As newly retired folk, my wife and I thought that Southern Africa would be an excellent place to travel. We were interested in learning about the cultures and traditions as well as learning about the array of spectacular wildlife.
So for one week this summer, we volunteered with the Noah's Ark Wildlife Center in Namibia, one of Enkosini Eco Experience’s projects. I knew that short-term volunteer opportunities in Africa were becoming more accessible with the rise of “Voluntourism”. There has been a rise in the number of tourists visiting Africa now who wish to spend a portion of their vacation in a more enriching way; such as helping local communities, or becoming involved in conservation efforts.
When we arrived at the camp, we first registered, and then were assigned a raised wooden cabin overlooking a big waterhole with a background of the beautiful desert land of Namibia. We were fortunate to get a cabin for ourselves, though we had to share the showers and toilets. There was a separate kitchen and dining area as well.
After unpacking we were given an official introduction to the Center. We were then each given appointed tasks under a supervisor. My wife’s assignment was to to take care of a baby baboon. The little animal was so cute and full of life. I was assigned to help feed and clean the cheetahs, which I admit was a bit scary at first, but I quickly got used to it.
Once the trip was over and we arrived back to our home in Israel, my wife and I realized that we were, in fact, able to make a difference in a short amount of time. Therefore, we want to share all the information we have about becoming a volunteer with those who also might be thinking of giving some of their time to a worthy cause. There are plenty of opportunities available to volunteer at the Enkosini Eco Experience. As a volunteer, you will become an important part of their goal to create a model of responsible conservation that preserves Africa's natural heritage as well as promoting Southern Africa’s economy through local and international eco-tourism. .
Here are some points to consider when applying for volunteer opportunities. First, most short-term volunteer jobs will not pay to cover costs. A volunteer contribution covers meals, accommodation, activities, transfers – the costs depend of the location of each conservation site.
Second, accommodations are simple and rustic. Volunteers sleep in comfortable dorm style rooms, with shared bathrooms.