Book

Namibia

Conservation + Community + Adventure

Depart

Itinerary Options

Let's go

Looking for something more flexible? Get in touch and we'll chat through options more suited to you.

Discover Namibia

A desert jewel in southern Africa’s crown.

Namibia is exceptionally beautiful and nothing like its surrounding ‘savannah’ landscaped neighbours. Completely unique, with its vast desert and empty landscapes, where wildlife interactions are infrequent but highly prized. The highest sand dunes in the world rise up in all their glory and skeleton coast beckons with its eerie allure.

Here we have developed a unique African program which allows you to live safari style in a private reserve in Southern Namibia, helping leading conservationists conserve and re-wild an eco-system devasted through extensive hunting.

But it’s not all hard work and no play – every week the project work will be intertwined with off camp safari’s or adrenaline paced adventure to provide you with a fulfilling and varied experience.

For an adventurous wilderness and conservation experience – it doesn't get any better.

Venture out to Namibia to help rebuild Oana's eco-system, so it can once again home endangered rhino and desert elephants whilst helping with sustainable projects for the reserves community.


Program Itinerary

During this dynamic 4 week program you will get stuck into an interwoven itinerary of conservation involving leopards, black rhino and gemsbok, community focusing on education and sustainability and adrenaline adventure such as river rafting, mountain biking and trekking.

The following is a sample itinerary.

Overview

Oana Conservancy

Welcome to Oana

Oana Conservancy covers 45,000 hectares of utterly stunning, raw Africa. It homes a dramatic semi-arid landscape made up of small mountains and plains with the Oranje River running along side, creating an idyllic oasis of green contrasting with the terracotta hue of the sand and mountains. Simply Beautiful.

Oana was rescued from its previous life as a hunting ranch by the renowned conservationists Ian Craig and Pete Morkel who secured the land with the aim to ecologically restore and link up with neighbouring conservancies to one day turn the greater protected area into a National Park to home Namibia's endangered wildlife.

This program allows you to be part of their 'restore and preserve' journey and for an wilderness African experience interwoven with endless adventure.

Accommodation

You will live in a tented camp 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.
Shared shower and toilet.

Food

3 meals a day provided of home cooked food over the campfire. From freshly baked bread, stews, salads to pizza.

Weeks 1 - 4

Conservation Rewilding + Development + Leopards

Re-Wilding, Development and Leopards

Oana is 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. However it is an area unstudied and given its history we need to understand who lives where and in what numbers - the first stage of 're-wilding' the land. To do this you will set off across the reserve to literally seek out the wildlife, count what you see and analyse faeces and track prints.

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

At the same time you will help remove old buildings, structures and scrap left from its hunting days, develop water points for animals, build micro-basins to help with plains regeneration, remove alien vegetation and build hides for wildlife observation at water points.

Week 1 - 4

Community Development + Cultural exchange

Teaching and Improving Infrastructure

During the course of your 4 weeks you will head out to the outskirts of Oana's reserve to help the local community. Oana are focusing on tangible projects here that make a difference where it is most needed. Currently they are constructing vegetable gardens which the village will manage and turn into a business and teaching conversational English to the kids.

You will also help improve the village infrastructure by renovating classrooms and their water facilities.

Adventure

Orange River White Water Rafting

White Water Raft Down the Orange River

Interwoven into your first few weeks will be an exhilarating 4 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. Evenings spent around the bonfire toasting marshmallows.

A definite highlight.

Accommodation

Tents along the riverbank.

Adventure

Desert Terrain Trekking

Explore the Desert and Mountain Terrain

Hiking will be a big part of your time here and the potential for exploration is limitless over the mountain ranges made up of different rock types, (the area is a global geological hotspot), ranging from terracotta granite outcrops to towering, black, perfectly formed volcanos (all extinct). These mountains are interspersed with sandy grass plains and 50km of river frontage.

Every day will involve a sundowner from some amazing viewpoint but a 3 day hike to the Oranje River is one of the programs highlights. Here you will fly camp on one of the islands in the middle of the river, fish for supper and explore.

Accommodation

Fly camp on the edge of the river.

Adventure

Mountain tracks Mountain biking

Mountain Bike through the Reserve

Oana have built a specially designed 20km bike trail that weaves through their mountains and ridges which shows off the stunning mountain landscape and will get your blood pumping.

