BIG 5 (South Africa)
Volunteers have the opportunity to experience the "Big 5" in their free environment (no cages and no fences) on foot and on game drives. Many other interesting species may also be encountered. As they are all free roaming animals, no guarantees can be given that they will actually be encountered with certainty. The reserve forms part of the Greater Kruger National / Limpopo Transfrontier Park and animals, such as the "Big 5", can therefore move freely over the entire area. Camp is situated on the banks of the mighty Olifants River, major water source of the central Lowveld-area and as such, a 'hotspot' for game, small and large…including the "Big 5"!
The focus of this project is on all aspects of nature conservation in order to maintain the ecosystem and biodiversity. This project therefore offers a great opportunity to physically participate in conservation projects and to gain first-hand experience in the implementation thereof within a South African nature reserve.
Goal of the project
The mission is to allow people of all ages to experience the magic of nature and all its intricate facets, first hand. The central focus is the preservation and conservation of nature for the benefit of current, as well as future generations. To conserve the "Big 5" and their habitat means to conserve many more facets and aspects of the African Ecosystem.
Volunteer involvement is essential in preserving this ecosystem, and volunteers must be prepared to be actively involved in the day to day activities at this project, to contribute and conserve this wonderful eco-system.
This project needs volunteers to assist in general reserve management and maintenance tasks.
Volunteers are offered a combination of learning experiences and fun activities. Although daily activities may vary, volunteers can expect to take part in the following camp and bush work activities.
Camp work might include camp development and improvement, small building projects, cleaning of store rooms, general maintenance of equipment, and fence patrolling.
Bush work might include game monitoring, track identification and tracking, road and water reticulation maintenance, Vegetation Condition Assessments (VCA's), when necessary, removal of litter and unwanted plants along the river and elsewhere, maintaining the bush camp, bush clearing and erosion control.
Volunteers will gain a general knowledge of all aspects of nature i.e. animals, trees, geology, soils, climate and all other facets of the African bush, backed up by physical experience with these facets.
Fees and Dates:
- 1 Week
- 2 Week
- 3 Week
- 4 Week
- 5 Week
- 6 Week
- 7 Week
- 8 Week
- Extra Per Week
- Program Fee US$
The 'Big 5' Project starts Tuesday of every week.
room / food
Volunteers will reside in a camp, overlooking the Olifants River. It is a large, fully equipped self-catering house with 2 bedrooms, kitchen, and dining room / lounge, washing room, bathroom with bath and shower, and three toilets. The house has electricity and hot water.
One bedroom can accommodate 4 volunteers, the other bedroom 3 volunteers, and each room has cupboards, mirrors and electrical plugs. Volunteers may also be accommodated in the youth hostel at the project. The youth hostel is a large 6 room dormitory with deck beds in each room, and also has a kitchen, washing room, bath, showers and toilets. As of yet there are only mattresses and sheets on the beds. Volunteers will have to provide their own bedding. No linen is provided by the project.
3 meals a day are included in the program fees. Breakfast is on a self-help basis, while lunch and dinner are cooked and prepared by a qualified chef. Examples of Meals are:
Breakfast – toast, cereals, tea, coffee.
Lunch - spaghetti with pasta sauce, pastas, vegetables, salads.
Dinner - roast chicken, pastas, meat, barbeques, vegetables, salads.
Free time/what volunteer can do in free time
Besides bush and camp activities there will of course also be opportunity for fun activities such as game drives, bush walks, bush camps / sleep-outs under the stars, target shooting and African cuisine cooking.
Other activities could include horse riding, micro-light aircraft flights, the Kruger National Park, and the Blyde River Canyon.
All additional activities are subject to the availability of vehicles and guides to take volunteers to Hoedspruit, where further arrangements need to be made (such as the rental of vehicles) and please note that these are not included in the basic tariff. The costs for doing these optional activities will be on volunteers' own account. Also, please note that there may also be additional costs towards petrol in getting to / from these optional activities, and the cost will depend on how far you need to travel to get to this optional activity.
- Where do I need to fly?
- How can I get to the project?
- What vaccinations do I need?
- How can I communicate with family?
- How safe is the project?
- Will there be someone to guide/supervise us?
- Will there be other volunteers?
- Any other important information to consider?
Volunteers need to arrange their flights to / from Eastgate Airport in Hoedspruit.
Volunteers are picked up on arrival at Eastgate Airport by a representative from the project, and taken to the project in the project's vehicle.
Although most of South Africa is malaria free, the Kruger National Park isn't. It is advisable to take precautions for malaria before you leave home for this project.
Volunteers have easy access to internet and email facilities in town, particularly when going shopping every week. It is also a good idea to take your mobile phone with you, as a more "reliable" way of staying in contact with family and friends back home. If you do decide to take your phone with you, please ensure that you have activated international roaming on your phone. Cheap sim cards can be purchased on arrival in South Africa, and don't forget to buy airtime as well.
Very safe. Volunteers must however be aware of their personal belongings when in town, and should also adhere to the safety tips given at orientation once at the project. Volunteers are advised to not leave personal items (passport, air tickets, money etc.) lying around – it is better to take precautions than to lose an important item.
Volunteers will be overseen by the project staff on a daily basis, and a certain amount of time will be spent working independently. However, the staffs are always available to lend a helping hand, and to guide volunteers where necessary.
There will generally always be other volunteers at camp with you. This number may vary from 2 – 14 volunteers.
Some of the activities can be physically strenuous. Volunteers are surrounded by a completely foreign culture and for that reason, patience, adaptability, independence, and travel experience are vital. Love for nature and animals is essential. Please be aware that the animals on the reserve are wild and that they are all potentially dangerous. Sightings of animals cannot be guaranteed. As you are enrolling voluntarily to this project, you undertake to participate in all activities that are part of the project.
Please note that this particular project will only collect / drop off volunteers from the airport on a Tuesday. They generally will not accommodate volunteers arriving any other day of the week.
Various tours can be arranged for after your volunteer experience, and could include a 7 day Chobe National Park and Victoria Falls, 7 day Okavango Delta, 5 day Chobe National Park and Victoria Falls, 10 Day Okavango Delta and Chobe and Victoria Falls, and others.