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Big 5 African Wildlife & Conservation

4.7(151 reviews)
Experience
Volunteer
Destination
South Africa
Duration
2 to 12 weeks
Ages
18 to 85

88 others looking at this too. Next opening is Aug 2024, with limited spots.

Book now, pay later. Cancel anytime.

Trip overview

How does living amongst wild animals – in their territory – while contributing to an important conservation project in the wild open spaces of South Africa sound to you? 

Break out of your day-to-day routine and embark on an adventure that will make the world a better place and help you grow as a person. 

On this all-inclusive volunteer trip, not only do you get to live and work in a 6000-hectare private game reserve in the heart of South Africa. When you go with Global, you get:

  • Volunteer project placement – Guarantee your spot at our screened and vetted project partner in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Start your volunteer journey without spending months searching for a reputable organisation on the other side of the world. 
  • Comfortable accommodation – Relax in your shared, single-sex dorm in a safe, modern site on the reserve. Don’t let the roaring lions keep you up at night – you’ll want to be up early to experience one of Africa’s legendary sunrises and the ‘dawn chorus’ that comes with it. 
  • Three meals a day – Prepared on site by the staff 3 times a day. Enjoy a mix of Western-style favourites and South African delicacies. 
  • Weekend excursions – It’s not every day you’re in South Africa! Embark on unforgettable weekend adventures alongside other volunteers coming from all over the world.
  • + way more!

Can you picture it? With the help of experienced trackers and wildlife guides keeping you safe – you’ll track herds of wild animals as they roam the African bush. You’re ticking the famous ‘Big 5’ off your list as you spend your days in the pristine wilderness of the Eastern Cape. 

But it’s the smaller critters that have stolen your heart. The mischievous monkeys prowling for unattended food, the mighty dung beetle rolling its cache down a dusty road, or the kaleidoscope of birdlife as your constant companion.  

For most people, an experience like this costs an arm and a leg. Especially if you’re actually staying in accommodation in the reserve like you’ll be doing on this trip. 

Although most people don’t get the chance to experience something like this. Tracking wild African animals in wild spaces – with experienced bush guides spotting elusive animals and keeping you safe – is a truly once in a lifetime experience. 

And when you book with Global, you book with the best. You get the full experience for a fraction of the hassle. Your volunteer placement and accommodation is sorted before you leave, so you know exactly what you’re getting into.

Inclusions

Tap to expand

Volunteer project placement
Dedicated Trip Coordinator
Pre-Departure Guide
Trip visa guidance
Personal Travel Concierge
Return airport transfer
Comfortable accommodation
Project supplies
Meals
Local cultural experiences
Global Emergency Line
Certificate of completion
Ongoing local team support
gWorld access
Global AcademyNEW
Marketplace dealsNEW
$250 off your next trip

Qualification

To qualify for this trip you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be between 18-85 years of age
  • Be a citizen of an eligible country
  • Have no criminal convictions in the past 5 years

Ask a question

Chat with us online now, or we can call you back for free, 24 hours Mon-Fri.

Meet your very first travel buddy, gWorld

Purpose & impact

Africa is often seen as one of the last sentinels of truly wild spaces on Earth. But these wild spaces and wild animals are under threat from human exploitation. 

In fact, the majority of wild rhinos in South Africa have had their horns removed – legally and without harming the animal – by professional animal welfare organisations. 

Why is removing their horns considered essential for their survival? 

Because their horns are a target for poachers. These poachers are NOT humane and leave the animal to bleed out once they’ve stolen the horn. Threatening the existence of rhinos in the process. 

On this trip you won’t be chasing down any poachers (this is reserved for highly organised anti-poaching units with military-grade weapons and training). But you will spend your time observing and recording herds of wild animals (rhinos included) to monitor their numbers. 

This is a vital step in understanding how effective conservation efforts are. What’s working, what’s not, and how to improve. 

The goal is for the next generation of these incredible animals to live safely.

And here's how you'll do it:

  • Lion tracking and monitoring
  • Wilderness trail walks and patrols
  • Fence patrol
  • Game counts
  • Game drives
  • Game captures
  • Building & maintaining wildlife structures
  • Tree planting and landscaping
  • Fauna and flora work in the nursery
  • Removal of alien vegetation in and around the reserve

A lot for you to experience, and a lot for you to make a considerable impact during your time on this unique project. Besides, you get to follow herds of wild animals around in their territory. How’s that for a perk of the job?

Requirements 

To qualify for this trip, you must be able to undertake laborious duties.

What extra costs will I have? 

Flights, travel insurance, visa, vaccinations, criminal background check, souvenirs & spending money.

