Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary

Namibia

Volunteer in Namibia at this world-famous wildlife sanctuary and help enrich the lives of orphaned and rescued animals. The centre provides a refuge for all sorts of wildlife and releases as many as possible.

Are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime? This project is a rare and exciting opportunity to volunteer in Namibia and actively participate in the conservation of African wildlife. Volunteer at this internationally renowned wildlife foundation in Namibia and help care for orphaned and injured wildlife. Wildlife conservation volunteers on this project provide essential manpower to care and feed the animals as well as provide habitat enrichment and stimulation for the larger mammals and primates.

For adventurous and energetic volunteers who are looking for a hands-on wildlife sanctuary experience in Africa, this project is perfect! Volunteers get a practical, hands-on introduction to animal care and vital wildlife conservation while surrounded by the beautiful Namibian bush.

If you are a pre-veterinary or medical doctor, teacher or conservationist, or if you are just a wildlife and nature enthusiast or gap year student then your help will be gratefully received. Help improve the lives of a number of lions, leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, a host of small mammals and lots of domestic and farmyard animals, and assist in the overall running and development of the sanctuary.

This project is more than just a wildlife sanctuary as volunteers are given access to experience a huge variety of activities dependent on their skills and interests. All volunteers help with food preparation, animal feeding and habitat enrichment for animals who are being kept in enclosures, but you may also get the opportunity to observe veterinary staff with minor and emergency operations and animal health checks; collect research data on rehabilitated animals and monitor released carnivores as they are reintroduced into safe wilderness areas.

Live in the beautiful Namibian bush, listen to the lions roar and enjoy the peace and simplicity of living with and caring for iconic African animals.

Quick Facts

Who can join: Volunteers from 18 years
How long can I stay for: 2 weeks - 12 weeks
Accommodation: Volunteer house
Transfer time: 45 minutes
Pick up from: Windhoek Airport
Meals: 3 meals a day
Project numbers: up to 50 in peak months (average 20-25)
Start dates: Monday or Thursday throughout the year including Christmas / New Year
How much: from $655 (one week)

 

WHY CHOOSE THIS PROJECT

Make a lasting and tangible difference to the lives of the vulnerable San people and Namibia’s threatened wildlife. In return get a once in a lifetime experience of living and working in the real Africa and take a hands-on role in conservation, rehabilitation and humanitarian work. A serious wildlife sanctuary programme.

Background

This family-owned wildlife sanctuary and animal foundation was set up in 2006 to protect and improve the lives of animals and people in Namibia and achieve an Africa where humans and wildlife can thrive together. Their mission is to conserve the land, culture and wildlife of Namibia and rescue species threatened or affected by an ever-shrinking habitat. The foundation runs several award-winning projects supporting African wildlife and supporting the marginalised San Bushman community.

The 3,200 hectare (8,000 acre) Wildlife Sanctuary provides a safe home for orphaned and injured animals which cannot be released back into the wild and the project's Carnivore Conservation Research Project researches and protects threatened wild cheetahs, leopard and brown hyena, located on the edge of the stunning Namib Desert.

The project began as the Lifeline Clinic, dedicated to providing healthcare to rural Namibians in the east of the country. It was originally an outreach service but has since become a full-time clinic with a resident doctor and nurse. In 2004 the owners bought a farm 42km outside Windhoek to establish an animal reserve and wildlife sanctuary which is where the current Wildlife Sanctuary is based. In 2012 the Foundation purchased a renowned wine and vineyard estate south west of Windhoek on the edge of the Namib Desert, which makes quality wine while conserving the land and wildlife in the area. This site and another site, also in the desert, are home to two Carnivore Conservation Programmes

The goal of the Wildlife Sanctuary is to provide a safe haven for orphaned and injured African wildlife. Efforts are directed to rehabilitation but not all the animals who come to the sanctuary can be released back into the wild and only those that can’t, mainly for reasons of human impact, remain in the sanctuary. Many animals are orphaned, have been hand raised since birth or have become too used to captivity and cannot be safely released - none of these animals would have survived without the support of the sanctuary and its volunteers and dedicated staff.

