Volunteer blog – 03th November – 14th November 2014

Volunteer group photo

I stayed for 2 weeks with EHRA. Now there is only one week left and we had a really hard building week. Sand runs, rock runs and mixing cement have done a lot of pain to me, but I have to try to be a strong woman 

I’ve never had so much dust in my lungs, that’s what should have been written on the “what to bring with you” list – scarf, bandana, etc

I have also learned that my name sounds like a nice word in English language. Thank you Chris, thank you to my parents.

All in all, thank you EHRA for this life –time-experience.
Daria , Germany

An elephant carrying a stick

08/11/2014
Emma(the lazy one)

Despite the work that was too hard for me, I had a really good time with everybody. A great experience, I will keep good memories. I had never camped in the desert, or in a very arid savannah. I am happy to have known Namibia the way I did and I will come back for sure.

EHRA camp

Thanks to Chris, Jacob (Adolf), Mattias and the rest of the EHRA team. What you guys do is great. Good luck, I support you with all my heart….Kisses

I’m spending two weeks with EHRA. The first day we’ve started with some bad luck. Our car couldn’t be fixed in time and we had to leave Swakopmund later than planned. Richard felt sick during the journey, we had a flat tire and on Tuesday we didn’t find our building spot for a long time. I was freezing during the night.

Elephant walking

But once we arrived, I really liked the building week. We stayed on a nice spot with a lot of shadow and a beautiful surrounding. The camp was cosy and our group is like a small family. The work was pretty hard but I enjoyed it very much. I’ve never had so much dirt and dust all over my body in my mouth, my nose, ….and every muscle in my body was hurting in the morning. But it felt so good to work in the team and to build the wall. In the evening we sat around the fire, eating, chatting and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere.

Elephant volunteer view

During that week we didn’t only learn how to do sand runs, rock runs, cement mixing, building walls or cooking on a fire, but also how to speak Chris’ language or cure cancer/Ebola….by eating that healthy porridge. On Thursday I’ve hurt my finger and I felt quite useless during the last day. On Friday we drove back to the wonderful base camp, where we’ve enjoyed a refreshing shower, the luxury of using water from taps again and just sitting around e.g on the swing under the Ana tree. Yesterday we were in Uis, swimming in a pool and visited the supermarket. Now we’re ready to start the second part of our adventure and I’m so looking forward to spend another great week with that group out in the desert and hopefully see a lot of elephants and other animals!

Volunteers camp beds

A huge thank you to guide/teacher/driver/doctor/supervisor/animator/entertainer Chris, who made this first week so special! I am sure that the second week and also the stay in base camp will be great as well due to the amazing support of Adolf, both Matthias’ and Marius. The EHRA-staff is just great and the stay here very “guten”!

Best regards from (left-handed) Swiss girl Corinne

Elephants drinking water

The day when the first snow has been falling in Sweden – and we sit here under the burning sun of Africa. It is a rest day in the camp (if you don’t mind to clean the boxes, scrubbing the pots etc) and we relax beside the burning elephant dung – the smoke keeps the flies and bees away. I love it here – even the hard work of last week. Sand run, rock run, cement mixing, stone laying and mixing. I prefer the rock run, it was the non-dusty run (or a not too dusty run). Have a pillow with you when on the drive. Bumpy roads make your behind to hurt – sitting on the pillow makes it easier.

There is now fresh water in the elephant pool – I have to hurry up to get there before the elephants come!
Marjatta from Sweden(and Finland) – 70 years

Volunteers having a laugh

Patrol week, 10.11.14(1st day)

Our second week started with another flat tire. A little later, Richard recognized the he has lost his mobile phone, when we’ve spotted the first elephants. It was the herd of Mamma Africa with little Joy. They were walking to a water tank. After a while we drove away to have our lunch. Right in the moment, when we wanted to start eating, another elephant appeared. It was Stellar of the G6 herd of Bellatrix, she stood only a few steps away from our car and the rest of the herd followed quickly.

