Desert Elephants of Namibia
TUE 17 OCT – THU 26 OCT 2023
Love Her Wild is teaming up with CathAdventures to put together this special expedition. Spend 10 days in the heart of the Namibian wilderness tracking and collecting conservation data on elephants, and experiencing the incredible diverse landscapes of this country.
Day to day life on this expedition will be tough. You will be far away from civilisation completely off-grid on self-contained vehicles, wild camping under the stars each night. The unpredictable nature of elephants makes it impossible to predict what the itinerary will look like, but you can expect daily yoga, beautiful scenery and some of the best sunsets on the planet.
Credit for all photos on this page: The Matriarch Adventure
Why do we need to protect the elephants of Namibia?
Desert elephants are a high national and international conservation priority and have been designated as a top priority for protection by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature).
The total number of resident desert-adapted elephants living in the southern ephemeral rivers of the southern Kunene and northern Erongo region of Namibia is 62 elephants. Since 2016 the Ugab river elephant population has decreased by 32% partially due to natural and human-caused reasons.
Between 2014-2018, 9 out of 14 new born calves died in the Huab River and the Ugab River combined.
Accurate data on elephant numbers and movements, the ability to identify each elephant, and knowledge of individual elephant personalities are important to protecting these animals. During our expedition, we will assist EHRA, a local NGO, with this important work.
Itinerary & Travel
Travel information: There are two airports you can fly to: Walvis Bay or Windhoek. Walvis Bay is closer to our meeting point in Swakopmund, and it is only a 30 minute transfer from the airport to the hotel. Flying into Windhoek (Hosea Kutako International) involves a 4-5 hr transfer. If you are flying into Windhoek, you will need to ensure that your flight arrives in before 12 noon on the first day of the expedition as this is the latest time we can transfer you to Swakopmund.
If you cannot arrive before this time, then please overnight in Windhoek or fly to Walvis Bay.
If departing from Windhoek, please arrange your homeward journey for mid/late afternoon on the last day of the expedition to allow for transfer times and check-in. If departing from Walvis Bay your flight times are more flexible, so any time on the last day is fine.
Of course, you are more than welcome to stay longer in Namibia!
Transfer from the airport, arrive in Swakopmund and settle in at Swakopmund Luxury Suites. with stunning views over the Atlantic Ocean. Meet for an evening meal, and start to get to know each other. Get a good night’s sleep, ready for the adventure ahead!
After breakfast, head off to base camp on the Ugab River and meet the EHRA (Elephant Human Relations Aid) team. Go through risk assessments, wildlife safety briefings, and overview of the week. Take an orientation nature walk through the red granite landscape, identifying animal tracks with our expert tracker. Enjoy a communal dinner round the camp fire then sleep on the tree platform under the stars.
After dawn yoga and breakfast, pack up vehicles and head off on elephant patrol, tracking desert elephants. Lunch and relaxation in the bush, make a wild camp in the evening around a huge camp fire, and share stories as the sun sets. Embrace the simple life, and sleep under the stars.
Day 4 – 8
Due to the unpredictable nature and unknown location of the desert elephants, and in the spirit of true adventure, our next few days on expedition will combine trekking on foot and vehicle patrol, and will take us through areas of outstanding natural beauty as well as farmsteads and villages where we will have a chance to view elephants, and learn about their interaction with the local community. In addition to collecting valuable data, we will also have the chance to talk to local people, especially women, and learn a little about their lives. Some days will be less elephant focussed but allow us to experience the expansive beauty of this epic landscape as we explore its hidden treasures, and meet other iconic Namibian wildlife along the way. Every day we will either practice yoga, or meditate, and we will make time to continue our personal transformational journey. Each night we will make camp in the wilderness, eat around a camp fire and sleep out under the stars.
After watching the sunrise, and final bush breakfast, pack up camp and wend our way back to Swakopmund. Meet for final celebratory dinner at a secluded restaurant, and congratulate yourself for meeting all your challenges head on!
Final day – spend a while exploring the quaint town of Swakopmund. Head back to Windhoek and begin your journey home…
– Passport, insurance certificates & personal documentation, including some copies stored separately
– Personal medical first aid & hygiene kit (including any medication you are taking)
– Eco wet wipes and hand sanitizer – there are no washing facilities whilst on patrol
– Sun protection: sunscreen & lip salve, sun hat and sunglasses
– Comfortable, lightweight walking boots/ trekking shoes/ trainers. Ankle support highly recommended.
