15 independent reviews for Endangered wildlife conservation in South Africa

Reviews for Endangered wildlife conservation in South Africa

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review 6 Dec 2016

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

I only spent 2 weeks on this project and so only visited one reserve. However just in those two weeks I have come away with so many memorable moments to narrow it down to one experience.

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

The project is totally focused on the animals and so the daily routine can be disrupted at a moments notice to safe guard the well being of the animals. This is not a safari be prepared to contribute during the daily monitoring sessions and around the camp, there are daily tasks that need doing to keep the camp running smoothly help out the monitors who work extremely hard. Go with a open mind & heart, be respectful & kind to your environment & colleagues and enjoy yourself.

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

Yes, Whilst I didn't experience it once a year they get children from the local schools in to engage with endangered species in a bid to educate them on the importance a Wildlife.

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

This was so much more than a holiday and I'd book again within a heartbeat.

review 8 Jul 2015

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

It is really hard to decide of many of the memorable and exciting experiences on this holiday which one stands out the most for me. Everyday it seemed that i saw something different in the bush, unexpectedly two male cheetahs appeared one morning, then there was the cheetah with her cub, there were rhinos and rhino babies, one interesting experience for me personally was a close encounter with an Assasin Bug(reduviidae, heteroptera), I was delighted to read in a blog from Kariega game reserve also in South Africa, that these bugs are rarely seen and are reported not to like being handled and that their bite is extremly painful, but this little one was quite placid when it walked onto my hand. Apart the ZRR reserve I also had the opportunity to go to St Lucia and go on a river boat tour to see hippos and crocodiles, also I went whale watching which was incredible. The hotel Bibs where I stayed in was excellent, clean room and wonderful food, really great value. Also there a lot of good shops there for buying gifts and basics. Back at the reserve the other animals that I saw apart from the beautiful and playful African Wild dogs, were lots of different types of ungulates(or Bambi's as I like to think of them), hippos, aardvark, vultures, lots of colourful birds, lions, elephants, rabbits! Also I was very, very impressed by the standards of the holiday provider team, from being picked up on the first day to tracking the wild dogs, all the staff are awesome! They all have amazing knowledge, are always very calm, professional, excellent drivers, passionate about what they are doing and I never once felt in any danger when we driving around in the dark or over rough terrain, or that they were taking any risks with the animals. The accommodation was very clean and there was a beautiful big area outside of the house where I could sit in the sun when we were having some time off. Also we all got a free t shirt! One activity I personally enjoyed was travelling on the truck with the torch spot light so we could see sides of the road and the road ahead in the dark, which was exactly where we saw an aardvark and they are rarely seen! Beautiful skies, South Africa is worth it just to see the sky at night! Finally I have to say that there were many good volunteers there, I also met volunteers from the other reserves at St Lucia and everyone seemed to get a long and be really good people to be around.

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

Just read all the information before going and if you get the chance to go to St Lucia it is worth going to. Also I arrived on the Sunday before starting the project and stayed at the Fish Eagle Inn which was lovely and I would definitely recommend arriving on the Sunday rather than the Monday. Also I think it would be nice if the projects had a wish list so that volunteers could bring items for the project that might not be easy for the project to buy or just to help reduce costs, e.g. printer paper or a mop bucket!

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

The holiday was definitely helping conservation. I think that the local people do benefit from this project, but I did think that volunteers could in future maybe be encouraged to shop from the local markets as that could be away of increasing the contact between the volunteers and the locals. Although I did have lunch and shop at the Ghost Mountain Inn and got to Wimpy and Spar. There was recycling in the volunteers accommodation.

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

I would say it was an excellent experience and when I was at the airport I spoke to other volunteers who had been on different reserves and everyone seemed to have enjoyed their time and felt it was worthwhile. I spoke to one couple who told me they had done a lot of safaris in Africa but would never go back to safaris but would prefer to return to the projects. Lots of people were still wearing their t.shirts I think that was a sign of how much people had enjoyed their time on the reserves.

review 23 Feb 2014

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

All the time we spent in the bush - at least 10h per day. To see the other side of the safari - i.e. not being in a traditional tourist vehicle.

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

The ultimate priority is the animals. You are not on a game drive and you will not be looked after as a traditional tourist. However, you get to see and experience things you would never even get close to during a traditional safari.

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

Thanks to the volunteers participating in these programs, organsiations such as this can continue their work - yes, we think we made a contribution in that sence. Us being on the truck might have have a very minor impact, but hopefully through what we learned we can give a continued support.