Accommodation & meals

You will be staying in a shared, single-sex dorm at a beautiful and authentic accommodation on the reserve (check out the gallery photos at the top of the page for a sneak peak!). You’ll have access to a swimming pool, library, tennis court, and outdoor firepit to unwind on your days off or after hours. If you’re after a bit more pampering, treat yourself to an accommodation upgrade for the luxury experience. 

Staying on the reserve means you’re fully immersed in your location – and the territory of wild animals. 

But don’t worry, your lodging is fully fenced, gated and protected at all times. And the experienced guides will keep you safe while you’re out and about. 

With your accommodation on the reserve sorted and your volunteer placement in South Africa organised, what will you do about food? 

You’ll be given three meals a day prepared fresh by the on-site staff. Enjoy a mix of Western-style favourites and South African delicacies.

The food at most game reserves across South Africa is excellent. Fresh, local, and seasonal. So you won’t be going hungry on this trip!

Trip itinerary

Before you leave

Your volunteer placement – including accommodation and 3 meals a day – is confirmed and organised before you leave home. We’ve partnered with a screened and trusted project host at a private game reserve in South Africa. We’ve completed many successful trips with this partner so you’re in good hands.

Arrival

When you arrive at Port Elizabeth Airport, a driver will be waiting for you. You may be taken to a temporary lodge while you wait for more Global Travellers to arrive. Once everyone’s ready, you’ll be driven directly to your shared, single-sex camp dorm in the reserve.

First week

You’ll waste no time getting stuck in! Your first week will be spent doing volunteer duties around the reserve. These may include: Lion tracking and monitoring Wilderness trail walks and patrols Fence patrol Game counts Game drives Game captures Building & maintaining wildlife structures Tree planting and landscaping Fauna and flora work in the nursery Removal of alien vegetation in and around the reserve No two days in a game reserve are the same. So while there are certain tasks that need to happen everyday, life in the bush is unpredictable.  You never know when an elephant will push a tree onto the fence of your camp enclosure. Something that needs to be dealt with immediately!

Ongoing

Most days will be spent out in the African bush, learning while contributing to conservation efforts in this incredible area.  Your weekends are free, giving you plenty of time to explore the area on your own terms. Take us up on one of the included activities and excursions. Which may include:  Weekend trip to Port Elizabeth, Grahamstown, or a variety of nearby destinations. Accommodation and transport included! Head to the coast to sample some of the world-class South African surf or dive with the beasts of the deep.  Grahamstown boasts an array of historical sites and amazing hiking trails. Or venture further afield after your placement to experience Cape Town – the cosmopolitan centre of African city life – or a diverse range of locations across the country.  If you choose to go home after your placement, your host will drive you to the airport to make sure you get home easily and safely.  Head north to the subtropical forests of Kwa-Zulu Natal, discover ancient rock art along the Drakensberg mountain range, get lost in the galaxy while you star-gaze from the deserts of the Karoo, or experience city life with an African flavour in Cape Town.  Whatever you choose to do, we can help make it safe, easy & fun.

Why choose us

When you travel with the best we take care of pretty much everything so you don’t have to. You’ll arrive to South Africa totally prepared with a plan of action and trusted people helping you along the way. 

Our volunteer trips are designed to help you make a real change in critical causes around the world. All while experiencing off-the-beaten-path locations with passionate locals.

Our goal is to save you time, money, and stress while eliminating the risk of returning home early. Here’s how we do it: 

We’re on your side from the moment you get started. 

You’ll be assigned a dedicated Trip Coordinator. They’ll guide you through the next steps and answer all your questions.

They’ll also help you with the pesky visa. No guesswork – only the right paperwork, approved the first time, in your hands before you leave. 

Your Personal Travel Concierge will help with flights, insurance, and any add-ons you’d like for your trip. These are real humans too – no robots here. 

We maintain relationships with a huge network of screened and vetted partner organisations all over the world. We know they’re trustworthy and that you’re in good hands because of all the successful trips Global Travellers keep having with our partners. 

Our team is well travelled so you can rely on our experience. We’re with you every step of the way. 

Join 75,000+ travellers – giving us 10,000+ 4 & 5 star reviews – by choosing Global to make your travel dreams come true. 

Most travellers book their trip 6-12 months in advance. Dates are flexible, but spaces are limited. So if you’re serious about volunteering in Namibia, don’t delay. 

With our Book Now, Decide Later feature, you can get started with a small deposit today, and take a full year to choose your dates. 

We’ll take over from there, helping you with visas, flights, accommodation, and setting you up with our partner in Namibia. 

