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Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage was opened in 2006 with the mission of educating and inspiring local children to value their environment and stimulate community development. Through the different programs, more than 4,000 children have been reached, hundreds of animals have been cared for and helped dozens of youth get employed.
Every Monday, eight new students come to DAKTARI’s camp to spend the week building their knowledge of the environment and wildlife. They attend lessons, do activities, and interact with the animals in the wildlife orphanage. DAKTARI also works at the secondary schools to further this education and undertake community development projects.
DAKTARI’s volunteering program is designed to give our volunteers the opportunity to teach local children, care for injured or abandoned wildlife, and fully immerse in the South African bush. As teachers and caretakers at DAKTARI our volunteers are vital to the success of our programs and really make an impact on the communities. You will spend your days teaching children and helping our staff care for the animals around camp. This can be anything from feeding an animal with a bottle to cleaning their enclosures or picking up a hammer and renovating their homes.

OverviewExtra InfoPhotosIncludedActivitiesFAQ's
The farm is located roughly 425km away from Johannesburg International (About a 5 hour drive) and a short 70km from Hoedspruit Eastgate Airport (About a 1 hour Drive).
● Shops/Grocery Stores: You will receive weekly transport into town so that you can purchase essentials and food items
● ATMS: There are plenty of ATMS in Johannesburg where you will have your orientation. Once on the project you will have the opportunity to withdraw money on your weekly shopping trip.

Supervision/Co- Ordination:
As the nature of the work varies we will place volunteers 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.

Free time:
On Saturdays you can take a trip into Hoedspruit with Ian. This gives you the opportunity to do any shopping you might need and a chance to get our of the camp for a while. There are plenty of great restaurants in town to have lunch at too! Sundays are your day off. You can plan a day excursion if you like or just relax at the camp. We are happy to help you plan a trip or put you in touch with a local guide. If you are interested in taking a longer break over the weekend (Friday to Sunday), you are welcome to arrange that with our staff.

Project Highlights: 

  • Live in the bush next to numerous South African wildlife
  • Gain knowledge on the importance of conservation
  • Work with children, teaching important life skills and conservation ethics
  • Learn about the local people
  • Have access to several different wildlife reserves and activities (optional extra)

The projects that DAKTARI are currently working on are:

Bush School
The purpose of the bush school is to provide a close and engaging learning experience which motivates Grade 8 students to care for their environment while teaching them important life skills. The children who are visiting DAKTARI are from the local secondary schools in the nearby villages. The teaching program is a mix of environmental education, life skills training, animal interactions, and social issue discussions. The lessons are taught by volunteers and class sizes are kept small with each child receiving individual attention during the
week. The lesson topics include anti-poaching, politeness, job opportunities in game reserves, and discussions are surrounding social issues like substance abuse and safe sex.

Wildlife Orphanage
The purpose of the wildlife orphanage is to provide a home for un-releasable or orphaned animals that inspire a passion for the environment in the children that visit DAKTARI. The wildlife orphanage houses more than thirty species of animals. From cheetahs to crocodiles to meerkats, eighty animals call DAKTARI home. These animal ambassadors are unable to survive in their natural habitat so they live at DAKTARI and help to educate the children. The students are actively involved in animal care during their time at DAKTARI where they see and interact
with these animals for the first time. This unique experience inspires them to protect their local wildlife and environment.

Community work
The impact of the Teaching Program is increased through the Eco Clubs and community projects. DAKTARI’s Outreach Program consists of three parts: Eco Clubs at the secondary schools, community development projects, and career guidance. The Eco Clubs are an extension of the teaching program at DAKTARI. The voluntary, activity-based clubs teach students more about the environment and wildlife. The students also plan and implement projects to improve their community, such as planting trees or cleaning the village. DAKTARI periodically welcomes local unemployed youth to the camp for career guidance. During the week, they learn the skills they need to find a job.

Volunteer Tasks

Monday through to Friday you will be teaching a group of eight children, ages 13-16, about the environment, the importance of protecting wildlife, and about social issues like safe sex and substance abuse. Your day starts at 7 am and lessons begin at 9 am. Classes are finished around 4.30pm when you will have group discussions with the children about social issues. You will play games with the children, join them in the pool, and dance around the bonfire to their favorite songs. You also work with the kids to feed and care for the animals at DAKTARI. These projects change according to needs of the animals and farm and you might not help with all of them while you are on the program.