After lunch, we drove back to search the mobile phone – and fortunately found it again, but then the car broke down so we had to return to the base camp where we spend another night.

An elephant and calf

By the way: I can’t stop crying since Chris has left the camp. My eyes are watering since for hours, and Marjatta still speaks the Chris’ language. She shouted out at “goaten” today.

Our car got fixed and we started packing our stuff again. Already in the morning we’ve met the elephants of yesterday. In the afternoon we’ve found the 3th herd as well. Now we’re on a beautiful spot where we will stay for the night. Betty has recognized that we’ve only two pots instead of three, but I’m sure the dinner will be delicious anyway. As long as we’re waiting, we’re discussing about German dialects. Is it schlangenbrot, stockbrot or knuppelbrot?
Corinne

Volunteers doing sand runs

13.11.14
It’s my second last day with EHRA and I’m feeling really sad about that. Would love to stay for two more weeks!

What I’m not going to miss is: flies in my face, the smell of a rotten baboon, porridge, the snoring of several team members, wet wipe showers, the strong wind up in the Ana tree, my watering eyes (I’m still crying), sand runs, thorns and dust. But I will miss for sure : sleeping under the stars, watching the “oliphants”, sitting in the swing beyond the Ana tree, cooking on the fire, building a wall, the nice view from “the loo” out in the bush, the amazing landscape, sitting around the fireplace and having a shower after 4 days in dust.

Volunteer's rock run

Nothing of this would have been so great without that funny group! I will miss Marjattas dry/ironic comments from the backseat, Hans hand and feet communication, watching Richard searching his camera/water bottle/head torch/book/mobile phone (to be continued) or cutting onions like a chef, Betty’s helping hand and advices in the well organized kitchen, playing the seed-game with my ana tree- neighbour Daria, watching Maria’s face, when she is excited about animal traces, landscape – and especially welwitschia, Chris instructions of which you can never be sure if it’s a joke or serious thing, Mattias laughing about stupid questions, Marius explaining us the African sky and the boys at base camp, repeating things just in minutes, no matter what happens with it in some hours or days.

Thank to EHRA and the other volunteers for two amazing, unforgettable weeks!

Corinne

Volunteer standing in the trailer

Volunteer blog – 20th October – 31st October 2014

Volunteer group pic27 October 2014
This volunteer experience has turned out to be more than I could have imagined! The scenery, the wildlife, the people and all the hard work by the people at EHRA is amazing!
Build week was hot – extremely hot – even the wind that blew was hot air! And when we drove up to the wall in a small village near Omatjete, I really didn’t think we would finish it before Friday. But our team this week were a bunch of hard workers and after breaking part of it down and rebuilding it, lots of sand runs and rock runs we finished it before lunch on Friday morning: A true team effort and rewarding feeling to be part of something that will make a difference between these villagers and the elephants.

Volunteer
Bring lots of wet wipes with you on build week, you will get so so dirty. And when you get back to base camp, be prepared for the most amazing shower of your life! The outdoor showers are fabulous and a perfect way to get rid of the grime from build week.
During the weekend you get a bit of a break – Saturday morning we drove to Uis for some chill time at the Brandberg rest camp where they have ample outlets to charge your camera and phone, a swimming pool and a great lunch menu.
During our time at base camp we were also lucky enough to see some elephants pass by. Two bulls came through, stopped for water and moved on. It was so amazing, they were so quite, you could almost miss them.

Elephant
We have just started patrol week and we were so lucky on our first day to come up on a herd with all the little young elephants! They are so adorable.
The guides are great, really knowledgeable and keen to ensure everyone is safe and has a good time. Base camp is great – you get to sleep in a tree house, and while out on either build or patrol week, the guides ensure you are as comfortable as possible.

Volunteers camp
Overall a worthwhile experience to consider doing at least once in your lifetime!
Tanya from Vancouver, Canada
PS. Sleeping underneath the African starlit sky is a once in a lifetime unbelievable experience!!!

