Volunteer Abroad FAQ Namibia

Family Volunteering

Prior to arrival

Do I need specific requirements or abilities to apply for this project?

To participate in this project you should have sufficient English skills in order to understand the course contents. The minimum age is 18 years and for children 8 years. You and your family should be physically fit enough to work and hike during high temperatures. Furthermore, you might need a visa for your volunteering work. You can either check out the foreign department’s website or ask the NATUCATE team directly for the visa standards.

What services are included?

We will arrange your place in the project in Namibia prior to your departure and assist you with any problems and questions during the preparation of your journey as well as during your project. Arrival and departure flights are not included, but we can help you find suitable ones. We can provide you with necessary information about a travel insurance that you will need to start your volunteering work. There will also be an experienced supervisor on site in Namibia who will support you with any questions and problems. Your accommodation in a camp under the stars, beverages, food, and transport is included during the time of your project. Accommodation, food, and any facultative expenses during your time in Swakopmund, however, are not included.

Do I need certain medical precautions or requirements?

Prior to your departure to Namibia you should talk to your doctor about necessary vaccinations. You should make sure to be vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B, Polio and Tetanus. Although it is unlikely in the camps, there might be occurrences of Malaria and Cholera in Namibia. Shortly before you depart, you should check out the homepage of the foreign department for current information, warnings, and possible risks. There are many poisonous animals in Namibia, like scorpions or spiders so that a certain kind of attentiveness is advisable.

What kind of equipment should I take with me?

You will be spending a lot of time outside – that’s why you will need outdoor clothing like hiking boots, long light pants for every day and a head gear. You clothes should be hold in darker, unobtrusive colors (grey, khaki, brown, green). It is also advisable to pack some warmer clothes for the nights. Furthermore you should bring sunscreen, insect repellent, a water bottle and a sketch pad. Please make sure to only bring the most necessary valuables with you – on the one hand because of the risk of damage, on the other hand because of the risk of theft at the airport or in large cities.

Arrival

How do I arrive at my destination, do I have to organize it myself?

Since Walvis Bay airport is only 20 minutes away from the meeting point Swakopmund it is recommended that you arrive there. We gladly assist you with organizing your flights but cannot book them for you. A lot of flights end in Namibia’s capitol Windhoek. You can either book a connecting flight or take the bus to Swakopmund. If you fly to Windhoek you should arrive there by 12 o’clock on a Sunday the latest so that you have enough time for your transfer to Swakopmund. You plan and organize your arrival and departure on your own, but you will of course get further information and assistance from NATUCATE.

What happens after my arrival?

We recommend you to arrive in Windhoek the weekend before the project starts so that you will have enough time for your transfer to Swakopmund. You meet the team and get an introduction to the project on Sunday evening. You thus should have arrived in Swakopmund by 18:30 that evening the latest. The project starts on Monday morning. You will run some errands and then get to your basecamp by bus (ca. 4 hours). The project lasts ten days. At the end your team will travel back to Swakopmund together. During the time of the project you and your family will be accommodated in the basecamp for the first week. After that you will camp at many different places. When you’re on patrol you either take the jeep or walk.

During the project

How's the project structured?

You will spend the first week of the project supporting the local population with building measures. Since the sun is very strong around noon, you and your team will have time for a short break. During the second week you will commit yourself to the research of the desert elephant. This will include observing their behaviour and monitoring their walking paths. The days during the second project will start quite early to make use of the time before the midday heat.

The project always starts Monday at 11 a.m. in Swakopmund and ends ten days later.

What is my main function? Can I choose my tasks and will I be working independently?

The first week of the project is committed to a “Building Project” at a primary school in Erongo. The main goal of this project is to help contain the Human-Wildlife-Conflict and enable humans and animals to live together peacefully. After the school project you will be on patrol where you will get involved in elephant research. The focus here is to have a presence in areas where elephants are under threat and make sure they are not injured. You will also help to compile identification files of ‘new’ herds since they often cause a lot of damage to farms. To accomplish these tasks you will cross the wild backcountry either in a jeep or walking.

You will acquire a lot of new knowledge from different areas during these projects. You will, for example, learn to approach wild animals safely, to understand their behaviour and to navigate in nature with maps and GPS. You will do a lot of handicraft working and deal with traditional construction methods. You will also get to know the camp life: You will learn how to set up a camp in the open, how to cook over the fire and how to live without many technical devices.

How big is the group?

To assure the safety, learning quality and process of the project we try to keep the group as small as possible. In general, there won’t be more than 14 people in one group.

Life on site

What is the accommodation like?

During the first week you eat and sleep in the basecamp that is just a short walk away from Okongue Primary School where you will be working for the next few days. You will sleep under the stars at the campfire where you are also going to cook and eat together. The second week is committed to patrol. During this time you will camp in the open at a different place every night. Sanitary facilities are limited. You will have no flush toilet and only improvised showers (“bushman shower”) in the first week. During the second week there won’t be any kind of facilities at all.

How is the food provided?

You will prepare meals and eat at the campfire together. ‘Kitchen duty’ will rotate so that every family will be responsible for the meals once.

Is it possible to receive vegetarian meals?

Yes, you will be able to eat vegetarian during the project.

How are working hours and free time divided?

Your time on the project has a duration of 10 days. You will be working with your team at daytime and have free time in the evening. The school project will end on Thursday of the first week. The Friday is your day off and you will have time to explore the area. Patrol days start on Saturday and end on Wednesday. After that you will have time for various activities like kayaking or quad biking. After you made your way back to Swakopmund, you and your family may spend your weekend there.

How can I spend my free time?

On your day off in between the two projects you have the opportunity to participate in a guided nature walk or you may simple relax in the camp.

Do I have a contact person on site?

There will be a friendly and professional team of volunteers and project leaders on site that will gladly help you if you have any questions or problems. You can also contact the NATUCATE team anytime.

What costs do I have to expect during the project? Can I withdraw cash on site and do I have to pay in local currency?

You won’t need a lot of money during the time of the project. You might need money for additional snacks or beverages. Before you and your team head to the camp you will run some errands in Swakopmund since this won’t be possible at the project site. Additional costs may occur for accommodation, food, beverages, and optional trips when you and your family spend time in Swakopmund. You won’t be able to withdraw money on the project site, but you also won’t need any. You can withdraw money with all major credit cards in Swakopmund and at the airport.

How can I contact family and friends at home?

You can contact your family during your time in Swakopmund. You can look for an internet café or inform yourself about prepaid cards.

Am I allowed to take my phone with me?

You are generally allowed to take your phone with you. When you’re on patrol days, however, you should leave it in the camp where you can safely lock it in. Cell phones are not allowed in the reservation area to protect animals from poaching.

What’s the weather/climate like?

The project will take place in the Erongo region. In the Namibian desert you will be confronted with high temperatures and a dry climate. The raining season usually starts in January and ends in March/April.

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