Home to some of the most diverse landscapes in Namibia, Etosha National Park is a haven for a myriad of wildlife and offers some of the finest encounters in Southern Africa.
A biology trip to Namibia is a unique opportunity for students to gain a deeper understanding of their subject by observing the wildlife and ecosystems around them. Learn about big cat conservation and how species survive in the arid Namib Desert.
Depart the UK on an overnight flight from London to Johannesburg, where you will catch a transfer flight to Windhoek in Namibia.
On arrival in Windhoek, transfer immediately to Okonjima, the home of the Africat Foundation, where you will receive an introduction and orientation of the camp, then head off for an early night after the long journey.
The foundation works with local farmers, the general public and a local school to conserve Namibia’s big cat species, and its ultimate aim is to educate local communities about how they can work alongside big cats, instead of killing or capturing them to remove them from precious arable land.
Your first full day with Africat will start with an early morning breakfast followed by a visit to the education centre, which will provide an excellent introduction to the work of Africat. Combining a focus of biodiversity of habitats and the wildlife, you will learn about tracking techniques as well as view some of the reserves wildlife which includes lion, wild dog, cheetah and leopard.
After lunch you will take a vehicle safafi into the park and then embark on a cheetah and hyena walk, tracking these beautiful animals by foot. Guided by expert rangers, you will also be taught about the changing habitat and introduced to the variety of bird species. After dinner, you will take a night walk into the area surrounding your camp, which will be an experience for you to enjoy the stunning starlit sky, and perhaps you may even see some of the antelope species including oryx.
Your final day at Africat will be another early start, and after breakfast you will be introduced to the topics of sustainable living in a fragile environment. Accompanied by one of the local tribesmen you will be taken on a bushwalk and introduced to the plants which have edible and medicinal qualities. You will also be taught how to make fire, and also weave rope from plant fibres.
Lunch will be made using solar cookers, and then you will be taken back into the reserve once again for more game drives to view the wildlife. You will return to camp in the late afternoon to prepare your bags for an overnight bush camp in the reserve. This will be a thrilling experience – sleeping under the stars with nature all around you.
It will be worth taking an early start today, in order to set up camp at the Waterberg Plateau. It’s only a short journey of about one hour to reach the campsite of Bernabe de la Bat, and after lunch you will explore the forested base of the beautiful plateau, using the network of self-guided nature trails.
Days 6-7 :
Leaving Waterberg early in the morning, you will transfer to Etosha National Park, where you will have plenty of time to explore the vast salt pans by day and observe the tremendous night time activities of the wildlife as they visit the waterhole at your campsite.
Continuing your exploration of Etosha, you will transfer to Olifantrus – another camp of Etosha on the western side of the park.
The wildlife is superb, particularly in the dry winter months. Among the mammals you are likely to see here are black-faced impala, gemsbok (oryx), Damara dik-dik, eland, greater kudu, hartebeest and springbok, together with large numbers of elephant, lion, leopard, black rhino, giraffe, Burchell's zebra and wildebeest. During the dry season large herds of plains game gather around the waterholes, along with their predators.
Days 9-11 :
AfriCat North, based along Etosha’s south western boundary, strives to mitigate human vs wildlife conflict on farmland especially with regards to the lion, by educating youth, encouraging adapted livestock management and conducting essential research and monitoring of wild lion populations.
AfriCat North has, for many years, been directly involved with human vs wildlife conflict incidents on communal and freehold farmland adjacent to the Etosha National Park, where conflict situations arise when lions leave the confines of protected areas and kill livestock. In most cases, farmers have no alternative but to destroy these stock raiders. Despite the importance of predators within ecosystems as well as their economic value for tourism, a large number of lions are killed annually.
On arrival there will be a brief introduction of the programme, which includes ‘behind the scenes’ on the Lion Research Project (in the study area of Hobatere or outside of the protected area, depending on the lions’ locations at that time, checking trail cameras, info on movement patterns and the early-warning system); preparations for the kraal-building for the following days.
The next morning it will be an early rise, with breakfast and departure for the kraal location, returning to camp in the late afternoon, with students discussing feedback on the day's work. The third day at Africat North will follow the pattern, returning to camp again in the late afternoon.
Days 12-11 :
From your campsite at Hobatere, it is a long drive south that will take you through the heart of Damaraland, passing by Twfellfontein, burnt mountain, the organ pipes and the Brandberg massif. When reaching Uis, a road heads out to Hentiesbaai on the coast of the country, where you will experiences the drama of the South Atlantic Coastline for the first time. From here, it is about a one hour drive to Swakopmund, where you will spend the night.
An early morning start for a sea kayak tour, a half day trip in and around the surrounding waters of the beautiful Walvis Bay Lagoon. Although kayaking is an exciting sea adventure, this well run activity caters for both the novice and experienced kayaker. While kayaking you can expect to experience close up interaction with playful cape fur seals while heavyside dolphins often escort you on your paddles;.these are the only endemic cetacean to the west coast of southern Africa.
After your sea kayaking excursion, and some lunch in one of the restaurants of Walvis Bay, your group will transfer into the Namib Desert. At the intersection of three unique desert ecosystems is the desert research centre at Gobabeb.
You will arrive at Gobabeb in the late afternoon and will need to set up your camp. Once done, you will have a brief orientation of the site, before embarking on a nature walk. The nature walk includes mini lectures on the plants and their adaptations, time to dig in buckets for beetle collections the next morning in each of the ecosystems, and a dune hike to watch the sunset. Students would also be encouraged to explore and collect active beetles to use the following day.
The world's oldest desert is a fascinating place for researchers from Namibia and abroad. From primary school students to internationally regarded researchers, Gobabeb offers a range of programmes and facilities to ensure a successful and enriching visit.
After breakfast, you will have a morning tour of the station with the aim of gaining a clear understanding of Gobabeb’s history, sustainable technology, and current research projects. You will then revisit the Kuiseb to check you beetle traps and bring your beetles back to the campsite.
You will then have a short lecture and introduction to the beetle racing activity and then have time to identify the species of each beetle and collect information (leg length, color, general observations, etc.). After you develop a hypothesis, you will run races and experiments to determine the fastest beetle of each ecosystem and overall. You will construct racecourses of your own design in the riverbed using natural materials and have time to briefly analyse your results, and prepare a poster to present to the rest of the group.
Leaving Gobabeb, you will return to Windhoek where you will spend the last evening of your trip and enjoy a celebratory meal in a local restaurant.
After breakfast you will head to the airport for your flight to Johannesburg and transfer to an overnight flight back to the UK.
Day 17: Arrive UK
- Destination: Namibia
- When to go: Mar to Oct
- Duration: 17 days
- Trip type: Fieldtrek
- Subject: Biology
- Waterberg Plateau
- Etosha National Park
- Namib Desert
- Walvis Bay
- Africat Foundation
- Accommodation: Camping, hostels and guesthouses
- Ideal for: Ages 16 to 18
Travellers will need:
- Strong interest in the chosen subject
- A desire to learn more in its natural environment
Largely untouched by humans, the Namib is the oldest desert in the world, and a fabulous location to encounter the unique wildlife that has made this inhospitable environment its home.
Located at the mouth of the Swakop River, Swakopmund was founded as the main harbour for the German Empire and now acts as a wonderful stop for groups exploring the length of Namibia.
The Waterberg Plateau is home to many of Namibia’s endangered species and towers 400 metres above the surrounding plains, with breathtaking views over the bush savannah below.