We’re sitting in Base camp and looking back at two amazing weeks. It started just wonderful with ‘the bull with the broken tusk’ visiting base camp just when we arrived on Monday.
Build week was tough. Collecting rocks, sand and mixing cement, but we have managed with only four of us to dig a foundation and start building a new wall. It was actually great doing this. Like Chris said: A happy farmer is a happy elephant’.
Patrol week was the best! On our first morning we tracked down Mamma Afrika and Ugab small herd. It was amazing to see the elephants from such a short distance. After that we tracked the elephants every day and tried to collect some poo for the American DNA research. We were lucky several times! Not having a shower and do your ‘bush business’ wasn’t that bad at all and the food was really good.
Thank you Chris and Matthias for taking care of us. We really had a fun(and swaffel) time!
Cameron, Hannah, Jennifer and Kate
For Chris this was an exceptional trip as this was the very first time they were offered accommodation on a farm in a room! He said they were very lucky to get that room as it rained heavily throughout the night and even the goats were trying to get into the room. He also is thanking the farmer for offering the accommodation and the volunteers for these past two weeks!
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
(This entry appears to be written by a plastic flamingo kinder surprise toy!)
My EHRA adventures began when a build-week weary crew rocked up in the dusty town of Uis with a chocolate craving and a curiosity for African kinder surprise toys-and there I was! I was invited to be the car mascot for patrol week and gratefully accepted, but the bloody Ausies called me Kylie! I took up my place in a car in the back of the seat, but my one-legged karate stance made it a bit hard to stay upright on the bumpy dirt roads, especially with Mathias’ erratic driving. First stop for patrol week was at an EHRA sponsored school, where we handed out donations of blankets, underwear, pens and pencils for the kids. They were so grateful and sang 3 songs for us – I’ll have to remember to tell my flock about the GROOVY song – it was awesome! It wasn’t long after that that we spotted our first ellies! They were so huge and I was at first quite scared, but thankfully I was squished into the back of the seat by the volunteers climbing onto the roof of the 4×4 to get a better view. I was most thankful as I couldn’t move my plastic wings to cover my eyes! Mamma Afrika and some bulls were the first ones we come across. It was the first time I’d seen elephants and it was amazing. You don’t come across as many on the Supermarket shelves in Uis, let me tell you! The second and third days of patrol we saw the G6 and Ugab Small herds. They came right up to the cars and rocks that we were sitting on, it was such an incredible experience. Back at the base camp now and I’ve taken pride of place on the table. I do hope other groups look after me – I am quite adventurous and can be quite fun! Just like EHRA J Even though I’ve only been with the group for a week, we all had a great laugh. Can’t wait to see what we get up to on my next adventure!
Love – Karate kicks
Kylie the Flamingo
Our two weeks are almost up and everyone is chilling out at base camp enjoying a little
R’n’ R. The breezy tree house is the perfect spot to unwind, reflect and chat about the fabulous two weeks we’ve just had. Elephant patrol – well it goes without saying how awesome it is to see the desert elephants roaming free going about their daily routine. Build week – well it seems so long ago! Despite us all being strangers at the beginning, we pulled together to achieve a near complete wall and all felt rather pleased with our hard work at the end. Memories I’ll take away with me….great people and new friends, the smell of burning ellie dung, Mattias’s laugh, bird chatter everywhere, super tasty camp dinners, superb sunsets and of course the elephants. We were lucky enough to have the G6 herd come right up to our patrol cars twice. We were within metres of them and at one point completely surrounded!
My top tips for enjoying your time at EHRA:
You can never have too many wet wipes!
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! (Unless you like the scaly look…)
You know it’s hot when the Mopani bees make an appearance – beware of their preference for getting up noses and ears!
Burning elephant dung helps keep the bees at bay and actually smells quite pleasant too.
Bring a few cold beers or ciders to enjoy at the end of the day – African sundowners are the best!
Mattias will manage to make you look like a pony weakling with his superb boulder carrying capabilities – just accept it!
Dry shampoo isn’t all its cracked up to be….just tie it all back or shove it under a hat and save luggage space for wet wipes!
One set of clothes for build week is perfectly acceptable. Everybody smells as bad as each other J
If you are sprung by goats during “bush business” beware…the farmer is usually close behind!
The resident camp hornbill’s name is “Haratio” (Steve)…just so you know!
