Day 1 (Tuesday) Arrive at Johannesburg Airport (JNB) before 11am. If you prefer to fly in a day early we can book you a night at a great little lodge near the airport with free transfers.
Around 11am you’ll be met by the program coordinators and any others starting the same day, and together you’ll take a private transfer to the reserve, a journey of a little over 3 hours. The transfers are payable locally. On the way we stop off for any last minute essentials (soft drinks, toiletries, snacks etc). Once at the research base the team will be there to settle you in to your new home and it will be an easy afternoon relaxing in the fantastic setting, meeting the group getting to know how everything works.
Project life The first morning will start with an induction talk in which the team will explain everything about the project, the reserve and safety rules. The experienced reserve managers and conservationists have years of field experience which they are only too happy to share with their eager, passionate team of volunteers.
Your hours will vary depending on the activity, but as wild animals are most active in the early morning you’ll usually be up before dawn too ! This is the most beautiful time of day in the African bush so, after a quick coffee, heading off in the 4x4 game vehicle is an absolute pleasure. Your vehicle is equipped with all the gear you need for expert tracking: GPS, data recording equipment, spotlight and very importantly, coffee, tea and snacks. The expert researchers and rangers you’ll be working with will gladly share their vast store of knowledge about the fauna and flora of the bush, and as well as the vast array of mammals you’ll be amazed by the incredible bird life out in the bush.
Like the animals, you’ll probably find yourself taking cover during the heat of the day before, typically you join a second research drive in the evening. Some or all of the Big 5 will be monitored every day and you may get involved with additional research, day or night, as necessary. You may also head out by quad bike with one of the guides for a day, as part of the black rhino monitoring program – a really exciting opportunity !
The volunteer team also help out with basic maintenance of the accommodation facilities, and on a roster you’ll cook a yummy meal for the group. You’ll make lifelong friendships, contribute to conservation and have an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience in the African bush.
Your Last Day (Tuesday) At the end of your stay you will catch the private transfer back to Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport (payable locally). You may be travelling elsewhere in Africa or you may be heading home - if you’re flying out from Johannesburg, unless you can get a late night flight we advise spending the night near the airport (we can book for you) and flying out on the Wednesday.
The area and what to pack:
This is not a malaria area - we recommend packing insect repellent of course and a mosquito net is also recommended to ensure a peaceful sleep, especially during summer.
Don't forget your sleeping bag, roll-mat, binoculars, torch and plenty of batteries (or a rechargeable camping light) - also bring your camera, music and some books to read while relaxing in the evenings.
Mornings and evenings can be chilly even in the summer months so be sure to bring some warm clothes with you. Clothing should be hard-wearing and comfortable – no bright colours, your clothes and shoes should ideally be beige, brown and khaki green so you will blend easily into the bush
Most amenities are available in town, including a supermarket, internet café, and public telephones.
Sunday is the day off (no activities organised). If you’d like to arrange an excursion to tour the area and further afield, the project staff will be happy to assist you with this. Excursions will be organised according to the weekly planning by the project manager.
About the Project
Accommodation You will stay in a comfortable farmhouse with magnificent views of the hills and plains. Sleeping is in single-sex bunk-rooms (a couple’s room with double bed is available on request). With the sounds of night time wildlife as your lullaby, it is not uncommon to get woken at dawn by a lion’s roar! Basic bedding is provided but please bring your sleeping bag for occasional sleep-outs. The shared bathroom facilities have hot showers and flush toilets.
There is a safe to store your valuables, and the farmhouse is solar powered so no problem to charge your phone, camera and tablet. You can get your laundry done for a small charge and you’ll be expected to complete house cleaning duties on a roster.
Base camp is often visited by curious wildlife and it is not uncommon to see and hear elephants, lions, hyenas, honey badgers and porcupines from the farmhouse.
Meals Food is provided and you and other volunteers will take turns to prepare meals for the group and wash up. You can do grocery shopping with the staff when they go into town to replenish stocks.