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Namibia Desert Elephant Conservation

14-56 days from $2,067

$94 Deposit

Track, research and protect the elusive desert elephant!

Unique Volunteer Project
Track and protect desert elephants
Sleep in the African wilderness
Group size: Varies

Trip Highlights

  • Enjoy close encounters with incredible desert elephants
  • Learn about elephant behaviour and how to identify and track local herds with highly experienced trackers
  • Get a real sense of achievement as you build walls to protect water sources for local people
  • Make a real difference in the conservation and protection of these incredible creatures
  • Go back to basics at the project's stunning base camp and sleep out under the amazing African sky
  • See other wildlife, including zebra, giraffe, black rhino, kudu, oryx, springbok, & more!

Trip Summary

Protect the future of Namibia's incredible Desert Elephant on this fantastic African volunteer project. Learn how to track and identify Desert Elephants and help local rural communities live side by side with these majestic animals. You’ll enjoy close encounters with elephants and gain knowledge on elephant behavior and their fascinating societies from some of the best elephant experts in Namibia. Plus, you’ll live in an exclusive remote base camp in the wilderness, sleeping wild under the amazing African sky. This is a truly unique and once in a lifetime volunteer experience!

Interested and want to find out more? Download more trip information and detailed itinerary HERE!

What to expect at the project

The Desert Elephant project is made up of two parts based upon 2-week rotations.

Week 1: Building Project. You will be part of a team building large protection walls by hand. You will be based out at the local farm or homestead for the week. The walls prevent elephants from damaging water points which is the main cause of conflict with local people, as elephants tend to damage wells and water pumps in their search for water.

Week 2: Elephant Patrol. This is an unforgettable week tracking elephants out in the wilds of the desert. You’ll hardly see another human being, aside from the other volunteers in the patrol team. You’ll research the elephants’ movements, distribution and compile identikits on herds and individuals; helping to protect and conserve these fascinating creatures for many years to come

This project is a fantastic back-to-basics programme, experiencing the natural setting of the African bush. You will camp wild and sleep under the stars on your bedrolls. An unforgettable experience!

After each 2-week rotation, you will return to Swakopmund to spend the weekend. Swakopmund is a lovely coastal town with plenty of things to see and do, so you will have plenty of choice when it comes to deciding how to spend your time there.

Day in the life

Your daily tasks will depend on the weekly rotation. You’ll either be helping out with building work or trekking and patrolling.

The Building Project

You will first join a team in building walls around vitally important water sources for Damaraland homesteads. The walls are built to protect water pumping facilities, a borehole, solar panel and pump or windmill. The elephants are given access to the water at certain points, thus preventing them from damaging the pumping mechanics and allowing the farmers access to the clean, fresh water. 

This involves lots of different tasks from collecting stones and rocks, to mixing cement and laying the rocks on the wall. Although hard work the teams always have fun! You will start work fairly early in the morning and stop for a long break during the heat of the day. You will be camping and all cooking is done over the fire, with everybody sharing camp duties. Evenings are spent around the camp fire, relaxing, playing games and sharing stories. The weekend is then spent relaxing at the base camp in the Ugab River.

The Trekking and Patrol Project

Patrols are led by two experienced elephant trackers on specialised 4x4 vehicles, again with the minimum of equipment, setting up camp at a different site every evening. You will be experiencing areas of Damaraland and surrounding desert that no safari or overland tour will ever venture into, tracking and observing local desert-adapted elephant herds. You will spend a lot of time with the elephants in close quarters, learning from your guides about the elephants and their behavior. During this week elephant movements are recorded, ID photos taken and farms visited, all information which assists the Namibian Government in solving the problems the elephants often create.

Purpose and aim of the programme and how do you benefit the programme

This project is dedicated to helping local people and farmers understand the importance of living side by side with Desert Elephants. This project works directly with the local community in protecting vulnerable structures from damage done by the elephants in search of water. The project also contributes to ongoing research and conservation of these animals in the wild. So far, the project has built over 170 protection walls with help from over 1200 volunteers. Now it’s your turn!


This project is both an incredible travel experience and a fantastic way to make a difference to wildlife in Africa. You’ll help protect incredible desert elephants, track their movements and contribute to the on-going research in Namibia. You’ll enjoy a unique insight into Namibian landscapes and culture, and feel the satisfaction of having helped a worthy conservation cause.

This project is a perfect opportunity for you to really return to basic levels of living, learn simple camp-craft and survival skills and get back in touch with nature whilst becoming directly involved in trailblazing conservation work. It is a chance to experience hard but rewarding work, witness amazing natural phenomena and escape the highly-strung world and its day-to-day routine.