Elephant calfOct 30, Peter and Judith Croal
What a privilege to experience Namibia through the eyes of EHRA and its amazing stuff? We were so lucky to do and see all that Namibia and his people have to offer. And after being away for 10 years, it was completely “lekker” to be back. We shall return. Thank you EHRA, elephants, starry nights, cool winds, sunsets, and all our new friends! Good luck to Mamma Afrika! And I hope Joy lives to a ripe old age.

Volunteers building

This volunteering experience has been incredible. EHRA is a fantastic organization and it has been a privilege to be a part of it for 4 weeks. The things one sees and does on this trip are something most people will not experience in their lifetime. From the wall building to sleeping with lions in the vicinity during the night, all of these things are incredible and will stay with me forever. The people on the trip are so friendly and always talking about something interesting. Also having your birthday with elephants is definitely something I will not forget
Jamie Paul, Scotland

Volunteer's completed wall

Volunteer blog – 6th October – 17th October 2014

Group Picture

We never had this much fun in a collective shower before, definitely. This use of wet wipes is under rated! We learnt how to build walls, how to entertain cows – cow cinema is a thing, we know it – and that Namibian woman are the toughest when it comes to mixing concrete.
Cooking on a fire sure does take longer, but its way more fun. And we learned how to get one going in the desert.
We found out that “lighter for bush business” means exactly what we thought beforehand.
While the elephants kept us waiting for a while we got entertained by springbok, oryx, zebra, kudu, ostriches and lion tracks. It’s amazing to make your way through almost untouched nature that seems to have fallen out of time. Or “Jurassic Park”, for that matter.
Thanks for an unbelievable adventure
Anita, Monja and Ingrid

Elephants playing

Lauren Evans
I’m 2 weeks into my 4 weeks on EHRA. We all meet on the Sunday evening to meet everyone and talk about the 2 weeks ahead and to arrange a meeting time to leave the next day for our week of building walls for the local farmers. After leaving on Monday we went to base camp which is a camp on a river bed, and the place where we all sleep in a tree (like when you were a kid wanting a tree house).

Volunteers busy with sand runs

Packing and leaving on the Tuesday morning to the farm where we were knocking down and rebuilding an old wall which had been knocked down by an elephant. Build week involved LOADS of sand runs, rock runs (big ones, flat ones, small ones…) hahahaha…After finishing the wall we took a picture and head back to base camp to get ready for our few days of patrol. After a weekend at camp and Saturday going into a nearby town to swim and shop. Leaving early Monday morning out looking for elephants. We didn’t manage to see elephants for two days until one afternoon after tracking through thick bushes and chopping down branches, we came across some. After a 20 minute swim, we had elephants walking towards us. We got into the car and drove up a hill to set up camp and watch the whole 3 herds walked past us.
After dinner and ready for bed, Chris heard lions, so we did a night watch so that we could keep ourselves safe. All safe and back to camp all is well and had an awesome time. Looking forward to my next 2 weeks.

Volunteers watching

Jodie Curry (Australia) 16 October 2014
I have just finished the most amazing and rewarding 4 weeks with EHRA in Damaraland, Namibia. Learning how to build rock walls and make cement, rock runs, sand runs. It is like piecing together a large and heavy jigsaw puzzle. The weather was very hot and it was hard work, but we had a lot of fun. I am glad I was able to contribute to something that benefits the local villages and elephants.
Patrol weeks WOW. The first week we saw all three herds plus the bulls. Highlights: when the elephants walked past our camp late in the evening and early the next morning which saw us retreat to the cars. Also having one of the female elephants walk right up to the car to feed from the tree we were under. To look into her eyes, mouth and the details of her skin. No baby elephant poop this week.

