Community Conservation and Desert Elephant Trekking

Namibia

The field expedition of a lifetime: work and play while renovating the A.Gariseb Primary School alongside the smiling students who will benefit from your service, then head into the wilderness on a trek through the desert, learning to navigate while also learning about the desert's ecosystem and the incredible wildlife who inhabit it.

Elephant-Human Relations Aid aims to find long-term, sustainable solutions to the ever-growing problem of facilitating the peaceful co-habitation between the subsistence farmers, community members and the desert-adapted elephants.

As a student on your field expedition to Namibia, you will experience both the community and the wilderness as you work to further this mission. For the first week, you and your classmates will execute and complete a renovation project at our partner primary school.  In the past, students have constructed a computer lab, a vegetable garden and plant nursery, a library, a playground, and renovated the main classroom block, dormitories and showers!

In the second week, students trek with our experienced guides over 70kms through the Ugab River and surrounding desert. During the week's trek, students will learn navigation skills, map reading and general rules of trekking. Students will also receive field lessons on the desert ecosystem and the role the desert elephants play within that ecosystem.

Students will trek through some of the most beautiful and wild territory of Damaraland and the Ugab River System, including canyons, riverbeds, wetlands and open desert plains. The adventure will culminate in a 24km (+-) solo trek. The students will be expected to prepare that day's meals, pack up camp, pack their day packs, navigate and trek to the final nights camp as a team. They must plan as a team: nominate a leader, establish medical, navigation and catering teams and, of course, walk the distance!

Quick Facts

Location: Namibia
Duration: 15 Days
Student Limit: Up to 20 students

Itinerary

Day 1
Arrive in Namibia and transfer to the Skeleton Coast town of Swakopmund where you will spend your first night at the guesthouse Villa Wiese. This evening we will have a quick briefing with the EHRA staff and then head out for a meal in this very German influenced town!

Day 2
After breakfast we will pack up and leave for Damaraland. We will head straight to our camp located on the Ugab River, approximately 2 kilometers from the A.Gariseb Primary School. Once there we will help set up the tents and get moved in! Once settled, we will have a full briefing about the week ahead with a special focus on safety in your new environment, especially concerning proximity to the desert elephants. If we have time, we will walk up to the school to say hello to the children.

Day 3 - 5
This morning you will wake up early and walk (about 20 minutes) to school in time for assembly, where you will be introduced to the teachers and the entire school. You will have a tour of the grounds before an explanation of your project and purpose at the school, which will teach you on how to perform specific tasks safely and productively. Your school project will focus on renovations, which may include building a shaded waiting area for the hostel dining room, helping to elephant proof the school, constructing a netball/basketball court, or renovating the small kindergarten and playground area.

Depending on our daily schedule, we will walk back to camp for lunch or eat at the school. After lunch you will be with the children conducting a number of enrichment projects. These projects can include:

Project Namibia
Sports team: Each day the students will work with the children on a variety of activities comprised of team games and coaching activities. It is also possible that you will also help design and build a playground for the school or obstacle course. There is little to do at the school in way of recreation, and as such children often leave the school grounds and play in the river beds, which can be dangerous due to the elephants. Therefore the more stimulation there is at school the better.

Childcare team: Self esteem building, story telling and puppet making; arts and crafts; painting self portraits and exploring and celebrating difference, making bracelets (beads and loom bands, friendship bracelets) and ring games. The team will also liaise with the teachers to help children who have additional needs with in the school, such as orphans or those with challenging home environments.

Our days will typically finish at 5pm.

Day 6
The last day at the school! Today you must finish both the renovation project and your aims for the week with the enrichment lesson plans. Tonight we will invite the teachers from the school to have dinner with us at camp!

Day 7
We will wake up early and you will start the trek down the Ugab!  You will walk until around lunch time and we will then transfer to our camp for the next 3 nights in the Ugab River.  In the late afternoon after a good rest, you will receive your first lesson in navigation.

Day 8
After a relaxed breakfast the group will be taken on a circular walk down the riverbed and will be further taught about navigation, map reading and use of a GPS.  We will also try and find the elephants, however we cannot promise that the elephants will be back in the riverbed at this time, it depends on the extent of the rainfall over the coming months.

After lunch at Camp there will be lectures on:
• The area: its history, the political situation and the problems faced
• Flora and fauna
• Elephants and elephant behaviour
• EHRA – what we do, why and how

Day 9
This morning we leave our camp and head to our wild camp under the stars at Wildlife Scouts dam.  As we trek, the group will put into practice what they have been taught so far in order to prepare you for the solo trek.  We walk approx. 21kms up the Ugab River.  Camp is again under the stars in the riverbed.  At this camp we normally do away with tents and you sleep all together on a tarpaulin under the stars!

Day 10

Today we will complete a circular route through the wetlands in search of desert elephants and further continue our lessons on ecology, survival and navigation.

In the evening, we will return to the wildlife scouts camp. As a reward you will be treated to a bushman shower under the dam!

Day 11
Today is the group’s test where you must trek from Wildlife Scouts Camp to the foothills of the Brandberg, Namibia’s highest mountain (monitored at all times).

The group must reach certain key points along the route and must help each other, make decisions and complete the challenge as a team.

Day 12
We will wake slowly and take our time to take in the surroundings and magnificent sun rise.  After breakfast we will slowly pack up and head to EHRA Base camp.  Tonight we stay at the EHRA base camp on the Ugab River, where there are showers, toilets, tree platforms to sleep on.  We will aim to arrive there late afternoon so you have a chance to enjoy the space and relax.

Day 13
After a leisurely breakfast, the group will be taken on a day’s elephant tracking!

Tonight is gala night and “black tie” is required!

Day 14
After a late wake up and relaxed breakfast we say our goodbyes to EHRA base camp and head to Okapuka Ranch, close to Windhoek.  En route we will stop in Omaruru for a bit of shopping and lunch.  In the afternoon we will go on a game drive around the reserve and look out for rhino, lion, zebra to name a few!!  Tonight we will have a treat and eat at the lodge.

Day 15
After a lovely lie in and breakfast, we will head out to the airport for your flight back home!

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