There are fast bits, slow(er) bits, technical bits and chilled straights but don’t worry riders of every ability will be able to do the trail.

Along the way we may carry out opportunistic game counts in case we see any mountain zebra, any other wildlife or maybe even a leopard.

Program Details & Costs

We have two departures to Namibia in 2019 - in May and July, for 4 weeks where you can do everything described in the itinerary. It is possible to go for less time, just get in touch to discuss.

May program starts on:

2019: 6 May, 17 Sep

Costs

4 Weeks

2019: £2165

3 wks - Finn's Expedition

2019: £1800

July program starts on:

2019: 12 Jul

Costs

4 Weeks

2019: £2165

Flights:

Please note the flights to Namibia leave on the evening of the 5th May and July 11th - if departing from the UK.

Safari Living

Live 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.

Social Life

Guaranteed. You will be part of a tight team of like minded volunteers, who come from all over the world, creating happy campfire moments.

Adrenaline Sports

Trekking, mountain biking and white water rafting are all part of the program so get ready and get fit.

The Bigger Picture

Be part of a 5 year plan which aims to create a National Park to re-home black rhino.

Working Hours and Time Out

The working day starts very early, around 6.00 to take advantage of the cooler mornings and due to the remote location we have interspersed the 4 weeks with white water rafting, mountain biking, hiking and other down time moments which include bush crafts, arts and crafts, cooking and yoga!

If you wish to explore this country further we can easily arrange transport to the backpacker 'spring board' of Windhoek, just get in contact.

The Long Term Plan for Oana

With rhino and elephants on the brink of extinction; renowned conservationist Ian Craig, Prince William’s 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 (the fun kind) 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.

Our leap volunteers 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 Leapers have been up to...

Tackling the rapids of the Orange River Will and Abby

Day 11 - Today was a very early morning. The whole camp woke up before the sunrise and headed over to one of the cow baits in hopes to catch sight of a leopard. Although we didn't see any leopards, we still had an exciting day of travelling to the South Africa-Namibia border to start out white water rafting adventure. We met our guides, Max and Heinrich, and began to prep for our expedition.

Day 12 - Setting off in pairs, we began rafting down the Orange River today. Our rafts were loaded down with all of our camping supplies for the next three days. Approaching our first rapid, Abby and Nina quickly became stuck on a rock, while Adolph and Will took the more adventurous route, completing the the rapid backwards. Our first campsite was on a beautiful shoreline of the river, and we enjoyed swimming in the river and sitting around the campfire.

Day 13 - Our second day of rafting begin with a risky, large rapid. After successfully completing the rapid, we carried our rafts on foot to our lunch location. In order to launch for our afternoon of paddling, we repelled the boats down a cliffside. Our camping site for the night was near a beautiful large waterfall that we got the chance to check out, and some even got in the splash zone! We spent the afternoon fishing, swimming, and lazing around.

Day 14 - Our last day of rafting was concluded with the largest rapid of the trip, Big Bunny. After a briefing and demonstration of the rapid, our teams set out. Adolph and Will once again completed the rapid backwards, while Abby and Nina had a textbook run. Red and Beth completed the rapid as well, but got caught up in the excitement and continued down the river without us! When we arrived to the pickup location we unloaded our rafts and began the hour drive back to the rafting camp. Arriving back at the rafting camp involved beers, chocolate, and large amounts of food.

Day 15 - We had a long drive back to camp in the morning and spent the rest of the day was a lot of lazing around.

Day 16 - To start the day off we collected some camera traps we'd previously set up which had some great zebra, Orix and Kudu pictures. In the afternoon we sketched out a water hole design then marked it out and began to dig.

Day 17- Once again we were back digging out the water point and making a few final adjustments which seemed a lot harder than it should've mainly because of a freakishly hot wind that just wouldn't seem to go away.

Cow heads and the 5 peak challenge Beth and Nina

Day 1 - After arriving at camp on the truck, "Kong," we settled into our tents the girls all bundling into one and the two lads taking one each. Dinner at the Octopus (the main tent) was closely followed by a number of beers and ice breakers for us all to get to know each other before heading to bed.

Day 2 - The morning bought a slower start as we went through how the camp operates, the safety briefing and the itinerary. Then we went for what Red defined as a "light" hike; this was not accurate at all! Half way up a vertical rock face, sweating and unable to breathe we realised our differences with his definition. However, we powered through making it to the top where the views were breathtaking and for sure worth the trek.

