Poppy – Healing animals, healing hearts – part 1

“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life.” – Michael Palin

Teaching children in Africa, Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary
Poppy and some of the wonderful children

Poppy’s story – part 1

“When I think about my time in Namibia, I cannot help but feel overcome with the waves of contentment and the growing smile I feel tugging at the corners of my mouth. There are very few words, if any at all, that I can use to describe how and what Namibia was for me. It was so very perfect that such words as ‘amazing’ and ‘incredible’ seem small and entirely insignificant. They don’t fit. My memories of this wildlife sanctuary squash the dictionary’s choice of adjectives in every way possible. So if you have found yourself stumbled across this page, it means you have decided to make something a reality. It means you have taken the first step in changing something. It means you have made the first move towards your collision with this person who ultimately becomes YOU.

Volunteers at Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary
Group hug with some of the volunteers

It seems that most of the volunteers at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary are there for a reason. And what better reason to go than the promise of hearing the stories behind them? The moment you step foot on the familiar orange sand that settles across the ground of the sanctuary, you will find that there is something to discover in absolutely everything and everyone. You will hear so many stories and you will learn things that I really believe you could not learn anywhere else. And for that reason, find peace and reassurance on your journey to the Namibian sanctuary, because you are absolutely guaranteed friendship. Whether it be from your very first roommate, the bus driver with the funny jokes who takes you there, the baboon who sits curled around your neck as you trek contently to its favourite tree, the sans bushman kid who offered to share their green apple with you, the smirking cook lady who spies you stealing an extra muffin, the cat who sleeps at the end of your bed every night, the cheetah who purrs its way round your legs as you brush its back in gentle strokes, the staff members who join in every bit of fun with you, the dog that helps round up the chickens with you – anyone can offer you their heart in friendship.

Happy time with new friends at Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary

On one particularly memorable occasion, we were all sitting atop the truck roof, binoculars in hands, as we scour the African plains for any sign of Oryx, Kudu, Wildebeest, Warthog (or as we liked to call them, Pumbaas!) and sometimes even giraffe. One of the eagle-eyed volunteers spots a couple in the distance and we watch them in absolute awe as the reach their long slender necks up to the wispy African branches and yank at them to chomp on a freshly grown leaf. They are breathtaking, and I remember thinking in that instance that though I may not have known these people for very long at all, there is no one else in the whole entire world that I would rather share this moment with. It was magical.

But I know that the biggest reason I remember my wonderful experiences and memories, is because of the people in them. And it is them that I didn’t expect to happen; not ever did I expect to meet such amazing, life-changing and influential people on my visit to the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary. And not only do you learn about all these different people, where they come from and what they have done, you also learn so much about yourself and for some fantastic reason, the whole experience just forces you to think about all the things that made you get to this point. This point in your life where you are swinging baby baboons from both your arms and curling up with the other volunteers to watch all kinds of movies, which really serve as guilty pleasures.

Volunteering in cheetah conservation in Namibia
Up close and personal with a rescued cheetah

Everything about the sanctuary and the country is indescribable. When you are there – it doesn’t matter how long for; it could be a week or it could be three months – you just seem to forget about your life and forget about the silly little things that tend to bother you. You get wrapped up in this small and close-knit bubble where you cannot help but fall in love with everything. Things become like a family and it brings so much comfort and familiarity to the experience. It is magical and that is the key word. Magical.

The whole experience is so rewarding and irreplaceable. It creates this solid memory in your head that you know will never change and it is something in which you can hold on to, and you can hold on to it forever.”

This was Part 1 of  Poppy’s story  (18 years old, UK) after returning from volunteering with wildlife conservation and teaching children at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary. If you’re tempted to experience your own life-changing story, Amanzi Travel would love to help you arrange it all.



A truly life changing experience, working on wildlife and community volunteering projects in Africa over eight years ago, convinced Gemma Whitehouse to give up her job as a Marketing Manager for an international organisation and use her skills and expertise to set up a company that would offer others the same amazing opportunities with a service second to none - thus Amanzi Travel was born.

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