The 15-day Namibia Vet Student program is specifically designed for students wishing to gain more insight into the world of veterinary care on wildlife sanctuaries, general wildlife, as well as nature conservation. During the program students will learn more about Namibia’s wildlife, conservation and research.
Day 1: Wildlife Sanctuary
Welcome to Namibia! Your first 5 nights will be spent at a Wildlife Sanctuary where lectures, discussions and practical work will be the focus.
After arrival and settling in we will meet up as a group and we will be briefed by the vet / research team on our program for the next 5 days. Our late afternoon nature drive is the perfect introduction to Namibia and its wildlife!
After the nature drive, we will meet up for discussions and our first dinner together as a group. We will also be introduced to some of the staff at the sanctuary and discuss our plans for tomorrow.
• General Wildlife Conservation in Namibia
Day 2: Wildlife Sanctuary
After breakfast we will take part in lectures and presentations about wildlife capture, pharmacology, behaviour and anaesthesia. This will prepare us, and give a general background for the possible work and procedures that we could partake in during the next 4 days. Vet and research work will depend on the active cases at the sanctuary at the time.
This afternoon we will enjoy a Baboon walk and get to know these primates better.
We meet up for dinner and have some preparation discussions for our dart gun activity tomorrow.
• General Wildlife Capture
• Dart Gun Preparation/Discussion before practical
Day 3: Wildlife Sanctuary
Our morning will start with a lecture on the preparation and procedures of the use of a dart gun and the role it plays in a Wildlife Vet’s everyday life. We will discuss general pharmacology, dosages etc.
In the afternoon we will do a dart gun practical, giving each student a chance to partake in this important activity.
We will meet up for dinner and discuss our activities for tomorrow.
• Health Check Preparation Discussion
Day 4: Wildlife Sanctuary
We start with a lecture on annual Wildlife Health check procedures. We will discuss the importance of annual health checks and the monitoring of data etc.
The afternoon will be spend with the vet / research team focusing on the care, feeding and monitoring of rehabilitated animals in the sanctuary.
• Telemetry and the role it plays in general wildlife capture and conservation
Day 5: Wildlife Sanctuary
This morning we will have a brief discussion on telemetry and the role it plays in conservation followed by a telemetry exercise where we will track some of the wildlife on the sanctuary.
The afternoon session will focus on how to analyse camera traps and GPS data.
• Debrief on Telemetry Exercise
• Wildlife monitoring via GPS and Camera Traps.
Day 6: Wildlife Estate:
This morning you will be transferred from the Wildlife Sanctuary to a Wildlife Estate, where you will spend the next 3 nights.
After arriving late afternoon, we will meet the researchers/vet who will brief us on the projects they are currently working on. There will be an optional wine tasting before dinner for those that are interested in this activity.
We will enjoy dinner as a group and have a discussion on the various research projects as well as our plans for tomorrow.
• Various research projects (will depend on the active research project at the time)
• Conservation efforts at the Wildlife Estate
Day 7: Wildlife Estate
We will spend the full day with the researchers/vet on one or more of the following projects. (depends on the active research projects at the time)
• Cheetah monitoring project
• Spotted Hyena Research Project
• Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra Research Project
• Forest Conservation Revegetation Project
Before dinner we will get together to discuss the projects we took part in today as well as get some background information on Sossusvlei, which we will visit tomorrow.
• Specific Research projects
• Sossusvlei: Conservation and History
Day 8: Sossusvlei Excursion:
We will have an early start as we head out for our full day excursion into the “heart of the Namib”, Sossusvlei.
Situated in the largest conservation area in Africa (the 50,000 km² (19,300 sq mi) Namib-Naukluft National Park), Sossusvlei is possibly Namibia’s most spectacular and best-known attraction. It is where you will find the iconic red sand dunes of the Namib.
Sossusvlei literally translates to “dead-end marsh”, as it is the place where the dunes come together preventing the Tsauchab River from flowing any further, some 60km east of the Atlantic Ocean. However, due to the dry conditions in the Namib Desert the river seldom flows this far and the pan remains bone-dry most years.