Day 3 - Today's task was to destroy some invasive tree species. We all loaded onto Kong and drove to where a few trees had already been cut down to stumps. We hacked the branches into smaller pieces for kindling with saws, axes, and machetes, then set the base of the stumps alight.

Day 4 + 5 - Today we did our first walking transect, which is when we cover a certain area of the conservancy and record data on animal sighting, dung, and tracks in an app called CyberTracking. We walked about 8 kilometres and collected lots of data on kudu, eland, oryx, zebra, and others.

Day 6 + 7 - Camera traps - we all piled into the truck to check some baited camera traps. Most of what we found was mischievous mongooses. Then we drove to three different water holes and set up new camera traps.

Day 8 - Today we started constructing a water hole for the animals. We dug a hole, shovel-mixed a batch of cement, and laid flat rocks in the bottom.

Day 9 - Today was an interesting day to say the least. We prepared fresh cow heads and hooves for leopard bait. Each of us took turns stabbing thought the hooves in order to thread a wire through and hang them from a tree. The first time was terrifying but by the third head we were a little more used to it. That evening we all enjoyed very thorough showers. Dinner was hamburgers, which we all found ironic and mildly disturbing, but delicious nonetheless.

Day 10 - Peak day. Our task for today was to climb five peaks and spend an hour on top of each recording all the wildlife we could see. We woke up at 6am and were at the top of our first mountain by 8:15. The first two peaks were the hardest and also unsuccessful in terms of finding game, but again the views were worth it. The last three peaks were more fruitful and we finished up and got back to camp, completely drained, by 6pm. Dinner never tasted so good and it was early to bed for all of us.

Rafting on the Orange River Millie Edwards

Our third week was started off with an epic day of invasive tree removal, which was thoroughly enjoyed and pegged as one of our favourite days of the trip. Saturday was a slightly different activity of fence removal and was not a popular one within the group, leaving us all with a hatred for wire. On the third day we packed up and headed across the border for our four day rafting trip on the Orange River.

On Monday, after a quick safety chat from Coby - our guide - and 30 mins of drilling into Imi S that there were no crocodiles and hippos, the rafting began. We were quick to discover that despite Ivo and Ralphs strong bromance they were not the perfect rafting pair. Base camp for the night was on the Namibian side of the river and after our chicken stir fry Coby began to ‘impress’ us with his ‘amazing’ jokes... and his rather questionable games, leading to the majority of the group going to bed at 7pm.

Day 2 on the Orange River started off with a change in the rafting teams where Ralph was paired with Imi S instead of Ivo. However, tensions in the group soon fizzled out after one of the best sundowners of the trip so far and an evening around the fire, involving some more games, which Imi G, as hard as she tried, was not so good at when being partnered up with Ivo and Magnus.

Determined to boost moral on day 3 Ralph spontaneously whipped out the Sponge-bob Squarepants theme tune and continued this throughout the trip. One of the most beautiful moments of the trip was when ‘megaraft’ was formed. All the rafts United and we’d never felt closer as a team.

With Red never running out of energy, a hike to a gorge along the river was at the top of his list for an afternoon activity. With a few reluctant groans the whole group joined him after being promised it would “probably” be about an hour’s hike. It was an incredible sight to see though and definitely worth the advanced level rock climbing trek.

Getting back to camp with homemade burgers and chips by Raul was certainly a good end to a good week.

Snake hunting and volleyball matches Ellen Robshaw

The game count we did in the Wild West sector on Sunday was much more successful than the Gemsbok study at the start of last week as we saw Gemsbok, Springbok and Red hearted beast. When we got back to camp, everyone, except Katie and I, decided to have a volleyball game; Max, Minty, Jonty, Will Gray and Dre on one team, Hamish, Hayden, Welles, Beth and Red on the other. As the game was finishing, a Horologist, named Francois, from Nankuse arrived to teach us about the native snakes and lizards, with three of the students from the research project. After introductions, the sun had just set, so we all set out on a night walk around camp, looking for snakes and lizards. Will Gray found a Cape Coral shield cobra almost immediately, then one of the volunteers from Nankuse found a shovelled nosed snake and others found two geckos.

