The Great Projects

Big Five Conservation Assistant

Port Elizabeth, South Africa show on map
Join this volunteering project in South Africa's beautiful Eastern Cape and help aid in the conservation of lions, elephants, rhinos and many more amazing animals! This volunteer program is especially suitable for:

About The Project

The Big 5 Volunteering Project in South Africa has grown from humble beginnings back in 1999 through to the impressive conservation project you see before you today. The reserve upon which the project is based is measures 7,500 hectares and it consists of sprawling savannah and bushveld which is home to a whole host of exciting African animals. You'll could see everything from a small springbok right up to an awe-inspiring elephant during your time on this project, so what are you waiting for!

Located in South Africa's incredible picturesque Eastern Cape, this project will present you with the opportunity to really get stuck in to the ongoing volunteer efforts whilst living in a beautiful area. You will play a role in protecting the local environment and its animal inhabitants through a whole host of direct and indirect activities. 

These include crucial tasks such as reserve maintenance as well as fast paced and exciting tasks like game capture and predator monitoring! You will even get the chance to spend one night in the four-star luxury lodge, and here you may be able to spot Norman the resident elephant as he comes down to take a drink from the watering hole. 

There is always something exciting happening on this volunteering project, so learn more and create some lifelong memories! 

Prior to Arrival

Holders of UK, most other EU countries, Australian, Canadian and USA passports do not require a Visa for South Africa. Upon entry, you will be issued with a 3- month permit (at no cost). Make sure the correct date and length of stay in the country is entered onto your visa when at immigration. 

If you are travelling from Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Russian Federation, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Algeria, Angola, Comoros, China, Egypt, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mexico, Madagascar, Morocco, Mozambique, Paraguay, Rwanda, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia or Vietnam, you will require a Visa and should consult your South African embassy.

Please note that the South African immigration policy states that you will need at least two empty pages in your passport and at least six months validity to enter.

The easiest way to get here is to arrive into Johannesburg (O.R. Tambo International Airport), and then book a connecting domestic flight from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth. The project is approximately 1 hour (75 kilometres) from Port Elizabeth Airport. The project will provide a transfer to the project site, but please note that this comes at an additional cost of 850 Rand each way (approx 50 GBP).

This project starts on a Monday so you will need to book flights to arrive on the day, or if there are no suitable flights on the day you will be able to be picked up from Port Elizabeth on Sunday afternoon.


We recommend that you come with a moderate level of fitness as the days are busy and you will be involved in a whole host of activities! In terms of skills, all we ask is that you arrive with a willingness to get involved with tasks and a dedication to the ethos of the project, as well as a respect for the enchanting wildlife, as well as for the committed project staff with whom you will be working.

Typical day

First Day 

After arriving from Port Elizabeth Airport you will be given time to settle in to your new volunteer accommodation and have the chance to meet your fellow volunteers. 

Project Days

On an average day on the project you will be working from around 7am until 4pm and activities will vary from day to day depending on what needs completing on the reserve. Tasks could include:

Game Drives

As well as giving you a great chance to see all of the amazing animal life that Africa has to offer, game drives present volunteers with a fantastic opportunity to monitor the wildlife found on the reserve and help to ensure that the populations remain healthy. 

Reserve Maintenance

A reserve of this size needs a lot of upkeep, and as a volunteer you will play a crucial role in helping with tasks such as fence repair, reburying electricity wires that have been dug up by naughty elephants, and road repair. These tasks give you a fantastic chance to see how a game reserve is run behind the scenes. 

Game Capture

Occasional animals on the reserve need to be captured to be looked at by the vet or moved to another part of the reserve to manage population numbers. You may be able to assist with this task when the need occurs, but please note that it is not guaranteed as the animals will only be captured when it is completely necessary. 

A Night At The Luxury Lodge

One night during your stay on the project you will have the chance to spend a night at the four star luxury lodge. This gives you the chance to relax in style and enjoy a prepared dinner!

A Visit To A Local Community Centre

It's not all about the animals on this project as you will also have the chance to spend time at a local community centre, playing with the children and getting a lot of pictures of their happy faces! 

Bush Camping And Night Drives

Remember to wrap up warm as you will be heading out on night drives to see the wildlife that comes to life in the bush after the sun goes down. There is also the chance to venture out and camp beneath the stars, but this is weather dependent.

