabilitation or release.
This is so much more than just a wildlife sanctuary project. You will have the chance to go into the main 8,000 acre reserve, home to wild lions, elephants, African wild dogs and rhinos and take part in monitoring activities of these high profile endangered animals.
Sanctuary volunteers are involved with a diverse variety of tasks, including:
Volunteers are critical to the daily care and feeding of animals in rehabilitation or permanent care:
- Assist with daily food collection, preparation and small animal feeding
- Carnivore feeding
- Cleaning and maintaining enclosures and pens.
- Providing intensive care for baby and juvenile animals
- Work with a range of species including zebra, ostrich, owls, raptors and bush babies, plus a range of domestic animals and birds
An important wildlife sanctuary volunteer role is to enrich the lives of animals unable to be released, and ensure they are able to enjoy as natural a life as possible.
- Build toys, platforms, playgrounds and other enrichment facilities
- Engage and interact with juvenile monkeys and baboons
- Work with animals who cannot be released due to mental or physical issues
- Cheetah run observation and learning about cheetah physiology
Focused research activities around the 8,000 acre reserve:
- Monitoring free-roaming carnivores including cheetahs, leopard and African wild dog
- Spoor tracking of reserve animals – join skilled trackers in rhino tracking and the monitoring of African wild dogs, lion and elephants
- Undertake game counts of free roaming plains game on foot and on horseback.
- Analysing camera traps and GPS data
- Attending conflict calls with the wildlife rescue team
Horse riding (optional):
Border patrols, fence monitoring, game counts and animal monitoring are often done on horseback, so there is plenty of opportunity to get into the saddle and explore the beautiful Namibian bush.
Community outreach (optional):
As a wildlife sanctuary volunteer, you can choose to get involved at the sanctuary’s local San Bushmen primary school, where culture and conservation come together. The school students are the children of the families who live and work at on the reserve. After Grade 3 (age 9), the children are sponsored to attend mainstream primary school in Windhoek.
- Help the teachers with new activities such as crafts, music and dance
- Help in the playground and with sports and games
- Help with maintenance and cleaning around the school
- Go with the children as they attend the San skills academy, to learn stories and ancient Bushmen skills
If you have a passion for education and children and would like to participate in the school programme for some or all of your stay, please let us know. There is a 2 week minimum participation at the school.
Large Carnivore Conservation and Research Programme – add-on
The Foundation has two carnivore research sites in the beautiful Namibian desert which focus on carnivore monitoring, particularly of cheetah and hyena. Volunteers have a unique opportunity to visit one or both of these sites during your time in Namibia. At both projects you will monitor the large carnivores in the area, helping to mitigate the human-wildlife conflict.
You will get field experience and be involved in all aspects of the permanent research programme, including:
- Capture mark release
- Radio telemetry tracking
- Game counts
- Camera trapping
- Mapping the terrain and environment (lots of hiking in vast landscapes!)
- Cheetah feeding
- Night drives and camp-outs
Click for more details of our Carnivore Conservation Programme, and see the Rates and Dates tab for combination pricing details.
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!
- Team building
- Sleep outs
- Animal husbandry
- Wine tasting
- Witnessing outstanding night skies and spectacular sunsets!
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!
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.
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!
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.
Carnivore Conservation – add-on
We highly recommend combining your wildlife sanctuary volunteer programme with time at one or two of the project’s Large Carnivore Research Sites, where you will get to experience life in Namibia’s vast desert regions. Participate in conservation work to secure the future of Namibia’s wild large carnivores. Help with the monitoring and tracking of released cheetah and leopard and collared hyena and explore the world’s oldest desert.
Click for more details of the Large Carnivore Conservation Programme.
WATCH: Carnivore Conservation Project video.
There are three accommodation options at the wildlife sanctuary. Volunteer rooms take three-four people sharing (same sex); large tents with a living and bedroom area can be shared by up to two people (same sex or couples); or bush tents which sleep two-three people (same sex or a couple). The rooms are basic but the (single) beds are comfortable with bedding provided.
Showers and toilet facilities are communal and hot water is supplied by solar power, so is sometimes restricted to certain times of day. There is electricity at the sanctuary but power cuts do occur and can be prolonged during rainy season. There are power sockets for charging items in the communal areas – plug sockets are type M so you will need to bring an adaptor. There is a laundry service provided, but we suggest you also bring a small packet of detergent to wash underwear.
Three meals a day are provided on a self-service basis. Vegetarian options are available and dietary requirements can be accommodated – please let us know before you arrive! Water, tea and coffee is freely available throughout the day and snacks, alcoholic and fizzy drinks can be purchased from the bar.
There is no WiFi available at the sanctuary, however you can purchase a local MTC SIM card and buy data bundles for Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and emails, to enable you to keep up to date with the outside world. Don’t forget to unlock your phone before you leave home.
“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.”
Rates & Dates
When can I volunteer?
Arrivals at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary are year round, with Monday and Thursday arrivals preferred.
2023 project pricing:
2 weeks: $1,195
3 weeks: $1,770
4 weeks: $2,345
5 weeks: $2,920
6 weeks: $3,420
7 weeks: $3,920
8 weeks: $4,370
9 weeks: $4,820
10 weeks: $5,270
11 weeks: $5,695
12 weeks: $5,995
All prices are in USD.
