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Big 5 Wildlife Reserve

Volunteering Program in South Africa

Join this animal adventure near Gqeberha and work alongside conservationists while living in a genuine Big 5 game reserve. Go beyond sightseeing – actively contribute to wildlife conservation and gain an unforgettable understanding of these majestic creatures.

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Project overview


Important information

  • Trip duration: 2 – 12 weeks
  • Minimum age requirement: 18
  • Arrival days: Mondays
  • Tour add-ons available: Yes

Price information

  • Starting from: 1435€ | 1235£$1529
  • Included: Accommodation, meals, and all volunteer-related activities.
  • Excluded: Airport transfers, flights, and insurance.

What you should know

Make a Real Difference: Volunteer at the Big 5 Wildlife Reserve

Join an extraordinary conservation project in South Africa and gain hands-on experience in wildlife research, conservation management, education, and community development.

Conservation volunteer:

  • Be part of a team protecting Big 5 animals (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo) on a malaria-free reserve.
  • Your work directly contributes to ongoing research and conservation efforts.
  • Learn from a dedicated coordinator and gain valuable skills in conservation.

Unforgettable Wildlife Experiences

  • Assist with elephant monitoring projects, including tracking movements and recording data.
  • Help monitor rare leopards using camera traps.
  • Record lion kills to understand their prey selection patterns.
  • Participate in rhino monitoring and contribute to anti-poaching efforts.
  • Contribute to a bird data collection project in collaboration with the University of Cape Town.

Become Involved in Conservation Management

  • Participate in game counts and record animal populations.
  • Help control invasive plant species and restore native habitats.
  • Assist with bush encroachment control and soil erosion prevention.
  • Participate in reserve clean-up operations and road maintenance.
  • Gain experience in indigenous plant nursery work and landscaping.
  • Potentially assist the rhino anti-poaching unit.
  • Be part of exciting opportunities like animal captures and game introductions (when needed).
  • Learn about fire management, a crucial aspect of savanna ecosystems.

Education and Community Outreach

  • Deepen your knowledge through classroom lectures and practical field training.
  • Participate in bush walks, game drives, night drives, and sleep-outs to learn about wildlife.
  • Explore the rich coastal ecology of the nearby Indian Ocean.
  • Give back to the local community by assisting at a rural farm school.
  • Teach basic subjects like English, Math, and Science to underprivileged children.
  • Help with school maintenance projects and make a lasting impact.

Experience Life on a Wildlife Reserve

  • Live in a fully furnished volunteer house with shared amenities.
  • Prepare meals with your team and enjoy evenings under the African sky.
  • Relax in the plunge pool after a rewarding day.
  • Explore the nearby beachside village on Saturdays.
  • Sundays are free for you to unwind and explore at your leisure.

Optional Weekend Activities (additional cost):

  • Horseback riding on the beach
  • Tandem skydiving
  • Deep sea fishing
  • Canoe trail on the Bushman’s River
  • Quad bike riding
  • Day trips to Addo Elephant National Park
  • Paintball
  • Weekend getaways with bungee jumping, canopy tours, and shark cage diving

Become a volunteer and make a real difference in wildlife conservation while having the adventure of a lifetime!

Volunteer housing is a comfortable, shared space.

  • You’ll be staying in a fully furnished farmhouse with five bedrooms and five bathrooms.
  • Most bedrooms sleep two people, with one room accommodating three.
  • Each bedroom has its own bathroom, but be prepared to share your sleeping quarters.
  • Bedding is provided, but you’ll need to bring your own rechargeable lantern for potential power outages.

Sharing is Key

This program is ideal for those comfortable sharing a room with another volunteer.

  • We can accommodate couples or friends traveling together in a private room upon request.
  • However, solo travelers should be prepared to share a room with another participant.

Embrace the Experience

Sharing your living space is a great way to connect with fellow volunteers from around the world and make lasting memories!

Food and Meals at the Volunteer House

The volunteer house provides all the ingredients for three basic, wholesome meals a day:

  • Breakfast: Cereals, porridge, and toast
  • Lunch: Sandwiches
  • Dinner: Spaghetti Bolognese, chicken stew, cottage pie, or pork sausages with vegetables and salad

Please note:

  • This program caters to volunteers with no special dietary requirements and vegetarians.
  • Volunteers with allergies (gluten, dairy, etc.) will need to bring their own alternative food items (gluten-free crackers/bread, almond milk). These can be easily purchased at local supermarkets during weekend trips to town.
  • Meals eaten at restaurants during town trips are at the volunteer’s own expense.

Cooking and Cleaning:

Volunteers are divided into cooking teams. Each team is responsible for preparing all meals for the house, washing up, and keeping the kitchen clean and tidy.

Airport Pickup and Transfer to the Reserve

Upon arrival at Port Elizabeth Airport, you will be collected directly from the arrivals terminal. To minimize waiting time, consider booking a flight arriving between 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM, as this is when most volunteers arrive.

Transfer cost:

  • You will be responsible for paying the taxi driver directly for your transfer from the airport to the reserve.
  • Weekday transfers (Monday-Friday):
    • R1000 (50€ | 45£ | $55)  per person for a one-way transfer (single occupant)
    • R500  (25€ | 20£ | $30per person for transfers with 2 or more people sharing the vehicle (the project will try to arrange shared rides to reduce your cost)
  • Weekend transfer costs:
    • Saturday departures: R1100 (55€ | 50£ | $60) per person
    • Sunday departures: R1200 (60€ | 55£ | $65) per person

How our booking process works:

Ready to start planning your adventure? We’re thrilled to have you on board as a travel partner! To get started with booking your trip, simply complete our free, no-obligation application form. You can exit the process at any point before signing our final agreement.

1. Complete application form and confirm booking details

  • You complete our free application form below.
  • One of our representatives will contact you within 24 hours and confirm the details of your desired booking
  • Once all details are confirmed, we process your application and provide provisional booking confirmation.

2. Provisional confirmation, invoice, and contract

  • Once your placement is provisionally confirmed, we send your invoice and contractual agreement.
  • A deposit payment is required and the completed contractual agreement needs to be sent back to us before we can confirm your booking.

3. Booking confirmation

  • Once we receive your booking deposit and completed contractual agremeent, we’ll provide an updated invoice (reflecting your deposit payment), confirmation letter confirming your trip details, and volunteering handbook.
  • We’ll also provide guidelines on how you should book your flights and, if required, any additional transport required during your stay.

4. Balance payment, flights, and insurance

  • The balance of your invoice is payable once month prior to your arrival.
  • You also send us a copy of your flight details and insurance before you start your trip.
  • You’ll also have access to Claim Victory’s support team WhatsApp number before you depart.

Need more information? Get in touch!

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Cheetah cub at the wildlife reserve in South Africa
Zebra playing at the wildlife reserve in South Africa
Lion cubs playing at the wildlife reserve in South Africa
Wild Eland in South Africa
Giraffe at the wildlife reserve in South Africa
Lion spotted during wildlife safari in South Africa
Oryx at the wildlife reserve in South Africa
Wild leopard at the wildlife reserve in South Africa

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