The next morning while it was still cold, we all set out to the planes behind camp to see if we could find any snakes or lizards. After a few near misses, we came back for lunch empty-handed. That afternoon, we headed up different mountains around camp, hopeful we would find snakes or lizards. Just as everyone was about to give up, Will Gray yelled that Hamish had found a snake, so we all went running to the other side of the mountain to get a look at it. By the time we got around the side of the mountain, Hamish had realized that it wasn’t a snake after all; only a lizard that Francois identified as a flat lizard.

The next morning, we went to check the traps then headed into the mountains, and up El Donio, looking for snakes and lizards. As we drove around, we saw a lot of game – Springbok, Eli, Rock Hyrax and Klipspringer – but spotted no snakes or lizards. After our climb up El Donio, and we ate lunch at the bottom of the mountains, we headed into the forest section, where we had found two horned adders before. We only found one snake on that hunt, but unfortunately lost it in some rocks, so we headed back to camp and started cooking the braai.

The next morning, we headed back to the Whale Back sector to continue taking down the old boundary fencing. It was a very hot day, so at one we stopped working and had a snack in the minimal shade the truck had, then carried on for an hour until it was too hot to carry on, so we headed back to camp. After we ate lunch, everyone sat in the octopus in a vegetated state due to the heat being almost unbearable. One by one, we headed for a cold shower, which turned out to be a very warm one as the sun had warmed the water in the tank to the point of it being a hot shower!

Camera traps, game catching and animal tracking!

This week started very exciting for us, because we’ve got the chance to be part of a “game capture”. For that we had to drive to the “Oas Stables”, where a very lovely guy called Mantie and his wife Pennie welcomed us. The phrase “My friend”, which Mantie used a lot, is still stuck in our heads today. It was an unbelievable experience for all of us to get so close to the wild animals like the Springboks. Another highlight was the last evening at Mantie’s. We’ve been in a real building for the first time since our arrival, which gave all of us a happy feeling, and the boys could play pool! It was a wonderful time over there.

On our way back we made it to the library, were we could finally get in touch with our loved ones back home, so this weekend was full of highlights.

The next exciting thing we’ve did was tracking for animals. For that we had to get up very early and drove with Red and Fisho to a waterpoint where Fisho led us on a track through the mountains and we could actually see some wild mountain zebras on top of one mountain. During one rest we decided to find Willie’s Rusk, a homage to our loved Rusks without which we (especially Will) couldn’t survive out here.

During our second week we also installed some Camera Traps to get to know the wildlife a bit better in the area we live in. It was a very exciting week and we look forward to what I’m sure will be similarly incredible weeks to come here in Namibia.

Welcome to the wilderness Sam Williams

Arriving at camp, a little later than planned, we were surprised at how nice the tents were and after a quick dinner and a tour of camp we went to sleep. Over the next couple of days we set up camera traps in different areas of the farm to try and catch some footage of some animals. We were lucky enough to spot an Black eagle’s nest so put up a camera trap close to the nest whilst on the look out for the parent eagles who were swooping above us. So hopefully in the next couple of weeks we will be able to send you some pictures of baby eagles!

Another highlight of the week was creating a vulture restaurant which involved dragging the carcass of a hartebeest out onto an open plain. We were all very excited for this. The weather has been a bit colder than expected and it has rained for the first time in three years, which Andrea and Ed have said is very lucky for the area and great for the wildlife.

We’ve had a jam packed week, including art activities with Andrea’s friend Tash from Cape Town as well as visiting the local primary school. The children were so cute and very excited to see us and we had a lovely afternoon playing sport, drawing and playing games. They were particularly interested in touching our hair, especially Monty’s hairy legs.

On Tuesday we visited the Fish River Canyon which is about 4 hours drive away and so set off at 5am with our hot water bottles and sleeping bags in the car. The views of the Canyon were incredible and on the drive there we saw zebra, ostrich and an aardwolf.

Watch our videos

Namibia

July 2018. Credit Georgie Turner

Namibia

Leaper interview April 2018

Namibia

April 2018. Credit Gigi Cooke

Got a burning question?

Got a burning question you can't find the answer to? Filled with panic about organising your gap year? Or maybe you just fancy a friendly chat and some advice about your options? We're here to help.

Or give us a call on +441672 519 922

And chat with one of our (very friendly and knowledgable!) team

Opt in below to help us keep track of your gap year planning so each time you talk to us you can pick up where you left off.

Yes please, let's keep life simple!