Amidst the hundreds of photos you take on ellie patrol, just remember to also just sit, enjoy and immerse yourself in watching them not through the lens of a camera.
Come with a sense of humour and lots of enthusiasm. Laugh lots and enjoy all the experiences thrown your way!
Thank you Chris, Mattias, Baron, Rachel, Victro and the rest of the EHRA team for a fab experience. EHRA rocks and I hope to come back again one day…
Big hugs, Peta xxxxx,
9-9th September 2013
As we lie asleep, the protective arms of the Anna tree embrace us, the stars above twinkling like diamond studs along the boughs. A gentle breeze rustling the leaves is the only noise.
Suddenly the cry of the pearl spotted owl interrupts the peace. Dawn is coming. I lie awake snuggled in my sleeping bag, as one by one the stars are snuffed out by the slow light of sunrise. The birds are stirring – bullbulls and starlings chatter and babblers babble – Horatio (Steve) starts cooing to his mate.
A rustle of bags and tiptoes on the staircase is followed by the clattering of pans and snapping of twigs as those on kitchen duty to get the breakfast going. A muttered curse under the breath “bloody pat’s been at the bin again!”
Sunlight seeps along the riverbed, painting the valley with hazy light. The rocks turn ochre, the leaves lime, and the branches golden. The EHRA crew comes slowly to life, fumbling for hats as tea and coffee is passed around their tree house home.
“Porridge is ready,” a voice calls. And so another day at EHRA base camp begins. Enjoy!
Cat Early (UK)
Ps. Pat is like a porcupine
19th September 2013
“Can you feel the love tonight” – to quote the i-pod? Cheesy enough to sum up this trip? Awesome – in fact “fibre glass”.
Just glad I don’t have to do another patrol week with the terrible trio – Claiirrre, Ozzy sheep type; Maureen, always beautiful despite the muddy-dust and compulsory hair-plaiting; and Liam – trainee….to be up-dated in 4 weeks! To sum up, it’s been “G.R.O…another….O.O.O…V.Y….spells groovy!” Thanks Chris! P.S – sorry…..I forgot Margarita – or shall I call you Martini – so nice to sleep next to the cleanest person in camp! P.S – English squirrels are not ugly or stupid Nathan.
If you don’t have much experience with mixing cement, building a wall and working in a team-you will be an expert in these things after the building week J
The first day of my building week started near a little farm. Our task was to repair a broken wall around a water tank. After we took all the stuff out of the car (wheelbarrows, shovels, spades, buckets, gloves and so on…) we were beginning to get sand, collect stones and mix cement. Chris and Matthias gave us the necessary instructions and helped us where they could. I was surprised about the good community spirit and the teamwork. During the morning donkeys, cows and goats came to visit us and drank water near the wall. One farmer told us that a big snake is living in the wall. Unfortunately we didn’t see it. The time during the building week went so fast. At 12h00 we went back in our little camp to have a siesta. We ate something, talked about our activities and enjoyed the desert life. After siesta we worked for another2/3 hours at the wall. When it was evening we prepared food, ate at the fire, drunk a beer (better a warm beer than no beer) and talked Chris’s experience and Mattias life with 15 childrenJ The most important experience in the building week was for me to build a wall with a group in a short time with so much fun and to stay so close to the Damaras and learn a little bit about their culture and habits.
Gisela Binder (Germany), September 2013
I am writing this in my second week sitting in my sleeping bag sipping a coffee and watching the sunrise over a beautiful desert landscape. Meals are prepared by two persons from the group, rotating every day. Of course, Chris helps a lot with the actual cooking on open fire as most participants don’t have any experience with this.
Building week was really good, the group very quickly worked hand in hand, moving rocks, mixing cement, repairing a broken wall surrounding a water tank.
When we arrived at the farm, we were surrounded by a whole group of children, who also came back the following day to watch us with great interest. All day, long lines of goats came and went to get water from the troughs on the other side of the water tank.
