Life in Namibia and Cape Town

Jan 2014

Dr. John Moeller
Dr. G.R. Davis


Last revision 3 January 2014 at 5:38 pm

Lion in Nambia's Etosha National Park

Zebras, Etosha National Park
Sand dune in Namibia's Deadvlei region

Note: Photographs on this website were made by GR Davis during the 2008 Travel Study project to Namibia and Botswana except for those made by students (credits in parentheses.)

"One's destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things." Henry Miller


Project Description

Southwestern Africa is study of contrasts. How do humans and animals survive in one of the driest ecosystems on Earth? Why is one of the richest ocean ecosystems only miles offshore? How have the historical clashes of cultures impacted the region, and how are the modern problems of globalization bearing down on this unique part of the world? Are you interested in understanding these interactions in a region that is one of the oldest and most striking on Earth?

Come explore the countries of Namibia and South Africa through travel, conversation, and photography. Students and faculty will attempt to understand a land that promotes cosmopolitan cities and arid agriculture, to both exploit and sustain the harsh riches of this one-of-a-kind environment. After three days of intense pre-departure preparation, we travel on a 10 day tent-camping safari through the country of Namibia and end with three full days in the city of Cape Town, South Africa. We?ll examine the ecology of large grassland ecosystems that sustain elephants and lions, communicate with local indigenous populations that have direct ancestry with some of the oldest human civilizations, and document these adventures through essays and photos that we?ll refine upon our return to Wofford.


Course Information

Travel Information

Project Description and Academic Focus International Flight Information
Daily Schedule and Itinerary and Student presentation Topics for Pre-departure sessions Passport Information
Accomodations and Food US State Department Info
Selection of Participants Ground Transportation
Reference materials

Frequently Asked Questions

Course Requirements and Grading and On-campus predeparture work Currency Exchange Rates
Travel Guide Books Accomodations and Food
The Instructors and Contacts Additional Excursions
Costs and Expenses Other Links
What to Pack (updated 3 Jan 2014) and Digital Camera Buying Guide

Health and Safety Issues

Credit toward Africa/African American Studies Program at Wofford College Immunizations and Health Info from Center for Disease Control
Mandatory Meeting General Information for Travelers
Important Dates Travel Security Issues
Application Information  




Project Outline


Three days on campus prior to departure: Our group will discuss readings about the following topics: (1) geology of southwest Africa, (2) origins and characteristics of deserts, (3) biota typical of deserts, (4) physiological, anatomical, and behavioral adaptations to desert life, (5) general desert ecology, and (6) cultural and colonial histories of Namibia and South Africa with special emphasis on the cultural groups we will encounter in Namibia. To prepare us for our visit to Robben Island in Cape Town, we will discuss race relations and apartheid. Because much of the safari portion of the project involves watching wildlife, students will read about and develop some expertise in animal behaviors and each student will research in depth some animal that we will encounter on the trip so as to be ready to provide a 10-15 "lesson" in the field as we encounter those species. In order to assure effective use of cameras during our trip, students will be given instruction in digital photographic techniques. We will also develop and practice image-management techniques so that electronic portfolios can be created upon our return. Each student will also select a topic for presentation to the class while we are in Africa (see below). Standard orientation-issues about safety, health, conduct-expectations, cultural sensitivity, response to emergencies, etc. will be addressed during pre-departure sessions.

6 January Monday

9:30-10:30 Student presentations in this order by Topic Number and Presenter: 14 Alex, 15 Wil, 12 Will, & 13 Abbey

10:30-10:45 Break

10:45-12:00 noon Student Presentations 10/11* Ashely & Lizzie, 17 Sarah, & 16/18* Annie & Wiley * students to determine who is to present first.

1:30 until ?: Photography Workshop and Image Management Issues.

7 Jan Tuesday

9:30: Follow-up from Monday's presentations; Pracitical travel matters; phone tree; review of academic components and expectations. Dismiss in time for lunch so that you can meet at ....

Noon: Meet at Regal Spartan Stadium 16 Theaters for 12:10 showing of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2 hr 19 min) ticket is included in course fee.

Remainder of afternoon free after the movie.

8 Jan Wednesday

9:30-10:30 or so: Discussion of Mandela movie.

Remainder of Morning session for student presentations: 1 Grayson, 5 Sarah A., 6 Hunter, 3 Mitchell, 4 Audrey.

1:30 Student Presentations: 2 Katie, 7 Ben, 8 Erica, 9 Palmer.

Remaining time for final preparations as neede.

9 Jan Thursday

10:00 am Load buses in Student Life Parking Lot. Show your passport to the professors upon boarding.

International Flight Information

10 Jan Arrive in Windhoek, Namibia (Chamelion Lodge)

Upon arrival at Windhoek International Hosea Kutako Airport you will be met by your guides and transferred to the City of Windhoek.

Namibia's capital Windhoek is often described as a city with a “continental” atmosphere. This can be ascribed to its to its architecture – historical buildings dating back to German colonial rule – as well as to its cuisine, culture, dress codes and educational institutions. At the same time Windhoek has the colour, sound and tempo of a modern African city. Pavement displays of African drums and woodcarvings from the north contrast with elegant shops offering sophisticated Swakara garments and Namibian gemstones set in individually designed pieces of jewellery. While some shops display clothing, silver and glassware imported from Europe, others stock casual and colourful cloths from West Africa.

