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Wildlife Conservation Retreat - Kanaan Desert

Care for rescued Cheetahs on this stunning desert retreat! As a volunteer, you’ll be involved in food preparation, cleaning and care. An unforgettable experience! 


At a glance:

Volunteering: with rescued cheetahs in Namibia

Accommodation: Shared farmhouse or tents 

Meals: x3 varied and delicious meals a day included

Dates: Transfers from the sanctuary on Saturday

Minimum stay: 2 weeks or 1 week add on to Sanctuary


What animals will I look after? 

The main species you will look after are Cheetah, Brown hyena, Spotted hyena, Leopard and a range of desert-adapted wildlife species. Predominantly you will look after four rescued Cheetahs who are residents at Kaanan.

Kanaan has also historically been home to large herds of migratory and desert-adapted oryx (gemsbok) and springbok, but also contains less known species such as the greater kudu or klipspringer. Ostrich populations are also seen.


About Kaanan Desert Retreat

Kanaan is a new desert retreat for wildlife, and volunteers, so you’ll be helping shape a new project! 

Previously utilised as a film, photography and holiday destination, Kanaan have a goal to establish an unfenced wildlife reserve which provides refuge for a range of endangered species and one which is based on scientific and sustainable management practices.

Kanaan is a World Heritage Site part of the Namib Sand Sea (World Heritage Site) and holds amazing photographic opportunities for photography buffs and Instagram snappers alike. Imagine beautiful,  iconic red sand dunes, vast open grass plains dotted with camel thorn trees as well as abundant antelope, towering mountain ranges and many other scenic features. You will have plenty of photo opportunities!


What will I be doing at Kaanan?

Kanaan welcomes volunteers who want to be actively involved in almost any of the duties which management needs, and those that want to experience the desert first-hand. During your visit, you will help the local team record wildlife information that contributes to the long-term management of the area.

Volunteers will become first-hand involved in conservation through the research and monitoring of free-ranging carnivores.

Previously utilised as a film, photography and holiday destination they have a goal to establish an unfenced wildlife reserve which provides refuge for a range of endangered species and one which is based on scientific and sustainable management practices. 


The simple basis for any professional management of a wildlife area is a good, accurate map. Maps, for example, are necessary to evaluate plant and animal population data and guide future decisions. You will join the researchers and use a GPS unit to map anything from important wildlife observations to habitat features; as well as infrastructures such as roads, waterholes, fences etc.

Once collected, the positional information will continually be processed in to up-to-date reserve maps which are used by management and for publication of scientific results. Mapping means quality time in this fantastic environment whilst collecting information on a variety of features and resources. A lot of the mapping will be undertaken on foot to understand the relevance of data at the landscape scale. Encounters with different species of wildlife are guaranteed!.

Capture Mark Release

To understand how wildlife utilise the reserve and how they interact in a challenging and demanding environment requires indirect monitoring techniques such as GPS satellite tracking.

This is especially useful for very secretive species like the leopard and brown hyena, so GPS collars are a good way of gathering important information. 

The volunteers will help researchers identify areas of regular carnivore activity (dens, riverbeds or marking trees for example), place cage traps there and then check cages. 

When species of interest are captured, the animals will be immobilised on-site and fitted with suitable GPS or VHF trackers for continued monitoring. After release, the work continues at the computer following the satellite information from study animals and putting them in a scientific context.

Radio Telemetry Tracking

Collaring animals with GPS trackers to follow their day-to-day movements is only one piece of your volunteer work.the puzzle though. Remote satellite tracking does not tell us much about the breeding success, prey selection, health status or other important ecological parameters of a study animal. 

Game Count

Herbivores of all sizes are an integral part of African ecosystems. In the vast Namibian Desert it will be critical to understand local hoofed animals population dynamics and their migrations to ensure sufficient water supply. At the same time, these populations need to be assessed against the available vegetation to avoid damage to the ecosystem, for example from overgrazing. 

The volunteers will participate in regular game counts to assist these monitoring efforts. 

Camera Trapping

During the early resource identification stage as well as during the continuous monitoring of wildlife populations we also rely on “additional eyes” in the form of motion-triggered camera traps. Because the cameras record data 24/7 and every day of the year, they often “observe” wildlife that humans overlook. 

Volunteers will help set cameras in the field (for example at water points, cheetah marking trees, caves etc.), maintain them (refresh batteries and memory cards ) but also go through the abundance of images to assess and structure the data recorded. For example, the cameras will be used to identify coat patterns of large carnivores to document the number of individuals, breeding success and also space use.

