Namibia is exceptionally beautiful and nothing like its surrounding ‘savannah’ landscaped countries. Completely unique, with its vast desert and empty landscapes, where wildlife interactions are infrequent but highly prized. The highest sand dunes in the world rise up in all their glory and skeleton coast beckons with its eerie allure.
We have developed a unique program here which allows you to live safari style in the middle of a reserve whilst contributing to conservation and community projects.
But each week the volunteer projects will be intertwined with adventure and exploration to enable you see the best of this stunning country.
One of our best.
An amazing opportunity has come our way to send volunteers out to this exceptional reserve in Southern Namibia to help leading conservationists conserve and re-wild Oana Conservancy who's wildlife was badly effected during the past 30 years through farming and extensive hunting.
Oana covers a stunningly beautiful semi-arid landscape of small mountains and plains with the Oranje River running alongside, creating an idyllic oasis of green and blue within the terracotta hue of the sand and mountains. Next door is Sandfontein Conservancy, where Black Rhino are protected, providing extra opportunities for conservation. Together these two areas comprise almost 165,000 hectares of a continuous wild habitat. This vast land has never been studied, with undiscovered species possible, so get ready to go into explore mode.
Your time here will be spent fully immersed in a combination of conservation involving leopard, black rhino and gemsbok, biodiversity surveys carried out on horseback cowboy style, adventure such as trekking, horse-riding, river rafting, mountain biking and community projects in the local villages focusing mainly on education and development. And if it takes your fancy allow the landscape to inspire your creative side through drawing, painting, woodcarving, photography or film making. For those with a spiritual, earthy nature there is yoga and perma- culture.
You'll live in a expedition base-camp, canvas tented camp, on one of Oana’s plains, surrounded by volcanic mountains ripe for exploration. Think homely, bedouin vibe – chill out zones full of sofa’s, cushions, a bar, campfire and lot of star gazing.
Heaven, the ultimate safari experience.
After 5 weeks on Oana you’ll have the option to hop into the landrover to head off on a 7 day safari to see the stunning Kgalagadi Trans Frontier Park with its charismatic red sand dunes and rolling dry riverbeds.
This park is carnivore central, a chance to see lion, leopard, cheetah, brown and spotted hyena.
Then off to the famous Sosssusvlei and Dead Vlei, before ending up in Windhoek. Awesome.
This will be an extra cost of about £495 and is an optional extra after the May program only in 2017.
Relocation and reintroduction of wildlife is an important part of the re-wilding process and based upon the biodiversity surveys we will introduce a range of animals over time.
Reintroducing an animal will be done through ‘soft-release’, where the animal will be in a quarantine enclosure to acclimatise to the surroundings before a full release. You will assist with this by monitoring how the animal copes.
An introduction cannot be guaranteed but in such an environment there is a high chance.
There may also be a chance to head into the field to get involved with the wildlife capture, immobilisation and relocation on other reserves in the surrounding area.
The past hunting activities have left a range of issues that need to be solved. Immediate projects include:
Removing old buildings and other unnecessary fences, structures and scrap.
Developing water points for animals.
Building micro-basins to help with plains regeneration.
Removing alien vegetation on the property and along the river.
Building hides for wildlife observation at water points.
Building a vulture restaurant.
Oana is an area unstudied and given its history we need to understand what lives on the land and in what numbers. This is the first process when re-wilding land.
We need to collect all the information we can, we do this through wildlife counts, camera trapping, humane methods of trapping small mammals, catching birds reptiles fish and insects. We carry out analysis of wildlife faeces and tracks.
Collecting data on the wildlife populations is an essential part of conservation, so the conservancy managers can develop specialised management strategies based upon the data.
We will head over to our neighbouring conservancy, Sandfontein, to track on foot the highly endangered Black Rhino to research their movement patterns, eating habits and interaction between themselves.
The Black Rhino can be skittish and very defensive, your tasks (every safety precaution taken) will take you close and get your heart racing.
Due to the current global situation with rhino poaching tracking rhino on foot is an extremely rare thing to be able to do. We will also carry out research on the Giraffe and possibly the Cheetah.
Oana is working to develop a relationship with the local community and you’ll be integral to forging this through developing and working on projects that directly improve the standard of life and employment opportunities. Rather than teaching a bit of English and sports in the local school we would like to create tangible projects that truly make a difference where it is most needed.
The community live with a very low quality of life, they do not have the luxuries of running water, three meals a day or a good education. The major problem is a lack of employment opportunities for kids after school so we would like to focus on projects such as construction of vegetable gardens which the youth will manage and turn into a business.
They are also looking to improve the village infrastructure which you'll be able to help with, such as building new classrooms and water facilities.
Hiking will be a big part of your time here and the potential for exploration is limitless over the mountain ranges made up of different rock types, (the area is a global geological hotspot), ranging from terracotta granite outcrops to towering, black, perfectly formed volcanos (all extinct). These mountains are interspersed with sandy grass plains and 50km of river frontage.
The feeling of freedom and being able to walk in any direction for hours without seeing anyone is intoxicating, one of the most beautiful aspects is the landscape views and how, as you move and change perspective, these views constantly morph.
Raft down the Oranje river on an exhilarating 5 day adventure over white water, (up to level 4 rapids) stopping off at idyllic sandy beaches along the way.
You’ll raft during the mornings before stopping off at a beach along the way to build a camp for the evening.
Your afternoons will be spent sunbathing, swimming, fishing, reading and relaxing. Your evenings spent around the bonfire with roasted marshmallows!
Whilst rafting you’ll see amazing bird life, perhaps the elusive clawless otter and conduct bird biodiversity surveys as you go.
You’ll raft through gorges and canyons so the landscape is constantly changing.
A definite highlight.
Included in the cost.
Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world, second only to the Grand Canyon in America, and words completely fail to do it any justice in attempting to describe the massive beauty or this place which will make you feel very small indeed! It is about a 2/3-hour drive from Kum Kum but it will feel like you have driven to Mars!
Included in the cost.
Venture out on the reserve by mountain bike.
We have built a specially designed 20km bike trail that weaves through our mountains and ridges which shows off the stunning mountain landscape which will get your blood pumping.
The are fast bits, slow(er) bits, technical bits and chilled straights but don’t worry riders of every ability will be able to do the trail.
Along the way will may carry out opportunistic game counts in case we see any mountain zebra, any other wildlife or maybe even a leopard along the way.
Venture out on a 3 day mission with pack horses and a fly camp across the reserve to get up, close and personal with the wildlife who are less skittish when approached in this way.
The biodiversity surveys are carried out on horse back, where you will head out for 3 days at a time to remote areas, unaccessible to cars, to explore and study what wildlife live there.There will be great photography opportunities, land surveys and wildlife counts will be done from the comfort of your saddle(!). Sleeping under the stars, around a bonfire in true cowboy style.
We have teams departing for Namibia in May and September for 5 weeks (+ option to add an extra week of safari in May only) incorporating everything described above. We have spaces for only 12 people, so get in touch early for more information.
In July we have a 3 week program heading out to include "as much as we can"...It's a great summer option especially if you are not having a full gap year.