– Sandals or flip-flops for camp
– Head torch & spare batteries
– Watch with alarm or travel clock
– Warm jumper and jacket (a thin down or polartec is ideal)
– Sleeping bag, 3 season (liner is optional but recommended)
– Khaki, Sand or similar neutral coloured lightweight bush wear (consider 2-3 changes of clothes as you will find that you often just wear the same outfit). Neutral is important so that when close to elephants (and other animals) we do not stand out and blend in with the surroundings, so greens, khaki, grey are all good but not white, black or bright colours, also no camouflage design. Include shorts, t-shirts, long-sleeved shirt, lightweight long trousers, trekking socks, bandana, enough underwear for the duration
– Water bottles: 3 x 1 litre, or platypus type water bladder
– Rehydration salts or sport electrolyte tablets (at least one per day)
– Mosquito net (pop-up/free standing variety is essential – army surplus highly recommended )
– Daypack with waist strap (approx 25L)
– One soft kit bag for main packing (please do not bring a suitcase – a duffle bag or rucksack is fine)
– Spending money in N$ or SA Rand
– Consider a head net or hat with a mossie net built in – you can buy head nets separately from army surplus stores. There can be rather irritating Mopani Bees around (THEY DO NOT STING!!)
– Camera with additional charged batteries or power pack (you will not be able to charge batteries or use your phone as a camera)
– Notebook & pen
– Trekking poles
– Dry bags
– Travel pillow
– Parasol or umbrella (for shade while walking)
– Travel towel
– Insect repellant
– Eco shopping bags (you might want to shop locally for snacks and other personal items!)
Please be aware that your clothes are going to get dirty! You do not need to spend exorbitant amounts of money on top of the range technical gear, and do ask around – you may be able to borrow some of the items on this list! (You might want to bring an extra set of nicer clothes for Swakopmund though for the last night, and remember it is cooler at the coast.)
You do not need a tent or bed roll/sleeping mattress – these are provided. Your main kit bags will be transported by vehicle, not carried by you on trek.
Who is leading this expedition?
Catherine Edsell FRGS is an adventurer, conservationist and global expedition leader with 20 years’ experience in the industry. Having worked in some of the remotest areas of the planet, (sometimes with her kids in tow), she keenly noticed the benefits of being completely off-grid, immersed in the natural world. Wishing to share her experiences with others, she created The Matriarch Adventure – transformational extreme wilderness expeditions encouraging women to ‘step into the wild’. She has now teamed up with Bex Band and Love Her Wild, to bring a bespoke Love her Wild Matriarch Adventure, just for wilders!
She is also a yoga teacher, PADI Divemaster, TEDxLondon speaker, published author and ambassador for EHRA supporting endangered desert elephants in Namibia.
A note from the leader….
“My wish is for you to open yourself up to the possibility that anything can happen and probably will!
From my experience, much of our lives are planned, so much is predictable and routine, we live in isolation, separated from each other, our connection with each other and with the wonders of the world are fractured. For these reasons, I encourage you to be satisfied with less information rather than more.
I strive to design an experience of full immersion into the beauty of the Namibian wilderness, not an itinerary of a well-trodden path. I hope this will be a refreshing experience for you – one that will fill you, challenge you, stretch you. I want this to be an amazing once in a lifetime event, not something that you can buy off the peg.
I offer mystery rather than predictability, I’d love you to be able to switch off that part of your brain that always needs to know what is happening next and replace it with the simplicity of being exactly where you are.”
What is included
Included in the price is…
All expedition costs, including specially fitted desert vehicles, camping and cooking equipment
Two night’s hotel accommodation before and after the expedition
Food while on expedition plus breakfast and evening meals in Swakopmund (please note we serve vegetarian meals to reduce our environmental impact)
An experienced and qualified expedition leader and yoga instructor, plus in-country experts who will support our expedition and make sure we have the best chance of finding the elephants
- Donation to EHRA and Love Her Wild CIC
What isn’t included
Personal travel insurance (with cover for remote activities and evacuation)
Any beverages other than tea, coffee and water
- Site fees for opportunistic cultural/historical visits
Our expeditions have been an integral part of cementing and growing our community….so thanks for being part of that! Our expeditions put an emphasise on being part of a team and having a good time over reaching any pre-determined goal. With that in mind we ask you to come with the intention of looking out for each other.
A big part of the Love Her Wild ethos is looking after the planet and all those who live on it. Our meals are vegetarian (to reduce our carbon footprint) and we do what we can to reduce single-use plastic on expedition, as well as sourcing local eco providers wherever possible. There is no pressure at all but we’d love for you to get on board with this mind set if you can. Things you can do to help include: off-setting your flights, brining a reusable coffee cup and water bottle with you and saying no to straws and plastic bags on expedition.
This expedition is for 18+ only and includes a non-refundable and non-transferable £350 deposit. Please do not book your flights until we have confirmed the trip has reached minimum numbers. Everyone joining will need to fill out a detailed medical form which will need to be cleared before we can confirm you are able to join – this is because the expedition is so remote. Note that occasionally itineraries may change due to unforeseen circumstances (such as bad weather) but we stick to the plan as much as possible.
Cost: £1950 (+booking fees)
Dates: 17th – 26th October 2023
For enquiries, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have partnered with Inspired Ventures who specialise in adventure travel to support social and environmental projects around the world. Inspired Ventures is a UK travel company that ensures our trip has all the necessary insurance and complies with the necessary standards and laws in the UK.