Yesterday was the first day of tracking week. We left base camp with two jeeps and had our lunch break in a dry river bed. Just after lunch, we found some elephant tracks and dung which was rather dry and mixed with sand, not smelly. Excitement rose as we followed the tracks, and all of a sudden, turning around a bend in the dry river bed, we saw a herd of 3 adult and 3 baby elephants! When they became aware of us, they withdraw into the trees behind them. We climbed a small hill right next to the jeeps and tried to spot them in between the trees. It’s amazing how quietly elephants can move, but we heard some branches cracking every now and then. We waited patiently for about half an hour and were rewarded in so many ways, when first two adults with a baby came out into the open again, drinking from a water whole right in front of the rocks we had climbed, and shortly after, the other elephant with a one-year old baby and a three –year old came out as well. They took water from the hole and squired it out before they drank the fresh water that filled the hole again (Chris explained to us later that they don’t like stagnant water, they are quite fussy about it). It was a fascinating, breathtaking spectacle that nature delivered to us here, as we were watching in awe. I can strongly recommend participation in the EHRA volunteering project as it is a great way to come a little closer to the country, people and animals, and will give you a unique experience. Our guides, Chris and Matthias are very experienced, careful and absolutely professional in how they organized the trip. Thank you so much!🙂
Robin Demytteneare, September 2013
I’m sitting in a dried out riverbed, fending off a swarm of flies as I try to write this. After working and trekking for days in the hot desert sun with very limited shower possibilities, I don’t blame them for being so attracted to us. About 5 minutes ago, our lunch break was interrupted by a curious bull elephant stopping by to check us out. As we swiftly walked to the trucks, I couldn’t help but think how lucky we are. For the umpteenth time today, I stand still at the fact that we were lucky enough to witness a group of elephants in their natural environment; feeding, drinking, playing and growling. We are here while, as Chris has reminded us multiple times, our friends and families are most likely sitting on a school bench or behind an office desk. This morning we were observing a herd on the sun-warmed rocks of a koppie overlooking the riverbed. As I listened to breaking branches and the uprooting of entire trees, I thought of the sheer power that these mammals possess. I thought back to a conversation I had with a local man in broken English and Afrikaans during building week. While he may have been slightly exaggerating about the viciousness and rampages of the elephants, the bent over windmill and broken gate hinges spoke for themselves. It did not take me long to realize that EHRA isn’t just building a couple of walls, but it’s protecting the locals and elephants from one another, ensuring that these giants of the desert and Damaraland people can live together harmoniously.
If you are hesitant about going on this project, don’t be. Do it and, at the risk of sounding cliché, you may embark on a life changing experience.
Georgie Wood, UK, September 2013
I have no idea what day it is and I roughly know what time it is, because the sun is high and hot. And this just suits me fine. This whole trip hasn’t just been about the elephants and connecting with people around me, it’s been about reconnecting with nature. The simple and pure way you get to live whilst with EHRA fills your soul. I feel so rich and warm for the time here. I recommend this trip for animal lovers, adventure seekers and for those who don’t know what they are looking for, because you will find it here.
Jutta Rymarczyk, Germany
I can’t add much to what people have already been putting down here. Still, knowing it’s a repetition; these two weeks belong to the most touching experience in my life. During patrol week, off course, it’s the animals and the amazing landscape; during build week it was knowing that our wall will contribute to harmony between farmers and elephants. However, it was also the children of the village, also-in contrast to the adults!-helped us a bit, e.g. shoveling sand onto the jeep is hard work. Also, I was glad to have some small boys with me, little things to play soccer. Shouting goal and beaming all over their faces, they made my day. I’d be great if they could continue with what EHRA is doing here, one day.
Thanks to EHRA and to the best guides ever, Chris and Mattias
September 2013, Rachel Kirk, UK
Sleeping mild both weeks is fantastic. Buy a warm blanket in Swakop to keep you warm whilst you stargaze from bed! I’ve been here 2 weeks and going home shortly, but have had little idea what day, date or time it is since we set off from Swakopmund. A true antidote to the hectic – style of “normal” life. Build week makes a great change to deskwork! And you soon get used to being covered in cement and sand with no way to really get clean! It’s also a fab way to get to know your workmates, and have a laugh together. In patrol week, the sense of open space is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. The first sight of an elephant, truly in the wild is exhilarating and the chance to stand up on rocks, out in the desert just watching the herd is so peaceful and quieting. Completely different from a ‘safari’ experience, and a million times better.
