Volunteer blog, 3rd June – 14th June 2013

Kim Evans June 2013 (Wales)

I can’t believe I hesitated when it came to booking this trip. I’ve never experienced anything like this and probably never will again – apart from when I come backJ. It was really hard work, but seeing the difference it can make to people living here, the friends I’ve made and random elephant appearances at 6am makes it worthwhile. The landscapes, the people and the food have made me realize why people keep coming back to Africa.

Back  of the Land cruiser

Back of the Land cruiser

 Greg Johnstone (Australia)

I have had a brilliant time and am so glad to have experienced, through EHRA the beauty of Damaraland, its landscapes, wildlife and people. The project is so committed to this country, the elephants and people, that it is inspiring to say the least. I will never forget my time with EHRA in the desert, and will go away sharing this experience and continue to work to protect the elephants and provide and educate the community.

Collecting rocks

Collecting rocks

Jess Mowat June 2013, Australia

I have had an unforgettable experience the last 2 weeks with EHRA. It feels like I have contributed in a small way to something that is so much bigger. The history and philosophy behind EHRA is inspiring. I have learnt so much and felt so much. Seeing my first elephant, meeting the local people, watching the fiery sunsets and sleeping under the brilliant starry skies are memories I will keep for a lifetime.

Locals and volunteers

Locals and volunteers

Ian Paul (18), Scotland, Jun 2013

Completed 4 weeks I won’t forget soon. EHRA has easily beated the other volunteering I did in Africa. The fact that you are tracking some of the last wild, free-roaming elephants left on the planet combined with actively helping the communities by building walls rather than just throwing money at them, show just how legitimate EHRA is. Of course the African experience here is second to  none, but the fact that you are making visible efforts show that it is true volunteering, and this even makes hard-going tasks like building walls incredibly rewarding. I have met some fantastic people here and have great memories of it, it was the best change of scenery and routine I could have asked for. Projects like this need to continue. Chicken percent!

Ian

Mixing cement

Mixing cement

Volunteer blog – 20th May – 31st May 2013

Erika Juchli

30th July 2013

After being twice on vacation in Namibia I knew I wanted to come back, but this time not only as tourist. I wanted to come back as a volunteer and do something that is useful and makes sense to me. I found EHRA and it was a very good choice. During the 4 weeks I have been with EHRA I had a great time. It was an experience of a lifetime.

Build weeks were very hard (mixing cement, going for rock runs and sand runs) and very rewarding. During patrol weeks I saw most of the elephants in the area. I loved being on the top of the truck (after I found out it is not that scary). It is easier to search for elephants and to admire all the different landscapes. Another favorite place for spotting elephants was after climbing up the rocks.

Base camp and the tree house is a beautiful place to be. On the whole trip you must stay alert. I was enjoying a shower for 5 minutes and 30 elephants walked past my bed at base camp.

A big thank you to EHRA and all the people who helped. I had an awesome time in Namibia that I will never forget.

EHRA Volunteers

EHRA Volunteers

Rebecca Henderson

30/05/2013 Ireland

This was my first time to Africa and it surpassed my expectations. Build week was fun but hard work, but was more enjoyable than I ever could have anticipated. Rock runs where you lifted the rock and then realized how far the trailer was and the sand run where I seemed to wear as much as I put in the trailer. Even the challenges of trying to get around “rocks the boulder” with a pickaxe as we dug our toilet. Best bit of course was the last day when the wall was completed and we got to walk away knowing we had helped, a water tank was now protected and we had completed our task. Then back to base camp where a cold shower was heavenly and the elephants walked past. The patrol week which was a fabulous “craic”(Aka Irish atmosphere). We had got to know each other so there was plenty of digs going in and a lot of laugher. Then the highlight was of course the many elephants we saw of many shapes and sizes, some quiet and shy, others not at all bothered by our presence. Then there were names like Benny, Voortrekker etc. We also saw scorpions, snakes, lizards, springbok, aardwolf, and heard much more.

Amazing two weeks and the best bit for me is that I have two weeks to go, where I get to relive it all, though maybe and try eat less of the fabulous food!!!

Thanks very much.

PS. Dry elephant shit works well to smolder and smoke and get rid of the Mopani bees!!!

Group picture

Group picture

Natalie Constable -21

May 2013 USA

The landscapes are beautiful, and seeing the stars at night was one of my favorite bits. I met some very nice friends and the food was delicious – even though I ate more peanut butter than I could have anticipated. (I can proudly say that I completed the PB challenge even though Mumi was not a witness). Getting down and dirty and seeing some elephants at the same time could not have been more fun.