This is the trip for you if you’re after the ultimate volunteering experience in Namibia, complete with everything you need and 24/7 support.

Click the red button to check dates & prices.

Reviews

Sue E
I had the BEST experience today. Monique & Dan were friendly & proffessional all through the booking process. They were informative & answered all of my questions beautifully. They were very patient with me when I kept asking about every single detail of the trip. They were upbeat, confident & kind. It was as if I was talking to my best friend. They were lovely & im really looking forward to many more conversations with the team & planning loads more trips with this FABULOUSE company!!😊 I cant wait to get to South Africa😊
Bianca M
The customer service is great. Friendly, helpful and enthusiastic staff. Explained everything clearly and made sure I was comfortable with each part of the process. Really looking forward to my trip.
Ruth E
I'm looking forward to my trip end of this year and I just want to say that my Travel Concierge Ashley has been so AMAZING. She was super helpful and understanding and patient me with through the whole planning flights process.
Olivia Y
Friendly amenable and excited! Great staff and coordinator to help you get you on your way to your adventure.
Belle W
It was good, straight forward and easy to understand everything

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Frequently asked questions

Why are you the best company to choose?

As the world’s leading gap-year and "work & travel" company, we pride ourselves on providing a premium service for Global Travellers. Choose from a variety of awesome experiences worldwide, and let us assist you with visas, pre-departure preparations, flights, insurance, and tours. Throughout your journey, our cool tech features will support you every step of the way. As a Global Traveller, gain access to gWorld, our personalised app designed to enhance your travel experience. Keep important documents and trip details handy, and take advantage of exclusive Marketplace deals, a vibrant social network, language learning resources, side trips, meet-ups, and more. It's like having all your favorite travel apps merged into one, but even better! But our support doesn't end there. With four international offices, over 100 dedicated staff members, a 24/5 emergency team, and the backing of over 90,000 Global Travellers who have turned their travel dreams into reality with us, rest assured you're in good hands. We also proudly boast the most and best reviews in the biz, and maintain a massive following on our social channels including Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. Embark on your next adventure with confidence and ease. Join us and discover the world in a meaningful way!

Are flights & insurance included?

While we would love to include flights and insurance in our trip packages, it is not feasible to have a fixed price due to the diverse destinations, trip durations, and individual coverage needs of our travellers from around the globe. However, once you register for the trip, we will assign you a dedicated Travel Concierge. They will work closely with you to arrange the ideal flights and insurance tailored to your specific adventure. Rest assured, our team is here to ensure you have a smooth and hassle-free travel experience from start to finish!

Why do I have to pay to volunteer?

The trip fee covers all the essential trip inclusions that ensure you have a meaningful and safe volunteering experience. It includes comprehensive pre-departure support to assist you throughout your journey. Once you arrive at your destination, the fee covers transportation, accommodation, and in most cases meals and some amazing excursions you'll do alongside other international volunteers. This comprehensive support is essential to provide you with a positive and secure volunteering experience, which is of utmost importance to us. Your trip fee allows us to ensure your well-being while making a meaningful impact, and it contributes to the sustainability and effectiveness of the volunteer projects we support.

Will I receive guidance and support before starting the volunteering trip?

Absolutely! Before starting your volunteer placement, you will receive comprehensive pre-departure support, which includes project-specific information, cultural orientation, and advice on preparing for your journey. Additionally, most trips include on-site training and an orientation to ensure you are well-prepared and confident in your volunteer role.

How do I choose the right volunteer trip for me?

With so many incredible options, we understand that selecting the perfect volunteer trip can be tricky. That's why we recommend booking your favourite one, and your dedicated Trip Coordinator will guide you through the project details. They will consider your interests, skills, desired location, and the impact you want to make. If we find another trip that better suits your preferences, we can easily swap you over to ensure you have the ideal volunteer experience. Rest assured, we're here to help you find the right fit!

How long should I volunteer for?

We offer flexibility in our volunteer trips, allowing you to choose the duration that best suits your schedule and desired experience. While most volunteers join us for 3 or 4 weeks, our trips accommodate durations as short as two weeks or as long as 12 weeks, and even extended stays. The choice is yours!

What ages are most volunteers?

The ages of our volunteers can vary depending on the project, but we have a wide age range. Our volunteers typically range from 18 years old to 85 years old! Our Trip Coordinators ensure that all volunteers are vetted before embarking on their journey. While age may differ, what unites our volunteers is their shared passion for travel and their dedication to making a positive impact in the community or wildlife conservation efforts they are involved in. Regardless of age, anyone with a passion to contribute and explore is welcome to join our volunteer trips.