We will arrive at Sossusvlei early, as it is the best time for photographs and not too hot yet. You will have plenty of time to enjoy some of the many highlights that surrounds Sossusvlei itself:
• Dune 45, the most photographed dune on earth (situated 45 km past Sesriem on the road to Sossusvlei)
• Hiddenvlei, perfect if you are looking for solitude in the desert
• The magnificently tall Big Daddy dune
• Deadvlei, a world-famous paradise for photographers, as it is punctuated by blackened, dead acacia trees, in vivid contrast to the shiny white of the salty floor of the pan and the intense orange of the dunes
• Sesriem Canyon, a narrow gorge of 1 km long and up to 30 m deep slashed into the earth by the Tsauchab river millions of years ago. The name derives from the Afrikaans for the 6 lengths of ropes that were needed to haul water out of the gorge to the top with containers in days gone by.
Despite the harsh desert conditions, there are a wide variety of plants and animals that have adapted to survive here. These include insects, reptiles, birds, mammals and many desert adapted plants, flowers and fruits, like Namibia’s national plant, the bizarre Welwitschia. We will certainly keep our eyes open for any interesting species of fauna and flora, including mammals like Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, Gemsbok, Springbok, Klipspringer, Steenbok, Common Duiker, South African Ground Squirrel, Cape Hare, Yellow Mongoose, Common Rock Hyrax, Bat-eared Fox, and even Leopard if we are very lucky.
Avian specials in this area include Verreaux’s and Martial Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Lanner and Pygmy Falcon, Burchell’s and Double-banded Courser, Kori and Ludwig’s Bustard, Rüppell’s Korhaan, Double-banded and Namaqua Sandgrouse and more. There are of course also many reptiles in attendance, so look out for Namaqua Chameleon, Puff Adder and much more.
We will return to our accommodation late afternoon and have dinner together as a group.
• Conservation in the Namib Desert
• Archeology and history of Sossusvlei
Day 9: Swakopmund:
This morning we make our way to the coastal town of Swakopmund where we will spend 3 nights.
Our entire drive today takes place in the Namib Sand Sea, one of Namibia’s two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is the only coastal desert in the world that includes extensive dune fields influenced by fog. Covering an area of over three million hectares, the site features gravel plains, coastal flats and rocky hills within the sand sea, a coastal lagoon and ephemeral rivers, resulting in a landscape of exceptional beauty. Fog is the primary source of water in the site, accounting for a unique environment in which endemic invertebrates, reptiles and mammals adapt to an ever-changing variety of microhabitats and ecological niches.
Swakopmund has made a name for itself as the activity and sport capital of Namibia, but this town offers so much more. Sandwiched between the hot, arid desert and the cold waters of the Atlantic, Swakop (as the locals call it) is one of the most fascinating colonial towns in all of Africa. It is a heady mix of South African, Namibian and German cultures, architecture, languages and cuisine.
Swakopmund and the nearby Walvis Bay forms part of the greater Dorob National Park. Dorob National Park, which incorporates core conservation areas, runs from just south of Walvis Bay to the Ugab River in the north. The entire 976 mile (1,570km) coastline of the country is protected. Collectively, this area is known as the Namib Skeleton Coast National Park, and it consolidates three national parks: Skeleton Coast, Namib-Naukluft and Sperrgebiet, and includes four wetlands of international importance. The 10.754 million hectare mega-park is the sixth largest terrestrial park in the world and the largest in Africa.
Dorob National Park has core conservation areas set aside for rare and endangered species. As the park is allowed to be used for tourism and recreational purposes in restricted areas only, the park has been divided into zones. The identified zones are: Damara tern breeding sites, gravel plains, important bird areas, the Kuiseb Delta, Sandwich Harbour, Swakop River, Tsumas Delta, Walvis Bay Lagoon, birding areas and lichen fields. At the same time other areas are set aside for multiple uses, including adventure tourism. Windsurfing, kayaking amongst dolphins, quad biking and skydiving are popular coastal activities. The Dorob National Park is inclusive, progressive conservation that aspires to great, grand goals.
