From our working holiday volunteering with leopards, elephants and cheetahs in Namibia, Africa (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/namibia)

This morning I woke to the sound of jackals and it’s good to be back on Okambara. Vera and I did some expedition shopping in Windhoek yesterday, and now we are busy setting up base camp for our six Namibia expedition groups this year. Good and bad news at the bush camp – for our three returning expeditioners, you’ll be sad to know that the elephants knocked down the shade tree we used to use for the trucks. The good news is that we can use its thorny branches to make corrals! Other good news is that we now have nine rhinos on the farm. They are only a couple months old and Vera has yet to see them, so that is definitely something for all of us to look forward to.

elephant

I remember from last year we had some confusion about the “lunch boxes” mentioned in the dossier (myself included!) and so I want to clarify that you’ll be wanting to bring a plastic container to carry around your sandwich. We got so see some really creative ones last year, including recycled ice cream containers and lime Vera’s green one that happened to be the same color as the anti-venom kits. Bring whatever style you like, just know we’ll be packing our lunches every day and using the plastic boxes to keep the contents together.

lunch box

Another thing you need to be sure to bring is a re-usable water container. Backpack hydration packs are great, for example. See your dossier for further details.

One last thing I’ll mention right now to everyone is to bring your valid driver’s licenses! You will be able to drive our 4x4s around the study site (after proper training of course) and while we’ll only be driving on farm tracks, I still need to see your license in order to let you drive (no need to send copies to the office beforehand). Bring them even if you are thinking that you won’t want to drive, because I guarantee you when you see how easy and fun it is, you’ll regret it if you cannot drive. I mentioned the cold in yesterday’s diary, but it deserves mentioning again because when I arrived it was ZERO degrees Celsius. Bring a warm hat, scarf, layers, and especially warm gloves or mittens because the early morning vehicle game counts will be very cold until the sun comes up.

Looking forward to meeting Team 1 in Windhoek at 08:30 am on Sunday!

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From our working holiday volunteering with leopards, elephants and cheetahs in Namibia, Africa (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/namibia)

Hello everyone! Alisa Clickenger here, and I am your expedition leader for this year’s Namibia expeditions. I am writing (and speaking) to you from Frankfurt airport…

I’m in between my two overnight flights, and should be on the ground in Windhoek by 05:30 Tuesday morning. I am excited to see our expedition scientist Vera Menges, and we’ll begin right away doing the expedition shopping and setting up base camp for our studies there. I am equally excited to meet all of you, and looking forward to another season at Okambara.

Since I’ve yet to land I don’t have a Namibian SIM card for you to contact me yet, but that should be remedied upon my arrival. I’ll send another diary entry letting you know my local contact number in case of emergencies. For now just a short reminder that our meeting point is Casa Piccolo in Windhoek at 08:30. Team 1 will need to be there on Sunday, 03 August. Please arrive on time, and Casa Piccolo requests that you check in with reception when you arrive. After you check in at Casa Piccolo what then happens is that Casa Piccolo staff will put you on a transfer bus that will drive you out to Okambara, our study site (I’ll be meeting Team 1 and riding the shuttle with you to make sure everything goes smoothly with our new transfer company). It’s about a 2 hour drive on the shuttle and then Vera and our ground staff will then meet you in our 4x4s upon your arrival at the Josephine Gate. We’ll have another 45 minute drive to our base camp on Okambara, where we’ll quickly get settled in and get straight to briefing you in order to get you out and working in the field as quickly as we can.

The weather in central Namibia is sunny with temperatures during the day in the twenties (Centigrade) and dropping to single figures at night. Getting up in the morning will feel decidedly cold for the first few groups – there is no culture of heating in Namibia anywhere, so bring warm clothes! Vera gave me some good advice last year that I’ve followed again this year – I brought a lightweight sleeping bag to supplement my covers for the first teams. The good news is that as soon as the sun comes up over the horizon, you will quickly be able to shed those layers.

Here are a few more notes that may help you in your planning / anticipation of your work with us:

1 – There is no internet or mobile coverage at base, so you won’t be able to text, tweet or otherwise type away on your smartphones. Get your internet fix at Casa Piccolo and call all your loved ones and tell them that you’ll be disappearing for two weeks. I invite you to enjoy the serenity of the bush and your first hand experience with the Namibian savannah while leaving our all-too-wired society behind.

2 – Since there’s no internet at base, you won’t need a laptop unless you get withdrawal symptoms without one or you want to tinker with your photos or need a massive hard drive to share them (I encourage you to bring a high-volume USB stick for that purpose). Which brings us neatly to the question of photos. Of course you can snap away, but you won’t be on a photo safari either. We’re there to do serious science so we expect you to perform your jobs first and foremost, and the pictures are secondary. Of course it’s exciting to be in Namibia to see all those wondrous creatures and marvelous landscapes, so we will make sure you have some opportunities for photos. Heck, if we are lucky like last year, the animals will come to us at the base camp water hole once they get used to the activity there after our long absence

I look forward to meeting you and working together over the next several months!

Best regards

Alisa Clickenger
Expedition leader

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