Big Five and Community Experience
Big Five Conservation on the Eastern Cape of South Africa
Help to protect the Big Five, including lions, elephants, Cape buffalo, leopards, rhinos and many other wild animals, at this private game reserve along the world famous Garden Route of South Africa.
This Big Five Game reserve also runs an education and rehabilitation centre which is home to endangered and orphaned predators such as Bengal tigers, cheetahs and white lions. Protecting such a variety of wildlife in the great South African outdoors is no easy task, so volunteers can contribute in order to keep these wild animals and their habitat happy and healthy.
Volunteering at the Big Five Game Reserve
As a volunteer at the Big Five game reserve project, you’ll work in a team of other volunteers to get a variety of tasks done across the reserve. These activities vary depending on the weather and time of year, but include everything from lion tracking, game counts and game capture, to planting trees, maintaining vegetation and patrolling the reserve’s fences. You’ll also help out on game drives and wilderness walks, not to mention the help that’s needed caring for the animals in the education and rehabilitation centre. If that’s not enough already, there’s also a touch farm and horses to take care of too. Volunteer teams rotate to different areas of the reserve, meaning you’ll have a chance to lend a hand at all the different types of activities during your time volunteering here.
- Getting up close to the majestic Elephant
- Helping conserve the Big 5
- Getting involved in the community.
- Enjoying free time on weekends along the Garden Route
- Discover wild and Beautiful South Africa
About the Wildlife Project
This private nature reserve spans over 6000 hectares with the emphasis placed on wildlife conservation. You will be able to get involved in every aspect of the management of the reserve and get involved with a community outreach programme on the reserve. Each day at the Big Five game reserve project will bring new challenges and experiences. Days start early, with volunteering activities beginning at approximately 7:30 and finishing at 16:30 every week day, with a couple of breaks during the day. You’ll pitch in with whatever your team leader tells you needs doing that day, which could be anything from going out with a team to track some game, to interacting with the animals in the rehabilitation centre. All meals are provided and you’ll eat alongside your fellow volunteers, while your accommodation is in same sex dorms.
Working as a Wildlife Volunteer
Your busy weeks are filled with everything that’s involved in keeping a game reserve running, leaving some time for rest and relaxation on Saturdays and Sundays. A schedule of weekend excursions are organised to local towns, with transport and accommodation to these places covered in your volunteering price. If you prefer, you can also stay behind at the game reserve to relax.
- Project duration: Min 2 weeks – max 12 weeks
Location of project: Limpopo Province, South Africa
- Arrival airport: Johannesburg (airport code JNB) arrive by 10 am at the latest as the pickup is at 11am. Start date every Tuesday.
- Activities: Tracking and monitoring animals, recording and inserting data, general reserve management activities (such as alien plant removal, road maintenance etc), duties when back at base on a rotary basis.
- Working hours: From Monday to Saturday, Sunday day off. Possibility of doing excursions (extra) during the week.
Requirements: Minimum age 18.
Accommodation: Shared dormitory room in volunteer house on the park section; a couples room with ensuite bathroom is also available on request if available.
Food: Self-catering – food is provided. Volunteers will cook following a menu and do the washing up on a rotary basis with the other volunteers.
- Airport pickup: Included on arrival date – ask us for details if you’re arriving early. Project runs Tuesday to Tuesday. Arriving early will cost extra for pickup and accommodation.
Transfer to the project: R1500 each way payable directly to the project.
- You need to organise: Flights, insurance, visas. The return airport transfer from the project can be organized by the project itself on the Tuesday at the price mentioned above.
- The program fee is paid directly to the host organization.
- All of the projects incur a registration fee of U$ 149.00 on top of the program fee.
What is included in the volunteer program fee?
We’re always available to offer support and guidance before, during and after your trip.
Thorough project briefing materials
Once you’ve booked you’ll receive a full pack of all the information you need for the project. It contains general information about volunteering, your specific project and South Africa as well as advice on safety, visas and inoculations.
Don’t worry about arriving in a new country on your own. We’ll be there to welcome you and take you to your accommodation.
Soon after you arrive you’ll attend a thorough orientation with our team. It covers everything you need to know about your next few days, dos and don’ts and your safety.
Accommodation and meals
Accommodation is included with all projects and meals are included with some. We only use locally-owned and operated accommodation so that part of your placement fee is filtering back into the local economy. Most projects offer homestay, guesthouse or shared volunteer houses as standard accommodation, but some offer the chance to upgrade to a more comfortable living standard.
24/7 emergency support
We’re always on hand in case of an emergency.
- Airport pick-up: From Port Elizabeth (PLZ). Transfer departure times depend on the flight arrival times of other volunteers on the same day.
- Volunteer accommodation: On-site in same sex dorms.
- Meals: All meals from Monday to Friday included.
- Training: In-country orientation on arrival and support from on-site team leaders.
- Project donation
- Support: Pre-departure information, local in-country support
- 24 hour emergency support
- Return transfer: To Port Elizabeth (PLZ)
- Travel insurance
- Immunisation (information on the website of the Department of Foreign
- Affairs or the Institute for Tropical Diseases)
- Visas (can be acquired at the airport on arrival)
- Any additional activities
You will stay in a volunteer lodge, with shared same sex dorm rooms and ablutions. The lodge is fully furnished with a fantastic entertainment area – cable TV, table tennis, table football, pool table etc.
All meals are prepared for you, vegetarians can be catered for. Please note the reserve is an alcohol free environment
Facilities, the area and what to pack:
Laundry facilities are included
Internet is available at the project at no cost
Winters here (May to August) beautiful sunny days around 15 degrees during the day- Evenings can be chilly so please bring warm clothes.
Summer (September to March) is very hot and sunny around 30 degrees. Please bring a hat and sunscreen – but also a jumper or two for cooler evenings.
This is not a malaria area but we recommend packing insect repellent to keep away bugs in
the daytime and mosquitoes at night for the summer months.
Working with animals you’ll need clothes and shoes that are strong, durable and can get
dirty. Neutral colours such as safari khaki and beige are preferable for working with animals and also don’t show the dirt as much.
Don’t forget your camera, music and some books to read while relaxing in the evenings.
Most importantly, pack in energy, a positive attitude, love in your heart and a spring in your step! We look forward to meeting you.
- You must be over 18 years old. There is no maximum age limit.
- You must be in a state of good physical and mental health.
All participants in our volunteer in South Africa programs must have adequate travel insurance and are required to provide a criminal background check to local staff on arrival in South Africa or during orientation,
Treat animals and humans with respect.
Most importantly, pack in energy, a positive attitude, love in your heart and a spring in your step!
Wildlife Volunteering Experiences
South Africa Volunteer Programs
Find an overview of all the animal welfare projects in South Africa here. If you enjoy caring for animals, check out the project for rehabilitating wounded or orphaned wildlife in Port Elizabeth. For example, you can also visit South Africa for a project on protecting Vervet monkeys. In Cape Town, you can also do a marine biology internship at the aquarium. There is another project in Kleinbaai to protect the Great White Shark in marine conservation.
Veterinary students can go for the veterinary science internship, with wildlife of the African Bush.
Volunteering with animal conservation
You may also have a look at the Animal Conservation page, with all the volunteer programs with animals.