2 independent reviews for Volunteer with children & animals in South Africa

Reviews for Volunteer with children & animals in South Africa

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review 24 Apr 2014

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

Being able to go into the meercat enclosure and play with them. Getting to accompany the children to Makalali and guide them through the different areas of the game reserve to show them possible jobs they could have. Most terrifying- being chased by a porcupine (she was pretty tame, but I didn't know that at the time).

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

Go through the teaching materials so that you are comfortable with the material. There WILL be other volunteers to help teach the stuff, but the more you have to contribute, the better. Everyone has a point of view, and it's good for the children to see yours. Also, if you can find an English-Sepedi dictionary, that would come in VERY handy. Sometimes you get stuck and you realize that the kids have NO IDEA what you are talking about. If you sign up to lead a lesson, ask someone about the props that might be available. You don't have to re-invent the wheel.

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?

It was AMAZING! Getting close to the animals, getting close to the kids and helping the kids understand their heritage and how awesome it is to live in South Africa!

review 24 Sep 2011

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

My whole time at the reserve was so incredible with thrills everyday from hurtling along dirt tracks to see elephants, watching porcupines and honey badgers battle right next to camp to the first time you lead a class by yourself. So many unforgettable memories were forged there including sundowners on leopard rock and my two beautiful warthogs and all the games we played with the kids when they would really let go. One of the most memorable things for me though were the discussions we had with the kids on a thursday morning about the Lion King which we had watched the night before, It was wonderful to see how they could relate it to themselves and the amazing insights we got into their lives with talk of what the stars were, what happens when a delicate balance is disrupted and one person wants too much power (highly pertinent in South Africa) and whether you would rather live with the lions in pride rock or hakuna matata with Timone and Pumbaa.

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

Go for it!! You will not regret it! You will be situated in Hoedspruit which is a central point for a lot of trips and excursions (including Kruger National Park) and one thing that I would advise is to hold off booking too many trips before you go. You will have weekends free and Ian and Michele (who run the reserve) know so many tour guides and people to book through that it is much easier (and cheaper) to wait until you get there to plan small trips. I would also advise that you bring extra clothes that can be left behind and little gifts for the kids.

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

This is without a doubt one of the best organizations around in terms of benefit to the local community and for the local wildlife/environment. The whole programme is aimed at taking the local children from schools to give them some one on one attention, report to the schools on each child, help them to realise their potential and, primarily to teach them about the importance of their environment and the animals in it. They do village clean ups, visit orphanages, all sorts for community benefit. Many of these children when they come to the reserve will have never seen a lion, zebra pr even a warthog, never heard of a game reserve and don't understand the importance of protecting their environment. Their faces light up when they get to stroke a tortoise and feed the mongooses and when they leave they do so with a whole new sense of environmental awareness.

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

I had the most amazing time at the reserve, I can't describe how incredible it was for me. I learned so much, about the kids, life in South Africa, the animals and myself too. I met so many great people. It really was a life changing experience for me and opened up all sorts of new ideas for my future especially as far as the environmental education goes. It really did feel like we were all a family. I loved everything about my time at the reserve and the opportunity to experience all the different things from teaching, looking after the animals and all the fixing and building. It's easy to preach the values of conservation and biodiversity when we have been educated as such but, even if governments support it, it won't mean anything unless the real people who can make a difference, the local people who live there, understand its value. It is an absolute must for anybody who shares a passion for wildlife, children, the environment, teaching or all of the above!

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