Just south of the Botswana border, in the Kuruman River Reserve, you’ll find meerkats so friendly they occasionally jump on volunteers’ heads. Visitors study the effects of the mammals’ cooperative breeding, in which adults help raise each other’s pups. You’ll learn how to weigh a meerkat and observe the intriguing interactions between the meerkat and the fork-tailed drongo, a bird that steals the meerkat’s food. At night, stargaze in the vast Kalahari skies before retreating to a thatched-roof hut. —Kellie Schmitt
Meerkats of the Kalahari: $3,895 for a two-week trip, including meals and lodging. (800) 776-0188, earthwatch.org.Other Trips to Help Animals Whales in Costa Rica Snow leopards in Central Asia Orangutans in Indonesia Elephants in Thailand Horses in California
This story appeared in the November/December 2011 issue.