Volunteer fitting a rock

The second patrol week saw us venture out even further in search of the elephants. Along the way we saw kudu, ostrich, springbok, oryx, steenboks, mountain zebra and lion tracks. Parts were not easy going breaking or chopping branches out of the car in the car lean to left, lean to right. We finally got through and it was time for a swim in the spring. After swimming we were sitting on the rocks when the elephants appeared! So we headed back to the cars to watch. While setting up camp and cooking dinner all three herds passed.
We had not long gone to bed when Chris noticed there were lions close by. Everyone was soon out of bed and so began the long and mostly sleepless night of lion watch in 2 hour shift. Yikes! The experiences, friendships and memories made on build and patrol weeks will not be forgotten. Sleeping in the treehouse at basecamp or under the most amazing Namibian sky I had the best 4 weeks ever. A massive thank you to Chris, Mattias, Adolf, Matthias and the EHRA team. I will be back.

Elepahants play fighting

Volunteer Blog – 22nd September – 3rd October 2014

Volunteers at the completed wall

25 September 2014

It is very good here, it is hot and we are working hard. The people are very happy with the wall. The food is good and Chris is a mad person. I had a great time here and I hope that I come back in the future.

Jeanne 69 years

Volunteers unloading sand

Thursday, 26 Sept 2014

We came on Monday from Villa Wiese in Swakopmund and today is the last day of building week. We finished the wall which was started by the last group. The people are happy. The wall is about 1.75 – 1.80m high and we hope strong enough for the elephants. So everybody is happy. It was a hot day, but not as hot as the other days. My husband put the shoes on and fastened them. I helped him and we also had to collect stones (big flat ones are the best) and sand.

At the end of the day you are a very dirty person. You have to clean yourself with baby wipes. But there is a good, healthy dinner in the evening. You will enjoy everything here, except the heat!!!

But just come and enjoy yourselves. We also have a tracking week

Love from Betty and Hans den Hartog from Holland

Volunteer fitting a rock

Tuesday 30th September

Tjingeling bloggen!

Here I am. At the same camping spot as two weeks ago. The one where I had to pee in front of a tourist bus heading towards the White Lady Lodge. We woke up at 06h45 and had porridge (with syrup, cinnamon and peanut butter) to the view of an even more wonderful sun rise. Tracking the elephants was not that easy today, it seemed as if they were all hiding. We passed for lunch and I slept as a baby (snoring as my grandpa). After lunch the elephants appeared. But no dung. We waited and waited patiently, but still dung. 17h10 we headed towards the White Lady Lodge and bought some beer and used proper toilets. Now we’re waiting for the dinner to get done; Thai curry. Everyone had their (wet wipe) shower and was just relaxing. Hope we get more dung tomorrow!!!

Just realized I’m almost 6 weeks down which means I’ve only got 2 more. Feels strange. EHRA has become my home here. But I’m also looking forward to 5 weeks of adventures

Ida from Sweden

An elephant eating

Tuesday, September 30th

Today we were surrounded by elephants. Everywhere we looked, more elephants. Elephants eating, elephants sleeping , elephants checking out how well the car is built.

After a week of hot, dirty physical work building a much-needed wall for the local farming community, elephant-watching is a great reward. The weather has been hot and cold but the food is always hot.

This is a hot holiday for everyone but if you can love and care for elephants and are not afraid of physical activity, this programme is for you. There is so much to learn and so much to do to help the Desert Elephants of Namibia.

What do you do when an elephant (Kambonde) puts his trunk on you knee? Enjoy every second of it!

Here to Mamma Afrika!

Daina from Canada

Volunteers helping each other

October 1st 2014 Wednesday (and night before)

Last night was quite eventful. After dinner a herd of elephants (Mamma Africa) walked past our camp in the riverbed. We moved to the top of the cars to have a safe view. After a short while we could safely go to bed.

Suddenly I woke up at four in the morning because someone was talking in her sleep. The fire was out and I suddenly heard cracking branches. I first thought it was Chris but he was sound asleep. The elephant passed us at a safe distance (30 meters). Then I heard another cracking sound……another one…….but this one moved closer and closer to camp. More people started to wake up. The huge elephant passed our camp fire at half a meter (our camp at 5 meters) and slowly walked away. Very exciting!!! Next morning we had breakfast and the whole herd (Mamma Africa) walked passed us again on their way back to the Ugab. What a great start of the day.