The sanctuary is home to lions, leopards, cheetah, wild dogs, caracals and baboons. There is also Mia the jackal who roams freely around the farm, Sylvie the duiker, several vervet monkeys, meerkats and mongoose, plus lots of farmyard and domestic animals. The reserve in which the sanctuary is based is also home to free-roaming game including giraffe, zebra, kudu, hartebeest and jackal, which you will regularly see during game counts. If you are lucky you might also get to see the elusive wild cheetah and leopard.

Highlights

Join other wildlife conservation volunteers from all over the world to experience this world-famous project and help make a difference to the protection and preservation of Namibia’s wildlife.

  • Help provide a safe refuge for orphaned and injured wildlife
  • Get hands on experience with African wildlife and get involved with all aspects of their care
  • Care for and feed the animals on a daily basis
  • Help rehabilitate or care for problem animals
  • Spend time interacting with baboons and caracals, helping with enrichment and stimulation activities and walking with them as they play in the bush
  • Maintain and develop the sanctuary - repairing fences and roads and rebuilding water holes
  • Provide intensive care for juvenile and baby animals including baboons and other primates
  • Participate in a diverse range of activities from conservation to animal care, research and animal handling
  • Learn to track and identify animals and learn about the threats which they face
  • Undertake fence patrols and game counts on horseback, on foot and in vehicles
  • Get up close and personal with a wide variety of wildlife in their natural environment
  • Have the opportunity to work closely on cheetah and leopard research and monitoring projects
  • Grow as a person in mind, heart and soul as you make an impact in Africa


What sort of things will I be doing?

Your time on this project is on a rotation system to ensure you experience everything which the sanctuary has to offer and so you get to meet and know as many animals as possible!

Animal care and rehabilitation:
Volunteers play an essential role in the daily care of the sanctuary’s animals:

  • Prepare meals for all the animals on a daily basis (twice a day!)
  • Help with carnivore feeding - from lions to leopard, wild dog and cheetah
  • Learn about the human-wildlife conflict and how individual animals were brought to the sanctuary
  • Clean out enclosures and feeding pens
  • Animal interaction - work closely especially with smaller animals like meerkats, baboons and monkeys - have you ever walked with a troop of baboons?!
  • Get involved with rescue and release projects
  • Help rehabilitate animals who can one day be released back into the wild

Habitat and animal enrichment
A critical volunteer role is to enrich the lives of the animals who cannot be released back into thte wild and give them as natural a life as possible and enable them to behave as closely as they would in the wild.

  • Take baboons on walks to allow them to forage, explore and splash in the waterholes
  • Learn more about these animals and bond with individuals (good for baboons and volunteers!)
  • Help with cheetah enrichment to stimulate natural behaviours such as sprinting and chasing

Small animal interaction
Depending on what animals there are at the sanctuary there is usually the opportunity to have lots of hands-on interaction with some of the smaller animals.

  • Babysitting young animals and babies
  • Quietly observing sick and injured wildlife
  • Providing company and cuddles for older animals
  • Orphaned babies may also need intensive care such as bottle feeding, observation and interaction

Baboon sleepovers!
One of the most popular and also most essential volunteer activities is giving extra care to juvenile and baby baboons who have been orphaned or abandoned. Without volunteers the sanctuary would not be able to care for as many orphans as it does.

  • Providing a mother role - bathing, feeding and taking them to bed - even baboons get scared at night!

Maintenance and repair

  • Build and repair enclosures and fences
  • Help dig new waterholes and repair erosion
  • Making toys for baboon enclosures
  • Digging trenches for new water pipes
  • Painting and decorating at the school

Research

  • Set up camera traps around the reserve and record findings
  • Monitor free-ranging carnivores in the surrounding farmlands, helping to reduce the human-wildlife conflict
  • Conduct game counts
  • Track animals fitted with GPS monitoring systems (including snakes!)
  • Conduct studies of rehabilitated animals to assess their welfare and readiness for release
  • Record behaviour patterns and social interactions
  • Track snakes!

