Sorry, we are moving & are unfortunately closed to the public for the time being. We should be open again soon!
Volunteers and students from around the world have been involved with REST throughout the years. Students range from undergraduates doing course work to Masters and PhD degrees. Both volunteers and students are very involved in the day to day running of the organization and much of the research. Daily work can include everything from animal handling and painting new walls to moving rocks to build a new roost for birds or fixing our roads after heavy rains. Everyday tends to bring new challenges and jobs. Once a week we feed the wild vultures and the day is spent monitoring raptors coming in and out.
REST tries to find out what people enjoy doing most and let them concentrate on that work while still helping out with many other duties. Many volunteers bring building, artistic, craft or computer skills that are necessary and valuable. In addition, we are open to day visitors during the week and volunteers help our staff show people around. We firmly believe that knowledge of our animals and work is important ( and we will train you), but enthusiasm is what makes the visitors experience memorable and excites them about our work. Students typically consult with Maria Diekmann and their professors to find out the best type of project that REST can offer them at that time. While they usually focus on their study research, they are also expected to help with the daily work on the farm.
REST does not have scheduled visiting dates so volunteers and students come and go on their own schedules. Some stay for only a few weeks and some for up to a year. We usually have 1-4 volunteers/students staying at REST at any one time. Once here, REST also does not have pre set scheduled activities. A day can change from minute to minute with just one call to rescue an animal. For this reason, we have found that the people who enjoy their stay with us the most, are self sufficient, hard working, easy going people who can enjoy living and working without many of lifes comforts (such as a pool when its hot...although we do have a small algae waterhole!). If you are looking for a more structured holiday type experience with animals, there are quite a few good organizations that provide that and can be found through the internet.
Visas from the Namibian government are officially required even for volunteers, and students need to have study visas. There are costs involved in these visas and the local embassies in your country are the best means of updated information. If one plans on just traveling Namibia, our country automatically gives a 3 month tourist visa free of charge when you enter the country as long as you have a return ticket. This tourist visa can be extended for another 3 months, but that is not guaranteed.
Housing consists of two three bedroom homes with shared kitchens, solar showers and flush toilets. The houses are comfortable, but not luxurious. The kitchen is equipped with basic cutlery, glasses, plates and pans. All beds and bed linen are provided. Volunteers and students pay a minimal fee of US$100 per week which covers the costs of fridge, stove gas and other equipment. REST provides a trip into the local town of Otjiwarongo for each person at least once every two weeks where you can shop, buy groceries and go to the internet cafe. Food is not included in the weekly rate. We recommend buying mainly canned and dry goods as fresh produce does not last long and is relatively expensive. There are 3 groceries stores in the local town to shop from and most basic items can be purchased. REST now asks for a 50% deposit at the time of booking your stay and the remaining 50% needs to be paid before arrival.
There are a number of good backpackers lodges in Windhoek if you need to overnight there. Chameleon Backpackers lodge is economical and offers pickups from the Windhoek International Airport. Sunshine tours can be found on the internet and is an economical way to reach REST. The current cost is just under N$400.00. Request the taxi that drives direct from Windhoek (the capital city) to Otjiwarongo. If you can buy your first groceries in Windhoek, then Sunshine tours can drop you directly at our entrance on the B1 highway - 48 km before Otjiwarongo. We then pick you up there for the 9 km drive to our driveway. There are official road signs at our entrance saying - REST vulture project and it is also the entrance for Okonjima Lodge Africat. Communal shared taxis are also available. You must take a taxi to the northern traveling taxi rank and negotiate a fee. At this time, 2013, it is about N$150.00. The driver will then wait to fill his taxi - sometimes a 18 seater but most of the time a normal sedan car. The taxi rank can be hectic with many trying to gain your business, so if you do not enjoy this type of atmosphere, we recommend another option. Only pay the driver once he has filled his taxi and is ready to leave as you may need to move taxis if there is a problem. Private taxis can also be rented. The fee is negotiable, but is usually between 1,000 - 1,500 per trip.
Our cell phone reception is very good and so connecting to the internet via cell phones is easy on the farm. It is best to buy a local sim card when you land so that you will have a Namibian number for internet and any smss or calls. They are very inexpensive. You can buy airtime for the sim card called Tango that you can use for calls, smss and usually internet, or you can buy a device that plugs into your laptop and allows cheaper internet. Ask the shop what the best option for you is. Most places including backpackers, grocery stores and novelty stores will sell sim cards and tango credit. There are many phone stops and telecom shops that sell the other devices. Our lights are very basic solar, but it is possible to recharge phones and laptops if you bring a car cigarette charger or buy one locally. You can not use regular electrical plugs at REST. Ideally you should bring a small solar charger for your phone or laptop. REST recommends that you bring all personal toiletries plus a towel, hat, comfortable, closed walking and working shoes, and sunscreen. Washing is done by each person by hand. Summer (Nov - Feb) can get quite warm and shorts and loose shirts are recommended. Bring some type of hat as the summer sun is very strong. During winter (June - Aug) the days can be warm - July often has cold winds - and the nights can be chilly. A light jacket, wool hat and pants are advised.