Because of the area's plentiful hot springs, Windhoek was initially known as Ai-gams (spelt /Ai//Gams to indicate the click sound), a Nama word meaning “firewater”, “steam” or “smoke”, and Otjomuise, a Herero word meaning the “place of steam”. The Nama captain Jan Jonker Afrikaner, gave the town the name it carries today. In the early 1840's Afrikaner settled where the most powerful spring reached the surface. It is thought that in a moment of nostalgia he named the place after Windhoek, the farm in the Cape where he was born. During the German colonial administration the town called Windhuk, which later became Windhoek.

Time permitting a City tour will be undertaken visiting areas such as the water Tower-Hill, Christus Church, Ink Palace, Government Gardens, Soldiers Memorial, Old Fort, Turnhalle and Train Station. After a drive through Katutura the tour ends at your establishment.

Chameleon Guest House offers a range of accommodation that is spacious with en-suite bathrooms having off street parking and a continental self-serve breakfast included. Full linen is provided, including towels and a basic continental breakfast is also included in the price. Secure off-street parking is free of charge. The swimming pool, bar, self-catering kitchen and Wi-Fi internet is conveniently located next door at the Backpackers Lodge. Centrally located the Guesthouse is within a few minutes' walk of shopping centres, banks, restaurants, post office and the City Centre.


11 Jan Namib Desert (Sesriem camping)

Windhoek – Namib Desert (Sesriem) (350 km) (BLD) (camping)

You will be collected between 08:00 & 08:30 from Chameleon Guest House. We leave Windhoek and head out towards the desert. Our drive today will take us through the Khomas Hochland range of mountains and then further south west towards the Naukluft Mountains.

Lunch will be on route and then we reach open plains and from here it is only a short distance to our next stop, the tiny town of Solitaire. We will stop here for some fuel and refreshments before continuing on to the Namib Naukluft Park and our camp for the night.

We aim to arrive at our camp during the late afternoon and so there should be time for a dip in the pool and to see the sun set over the Naukluft Mountains.

Dinner is cooked over an open fire.

Hiking into Deadvlei from Sesriem


12 Jan Namib Desert (Sesriem camping)

Namib Desert (Sesriem) (120 km) (BLD) (camping)

A pre-dawn start is essential this morning as we want to catch the soft light of the sunrise on the desert. After passing through the entrance gates we drive through in time for sunrise, normally at Dune 45, and will soon start to see the dunes on either side of us. We stop for photos along the way as this is where you see the strong contrast of colours as the sun hits the sides of the dunes.

We stop for breakfast and prepare for our walk. The walk is like nothing else, in the cool of the morning, with soft sunlight just beginning to play over the dunes creating a sharp light and shadow contrast across the whole desert. Ancient mineral pans, stunted camel thorn trees and the chance of seeing a gemsbok or maybe an ostrich make the photo opportunities perfect.

We spend the morning in and around Sossusvlei & Dead Vlei and as the day wears on we return to Sesriem for lunch to escape the heat of the afternoon. As the day cools off in the late afternoon we will take a short excursion to the Sesriem Canyon.

Later in the afternoon we return to our campsite and look forward to swim in the pool and supper.

Acacia Tree near Tschaub River, Sossusvlei (Kelsi Hartvigsen, Interim 2008)



Dunes at Sossusvlei (left: Samantha Hall, right GR Davis, Interim 2008)


Deadvlei where the Tschaub River terminates in a sea of sand dunes 60 miles from the coast.


View from bottom of Tschaub River Canyon and from ridge above Sesriem campsite

Abandoned car, Solitaire (last town before entering Sossusvlei (Sarah Harste, Interim 2008)
One of the more than 50 dunes along the Tschaub River at Sossusvlei (GR Davis, Interim 2008)


13 Jan Swakopmund (Anampuri Lodge)

Sesriem – Swakopmund, Skeleton Coast (350 km) (en-suite accommodation) (BL)

An early start today, we are heading north-west to the seaside town of Swakopmund located on the Skeleton Coast. Leaving the dune fields far behind us we are soon back into the mountain desert. We cross the Tropic of Capricorn and traverse both the Gaub and the Kuiseb pass, driving down to the dry river bed at the bottom of the canyon before climbing up the other side, watching the spectacular desert landscape unfold before us.

From the mountains we cross the desolate “Namib gravel plains” before reaching the coastal sand dunes at the port town of Walvis Bay. We will stop for a picnic lunch beside the ocean and there will be time to see the flamingos and other bird life in the Walvis Bay lagoon before continuing the now short drive into Swakopmund.

Dinner this evening in not included in the price of the safari and will be for the client's own account.

Amanpuri Lodge is within walking distance from shops, restaurants, beaches, dunes, and other places of interest.


14 Jan Erongo (Spitzkoppe camping)

Swakopmund – Spitzkoppe Mountain (300 km) (BLD) (camping)

Mid-morning we leave Swakopmund travelling north to the town of Henties Bay and on to the seal colony at Cape Cross. The Cape Cross Seal Reserve was proclaimed in 1968 to protect the biggest and best known of the 23 colonies of Cape fur seals that breed along the coast of Namibia and South Africa. The Cape Fur seal is the largest of the world's nine fur-seal species. As many of 210 000 of these animals gather at Cape Cross at any one time during the November / December breeding season. It was here that the Portuguese navigator Diego Cao, on his second expedition to Africa south of the equator, planted a stone cross in 1486.

From here we return to Henties Bay and swing inland and proceed via the gravel plains of the Namib to Spitzkoppe.

