I went to Harnas for 4 weeks from May to June 2010 as a working volunteer. It was the experience of a lifetime for me, especially since it was my first time travelling alone.
Most people arrive a day early, stay in a hostel for one night in Windhoek, then get picked up by the Harnas bus the next day. They might come early or late in the day, so be patient - they will pick you up!
This is a place meant for people who are not afraid to get dirty, work hard, and enjoy the outdoors. All meals are eaten outside, mostly at the volunteer village at picnic tables. You get three meals a day as well as the opportunity to buy pop, juice, chocolate and chips from the store. The food is pretty good for the most part, but you have to go in with an open attitude. Bathrooms are outdoor stalls but they are flushing toilets. Showers are spacious enough, but they operate on wood-heated water heaters, soo... be sure to time your showers to avoid having an ice-cold shower! The cabins each house 4 people. The beds are comfortable enough, but a word of warning: if you are going in the African winter months, bring WARM clothes and a WARM sleeping bag. It gets COLD at night (and I'm from Canada, so trust me when I say cold).
The work itself though, is amazing. You will get assigned to a group and that group has a set of animals that they are responsible for feeding, caring for and cleaning up after. The animals are all rescues, orphans, or problem animals and they range from a herd of mongooses, young and teenage baboons, young and mature lions, the sweetest cheetahs ever, macaws, chickens, horses, giraffes, antelope, cats, dogs, etc. You will get assigned a different task most days either feeding, cleaning, walking/exercising animals, farmwork, feeding animals on the tour, or babysitting baboons.
Occasionally there will be games played, or a bushwalk or Frikkie might send the volunteers off into the middle of nowhere as a test. At night there will usually be a bonfire and you can sit and chat with your fellow volunteers. Saturday's are a special barbecue with stick bread and its absolutely delicious!
Basically, if you're prepared to withstand some dirt, some bugs, some chilly nights, a few scratches and maybe a few animal bites, you will fall in love with the magic of the African desert. It really is a beautiful place and the trip was well worth it for me.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Embark on a magical journey and enjoy an interactive Wildlife Experience of every passing second in utmost comfort and style in rustic chalets or luxury rooms, camp sites with ablution blocks or bush camping for the more adventurous while enjoying nature at its best. ... more less