Sander Bosch – Holland

Elephant herd

Wednesday, 1st of October

Today was a really elephantastic day. It started already at 4 o’clock am when an elephant bull came for a night visit to our camp fire. Laying on the ground he seemed even bigger. That was quite impressive! And just before breakfast the whole Mamma Africa herd passed our camp on their way back to the riverbed. Still in our pyjamas we had to climb on top of our cars top have a save view. That was an amazing way to start the day.

After breakfast we followed the herd with our cars while watching some of them. An young bull named Kambonde sneaked up from behind, so Chris couldn’t see him early enough to drive away. After sniffing around in the car he found my bag of snacks. I tried to hold it back when he grapped it with his trunk out, he was just too strong. He snatched the bag from my hands and dropped it on the ground. My crackers and the bag of apples disappeared straight away in his mouth, but the dried fruits and the dehydration powder he spit out. Chris tried to scare him away by clapping his hands and screaming but it didn’t bother him at all. So we finally had to move the car to get rid of him.

In the afternoon we had another great elephant experience when Medusa walked straight towards our cars just turning around at the last moment to eat from a nearby tree. She was just 3 meters away from us so we could watch her perfectly while she ate.

That was another great experience of many others we had with EHRA.

Meriam Möri, Switzerland and Milena Zurmuhl, Germany

Volunteers

2 October 2014-10-07

Thank you for the lesson of the elephants. I had a good time here. The food was wonderful and the stone collecting was also good!

Thank you

Jane 69. Holland

Baby elephant with herd

 

Volunteer Blog – 8th September – 19th September 2014

Volunteers group pic

13/09/2014

TJENA!

Elephants in camp today! Two male elephants came and ruined our beautiful camp, but it was okay because this was the first time I saw elephants in real life! They are sooo majestic and beautiful, they just amazed me. We were just coming from Uis after a day of relaxing and feeling clean after work, and when we arrived at the base camp again we had to park by the pleasure dome and climb up the mountain not to disturb the elephants. After a while more elephants came, and then the whole herd-Mama Africa came! We sat there on the rocks for like an hour, just watching them in the heat of the sun. Then I think everybody went into an elephant-coma, cause most people fell asleep or were in a generally dosy state of mind. We pick our clean clothes from the trees, which the women from a Herero village had cleaned, some socks disappeared, and we suspect that the elephants may have ate them.

Elephant and Volunteers

Tonight we’ve had a wonderful dinner, a lamp stew and some corn thingy. Tomorrow awaits some work, but mostly relaxing in camp, preparing for patrol week.
Sofia, Sweden

Elephant herd

15/09/2014

Leyla, Sweden –Best patrol ever!

And I am not exaggerating. The day started from Base camp with breakfast and packing of the jeeps with everything we need for patrol week, because this was the first day of patrol. It started off good, and we saw four males – Cheeky, Bennie, Voortrekker and Kambonde, then we saw all of the herds in the Ugab G6, Mamma Africa and Ugab Small. It felt like the elephants where everywhere and we got so close! There are lots of baby elephants and (I think) the youngest one we saw was Joy – who was born in June this year. She was very cute with her little trunk that she doesn’t really know how to use. Also, we witnessed a bull fight! But, the most impressive sight was when Mathias made a soft rumbling noise (like the same noise elephants do) and the elephants answered him.

I am only staying here for two weeks, but even though time has flown by, it feels like I’ve been here for a long time. I have experienced so much and it is really easy to feel at home with all the other volunteers. I am now sitting in the orange light of a beautiful sunset and a fire is burning behind me. I think this might be the most beautiful place on earth. Time for dinner and good nights sleep under the stars!
Thank you EHRA!

Elephants approaching a waterpoint

17/09/2014

Sander Bosch – Netherlands – Second best patrol ever!