Nat

Unloading rocks

Unloading rocks

May 2013

Romain Galtie (France)

Very nice base camp, very nice people. I had 2 incredible months. Thanks to all the team!

Spotted an elephant

Spotted an elephant

Volunteer bolg – 6th May – 17th May 2013

group pic

group pic

6 May 2013

I came to Namibia because it is one of the most amazing places in the world. It is such a joy to do something sp rewarding for the farmers whilst at the same time meet new friends for life. WOW! Nothing beats lying in your bed roll having a cup of tea delivered to you and watching the sunrise.

Mattias is such an amazing character who found the elephants for us and was very special! I will always remember my special time in Namibia. It is really like being at home.

Lynne Ferguson

Baby ellie

Baby ellie

 (Emma-Jane Mooney, London, UK)                                   May 6th – 17th 2013

Yes! As Everyone says, you will work hard, meet great people, marvel at the landscape, have laughs and see nature at its untamed best…..BUT – Please remember:

  1. Bumper packs of wet wipes
  2. Leave your attitude at home
  3. in
  4. ENJOY!

(And a head-net might be good, unless you want to be driven crazy by the M-bees in base camp and beyond)

Thank you to everyone I’ve met. You have no idea what these two weeks have meant to me.

EHRA, Hendrik, Matteus, Chris, – I wish you all the very best.

People – book your trip NOW. You will not regret it:)

Elephant tusk hole in water tank

Elephant tusk hole in water tank

 May 5th-18th 2013

My two weeks with EHRA wasn’t just about building walls and tracking elephants. It was much more to do with understanding the relationship between the people of Damaraland and the elephants. Being out on patrol and seeing first hand how damaged the relationship is at times was eye opening. Education is the only way forward otherwise the two will continue to clash. And the elephants will loose! Being part of the team for just a short period of time has given me a unique insight into Africa. Wall building without the mod-cons just shovels and spades is great leveler.

Patrol week is like having your own private safari. Truly amazing, the sights sounds and simplicity is priceless.

Thank you Chris you make it real!!

Mamma Afrika

Mamma Afrika

 Working with EHRA has been all that I expected and nothing that I expected. Before I came I knew that I was going to build walls and see elephants…and not shower!!! But over the past four weeks I have done so much more, from making new friends to learning to cook over an open fire, but most importantly being a part of repairing the strenuous relationship between elephants and the people who live here. I’ve seen the devastation that the elephants can bring, and the anger of the people and I realize that without EHRA these elephants would not be able to exist at all. It is a difficult and continuous battle here which won’t be easily fixed, but to know I have been part of bringing peace to the people and elephants makes having to deal with the stench of 9 other people who haven’t showered for 5 days all the more worth while.

Ida-May Jones (UK)

Mother and Calf

Mother and Calf

 April 8th – 17th

I went to Namibia with the idea to build some walls and see some elephants. But my six weeks with EHRA was so much more than that. I met great people, saw a lot of different and beautiful landscapes, saw all the elephants of Mamma Afrika herd, G6 and Ugab small several times, experienced from nearby how the locals and the government react on elephants. “saved”the burned baby and last it. Learned how to cook on a open fire, watched beautifull sunrises and sunsets and loved sleeping under the stars. It was an wonderfull and impressive experience. Thank you so much, people of EHRA! You are great!

Greetings Maartje (Grasshopper)

From Dutchland

Elephant damage to house

Elephant damage to house

 April 8th – May 17th

Yes it is the 2nd time I am doing this program and it was still amazing. What a great concept. One gives a little and receives a “private safari” with also the insight of day to day struggles the locals have with living with elephants around. The elephant sightings, everyone different. I am certain it won’t be my last time. It certainly has lasting impact on my life.

Ingrid Martin

Melbourne – Australia

Giraffes

Giraffes

Volunteer blog 11th March – 22nd March 2013

An amazing 2 weeks not long enough. Thanks to a great team who fed, watered, and kept me/us safe.

Experience of a lifetime! :) Yvonne

elephants

elephants

Elephants- a truly amazing animal, intelligent, social and each one with distinct personality. The more you read about them and the longer you watch them, the more you will see. There is probably no other mammal that at the same time allows humans to observe from a short distance and has such a complex social behavior that you will never feel bored, even after hours of watching in the baking sun. To be in the middle of a herd of elephants, in a car in stunning scenery at night in the base camp, this induces a feeling of happiness that can’t be described with words. We should do our best to preserve this precious piece of nature for future generations.