Cheetah Feed

Kanaan Desert Retreat is home to four rescued cheetahs from the Sanctuary who are now the lucky residents of a 7 hectare enclosure on the red dunes of Kanaan. 

Volunteers will be involved in the food preparation, feeding and care - taking of these cheetahs as well as frequent enclosure cleanings on a regular basis during their stay at Kanaan.  Seeing these cheetahs up close with Kanaan’s stunning desert scenery as a backdrop is a truly inspiring opportunity that is not to be missed!

Maintenance and Security

Work on a wildlife farm does not end with science and research though. For the ecosystem to function adequately several maintenance activities are compulsory, especially in very dry areas like Kanaan. Dealing with endangered species, it will be important to conduct regular anti - poaching patrols and other security activities. In addition, water holes need regular maintenance and have to be controlled for damage.. Volunteers will be exposed to and participate in the operational aspects of the farm, and you should be prepared to get your hands dirty from time to time and contribute to maintenance as your capabilities allow.


  • You will be staying in the beautifully renovated Kanaan farmhouse with shared volunteer rooms and bathroom. 
  • Depending upon the season, tented accommodations may also become available. The guesthouse has electricity, but you'll need to bring your own South African socket convertors/adapters to charge electric appliances. However, there’s no cell phone reception in the area.
  • There are only up to 6 volunteers at any one time, which means you are therefore guaranteed an intimate small group experience with lots of hands on opportunities
  • The house provides a homely family atmosphere in the Namib Desert.



  • Volunteers at Kanaan will receive 3 balanced meals per day. 
  • Meals include a standard breakfast with cereals and toast. Coffee and tea are available.
  • Lunches will be provided at the guest farm or in packed form for groups active in the field.
  • Dinners typically are warm meals with meat (chicken,red meat or fish), different vegetables and pasta, rice, potato or salad. 
  • Once per week, you'll get to experience a traditional Namibian braai (BBQ) dinner.
  • Please note that due to the remote location of Kanaan, some fresh produce may only be available seasonally. Vegetarian options can be catered for upon request. 
  • Beverages, alcoholic drinks and snacks need to be purchased before arriving at Kanaan. 


​​Weekend Activities

  • One of the must-do activities in the Namib Desert is the sun-downer drive. Enjoy the tranquillity and breathtaking scenery of the Namib when the sun sets and paints the desert in unimaginable colours!
  • There will also be night drives or sleep-outs as part of our security protocol, but also to observe some of the nocturnal desert wildlife. 
  • Volunteers may also take part in waterhole observations because wildlife in the Namib are forced to drink regularly and therefore can be seen at permanent water sources. 
  • The Namib night sky with its ever-prominent Milky Way is another highlight not to be missed. There are no street or city lights nearby to outshine the stars. 


    Things to note:

  • The Volunteer project is available in 1 week blocks
  • Maximum 6 spots each week so book well in advance
  • Volunteers should be ready to work in any weather conditions, including cold winters and long hours in the sun (please check prevailing weather conditions at your time of travel). 
  • The local tap water is safe to drink.
  • Although Kanaan is not located in a Malaria zone, people must consider prophylaxis if they intend to travel to other areas in Africa and suitable insect repellents should also be brought. 
  • All volunteers should ensure adequate health insurance cover which IWH Travel can assist with to ensure you're covered for this volunteer project in Namibia 
  • Please check that your relevant immunisations are up-to-date. 
  • Except for emergencies, volunteers have no access to the internet on Kanaan. 
  • Local currency can be obtained at the international airport upon arrival. 
  • Laundry services will be available on selected days.

What's Included?

  • Transfers to and from Windhoek Airport in Namibia to the project (on Mondays and Thursdays only)
  • Three meals a day
  • Accommodation throughout your time at the project
  • Assistance finding the right flights and Travel Insurance for your trip so you arrive at the right place on the right day without any dramas - we work closely with IWH Travel and the project to get you there without any hassle and picked up from the airport at the correct time. 
  • Help and advice on choosing the right project to suit your skills, passions and budget. It may or may not be this one. 
  • Your time at the project
  • Assistance on getting a visa
  • We will put you in touch with others on the project at the same time as you, and where possible get you on the same flights. 
  • You'll be invited to join our Africa Volunteer Adventures Facebook Group so you can talk to others who have been or are booked to go too. Plus access to our NZ team for questions whenever you think of them. 


What you need to budget for 

  • Visa
  • Flights
  • Travel Insurance 

If you'd like to chat to us about this project please complete the form below. We will text you to arrange a suitable time to help you find out what you need to know about this project.

Check out the prices and project lengths

If you'd like to chat to us about this project please complete the form below. We will text you to arrange a suitable time to help you find out what you need to know about this project.

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