Arrival date: Saturday
Orientation in Johannesburg: Saturday-Sunday
Transfer to project: Monday
Location: Limpopo province
Minimum duration: 2 weeks
The Big 5 Wildlife Course is a once in a lifetime opportunity for aspiring wildlife conservationists or nature enthusiasts. The program will demand much from participants, mentally and physically; however, the demands are well within the capabilities of most volunteers, and whilst being challenging, is both enjoyable and exciting. It is an opportunity to learn invaluable new skills, experience Africa’s unique environment and wildlife, be part of the difference that returns the environment to its natural, original state. It’s not only about what you take with you, but the lasting effects of what you leave behind… your footprints. Volunteers take part and run all research on various wildlife species in the reserve. We have numerous research projects running and all data is collected and compiled into a detailed monthly report.
This Big 5 Wildlife Course has been developed to offer participants the absolutely incomparable volunteer experience in practical knowledge and diverse hands – on encounters with the world famous “Big Five” animals of Africa – The Lion, African Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Leopard, and Rhinoceros, as well as a multitude of other wild animals found in Africa. As a volunteer, they will learn numerous facets of operating a wildlife game reserve, make memories that will last a lifetime and more importantly, will contribute to returning some of Africa’s lands back to their original state – an African savannah teaming with wildlife.
Volunteer tasks are focused on how to manage an African game reserve. Specific focus is placed on managing the wildlife, conservation, and reserve maintenance, the cheetah breeding research, elephant care and all research and projects. Volunteers will also engage in night time and dawn/dusk activities, research, monitoring and patrolling.
- Airport pick up & Drop off
- 2 Day Cape Town Orientation
- Transport to the project location from the Orientation venue
- Weekly transport to town for shopping
- 24 hour support and supervision
- Donation to the project
- Certificate of appreciation
The volunteer house accommodates a maximum of 12 volunteers in three large rooms which sleep four people in a shared space. These rooms share full 2 bathrooms and an extra outside shower (all hot water). The house has a cosy kitchen where breakfast is served in a help yourself style. Lunch is usually served outside in the communal braai area or packed to have in the reserve. There is also a cottage about 15m away from the main house that volunteers could also be placed at. This cottage has a small kitchen, one bedroom with 4 beds and a full bathroom with a shower. It also has its own little veranda under and old big tree. From the garden you can see sable antelope, giraffe, wildebeest and other antelope species and the sound of Zebra is carried by the wind.
There is a weekly laundry service available by the trusty cleaning lady.
There is Wifi on this project, however it is very limited – so no downloads or skype calls are permitted. You will have the opportunity to purchase a South African Sim card and load data on it while you are at your orientation in Cape Town, which will allow you to have access to the internet. To make a call in South Africa, make sure your cell phone plan allows you to do so, and dial 00 before the country code of the number you are calling.
Breakfast is a self service to cereals, yoghurt’s, toast and jam and cheese, rusks, tea and coffee Lunch is either at the house or a packed lunch to have in the reserve. We provide salads, (pasta salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, biltong salad), Wraps, sandwiches, burgers, worsrolls and such cool drink and water also provided. Dinner are at the house, either a cooked meal or a braai or potjie cooked meals vary from pasta dishes to baboti, spaghetti bolognaise, lasagne, veggies or salad and a vegetarian alternative is always available for vegetarians.
The Reserves are all located within close proximity to one another up the Garden Route, which is about 400 kilometres east of Cape Town, and 400 km west of Port Elizabeth. The closest towns are Mossel bay, Hartenbos and Albertinia. The house is on Goedemoed Game Reserve. It is opposite the Hartenbos Private Game Reserve. It is 14km from Hartenbos in the direction of Oudtshoorn on a dirt road. This is a Malaria free area and there are no strange diseases you could catch.
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 ensure all volunteers have a great stay.
Volunteers will be met at Cape Town International airport and taken to their orientation venue. On the project start day, you get transported to the bus stop to catch the bus to Mossel Bay, the project location. On your last day, you get dropped off at the bus station again and you take the bus back to Cape Town. From there, you should take a taxi back to the airport.
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 5 degrees Celsius 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.
Water is safe to drink. However, please be aware that there may be a shortage during dry season. Use water sparingly and have short showers or baths.
South African electrical power is 240 volts AC. Appliances from North America will burn out if they are not switched over or have a properly- rated power transformer (not just a plug converter) attached. Think twice about that hair dryer! South Africa is also prone to electricity cuts (load shedding) due to short supply. Please turn off lights and heaters when not in the room. The plug adapter needed for South Africa plugs is very difficult to find in your home country, we suggest you buy the adapter in South Africa.
- Learn invaluable life skills
- Engage in personal interaction with some of the most charismatic mammals in Africa
- Have up close experiences with the Big 5
- Get to know the unique wildlife in a safe, controlled & responsible manner
- Learn how to run a game farm
- Run research projects
- Hear the sounds of the lions during the night
- Completed application form
- Basic level of competency in English
- Good physical and mental health
- Love for animals, nature & the outdoors
Project start day. Town trip to pick up volunteers and restock supplies.
Early start on a set-route drive as part of our game counting program to determine populations of general game. In the afternoon we depart for a monitoring drive to locate one of our key species of interest; lion, elephant, leopard or hyena.
Waterhole monitoring in the morning to determine species utilisation of the area. We set off for a drive in the afternoon to the breeding boma to monitor the buffalo, Livingstone eland and nyala.
Habitat work; we could be busy with exotic plant removal, erosion control or bush clearing. In the afternoon or evening, we head out on hyena monitoring and night patrol.
Early morning start, we will be out locating the elephants as part of the ongoing research into the elephant contraception program. The afternoon we will set out to monitor bird species on our way to a sleep out under the stars with the Endangered Species project.
Habitat work in the morning, followed by an afternoon monitoring drive focusing on our lion population. On return in the evening, we may head out to the local pub or have a typical South African braai (BBQ)
Either an outing will be planned or it will be a free day for volunteers to relax or head out on their own tour.
In between activities, volunteers will receive a series of presentations on the work of the project, or how to approach dangerous game on foot, or possibly even a Zulu lesson. This time will also be used to transfer all data collected onto the computers and compile the weekly research report, as well as helping out with vehicle checks and cleaning.