Human-though Namibia has a small population of just 2 million people, the variety of peoples and cultures in this country is impressing. It is not easy to visit people which were decimated by the generation of my grand-parents, the first genocide in German history. But the friendliness and hospitality of the Namibians never let us feel uncomfortable. I am happy that I had the opportunity to be a guest in this wonderful country.

Relation – Being a manager used to working in an air- conditioned office in a 20…city, serving very poor farmers who have no electricity and very limited contact to the outside world – the contrast couldn’t be bigger. The EHRA – project gives people from totally different background opportunity to learn from each other. We could give the farmers examples how to handle the not easy relation with elephants in a harsh environment, and we could learn even more, the happiness of a simple lifestyle, to value simple things like piece of firewood or just a litre of warm water.

Aid – Though spending half of my life in a developing country, the poverty in this part of Namibia is shocking. Colonialization apartheid has robbed these people one whole century, 100 years without the possibility to develop. Now volunteers and EHRA- staff from all 5 continents work together to improve the life of the local residents.Though tools, financial resources and professional experience are limited, it is impressive what small group of committed people can achieve. Our contribution is small composed to that of big organization, but one wall around a well…mean access of one or more families and their livestock to clean water.- and one possible conflict less between humans and elephants.

Mi Fu (Volker)

China 2013.03.22

Upside down

Upside down

Had an amazing 2 weeks from the moment we left Swakopmund the scenery on the way to base camp was beautiful. I’ve previously visited many African countries, but the landscapes in Namibia are truly unique. The people have a harsh environment & climate in which to fork out a living and yet everywhere there are smiling faces happy with their lives, or so it appears.

Base camp was very well thought out in a wonderful setting.

Build week was tough, but very rewarding. I’m pleased to have played a very small part in the worthwhile cause that is EHRA. We were very lucky in build week to have seen a lot of the elephants, seeing 2 of the 3 herds that roam the region. Although I’ve been lucky enough to have seen wild elephants on numerous occasions, but these of Namibia really are unique. It would be a travesty was the remaining elephants in the region not be allowed to prosper and build their numbers. The more you observe them the more your respect builds.

Thanks to Chris who I thought managed the group very well. He was always willing to answer any questions, most I’m sure he’d been asked of numerous times before. Matteus made the trip a truly memorable one. His jovial personality really, added the atmosphere in the group and it was obvious when tracking the elephants that his knowledge of the area was second to none. Lastly the food on the trip was fantastic and a very welcome bonus from what I was expecting. I won’t hesitate to recommend EHRA to friends looking to help a very worthwhile cause looking for a fantastic experience at the same time.

Mike

22/3/13

Rolling up

Rolling up

Lizzie, March 22, 2013

I can’t believe I’m already writing my final blog. I have been with EHRA for 6 weeks and I can’t believe it’s over! I have had the most amazing time and am so pleased I chose an amazing charity to come and work for. I have heard and seen so many conflicts that EHRA continuously fight for these beautiful elephants. The work you do here as a volunteer is vital to continue to keep the elephants safe and in their true wilderness. Helping the local people to continue co-existing is also vital and I am so proud to say I have been a part of this. With some amazing elephant encounters this week and some very hard work during build week I can safely say this trip has been one of the highlights of my life. Chris is a wonderful leader, Mattias another great tracker (and excellent dancer!) and Courtney who worked tirelessly to keep us all well fed (vegetarians – the food is amazing!) and watered-an amazing team to come and work with! J I will miss them all very much, I have met wonderful people throughout my time here. Lifelong friends and wonderful memories of hard work, lots of laughs and encounters I’m sure are impossible to find anywhere else. Thank you EHRA, I hope you will be blessed with amazing volunteers to continue with your wonderful work! Oh! And thank you elephants for my farewell visit into camp last night. The best night of my life!!!

Group pic

Volunteer Blog 3rd December – 14th December

This has been an amazing couple of weeks! Build week was a test of strength and wills. Working hard in desert heat, mixing cement and hauling rocks bigger than my head, not to mention the endurance test to withstand dust and sand getting everywhere. Sounds tough, but nothing feels better than finishing up a hard day of work with a bunch of strangers all bound together by a common dirtiness, and enjoying a cider and good conversation.

