Namibia High School Expedition

The landscapes of Namibia are home to a wealth of desert-adapted wildlife that conservationists are working hard to protect. Meet National Geographic grantees and other researchers in the field to learn about wildlife preservation efforts. Along your journey, encounter elephants, hyenas, giraffes, and oryx on safari; go whale-watching in Walvis Bay; and climb the dunes of the Namib Desert.

June 20 – July 10, 2019
Airfare is not included. We have arranged a round-trip group flight between New York and Windhoek.

Trip Highlights

  • Visit a National Geographic-supported research center to see how satellite technology is used to monitor wildlife populations, then join scientists in the field to track elusive leopards.
  • Photograph Sossusvlei’s otherworldly landscapes of red sand and the eerie skeletal trees of Deadvlei.
  • Explore coastal dunes with desert ecologists, then ride the surrounding slopes on a sandboarding excursion.
  • Help care for rehabilitated cheetahs at the world-renowned Cheetah Conservation Fund.

Itinerary | 21 days

Days 1-5

View Images

Get settled at the N/a’an Ku Sê Carnivore Conservation Centre, where National Geographic–supported researchers have developed an innovative approach to protecting predators while reducing attacks on local livestock. Learn about the use of GPS and Google Earth to track leopards and cheetahs, and head into the field with local researchers on game counts, collar-tracking exercises, or to set up camera traps at watering holes. Snap close-up shots of the resident cheetahs and baboons, and zoom out to photograph large herds of zebras and springbok. Help to perform a veterinary check-up on rehabilitated animals, and spend time with members of the San people to learn about daily life in their hunter-gatherer community.

Days 6-10

Head south to Sesriem Canyon and Sossusvlei—a salt and clay pan surrounded by towering dunes. Camp overnight in the national park and wake early to photograph the sun rising over the massive orange-red dunes. Pay a visit to the iconic Dead Vlei, a stark landscape dotted with ancient, skeletal camel thorn trees that have been dead for more than 700 years. Continue to the seaside city of Swakopmund, a lively hub for surfers and adventure seekers. Explore the dunes with desert ecologists and learn about the species that have adapted to survive the harsh conditions. Then, tear down dune slopes on a sandboarding excursion. Visit Cape Cross to observe a vast breeding colony of some 100,000 Cape fur seals, and go on a whale watching cruise on Walvis Bay.

Days 11-12

Journey into Damaraland, where the desert harbors unusually succulent plants fed by Atlantic mists. With local guides, hike to the 'White Lady' rock etching, believed to date back at least 2,000 years. Pay a visit to Brandberg Mountain, a giant granite monolith and Namibia’s highest mountain peak; then descend into the neighboring valley and venture across the stark landscapes in search of endangered desert-adapted elephants.

Days 13-15

Namibia's dry season spans April through October, when herds of plains game flock to the waterholes of Etosha National Park, and their predators—lions, leopards, and cheetahs—follow close behind. The resulting concentrations of wildlife provide optimal scenery for photographers and a living laboratory for conservationists. Enjoy three days on safari here, looking for big cats, giraffes, oryx, rare black-faced impalas, and endemic birds like the bare-cheeked babbler. Stop at watering holes for close-up views of bathing elephants, zebras drinking at the water’s edge, and hartebeests splashing in the shallows. Meet with park rangers and learn about their efforts to encourage conservation through tourism.

Days 16-19

Learn about the plight of the cheetah at the world-renowned Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) near Otavi. Talk with scientists about predator-conservation outreach efforts and hear about their collaborations with local farmers. Join trackers on census walks, help care for rehabilitated cheetahs, visit the genetics lab, and observe a training session for livestock guard dogs—an integral part of the CCF's conservation plan.

Pull Quote
My National Geographic trip was such an educational and thought-provoking experience. It defied all expectations and even made some of my childhood dreams comes true!

Days 20-21

Travel to the Namibian capital of Windhoek, where we’ll cap off our expedition with presentations of our On Assignment projects and celebrate our adventure with a final meal out on the town.

Our high school expeditions are for students in grades 9-12, and offer opportunities to get out into the field and discover fascinating destinations across the globe through the lens of an On Assignment project. Each expedition offers a choice of two or three areas of focus, such as photography, geology, or wildlife conservation. Students travel alongside a team of highly-qualified trip leaders—college graduates with extensive experience in the field, who love working with students. A National Geographic expert joins for a portion of the trip (four to eight days) to share their insights, and inspire students with their passion for the work they do and the places they will discover. The group size ranges between 14 and 28 participants, and the student-to-trip-leader ratio is usually between six and eight to one and never more than nine to one.
During this expedition, students will spend several nights camping. To get the most out of the program, participants should be enthusiastic about outdoor exploration.

At N/a’an Ku Sê and at the Cheetah Conservation Fund we stay in dormitory- style housing. In Swakopmund and Windhoek, we stay in a hotel, and in Sossusvlei, Etosha, and Damaraland, we camp in tents.

Florian Weise, Wildlife Biologist

Meet Our Experts

National Geographic Big Cats Initiative grantee Florian Weise has spent more than a decade on the African continent conserving endangered species. His work helping to reduce conflicts between southern Africa's large cats, like cheetahs and leopards, and local farmers has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Africa Geographic, and the Financial Times London. Florian has combined his passion for the outdoors with research in the Serengeti, the Okavango Delta, the Namib Desert, and at the N/a'an Ku Sê Wildlife Sanctuary. Florian will join the group at N/a’an Ku Sê.

On Assignment Projects

Document your exploration of Namibia in a photography portfolio. Use time-lapse techniques to show the sun dipping behind the massive red dunes at Sossusvlei, zoom in on a sea of zebras visiting a watering hole, or take portraits of new friends while visiting a San camp. Practice landscape shots on the desert’s dramatic scenery, and experiment with camera traps to capture images of elusive species interacting with their natural habitats. There is a supplemental fee of $150 for this On Assignment project
Examine Namibia’s unique landscapes and the animal and plant species that have adapted to these fragile desert ecosystems. Join researchers at renowned conservation organizations, working with them to help save the country’s big cats, rhinos, and other threatened wildlife. Track leopards with a National Geographic grantee, and discuss the plight of the cheetah with researchers at the Cheetah Conservation Fund.