On Assignment Projects
Meet Your Expert
The landscapes of Namibia are stunning, stark, and home to a wealth of desert-adapted wildlife that National Geographic scientists are working hard to protect. Work with National Geographic grantees in the field on two important conservation projects that are part of the Society’s Big Cats Initiative, and participate in rhino protection efforts. Along the way, encounter elephants, giraffes, and oryx on safari; go whale-watching on Walvis Bay; and climb the dunes of the Namib Desert.
N/a’an Ku Sê
Days 1-6Get settled at the N/a’an Ku Sê Carnivore Conservation Centre, where National Geographic researchers have developed an innovative approach to protecting predators while reducing attacks on local livestock. Learn about the use of GPS and Google Earth to track leopards and cheetahs, and head into the field with local researchers on game counts, collar-tracking exercises, or to set up camera traps at watering holes. Snap close-up shots of the resident cheetahs and baboons and zoom out to photograph large herds of zebras and springbok. Volunteer with an environmental education camp at a local preschool, and spend time with members of a San Bushman tribe to learn about daily life in their hunter-gatherer community.
Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, and the Namib Desert
Head south to Sesriem Canyon and Sossusvlei—a salt and clay pan surrounded by towering red dunes. Camp overnight in the national park and wake early to watch the sun rise over the massive orange-red dunes. Pay a visit to the iconic Dead Vlei, a stark landscape dotted with ancient, skeletal camel thorn trees that have been dead for more than 700 years. Continue to the seaside city of Swakopmund, a lively hub for surfers and adventureseekers. Visit Cape Cross to observe a vast breeding colony of some 100,000 Cape fur seals, and go on a whale- watching cruise on Walvis Bay. Then head back into the desert and tear down dune slopes on a sandboarding excursion.
Journey into Damaraland, where the desert harbors unusually succulent plants fed by Atlantic mists. Pay a visit to Twyfelfontein, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and marvel at one of the largest and finest collections of petroglyphs in Africa. View stone tools and other artifacts found here, and discover what they convey about the hunter-gatherers who once lived in this region.
Travel to the nearby Himba and Herero villages with local guides and discover the traditional arts of two distinct indigenous cultures. Interview conservationists from the Save the Rhino Trust, learning about their community outreach efforts to protect critically endangered black rhinoceroses.
Etosha National Park
By getting hands-on experience with conservation organizations, I realized how hard— and how rewarding— field work can be. I was truly inspired
Namibia’s dry season spans April through October, when herds of plains game flock to the waterholes of Etosha National Park, and their predators—lions, leopards, and cheetahs—follow close behind. The resulting concentrations of wildlife provide optimal scenery for photographers and a living laboratory for conservationists. Enjoy three days on safari here, looking for big cats, giraffes, oryx, rare black-faced impalas, and endemic birds like the bare-cheeked babbler. Stop at watering holes for close-up views of bathing elephants, zebras drinking at the water’s edge, and hartebeests splashing in the shallows.
Cheetah Conservation Fund
Learn about into the plight of the cheetah at the world-renowned Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) near Otavi. Talk with scientists about predator-conservation outreach efforts and hear about their collaborations with local farmers. Join trackers on census walks, help care for rehabilitated cheetahs, visit the genetics lab, and observe a training session of livestock guard dogs—an integral part of the CCF’s conservation plan. We’ll cap off our expedition with presentations of our On Assignment projects and a celebration of our time together exploring Namibia.
At N/a’an Ku Sê and at the Cheetah Conservation Fund we will stay in dormitory- style housing. In Swakopmund, we’ll stay in a hotel, and in Sossusvlei, Etosha, and Damaraland, we will camp in tents.