(214) 390-7947 (Overseas Callers)

Toll-Free: 1-800-675-2504 (US/Canada)

01273 93 0514 (UK ), (02) 8006 6640 (Australia)

Desert Elephant Project (Namibia)

This project is about making a difference in the conservation of desert elephants. It emphasizes conserving the desert elephants and ensuring the safety and security for the communities who live with the local herds. It's a hands-on conservation project and the volunteers are the most crucial element in the conservation work. It's back to basics living, cooking over a camp fire, sleeping under the stars, and all within one of the world's most beautiful deserts. You will truly experience the wilderness and it’s highly unlikely you will see any tourists during your time at this project. You get to spend time learning about the desert elephants of the region, and witness them in their own habitat with highly knowledgeable project managers.

Goal of Project

This project is part of a long-term initiative. It focuses on finding solutions to the ever-growing problem of facilitating the peaceful co-habitation between subsistence farmers, and the desert adapted elephants. This is reached through research, education and development. The project's emphasis is on the building of protective structures around communal water points, creating additional water points for elephants, assisting with and teaching the farmers skills to financially benefit through tourism in the area, researching elephant movements, distribution and compiling identikits on herds and individuals.

This project is for volunteers who are willing to make a personal sacrifice and anyone who cares to make a difference. Volunteers will not only experience adventure and wisdom, but the satisfaction of giving back a little of what we have taken away. It is about assisting communities by constructing protective structures around water points, educating community members about elephant behavior, creating alternative drinking points and promoting tourism in affected areas, and ultimately, alleviating the pressure facing communal farmers

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Volunteer Responsibilities

Building. Volunteers travel to the local Namibian farm or homestead, where they will spend the week building protection walls around water sources or building alternative water points for the elephants, and even the areas newly released black rhinos.

Elephant Patrol. After spending the weekend relaxing at base camp, volunteer teams pack the Land Cruisers and leave on Elephant Patrol. This is an amazing week where you join the trackers for a generally vehicle based patrol and track the local herds of desert elephants. This week is your reward for all the hard work during your building week. The aim of this week is to track the elephants, record data of births, deaths and new elephants, GPS their positions and take ID shots and notes about each and every elephant. Typically after spending 4 days and 3 nights out, you travel back to base camp, before returning to Swakopmund at the end of your volunteer experience

Volunteer Program Dates And Fees (US$)

The Updated fee is:

Weeks Program Fee US$
1 Week N/A
2 Wks $940
3 Wks N/A
4 Wks $1765
5 Wks N/A
6 Wks $2510
7 Wks N/A
8 Wks $3160
Additional Per Week $855

Dates: 1st and 3rd Monday of each month- 2024

Start Date
1 January
15 January
5 February
19 February
4 March
18 March
1 April
15 April
6 May
20 May
3 June
17 June
1 July
15 July
5 August
19 August
2 September
16 September
7 October
21 October
4 November
18 November
2 December
16 December

Remember that volunteers need to be in Swakopmund the day before the transfer to the project (i.e. latest by the Sunday), and should book their departure flight for the day after the transfer back to Swakopmund (i.e. a Saturday) onwards.

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Free time/what volunteer can do in free time

Since this project is located in a remote area, volunteers are limited to spending their free time in camp. Free time can be used for washing clothes, talking and relaxing around camp with your fellow volunteers, and listening to the sounds of Africa. It is advisable to take a book (or two), MP3 players, and maybe even one or two games, which you can use to pass the time and get to know the other volunteers even better. In Swakopmund, there are several optional activities available, which you may want to experience either before or after your volunteer experience.


  • Where do I need to fly?

    Ideally, volunteers should fly to Walvis Bay (via Johannesburg or even Cape Town), and then take a connecting shuttle to Swakopmund. However, there is also the option of flying to Hosea Kutako International Airport in Windhoek, and taking a shuttle or bus from Windhoek to Swakopmund. Volunteers must be in Swakopmund at the latest on Sunday (set dates are in place), where they will stay overnight prior to heading out to the project at 12pm on Monday afternoon.

  • When does the project begin?

    Every second Monday (as per the set dates), volunteers will depart from Swakopmund for the project's base camp. Volunteers are accompanied by the project managers, and they use the project's vehicle. It is a 3 hour drive to camp. The group returns to Swakopmund the following week on Friday.

  • What vaccination I need?

    Although the project site is considered malaria free, many parts of Namibia are not. If you plan on traveling any further from this area either before or after your volunteer experience, it is advisable to consult your doctor for guidance on malaria.

  • How can I communicate with family?

    There are internet cafes and good mobile phone reception in Swakopmund. It is advisable to let your family and friends know that you have arrived safely in Swakopmund, before you head out for camp, and to contact them again once you return to Swakopmund at the end of your volunteer experience. Once you head out to base camp, communication is severely limited. Although local SIM cards can be purchased once in Swakopmund, due to the rural location of the project, mobile reception can be weak and inconsistent.

  • How safe is this project?

    Very safe. Volunteers must however be aware of their personal belongings when in town, and should also adhere to the safety tips given at orientation once at the project. Volunteers are advised to not leave personal items (passport, air tickets, money etc.) lying around – it is better to take precautions than to lose an important item.

  • Will there be someone to guide/supervise us?

    The project managers are very hands on, and are there for volunteers every step of the way. They are there to make your time at the project educational and safe, and to ensure that you are comfortable and have adequate accommodations and meals.

  • Will there be other volunteers?

    There will generally always be other volunteers at camp with you, this number may vary from 2 – 14 volunteers.

  • Any other important information to consider

    Volunteers need to have an average degree of fitness, as lots of the work is manual, and volunteers could spend a lot of time in high temperatures on foot. A bit of training beforehand could make your time more comfortable. But don't worry – everyone is capable, and the project managers will be there for you every step of the way. The volunteer groups are always a mix of ages and everyone works together as a team doing as much as they are able. You need to be able to speak and understand English.

    Volunteers need to be in Swakopmund at the latest on Sunday before the group departs for camp on Monday. Volunteers have the option of flying to Walvis Bay, and catching a connecting shuttle to the backpackers lodge in Swakopmund. Alternatively, volunteers can fly to Windhoek, and take either a shuttle or bus from Windhoek to Swakopmund. For those flying to Windhoek, the daily shuttle departs from Windhoek at 13H30, which means that if you arrive in Windhoek earlier enough, you can catch the shuttle later the same day, and be in Swakopmund by evening. For those electing to travel by bus (or if you arrive after 13H30, and want to take the shuttle), it would mean having to stay overnight in Windhoek first, before taking the bus (or the next shuttle) the following day. Although it may work out slightly cheaper traveling via Windhoek, the quicker option would be via Walvis Bay. When booking your return trip from Swakopmund, please be aware that the group will only get back to Swakopmund at around 14H00 on a Friday afternoon. It is advisable to instead book your return trip for Saturday, as the shuttle departs from Swakopmund at 07H00, and the groups tend to dine out at a local restaurant on Friday night when they return to Swakopmund (and it would be a pity to miss out on this).

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