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, funding for community projects etc
- Accommodation and three meals per day
- Return airport transfers
- Laundry and housekeeping
- 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)
- Travel insurance (compulsory)
- Mandatory uniform for daily activities (see FAQ tab for details)
- Personal expenses such as souvenirs, drinks from the bar, snacks
- Pre and / or post programme accommodation (if required)
- Additional excursions
- Local SIM card and data / airtime bundles (optional)
- Administration fee ($40)
View our booking terms and conditions. **March 2021 UPDATE: view our updated terms and conditions**
Carnivore Conservation – add-on
We highly recommend combining your wildlife sanctuary volunteer programme with time at one or two of the project’s Large Carnivore Research Sites, where you will get to experience life in Namibia’s vast desert regions. Participate in conservation work to secure the future of Namibia’s wild large carnivores. Help with the monitoring and tracking of released cheetah and leopard and collared hyena, and explore the world’s oldest desert.
Combination project pricing 2023:
1 week Sanctuary / 1 week Carnivore Conservation: $1,345
2 weeks Sanctuary / 1 week Carnivore Conservation: $1,915
1 week Sanctuary / 2 weeks Carnivore Conservation: $2,005
2 weeks Sanctuary / 2 weeks Carnivore Conservation: $2,575 – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Longer durations are available, please enquire for pricing.
Click for more details of the Large Carnivore Conservation Programme.
Adventure Week – add-on
Explore the majestic Naukluft Mountain range and hike through a maze of ancient canyons, live amongst Namibia’s famous red sand dunes and explore the iconic Sossusvlei Dunes.
Adventure Week: $750
Click for more details of the Adventure Week.
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 – from none to experienced vets. What all volunteers have in common is a love of wildlife and a passion for helping Africa’s threatened animals.
You should be able to communicate reasonably well in spoken English.
How old do I need to be?
The minimum volunteering age for solo travellers is 18 years. There is no upper age limit, but for volunteers aged over 65, we do require your medical form to be signed by a doctor.
How many people will there be?
Depending on the season, volunteer numbers can range from 15 to 50. June, July and August are the busiest months.
When can I join?
Start dates can be flexible depending on availability. We recommend arriving on a Monday or Thursday, as orientations are on Tuesdays and Fridays. The project is open year-round.
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.
Wildlife Sanctuary uniform policy
All volunteers must wear a project uniform which can be purchased on arrival. This is to ensure that everyone adheres to the dress code and wears clothing that protects them in the bush. The uniform should be worn while participating in activities – your own clothes can be worn in the evenings and during your leisure time.
The uniform costs are not included in the rates and volunteers should bring adequate funds (cash or card) to purchase their uniforms on arrival. Uniforms are charged at cost price as follows:
Jacket (optional) – 1 recommended: NAD 570 (around USD 35)
Trousers – 2 recommended: NAD 1,040 (for both) (around USD 65)
T-shirt – 2 recommended: NAD 230 (for both) (around USD 15)
Do I get some time off?
The volunteer schedule is on a rotational basis, to ensure every volunteer gets to experience as many of the activities as possible. Volunteers work from Monday to Friday from around 8am to 5pm, with a short break in the morning and a longer break over lunch. On Saturdays, there is a morning activity and a non-work related afternoon activity. On Sundays, a small team will participate in morning food prep, and a different team in the afternoon, so you will always have half day off. Town trips to Windhoek (a one hour drive) are possible to join on Sundays.
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.
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?
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 and the neighbouring reserve, which is used for research activities, is also home to free-roaming big game including lions, elephants, rhinos and African wild dogs, plus 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.
“Returning the wild to the wild”
The project’s mission is to conserve the land, culture and wildlife of Namibia, support species affected by ever-shrinking habitats and protect those threatened by the human-wildlife conflict. The sanctuary provides a safe haven for orphaned, injured and conflict animals and the project also works towards human-wildlife conflict mitigation through conservation and research projects throughout Namibia.
The vision of the organisation is to use responsible conservation tourism to support their community and wildlife projects.
The wildlife sanctuary always aims to release rescued animals back into the wild, where it is safe and sustainable to do so. Their mantra of ‘returning the wildlife to the wild’ is the backbone of their carnivore conservation project – Namibia already being home to large populations of wild cheetah and leopard. Orphaned, abandoned and injured animals are raised with compassion and dedication and their natural needs are always considered.
Wildlife sanctuary volunteers support the project’s goal of providing environments where natural behaviours are nurtured.
The founding organisation was set up in 2003 to support the health and well-being of the ancient yet marginalised San Bushmen of Namibia, through the opening of a clinic in an impoverished rural San community. This unified approach to conservation continues through job creation opportunities for the San people in tourist facilities, and educational support through the project’s community schools programme.
In 2005 the sanctuary was founded on the outskirts of Windhoek, with a lodge also built on the property. The main aim was to combine wildlife conservation with job creation – providing jobs for the San bushmen and and a home for conflict animals. The sanctuary is home to meerkats, mongooses, and dassies, through to large carnivores including leopard, lion, cheetah and wild dog – with a range of furry, hooved and feathered creatures in between.