Learning about South African wildlife conservation
Helping out in saving endangered species
Going on game drives and seeing wild animals up close
Experiencing what it is like to live in the bush
Your project starts with a 2-day orientation in Johannesburg. Arrive in Joburg or Jozi, as it is known locally, and get shown around by people who know the city well. The orientation is excellent for first-time visitors to find their feet the local way and meet other volunteers on your project.
You will be picked up from the airport and taken to the hostel. Here you will be given a chance to settle down before meeting your volunteer representative. You will be given a briefing on your volunteer program and then meet other travellers and volunteers for a welcome dinner.
After breakfast you will be collected from the hostel and shown around the sites of Johannesburg like a local. We will start off with a visits to Soweto, South Africa’s biggest Township here you will have the opportunity to take some photos at the iconic Orlando Towers and Soccer City, home of the World Cup Final. We then head to a local food market where you can have a light lunch, shop for local arts and crafts and listen to some live music. After lunch we head to Constitution Hill, home of our South African Democracy and an integral part of our history. We then end the tour with a walk through the park at Zoo Lake, a pleasant end to the day. Please note that the tour itinerary is flexible and may change according to the group’s interests for the day. This is your personal tour of our lovely city with our local guide to show you the best sites and places.
After breakfast we will take you to Johannesburg Airport for your onwards travel to the project.
The project runs 6 days a week from Monday to Saturday. Volunteer tasks are focused on monitoring, which forms the basis for the majority of our research assistance on the reserve. We conduct monitoring walks/drives in the mornings and afternoons. The monitoring coincides with times of increased activity of the specific animals we are observing. We also spend time on foot tracking the more elusive animals, which is an amazing way to experience the bush. During the drier winter months, we have several hides based at waterholes which allow you to observe the various animals and their interactions at close quarters.
The early morning monitoring walks will have you locating the rhino and cheetah. You will learn how to identify and age their tracks and how to record this information. Once the animals have been located you will monitor their behaviour, environment and interactions in order to better understand them. Meanwhile, you will also learn how to track other big game such as elephant, lion and hyena in order to better understand utilisation of the areas covered. At all times you will also be on the lookout for potential sightings and nest sites of the southern ground hornbill.
On return to camp, you will enter the data collected onto the computers. You’ll also get the chance to go through your bush knowledge work books to help improve your tracking skills. During the week there will be a series of talks on the project, data collection, bush skills and maybe even a Zulu lesson.
In the afternoons you will set out on monitoring drives in order to cover more ground to determine new areas to locate rhino, cheetah and southern ground hornbill. Once signs of activity and tracks have been located you will continue on foot to discover more. Whilst driving through the reserve you will also get the chance to see some of our other resident Big 5 - elephant, lion and buffalo. In conjunction with the research, all sightings of leopard will also be monitored and recorded - the more eyes the better when trying to monitor this elusive animal.
On Friday afternoon, you will meet up with the research group for a sleep-out under the stars. On Saturday morning you will help out with some habitat work, either bush clearing, erosion control or road maintenance. Upon return from the afternoon monitoring drive, we may head out to the local pub or have a typical South African braai (BBQ).
On Sundays you are free to relax and spend the day as you like or you can join an outing if one has been planned.
As the nature of the work varies, volunteers are placed under the supervision of various staff members. We will have one member of our team assigned as team leader to facilitate the smooth operation of the volunteers' stay and provide guidance where necessary. With every new arrival we have a safety and orientation briefing where we discuss issues such as general safety in South Africa for example, what to do in the settlements, where not to go, what to do in case of an emergency, sea currents, HIV AIDS and crime. We offer all our volunteers 24/7 support and assistance.
2-day orientation in Johannesburg
Three meals a day except during Johannesburg orientation
24-hour support and supervision
Donation to the project
Certificate of appreciation
Minimum age of 18
Basic level of competency in English
Acceptance subject to availability
Volunteers need to be flexible and keep an open mind concerning their placements as situations can arise beyond our control which could require you to be placed at a different project than the one you have initially chosen. We will of course always do our utmost to fulfill your initial wishes but do remember that where you are going is quite different from where you are coming and as such one should be prepared for things not always going according to plan.
Volunteering and intercultural travel share a common trait: the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. This program is designed for proactive individuals and groups that are prepared to adapt to the local environment and its current needs. Naturally, the scheduling and activities of our program are subject to change. Alterations in activities are mainly due to changes in local conditions, which we believe is part of what makes overseas programs the interesting adventure and incredible learning experience that they are.
Our projects range from 1 week up to approx. 30 weeks. Projects have a specified minimum stay, then it’s up to you how long you can commit. In our experience the longer you stay the more you will gain, as your understanding of the project broadens and you take on more responsibilities. Every volunteer will be given a certificate of appreciation at the end of their stay as a symbol of volunteering stay.