Day 1 (Sunday) Transfers are provided from Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport (JNB) every second week, departing at 11am. If you prefer to fly in a day earlier we can arrange a night at a nice little lodge near the airport. On alternate weeks we pick up from Hoedspruit Airport (HDS) or you can use alternative transfer options from JNB to reach the reserve.
The drive from JNB to the reserve is around 5 hours, or 1 hour from HDS. 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 and getting to know how everything works.
Project life Our guides will take you out every day on two monitoring drives (Monday-Saturday). Be prepared to spend between 10 and 12 hours in the bush daily ! 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. In the field we observe, collect data and take identification photos of the key species that we monitor (Big 5, hyenas and cheetahs), in particular regarding their behaviours, location and health.
Bush walks are a great way to experience the bush in more depth. Walking allows us to spot animals and suspicious tracks, discover new areas and dens, check existing or install new camera traps while enjoying nature at a very personal level.
We conduct sleep outs to act as a deterrent for poachers. being extra eyes and ears out in the field at night. Sleep outs are conducted in strategic parts of the reserve and provide an amazing opportunity to see nocturnal animals, admire the beautiful African sky and listen to the sounds of the bush, an incredible experience!
If you’re lucky, you may have the opportunity to fly in our microlight ! From the air we can patrol vast areas of the reserve and spot many animals …… and those views !!!!
While out in the field, our work also involves taking care of the eco-systems through reserve management activities such as bush clearing, road restoration, alien plant removal, erosion control, tree wrapping, fence/rubbish removal, game capture and animal darting (on specific occasions, such as monitoring collar replacement).
On Fridays we go to town to replenish the food stock for the week and to have a nice dinner at one of the local restaurants. And Sunday is downtime, when we take a break from activities to recharge our batteries !
Departure Day (Saturday) At the end of your stay we will take you back to Johannesburg or Hoedspruit (alternate weeks). You may be travelling elsewhere in Africa or you may be heading home - if you’re flying from Johannesburg, unless you can get an evening flight we advise spending the night near the airport (we will book for you) and flying on the Sunday.
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 Our rustic-style house is large, bright and fully immersed in nature with a large garden. We often have the pleasure of listening to hyenas and jackals at night and in the mornings we can see the sun rising over the mountains. Our garden contains a small plunge pool and a BBQ (braai) area for cooking around the fire on Sunday evenings. There is also a shady pagoda with hammocks for relaxing.
The house is solar powered and the tap water is safe to drink. We have hot running water for showers and wifi for keeping in touch. You can hand wash your laundry or use the machine for a small charge. House cleaning duties are shared on a roster.
Sleeping is in 4-share single-gender rooms. There is one bathroom per room. Bedding is provided, but bring a sleeping bag and a towel. A double room with ensuite upgrade is available for a small surcharge, subject of course to availability.
Meals Food is provided and you and other volunteers will take turns to prepare meals for the group and wash up.