Project Details

  • Arrival Day: Thursday Time: Your flight can land anytime on Thursday
  • Airport: O R Tambo (JNB) International Airport
  • Orientation: Thursday – Friday
  • Project Starts: Saturday
  • Departure Day: Saturday
  • Departure time: You MUST take a late evening flight out of JNB as shuttle will only arrive back to JNB in the late afternoon/evening (+-17h00 – 18h00)
  • Project is closed from 16 December 2017 till 16 January 2018
  • Min Duration: 2 weeks (incl 2-day Orientation)
  • Min Age: 17 (With Parental Consent)
  • Max Age: N/A – Medium Level of Fitness & in Good Health

Volunteer Requirements

  •  Completed Application form
  •  Basic level of competency in English
  •  Copy of return flight itinerary
  •  Travel Insurance

Winter in South Africa

Please note that May through to September are our winter months and it can get quite chilly with an average temperature ranging from -1 at night to 15 degrees Celsius during the day. So, please make sure to pack enough warm clothes if you plan your trip in that period.

What’s Included

  • Return Transfer from Johannesburg airport
  • Airport pick up
  • 2 Day Johannesburg Orientation
  • Accommodation
  • Three meals a day (on project)
  • Weekly transport to town for shopping
  • Transport to and from the project
  • 24 hour support and supervision
  • Donation to the project
  • Certificate of Appreciation

2 day Volunteer Johannesburg Orientation

Arrive in Joburg or Jozi, as it is known locally, and get shown around by people who know the city well. The Johannesburg Orientation is excellent for first-time visitors to find their feet the local way and meet other volunteers on your project.

• Arty districts of Newtown and Braamfontein
• Constitutional Hill
• Telkom Tower
• Nelson Mandela Bridge
• Jazz Walk of Fame
• Mary Fitzgerald Square
• Traditional South African meal

Day 1
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 our SAVE volunteer representative.
You will be given a briefing on your volunteer program and then meet other travelers and volunteers for a welcome dinner.

Day 2
After breakfast, you will be collected by one of our SAVE crew and shown your way around the sites of Johannesburg like a local. We will start off with 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 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 for the day.

Day 3
After breakfast, we will either take you directly to your projects site, shuttle terminal or airport.


Located in the middle of the bush, the camp is rustic and we do our very best to make sure everyone is kept clean, comfortable, and well fed. You will enjoy hot showers, running water, and solar-powered lights in your traditional chalets. You may be sharing your chalet with up to 3 other volunteers but everyone has their own bed and space to store clothes and personal items. The rooms are cleaned every day. Chalets are equipped with towels, bed linens, and a mosquito net. The accommodation is safe, the chalets have locks on the inside and all the windows have mosquito gauze in front of them. Our volunteers are often pleasantly surprised at the nice conditions when they arrive. Living and working at DAKTARI is very safe. Our camp is fenced in and the farm is in a protected area. You won’t need to worry about crime while staying with us and we take precautions to make sure that our staff and children are safe from the predatory animals around DAKTARI.

Laundry and ironing are done for everyone each day, with the exception of Sunday.

WIFI is available for R100 per week



Volunteers are served three meals a day by the experienced kitchen staff:
Breakfast consists of cereals, fruit, yogurts, toast and spreads
Lunch is a salad, (like potato, pasta or beetroot salads) along with either cold meat,
chicken strips, sandwiches, pizza etc. (something light)
Dinner consists of a hot cooked meal such as beef stew, rice/pasta/potatoes,
boerewors pot, chicken etc. + pap and sauce during the week

● Tea and coffee will be available
● All other drinks will be at own expense, though tap water is safe to drink
● A generous amount of food will always be given. If snacks are desired there are
several grocery stores nearby.
● There will be refrigeration available for volunteer’s personal food and soft drinks.
● All Dinners will include a meat, starch and vegetable.

  • Safari in Kruger National Park
  • Go to Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre
  • Do the Tshukudu Game Lodge Cheetah walk
  • Visit the Kinyonga Reptile Centre
  • Hot air ballooning over the Blyde River Canyon
  • Horseback Riding safaris
What do I do at the airport?
I have booked the Johannesburg Orientation package, how does that work?
How do I get to the project?
I want to make the most of my programme, what length of time is best?
How many people sleep in a room?
When is the best time of year to volunteer?
I want to make the most of my programme, what length of time is best?
Is there a danger of snakes and spiders?
When do we start working and for how long and for how many days a week?
What will I be doing?
Will there be a possibility to go shopping, (for food or groceries etc) while at the program, or are we just staying on the farm?
What animals are on the project?
Why are the animals on the farm?
What do I need when I’m on the project?
Will I have time off?

Example Itinerary


A.M : Farm Projects (plants, Roads, etc)

P.M : Animal life improvement project

A.M: Elephant morning tasks

P.M: Animal life improvement project and game drive

A.M: Enclosure cleaning

P.M: Off

A.M: Farm Projects (plants, Roads, etc)

P.M: Animal life improvement project

A.M: Hike to dam and Animal improvement project

P.M: Animal improvement project

A.M: Off

P.M: Off

A.M: Off

P.M: Off

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