A Visit To The Born Free Foundation 

The international animal charity Born Free is located in the neighbouring Shamwari Reserve and as a volunteer here you will get a chance to visit it and see the good work that goes on here with the lions and other big cats. 

Alien Plant Control 

Foreign plant species are a big problem on the reserve and without the help of volunteers they have the potential to completely kill off the endemic flora that is so crucial to the local food chain. You will work to remove these invasive species and ensure that they do not grow back.

Canoeing And Boating On The Local River

One of the more relaxing activities, you will gently glide down the local river and take in the birdlife you see as you pass. This is a fantastic opportunity to grab some pictures as well so don't forget your camera!

Details on Arrival

The easiest way to get here is to arrive into Johannesburg (O.R. Tambo International Airport), and then book a connecting domestic flight from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth. The project is approximately 1 hour (75 kilometres) from Port Elizabeth Airport. The project will provide a transfer to the project site, but please note that this comes at an additional cost of 850 Rand each way (approx 50 GBP).

This project starts on a Monday so you will need to book flights to arrive on the day, or if there are no suitable flights on the day you will be able to be picked up from Port Elizabeth on Sunday afternoon.

Free-time activities

In the evenings you will be free to relax in the volunteer house or out by the pool. There is also a local pub very nearby where you can have a drink and game of pool after a hard days work. 

The weekends are yours to do with as you wish, so please speak to your volunteer coordinator on arrival to discuss options for additional activities. 


Program Requirements

In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (basic level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 07:00 - 16:00

Included Services

Extra security layer by Volunteer World
Volunteer World is the world's leading comparison platform for international volunteer opportunities. We guide you through a safe and easy application process - including all necessary payments. Planning your next meaningful trip with Volunteer World gives you free access to our:
Quality Assurance
High ethical standards & transparent social impact
Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if The Great Projects cancels your trip
Support & Mediation
We cover your back no matter what happens
Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by The Great Projects.

Before your journey

Profound consulting and ongoing support (free)
The Great Projects (your host organization) provides consulting and is keen to answer all your questions. Once you reserved your spot, you will receive the contact details of your volunteer project.
Online preparation course (optional, from $49)
Prepare yourself and become a confident and well informed traveler. Global Travel Academy takes you on a journey before you leave home, helping you to become one of the world's greatest travelers. Our trusted partner for online learning offers courses in "International Volunteering", "Travel Health & Safety" and "Travel Safety Abroad".

On-site services

Services by The Great Projects


  • Accommodation during your time volunteering
  • All meals and juice, tea and coffee.
  • Volunteer activities (including at the Born Free Foundation)
  • Full-time English speaking ground staff
  • Towels


  • Travel insurance
  • Flights
  • Airport transfers and from the project site (available at an additional cost)
  • Weekend excursions
  • Alcoholic beverages, personal snacks etc.

Throughout your time on this project, you will be staying in a renovated railway station building which has now become the very comfortable and unique volunteer house. The house can hold up to 8 volunteers at a time and this is in a mixture of twin share and solo rooms. Room allocation will be done on arrival and will be based on a same-sex sharing basis when applicable. 

The volunteer house is extremely comfortable with 2 bathrooms shared between the volunteers, a communal living area with wireless internet and television, and an outdoor braai area beside the pool. There is also a small community pub located just next door which is a fantastic place to relax of an evening.
Bedroom (Single)
Food & Beverages
Whilst food is provided on this project, volunteers will be cooking for themselves which presents a fantastic opportunity to try different foods from all around the world! Generally, volunteers will take it in turns to cook dinner, with breakfast and lunch being prepared by yourself. The food is always fresh so this is a good chance to show off your culinary skills! Drinking water should be purchased from the small shop located just next door to the project site for a minimal cost. One night every two weeks you will also have the chance to enjoy a braai outside and taste this traditional South African style of cooking.
Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees. An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Port Elizabeth International Airport (PLZ) in Port Elizabeth. We assist you to find cheap flights to South Africa.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for South Africa provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in South Africa you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for South Africa.
Costs (Prices in USD)
2 weeks (min. stay)
3 weeks
4 weeks
5 weeks
6 weeks
7 weeks
8 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees

You can volunteer at the project site in Port Elizabeth/South Africa between 2 weeks and 8 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. The Great Projects will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Crowdfunding Service
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in South Africa.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with The Great Projects during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.
  Africa Southern Africa South Africa  Port Elizabeth, Main Road 114

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