Horse Riding

Border patrols and fence monitoring is generally done on horseback, so horse riders will have lots of chances to go out on the sanctuary’s bush horses.

Learn about wildlife and the environment

  • Go on bush walks and learn to track animals
  • Identify the trees and plants around you and learn about their uses in traditional medicine and legends
  • Learn about the constellations and the stunning night skies

Please note that activities will vary according to what animals are at the project at the time and what their needs are. Be flexible and bear in mind that the variety and number of animals can change daily. The only thing we can guarantee is that you will have an amazing time!

Cheetah Conservation and Big Cat Release
The Foundation has two research sites across Namibia and volunteers who are interested in this side of conservation are able to combine two projects into their time in Namibia. We would recommend a minimum of two weeks on the Sanctuary Programme and one week on the Carnivore Research and Release Programme for volunteers who wish to combine both projects.

Details

Do I need any experience to volunteer on this programme?

We welcome volunteers with a passion and interest in wildlife and conservation and the ability to communicate suitably in English. You should be of reasonable mobility and fitness as there is some walking and foot-based tracking involved in the project.

How do I get to the project?

Included in your programme price is a collection from Windhoek airport or from accommodation in Windhoek on a Monday or Thursday and transfer to the project. Return transfers back to Windhoek or the airport are also included.

Do I get some time off?

The animals are fed every day including Saturdays and Sundays but you will get time off over the weekend to relax and enjoy the sun, play football, enjoy the pool or play paintball. The project is located approximately 1 hour east of Windhoek and town trips are usually done on a Sunday where volunteers can go and use the internet, have lunch or do some shopping. There may also be the chance to visit the Ancient San Skills Academy to learn fire making, make bows and arrows and learn to hunt the traditional San way.

Excursions and onward travel

It is well worth considering spending some time either before or after your programme exploring Namibia.  Car hire is very affordable and there are lots of reputable car hire companies in Windhoek. There are also lots of tour operators based in Windhoek who will be able to organise visits for you to take a safari to the iconic salt pans of Etosha National Park, see the magnificent sand dunes at Sossusvlei or organise trips to Swakupmond to experience dune surfing, desert quad biking and sand-boarding! Please email us for details of tour and self-drive options, or see the Namibia tours section of our website.

Combination Projects

We highly recommend making the most out of your trip to Africa and consider combining two or more volunteer projects. You could start and finish in the same place (Harare to Harare) or use it as an opportunity to get from one country to another (e.g. Zimbabwe to Namibia).

We highly recommend combining this project with the Carnivore Research and Release Programme which is an extension to this Wildlife Sanctuary Project. There are two research sites, both based on the edge of the Namib Desert. The research projects focus on carnivore research and data capture; tracking these amazing animals and helping preserve the desert ecosystem.

A day in the life

Volunteers will usually get up for breakfast around 6.30-7.00am to get started before the day heats up. Your first activity will usually be to prepare the food for the animals and do a check of all the enclosures, cleaning them out and checking water troughs to make sure the animals have sufficient water.

Return for lunch at around 1pm and have a break during the heat of the day. At around 2.30pm you will head out for your afternoon activity. Baboon walks are often the order of the day! Some animals live permanently at the sanctuary and cannot be released so they need lots of space to roam. These walks are an amazing opportunity to get to know the animals and also give them animal enrichment and learning. Be prepared to be groomed by friendly baboons! Afternoon activities continue until sundown.

One amazing afternoon activity is the carnivore feed, where you will help staff feed the lions and leopards. This is an exciting time as you listen to the lions roar and enjoy the quintessential African sound.

Enjoy a home-cooked dinner while you chat about the day and make new friends, write your blogs and check your photographs.

Baboon sleepovers! There are very often baby animals at the wildlife sanctuary and volunteers are involved closely in their night time care. During your stay you will be responsible for bathing and feeding the babies and taking them to bed with you - it is the highlight of most volunteers stay and a crucial part of the project.