What’s useful to know? You can wash clothes at camp after build week, buying the powder between you in Swakop, warm beer is better than no beer, bring fewer things than you think, cooking is shared on a ‘duty’-2 people each day, bring snacks, don’t bother with dry shampoo – it doesn’t work in the desert and you won’t care anyway…..and finally, if you are thinking of booking, then do it, you will really love it.
Rachel – watching the fire at camp on patrol week with a beer (actually a cold one!)
Build week tips: Use the juice to add to water, I drank more that way. You can never take enough wipes or sanitizer. Blanket plus sleeping bag, otherwise just bring your energy enthusiasm to have the most amazing time ever.
Patrol week tips: Definitely sunscreen and snacks to enjoy the long siestas, reflection time. Good camera and binoculars. Warm evening clothes and again, lots of fun and fantastic experience.
Best bits: Stars while sleeping, being woken with coffee, delicious evening meals, comfy bed rolls, view from the toilet at top camp, Chris’s easy come, easy go attitude, Mattias’ laugh, satisfaction at completing the wall, exhilaration at seeing the elephants roaming free and so gently, but respecting their nature and keeping a respectful distance and calm, quite presence. A last word – the people you meet, get to know and learn from. It was an awesome experience. Just lovely Liz xxxx
These two weeks were amazing. The best that have ever happened to me. It doesn’t matter where you are from, what you’re doing…everybody accepts you the way you are. Not only did I meet great people and friends, but I also found myself and it made me forget pain. Thanks for showing me how easy life can be without anything, but at least a happy life. Thanks for the amazing project! I will never forget this trip and the experiences!
“Thank you” is not the right words for what I feel…..I don’t have any words for it! I will miss every single second!
Rocks, cement, wheelbarrows, baby wipes, camp fires, new friends, good food, more baby wipes, star-gazing, bed rolls, tetris-style car packing, probably more baby wipes – all of these memories and more will stay with you but none as much as the first sighting of an elephant after patient tracking – a joyous privilege that brought tears to my eyes! If you are thinking about booking, don’t hesitate – this trip has exceeded my expectations and I am already planning my return!
Susan Spillane, July 2013 (Ireland)
From start of the trip to finish, we laughed and learned. Thanks to my fellow volunteers for being such a great group of people and so much fun. Thanks to Chris, Mattias and everyone working behind the scenes to ensure that the 2 weeks run so smoothly. Chris’s knowledge and enthusiasm is amazing, EHRA is lucky to have him. Build week was a chance to switch off from every day life and concentrate on rocks and cement, so satisfying to leave behind something that will benefit the local community. Final thanks goes to the elephants for being so patient with us and posing for so many “photos”. This has been an amazing experience and I am leaving with so many happy memories.
Christine Winter, July 2013(Germany)
It’s so addictive that I had to come back, even if it was only for patrol week J Thank you for the spontaneous possibility to join EHRA for another amazing week! This place is magical.
Teresa Renken, July 2013 (United States)
I was blessed to have spent the month of July, in its entirety, volunteering for EHRA with people from all over the world, sharing one common goal, conservation of Namibia’s desert-adapted elephants. But, there is so much more. The guides, Hendrick, Mattias and Chris are extremely knowledgeable about everything from elephants to plants to stars! I feel compelled to do this again for the campfires, the friendships, the elephants, my guides and this beautiful country. Endless stars, endless desert, endless wildlife (did I mention we saw/ tracked a black rhino!?), infinite love for EHRA.
Hannah Carey, July 2013 (United States)
Thanks EHRA for an amazing 2 weeks. It was a fantastic experience, better than I could have ever imagined.
Alan Perillo, July 2013 (USA)
I am so glad I decided to participate in EHRA’s program. I felt that it was well organized, and I always felt that I was in safe hands. From the very beginning everybody in my group bonded with one another and worked as a team. The experience provided by EHRA is unique, eye opening, and adventurous. I would not trade it for anything.
My time with EHRA has shown me beauty of the wild that I have never experienced before. At times beauty was shown to me by landscapes – colorful and vibrant sunsets, wide immense sky, sparkling stars and warm sand that sustain desert life.
The beauty is also contained in the animals of the wild. I feel privileged that I was allowed to, however brief of a time, be part of their world. The elephants, who no doubt have had experiences with human brutality, still chose peacefully to let us observe and enter their habitat during patrol week.
