For the enthusiastic volunteer, this 21-day package is the perfect combination of touring the main attractions in Namibia and volunteering at the Elephant Human Relations Aid. Whilst on safari, overnight in well-located lodges in and near Etosha National Park and outside Namib Naukluft National Park and includes 1 night at Swakopmund in between. You will be able to experience the amazing sand dune sea of the Namib and Sossusvlei region. Renowned as one of the best game reserves in Africa, Etosha National Park is a haven for wildlife and supports one of the most important ecological and wildlife systems on the continent. At 22,270 km sq this huge park hosts an impressive collection of game including the white rhino and endangered black rhino, lion, cheetah, leopard, elephant, giraffe and numerous species of antelope as well as an impressive 340 species of birds – enough to keep any nature and wildlife enthusiast happy. Combine this with the chance to explore the worlds oldest desert, the Namib, and the chance to take in the mesmerising beauty that is Deadvlei, Sossusvlei as well as climbing some of the largest sand dunes in the world. Then, head out to the Elephant Human Relations Aid for 11 days of action. EHRA works directly with local communities to provide hands-on conservation support by building protective walls around windmills, water tanks and/or pumps. This prevents the elephants from destroying property whilst searching for water.
DAY 1: Monday Chameleon Backpackers, Windhoek
Today we are collected at the Hosea Kutako International Airport, and brought into Windhoek to Chameleon Backpackers, our accommodation for the night. Tonight’s meal is at your own expense at one of the many restaurants in Windhoek, or stay at the Backpackers and order in.
DAY 2: Tuesday Halali, Etosha National Park
It’s safari time ad we will be collected from our guesthouse at 07h15 and taken to Chameleon Safaris Head Office for the pre-departure talk and meet the rest of the group. After the departure from Windhoek, we stop briefly at Otjiwarongo to gather some last-minute supplies before continuing on to Etosha with a light lunch pack whilst “on the move”. We enjoy an afternoon game drive through the park visiting waterholes looking for predators as well as zebra, giraffe, elephant, rhino, and many different species of antelope arriving at our lodge just before sunset and settling into our rooms, with an en-suite bathroom and tea/coffee facilities. A visit to the flood-lit waterhole is highly recommended while dinner is prepared by our guide over an open fire.
DAY 3 Wednesday Etosha Village, Anderson gate
We start our first game drive at sunrise to catch the predators while they are still active, visiting many waterholes. Our second game drive mid-morning takes us to the impressive Etosha Pan “great white place” where we can get out of the vehicle and experience this 4500 sq km “saline desert” before continuing our game drive to look for the big 4. After lunch, we begin our final game drive across the park towards Okaukuejo calling into some well-known waterholes and leaving the park prior to sunset. Accommodation tonight is just outside the park in a comfortable spacious twin share room with modern en-suite bathroom facilities, creating an ideal space to sit back, relax and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us. A fantastic dinner is prepared by our guide and another early night is recommended.
DAY 4 Thursday Hotel A La Mer, Swakopmund
Early morning breakfast before departing from our lodge at 07h30 for our drive via the communal lands of Damaraland where we see the communal farmers in this arid region. We stop at the Ugab River bridge to visit with the beautiful Herero ladies who sell thee small art and craft items to support their families. We lunch overlooking Brandberg Mountain and have a short visit with a Himba group who have moved into this area to sell their jewellery and other items (depends on Himba tribespeople). After lunch, we head directly through the Namib Desert and stop at the latest shipwreck on the Skeleton Coast before arriving late afternoon in Swakopmund. We recommend exploring this seaside town on foot this afternoon and perhaps visiting the jetty for sundowners overlooking the cold Atlantic Ocean. Our guide will be happy to recommend a good restaurant for our evening meal(at our own expense).