Please note that activities will vary according to what animals are at the project at the time and what their needs are. Be flexible and bear in mind that the variety and number of animals can change daily. The only thing we can guarantee is that you will have an amazing time!

Pricing and Dates

When can I volunteer?

Volunteers can begin this Wildlife Sanctuary Project on any Monday or Thursday throughout the year.

We highly recommend a 4-6 week stay on this programme.

Project pricing 2018:
1 week (on request): $655
2 weeks: $1,255
3 weeks: $1,805
4 weeks: $2,395
5 weeks: $2,995
6 weeks: $3,595
7 weeks: $4,195
8 weeks: $4,545
9 weeks: $4,895
10 weeks: $5,325
11 weeks: $5,775
12 weeks: $6,195

What does the cost include?

  • Programme fee - financing which goes back into the programme your are involved with; this includes funding for equipment, supplies, vehicles and foodstuffs
  • Transfers to and from Windhoek Hosea Kutako Airport to the project on a Monday or Thursday
  • Full board and lodging for the duration of your programme including laundry (exc. any snacks, alcoholic or fizzy drinks from the bar)
  • Three meals per day
  • Full 24 hour support and training from your programme co-ordinators during your stay
  • All programme-related transport and equipment required to do your work

The programme cost excludes:

  • Flights to Windhoek
  • Transfers from the airport on a non-transfer day (can be arranged for N$500)
  • Visas fees - all volunteers must apply for a work permit at least 8 weeks prior to the project start date. The cost of a visa is currently around N$900 and this will be paid separately to your project fee
  • Any expenses prior to your programme start date
  • Any personal items such as alcoholic drinks, snacks, additional food or souvenirs
  • Personal medical and travel insurance, which must cover the entire duration of your programme and should include cover for repatriation, air evacuation and any activities you may undertake or plan to undertake
  • Any additional trips outside the volunteer programme
  • Telephone calls and internet

Visa fees are excluded and visas take approximately 8 weeks to organise - please remember this when making your booking! We will assist you in arranging your visa, which can be arranged directly with the project.

View our booking terms and conditions

Responsible big cat conservation: combine this project with the Cheetah Research and Conservation programme, based in two of Namibia's most spectacular desert locations. Help with monitoring and tracking of released cheetah and leopard and help reduce the human-carnivore conflict in a remote area of Namibia. 

Accommodation

You have a choice of accommodation on this Wildlife Sanctuary volunteer project. You may choose to stay in volunteer rooms which sleep up to three same sex volunteers or in large tents shared by two volunteers (same sex or couples). The rooms are basic but the beds are comfortable and bedding is provided.

Hot water is supplied by solar power but there is electricity for charging cameras etc in the communal areas. There is a free laundry service but we would recommend a small bottle of detergent for washing underwear etc.

Three meals a day are provided while you are volunteering and tea and coffee is freely available through the day. Alcoholic and fizzy drinks can be purchased from the farm. Vegetarians and those with dietary requirements can usually be accommodated - please just let us know on your booking form!

Its time to get away from it all - there is no internet at the Wildlife Sanctuary but there is a weekly trip into Windhoek where you can visit an internet cafe. Cell phone roaming is available and you can buy a local SIM card for N$10 which is cheaper for calls and texting. Cell phone signal is weak but there are a few spots where reception is OK!

Reviews

For me this project is my second home, I've been there three times now and every time it just gets better. The baboons are the main reason I love it so much, the interaction you get with them is incredible!
The experiences I've had have been unforgettable, watching Caitlin the leopard run free will stay with me forever. It has been an absolute privilege to spend so much time working somewhere that cares so greatly about the lives of these amazing animals and working with some brilliant people."