The Spitzkoppe rises majestically out of the surrounding plains and is visible from great distances away. The Groot Spitzkoppe is considered to be an 'inselberg' (island mountain, alike the Monument Valley mountains). The Groot Spitzkoppe is 1728 meters above sea level. The Klein Spitzkoppe is 1584 meters. There is also Pondok Mountain. The Groot Spitzkoppe is often referred to as the "Matterhorn of Namibia" because of the similarity in shape. This is approximately 50 km from Usakos. The Spitzkoppe area is run by a women's cooperative who maintain campsites throughout the brilliantly coloured rocks. The volume of visitors is relatively low, despite the dramatic rock formations. Unfortunately, the large depository of San art has largely been vandalized.

Wofford group camping at Spitzkoppe


Around the campfire after dinner

15 Jan Damaraland (Twyfelfontein camping)

Spitzkoppe – Twyfelfontein (250 km) (BLD) (camping)

From Spitzkopppe we will turn north, travelling on to the small town of Uis, an old mining town, located more or less in the middle of no-where. Uis is one of the best places to buy semi-precious stones for which Namibia is famous. Here, rough Amethyst, Tourmaline etc. can be found at bargain prices.

From Uis we have a short drive passing the Brandberg, Namibia's highest mountain at (2573 m).

From here our destination is the ancient Bushman rock engravings at Twyfelfontein. At this location we will have a local guide to conduct us on a short guided tour before we set up camp for the night. Twyfelfontein (meaning doubtful fountain), a massive, open-air art gallery of great interest to international rock art connoisseurs. Regarded as one of the richest collections in Africa, this treasure house left by stone-age artists is the first site in Namibia to be given recognition by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

16 Jan Damaraland (Hoada camping)

Twyfelfontein – Hoada (Grootberg area) (180 km) (BLD) (camping)

Leaving Twyfelfontein we begin our short journey travelling further into Damaraland, travelling past Palmwag and up the Grootberg Pass to Hoada Community campsite which is located among beautiful granite hills and Mopane trees. To add an eco-friendly touch, the hot water system works in combination with the barbecue area, therefore whilst your meal is being prepared, your water will be warmed up for your shower!

During late afternoon we will be collected by Grootberg Lodge and taken on an afternoon nature drive.

The Grootberg Lodge is a landmark in Namibia for the tourism industry as it is the first middle-market establishment in the country that is 100% owned by the conservancy. Another important aim of the Lodge is to reduce the animal/human conflict in this community so that the locals will be more tolerant of the lions, cheetahs and elephants and give them a value from a tourism perspective.



17 January 2014

Hoada – Okaukuejo Resort Etosha National Park (350 km) (BLD) (camping)

We begin our journey east with a relatively short drive to the small town of Kamanjab. Within this area we visit a Himba Village - the only traditionally functioning Himba community outside the far north Kaokoland region of Namibia These tribes-people have migrated here, lifestyle and customs intact, and are following their traditional way-of-life in their village on a farm, the exact location of the site varies as the Himba occasionally roam to a new location. We will learn about marriage customs, traditional food and the mysteries of the “Holy Fire” religion.

Departing Kamanjab we head East to Outjo for a short stop for fresh supplies and where we can also get coffee and sticky cakes at the local bakery, before continuing on to Etosha's premier resort, Okaukuejo.

Etosha forms the main game viewing section of our safari and the Okaukuejo area offers us some of the best waterholes in the park and the best chance to see some Big Game.

Game driving is not the only way to see the African wildlife at Okaukuejo. Located right on the boundary of the camp and within easy walking distance there is a floodlit waterhole for “after hours” game watching. Okaukuejo is famous for its waterhole, it has been described as one of the "best game viewing opportunities in Southern Africa" and black rhino, elephant, lion and numerous species of antelope are often seen.

Himba women and children


18 January 2014

Okaukuejo Resort (BLD) (camping)

It is the oldest tourist camp in Etosha and it currently functions as the administrative hub of the park as well as being home to the Etosha Ecological Institute where we will stop for a visit. Full day in the area on game drives.


Elephant, Etosha National Park (Asley Carr, Interim 2008), Brown Hyena, Etosha (GR Davis, Interim 2008)

Blackface Impala, Etosh National Park. (Alex Galloway, Interim 2008)

Batchelor Males, Etosha (Mackie Steadman, Interim 2008) and
Rhino at Okaukuejo waterhole at night, Etosha National Park (GR Davis, Interim 2008)


Zebras, Etosha National Park (Weatherly Meadors, Interim 2008)
Rhino at waterhole (GR Davis, Interim 2008)


Giraffes, Etosha National Park (Matt Carlisle, Interim 2008)


Sunrise, Etosha National Park (Nelson Seabrook, Interim 2008)


19 Jan Etosha Park (Namutoni camping)

Okaukuejo Resort – Namutoni Resort (BLD) (camping)

A full day's game driving. We again leave early to enjoy the cool morning air as we game drive our way through Etosha to Halali camp, situated in the middle of the park. Along the way we visit several waterholes and are afforded splendid views of the massive Etosha Pan. The game viewing is usually excellent and we have the chance to tick off a few new species that are not normally seen on the Okaukuejo side of the park.

We stop at Halali for a rest and a leisurely lunch. There is time to visit the Halali waterhole and to make use of the swimming pool and bar facilities before continuing on our way and game driving over to Namutoni.

We must be back by our camp before sunset. Once again, there is a floodlit waterhole to visit during the evening so the game viewing continues…


20 Jan Big Cat Conservation Institute (camping)

We'll leave Etosha and arrive at one of the conservation institutes for big african cats (cheetahs and leopards) where we're hear a program by the scientists who operate the field station. We'll stay here overnight and depart very early next morning to allow us to complete the long trip to Windhoek.


