Cat from the UK
Paradise would have to work to beat the eco-wow factor EHRA base camp has to offer. After driving for a few hours through the awe-inspiring wilderness that is the Namibian desert and taking a dirt track over the dry Ugab river, we rolled up in our vehicle to base camp. Our bed for the night was built into the tree canopy, views of rock boulder hills and later at night a sky full of stars awaited our team.
However, no time to relax too much, as this was only to be for the one night before embarking further on our adventure!
WELCOME TO BUILD WEEK!
A 3-hour morning drive, picking cement bags up on the way, saw us arriving at the farm where our work was to begin. What once was a stoney sandy space with a couple of evil, spiky acacia trees soon transformed into our base camp for the next few days – tarpaulin up, kitchen tent (and fronts!) constructed, fire pit and “toilet dug”, it was starting to feel like home – well almost!
No rest for the wicked, at 3.30pm – once the heat of the day had passed – we headed down armed with water and work gloves to the water point. Here we admired the beginning of the wall the previous group have started. “180cm”- Chris yelled- this was the height the wall needed to be built – a big challenge given that a couple of us (me included!) in the team were only 160cm tall! Vertical challenges aside – the team was eager to start.
That evening, after baby wipe showers, we set our roll mats and settled in by the fire for some lovely food cooked in bush baby pots (or Baby bush as Rickie called them!) The team over the next few days worked between the morning and late afternoon and got into the swing of participating in the daily sand run, mixing cement in the wheelbarrows, rock finding and building – team work!
It was touch and go whether we would finish it despite our hard work as we nearly ran out of cement. Phew, Chris to the rescue drove to the town (1hour and a half away) to buy some more bags of cement!
Determined to finish, the team powered through the final hours at the speed of lightning and with Mattias’ expert skills-finished the wall! Elation! What a feeling-we had built a wall! The farm owners were so pleased with our work that they gave us a goat! It is a very high level of appreciation in the African culture, despite a couple of us within the team that wanted to free the goat (ha-ha!). The farmers ‘prepared’ the goat for the meat eaters within the group. A happy group set off back to base camp – via the shop where cool drinkers and copious numbers of magnum ice creams were consumed!! BRING ON PATROL WEEK! After a shower of course….!
BUILD WEEK SURVIVAL GUIDE
What to bring…..
-Baby wipes! And lots of them
-Work gloves (not woolly gloves-Who brings woolly gloves to a desert?!)
-Plenty of salty snacks – no chocolate!!
-Sunscreen, sunhat, glasses
-One change of clothes – yes it can be done!!
-Bottled water (the water from the tank even with juice taste gross!!)
-Sense of humour
-Team work mentality
Thanks for a fantastic week so far, I am really looking forward to patrol week and seeing the elephants!
Karen from Denmark
Victorious is how I feel when:
- I get out of my comfort-zone
- I decided to go
- I go through the heat
- I am at peace in the group without taking too much responsibility
- I am without a bath for 4 days….
Gratefulness is how I feel when:
- I am sitting at the fire at 5:30 in the morning listening to an elephant braking branches in the dark 20m away
- I see the baby elephant stumble around with his family
- I feel my senses kicking in as my ancient reptile brain awakens as it was always meant to do, but doesn’t!
- I listen to Chris being Chris – funny, serious and one of the most knowing people I have ever met!
- I know that Mattias-always in the background-silent, observant, helping and eye out for everybody!
I am leaving tomorrow, but the African sky, memories of shooting stars and this trip will stay forever. I had a dream of following a herd of elephants 23 years ago. The dream has been fulfilled! Thank you Chris, Mattias, the group and EHRA! It has been a heart-opening experience!
Emile and Riekie from Holland
Once upon a time…
When we fell in love with Namibia last year we knew we want to go back and do more. After searching we decided we want to do something for people and nature. It became EHRA and wow, what an amazing time we had. We choose 4 weeks, because we thought it will give us more sight in what they do. And it was rewarding. The first building week we started a wall at a farmers place with a wonderful group of people and of course Chris and Mattias made it complete. Sometimes the work was hard, but it was satisfying getting cement and the sand runs. Teamwork and a lot of laughs made it already a fantastic first week. Our reward came sooner than we expected. While driving back to base camp (lovely view) we talked about patrol week and seeing the elephants. There they are “waiting” for us at base camp. They walked by and this was our first meeting with Mamma Afrika and Ugab small heard. Patrol week starts and what a special week again. Especially Wednesday and Thursday. It was a wonderful lunch surrounded by elephants and what about Thursday, Voortrekker the largest bull came closer and it was like he said goodbye. What an amazing experience!
Unfortunately these two weeks came to an end. The last dinner and going out night was the best way to say goodbye, we shared the best moments.
And then it was Sunday and a start of another 2 weeks, new people and new experiences. During building week we did a great job finishing the wall which we started with the first group. The people were grateful and gave us a goat! We are not really used to this type of presents, but again…..a real African experience. So another patrol week is coming. Could we have so much luck again? Yes! Again seeing elephants every day. Yesterday it was almost a show. The little 4 month old Otumbwe came to see us at the car and show us how tough he was. Ulysess also came to us and say hello to the people on the rocks, and could almost kiss him :)
On Thursday, we woke up early because we heard twigs breaking. And there he came, down the koppie. Later on we found the herd again and Kambonde came closer and closer! This was the best goodbye we could ask for. At this moment we write this on the swing in base camp and realise that we leave this camp for real. We are blessed and keep these moments we had in our hearts. Thanks guys for having good foods, camp fires, good (warm) wines, a lot of laughs, special evenings always sleeping outdoors with the stars and different places. And especially Chris thanks a lot!!
Lena from Sweden
My two weeks at EHRA went so quickly. The first week was building and it was hot, heavy and fun. The most important thing to bring is baby wipes! But the satisfaction of building, and finally see the wall finish is a great feeling. And the wonderful feeling of sleeping under the African sky is unbeatable. The second week is amazing. To be so close to the elephants is fantastic, but be aware, don’t bring a flowering scarf, the elephants might want it :)
Thanks for a wonderful 2 weeks. I would love to come back, hopefully with my son.
Ps: Thanks a lot Chris for being such a spice, master and Mattias for being just Mattias