Elephant conservation volunteering in Namibia

“Two magical weeks in the Namibian desert, working on important elephant conservation work in the wild. Camping in the wild. And having an all round wild and wonderful experience. ”


Swakopmund | Wild elephant conservation work | Namib Desert | Work with Namibian farming communities | Tracking and monitoring elephants

Description of Elephant conservation volunteering in Namibia

Become part of an important mission, volunteering on a conservation project with elephants living in the Namibian desert. Help to track, monitor and protect wild elephants, all whilst working alongside local people to shield their water supplies from these majestic giants.

Life is tough for both humans and wildlife that live in this area of the world. The annual rainfall only brings short respite to the limited natural water sources for farmers' animals and wildlife alike. With humans and elephants competing for the same water, conflict has developed over the past few decades, resulting in the wild elephant population decreasing. This decline is nothing short of tragic, as in only two places in the world can desert elephants be found.

Your time spent on the project will be two-fold. The first part of the project will be spent at local farmsteads, building walls to protect the farmers’ water sources and pumps from elephants. The second component is to track and monitor elephants in the wild – one of the very few places in the world where this is still possible. The patrols help the authorities to best understand and protect these gentle giants, whilst also gaining an insight into where the elephants will go next, and which farms water sources will need protective walls.

You will learn how to identify elephant tracks, ascertain where they might have gone and when they passed through the area. When tracking you will see the elephants most days however this is not to be expected - which just adds to the excitement as the ellies could always be “just around the corner”. Important data is recorded such as the elephants sighted, their location, their destination, their health and their behaviour. This data is used for protection campaigns and initiatives- as well as to understand which farms might be at risk, and which will necessitate walls around their pumps.


One of the most exciting parts of this trip is to really get stuck in to desert life, unchanged for many hundreds of years. You will be camping in the desert with your group, cooking around camp fires and going to sleep under a thick blanket of stars- worlds away from modern day life.

Day-by-day experiences

Day 1:Arrival day to Swakopmund is a Sunday. You can either fly into Walvis Bay (WVB) or Windhoek (WDH). We can arrange transfers to Swakopmund from each airport.
Day 2:Monday. Transfer up to Base Camp, the desert camp which will be your main home for your time on the project.
Day 3-7:Tuesday - Saturday. Construction projects on local farmsteads, helping to build walls around water sources.
Day 8:Sunday. This is a free day. You can head into the local town for a swim, a burger and a beer. Heaven after a week of building!
Day 9 -12:Monday - Thursday. Elephant monitoring and tracking
Day 13:Friday. Transfer back to Swakopmund. If you are staying for just 2 weeks this is your last night with a lovely meal in town with your co-volunteers. If you are staying for longer than 2 weeks, you have the weekend free in Swakopmund before heading back up to the desert on the Monday.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
US pricing:
The currency converter above works on todays exchange rate. We do take bookings in USD but the price is set at a rate confirmed months in advance and is typically above the current exchange rate. Please enquire for details.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Elephant conservation volunteering in Namibia


Our placements are designed to immerse you in a different culture and to get you involved in important conservation projects. It is of utmost importance to us that you will be living and working with local people, supporting not only the animals protected on our projects but also the communities in which you will live and work.

Animal welfare
This project has been running since 2004 and was established as a result of the conflict between communal farmers and in the north west Namibian desert and desert dwelling elephants, mainly centred around scarce water resources. The elephants all live in the wild and we encourage a zero tolerance contact policy. These elephants are wild, and will be left to live in the wild with minimal human contact. When tracking the elephants the 4x4 will not invade the elephant's territory and will remain at a respectful distance.

Our base camp in the desert is used an experimental project for natural building materials, recycling, building home made energy generating systems such as wind generators, solar water heaters, composting toilet designs.

All the refuse we produce is removed from the desert environment and brought through to the towns where recycling schemes exist.

One of the most important issues in the desert is choosing non invasive camps during the elephant patrols, staying on established road tracks in sensitive areas and leaving nothing behind.


Meeting local needs
Firstly all our protection wall projects are in direct support of the local community. The bi-monthly tracking projects ascertain where the elephants are and which farms might be at risk. Through thorough observation and monitoring, farms can be forewarned and protective walls around the water sources can be built. Farmers and locals can also apply directly for assistance in this matter.

Our impact on the local economy
As many local people as possible are employed on this project. We employ our staff from the immediate area which in turn supports many family members. A local man has his own business providing wood (from sustainable sources), a neighbouring farmer's wife has her own business washing the volunteers clothes at weekends for a fee. We source food and fuel for the elephant patrol weeks from a small village called Uis where there is a supermarket and fuel station.

Cultural sensitivity
We emphasise the importance of showing respect for local people and their customs in our briefing material. Participants will work alongside permanent staff, forming close bonds and getting an insight into real life in rural Namibia.

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