Two days ago we had the best patrol day ever, today surely is the second best. Obviously waking up to an amazing sunrise near the White Lady Lodge (after enjoying a cold beer there yesterday), we slanted off toward the Ugab river again following tracks. The temperature was quite chilly however the surrounding area made up for that. We started following a few springs and pools of water. Quite difficult driving, but exciting. We arrived at a quite large water pool and just around the corner we saw some elephants approaching. Quickly we turned around, parked the cars and climbed up the rocks overlooking the pool. The first elephants to arrive jumped in the water and started playing, diving and splashing. These were adults as well as kids. So if you wonder if elephants play, the answer is yes! They couldn’t get enough and kept jumping in and diving , splashing and playing submarine with the trunk. Amazing!!!

Elephants getting ready to swim

A little one was so wound up after swimming it ran around trumpeting and even started chasing a bird. After this amazing sight the others (All of them, Mamma Africa, Ugab small and G6) walked past us while we were still on the rocks. The morning was ended by Chris starting a kudu-dropping-spitting competition all though surprisingly enough no-one wanted to join him. Now it’s time for lunch, wonder what the afternoon has in store for us…..

Elephant cow and calf

Volunteer Blog – 25th August – 5th September 2014

Volunteers group picture

 

26th of August 2014, Build

Today was the fifth day of my fifth week and the first day outside base camp for the five new volunteers in my group.

When we arrived at the Sorris Sorris conservancy I admired the big wall around the water tank which I had helped to build during my first two build weeks and it made me miss the former groups. Ernest showed us around the conservancy and Christin helped us to set up our camp for the following days. Then we started digging up the ground around the hot water tank in order to build a smaller wall around it. The first sand run, rock run and cement mixing of the week followed quickly and everyone worked very well together as a new team. It got really hot around noon and we were all thankful to have lunch and rest in the shade. After lunch break we carried on working until the Chairlady of the conservancy came to us with a warning: Some killed Zebras and Ostriches were to be brought in, to be prepared for eating next to our sleeping area! I had already experienced this before when some Kudus had been prepared there and so I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal, even for a vegetarian like me. When the people with the dead animals arrived, I was amazed by how big the corpses were. I watched a Zebra being cut open. The men pulled huge organs out of it, one of which looked like a big bubble. It exploded and brown stuff came out of it. I quickly turned away in fear of being sick. Soon the smell of blood and shit filled the air and we moved our campsite further away to sleep only on the ground sheet and with nothing but the night sky above us, just as we would out on patrol. Ida, a lovely Swedish volunteer, and I prepared Lamp Tagine for dinner, which thanks to Christin turned out nicely. It was an early night for us since everyone was quite tired after all the manual work and the new experiences. All in all, an exciting and successful first day of build week!
Bianca Schweer, 19, Germany

Baby elephant laying down

 

It’s sunny, again, as every other day. It’s also dusty, dry, windy and absolutely amazing! We’re about half way through with the wall (2nd) and it looks really nice! It feels as we all started to appreciate the small things like finding a nice flat stone or a spider we haven’t seen before. Yesterday was really nice with amazing food and live music by the camp fire. I and Larissa have made a new best friend here; he’s a dog and really adorable. Yesterday I saw my first elephant, which was pretty cool, and I’m starting to look forward to the tracking week. I’m also looking forward to my next shower, sleep and everything. I’m even looking forward to start work again, but first I’m going to have a well-deserved nap in the shadow since its lunch time……
Greeting, Ida, 24, Sweden

Volunteers complete protective wall

 

Saturday 30th August
Well we finished building the wall in record time and come back to camp yesterday afternoon. Build week was really hard work and by the time we were nearly finished, I kept dropping concrete as I couldn’t lift the trowel to the top of the wall because my arms were so tired! It was so amazing to think that a small group of us (only 6 plus the fantastic staff Christin, Erenst and Mattias) build a huge wall by ourselves with just basic equipment.

It was so good to go on the sand runs (the hardest) and the rock runs to get all the things we needed. The rock runs were great fun as we got really excited about finding the best rocks (yes, this seems crazy to get excited about rocks, but you’ll be the same)!!!