Caroline Walkley, England

"My experience was one of a life time. Both the Lifeline Clinic and the wildlife experience is something I will talk about forever. I think it is important for volunteers to share with the rest of the world, to raise awareness of our beautiful planet and the beautiful people who devote their lives to humanity and ecology."
Kathryn Reid, Canada

Destination

Volunteering in Namibia
 

Namibia is a place of contrasts - from vibrant, colourful cities to the immense desert scenery, mountains and ocean. It is characterised by vast open spaces, breathtaking scenery and has a rich cultural history and some of Africa’s most stunning and unique landscapes. With its looming red sand dunes, the turbulent Orange River, a variety of adventure activities, traditional towns, deep canyons and spectacular bronze sunsets, Namibia is a travellers dream.

Namibia is perfect for travellers looking for unspoilt wilderness areas, 300 days a year of perfect sunshine and a huge variety of wildlife. Its name is taken from the 80 million year old Namib Desert which makes up more than 10% of the country - Namib means “vast” in the local Nama language. With a stable infrastructure, travel around the country is easy and getting off the beaten track into deserted wildlife areas can be done with confidence.

Sossusvlei Dunes are home to the highest sand dunes in the world and Namibia’s most outstanding scenic attraction. Part of the Namib Desert, these dunes have developed over millions of years, the wind continuously shifting the sand further and further inland, reshaping patterns in distinctive warm tints. Climbing to the top of one of these dunes provides breathtaking views of the whole area, including Deadvlei, a large ghostly expanse of dried white clay punctuated by skeletons of ancient camelthorn trees, carbon dated between 500-600 years old.

Etosha National Park is Namibia’s first conservation area, designated in 1907. Undoubtedly one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on earth and one of Africa’s best game reserves, Etosha is home to huge herds of elephant, black-maned lions, cheetah and the world’s largest population of the rare black rhino.  Etosha owes its unique landscape to the Etosha Pan, a vast shallow depression of approximately 1,930 square miles which forms the heart of the park. Once part of a large inland lake fed by rivers from the north and east, it dried up 120 million years ago as continental drift changed the slope of the land and the course of the tributaries. This white, chalky expanse colours the park, and with the waterholes, creates the characteristic atmosphere of the Etosha of today.

To the west of Khorixas in North-West Namibia is Twyfelfontein, a massive open-air art gallery carved into red rock by ancient Bushmen overlooking an expansive valley below. The engravings, some estimated to be 6,000 years old, record the wildlife seen in area - giraffe, rhino, elephants, ostrich and even a lion. It is believed that the creators incised their engravings as a means of entering the supernatural world and recording their shamanic experience among the spirits. Whatever the meaning, the site was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2008.

Swakopmund is Namibia’s playground - a holiday haven away from the dusty heat of the interior. While there is plenty to do within the city, the real action takes place in the desert surrounding the town. Quad-biking, sand-boarding, sand-skiing, parasailing and other adrenaline actives are available from any of the adventure operators in the area. Visit Walvis Bay and join a dolphin cruise or explore the lagoon on a kayak.

What will the weather be like?
During the Namibian summer (November - January) temperatures average 30°c and often go to over 40°c. Volunteers should bring light cotton clothing, a wide-brimmed hat or cap, polarised sunglasses, a water bottle, plenty of high factor sunscreen (and after-sun!), strong mosquito spray and closed shoes. A light waterproof jacket is also essential for sudden downpours! Average lows are around 17-20°c. Summer is an amazing time of year where you can watch thunderstorms approach from miles away and witness incredible electric storms and light shows!

During winter (April - August) daytime temperatures average 25-27°c with no rainfall at all. Temperatures during the night and in the mornings and evenings regularly go below 0°c and volunteers are advised to bring lots of layers including fleeces and a warm hat for nighttime camping with a wide-brimmed hat or cap and loose light clothing for daytime.

Book Now

Drop us an email to enquire about availability and reserve your place!

Go to our contact form.

Project Gallery - Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary

Testimonials

Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary The Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary is a very special place, devoted to the care and well-being of the animals that live there. While at the sanctuary I was able to participate in almost all of the activities it had to offer; including research, carnivore feeding, baby animal care, food prep, baboon walks, game counts and so much more! The coordinators were so devoted to their jobs and the animals. They made every activity one to be excited about, ... Abbey R, USA Read More

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