University of California, Riverside

UCR Study Abroad - UCR Summer Abroad Program

2016 Gobabeb, Namibia

Field Studies in Namibian Biology

This program will explore the incredible biological diversity in Namibia, including tropical and desert ecosystems. Check out this PDF for photos and more information!

NOTE: The UCRSSA program to Namibia has a separate deadline to apply online and submit a non-refundable $300 deposit. Please apply and submit a deposit by (received no later than) Friday, March 18, 2016 by 3:00PM.

  • General Program Information

    Namibia has the tallest and oldest desert, with sand dunes meeting the ocean along the west coast of Africa. In addition to the Namib Desert, there are plenty of national parks that have elephants, lions, rhinos, cheetahs, and many other charismatic megafauna. The reptile diversity, including snakes and lizards, rivals some of the best locations in the world.  Apart from animal diversity, Namibia has the second largest canyon in the world, the largest meteorites, and rock formations up to 1.2 billion years old. Welwitschia is a strange looking plant in Namibia, but it is also a living fossil. Some individuals have lived longer than 1000 years, and others are thought to be older than 2000 years.

    This course will allow students to explore diversity and biology first hand. In addition to seeing large mammals (warthogs, meerkats, etc.). An overall theme will be a comparison between Namibian wildlife/habitat and California wildlife/habitat.  Students will also have the opportunity to interact with indigenous people, and see world-famous geological sites.  Students will be expected to learn ecological methods, but also techniques related to field biomechanics. Students will conduct small independent projects at Gobabeb, which will provide them with the tools to become field biologists.

    The Safari will cover a large portion of Namibia, and will expose students to an enormous diversity of cultural, geological, and biological aspects. Students will also get time to explore Swakopmund, a historic coast city with German influence.  

    Tim Higham, Biology (

    Host Institution:
    Gobabeb Research and Training Centre

    BIOL 176 Comparative Biomechanics (4)
    BIOL 190 Special Studies (4)

    Arrive by August 1, 2016
    Leave by August 27, 2016
    Note: This is a Summer Session II program.

  • Accommodations in Namibia

    Namibia is an incredibly safe country with a growing market economy. It is consistently ranked as one of the top emerging countries. Transportation across Namibia is safe, and most people speak English. Plant and animal diversity is incredibly high, providing the perfect location to learn biology while getting hands on experience. 

    We will stay the majority of the time at the world-class field station, the Gobabeb Research and Training Centre, which consistently hosts university groups from the United States. It is located in the Namib Desert, 120 km southeast of Walvis Bay, and it is part of the Namib Naukluft Park. This research station is a perfect location for a university group as it contains a lecture area, housing, and three major types of habitat (gravel plains, river bed, and sand dunes). Accommodations will be in permanent tents at Gobabeb, and kitchens and bathrooms (including showers) will be available. Meals will be collectively prepared by students and the TA. This will be the main location for the course, other than a 10 day safari. 

  • Detailed Program Fees

    Please note that Program-Related Fees will be paid to UCR (see payment instructions). Airfare and most meals are included in the "Estimated Additional Costs" section in the bottom half of the table; each program is designed individually and may or may not include the same amenities or cover the same expenses as other UCR Summer Study Abroad programs. Students are responsible for understanding program-related fees for their program.

    Accommodations and Service Abroad Fees included in “Remaining Program Fees” is subject to change based on fluctuating exchange rates, unexpected changes in activities and local prices. Fees estimated below do not include personal travel, entertainment, out-of-pocket medical expenses, special medical needs, and other emergencies, as well as other personal needs items not required by the program.

    Program Fees

    Program-Related FeesUndergraduates Graduates 
    Non-refundable application fee/deposit $300.00 $300.00
    2nd Deposit $700.00 $700.00
    Course fees – 8 units $2,200.00* $2,902.08*
    Remaining Program Fees – Accommodations, transportation, excursions, meals $1,895.00 $1,848.07
    Estimated Additional CostsUndergraduates Graduates 
    Estimated Meal and Personal Costs $600.00 Same as undergraduate
    Estimated Pre-Departure Expenses (Photos, Passports, etc.) $300.00 Same as undergraduate
    Estimated Round-Trip Airfare $2,000.00 Same as undergraduate
    Estimated Total Cost*$7,995.00 $8,650.15 

    *UC Riverside’s Per Unit Course Fee is subject to Regental, legislative, and gubernatorial action and may change without notice.

    The tuition, fees, and charges posted here are estimates based on currently approved amounts. These figures may not be final. Actual tuition, fees, and charges are subject to change by the Regents of the University of California and could be affected by State funding reductions. Accordingly, final approved levels (final balance due) may differ from the amounts shown. The amounts shown here represent, for planning purposes, estimates of the Per Unit rate for Summer 2016. Actual charges for 2015-16 have yet to be determined by The Regents of the University of California and are not yet available at this time. Final figures are subject to change and may differ from the amount shown.

  • Courses & Syllabus

    (8 units) BIOL 190A & B

    The courses will cover topics related to conversation biology, ecology, vertebrate biology, and biomechanics. Not only will students explore diversity, they will also interact with Namibian students and faculty. This will allow students to gain an appreciation for other educational systems, but also allow them to learn how land and wildlife is conserved. Prerequisites include introductory biology (BIOL 005C) and introductory chemistry. These courses offer a perfect marriage of technical equipment and natural history. We will use high-speed video to understand how animals move, but then incorporate ecological measurements to understand why animals move the way that they do.

    Students will explore the effects of competition, predation, and mutualism on populations and communities, as well as theories of optimal behavior, morphology, and life history. In Namibia, we will utilize local species and habitats to explore these topics. The incredible diversity will allow students to appreciate these topics first hand. Not only will we see many birds, mammals, and reptiles at Gobabeb, but we will see many mammalian species on the safari, including elephants, rhinos, cheetahs, lions, and many others.

    Students will receive lectures from Professor Higham, as well as from resident scientists working at Gobabeb. Students will work in groups to complete pre-selected independent projects.

  • Planned Excursions


    The final 10 days of the trip will be an organized safari. The safari will cover a large portion of Namibia, and will expose students to an enormous diversity of cultural, geological, and biological aspects. This safe trip will visit Windhoek, Sossusvlei & Sesriem, Swakopmund, Damaraland, Etosha and Waterburg. The company will provide camping gear, and will provide several meals.  We will lecture and complete assignments while learning about conservation and a variety of topics related to the courses.


    Students will have the opportunity to explore this historic coastal city with German influence. This has become a popular destination for celebrities, and offers world-class hospitality in a unique setting. In Swakopmund, we will also take a desert tour.

  • Pre-Departure Orientation


 Countries List

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Contact Information

Education Abroad
0321 Surge Building

Tel: (951) 827-4113