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

Excellent. There are two things we would like to add though: We believe one of the founders of this organisation lives on the reserve where we stayed. We find it a pity - to say the least - that he could not find the time to come and welcome the volunteers and introduce the company and the foundation. The monitors have as their first priority the animals, but if a bit of effort were made to welcome the newcomers by applying some basic hospitality upon arrival, life would be easier for all - monitors included. The monitors were very nice and generous with their knowledge, there is just a bit of structure missing - a manangement issue. A brief gathering, a drink and a briefing: safety, program, logisitcs.

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you so much for filling out a review of our project, Karin and Sydney! We would like to thank you once again for your contribution to endangered species conservation in Africa. We are so glad that you enjoyed the time with the team, and thank you for the kind offer of referring more people to us, via your website. We look forward to welcoming many more participants that will enable the conservation work to continue. Karin, with regards to your comment about the director not being able to meet you when you arrived, we do understand how much you would have appreciated some time with a director of the organisation. Whenever possible, he does make time to join the groups whenever the opportunity presents itself, since he sincerely misses spending time with the monitoring team. He himself used to perform all the monitoring work on that reserve, but now with added responsibilities and increased fieldwork, much of which is enabled through the funding and donations that come in through increasing participation by people such as yourselves, he is kept busy and is therefore less able to spend time with people, as the demands for the practical work increase. It is for this reason that each volunteer group is given into the care of a dedicated wildlife monitor, employed by the directors, to welcome, orientate and lead the volunteer group, and answer all questions, while performing the monitoring work. This enables the directors to focus on administrative and fundraising work, as well as sourcing and facilitating work being done in the field, like collaring or relocating animals. We thank you for your part in making that possible, and we thank you also for your understanding of the fine balance between keeping our participants happy, and maintaining our role as a conservation organisation within an ever-changing and demanding environment. Thank you once again, and we hope to see you back in Zululand, at some point! Until then, please keep in touch.

review 22 Oct 2013

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

Being part of an operation where black rhinos are bring relocated to another reserve to try and breed them! But also the sights, smells and feeling of the bush were all amazing and different each day.

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

Don't expect luxury! It's very basic but it's such great fun, there's everything you need for a great experience.

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

Definitely! Even though some of it is hard work (3am starts!) I really felt like I had helped in some way. The monitors are fantastic, I learnt so much.

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

Amazing!! Words cannot describe this adventure- over 1500 photos taken and a million memories.

review 10 Dec 2013

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

We were in a Private Game Reserve with no tourists so it was really peaceful and secluded. The scenery was wonderful and the animals were amazing to see. I was also lucky enough to share my experience with a great bunch of people which made the trip even more memorable

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

Plan for all weather. I went in the Summer of South Africa but it still rained!!

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

Yes - The majority of the work which we undertook was tracking/monitoring Wild Dogs& Cheetahs which are both endangered animals/

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

Brilliant experience - I wish I had stayed longer and seen some of the other reserves

Read the operator's response here:

Pankaj, it was a pleasure to have you on the team and your assistance and enthusiasm were an asset to the project. Thank you for your contribution to endangered species conservation in Africa, and we hope to see you again someday! We sincerely appreciate your support. Best wishes from all of us here in Zululand.

review 24 Jul 2013

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

Driving in to a pride of lions at seven o clock in the morning.

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

This is not a holiday..rather an experience.

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

Yes.

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

I didn't enjoy the attitude of some of the people I was in the group with...I felt very judged as a South African when really they didn't know me at all.

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you for your comments and feedback, Gillian! We hope that by now all your family issues etc have been resolved; our hearts really went out to you at that time that you were due to join us. As discussed, since you had to depart early from our project and only got to spend a few days with the team, please don't hesitate to let us know if you will be able to return to join us later in the year. We'd love to have you join us to complete your placement. As mentioned, we generally have a wide variety of ages at any given time, and to the best of our ability we do try to place similarly-aged participants together, as we find this best facilitates group cohesion. It is our sincere hope that your next placement would be with like-minded participants; something which unfortunately is largely beyond our control, although we do take all factors into consideration as provided by the applicants. We thank you for the time and contribution you were able to make to the important conservation work being done on our projects; we could not do it without people like you! Please keep in touch. Kindest regards from the whole team.

review 17 Jul 2012

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

The most exciting part of my holiday was we saw so many lions in the middle of the night, just a few metres away from us!!!!!

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

Bring enough warm clothes as well. Morning is cold as well. Have a good camera, enough memory sticks. Every moment is worth a shot.

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

Yes, we set example for others to treasure what a beautiful country and the animals and plants etc.