We will reach our accommodation in Swakopmund in time to settle in and meet up for dinner and discussion as a group.
• Conservation and Ecosystems of the Namib Sand Sea
• Conservation in Dorob National Park
Day 10: Swakopmund and the dunes:
Our adventure for the day kicks off with your Eco Dune Tour.
We will encounter and learn more about the fascinating wildlife of the Namib Desert with the help of a local expert. We will look for geckos, scorpions, snakes, lizards, birds and beetles as well as the incredible plant life that survives in this harsh and seemingly inhospitable environment. Some of the special creatures we might see include Namib Sand Gecko, Namaqua Chameleon, Shovel-snouted Lizard, Tractrac Chat and even Peringuey’s Adder.
After lunch, we are off to explore the Welwitchia/Moon Landscape. This drive will take us inland to the “Moon Landscape” and the Swakop River Canyon with its amazing rock formations, the Oasis Goanikontes, flora such as the Welwitchia Mirabilis plant, Tsamma, ‘Living Stones’; sightings of wildlife, lichen fields, and much more.
We will return to our accommodation in the late afternoon for discussion and dinner. (There is an option to do a Desert Night Walk as an additional activity)
• Dune Conservation
Day 11: Walvis Bay
We are heading off to Walvis Bay! Namibia’s major harbour town is well known for the lagoon and its prolific bird life. The Walvis Bay lagoon and salt pans are regarded as the most important coastal wetland in southern Africa, as over 150,000 migrant birds spend the summer months there. Over 150 different bird species have been recorded in this region, along with 11 types of chameleons, lizards and geckos, and 13 species of mammal (including Pygmy Rock Mouse, Littledale’s Whistling Rat and Setzer’s Hairy-footed Gerbil) that also reside in the area.
We will enjoy a full morning kayaking adventure. We will depart from Walvis Bay Harbour and make our way to Pelican Point. During the drive we will get to see the Walvis Bay wetlands with plenty of birds including flamingos and pelicans, and the salt mine which is one of the biggest in the world.
One can get quite close to the seals without disturbing them and it is a wonderful experience to be up close and personal with these South African Fur Seals. We will return to Walvis Bay for lunch.
After lunch we will be briefed by one of the members of Ocean Conservation Namibia. Ocean Conservation Namibia (OCN) is a non-governmental organisation, with the primary objective to put an end to the entanglement of marine wildlife along the Namibian coast.
We return to Swakopmund for discussion and dinner.
• Marine Conservation
• Ocean Conservation Namibia Projects
Day 12:Carnivore conservation and rehabilitation:
This morning we are heading to our last destination, where we will learn more about Carnivore conservation and rehabilitation
We will meet up with the local researchers/vet who will brief us on the program for the next two days.
We will enjoy dinner as a group and have discussions afterwards.
• Cheetah Conservation in Namibia
Day 13: Carnivore conservation and rehabilitation
The highlight of our morning is the “Cheetah Run”! Experience the thrill of seeing Cheetah running close-up when we join them for their morning exercise. As the Cheetah “hunt” a specially made lure, you will have the opportunity to capture photo and video footage of their magnificent speed.
Afterwards we will meet up with one of the researchers who will brief us on some of their active projects and we will assist with some of the available tasks which could include monitoring, tracking etc.
Early evening we will meet up for discussion and our dinner together as a group.
• Cheetah Conservation in the rest of world
Day 14: Carnivore conservation and rehabilitation:
Our morning starts off with a Cheetah Drive. The drive will take us to a Cheetah camp located at the main centre where we will learn more about their general behaviour and general conservation.
We will attend the Cheetah Feed in the afternoon, where we will have a chance to see some of CCF’s resident cheetahs which cannot be released back into the wild, during their feeding.
If there are any active vet cases during our visit, we will join the vet during these procedures.
We will meet up for our last dinner as a group and discuss the wonderful adventures we had.
Day 15: Departure to Windhoek
This morning after breakfast we pack our bags and return to Windhoek where our adventure will come to an end. You will be dropped off at the airport for your onwards journey home.
For more information contact the Nature Travel Namibia team at firstname.lastname@example.org