This program at Zululand offers an affordable way to work and live on an conservation reserve. Volunteers are needed to assist in improving the conservation efforts.
About the Program
This unique conservation volunteering program is based on the Somkhanda Game Reserve in the province of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa. The Zululand Bush and Safari Experience offer participants a unique opportunity to learn about practical and challenging fieldwork in the African bush.
This program is not for those who are looking for a luxury experience where they will be entertained, but for those who have a real passion for learning about the bush and conservation, or are considering a career in conservation or wildlife tourism.
The local Gumbi Tribe who lost their tribal land from the years of Apartheid have finally successfully won their claim over a large area of prime Zululand Bushveld. The Gumbi tribe has regained ownership of a conservation area of 12000 hectares which is an ideal habitat for white and black rhino. The conservation area was identified by the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project as being suitable for the introduction of a founder population of this rare and endangered species.
In partnership with a local company, they currently manage the tourism concession over the entire reserve with the objective of developing a range of wildlife experiences that add to financial sustainability of the reserve as well as aiding in the collection of vital scientific data of the fauna and flora.
Rhino, buffalo and illusive leopards are the members of the Big 5 on the reserve but it has a comprehensive range of all the common animals that historically occurred in this region, including hyena and wild dog. This unique situation affords the opportunity for volunteers to get involved in the reserve’s wildlife and environmental management and monitoring programs.
Volunteers are mentored and managed by a dedicated and highly experienced management team. They are regarded as team members and not as tourists and are expected to also respond as such – taking their tasks and duties seriously at all times.
The specific program depends on the time of the year and involves volunteers in a variety of research, management and monitoring programs associated with a wide range of activities on the reserve. The techniques used are professionally sound and scientifically recognized. All research / monitoring data collected will contribute to the ongoing management decision making of the reserve’s wildlife population.
A full 9 hour day is expected from volunteers and can vary from day to day depending on the day’s task and what surprises come up. Volunteers get 2 days off per week and depending on what might be planned these days can be used to join our monthly group outings.
Activities you might be involved in are:
Imagine a camp right in the middle of a nature reserve, with the animals that walk through and past, the sounds and smells of the bush, camp fires and starry nights. This project offers volunteers an incredible opportunity to feel as far from modern civilisation as ancient man – but with the added bonus of a few modern conveniences! There are a lot of acitivties to do around Zululand. There are hiking trails, you can make a horseride safari, you can visit the Zulu people and learn about their culture. Furthermore, there are game drives that you can do, visit a brewery or a traditional village or go to the croc restaurant to taste something new!
Included in the fees are:
Excluded from the fees are:
Price for 25 nights is 1310 USD
Price for 53 nights is 2585 USD
(There are specific starting dates)
The reserve is remote and therefore arrivals are coordinated in the following way to save on
transport costs and logistics. The program offered is for 25 nights OR 53 nights only.
Arrivals and departures are on specific dates only (Please see arrival and departure dates mentioned below). You will be met at Durban International airport. Please make sure that when you book your flights, that your arrival at Durban International Airport is before 11:30am and your departure flights need to be late afternoon or early evening.
Please feel free to check with us before booking your flights in order to coordinate any arrivals or departures.
We will then take you directly to the program, which is about a 4 - 5 hour drive. On arrival (depending on the time of day) you will get your first orientation, meet the staff and receive your uniform. Every Tuesday you will be taken on a "town day", this is where you go grocery shopping for your breakfast, lunch and personal snacks.
During your stay you will be living in our tented volunteer camp right in the bush. Sharing accommodation is provided in traditional tented safari camp supplied with running water, communal showers and eco toilets. Bedding and towels are provided and laundry facilities are available.
Practical working cloths, a comfortable pair of walking shoes and a pair of binoculars are essential equipment for this experience.
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