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

100%.

review 1 May 2012

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

Went to the Tembe Nature Reserve in South Africa as a volunteer assisting in monitoring wildlife for two weeks - with most of the money going to fund the work of the volunteering organisation. Three really memorable groups of experiences, firstly watching the wild pack of dogs close to the pick-up, much more beautiful than I expected close up. Particularly interesting as the researcher could describe their relationships with each other, their main social behavioural characteristics and hunting behaviour, etc. Secondly, watching the elephants enjoying their mud baths and just how sensuous they are, contrasted with on one occasion coming close to a full charge by a bull elephant in musth (highly aggressive state with testosterone levels up to 50 times normal). We reversed very rapidly with the testosterone fuelled bull coming after us, awesome but reassuring that we were with an expert in elephant behaviour and that he had anticipated the charge. Thirdly, socialising with the researchers in the evenings, a real privilege and enjoying the company of the other volunteers.

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

Just do it.

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

Yes, some of the fees were used to cover basic accommodation and food, with the bulk of the funds going to the volunteer organisation.They carry out research directly related to the conservation of the ecosystems and wildlife, assisting the managers of the reserves in carrying out research that they cannot undertake themselves.

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

A brilliant holiday, really invigorating, and very informative and worthwhile.

review 28 Dec 2011

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

I had been at Tembe for almost a week without a real sighting of the wild dogs, so the first time they emerged from the underbrush was a huge thrill, especially when they brought all five puppies out! My first encounter with an elephant walking out along the road was also amazing. You just don't get the same experience seeing such a majestic animal from behind a fence. Seeing elephants in the wild has also made me absolutely opposed to keeping them in zoos, when I hadn't really thought of that before. I was also astonished to see the puff adder (snake) lying curled up in the road that one night!

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

Everything went extremely smoothly. I was met at Richard's Bay airport and taken to Tembe and then brought back for my return flight. The little hut accommodations are very comfortable. Everyone was super nice and friendly! I was traveling alone so was a little nervous but I would completely recommend this trip to solo travelers.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, I think so. Tembe is right in the middle of local communities and I think having volunteers come out to support the reserve benefits everyone.

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

I had a wonderful time! I saw real wild animals up close and I got to see a part of South Africa that most tourists do not get to.

review 2 Dec 2011

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

Seeing a cheetah about 4 meters away looking very surprised when we disturbed his siesta whilst climbing a hill to check signals. Holding the head of a sedated wild African dog who had a new radio collar fitted. At night seeing and hearing a leopard outside the encampment calling for his mate.

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

Be prepared to get up very early. Be adaptable. Be prepared for basic amenities. Bring cookery skills a good sense of humor and lots of energy.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Absolutely. But most of all it benefited the wildlife and its habitat. Lots of volunteers are needed to patrol the reserves more regularly to prevent poaching and snaring. Donations would help to buy anti-snare collars.

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

Were I thirty years younger I would probably never have left! The teams show lots of commitment and it feels very worthwhile to have helped just a little.

review 24 Nov 2011

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

It is hard to say because there were a number of things that were memorable and stood out - seeing a procession of over 50 elephants on the first day, seeing a live cheetah kill from begining to end, going on a bushwalk and taking part in a lion callup. The nature of this type of activity means that experiencing anything is not guaranteed, you get to do and see what is possible or present at any one time. Over the two weeks I was on my holiday I was very lucky. The park I went to, Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park is very beautiful and rightly has an outstanding reputation worldwide as a game park. Cathy, the monitor responsible for us, was passionate about and focused on her work and had a lot of knowledge and experience in wildlife conservation. Having someone like that around all the time obviously helped a lot.

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

If you are genuinely interested in wildlife and conservation and want to experience conservation management at first hand, taking part on this program is definitely for you and could be one of the best experiences you will ever have in this regard. You will spend your time with knowledgeable and highly experienced people working in the area who will be happy to share their experiences with you and do and experience things you will never be able to do on a standard safari holiday. I really feel that two weeks is not enough (I was there for 2 weeks) and to get the full benefit you need to stay at least a month, possibly up to two or three. However, if you are just looking for a cheaper safari holiday, or something to just fill time during a gap year, this may not meet your expectations as you will also have to do work, take part in all the activities which often means getting up early and not expect too much luxury, though everything provided is more than adequate.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes, by the very nature of this program, the focus was on the welfare of the animals and preserving the nature of the park. I am also sure we contributed to the local community as we spent money in local shops and on occasion in restaurants (on our free days) and some of the costs of taking part in this program were passed on to the conservation cause.