Is it safe to volunteer overseas?

Safety is our utmost priority, and it drives our thorough trip planning process and comprehensive inclusions. With a successful track record of safely sending tens of thousands of travellers overseas since 2008, we prioritise your well-being throughout the journey. Before you depart, we provide full support, ensuring a smooth and secure experience. Upon arrival, we take care of every detail, including secure airport transfers, comfortable accommodations, usually meals, and dedicated project supervision. Additionally, our 24/5 emergency line ensures immediate assistance whenever needed, providing peace of mind throughout your entire volunteer experience.

Why should I book now?

After the last unexpected disruption to travel caused by the..c word..people are now more eager than ever to venture out and explore the world, determined not to miss out on any experiences. Global Work & Travel works on a first-in-best-dressed basis. Booking earlier ensures that you don’t miss out on the best intake, season, placements and more! We recommend our travellers take 6-12+ months to plan their trip for a reason - to make sure you’ve got everything organised perfectly, stress-free. As a Global Traveller you’ll get exclusive access to gWorld, our personalised app where you can keep all of your important documents and trip details in one spot and gain insider access to everything Global. This is where you will find exclusive Marketplace Deals, a unique social network to connect you with other like-minded Global Travellers, access to our Academy with an ever-growing range of skills & languages, and so much more. Think all of your favourite apps merged into one, but like, better? Why not give yourself something to look forward to by booking that trip!

Can I travel with a friend or partner?

Yes you can! Simply tell your Trip Coordinator after booking that your friend is also going and they can link your profiles. For most of our trips we should be able to have you and your friends placed together or nearby. Meaning that you can live, work, play & travel together! But wait there's more! Not only can you travel the world with your besties at your side, you can also earn some extra cash towards your own trip just by referring your friends to Global Work & Travel. You can learn more about the great referral rewards program inside your gWorld account once you join. And for those who decide to go-it-solo, we’ve made it easier to meet other Global Travellers in the same region as you. Just like any other social platform, you’ll be able to interact, share, chat and meet with some really cool people who are doing trips just like you!

Can I bring my pet along?

At Global Work & Travel, we share a deep love for animals and fully understand the special bond you have with your pet. We recognise the challenges of embarking on a trip without them. Due to travel restrictions, requirements, and limited pet-friendly accommodations among our host organisations, we regretfully cannot facilitate their inclusion in the journey. However, many of our customers choose to entrust their pets to a family member or friend, embark on their adventure, and return home to wagging tails and furry cuddles.

What happens if I need to cancel my trip?

We know that life can get in the way of travel, so all our trips come with a great deal of flexibility. In most cases, if you cannot travel on your selected date, you can place your trip on hold to deal with whatever is holding you back, and continue in the future without incurring any penalty. You may also have the option of transferring to an entirely different trip and destination as well, or even transferring your trip to a friend or family member. In the event that you need to outright cancel your trip, if you give us 84* days notice you can do so with only a 50% cancellation fee. Your refund of the balance will come in the form of a Store Credit which you can put toward any other trip that we offer, including tours through third-party providers, as well as holidays through DealsAway.com, and is valid for 2 years from date of issue. As international travel can be complex, your options are based on the progress of your trip organisation and our support team can assist you in finding the best solution for your needs.

How it works

1. Choose a trip style

Find your dream experience & destination, then secure your spot with a flexible & low deposit. Activate your gWorld to unlock some cool perks. Well done! The hardest part’s over!

2. We become friends

Book a time to meet your dedicated Trip Coordinator who knows all the ins & outs of your trip. They’ll be by your side and working behind-the-scenes to pull everything together.

3. Time to go!

We’ll get your tickets, accommodation & transfers ready. Our in-country team or partner will have everything prepared & waiting for your arrival. Get on the plane with no worries!

4. 24/5 support

Never stress, knowing we’re there with you when you need us with ongoing & unlimited local team support. And just in case, we’ve got an emergency team on stand-by, 24 hours, Mon-Fri.

Still have questions?

Why go Global

Flexible trips

The unexpected can happen sometimes. Can't travel right now? Swap your trip, gift it or save it for later with our Lifetime Deposit Guarantee.

Worldwide support

Know that someone is always ready to assist throughout the journey & they’re only a call, tweet, comment, text or double tap away, 24/5.

We're the experts

With over 10 years in the industry and a team of over 90 passionate pros, you can bet we know our stuff better than anyone else.

Partner network

We have over 1,200 partners around the globe, so we have access to plenty of exclusive opportunities to make your trip the best it can be.

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