Location: Southern Namibia
Duration: 4-6 weeks
Start Dates: Expeditions run from March-November
Cost: £1,989 GBP for 5 weeks
Includes: food, In-country support , airport pickup, all necessary project equipment and orientation.
Does not include: Flights, visas, insurance and airport taxes.
Embark on a remote expedition, exploring a place not many people have explored, learning new skills and helping discover what species exist on the 45,000 hectares of wild land.
The 45,000 hectares of wild land in Southern Namibia where this expedition takes place offer an opportunity to better understand the ecosystem and discover the species that exist in this wild land. The habitat is semi-arid mountainous desert in the Nama-Karoo biome and it encompasses a 50km stretch of the Orange River. It is a home to some of the most iconic species of flora and fauna such as the Quiver tree, the African leopard, the Greater Kudu, Brown Hyena, Caracal, Oryx, Honey badger, Aardvark, Giant Kingfisher and the African Black Eagle.
The area was secured by the renowned conservationist Ian Craig and the leading mega-fauna veterinary Pete Morkel for the sole purpose of conserving Namibia’s wildlife. Their vision is for re-wilding the land and linking up with the neighboring conservancies in order to one day turn the greater protected area into a national park and a home for the country’s endangered wildlife species. This is a long-standing research project on the flora and fauna which aims to archive information for one of Southern Namibia’s largest protected areas. This is a unique opportunity for a true biodiversity exploration as the region has never been studied before.
If you are an aspiring naturalist looking to focus on biology and conservation or building leadership skills, this adventure conservation expedition is the one for you! Come explore true wilderness with a great bunch of people.
While on the expedition you will be involved with many different aspects of conservation. One aspect is re-wilding as the Oana conservancy is in a transitional phase from a livestock/hunting ranch into a protected area for wildlife. You will participate in regenerating the habitat, clearing scrap, taking down fences, revegetation, vulture restaurant and developing water points for the animals.
Also, you will participate in studying and eradicating a highly invasive plant, the Prosopis, which is posing a problem. After clearing the invasive species you can work on the indigenous tree nursery.
By identifying key game trails, setting up camera traps and identifying individuals, you will get involved in an ongoing leopard survey. You will learn capture and recapture methods and map each leopard’s territory to find out their home ranges.
Engaging in biodiversity surveys will allow you to be a real cowboy/cowgirl. Mammal game counts will bring you on three-day horseback missions into the mountains with pack horses. Additionally you will conduct bird and amphibian surveys on the river.
Tracking spore with the Khwe bushmen, some of the best wildlife trackers in Africa, will include collecting scat, identifying species, logging the data and taking specimens back to base camp to conduct dietary analysis using a microscope. Spore tracking and scat identification is a means of taking stock of what species exist on the land and of monitoring their movement.
As the worldwide bee population is decreasing, bee-keeping is becoming a more relevant and important part of conservation. You will learn details about bee ecology and how to harvest a hive yourself!
Another aspect of your work may involve relocating and releasing animals. This is not guaranteed unless releasing is truly necessary and there has been a thorough assessment.
Additional fun activities in which you can get involved are cooking lessons, yoga, arts, Khwe bushman skills, community work in Warmbad, mountain biking, fishing, white-water rafting, hiking, geology, fly camps, horse-riding, star-gazing!
As a part of the expeditions you will participate in field trips to the world’s second largest canyon - Fish River Canyon, to the neighbouring conservancy, to Sandfontein where you can track special and remarkable species and for white-water rafting on Orange River.
Why visit Oana and join an expedition?
Oana conservancy is a rare and out-of-this-world opportunity, it is one of the last true wildernesses of Southern Africa in which you are completely able to roam free and explore. An expedition with Oana is the closest you’ll get to going back in time and setting out on a Livingstone style adventure. Oana is untouched by science, unexplored by mankind and waiting to unravel what secrets may lie within. You will live 100% off the grid, be one of the first to map the area, pinpoint which species survive in the harsh semi-arid mountainous desert, which mammals are hiding in the banks of the lush, green 50km of Orange River and what birds are hatching on cliff-edge nests.
With global populations quickly depleting, rhino and elephants on the brink of extinction; renowned Conservationist Ian Craig, whom is Prince William and Sir David Attenborough’s right hand man when it comes to wildlife conservation, made the heroic decision to intervene and secured the 45,000 hectares which is now Oana conservancy with the single aim of ensuring the survival of Africa’s remaining mega-fauna. The aim of the volunteering program is to carry out baseline research on the conservancy and re-wild the land from livestock/hunting reserve back into its natural ecosystem. The volunteer program is fundamental in transitioning the land from a reserve into a National Park within 15 years – this is the ultimate aim. All the conservation projects are carried out by volunteers and funded by volunteers. Without you there would be no funding for land management, (fixing water points for wildlife, taking down inner boundary fences, removing alien species, the reintroduction of wildlife etc.) your role is crucial and you will see how your time makes a huge difference. Each expedition focuses on key projects, therefore there are no gimmicky activities; you will work on what actually needs to get done.
