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A Special Place In Namibia

May 18, 2018

Each country has its special places, and so it is in Namibia. There is for example the Fish River Canyon, the Etosha National Park and Damaraland, with its desert adapted elephants.

To be sure, to see the elephants – not in a far distance but as close by as they like you next to them – you should join the volunteering program of EHRA!

You will find this special place at the Ugab river where there is the base camp. Enjoy it! You will find a kitchen, a fixed toilet, a shower and a washbowl. You’ll sleep under the stars in a tree house.

Going out on build week is always different: it depends where the volunteers will help the local people. So the area for the camp is never the same. As well as the volunteers: most of them stay for two weeks while others stay for 4, 6 or 8 weeks. Some will come back. It’s always a group from all over the world.

What is it, why do we join the EHRA-team, why do we come back? It differs, but I think, what connects all us all is: we love nature and… elephants. The desert adapted elephants are a small group, they share the land with the local people – and some tourists. All need water, and water is really rare in Namibia. So sometimes problems are caused by this.  That’s why the volunteers are here, together with the EHRA staff: to protect the water “stations” of the local people in Damaraland from the elephants. The elephants will be offered water at their own water points. And so everyone will be happy.

Sometimes it’s hard to work outside, in the fresh air, with all the heat of Africa. But no problem: there is enough water to drink for all the volunteers and you’ll cook great dishes on the open camp fire. So you’ll not lose your power. And if you are vegetarian or vegan, tell them before, the cooking-plan will be adjusted for you.

EHRA Volunteer with spade for Build Week
Jean-Pierre during EHRA Build Week

After 4 days “out in the field” you’ll go back to base camp and stay there for the weekend. The following week you’ll see a lot of different places in Damaraland. You’re on your way to find the elephants. Don’t worry, you don’t have to walk, you’ll go with the jeeps. Sometimes you might climb up a hill because it’s really difficult to see the elephants among the trees. But the staff know where to find them. Each afternoon you’ll build up a one night camp until the last day when you drive back to base camp.

In between these two weeks you’ll not only work or do the kitchen duty, you’ll also find new friends, talk about this and that, enjoy the nature, take pictures, play games, have fun, make sports like yoga etc. etc. etc. It depends on what the people in your group are interested in doing at the hours of lunch break and at the evening time while sitting around the camp fire. Some might find out that porridge in the morning time isn’t as bad as expected or that cooking in an open kitchen is possible – and it tastes well.

How do I know? I have been twice with EHRA, 2016 and 2017. I, 52, went together with my husband, 57, who was a little bit skeptical at first. But being there he felt great. It was his idea to come back the next year (2017) – and to stay for 4 weeks. And so we did. But for the second time we were not only volunteers. We also joined the Fundraising Trek. We, a group of 9 + 2 guides + a famous duty team, walked within 6 days a distance of 123,4 km through Damaraland. We climbed up Doros Crater, found a secret and salty spring and we found other, very rare plants, like bushman-candle. We saw different wild animals like zebras, springboks and little snakes in their natural environment. And at the last evening, a big group of elephants passed by our camp. This was great, to see them in the dark, hearing the rumbling, hearing the cracking of the branches. If you want to know more about this, join one of the following Fundraising Treks. I’ll not tell the whole story. It has to stay exciting for you.

EHRA volunteer trekking through Damaraland
Vera on the Fundraising Trek

The funding from this trek was for the PEACE (People and Elephants Amicably Co-Existing) Project of EHRA. With the PEACE Project the local communities, rangers, lodge owners in the area, school kids and many others of the locals get information how to behave when the elephants are around. Check out the facebook page of EHRA. There you can read about the latest PEACE Projects and you’ll find pictures as well.

On facebook you can find out who is there or had been there as a volunteer and what was their business.

It would be nice if the volunteers would bring a stick with them to put their photos on it and hand it to the EHRA staff. So others can see their pics and might join one of the following volunteering groups to make their own adventure that you will never forget.

Jean-Pierre & Vera, Germany

Posted in: EHRA stories