South Africa wildlife volunteering holiday

“Two week wildlife volunteering, staying in shared accommodation, all meals provided and different tasks daily working with wonderful array of wildlife on a reserve near Port Elizabeth. ”


Volunteering on South Africa wildlife reserve | Elephant rehabilitation | Reserve maintenance | Tree planting | Giraffes | Lion monitoring | Swimming pools | Tennis courts | Port Elizabeth

Description of South Africa wildlife volunteering holiday

Enjoy a safari trip with a difference at this Big 5 reserve in South Africa, volunteering with wildlife conservation projects. Each day you will head out into the reserve to help conserve the animals and maintain the reserve, preserving native flora and fauna for generations to come.

The reserve is located an hour away from Port Elizabeth, which marks the end of the famous Garden Route. There is never a dull day on the reserve. Building fences, preventing erosion and planting trees has never been more appealing with a giraffe towering above you. This is a great way to enjoy safari by actually living it day by day!

There is also plenty of interaction with the animals, helping with the care and feeding at the rehabilitation area. Some of the highlights include tracking and monitoring animal behaviour, doing safaris at all times of day and even night, and meeting people from all around the world.

Daily routines vary according to the time of year and the movements of the wildlife, but you will always be getting stuck into a vast variety of tasks at the reserve.

Free time
The fun doesn't stop at the weekends either. You have the option of getting out of the reserve to explore the local area and sample a bit of city life in Port Elizabeth. Alternatively you are more than welcome to kick back and relax at the reserve, making the most of the swimming pools, tennis courts and excellent leisure facilities.

Accommodation and food
The accommodation is newly built and has a distinctly African feel about it, full of vibrant colours and comfortable seating areas. You will be sharing a room with other participants in the thoughtfully constructed dormitory-style rooms with large lounges and outdoor areas to relax.

Three delicious meals are provided each day at the reserve, so you don’t even need to worry about cooking. The food is varied, with an African/ Asian feel to it.

Day-by-day experiences

MondayArrival in Port Elizabeth and transportation to the reserve
Week daysHelping out around the reserve takes place on each day of the week. Days start around 7am and finish around 16.30, with plenty of time to enjoy the area and facilities
WeekendsAt the weekends you can either relax in the beautiful reserve or head out on one of our trips to explore the countryside around you
DepartureTransfer back to Port Elizabeth in time for a flight after midday on a Saturday or any time on a Sunday

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

01273 823 700 Calling from outside the UK?

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
US pricing:
The currency converter above works on todays exchange rate. We do take bookings in USD but the price is set at a rate confirmed months in advance and is typically above the current exchange rate. Please enquire for details.
Accessible overview:
There are challenges associated with volunteer travel, and these can make accessible travel difficult. However, we are very keen to chat with travellers with specific needs to see if we can make a trip possible.
We cater for both vegetarians and vegans.

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

The reserve places conservation at the top of its agenda. Through the help of the volunteers, the reserve is made a good place to be for the wildlife within it. Volunteers are taught to care for the animals, to treat them with respect and to make sure that they act appropriately around them at all times.

The project
Throughout their time on the Big 5 project, participants will be helping to conserve the beautiful environment in which they are in. This ranges from removing alien vegetation (which can be poisonous for the wildlife and destroy habitats) to planting seedlings and digging water holes for the animals. The reserve aims to plant 10,000 native tree species each year.

The reserve
We are aiming to become single-use plastic free on this project. Steps have already been made to replace plastic drinks bottle with glass bottles, providing drinking water from reuseable water drums and initiate a recycling programme for any unavoidable single use plastic.

The reserve is becoming very advanced on water harvesting and recycling, using more solar energy (the aim is to become fully reliant on solar energy) and composting kitchen waste.

Protecting the world
We are passionate about encouraging our travellers to be kind to the environment as they travel. Each participant receives advice about how to care for the environment whilst they are away. This includes water usage, how to avoid single use plastic, and electricity usage.

We insist that all participants bring their own water bottles when they travel with us, and clean free water is always available. We have even created a water bottle that can be purchased before departure and encourage people to use it at all stages of their journey including at the airport, on flights and whilst on their project. We are striving for all of our projects to be free of single use plastic.

The Impacts of this Trip

Meeting local needs
The reserve also plays an important role in protecting the local economy. The ‘big five’ wild animals are a key source of tourist income for South Africa and protection of these species is vital for some rural areas, who rely on responsible tourism to sustain them. Through volunteering at the reserve, you will be helping to meet an important local need. You will also contribute directly to the area’s economy, creating jobs for domestic staff at the reserve and by eating locally-sourced food provided by local cooks.You will not be taking jobs away from local people.

