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Namibia

Help Save The Rhino

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An invigorating wilderness experience.

Creating a new national park for the rhino.

Oana Conservancy is tucked away in southern Namibia and covers over 50,000 hectares of utterly stunning, raw Africa. It homes a dramatic semi-arid landscape made up of small mountains and plains with the Orange River running alongside creating an idyllic oasis of green, contrasting with the terracotta hue of the sand and mountains. Simply breathtaking.

Oana was rescued from its previous life as a hunting ranch by the renowned conservationist Ian Craig. He secured the land with the aim to ecologically restore and link it up with neighbouring conservancies to, one day, create a national park to home Namibia's endangered wildlife. He has built a semi-permanent base camp and focuses on volunteer tourism to help make this possible. It's all led by Ed Barthorp and Andrea Pawel who are quite simply an awesome couple and will make sure everyone has a great time.

This MidLife program will allows you to be part of their 'restore and preserve' journey - a wilderness African experience interwoven with adventure at every turn.

I promise you it doesn't get any better than this for adventure, wilderness, challenge, immersion and fun.

Take a deep breath and dust down your rucksack - head to Namibia to help rebuild Oana's ecosystem, so it can once again be home to endangered wildlife. As a team you can make a difference to this ambitious conservation project.


Trip Itinerary

During a 9-day itinerary you will get stuck into rewilding conservation involving leopards, lizards and gemsbok, an adrenaline overhaul as you navigate the white water of the Orange River in May or a rhino safari in September.

This is what we've planned...

Arrive

Oana Conservancy

Welcome to Oana

You will be picked up from Upington Airport in South Africa, where you will met by our trusted transfer team who will take you over the border into Namibia and onto the the famous 'crossing' where Ed and Andrea will be waiting for you. From that point in you will be totally submerged in the wilderness and seeing a part of Africa that is totally off the tourist grid.

The transfer time takes about 5 hours - so brace yourself and enjoy the scenery, which is utterly stunning.

We aim for everyone to be on the same flight so please let us co-ordinate as we need you to be in Upington by 12.30, so we reach the border before it closes at 4.00pm.

Accommodation

Think 1930's safari living: think glamping in a tented camp set out in the middle of the reserve surrounded by volcanic mountains: think homely, boho, Bedouin vibe – chill out zones full of sofas, cushions, a bar, campfire and star gazing.
2 - 3 man sleeping tents, with South African camp beds (really comfy).
Shared bathrooms.

Food

3 meals a day provided of home cooked food over the campfire. From freshly baked bread, stews and salads to pizza. They have a great cook but we will be expected to help with the pots and pans and around the camp. It's all about the team spirit.

Day 2 - 3

Reserve Conservation Game counts + tree removal

Contributing to Long-Term Projects

Re-wilding
Oana is home to some of the most iconic species of flora and fauna in Africa, 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. However it is an area unstudied and given its history they need to understand who lives where and in what numbers - the first stage of 're-wilding' the land.

To help with this we will jump into the back of the landrover, bino's at the ready, to seek out and record what we find - whilst analysing footprints and spore.

We will also be involved in an ongoing leopard survey, which involves identifying key game trails, setting up camera traps and IDing individuals, mapping out each leopard's territory to work out their home range.

Land Development
Oana are in the process of removing old buildings, structures and scrap left from its hunting days, developing water points for animals, building micro-basins to help regenerate plains, removing alien vegetation and building hides for wildlife observation at water points.

Ed has suggested we start with the alien vegetation - which involves an axe and setting fire to the intruders. The gappies love this - and very very good for anger management.


Day 4

Desert Trek Trekking

Explore the Desert and Mountain Terrain

Hiking will be a big part of our time here, so dust down those walking boots...we will be finding evening sundowner spots as a matter of course, but we will be taken on early morning treks across the reserve to see it in all its glory.

The reserve encompasses everything from terracotta granite outcrops to towering black, perfectly formed, extinct volcanoes, interspersed with sandy grass plains and 50km of river frontage.

Lots of selfie opportunities here :)

Days 5 - 8

Orange River White Water Rafting or Rhino Safari

White Water Raft Down the Orange River in May

An exhilarating 3-day adventure over white water (up to level 3 rapids), cutting through an ever changing vista of dramatic gorges and canyons.

You'll raft during the mornings before stopping off at a beach along the way to build a camp for the evening. Afternoons will be spent sunbathing, swimming, fishing, reading and relaxing.

Please note: the safety of the white water depends on the level of water in the river and at times it might be too high or too low. If this is the case we will have to adjust the itinerary to accommodate the situation.

Sandfontein Reserve in September

For those going in September - this is a top secret mission where you will head into the neighbouring reserve to track wild rhino. No photo's allowed. The last group did this and it was a highlight.

Accommodation

Tents along the riverbank or in lodge accommodation at Sandfontein.

Food

All provided.

Day 9

Departure Day Back to Uppington

Up early for the transfer back to Upington to catch our flight out.