Looking at the elephants

Looking at the elephants

 

Patrol week was rewarding around every corner. The landscape continuously changing, and pleasing to the eyes while grasping to the land rover for dear life as it went down the desert terrain, always on the lookout  for signs of life. Tracks, nests, poop, then a kudu or an Oryx would catch your eye and captivate you for a few seconds until it ran off.

group photo

group photo

Whenever Mathias would slow down his ride and get out of the truck, we knew it was go time. We climbed a koppie overlooking 10foot tall reeds to view the Ugab herd of elephants. Later we parked in the path of the Huab herd and watched in dead silence as they feasted on branches near 50feet away. Three of these brave ones came right to our vehicle and were so close, I think I could reach but and touch them! They are truly beautiful creatures.

elephant herd

elephant herd

 

We snuck up on a Rhino, observed giraffes, springbok, vultures and jackals. We came across an Oryx carcass recently devoured by a leopard, and even followed lion tracks for a spell.

Passing through the river

Passing through the river

 

This has been a wonderful experience, and the things our guide, Chris whom has a wealth of knowledge taught me about survival and the animals and insects around us will never be forgotten. One big takeaway from this adventure: Elephant poop smells great when you light it on fire, and keeps the flies away!

 

Can’t wait to come back soon!

-         Carrie Rubens

Girls possing

Girls possing

 

14-12-12

 

My 2nd time with EHRA, so what more is there to say except it was wicked! The unique shared purpose makes it great and very rewarding for all ages. All you need is lots of energy and a good sense of humour!

 

Zena Brackenbury

P.S: I am after my 3rd EHRA badge…..

Group photo

Group photo

 

14 Dec 2012

 

What an amazing project this has been to work on.  Build week was one of (I’ve had other good weeks in my life, you know!!!) the hardest, sandiest, dirtiest, hottest yet funnest and entertainiest week of my life.

 

Great people, great learning, great great project.

Car check

Car check

 

Patrol week has been described so well in this book by other volunteers and I can’t really find better words to express what it was like. On the whole, EHRA has given me experience, sights and memories that will stay with me forever. I don’t think I ever felt as free as I did sitting on top of the land rover on the 1st day of patrol week taking in the amazing landscape of Namibia.

Taking photographs

Taking photographs

 

Chris and Mathias in particular are 2 individuals that I will remember very fondly. Whenever things get a little tricky in my life, I’ll think of how simple everything can be if I want them to be, as Chris taught me. And if this fails, I’ll use Mathias’s mantra: “ F.. y.., f… y.., f.. y.., f..ng f…!”

 

Thank you guys. Merci, Gracia Daulee.

 

Elsa, London

Happy girls

Happy girls

 

 

 

Volunteer Blog 19th November – 30th November

30th November

Henrik Borlinger

Sweden

I’ve been here for 4 weeks now. During my stay here I have seen all kind of animals, like elephants (of course!), cheetahs, giraffes, springbok, oryx and many other animals. While building our wall the weather was hot and the sun was shining. Hard work, but very rewarding! The EHRA staff is service minded and professionals.

It’s been a true pleasure being here and it is something I will remember for the rest of my life!

Tips: Bring a buff-will come in handy more than one time! A hat with a strap that will be on your head even when the wind blows.

Best regards

Henrick Borlinger, Sweden

2012-11-30

 

group
                                                                                               group picture

Mikael   ̊Ulrika

30th November 2012

Thanks for 2 fantastic weeks in Namibia. We’ll miss the good food from the master chef Chris, and off course the nice staff of EHRA.

And could we have any more luck? Perfect weather the first week, we saw all 3 herds, Mamma Afrika, G6 and Ugab small herd and I don’t think anyone would forget the meeting with the majestic Voortrekker!

But don’t forget all the small beauties of Namibia, birds, insects, lizards and the close up with the hanet adder and the zebra cobra that we experienced.

After 2 weeks driving through the dry riverbed, what could be a better ending of a great journey then a cold beer with Leo oon the guitar, sunset and the water starting to fill the riverbed? Fantastic!

With love from Sweden!!!

 

Checking cars

                                                                                        Checking cars

 

30 November 2012

As you get used to desert life, a kind of madness sets in, while you still crave a shower, you very easily forget to brush your hair and you either stop caring what you smell like or you either simply stop being able to smell.

You will learn a lot, work hard, get sweaty and laugh a whole bunch (hopefully not when almost getting charged by an elephant)

You will see things you will never forget, meet people you never could forget and will appreciate a warm beer more than you ever thought possible

Simone George, USA

 

Passing the river
Passing the river

 

30th November 2012

Nice people sweating together to build a wall, elephants so close to me, an amazing landscape – thank you EHRA for 2 unforgettable weeks at the Ugab River. I’ll keep it in my heart!