Baby elephant

 

So after a great build week we are back in paradise (camp) and have 2 whole rest days before we start patrol on Monday. This morning we washed out all the boxes and then did some yoga to stretch out all the aching muscles. Now everyone is sitting or lying around relaxing and just enjoying being clean. The shower when we got back yesterday was so fantastic! The washing lady is very kindly washing all our filthy clothes so that tomorrow we will have clean clothe as well as clean bodies.

What an amazing week, can’t wait for patrol.

Volunteer ladies

Nicola, 39, UK

PS. Can’t believe I forgot, when we got back to camp yesterday there was an elephant drinking from a small pool in the rocks right next to camp. A fantastic welcome back and felt like a “thank you” for all our hard work!!!

Volunteers sitting around the fire with locals

 

31st August
First Encounter with Bennie
After being back in base camp after an exhausting but successful build week, I got to bed early. A bit later I heard Chris coming up our tree house announcing that there was an elephant around. I didn’t pay too much attention as I was quite sleepy, but later in the night I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I woke up from cracking branches right next to our tree! It was so close that I thought next moment the elephant would be putting his trunk right on my legs. That’s when I decided to get out of my sleeping bag, just in case. At first I couldn’t see Bennie (the day after we were told that it was him) but only shadows rumbling around the camp. Suddenly Nicola sat behind me, Bianca was awake too, and the three of us watched together. I was quite happy not to be alone as I found the situation exciting but also a bit scary. With the others around I felt safe. Bennie roamed through our kitchen, breaking branches, and making that typical elephant noise. I wondered whether he would eat the vegetables we had left on the kitchen table: I would do that if I were an elephant. Later we found out that he hadn’t. We sat there for quite a while. It was the first time I had seen an elephant that close: it was really amazing, and I’ll never forget that night. In the morning we would even see Bennie in daylight, he’s sooooo huge! What a wonderful experience!
Sandra, 45, Germany

Elephants relaxing

 

Sept. 3rd 2014
Second encounter
A few days after the first encounter with Bennie we got in touch with another elephant. His name is Tsaurab. He is solitary, but was close to Mamma Africa and Ugab Small herds. This time “getting in touch” is meant almost literally. We were watching the herds from the car. Two of us (Ida and Duke) were sitting on top of the car. From time to time an elephant came close to the car, watched us for some time and then passed along the car and walked away. This was already an excellent experience, as they came quite close.

But then Tsaurab walked towards the car. He came even closer without turning away. He only stopped when his feet were about 2 metres from our car, and then watched us curiously. His tusks were 30-50cm away from the car. I could see that one of them was a little broken. The trunk was also directly before the side of the car, it seemed as if he was scuffing and touching.

Elephant eating

 

Everyone in the car was dead still and didn’t move the slightest bit. I wondered what would happen next. Then Tsaurab didn’t seem to be excited or aggressive, just curious. I asked myself if he might start playing with our car. I thought I should be terrified and my heart should pump like mad, but I didn’t. It was indeed a scary moment, but also the most magical one in my life. I had never before been this close to a wild elephant. It was absolutely amazing! Tsaurab now started to touch the empty seat in front of me with his trunk and examined it. I was relieved that he had not chosen my leg to place his trunk upon. So I just kept still and watched this enormous trunk.

On the roof of the car Duke and Ida looked Tsaurab straight into the eyes. Ida told me later that there had been bees flying around her head all the time and she couldn’t dare move to chase them away. So it was quite hard for her to watch Tsaurab. After a little while Tsaurab moved away from the car. He seemed completely relaxed and hadn’t done any harm.