21 Jan Depart Windhoek, Arrive Cape Town

Plans are to have time to shop and have lunch in downtown Windhoek before our transfer to the airport for our flight to Cape Town. Dinner is own your own in Cape Town.

22 Jan Guided coach trip to Cape of Good Hope

The penninsula that extends south of Cape Town to the southern tip of the continent is unique in many ways. We'll see the strange plants that thrive here and nowhere else on the planet and be careful to protect our lunch from the "friendly baboons" who are prone to steal away unattended items. Along the way we'll see African Penguins and False Bay where seasonally brave surfers enjoy the waves beneath which sharks lurk.

View from the light house at the Cape of Good Hope, the southwesternmost tip of Africa


23 Jan Guided tour of Langa Township and Robben Island

We visit a township in the morning and in the afternoon our short ferry ride to Robben Island is takes us back in time (though not so long ago) for a tour of the prison which held political prisoners during the darkest days of apartheid. In a strange twist, these tours are lead by men who were once inprisoned in the very cells they show to visitors.


24 Free Day in Cape Town

You'll have several options today on your own. You might visit World Ocean's Aquarium and/or ride the cablecar to the top of Table Mountain to explore the nature beauty there and marvel and Cape Town which lies 3500 feet below.

Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town


25 Jan Return to US

We'll have a free morning in Cape Town before our mid-day transfer to the airport where we'll fly back to Johannesburg and then on to Charlotte via New York.

International Flight Information

Sessions upon return to Wofford Campus: Class meetings: Three full days upon return to Wofford Campus: Students work on essays to accompany photographs that constitute the electronic portfolios (described below) submitted for grading no later than Thursday at noon.

Third (final day) of class on campus: Students present excerpts from their electronic portfolios to the class and complete work on their portfolios and turn in the Personal Essay (described below.)


Course Requirements

Pre-departure student presentations

A list of topics will be provided and students will select from that list, or, with the approval of the instructors, pursue a topic of their choosing. Each student is allocated about 15 minutes to present their topic during our pre-departure on-campus sessions. . If you need a few extra minutes to cover the topic, that will be fine, but be concise. Please be professional in your presentation. Provide the information in an interesting fashion. Each student is expected to be the expert on his or her topic. Powerpoints are appropriate. Showing impertinent YouTube videos is not. Because the topics vary so widely, there is no one source that will suitable for all presentations. Students are expected to consult whatever resources are necessary to produce a very good presentation on their topic. Be ready to take the stage when you are called.

Field Presentations

Because much of the safari portion of the project involves watching wildlife, students will read about and develop some expertise in animal behaviors and each student will research in depth some animal that we will encounter on the trip so as to be ready to provide a 10-15 "lesson" in the field as we encounter those species.


Traveler's Diaries

Each student is required bundle her/his photos and essays into an electronic portfilio and submit that folder in lieu of a journal which means that each traveler should record the events of the day along with their personal insights and observations in daily essays or diary entries. These notes will form the basis of the electronic portfolio to be completed upon our return to campus. Periodically throughout the travel segment, students will be asked to read excerpts from their daily essays to the group to promote discussion and reflection. Students will be encouraged but not required to keep a personal daily journal in which private thoughts and reflections may be recorded. The essays to be shared with the group on several occasions during the trip are distinct from entries in a private personal diary although daily journal entries quite often serve as the basis for a "shared essay." Shared essays are expected to integrate factual information obtained from texts, guides, and other sources with personal observations and insights.

The Electronic Portfolio

Our group will have stayed at nine different locations during our travels in Namibia plus three days in and around Cape Town. Choose eight locations to write about in an essay of about one page each that is associated with a photograph you made. (You may substitute one photo made by someone provided you credit the photographer.) The essay should serve as an extended caption of the photograph and provide clear evidence of what you have learned, heard, observed, and experienced as a personal insight. Of the eight locations selected, the following categories of essays should be allocated: 2 entries on an animal or a set of animals at a particular location, 1 entry on a plant or set of plants, 2 entries dealing with landscape or geology, 3 entries addressing cultural issues which might include historical, political, economic, tribal, racial, or education.

Portfolios can take the format of a blog, website, or manuscript document with photographs and text. (Examples are provided from the links below.) The instructors prefer blogs or websites since those allow access to your work by others including family and friends.

Models of Student Portfolios from a previous January Travel Project to Namibia:

Blog by Ashley Carr

Blog by Sarah Harste

MW Word document by Zach Chillag


Personal Essay due the last day of the project.

Choose one of the following questions to address in an extended personal essay. The length is not specified: make sure to address the topic comprehensively whether it takes several paragraphs or several pages. You may include a photograph with this essay if you wish.
1. As a result of your experiences in Namibia (and South Africa), how has your perspective changed?
2. What aspects of Namibian culture would we do well to adopt as Americans and why?
3. Why is saving the desert important?
4. The Constitution of Namibia in unusual in that it includes mandates for the protection of the natural environment. Why do you suppose the people of Namibia place such a high priority on the protection of the environment?
5. Why do some Namibians still choose to live traditionally?
6. What challenges does Namibia face as it moves into the future in terms of the preservation of its various tribal cultures?