Susanna Hampel, Germany

 

Seeking shade
Seeking shade

 

We’ve been here for 2 weeks. It was the first time for us in Namibia and we love it! We are very impressed about the beautiful landscape, most of all the elephants. As I saw “sir Voortrekker” that was a really magic moment for me I’ll never forget. A very special thanks to Chris and Mattias, you did a great job!

Thank you very much for this great trip

2012-11-30                Andrea (Dani) and Irene

 

River coming
River coming

So I spent four magical weeks in Damaraland. The elephants came so close to us, it was so great to look at them. Especially sir Voortrekker! The night sky was so amazing and I had a lot of fun with the volunteers and Chris, and Mattias. It was really special to build 2 walls with your own two hands. I enjoyed it a lot! Thank you nature and Namibia for the great experience.

Dario Messina 30-11-2012

 

Sitting around the fire
Sitting around the fire

 

After 2 months in Namibia, I can only say that it’s been a wonderful country with wonderful people. I’ll never get tired of these sunsets and evenings around the fire. These two weeks in EHRA were perfect to end this chapter for me. Leaving this behind makes me sad, but I don’t forget that I’ll carry this with me during my whole life. Thanks to Namibia, and to EHRA, and Chris

Leo (the awesome guy)

November 2012

 

Wet hair
Wet hair

 

Thanks for the great time and the amazing experience! It was an unforgettable two weeks and I learned a lot, thanks to you. Keep up all the hard work and good work so that more people can continue to enjoying the majestic Ugab river life!

Olof Johansson

BTS, November 2012

 

Volunteer trip- 5th November – 16 November 2012

5th – 16th November

group

Build Week

 

When I got to base camp I was surprised at how homely it felt, which was really nice. We were lucky on our build week, because we were building close to base camp, therefore we got to stay at base camp every night. I found build week very tiring due to the heat, as I wasn’t used to it. However it was very rewarding to see it on the last day. The things I used most on build week were wet wipes, water and sun cream.

busy

On Saturday we had a day off and enjoyed a  relaxing day at camp. It was especially nice up on the platform in the tree as it was hot.

On Sunday we went to the rest camp/lodge in Uis. This was very enjoyable and we got to speak to our family and friends which was very much needed for me. We also had the chance to stock up on goodies for the following patrol week.

builders

Patrol week

I felt that we were extremely lucky on our patrol week as we saw a huge range of animals, including CHEETAHS!!! And giraffes. ‘Foxy’ Chris’s car’s short plug broke and we were stuck for a little while after lunch on the Wednesday which was quite amusing and stressful at times. We found on this patrol week that ‘Benny’ one of the bulls had it in for our car and we had a close encounter with him on the first time we saw him. This was really cool, but a little scary. We saw both the Mamma Afrika herd and G-6 herd which were really cool.

All-in-one this trip was one which will stick with me forever. I met some awesome people and would definitely recommend it to someone in the future.  Thank you EHRA!

 

visitor

08.10.12 – 16.11.12

Ok, the first thing I must say is “WOW”. The time here by EHRA was so cool, great, amazing…..and all the nice words I would ever find in my life. Base camp is so pretty and it’s so the perfect spot to have a camp like this ….. I really love the trees house for sleeping, the nice showers(where you have the best shower in my life after the build week), the kitchen and the fire place with the table with normally shade( I say normally because an elephant broke the branches in the first build week when I was here).  Yeah I must say it’s one of the best places in the world I have ever seen in my life before!!! In these 6 weeks I learned so much. I know now how to build a wall….so cool! I also learned a typical game from Africa, “bokdrol spoeg” means “spit a goat poo”! Yes, I had goat shit in my mouth!!! In all I learned a lot of new stuff about the elephants, nature, stars and black holes(thank you Sam) and a lot of other things. I must say thank you to Hendrick for the nice first build week and over nice walk around base camp, you will be forever my desert brother, Mattias for your gentle nature and for teaching me a little bit in Afrikaans, “baie dankie”!!! Thank you Chris for saving us in the desert, for the fun and for being a good teacher in everything……stars, nature, animals, shit…etc…and also thank you Rachel, Adolf and the rest from the great EHRA team…

See you soon!!!

Liann Walther 15.11.12

heavy building