Monday 29th February – Leap day in Namibia (My birthday too)
What an experience and loving every minute of it! Build week was testing, 41°C at times but really rewarding to see “the wall” finished and serving a purpose. Camp is amazing, I am so impressed with the way it has been organized and with how hard Donna, Chris, Christine, Adolf and Matteus work. The tree house is brilliant and it was a real highlight to see a lone elephant stroll past the treehouse under the wonderful Namibian moonlight.
The food is really tasty and there is always plenty to go round. Thanks everyone and thanks Donna! It is great to see the garden being established in the camp too! Today is the first day of the patrol week and we have camped in a truly beautiful spot and watched an incredible sunset. Not seen any elephants yet but have seen a Springbok, Blacksmith Lapwing and an Eagle. Finally I have been fortunate enough to spend my two weeks in Namibia with a great group of people and feel very fortunate to have been able to experience the EHRA project with them.
Finally I am looking forward to the rest of the patrol week and will keep my fingers crossed that we will see those elephants that we all love and treasure!
Thank you EHRA for working so hard to help protect these amazing creatures!
Becky Dempster (Wales UK)
Ps: Thank you for the birthday wishes too and a big Thank you to Donna for the flapjack, Rachel for the chocolate and popcorn and to my “bestie” Beth for bringing a birthday cake all the way from Kazakstan!
Tuesday 1st March 2016
Second day on patrol week! Today we woke up to a beautiful sky (in the middle of nowhere) and after breakfast we continued our search for the elephants. The day before we saw a lot of fresh tracks but unfortunately no elephants. We climbed hills and drove a long way so we were all excited to see the ellies. After maybe one hour we got to see elephants from the Mama Afrika herd! The elephants we first saw were two adult females standing to make shade for the sleeping young ones, so cute! We drove a bit further and saw 4-5 more elephants. They are just amazing and beautiful creatures and I could watch them for hours.
Tonight we are camping in a river bed and I am looking forward to dinner. The food has been really good the last 1,5 weeks and I am really impressed by that! It is so nice to cook over an open fire.
Donna and Chris are great and we have a fun and great team of volunteers!
Sandra Thunberg (Sweden)
Tuesday March 1st
A day on patrol week at EHRA…. You are woken up from your cosy sleeping bag with a smile and a piping hot cup of tea from one of your fellow silly volunteers. A scrumptious breakfast of hot oatmeal is already being cooked. You dress quickly trying not to think about the fact that there may or may not be scorpions or spiders snuggled up underneath you sharing your body heat.
Once everyone is fed and watered and everything is all packed away, we take one last look around our gorgeous surroundings (vast sandy desert with huge mountains and rocks that could very well be in a painting) and we’re off! The hunt is on to find the herd of elephants! Only 10min into our trek we find fresh tracks! We get a lesson on how to read and track the prints and off we go! All of a sudden BAM there they are! Even more gorgeous and majestic then you could possibly imagine.
We spend the rest of the morning admiring these incredible creatures. This is only a few hours into one of the many wonderful days spent at EHRA. Here at EHRA everyday is different and you never know what’s coming up next. Which adds to the magic and raw beauty of the bush.
Thank you EHRA for allowing me to part take in such an amazing and incredible experience. A special thanks to Chris and Donna for everything from being great drill sergeants to being wicked guides. Also to Adolf, I’ve never seen someone mix cement so fast! And finally Mattias for all his tracking expertise and animal knowledge.
Vancouver Island, Canada
March 2nd: By Barry Robert John Powell (Jack)
Today is the final day of our patrol week, and marks the end of my 4 week tour with EHRA. Honestly, I feel overwhelmed with how many positive memories I have gained doing my month here in Namibia. It amazes me how people from such diverse backgrounds can come together (in the middle of the desert, no less) for a common cause, and can all enjoy experiencing the same thing.
On my first week, we went to a farm with multiple dams and laid pipes down to cover them with concrete. They let us sleep in this concrete encampment including running water, showers and even a pizza furnace! After we were done with our work, the family baked us cupcakes to show their gratitude. They also let us shoot their riffle and bow….and arrow (although, it is important to note I broke the good damn bow), and created custom made knives made out of kudu horn, Mopani tree, and a 60’S Land Rover steel to top it off. I am so grateful to the family for everything they’ve done for us.
Second week we began patrol week and it was a sort of “out of the frying pan, and into the fire” situation. I went from never seeing an elephant before, to being 3 metres away from an elephant family (babies and all)! We camped on sand dunes in caves, and under the Brandberg mountain range. It was truly special.
On the third week, we worked at a site within twenty minutes of base camp. I was ecstatic to be sleeping there, because that is one of my favourite places I had the chance to stay since being in Namibia. Unfortunately I got heat stroke.
Currently I am sitting on the same sand dune that we camped at on the first patrol week. Again, I am so grateful for the people I met here, and the experience I gained here. Back to Canada on Sunday!
An amazing trip through the landscape beauty of Namibia. A productive day of seeing a varsity of elephants from 2 herds (including Kinky and her 3 week old newborn). We spent ½ hr waiting patiently for a male to move away from his “poop” in order for us to collect his “sample””conservation research of its finest” as Donna quoted – We stopped to fish and collect more elephant dung for the compost back at base camp. Mattias caught a 3kg catfish (!!) which we managed to put/get into one cooler with the plan to release it in the waterhole of the elephants back at basecamp.
The drive through the land to one campsite was incredible. Like driving on thick sand going on to the horizon – then suddenly the black rocks –then a sandstorm with lightning off to the left – I went from thinking I’d be grateful for a campsite with no wind, to me with no blowing sand to one that was dry – it turns out to be a beautiful, cosy day on protected site.
Kudos to Donna for her incredible driving over the incredibly challenging landscape- To top it all off – an amazing sunset greeted us.
Back to base camp tomorrow – and to be honest – really looking forward to a shower.
Cheers to all – wonderful new friends and a gorgeous country!
Allegra (Boston, USA)
March 2nd 2016
Another amazing day touring the Namib desert, fantastic views of this diverse landscape stretch into the horizon, Springbok, Gemsbok and Elephants. We passed through a dust storm, had a wonderful lunch under a big tree and saw the smallest baby elephant I’ve ever seen. Just another day with EHRA. A great thanks to my fellow volunteers, Chris and Donna as well as Mattias for making patrol so amazing….oh and I’ve never experience such magical stars in my life.
Cole McLellan (Vancouver Island, Canada)