So whenever you find yourself close to an elephant – don’t move. Don’t make any sound. Just watch and enjoy the magic of the moment!
Sandra, 45, Germany

Elephants racing

Volunteer blog – 11th August – 22 August 2014

Volunteer group photoAugust 22, 2014 Jane Terrell, USA
Ditto on what everyone before me has written – and more specifically Kudos to our outstanding group. Everyone in our group worked hard, fulfilled their duties with enthusiasm and without complaint, and had fun fun! What a great group of people – restores your faith in people, especially the very young group. We had so astute, warm, cooperative and joyful. And it includes Chris and Christin too! I hope EHRA is able to continue the good work for many more years and make a difference in the lives of the people in Damaraland so they come to fully realize the benefits of preserving this unique ecosystem. May the elephants amble freely through the desert and the people enjoy fresh water and productive farms, Thank you EHRA

Volunteers morning dutiesAugust 22, 2014 Jeannine Bourdeaux, USA
Some favourite moments from this trip: Riding on the bedrolls on top of the Land cruiser, ridding along the sandy track and soaking in the colors of the Namibian desert; shovelling pink sparkling sand into wheelbarrows in the early morning light during build week; waking up at dawn and building up the fire to put the big black kettle on to make tea and coffee for everyone; driving down the riverbeds and coming upon the elephants; watching them walk in their amazingly graceful way given their size – Their gait somewhere between an amiable and a glide; looking at unfamiliar stars in the black night sky; watching the changing purples and blues of Brandberg mountains in the changing lights laughing with everyone; meeting the group of energetic, hopeful and friendly volunteers; listening to Chris talk about the elephants and the San people; falling in love with the Namibian desert hearing a little about the Damara area and about the conservancies was interesting too. Hopeful in a way which was good, but also seeing what a fragile and precautious state nature and the people are in, I wonder what the future will bring. I hope that EHRA continues to get more support and attract young volunteers who then are inspired to make their own stand with their lives for the environment and the future, taking “a path with heart” as the staff of EHRA is clearly doing with their lives.

An elephant bullDorothea Geitz, Germany, 22,08,2014
Rock-run, sand, cement mixing, putting giant rocks and baby rocks together to a man high wall, learning to speak Damara, sleeping under the stars, washing with wet wipes, a perfect guide(always full of jokes but also with an answer to almost all questions), tracking elephants……
A perfect african adventure!
Thanks a lot and good luck for the future!

Damaraland sunsetAugust 22nd, 2014
Leah Wersebe (USA) Rachel Pellkofer, Laura Beitkreutz(Germany) , Cat Faherty(England)
We never expected to learn the Chrisen language in Namibia, but we are all fluent now which will be quite useful. The four days with Mamma Africa and her herd (especially our adopted baby Joy) were completely unexpected because we were so physically close at times and our hearts were beating out of control because of this. Some best moments and words are: Chris and his holes, flutschfingering, schwaffling everything within sight die wasserflaschen, looking for morgen, rusks, éclairs, coffee to ffees. George not cleaning himself and peeing right next to us(Chris does too though), sunsets on the koppies, delicious food, the night of the spider where we learned that Chris does not help a damsel in distress(and what kind of underpants he wears), Mattias laughing at Chris during patrol week, Ernst and his singing and his teaching us clicks, Christin is just perfect – with spices, food, life, love and happiness(however she sneakily conceals rusks), cow Joy is incredibly KNUFFELIG, LECVER/LEKKER, Everything was guten!! The most important/guten thing was the time George was ceremoniously kicked out of the herd by Katja putting burning elephant dung oh his head. We are all very pleased by the amount of shit we helped collect.
P.S We all know who the snorer was. Danke schÖn foe everything!!!

Volunteers posing

Laura Breitkreutz(Germany) 22nd Aug 2014
I’ve spent 6 weeks with EHRA in Namibian desert which is a long time. And I’m sure I will never forget this time.
Thank you EHRA for all the experiences I could make! My 3 groups have been totally different, but I learned that, same interests and aims bring people together. EHRA’s work makes it possible to protect the desert elephants in connection with helping the Namibian farmers and teaching people from all over the world about nature and life. Thank you Christin, Chris, Hendrick, Mathias, Doreen and Collin!

Volunteers collectin elephant dung