Students are expected to
a) Attend all orientation and concluding sessions
b) Participate in all aspects of the project, to include
i) providing effective team leadership on their appointed days
ii) interacting with tour guide(s)
iii) becoming knowledgeable of the biota and landscape of SW Africa including human ecology
c) Submit an electronic portfolio (in MW Word document, Powerpoint, Website, or blog format) consisting of essays and accompanying photographs made by the student, one entry for each of eight days of travel and an longer more general personal essay described elsewhere. Essays and photographs are to demonstrate what the student has learned by participating in this project and must include personal reflections and observations that relate academic content to field experience.
d) Read excerpts from their essays on a regular basis to the entire group. The purpose of this activity is to promote reflection and synthesis of information and to stimulate thoughtful discussion amongst the participants.
e) Prepare (for a pre-departure class meeting) a presentation about a special topic selected from a list that the instructors will prepare.
f) Prepare a presentation to be delivered on-site during the travel portion of the project.


F = failure to complete any of a-f above at a level that would be equivalent to C work in a typical Wofford course
P = satisfactory completion of a-f above at a level that would be equivalent to C work in a typical Wofford course
H = excellent performance in the completion of a-f above at a level that would be equivalent to A or A- work in a typical Wofford course



Our Destinations: South Africa and Namibia

Near the southern tip of Africa, just northwest of South Africa.



Camps Bay Beach, Cape Town





Academic Focus and Innovative Aspects

In tourist-Africa, safari-leaders typically assume responsibility for packing and unpacking and meal-planning and cooking and cleaning throughout their trips. We believe, however, that through such activities students could learn a great deal about how Africa "works." Therefore, during the travel portion of this project, students will erect and take down their own tents. Under the supervision of our safari guides, they will assist in the preparation of meals. (We suspect that cooking with nothing more than a fire or camp stove will be an intense learning experience for some students.) During the safari portion of this trip, we travel under the protective guidance of our two full-time Namibian tour leaders and a camp assistant in two self-contained safari vehicles (each with a capacity of 15 passengers.) Students will come to appreciate the simple life and the satisfaction that comes from living without what they might consider essential amenities.

To assure that daily chores are shared equitably amongst all participants, groups of students will form teams whose duties will be rotated. Thus every student will have multiple opportunities to assist with the various chores and yet have some occasional "time off" when other groups will be responsible.

We expect the participants in this project to develop knowledge of the adaptations by which the plants, animals, and peoples thrive in these arid environments. To obtain this knowledge requires investigations of the anatomical, physiological, and behavioral strategies the plants, animals and people employ to assure their survival under conditions of intense sun and scarcity of water. Thus our investigations will require forays into biology, geology, anthropology, physics, chemistry, sociology, religion, government, history, and economics. In other words, what might at first glance appear to be a biology course will involve a synthesis from many academic disciplines. Therefore students from every major at Wofford should be able to contribute from their own academic training--while also learning about the relevance of other disciplines.

For each day in Africa, students will produce a journal entry consisting of a photograph or drawing accompanied by an essay that (1) demonstrates the mastery of course content (e.g., factual information) and (2) reflects on individual observations and insights. We have found that this form of synthesis facilitates the sharing of information among students and with friends and family. This illustrated-journal format also prepares students to submit entries to various Wofford competitions related to study abroad. (At least 5 of the 17 students from our January 2008 Namibia/Botswana project submitted entries to Wofford's "Beyond the Northern Border" competition. And one of these students received a top award!)



Unloading the safari vehicle and erecting a tent

Making lunch


Black-back jackal and oryx at Etosha Pan

Back to Menu.

Photos from the 2008 Namibia & Cape Town Project




Waterfront at night



Grasshopper of the desert, Roadside lunch stop




Quiver Tree, (Claudia Winker, Interim 2008) and view of Kuiseb Plains (GR Davis, Interim 2008)


Lunch on the road and view from the highway, northwest Namibia


Jackass penguin of South Africa near Cape Town






Reference Materials

All participants must read "Life in the Hot Zone," a chapter in Frances Ashcroft's Life at the Extremes: The Science of Survival. (ISBN0-520-22234-2)

provided here in two PDF files: Part 1 and Part 2.


Because of strict weight-and-volume limits, the group will carry a single, collective library to Africa. This will include references of two types:

1. Field guides.
.....a. Birds:
Newman. 2002. Birds of Southern Africa.
...........Sinclair and Hockey, 2005. Birds of Southern Africa.

.....b. Other reptiles:
..........Alexander and Marais. 2008. Guide to the Reptiles of Southern Africa.
..........Branch. 1998. Field Guide to Snakes and other Reptiles of Southern Africa.
.....c. Mammals:
..........Kingdon. East African Mammals: an Atlas of Evolution. (We won't take all volumes of this monumental work with us, but students may photocopy some sections).
..........Stuart and Stuart. 1989. Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa.
d. Insects:
.......... Picker et al. 2002. Field Guide to Insects of South Africa.

2. More general references:
.....a. Estes. 1992. The Behavior Guide to African Mammals….
.....b. Hardy and Firestone. 2007. Lonely Planet Guide to Botswana and Namibia.
.....c. Sowell. 2001. Desert Ecology.
.....d. Gordon and Gordon. 2000. The Bushman Myth: the Making of a Namibian Underclass.

While we are still at Wofford, students will choose animals, places, and cultural issues of personal interest. Then, in consultation with instructors, they will select readings appropriate to these topics. During our fieldwork, students will teach their peers about these topics-and students may assign brief readings from our shared traveling library.


Back to Menu.

A 300 year old female Wucheria plant

Application Forms

If the course is over-subscribed, the information you provide may be used to determine who will be accepted into the course. You are therefore encouraged to make a compelling case that indicates your level of interest and commitment to this particular project.