Helping local communities
Within the grounds of the reserve is a small community, with a school and several other facilities. Participants can buy souvenirs from their hand crafted goods. These local workers receive fair prices for their goods and are helped financially by the reserve.

Travelling with respect
Before joining the project you are briefed fully on the reserve, the customs there and how you can respect the locals here. Volunteers are encouraged to find out more about the history of the location so that they can travel aware.


5 Reviews of South Africa wildlife volunteering holiday

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 11 Apr 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Being able to see so many different animals during the multiple game drives: elephants, giraffes, lions, rhinos, hippos, zebras, buffalos. It was truly amazing!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

I would recommend travellers to take part to as many activities as possible to really enjoy the experience of being in a game reserve to the maximum!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes it did. Even though it is a small contribution (as stayed only 2 weeks and there is a lot to do in general to maintain a game reserve) it does make an impact, whether it is planting plants for animals or visiting a school from a local community all different activities are important etc...

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

It was a perfect holiday! It completely matched my expectations. Being outdoors, contemplating animals in the wild, doing manual activities, learning about the local life.

Reviewed on 24 Mar 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Of course being able to see some of South Africa's amazing animals which was the reason for the travel. However there were many aspects, from the independence of travelling alone, experiencing a completely different country and for sure meeting all the amazing people at the reserve.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

The experience will be gone before you know it, the more effort you put into the trip the more rewarding you feel when its time to go home. However you must put your health first, you know yourself that if your body is tired then you must rest. Also keep hydrated!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I did, however I would like to have come back home and been able to say I made more of an impact than what I actual do. We were reminded that progress cant always be seen after one day however over collective days and numbers of volunteers.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

5 I couldn't of had a better time. I truly had the time of my life, I felt at home, happy and really didn't want to go home. It seems crazy now to think its all over but this whole experience couldn't have been much better. Best decision of my life.

Reviewed on 19 Nov 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

There were plenty of opportunities to view and get close to the wildlife on the reserve.
The game rangers were very knowledgeable and I came away having learnt a huge amount.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Get stuck in! You get out more than what you put in.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, the volunteers go on weekly trips to a local school to provide a hot meal to the children, as well as playing games with them. Work on the reserve counters erosion and also provides for the removal of alien vegetation.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

A fabulous experience and I would be keen to return.

Reviewed on 18 Feb 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

For me it was meeting the elephants and having contact with them. They are such amazing animals and I could spend
all day long observing them, which I did even on some of my days off. Taking essential data may well help these
elephants and help us to have a better understanding of them. I like to think that I have contributed something, even
if only in a small way.
I cam home literally on a high, and stayed there for over a month after my return. I only have to look at my video clips,
which I am making into a movie, and the photos and I just smile from ear to ear. I loved it, best thing I have ever done
and can't wait to plan another trip to volunteer with more animals. It was truly a very happy time for me, it was
something I needed to do and I could not have done it at a better time.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Make sure you take a warm top and a coat, despite it being summer, it was rainy and cold at times ( mostly cold after
the sun went down ) You only need the bare minimum amount of clothing if you go for two weeks as they provide you
with 2 TShirts. You area somewhat cut off here,consider hiring a car, even though you can take taxis, and they are
very good, you need to share the rides, and you're not always going to be going out to the same places as other
volunteers and at the same time. I wasn't able to see as much of the garden route as I would have liked due to lack of
transport. I didn't take my licence. The Garden Route is worth a trip, I saw it en -route to and from the elephant park
and really wished I could have got out and explored so much more. The scenery was stunning. The people so friendly
and kind and polite. The guides clearly love the elephants and are so knowledgable, they can tell you anything you
want to know.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I really couldn't say. I did experience going to a local school and I felt the children appreciated us going and spending
time with them colouring,playing games etc. They appreciate the small things as they have so little. I know I really
enjoyed my time with them.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

I would rate the elephant experience a 5.
I think some staff could have been a little more considerate and communicative at the bunkhouse. It was a little "find out
for yourself " at times, or just miss out altogether. It borded rudeness on occasions, but only from one person.

Read the operator's response here:

We are delighted by this positive feedback and are so pleased that Kim had such a great experience. We address all constructive criticism keenly, and will be in touch with Kim directly to improve on anything that we can.

Reviewed on 14 Nov 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

It's difficult to say! All the fantastic people I met, playing with Meerkats, being so close to such amazing wildlife, the list goes on.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be prepared for some fairly demanding physical work. The more effort you put into it the more you will benefit from it yourself.
Have an open mind! It's likely that a lot of what you experience in South Africa will be something new to you so just embrace that fact. Be brave and try eating food you've never had before!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, all three.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

An amazing experience that I will never forget and am immensely grateful for!

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