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“Experience of a lifetime...”

Harnas Wildlife Foundation
Ranked #1 of 3 things to do in Gobabis
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Attraction details
Owner description: Wildlife sanctuary offering eco-tourism.
Reviewed 6 December 2009

I spent four weeks at Harnas during July and August 2009 as a volunteer and had the best experiences that you could wish for. Spending days playing with, walking and caring for cheetahs and lion cubs amongst numerous other species is something that I know I will never forget. The bond and attachment that you create with these animals is incredible - and surprising at times (I fell in love with an African Grey parrot that is there). Opportunities such as being able to sleep out under the Namibian skyline, cuddled up to purring cheetahs are just unbelievable.

The people that run Harnas are so friendly and so accommodating. If you decide to go to Harnas, you really will have the time of your life.

One extra point, as a reply to the other review below, the animals are released into the Lifeline project to keep them safe from poachers and farmers. Once there, they live for themselves, hunting and breeding as naturally as possible, whilst being kept safe, as I mentioned, from poachers and adjoining farms. Those kept on the farm are those with problems that mean they cannot be released, such as illness or animals that were kept as pets by other people, so cannot be freed. I certainly wouldn't suggest that Harnas is a glorified zoo. They do everything they can to try and release the animals that they look after into the Lifeline Project.

7  Thank Harriers88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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26 - 30 of 59 reviews

Reviewed 16 November 2008

We just returned today from an overnight stay at Harnas Wildlife Santuary outside Gobabis, Namibia. Harnas had been highly recommended by several friends, whose kids all loved petting the baby lions, seeing the wild dogs, cheetahs, leopards and other cats as well as the resident tortoises and giraffe. Our kids loved experiencing these things too.

Then why the mediocre rating? We "grownups" were disturbed to learn that while Harnas advertises itself as a rehabilitation facility for wild animals, none of the animals are actually released into the bush. Instead, the aim of the owners seems to be to release some of the animals into a larger 10,000 hectare enclosure on their property. Yet, lions and I believe cheetahs are allowed to breed at Harnas, and the cubs are destined to remain in captivity for their entire lives. In sharp contrast to, say, the Cheetah Conservation Fund, Harnas seems meant to keep these beautiful animals mostly to generate tourist and paid volunteer traffic to the farm. Now, in Namibia, leopards, lions and cheetahs are not rare at all, and it is entirely possible to develop conservation plans for these animals but Harnas does not seem to be focussed on this at all. Harnas, as far as I could tell, is simply a glorified zoo.

We talked to a few of the volunteers, who pay their own fare to come from EU or USA for 2 to 6 weeks or even longer. One young woman told me she would be at Harnas for 6 weeks, and would not go anywhere else in Namibia before her long and expensive flight home. How sad, I thought, that this young woman, so devoted to the wild animals in Harnas' care, would never actually see a leopard, cheetah, or lion in the wild, where their behavior is almost entirely different than in the smallish enclosures at Harnas where they are tossed pieces of horse, donkey or other meat every few days as we tourists watch.

In short, Harnas is what it is, and there are many such places in Namibia that keep large cats on premises to attract tourists. Granted, Harnas DOES save individual animals that are injured etc. Yet what was disturbing was that it bills itself as something far more, perhaps in order to glean traffic and contributions.

32  Thank Ice_Tres
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 November 2008

We just returned today from an overnight stay at Harnas. Harnas had been highly recommended by several friends, whose kids all loved petting the baby lions, seeing the wild dogs, cheetahs, leopards and other cats as well as the resident tortoises and giraffe. Our kids loved experiencing these things too.

Then why the mediocre rating? We "grownups" were disturbed to learn that while Harnas advertises itself as a rehabilitation facility for wild animals, none of the animals are actually released into the bush. Instead, the aim of the owners seems to be to release some of the animals into a larger 10,000 hectare enclosure on their property. Yet, lions and I believe cheetahs are allowed to breed at Harnas, and the cubs are destined to remain in captivity for their entire lives. In sharp contrast to, say, the Cheetah Conservation Fund, Harnas seems meant to keep these beautiful animals mostly to generate tourist and paid volunteer traffic to the farm. Now, in Namibia, leopards, lions and cheetahs are not rare at all, and it is entirely possible to develop conservation plans for these animals but Harnas does not seem to be focussed on this at all. Harnas, as far as I could tell, is simply a glorified zoo.

We talked to a few of the volunteers, who pay their own fare to come from EU or USA for 2 to 6 weeks or even longer. One young woman told me she would be at Harnas for 6 weeks, and would not go anywhere else in Namibia before her long and expensive flight home. How sad, I thought, that this young woman, so devoted to the wild animals in Harnas' care, would never actually see a leopard, cheetah, or lion in the wild, where their behavior is almost entirely different than in the smallish enclosures at Harnas where they are tossed pieces of horse, donkey or other meat every few days as we tourists watch.

In short, Harnas is what it is, and there are many such places in Namibia that keep large cats on premises to attract tourists. Granted, Harnas DOES save individual animals that are injured etc. Yet what was disturbing was that it bills itself as something far more, perhaps in order to glean traffic and contributions.

38  Thank Ice_Tres
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 June 2007

I spent September 2006 as an animal care trainee on Harnas and would recommend it to anyone toying with the idea of going. To be responsible for looking after and playing with lion and cheetah cubs and having a baboon stay overnight in your cabin is something I will never, ever forget. I learnt a lot about myself too and believe the experience changed me positively on a number of levels. I really can't big it up enough!

4  Thank A_whole_world_to_see
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 March 2007

I've just returned from Harnas after being there for 2 weeks which wasn't long enough. The project is 100% hands on with the animals and would highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking of going. There are some excellent activities on offer and the staff and family are really lovely and make you feel very welcome. Don't hesitate, just book, you'll have a fab time.

7  Thank Prawn76
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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