Interim 2008 group crossing a line

Selection of Participants

This project is open to all interested students; there are no pre-requisites. Participants will be expected to walk without complaint for several miles on some travel days, to function cheerfully in all weather conditions (including chilly nights and hot days in the deserts of southwest Africa), to accumulate nearly 2000 miles in safari vehicles as we roam the gravel roads of Namibia and journey to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, to be prompt, courteous, cooperative, reliable, responsible, and sensitive to cultural differences. Students should be willing to contribute pleasantly to the daily chores associated with participatory camping (setting up and breaking camp, assisting with meals and clean-up, etc.) All participants must be able to tolerate unforeseen changes to schedules, and students who do not cope effectively with stress or with new or uncomfortable conditions are advised to seek other Interim opportunities. Students with restricted diets should discuss this matter with instructors before enrolling as it is rather challenging to accommodate vegetarians during the 10 day safari. Participants must acknowledge that access to electricity, running water, flush toilets and cell phone coverage will be limited or unavailable for intervals that can last several days. Students who cannot cope with these conditions should look elsewhere for interim options. The instructors are seeking students who are willing to engage seriously in academic preparation during the on-campus class meetings prior to the travel portion, who will maintain interest, energy, and enthusiasm during the travel segment, and who will engage in thoughtful reflection and discussion throughout the entire project.

Participants will be selected based in part on the following criteria:
a) Compelling expression of interest in the subject matter of this project in an essay. Simply expressing a desire to travel is insufficient. Students should (1) explain why they wish to travel to Namibia and Cape Town in particular, and how the specifics of this project appeal to them, (2) describe the skills and attributes they possess that equip them for this project, and (3) enumerate those characteristics and/or competencies they would like to develop by participating in this project.
b) Prior travel experience and class standing (juniors and seniors who have not traveled previously are given some preferential consideration.)
c) We welcome students from all academic disciplines and recognize the opportunities for sharing and learning that this project represents. Nevertheless, we acknowledge that this project is especially relevant to students of biology, sociology, and environmental studies and therefore reserve the right to give special consideration to students from those majors.
d) Campus citizenship
e) Personal attributes (such as tact, energy, enthusiasm, willingness to contribute to discussions, tolerance of inconveniences, etc.)
f) Recommendations from faculty and others qualified to comment on applicant's attributes.

These instructors urge students to select their top choice of interim project based on the academic topic and avoid trying to guess which projects will "make" and which might be "oversubscribed." Also, though it may be comforting to travel with friends, we believe that an interest in the subject matter and destinations shared by participants will provide sufficient stimulation such that whoever your travel partners may be, the experience will be superb.


Sunset at Sesriem campsite

Jackass penguin colony at Simon Town, South Africa


Shovelnosed lizard in dunes at Sossusvlei

Credit toward African/African American Studies Program

Students may be able to apply this interim toward the requirements of the A/AA Studies Program. Check with the A/AA Studies Program coordinators for further details.

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Ground Transportation

We will travel in safari vehicles with seats for 15 passengers, all necessary supplies for camping and cooking,
and plenty of water.





International Flight Schedule

Round-trip transportation is provided from Wofford Campus to the Charlotte Airport. We leave campus at 10:30 sharp on Thursday Jan 9th from Student Life Parking.As you board the bus, show us your passport!

Outbound Flights Date Origin-Destination Depart-Arrive Flying Time
US Air 2890 Thurs 9 Jan 2014 Charlotte to Washington Dulles 2:25 pm , 3:40 pm 1:15
South African 208 Thurs 9 Jan Washington-Dulles to Johannesburg, South Africa 5:40 pm, 5:50 pm on 10 Jan 17:10
South African 78 Friday 10 Jan Johannesburg to Windhoek, Namibia 6:55 pm, 8:55 pm 2:00
Air Namibia 709 Tuesday 21 Jan Windhoek to Cape Town, South Africa 4:35 pm, 6:35 pm 2:00
South African 354 Saturday 25 Jan Cape Town to Johannesburg 4:45 pm, 6:45 pm 2:00
South African 203 Saturday 25 Jan Johannesburg to JF Kennedy, New York 8:15 pm, 7:45 am on 26 Jan 18:30
US Air 677 (formerly 1973) Sunday 26 Jan JFK to Charlotte 12:00 noon, 2:03 pm 2:03




Students and professors will help prepare meals during the safari.
We eat well and we eat plenty.

Accomodations and Food

To minimize costs and to experience the landscape more intimately, we will camp in spacious two person tents that we will erect ourselves. These tents are much larger than what Americans would call "two persons." They are approximately 7 feet square and nearly tall enough to stand up inside. Bring your own lightweight sleeping bag to place on the 50 mm thick foam mats provided. We will always have drinking water on the safari truck.

Breakfast is commonly cereal, milk, yogurt, bread, juice and hot tea or coffee (if you consider Nescafe coffee!) Sometimes we'll have scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast. Lunch is typically a salad, sliced cheese, and sandwiches. Dinners are cooked over an open fire or on a propane burner. You'll be amazed at how well we'll eat! Roasted chicken, goat, kudu, pasta, rice, and so on.

Most MEALS ARE INCLUDED IN THE COURSE FEE except for the day in Windhoek and several meals in Cape Town. Therefore the only food you need to purchase once the safari begins will be snacks, bottled water (if you insist on bottled water) and other beverages.

Often we'll be on the road during the middle of the day so lunch happens whenever we can find a shady tree by the roadside. Once we get into the routine, you'll have lunch prepared in about 15 minutes and then relax in our camp chairs for a few minutes before riding on to our next destination.

