Quick Facts

from $1,750$8,000


This internship offers a rare opportunity to gain experience in three integral areas of wildlife conservation: rewilding, reserve management, and permaculture. You will become part of our expedition management team who host adventure-conservation expeditions that make up the business branch of the Oana Nature Reserve and funds the reserve management. You will join the reserve management team and gain first-hand experience in reserve management and rewilding and get involved in permaculture and sustainability projects. When possible, you will also get a chance to join the Oana Community Trust management team. This is the non-profit branch that engages with the local Nama community and community-owned conservancies of the Namibian Deep South. 

Project Highlights

Live in a desert base camp and have exclusive access to the rugged Oana Nature Reserve.
Work alongside local Nama employees and learn their unique click language, how to cook traditional Nama food, and other traditional ecological skills.
Experience various adventure activities such as a 3-day foot expedition exploring 110,000 acres of African mountains and plains and a 3-day river rafting expedition down the Orange River.
Experience hands on reserve management and rewilding by removing invasive trees and human infrastructure.
Carry out wildlife research projects and learn about biodiversity surveying, while building your knowledge on insects, reptiles, small mammals, birds, and riverine wildlife in a highly understudied part of Africa with the potential for new species.
Assist in managing the expedition’s community projects in the village of Warmbad and meet local communities in the community-owned conservancies while getting involved in the planning and implementation of wildlife and humanitarian projects.
Develop sustainable permaculture projects at the camps and learn about existing projects.
Learn how to manage a tented base camp, expedition team, and plan 3-day walking and river rafting expeditions.

the destination

Oana Nature Reserve is one of the most spectacular areas in the Namibian Deep South, a region of semi-desert broken up by the Orange River. The reserve extends for over 110,000 acres that include 31 miles of river frontage. It was established by Ian Craig of Lewa Conservancy in Kenya and Pete Morkel, a renowned wildlife vet, to provide a sanctuary for the critically endangered black rhino and to conserve a unique ecosystem in an area threatened by commercial farming.

The land is an ecotone that hosts the Nama Karoo biome, Succulent Karoo biome, and Namib Desert biome. Only 1% of the Nama Karoo is protected and the Succulent Karoo is one of the 25 biodiversity hotspots on earth. The terrain itself is a chaotic geological fusion of metamorphic and igneous mountain ranges, sandy and gravel plains, seasonal riverbeds, and the Orange River that provides a kaleidoscopic landscape of colour and shapes. It is the ultimate place to escape into nature.

Depending on the schedule for the week, you will be staying in either a tented base camp or the headquarters accommodation. Base camp is a Bedouin style tent with flushing loos, hot showers, and a chef. It is set at the base of our mountains with stunning views over the plains. The headquarters accommodation is a lovely house with flushing loos, hot showers, a self-catering kitchen, and swimming pool. This accommodation makes a nice contrast with the wilder base camp. A local chef will prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Lunch and dinner will be a mix of international and local cuisine, including traditional Namibian meals such as potjiekos (game stews) and braais (barbeques), using free-range game from neighbouring game reserve. We have a conscious menu therefore you will eat seasonally and have at least 4 vegetarian days a week. Tea, coffee, water, squash, and snacks will be available throughout the day.

A local chef will prepare breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Lunch and dinner will be a mix of international and local cuisine, including traditional Namibian meals such as potjiekos (game stews) and braais (barbeques), using free-range game from neighbouring game reserve. We have a conscious menu therefore you will eat seasonally and have at least 4 vegetarian days a week. Tea, coffee, water, squash, and snacks will be available throughout the day.

There is no mobile phone reception at the camp. Wi-Fi is available for staff only; the Internet connection is very slow. There is landline satellite connection that can be used if family members need to get in touch with you. In the case of an emergency, Expedition Leaders have a satellite mobile phone on them at all times.

The climate of the area is sub arid, we are part of the Nama Karoo, Succulent Karoo and Namib Desert biome, with an annual rainfall of approximately 90 millimetres mostly falling during summer thunderstorms between October and March. Remember that seasons in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres are reversed. Humidity: 20%–40% Temperature range: September/October/March/April temperature: Average 30º C in the day and 10º C13º C at night. June/July/August temperature: Temperatures can drop below freezing at night and be up to 28º C in the day.



The rewilding program is split into 2 main concepts: land management and baseline research. Since the area was extensively farmed and used for trophy hunting, the first phase of management is to gradually transition the land back to its natural ecosystem.

Efforts are concentrated on eliminating all human infrastructure that is detrimental to wildlife, clearing scrap, removing old livestock fences, extracting alien plant species, reconstructing water points for wildlife, and revitalising grassy plains. You will also get involved with the construction of sand dams and wildlife hides and learn how to manage and maintain waterholes, tracks, and fences – a crucial part of reserve management. When possible, you may participate in the reintroductions of ostrich, meerkat, grey rhebok, cheetah, giraffe, red hartebeest, and blue wildebeest into the reserve.


The Deep South has received extremely limited scientific research, so there are ample opportunities for collecting exciting data and perhaps even identifying new species. You will be involved in conducting extensive biodiversity surveys on the local flora and fauna. Research may include camera trapping, small mammal trapping, horned adder VHF tracking, brown hyena and leopard research, game counts, endemic Hartmann’s mountain zebra, mist netting for birds, burrowing ecosystem engineers, and apex predators

This research will offer a clearer idea of which species occur, population sizes, and distribution. This will provide essential preliminary information when establishing a conservation area prior to wildlife reintroductions and management strategy.


Another camp and subsistence farm are being built on the river, so you will get involved in the construction of both and the subsequent management of the farm.

Sustainability projects such as permaculture are constantly being developed at the locations in the reserve, so interns are encouraged to develop their own projects.


Oana Community Trust (OCT) is a charity that operates independently of the reserve and Oana Namibia (a wildlife conservation NGO). The trust engages with conservancies of the Namibian Deep South and their model is to work alongside the Nama communities and local authorities in a holistic fashion to improve water, education, medical care, livelihoods, infrastructure, and wildlife.

Other projects may include the development of skate parks and outdoor education initiatives.

Recent Reviews

Other Activities

Oana Nature Reserve is located in a remote part of Africa where weekend trips are not available. But there are plenty of other activities and experiences that will keep you busy, such as a safari in the north, rafting expeditions, and tracking megafauna such as elephants, cheetahs, giraffes, and zebras in Sandfontein Reserve.

dates and rates

Once you have submitted your application, a Destination Specialist will be in-touch to discuss the project with you.

Please note that an additional GB£20 | US$25 | EU€20 | AU$35 is added to the program fee as a mandatory contribution to the African Impact Sustainability Fund.

project fee includes

  • Accommodation at headquarters and base camp
  • 3 meals a day prepared by a local chef at base camp
  • Food is provided for you to cook yourself at headquarters
  • Upington Airport or Karasburg bus station pick-up and drop-off
  • Experienced and trained international and local staff who live alongside you everyday
  • Induction, orientation, and training for each project or activity
  • All the necessary project equipment
  • WiFi (on a voucher-based system)

project fee excludes

  • Flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa-related costs (multiple-entry volunteer work visa required)
  • Trips and safaris outside Oana Nature Reserve
  • Soft drinks and alcohol from base camp bar
  • Mandatory contribution of US$25 that is donated to the African Impact Sustainability Fund