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 10th February – 21st February 2014

Mamma Afrika

10/02/2014 – 21/02/2014

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.

One tusk elephant

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’.

Elephants

 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.

Elephant Mamma Afrika and calf Madiba

Thank you Chris and Matthias for taking care of us. We really had a fun(and swaffel) time!

Cameron, Hannah, Jennifer and Kate

Volunteer group pic

 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!

Volunteer accommodation

Volunteer Blog 27th January – 7th February 2014

 

EHRA Volunteers group

27th January

Cat from the UK

Paradise would have to work to beat the eco-wow factor EHRA base camp has to offer. After driving for a few hours through the awe-inspiring wilderness that is the Namibian desert and taking a dirt track over the dry Ugab river, we rolled up in our vehicle to base camp. Our bed for the night was built into the tree canopy, views of rock boulder hills and later at night a sky full of stars awaited our team.

However, no time to relax too much, as this was only to be for the one night before embarking further on our adventure!

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 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!

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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….!

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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?!)

-Rehydration sachets

-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!

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 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….

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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!

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 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!

Volunteers relaxing

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!!

Desert elephant Duchess and Otumwe

 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

African nights sky

Volunteer blog – 9th September – 20th September 2013

September 2013

(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

Handing out donations

Handing out donations

9-19th September

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:

  1. You can never have too many wet wipes!
  2. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! (Unless you like the scaly look…)
  3. You know it’s hot when the Mopani bees make an appearance – beware of their preference for getting up noses and ears!
  4. Burning elephant dung helps keep the bees at bay and actually smells quite pleasant too.
  5. Bring a few cold beers or ciders to enjoy at the end of the day – African sundowners are the best!
  6. Mattias will manage to make you look like a pony weakling with his superb boulder carrying capabilities – just accept it!
  7. 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!
  8. One set of clothes for build week is perfectly acceptable. Everybody smells as bad as each other J
  9. If you are sprung by goats during “bush business” beware…the farmer is usually close behind!
  10. The resident camp hornbill’s name is “Haratio” (Steve)…just so you know!
  11. 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.
  12. 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,

                Australia

Taking a closer look

Taking a closer look

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

Half finished wall

Half finished wall

 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.

Thanks again Chris! Tammy!

Group picture

Group picture