Namibia Desert Elephant Conservation

14-56 days from £1,029

£49 Deposit
Family group of elephants

Live and work alongside Namibia's elusive desert elephant

Live and work alongside Namibia's elusive desert elephant

Mother and baby elephant in Namibia
Building projects in Namibia
Incredible African Elephants

Trip Highlights

  • Get up close with fascinating desert elephants
  • Learn about elephant behaviour and how to identify and track local herds with highly experienced trackers
  • Volunteer with one of our most established volunteer projects 
  • Get a real sense of achievement as you help building walls to protect water sources for local people
  • Sleep out under the amazing African sky
  • Take part in pioneering conservation work, REAL conservation work with a grassroots organisation
  • Go back to basics at the project's stunning base camp
  • Learn to cook five star meals over the camp fire

Trip Summary

Take part in one of our most established programmes to help with vital conservation work and protect the future of Namibia's elusive Desert Elephant. Learn how to track and identify Desert Elephants and help local rural communities live side by side with these majestic animals. Go on Elephant tracking patrol and live in an exclusive remote base camp, sleeping wild under the amazing Africa sky - a truly unique and once in a lifetime experience!

As a volunteer on this unique programme, you'll play an active role with conservation in Namibia as you help local people and farmers understand the importance of living side by side with Desert Elephants. You’ll be rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty as you help them to protect their vital water sources by building walls and barriers.

You’ll also have the unique opportunity to track Desert Elephants through inspiring landscapes in Namibia's Damaraland, in areas where you will see no other humans (other than fellow volunteers of course) the whole week; 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. 

During this week you should have the opportunity to have close experiences with elephants and to gain knowledge on elephant behavior and their fascinating societies from some of the best elephant experts in Namibia. The project is full of adventure and volunteers can expect to see other wildlife during elephant patrol, including zebra, giraffe, black rhino, kudu, oryx, springbok.

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

Trip Info

Volunteer Role

This project works directly with the local community in protecting vulnerable structures from damage done by the elephants in search of water. The project is real, grassroots conservation and is popular with volunteers as you will be able to see the difference YOU make to help the communities and therefore conserve the elephants.

During the first week 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, as elephants tend to damage wells and water pumps in their search for water.

The second week is the elephant patrol, which is an unforgettable week tracking elephants out in the wilds of the desert. 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.

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

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. Our local team will arrange accommodation for you in Swakopmund but you will need to pay for this locally, full details on the arrangements that have been made for you will be sent to you prior to departure.

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. 

You will spend one week at the building site working on the wall, which is made from local stone and cement brought in by the project. There are 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. On the Sunday 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!)

The Trekking and Patrol Project

On Monday morning volunteers head off on patrol for the next week. Patrols are lead 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 our local desert-adapted elephant herds. During the week you will be spending a lot of time with the elephants in close quarters, learning from your guides about the elephants and their behaviour.  

This project is a perfect opportunity for people 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.

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What's Included

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

What's Not Included

  • 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

More Whats Included


I've done this trip

Write review

Overall Rating 10/10

Sophie Thorpe

How would you rate your overall experience?

Please rate the service received from our team before departure

Please rate the service provided by the team in country

How do you rate your arrival overseas and orientation (if applicable)?

How worthwhile was any volunteering in your trip (only if applicable)?

Please rate the accommodation during your stay

Would you recommend Real Gap Experience?


What were the highlights of your trip?

A highlight of the desert elephant project was working alongside the team during patrol week and identifying a 6 month old elephant calf as male! I also loved the work we did during build week as it was so rewarding to see how the work done throughout the local communities protecting their valuable water sources improves the local farmers relationships with the wild elephants!

Tips for other travellers?

Take double the amount of baby wipes that you think you will need and aloe vera gel as your skin gets so dry with all the sand and heat!

How would you rate your overall experience?

Please rate the service received from our team before departure

Please rate the service provided by the team in country

Please rate the accommodation during your stay

What were the highlights of your trip?

:meeting great people even if they were half my age or less! :being in a stunning environment :working and living with the natural world :learning of new skills and using them to good effect : being accepted for who you are and what you have to give :the brilliant night sky

Tips for other travellers?

: Pack half of what you think you need :Be open-minded :Keep a daily diary

How would you rate your overall experience?

What were the highlights of your trip?

Meeting like-minded people, getting to know the elephants, sleeping under the stars. I didn't want to leave!

Tips for other travellers?

Stay in Namibia a few more days after the Project is over - you can make plans with other volunteers to do more things, travel more. Bring lots of books for siesta :) Take clothing that are duller colours. Elephants find bright, vibrant colours, including black and white, curious.

How would you rate your overall experience?

Please rate the service received from our team before departure

Please rate the service provided by the team in country

Please rate the accommodation during your stay

What were the highlights of your trip?

Living under the stars for 2 weeks Watching a herd of wild elephants walk past metres from us having tracked them for days Cooking on an open fire Being able to see how worthwhile our work was to the local farmers Meeting such an amazing group of people

Tips for other travellers?

Be prepared to smell! Take loads of baby wipes Just enjoy the whole experience, it will undoubtedly be one of the best things you will ever do

How would you rate your overall experience?

Please rate the service received from our team before departure

Please rate the accommodation during your stay

What were the highlights of your trip?

It was all absolutely fantastic. The people were great, Neil, the guide, was awesome, the whole trip was well thought out (eg food, and activities and the work). Highlights were seeing the elephants, and living out in the remotest parts of the desert.

Tips for other travellers?

Take a headtorch Travel as lightly as possible

More Reviews

Accommodation & Meals

This project is a great back-to-basics programme, experiencing the natural setting of the African bush. We set up our mobile base 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.

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To arrange your flights, contact our fantastic flights team on 01892 277037 or email them at [email protected] Or by using the form below.

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Arrival Information

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. 


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Eligibility & FAQ's

Minimum age 18 years old, maximum dependant on participant's health.

There are no minimum numbers on the trip.

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Dates & Prices

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