The beauty of this experience was also portrayed by the people that I met during my time with EHRA. EHRA is doing great things for conservation and I was able to begin to understand the complex relationship between humans and their environment during my 2 weeks. After talking to local villagers where we built the wall, it was apparent that great progress is being made – both in the physical (the wall) and the abstract (thinking). Younger villagers frequently voiced that they were no longer as fearful of elephants and understood them better, which no doubt could be credited to EHRA’s work. None of this understanding would have been made possible if it weren’t for Chris’s great passion and knowledge. He is a great teacher. Mattias instinct and insight also added great value to my experience. The camaraderie of other volunteers, fireside laughs and hard work definitely brought people together and made my trip more meaningful.
One-eyed Willy, the base camp’s dog, also taught me about the beauty of Africa. This is a dog that was adopted from the desert. He is missing an eye, has scabs all over his body and smells, but he is loving, loyal and hopeful. Just like Africa – there are things which may seem ugly, I was at times shocked, disturbed by some peoples relationship with their environment, but progress is being made and there is hope in the deep and immense beauty that the land and people here hold.
As I did that project now for the 2nd time I kind of knew what to expect, but the great thing was that it turned out to be so different to my first trip, but in the best way possible. Its amazing to see how people, different in gender, age, nationality and attitude end up being the perfect mix and team, full of fun and trust.
I found it very nice to see locals helping us building the wall and learning more and more about the changing situation, especially the change EHRA did to the people, even if it is small steps.
On patrol we’ve seen elephants everyday, often so near,that we could have touched if we wanted to. That was a very special and absolute magical moment I was happy to share. To see those beautiful animals just wandering around you creates so many happy faces. Over and over again its one of the most beautiful things to see. Mattias and Chris are two of the most inspiring people I met. The way Mattias tracks the elephants, and in the end really finds them….It’s amazing!
The time with EHRA brings out the best in me. Makes one let go of things that bothered you and makes one calm down, only watch and feel the beauty of nature. It felt like coming home. Thank you, again for something so special.
My experience with EHRA has been truly life changing. Your time will be filled with people, animals and environments that will make you change the way you view your own life.
Build week makes you not only appreciate a shower, but also see the change you can make to an environment and community.
Patrol week showed me the true beauty of Africa. The animals and landscapes will always stay with me. None so than watching the sunrise on my last day.
The work being done by EHRA is full of passion. That passion will rub off on you and hopefully make you see things differently.
I have met people from all walks of life during my four weeks here and made some friends for life. I am sad to be leaving, but I have a strong feeling that this will not be the last time I’ll see Africa.
I would like to say thank you to EHRA and everyone I’ve met for a truly amazing experience!
Emily Lawrence – England
Whilst I was a little apprehensive before my arrival, these fears were quickly dispelled by the friendliness of my fellow team members and EHRA personnel.
During the 2 weeks I have met many different nationalities and individuals and as a team I think we bonded to not only build a great wall, but to have loads of fun and laughter.
Namibia is a place of vast open spaces, breath-taking scenery as far as the eye can see. Whether it is the sunrise, sunset or the stars at night, the vista is truly amazing! As regards the camp-everything was organized so well, food was excellent and everyone so friendly. This was the same for both build and patrol weeks.
Chris, as a project leader, has clearly a passion for the elephant’s conservation and Namibia and this is transmitted with such enthusiasm. This has been a truly memorable experience and when I was viewing the elephants, I realized how privileged I had been to see these magnificent animals in their natural environment.
Thank you EHRAxxxxxx
Rebecca Hughes – uk
This trip has probably been one of the hardest I have ever participated in, and I have done a significant amount of travelling. I didn’t anticipate exactly just how tough build week was going to be for me. However, the group synergy and Chris’s energy and great sense of humor really pushed me through. Always the beauty of Namibia haunted me, everywhere I looked I saw stunning Vista’s. Camping close to the earth and the ease with which were living made me realize a few things about my own life. I will go back to England wanting to live a more simplistic lifestyle.
I am so happy that this trip has strengthened me and built my character. I think Chris has outstanding knowledge about Namibia and especially the gorgeous elephants.
I thoroughly enjoyed the structure of the trip and I am very grateful and appreciative to Chris and Mattias for making things as comfortable as possible for the group. I was so impressed with all the delicious dinners that were cooked for us.
