Being a volunteer at the Desert Elephant Project, is a rare opportunity to become part of a truly worthy conservation cause. This project takes volunteers to the scenic, tribal area wilderness of the Namib Desert, Damaraland, home to endangered desert elephants.
“I also haven’t laughed this much in a long time” - Lizzie Peck, Feb 201
“Before this trip I had never been outside Europe” – Cameron, Feb 2013
“I discovered a side of myself that can handle hard work and enjoys it. It feels like I can push myself to do whatever I want to do” – Cameron, Feb 2013
“Everyone here has come for the same reason and has the same passion for their work, which creates a great team to be with.” Sven, March 2013
Working alongside local conservation teams, volunteers undertake pioneering initiatives to facilitate a peaceful human/ elephant coexistence, while observing these special animals in their natural environment.
“It’s hard to explain the experiences that you have, the friends you make and the lessons you learn, the feeling of a great accomplishment, to travel alone, yet be at one with your surroundings and to be around like minded people is truly a special feeling.” Lizzie Peck
Volunteer Week One
The first week is Building Week, working alongside the local farmers, most likely building protective walls around the water points and teaching them the skills needed to manage the conflict with the resident elephant population.
“Build week is hard work, especially in the hot afternoon sun, but knowing you are making a difference in the elephants and the peoples lives, and helping the locals build a relationship with the elephants so they can both be safe, you are making a difference, and that’s something to be proud of.” Lizzie Peck
Volunteer Week Two
The second week is Patrol Week. This is an awe-inspiring opportunity to meet and track the elephants with the local Project trackers. The 4×4 vehicles are loaded with basic camping gear and the group sets off in search of the majestic desert elephants – and a chance to get closer to nature in these stunning surroundings than ever before.
“My two patrol weeks have been so different, the first with a lot of elephants, the second with none, but both were so special and unique, especially the second, we saw zebras, kudus, springbok, Oryx and the rare black rhino, sooo incredible! The landscape has been the most contrasting and beautiful I have ever seen. The rivers and the rock formations and the sky, the places we have camped have been phenomenal! I also haven’t laughed this much in a long time, a huge thanks to the people I’m with!” Lizzie Peck, Feb 2013
Cameron – “Before this trip I had never been outside Europe, and Africa was to me a distant continent. Namibia is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to, the landscape have almost brought me to tears, because of its beauty. I have fallen in love during this journey, I have fallen in love with all of the wonderful people I have met, with the surroundings and most of all the wild animals of course. Build week was hard, but I discovered a side of myself that can handle hard work and enjoys it. It feels like I can push myself to do whatever I want to do. If anyone I know ever felt like they did not know what to do with themselves and was in need of inspiration, then I would recommend this exciting journey.
I guess every trip is different and I have only been here for two weeks so I do not know how it is to meet a new group after two weeks, but no matter who you are, or who you are travelling with, you will meet awesome people that you are never going to meet in your everyday–life. During patrol week we did not see any elephants and I guess a part of me is disappointed, but that is wild life. Sometimes the elephants will be on base camp and sometimes they will be too far away to track.
Nature is not at our service. I saw some really cool animals though, the coolest was the black rhino. I will come back and the memories I have made will be with me forever. To describe this experience with one word, I would say: Freedom. My time here has been absolutely incredible. I hope you will have a good time! “
Ida-May, May 2013, UK – “Working with the Desert Elephant project has been ALL that I expected and NOTHING that I expected. Before I came I knew that I was going to build walls and see elephants…and not shower!!! But over the past four weeks I have done so much more, from making new friends, to learning to cook over an open fire, but most importantly being a part of repairing the strenuous relationship between elephants and the people who live here.
I’ve seen the devastation that the elephants can bring, and the anger of the people and I realize that without this project, these elephants would not be able to exist at all. It is a difficult and continuous battle here which won’t be easily fixed, but to know I have been part of bringing peace to the people and elephants, makes having to deal with the stench of 9 other people who haven’t showered for 5 days all the more worth while
Sven, March 2013 - “When I was searching for a volunteer project to join, I never expected to find exactly what I was looking for. A project that I can work with to help elephants that remain wild and free. I fell in love with the Desert Elephant project the moment I discovered them and, one month later I have continued to fall in love with the work that they and their volunteers do.
I wanted to come somewhere to work hard for something bigger than myself and working hard I most definitely have done! Build week is hard work, but that is exactly what I wanted! The heat of the desert makes the physical work so much tougher but the amazing team work that is present is magical. Everyone here has come for the same reason and has the same passion for their work here, which creates a great team to be with.
The first build week was helping to dig a trench – shall never look at trenches in the same way again. It wouldn’t have been so bad had it not been for all the rocks in the way!!! But we had so much fun and I experienced my first of many ‘wet wipe showers’!
Tracking the elephants is great fun, riding on top of the 4×4’s exploring Namibia, and it’s such an amazing and beautiful place. To ride around here, watching the very talented staff track the elephants is an experience all on its own. To find elephants on top of this is just another added bonus. We had our first tracking week with some amazing elephant encounters. To be able to be a part of these beautiful creatures and to be able to witness them in true wilderness, being truly wild is just such an honor. These memories will never leave me.
Caroline, aged 24 – “Eating and cooking around the campfire, sleeping under the stars and watching them (I’ve never seen so many shooting stars before), having a great and funny time with super-duper people and new friends, building a huge wall and of course looking for the elephants and watching them for hours – every second will be kept in my mind for the rest of my life!”
Would you like to enjoy your own unique wilderness adventure at the Desert Elephant Volunteer project in Namibia?
Just drop the team an email at Gemma@amanzitravel.com or give us a phone on +44 (0)117 253 0888, and let us help you plan your adventure with elephants……