Conservation is not always glamorous but you will come away feeling a huge sense of accomplishment. We are at the early phase of re-wilding, you will be involved in baseline surveys of fauna and flora: setting up traps & identification, plant pressing and logging, camera trap leopard survey through habitat types, fixed-point camera study of habitat desertification, soil study. Once all the data is collected and we understand our ecosystem a lot better, then we can start considering reintroductions so that we do not upset the ecosystem. You will be a part of real conservation and every person joining an expedition will make his/her mark and leave knowing they made a difference to the future of the critically endangered wildlife of Namibia. If you have specific skills or interests please do voice this beforehand so we can tailor and set up projects specific to you.
With conservation comes community, we like to give back where we can. We have teamed up with the Ministry of Forestry and from March 2017 volunteers will be involved in setting up Warmbad’s (our local village) first ever community vegetable garden. Food security is a big problem in our area. The land is harsh and crops fail, it has not rained properly in 3 years and the community is struggling. We are going to teach drip irrigation and other efficient permaculture techniques so the locals can start producing their own food.
Now comes the fun part…
Expeditions are led by scientists (the fun kind) Andrea and Ed, who met at Durrell Institute of Conservation Ecology in Kent during their MSc. Once they graduated they got straight into the action and moved to Northern Tanzania to work in community conservation. Andrea worked in education and outreach making wildlife education films for children living in rural areas and Ed set up a bee-keeping business for the Maasai women as a women empowerment project. After a year in Tanzania – Ian Craig, having worked with Ed before in Kenya, offered them the opportunity and now here they are leading what could be your next trip abroad! Ed and Andrea are not just your project leaders, they do their utmost to create a family during each expedition, they will guide you, be your mentor and most importantly be your friends. It's tough being out in the bush, away from home and living off the grid. Conservation is hard work, but Ed and Andrea’s love for the natural world and passion for protecting it will get you pumped and you will not want to leave when the time comes.
‘A wee glimpse’
Highlights are 3-day fly camp missions to the Orange River. Ed and Andrea will get you up early at base camp, tuck into a hearty breakfast prepared by the camp chef, and lead you on an epic 2-hour walk through canyons, river beds, dry waterfalls and finally arriving at the oasis of a river in the middle of the surrounding rocky peaks. You will be hot and sweaty and so glad to arrive, strip straight into your swimwear and splash about all day in the river. There are no crocs, no hippos and no scary things so you can spend all day wallowing like hippos, reading a book, fishing or simply cracking open a nice, cold beer. You will camp out in mosquito dome tents on the sandy beaches on the river bank, start a barbie and taste all sorts of exotic wild game meat, roast marshmallows and share memories you’ll cherish forever. Once in your tent, switch off your torch and watch the carpet of stars in the sky and shooting stars fall towards you – a sight which will blow you away.
Travel and Accommodation
You will be accommodated in a semi-luxury bedouin style tented camp which has 24 hour security.
Three delicious hearty meals are provided every day as well as plenty of snacks in between meals.
Please note that there is no wifi at base camp; however, you will have some access to Warmbad town where some wifi access can be found.
- Minimum age 18.
- Passion and enthusiasm to get to know the country and lots of energy and creativity.
- No previous skills are necessary, however, you will need to speak English at a conversational level.
- Minimum 4-weeks commitment
- Necessary vaccinations.
- Necessary flight & visas.
- Full travel & medical insurance. Full assistance will be provided in getting everything you will need ready if you choose our Premium Support.
|$ USD||£ GBP*|
* Currency conversions are approximate.
** All payments incur a 5% bank transfer fee.
*** Places are confirmed with a 20% deposit.
Project Fee includes accommodation, food, in-country staff and 24hr emergency support, transportation from Upington airport to the base camp, all necessary project equipment and an orientation upon arrival
What's not included:
Flights, visas costs, travel health insurance, international and domestic airport taxes, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. Full assistance will be provided if you opt for our Premium Support.
Placement Support Package
For your trip, we will help you organise and plan everything you will need from start to finish. Our coordinators know each project & country like the back of their hand, and will be able to offer personalised advice to ensure your trip is well-planned & executed to perfection.
This includes one-to-one assistance planning and booking;
- Pre-departure Support - Flights, Visas, Vaccinations, Insurance, Essential Items and anything else you will need before you set off.
- Ongoing In-country Support - whilst you are on the project you can Contact us at any time with any questions or concerns and we will do whatever we can to help.
- 24/7 Emergency Support - a phone number that you or your family can ring at any time, night or day in case of emergency.
Our Placement Support Package costs £249 / $349 / €295 per person, and can be purchased once you are ready to confirm your place.