You will not need much for this trip. All food and accommodation is included on the reserve.
Stay in volunteer on big five game reserve in the heart of South Africa near Port Elizabeth. Learn all about the wildlife as you volunteer, helping out with lots of different activities. Care for big cats like lions and leopards. Look after elephants and unusually we even have tigers at the sanctuary.
This is hands on conservation work, living in the heart of the reserve in five-star accommodation. No days the same, as you make friends and have an incredible Africa gap year.
Big 5 Wildlife Reserve & Community Volunteering South Africa: Trip Highlights
- Get a behind the scenes look at life on a South African Game Reserve
- Learn all about amazing African Wildlife while volunteering on an amazing game reserve
- Large groups! This is the most popular wildlife conservation project we run. So its super social with large gap year groups you are sure to make friends.
- Get up close to huge Elephants on game drives
- Be a conservation volunteer and help the land revert back to its natural state
- Everything is included so you don’t need loads of money on the project
Big 5 Wildlife Reserve & Community Volunteering South Africa Photos
Big 5 Wildlife Reserve & Community Volunteering South Africa: Full Details
You will be volunteering on a working game reserve. The nature of dealing with wild animals is that no two days are the same! So it’s a bit difficult to be specific about when things are going to happen. We have tried to give you a summary below but the best advice it to be flexible. You never know what exciting animal interactions you will get!
There are a large number of activities that you will be able to get involved in, the longer your stay at the programme the more you will be able to be involved in. Some of the main activities that you may be involved in during your time at the programme include:
We have a highly skilled and professional team looking after you, so don’t worry we have you covered. From our advanced game rangers, who will take you out in groups of 10 onto the reserve to fulfill your activities. Two camp managers, who can cater for your every need when you are not out on the reserves.
When you arrive you will be given a full introduction session, we will run you through dos and don’ts, the house rules and set the scene for what will happen over the next two weeks.
What you will be doing is quite varied, because it depends on the demands of the reserve at the time. But there is always plenty of activities waiting for you to get stuck into.
The Wildlife Conservation Project
For the next two weeks, you will be involved in the management of the game reserve. What that means is you will be working with full-time staff, under the supervision of qualified game rangers. What you will be doing depends on the short-term goals of the reserve at the time. It could be capturing game, checking fences or removing alien plant species. But no matter what you do, you can be sure this will have a beneficial effect and is laying the foundation for the wildlife to thrive on the reserve for future generations.
Expect to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty, some of the work can be quite hard, but ultimately very rewarding.
Work is generally divided into two categories:
Helping manage the land, and looking after the animals. Expect to do both during your time there. You could be feeding elephants, assisting with feeding big cats and doing wildlife surveys from converted land cruisers.
All accommodation and food is included so you do not need to worry about cooking or feeding yourself. During your downtime is plenty to do, and no doubt you will have a fair few stories to share over the campfire with your fellow volunteers.
What’s it like to volunteer on an African wildlife project?
Volunteers are essential for helping the ongoing running and maintenance of a wildlife reserve. It’s a great opportunity to learn loads about the animals, and Africa and do something constructive and fun with your year out. But you are probably wondering what it’s like to actually volunteer on one of these projects. To understand your role better, it’s necessary for us to go back and explain why Africa has wildlife reserves.
When Africa was colonised, the landscape was very different. Animals were free to roam where they pleased. The habitat consisted of the entire continent. The ecosystem was very different back then. As more and more settlers arrived to South Africa more and more of the natural land got converted to huge farms. The native animal’s habitat shrunk, and worse much of the wildlife was hunted for food, or because they were predators to the farmers’ livestock.
Slowly but surely fences went up, and the wilderness was transformed into farmland. About 30 years ago, some of the larger landowners who had massive farms decided to put things back to how things were. They wanted the land to become natural again, and haven for animals. This wildlife reserve fits that category. It’s 5000 hectors which obviously requires a lot of maintenance. Invasive plant species like prickly pears that were brought in by the farmers hundreds of years ago as a cheap and easy way to feed their livestock now represent a pest. In order for the land to remain true to its origins, lots of effort is required. This is important because the animals need natural habitat to thrive. So on the wildlife conservation project, you will be out helping preserve the wildlife reserve keeping it in its natural state. Then, of course, there’s the animal side. With huge game numbers, lots of things can happen. Your role is to assist the game rangers in looking after the animals, and helping them when necessary. This does not mean we interfere with the natural order of things. The animals at the top of the food chain will eat their prey and we will not stop them from doing that. But it’s important to look out for all of the animals welfare. During your time you will be taken out with game rangers, who will explain all about the ecosystem as you carry out your daily duties with the rest of your group.
Evenings and weekends off
Evenings and weekends are at your own leisure. There is plenty of entertainment in and around the camp. We have large volunteer groups, so there’s always something going on. When you want to chill there are facilities like games rooms and we have massive flatscreens for movie nights. Not that you will want to watch much television, at night make sure you pop outside and look up you will see 1 million African stars. Sometimes the best stories are shared around the campfire!
You will be staying in a dedicated 5 star volunteer camp. We have single sex dorm rooms, and shared common areas. The camp dispensed which is important because it’s located right inside the game reserve. It’s not unusual to hear the call of Africa’s wild as you sit around the campfire. Looking up and 1 million stars the location is really special.
Meals are taken at the camp, hearty traditional South African food is freshly prepared every day. Vegetarians are well catered for as well.
- Scheduled transfer from Port Elizabeth (Departs PE at Monday at 5pm
- Drop off on Saturday´s
- Orientation on arrival
- A branded Cap
- A branded T-shirt
- Luxury Dorm accommodation
- All meals while at the reserve
- Beverages with meals while on the reserve
- Daily activities
- Optional weekend excursions (transport and accommodation only)
- Use of the various facilities such as swimming pool, sporting facilities and entertainment room
- Day trips off reserve
- Travel insurance
- Optional extras on the road trip
- Lunch and dinner on the road trip
Frequently Asked Questions
Please do book well ahead as space is limited on the programme. Simply submit a booking form and you can hold your place with a deposit of £200. Full payment is not due until 12 weeks prior to departure.
We have capacity for up to 80 people. We do get full in peak season so it is a great programme if you are looking to meet lots of other gappers too!
You need to arrive in Port Elizabeth Airport before 3pm on the Monday. Then the transfer leaves the reserve at 9am on Saturday morning and it takes roughly two hrs to reach the airport. Please make sure you give yourself enough time to check-in for your flight.
All accommodation is in single-sex dorms. If you would like to share a private room there is a 100% surcharge per person.