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

Lots of very enjoyable and valuable experiences which I will always remember. Highly recommended for anyone genuinely interested in wildlife and conservation.The park I was at is very beautiful with a real sense of the wild and opportunities to experience a lot. I was very glad I took part in the program.

review 26 Jul 2011

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

Where do I start?! I replay the whole experience often, when I'm stuck on a bus or sat at my desk for 7 hours! Zululand is a truly remarkable place and each of the reserves has a completely unique landscape - from beautiful sand forests to large stretches of pure wilderness areas. One of my highlights was being caught in a crazy thunderstorm, when our vehicle broke down, and seeing a leopard slink right past us into the bush, its stunning pattern illuminated by flashes of lightening. I also really enjoyed observing the elephants at Tembe, learning about how they operate and interact was fascinating. I never got bored of coming across an ele - their sheer size and ancient-looking skin is so impressive. Staring into an elephant's eyes makes you feel like they carry the history of the world on their shoulders. And finally, on my last night, I was delighted that we came across a pride of feral lions who leisurely crossed the road infront of us then lay down in the grass. One of the lionesses padded over to our open-backed vehicle and yawned like a tabby cat then looked us straight in the eye, tilting her head in curiosity. The other lions came up and crept after the vehicle, in stalking mode, as we gently reversed. My skin tingled with the encounter, it was completely wild!

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

I would say that the longer you do this the more you will get out of it. If you can visit more than one reserve then do - they make for a fab contrast and you will have a more diverse experience. It is worth bearing in mind when you go that the wildlife is not delivered on a platter, like on some safaris. You cannot expect to tick animal viewings off a list in one sitting but if you immerse yourself in the projects and take an interest in all the flora and fauna you will start to understand the biodiversity and how everything needs to work in harmony together. Every volunteer's experience will be different as you get a real behind-the-scenes insight into conservation, where every day is different. Be prepared for early mornings and some spare time in the middle of the day - make sure you take some good books. Definitely dont forget to take some good binoculars and any nature guide books so you can make the most of what's around you.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

This project is run by a group of incredibly passionate and dedicated conservationists. You will learn a lot from your monitors about how the reserves work within the communities and the inter-relations of the species. The whole project is set up to preserve the finely-balanced environments and to monitor priority species. The team work tirelessly to minimize poaching, balance populations and prevent extinction so, yes, it certainly is a very worthwhile operation.

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

It was fantastic being so far away from my life back home. It was all so different but you very quickly learn to adapt to this back-to-nature way of life and, I have to say, when i returned home i missed all the fresh air and everything felt very sterile and clinical. I gained great insight into the world of wild animals...my relationship with domestic animals is so very different. You don't get to stroke and cuddle them but you develop a huge respect and awe for their way of life and an even greater respect for the people who work so hard to help them survive. It's certainly an experience i will never forget.

review 16 Mar 2011

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

It was a privilege to be involved in the wild dog rescue at Thanda Reserve when a poacher's snare was caught around her neck. Seeing the biggest tuskers when at Tembe was another highlight and identifying them was great fun. Of course, it's always great to see the lions and cheetahs, and the occasional leopard! The monitors were all good fun as well, and the whole team works for the benefit of the animals.

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

Go with the flow and expect the unexpected!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Yes. They are very conservation conscious.

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

It was an amazing experience and I met some fantastic people and animals!

review 2 Dec 2011

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

The day we went out to dart the escaped wild dogs.

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

This is not a holiday so don't expect too much luxury.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Locals no. Minimum impact on environment yes.

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

90% satisfactory.

Read the operator's response here:

It was great having you join our team Mary. Yes indeed our organizations' focus is on the conservation of Endangered African Wildlife, and not necessarily the local community. Our Non-Profit trust however focuses more on our local communities - work our volunteers are not able to contribute to at this point in time. Hope to see you again soon!

review 2 Oct 2010

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

The wildlife was awesome especially being so close to lions and elephants.

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

Don't expect to have to work too hard (if placed at Tembe) but be prepared for lots of early mornings, lots of time spent on the back of a pick-up (4x4) which isn't exactly comfortable. Make sure you want to see animals and want to learn lots about the birds and animals you see. If squeamish this might not be the trip for you as it is quite likely you'll see lots of dead animals and possible lions making a kill.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?

Not really - the trip is pretty self contained and there is very little interaction with the local community. Make the most of what you do and you'll see some of Africa which is most definitely not on the tourist trail!!

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

I'd rate it about 7.5 out of 10 because of the lack of work and not quite seeing how the trip was benefiting conservation. Still the animals are amazing and the people were great!

Read the operator's response here:

Many thanks for your comments. We work in conjunction with massive conservation organisations like WWF and KZN Wildlife. Without the volunteer involvement this work would not be possible, so feel we play a key role in conservation.

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