Trip Details & Costs

9th - 17th May 2020 (depart UK on the night of the 8, return UK on the 18th)

15th - 23rd September 2020 (depart UK on the night of the 14th, return UK on the 24th)

26th September - 4th October (depart UK on the night of the 25th, return UK on the 5th Oct)

May and September

2020: 9 May, 15 Sep, 26 Sep

Costs

9 day Namibia - £2148
Oana Reserve + White Water Rafting or Rhino Safari
2020: £2148

Safari living

Live the explorer's dream in a tented safari camp, in the middle of a private game reserve in raw Africa. I promise you, it doesn't get much better.

Big picture

A unique and exclusive opportunity to be part of creating a new National Park in Africa.

Adrenline

Whitewater rafting and maybe a spot of mountain biking - so get ready and be limbering up a few weeks beforehand.

Hands on conservation

Contribute to projects which are all aimed at getting this land ready for the introduction of the black rhino.

Time in, Time Out

The working day will start early, around 6:30/7:00 to take advantage of the cooler mornings. But there will be plenty of lunchtime siestas, down time for yoga sessions and perfectly chilled sundowners.

The Long-Term Plan for Oana

With rhino and elephants on the brink of extinction; renowned conservationist Ian Craig, Prince William and Sir David Attenborough’s right-hand man when it comes to conservation, made a heroic decision to intervene and secured 45,000 hectares of Namibia, with the single aim of providing a home for the last remaining black rhino.

He enrolled scientists, Andrea and Ed, to help his cause. Together they have turned the land into a conservancy called Oana and have drawn up a 5-year plan and list of tasks needed to transform the land back into the ideal habitat to reintroduce and protect the black rhino. Eventually they will join up with neighbouring reserves to create a new national park for Namibia.

All our leap volunteers, both gappers and midlifers, are key to this transition as they get stuck into hands-on conservation and leave knowing they have made a difference to the future of critically endangered wildlife of Africa.

Leaper's Highlights

Have a read of what our MidLifer testimonials.

Watch our videos

Namibia

View Base camp on the reserve

Namibia

Conservation on the reserve

Namibia

Adventure on the reserve

"Their passion and committment was infectious."

Being at Oana really was one of the happiest and best experiences of my life and I am going back in 2020.

The hands on conservation work included removing old fencing to enable wildlife migration, building a wildlife hide, putting out hay mangers and setting camera traps for wildlife monitoring - all of which was great fun. On our last day we visited the local village where we had a soup kitchen and had 90 children come along. The children were unforgettable, singing and dancing with huge smiles on their faces.

- Elaine Mackensie Yates

"The most rewarding and valuable trip of my life"

My trip to Namibia will be the platform for the rest of my life. It was vitally important for me to be challenged, tested and taken far away from home. The environment in Namibia is so far removed from the privileged life I lead in England and the enormous personal strain from family illnesses and teenage demands. Namibia was so utterly dramatic in its beauty and so humbling in its simplicity. To be ‘unplugged’ from my life was incredible. It made me ‘regroup’ amongst nature that is so pure - I felt honoured to be there.

Living in tents and being part of a group was fantastic fun. Getting to know myself in that environment was valuable and liberating. So many fears were dispelled by the whole experience.

Thank you for organising a fantastic trip with love and laughter! Thank you for letting me rest when I needed to and encouraging me to ‘push on’ when it mattered. Thank you for the most fabulous memories and happy times.

- Sara Koe

"Extraordinary and inspiring"

On arrival the trepidation and pre-match nerves soon disappeared and I realised it was the best decision I had ever made. The photos are amazing, but to be there is even better. Having never had a gap year, been camping, been away without family, been to Africa or known anyone on the trip beforehand I was taking a big Leap into the unknown…..and I LOVED every minute. It was a wonderful and unique experience.

I now miss waking up in camp every morning, chatting and laughing with a very special group of now lifelong friends, being inspired by the amazing Dre and Red, looking at the beautiful stars, trekking to the top of mountains to admire the never ending breathtaking views.

The white water rafting and camping on the side of the Orange River towards the end of the 9 days enhanced what had already become the most phenomenal trip. I feel everyone should now make that Midlife Leap and then truly understand why it is so extraordinary and inspiring….

- Alice Fisher

"Reflect and Reset"

Although I had been promised true wilderness, it wasn’t until we finally arrived in camp that I properly understood that this was exactly what we were getting. Completely off grid, in beautiful surroundings, we were made incredibly welcome by Red and Dre, who then proceeded to put us to work!

What was so extraordinary about the trip was that not only did we feel that what we were doing, along with all the other volunteers, really would make a difference in helping to transform and rewild the landscape in this remote corner of Namibia, but also that by being there as individuals, with no other halves or children to worry about or manage, it was a chance to reflect and to reset. I came home a changed person and cannot recommend the experience highly enough. If you can, just do it!

- Lucy Walsh-Waring

"Meaningful adventure has been a wonderful experience"

Going on The Leap MidLife was a great decision for me: spending time with a very entertaining and engaging group of people in the amazing and ancient landscape of Namibia on a meaningful adventure has been a wonderful experience.

Oana is a very special conservation reserve, and the passion, vision and determination of the camp managers has inspired a long term make-a-difference approach in us all. Although I have left Namibia and am now back in England, the memories of a fantastic and happy community thrown together for a purpose under the African skies will stay with me for ever.

- Carrie Watson

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