DAY5 Friday Desert Camp, Sesriem Area
This morning after breakfast we highly recommend a visit to the Museum or Aquarium 9optional and unguided) and for the adrenaline junkies, a 2-hour sandboarding experience in the dunes should get our pulse racing. Departure from Swakopmund at 12h00 noon. Driving through the Namib Desert via the Kuiseb Pass and Solitaire we arrive at our camp late afternoon and have a chance to relax ad en enjoy the views before taking a short walk for sunset looking over the Naukluft Mountain range. Pool and bar available and dinner is prepared by our guide.
DAY6 Saturday Desert Camp, Sesriem Area
Dawn departure from camp to arrive at the park gates for sunrise. We drive down an ancient river bed surrounded by towering dunes to the 2×4 parking (around 55kms) and take a 4×4 shuttle into the Sossusvlei area to appreciate the beauty of this place in the early morning light and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the region. We explore this unique area on foot before heading into Dead Vlei with its large expanse of bleached cracked clay and skeletal Camel Thorn trees, contrasting with a backdrop of huge dunes with their ever-changing colours. We can either walk or take the 4×4 shuttle back to our vehicle. As we drive back to our accommodation, we will stop at the famous Dune 45 and climb this dune if we wish or just wander around the base. We return to Sesriem and visit the nearby Sesriem Canyon, one of the few permanent water sources before arriving back at our lodge late afternoon to watch the sunset over this spectacular desert.
DAY7 Sunday Hotel A La Mer, Swakopmund
Early morning breakfast before heading to Solitaire where we join a local guide to observe cheetahs currently in captivity with the hope to re-introduce them into a large reserve. We head to Swakopmund with the Welwitschia Shuttle and are dropped off at our accommodation. We join the pre-project talk at the hotel in the evening for more in-depth information on our project and get to know the other volunteers and coordinators.
DAY 8-18 Monday EHRA Volunteer Project
Today we join the Elephant Human Relations Aid volunteer project and get our hands dirty for the next 11 days, helping out at this project. EHRA works directly with local communities to provide hands-on conservation support by building protective walls around windmills, water tanks and / or pumps. This prevents the elephants from destroying property whilst searching for water. Since their existence in 2003, they have constructed over 220 protective walls with the help of about 3500 volunteers. Expect to get sweaty, learn about conservation, make new friends, sleep under the stars, and enjoy the natural surroundings. All cooking is done over the fire and we work in groups taking turns to be on kitchen duty, which includes providing `coffee-in-bed` in the mornings.
At the EHRA base camp, everyone sleeps in a large tree on a wooden platform! There are also showers and long-drop toilets here. You will leave base camp and be camping in the African wilderness for the duration f your time on each project. There are no washing facilities on either build or patrol weeks but you can enjoy a shower at the EHRA base camp when we return for the weekend in between the two weeks. Tents can be provided, alternatively, we all sleep on mattresses on a large tarpaulin under the stars. As the camp on build week is in the same spot for the duration of the build project, we can set up a private long drop style toilet. However, the camp locations change every night on patrol week – a true wild camping experience using the bush toilet! Your helpful EHRA staff will be sure are comfortable and will explain how to do this safely ad in an eco-friendly way.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
DAY19 Friday Hotel A La Mer, Swakopmund
Time to say goodbye to the group as our adventure comes to an end after breakfast and we return to Swakopmund for one night before returning back to Windhoek. Have a chance to download all your awesome experiences, enjoy a refreshing “hotel” shower, and a last restaurant meal with our new like-minded friends. Tonight`s meal is at your own expense.
DAY20 Saturday Chameleon Backpackers, Windhoek
Enjoy an early breakfast before we are collected by Carlos Shuttle for our drive back to Windhoek. Spend the evening at the Chameleon Backpackers bar or go out for an evening meal, tonight`s meal is at your own expense.
DAY21 Monday Airport Drop Off
For those flying out today, if flights are in the afternoon, keep busy this morning with a FREE city walking tour, or City & Township Tour for your own expense. Your driver will collect you and transfer you to the airport with ample time for check-in and formalities. Fly home knowing that you have made a small difference in the lives of the free-roaming Namibian Desert Elephant and the local people that live within this region.