I would highly recommend this trip to anyone as I feel it is run professionally with sincere dedicated staff members. There is a strong balance of a hardworking ethnic, fun and play too though I was mesmerized by the elephants!
I will never forget their majestic beauty. I feel a tinge of sadness at the fact that some of the people cannot live in harmony with these magnificent creatures, but I am very happy to see EHRA doing such a fine job at conserving and protecting the elephants. These creatures to me come across as peaceful beings who walk only hunt in define. They live in balance with the earth.and live simply loving their kin unconditionally which is more than I can say about humanity!
Thank you EHRA and Chris for your devotion and dedication, May you be blessed with all the help you need in order to continue your work.
With love Pratima – London – UK
To experience life with EHRA you will face on arid land, with dust and dirt in your hair,skin,eyes and ears. You will also wake at dawn, feel dehydrated and have sand in your porridge
But this is the small price you pay compared to the rich reward you receive from giving a little of your time and effort in helping build the wall for the community, and building relations between them and the elephants. For this you get to sleep under the stars and moonlight sky, you connect with the natural world and you work together as a team. Of most significance you get a unique and special chance to encounter the majestic elephants in their home, and are invited onto their world. To Chirs, Mattias, and the rest of EHRA‘s committed members, thank you for your energy and spirit.
Snita and Liam – UK to N.Z
Chris – Thank you for sharing a snapshot of your life with me after the last 2 weeks. These days I will never forget. They have been a really calming grounding experience- based on new friendships, good food, laughter, working together, common goals, new information, amazing stars, sunrises and sunsets. Sharing your last knowledge on the local animals, plants, people, and solar systems. Chris made that trip that much more meaningful for us all. He was so patient in answering all our questions and dishing out and taking our jokes.
Amongst many highlights on this trip these following are the ones I will cherish he most. Waking up in the middle of our 1st night at base camp to witness a solitary bull silently walking past the tree house and off into the distance whilst I could no longer make him out against the dark of night – I have never felt such ecstasy and this feeling will stay with me forever. Stark scenery of the Ugab region with it’s sandy soil, acacias, rocky outcrops feeling of openness and closeness to nature truly felt after climbing up a number of koppies – particularly above base camp and the koppie on the last day. It has certainly given me a great appreciation of Namibia’s vastness, small population and that it’s a tough environment to eek out an existence.
Elephant patrol sitting on top of the vehicle sometimes holding on for our dear life with Mattias driving. Watching the amazing tracking ability of Mattias through sometimes difficult landscapes ..and flat tyres! and we so often found the elephant herds. It was so special being able to listen to their low rumbles witness their strength and knocking over trees cheekiness in getting close to the vehicles and immense love and protection of their young in terms of building a shield of bodies around sleeping young and using their huge ears to cool and bath themselves and the young. It was truly awe inspiring to see these guests in their natural habitat.
I came onto the EHRA program hoping to make a little bit of a difference to the lives of others, but I know I have certainly been the winner taking away a lifetime of memories much more than I have given. I do hope the wall we’ve helped build will be a great contribution to the lives of the locals, providing them with fresh drinking water. The build week was great for us to practice team-building. Learning lot of new skills which will be useful in the future (especially my certificate in cement mixing!!) The week was as physically demanding as you wanted it to be but with the willingness to participate in all the task gave me a great sense of accomplishment to see our work at the end of the week. It was heartening to have some contribution from the locals as well as government workers which affirmed the keenness to see the wall being completed. They certainly demonstrated to us the speed and skills in cement mixing lugging huge scoops of cement. Around and racing the wheelbarrow around the wall then the rock layers.
Chris – thanks for your insights into African culture and in understanding of elephant behavior and value of these amazing animals for their culture and country. Build week was much more meaningful in understanding about your struggles with the government and locals. I truly hope your educational programs change those attitudes for the better.
Chris your hard work and caring nature did not go unnoticed – for I’m truly appreciative for you are a great person, inspiring calm and couragous and just the right leader to facilitate better relations between people and the elephants. Keep up the stellar work!
Suzzanne McLoughlin- Australia
Work week was hot, hard but the food was good on Friday to see what we completed was rewarding! He Sunday between weeks the res camp, Wi-Fi, pool and restaurant was just what everyone needed. The elephant tracking week we saw elephants on all 4 days. I had several up close experiments with the desert elephants. Were all an excellent volunteer encounters.