  • All accommodation except in Swakopmund
  • All meals except in Swakopmund
  • Orientation
  • Volunteer programme
  • Full support and assistance
  • 24/7 emergency support

  • Travel insurance
  • All flights
  • All accommodation in Swakopmund - This will be arranged for you but will be payable locally and only applies to your first and last nights along with any weekends that you may spend in Swakopmund
  • Airport transfers (this will be arranged for you but payable locally)
  • Weekends in Swakopmund 
  • E-mail/Internet and telephone calls
  • Soft drinks, wines and spirits


This project is a great back-to-basics programme, experiencing the natural setting of the African bush. We set up our mobile camp at each project site, which we make as comfortable as possible! You will be sleeping out under the amazing African sky. Washing facilities are limited and toilet facilities will be in the form of enclosed and private African long drops. Whilst on patrol, we camp wild and sleep under the stars on our bedrolls.

There are no showers or toilets, so you will need to prepare yourself to rough it a bit! We advise that volunteers take wet wipes or baby wipes to keep fresh! During the weekend at base camp there are hot showers and toilets. There is also a laundry service. Accommodation at base camp is in the fabulous tree shelter!

You will spend both your first and last night of the programme at a local lodge in Swakopmund, our local team will arrange this for you and it is payable locally. Furthermore, if you are joining the programme for 4 weeks or more, you will return to Swakopmund at the end of every two week rotation to spend the weekend, your accommodation will be arranged for you but will be payable locally. Full details of accommodation arrangements that have been made for you in Swakopmund will be sent to you prior to departure.

You will receive three meals each day on this project, prepared by you on a rotational basis, over the open fire and eating around the campfire as a group. Everyone will learn how to cooking amazing food such as roast chicken, thai curry, bolognese, carbonara over the fire! We also have good vegetarian options. Meals are not included during your time in Swakopmund.


Your flight to Namibia should arrive into Walvis Bay Airport (WVB) before 18:30 on your programme start date, and your return flight should be arranged for your programme end date.

Upon arrival at Walvis Bay, we will schedule a transfer for you into Swakopmund to your accommodation at a local lodge. Please note that your airport transfers and accommodation in Swakopmund are payable locally.

Please note that while accommodation in Swakopmund will be organised for you, it is payable locally. You will spend your first and last night's in Swakopmund and for those joining the programme for 4 weeks or longer, you will return to Swakopmund for the weekend after each two week block. Full details of your arrangements including confirmation of the costs of your accommodation and airport transfers will be sent to you prior to departure.

To book your flights, please contact us on 01892 277037 and we will help to find you a great quote price.

It is important that once you have booked your flights you add these details to your online account or alternatively you can contact us with your departure date, the flight number and arrival time at your destination. 



The minimum age to join this volunteer programme is 18 years.

This rewarding volunteer programme involves some physical labour, trekking and camping, and so a good level of fitness is required.


It is your responsibility to obtain the necessary visas for your time away. For this programme, you are required to enter Namibia as a Tourist. British passport holders will recieve a free 90 day tourist stamp on arrival into Namibia. Please consult with your nearest Namibian Embassy for the most up to date visa information. 

What Are Desert Elephants?

Found in Namibia and Mali, desert elephants have adapted to life in the desert. They have slightly smaller bodies, longer legs and larger feet than other elephants. This allows them to cross miles of sand dunes to reach water. Desert elephants can go days without drinking water and survive by eating vegetation. Desert elephants are rare and at risk because some local people consider them a nuisance as they destroy manmade water points. Part of your work on the project will help protect these water points and so ease local resentment of the elephants.

Will I Have Access To The Internet While I’m Away?

You will be staying in basic camps in the desert and so you will have very limited access to internet during your time in Namibia. On Sundays you are able to join project staff on the resupply run to a small town called Uis where you are able to use the internet, go to a small supermarket and use the facilities at a local lodge (including swimming pool!)

How Long Should I Go For?

That’s up to you! The minimum time is 2 weeks. This allows you to experience both aspects of the volunteer project. However, many volunteers stay for longer, up to a maximum of 12 weeks! Staying longer allows you to get into the swing of things, as you’ll learn how things work and get more out of the experience!

Do I Need To Bring A Sleeping Bag And Other Equipment?

Yes absolutely, you'll need to bring your own sleeping bag and we also recommend bringing along a sleeping bag liner too. We also recommend bringing your own mosquito net. A full kit list will be provided once you have booked your trip with us.