Those can cannot cope with these conditions should opt for other interim projects. Don't even ask about air conditioning! As for mosquitoes.... don't worry. In Jan 2008, there were none to be found! Remember, this is the desert!

We'll have a hotel upon arrival in Windhoek, Namibia, and several nights later in Swakopmund. The rest of the time in Namibia we'll be in tents. Once we arrive in Cape Town, we'll stay in a nice hotel for the remaining nights.

All 10 tents fit beneath an acacia treet at our Sesreim campsite in 2008.
Warning: keep tents zippered to prevent the local jackals from slipping away with snacks or shoes!


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Contacting the Instructors

During the travel portion of the trip, if it becomes necessary to contact a professor or student, please do so only the case of emergency and then only via Dean Amy Lancaster.

Dr. G.R. Davis, Professor of Biology
Office phone 864-597-4621
fax to Department of Biology 864-597-4659

More about Dr. Davis

Dr. John Moeller,
Associate Professor of Biology

More about Dr. Moeller


We expect Dr. John Moeller's sister to accompany our group. Lisa Moeller has a B.S. in Agronomy from University of California at Davis and a M.S. in Food Chemistry from North Carolina State University. She is currently Environmental Quality Control Supervisor at the Mount Olive Pickle Company. She has travelled to Africa, Europe, Asia, and South America on trips for her Masters, for the Mt. Olive Pickle Company, as well as for personal interest. One of her chief interests is sustainability associated with agriculture and water use, and she is on the board of several North Carolina organizations, such as the Cape Fear River Assembly, focused on maintaining quality of life in local communities. She was recently an invited panelist at the 2013 Duke Conference on Sustainable Business and Social Impact. She brings a unique skill set, making real connections between academia, business, and society.

Wofford College Contacts:

Dr. Boyce Lawton.

Amy Lancaster, Assistant Dean for Academic Administration and International Programs

Ana Maria Wiseman, Assistant Dean of the College and Director of Programs Abroad and the Interim.
Office phone 864-597-4510

Questions concerning this Travel Interim project can be sent by e-mail to Dr. Davis.

Our travel arrangements in Namibia are made with

Wild Dog Safaris

Our activities in Cape Town are organized by

African Diversity Tours
40 Elgin Rd l Sybrand Park l 7700
Cape Town l South Africa
Mobile:  +27(0)79 215 0583

The fynbos of the Cape Penninsula south of Cape Town, False Bay with sharks in the distance.


Travel Guides and Field Guides

Student will be expected to consult references such as:

Lonely Planet Botswana and Namibia. The acclaimed "Lonely Planet" series travel guide will be an important reference for our project.

Insight Guide to Namibia. Comprehensive description of the country, its culture, history, government, attractions, etc.

Kingdom, Jonathan. East African Mammals. A seven volume encyclopedia of African mammals which encompasses those we expect to see.

Although much information is available on the internet, the instructors strongly recommend that travelers bring along and frequently consult field guides during the trip. Arrange to share!

Sunset view to the east from ridge above Sesriem campsite

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Additional Activities

At some locations, there are optional activities at additional cost. These often involve performances of traditional songs and dances and in most cases a tip of $5 US from each student is expected (not included in course fee.)


US State Department International Travel Information

An excellent source of reliable travel information is provided by the US State Department "Background Notes." These notes concisely summarize the geography, people, population, government, economy, foreign relations, history, and political conditions for every nation. Have a look at the site for Namibia.

The British Commonwealth Official Travel Information service has essentially the same information as the US State Department Consular Information Sheet regarding travel to and within Namibia and South Africa. Currently there are no British advisories travel to Namibia or South Africa.

The Canadian Consular Affairs is another source of information for travels considering Namibia and South Africa. Currently there are no Canadian advisories against travel to Namibia or South Africa.

Travel Security Issues

Consular Information Sheets published by the State Department provide information on entry requirements, medical facilities, crime, traffic safety & road conditions, aviation, and embassy locations. Check the Information Sheets for Background Notes (country Profiles) for Namibia. They are posted on the State Department website and provides information about the population, ethnic groups, geography, government and political conditions, history,economy, travel and business information.

The State Department publishes "A Safe Trip Abroad" which is packed with useful information.

Is is safe to travel in Namibia and South Africa? Yes. The official language is English. Namibia is stable democracy with flourishing economy. Namibia is sparcely populated and relies heavily on tourism. Namibians are careful to treat tourists in ways that foster their return. Cape Town, South Africa is generally safe if travelers use good judgment.

The organizers of the travel trip are cognizant of safety and security issues and will not knowingly endanger themselves or students by traveling to dangerous regions. We will be monitoring US State Department information.

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Students are to consult with their physicians regarding immunizations which are appropriate for travel to Namibia and South Africa. The Center for Disease Control provides recommendations for travelers to Namibia and South Africa. You may arrange to obtain immunizations locally from

Spartanburg Regional Hospital's Travelers Health Clinic
864-560-6806 contact person Anne Price (direct line 560-6800) or Dr. Robin Garrells 809-8155
101 East Wood Street, Spartanburg, SC 29303 Fax 864-560-7329 email:

Health Information from the Center for Disease Control.

Students are responsible for determining which, if any, medications they should obtain. The CDC provides detailed information for Namibia and South Africa


Mandatory Meeting

Date and Time to be Annouced. At this time, all documentation required by the college is due. Reading assigments will be made and advice provided in regard to preparing for the travel segment of the project.



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Course Costs and Other Expenses

The $4950 project cost for each of the 20 participants covers

$4950 project cost for each participant covers: Round-trip airfare from US to Windhoek via Cape Town,
accommodations Windhoek (1 night), Swakopmund (1 night), and Cape Town (3 nights)
A 10 day academic safari in Namibia with Wild Dog Safari. Transportation in two 15 passenger self-contained safari truck with all camping and cooking equipment.
All meals provided except meals in Cape Town and Windhoek.
Water for drinking and hygiene are provided.
National park and game reserve entrance fees are included as are camping fees and an overnight at an institute devoted to conservation of African big cats.
Basic tip for safari guides who will accompany us 24 hrs/day for entirety of the ground portion in Namibia.
Guided bus trip south from Cape Town to the Cape of Good Hope.
Guided tour of Robben Island Airport transfers, including transportation between Spartanburg and airport of departure (most likely GSP or Charlotte.)

Additional Expenses not included in the Course Fee:

any medical expenses (i.e. vaccinations);
Cell phones and phone cards (Note: phone access is very limited in Namibia.);
binoculars for each participant;
field guides, travel guides, and texts (none of which will be required. The professors will have a sufficient number of copies to share.);
meals for flight days and meals in cities (estimated $100 US);
entertainment and tips for performances by native tribes people, singers, dancers $75 *;
beverages and snack foods, $60*;
souvenirs: $150*;
* = median as reported by 16 students surveyed in 2008 Namibia/Botswana project.

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Passport Information

For students who already have a passport: check the expiration date to be sure that your passport will be valid for the duration of our trip. Passport must be valid for 6 months beyond our scheduled stay.

For students who need a passport: all necessary materials and information can be obtained from the main Spartanburg Post Office at the corner of South Church Street and Henry Street. You will need to provide a certified copy of your birth certificate, complete with embossed seal.

We must have your passport information by the October for airline ticketing.

Check here for the latest US State Department Passport Information.

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Important Dates

April 16, 11:00 am: Interim Travel Project Interest Meetings

April 19, 3 pm. Enrollment opens.

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Generic Information for International Travelers



General Tips for Traveling Abroad

Bureau of Consular Affairs (US State Department Home Page for Travel Advisories.)

Tips for Student Travelers from the Bureau of Consular Affairs



1. What is our luggage limit? Number of bags? Weight?
A soft bag of about 15kg per person plus 1 carry on/hand luggage, plus a sleeping bag, plus a camera bag

2. How much spending money should I bring? Should I carry cash, traveler's checks, an ATM card or a combination of all three?
ATM cards are preferable and our guide will get us to a bank every now and then. However, we don't expect on need or spend much money.

3. Will we get to shower every day?
Showers should be available most days, but not every day.

4. Would you recommend taking a video camera?
Personal choice, same charging opportunities as for a computer.

5. How much will I be moving my luggage? Would it be easier to pack in a backpack?
A back pack is a good option. You will need to load up the vehicle with your own bag each time we move camp.

6. Do we need to worry about (buy and bring) mosquito repellant?
Always a good idea to have a personal supply.

7. Are towels a necessity to bring?

8. What kind of clothing should we bring?
Shorts, T shirts, long trousers and long sleeves for the evenings and something warm (jacket).

9. Do we need Dramamine or other such medicine for the bus rides?
Bring a sufficient supply of any personal medicine you might need.

10. What is the average temperature of Namibia and Botswana during January?
Hot, up to 40* c in the day, about 10*c / 15*c at night.

11. Will we be able to wash clothes at some point during the trip?
Yes, hand washing.

12. Will our personal belongings be safe (i.e. cameras and other valuables)?
Cameras will probably be with the owners/ passengers most of the time. Otherwise, personal belongings can be left in the locked safari vehicle.

13. Do I need a mosquito net?

14. How much freedom are we going to have to explore and investigate on our own?
Quite a bit, actually. Generally we get started about sun-up and accomplish a great deal before noon. In the early afternoon, there is usually some "down time" and often in the late afternoons before and after dinner there is free time to investigate about the campsite.

15. Do we need hiking boots?
A light weight pair is a good idea. Sometimes the sand is hot. On most occasions sandals will be fine but bring some socks to avoid irritation that comes when walking through deep sand.

16. Are we going to be able to call home?
Yes, occasionally. Don't expect cell phone coverage while we are on safari. Our guide will have a personal cell phone for emergencies but not for personal use.

17. Should we bring filters or water treatment tablets?
No, they are not necessary.

18. Should we bring our own sleeping bag?
Yes. Bring a light weight bag.

19. What happens if I get sick or injured?
We take you to a doctor, if it is serious. In a worst case scenario, you will be evacuated.

20. What happens in the case of a family crisis back home?
It is a personal decision as whether to leave the trip or remain.
If you have supplemental travel insurance, the insurance policy should cover the cost to get the passenger to the airport and back to the USA if there is a medical crisis with a family member.

21. Will I be able to recharge batteries (ie. for cameras, etc.)
Yes through an outlet in the safari vehicle (bring your own charger), and at some of the accommodation mains power, (220v), will be available. We will have outlet adaptors.

22. Will there be telephone and/or internet access?
Limited telephone and very limited internet.

23. Are there cultural concerns related to clothing? (Shorts?)

Other Links

Photos of Namibia by Dr. Davis

Robben Island Museum Tour








Photographs of some of our destinations (Google Image Searches)

Namib Naukluft National Park

Giant Sand Dunes of Sossusvlei

Sesriem canyon

Skeleton Coast National Park

Etosha National Park


Mapping Namibia (excellent, detailed maps with all roads and towns)


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