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DAKTARI Bush School

Environment and Wildlife Education

Hoedspruit, South Africa

Our volunteering program is designed to give you the opportunity to teach local children, care for injured wildlife, and get fully immersed in the South African bush.

As teachers and caretakers at DAKTARI our volunteers are vital to the success of our programs and really make an impact on the communities. The volunteers will teach the local children, care for the animals and reach out to the community.

Teaching the Children

Since 2006, DAKTARI has welcomed eight children every week to come to DAKTARI for a five-day stay to learn about the environment. We pick up the Grade 8 students on Monday morning and they stay in dorms at the camp. During their stay, they participate in our teaching program. The goal? To provide a close and engaging learning experience that motivates students to care for their environment, while teaching them important life skills.

The DAKTARI teaching program is dynamic and changes as we find new lessons and activities that the kids enjoy. Although the main frame of the program has stayed the same, we are always looking to improve. The program is completely taught by volunteers and they get a detailed teaching program before they arrive so that they can learn the material.

What makes our Teaching Program different?

The children get to spend a full week at our camp with our volunteers and get to have fun, as well as learn a lot!

Because we only take eight children each week, the children are given one-on-one attention and participate in every lesson.

Though our focus is on environmental education, we also spend time teaching the children life skills and addressing social problems like alcohol and drug addiction.

The teaching program is very hands-on. The children get to see the animals first-hand at our wildlife orphanage and interact with the animals every day during stabling. The lessons are interactive and practical and the children leave here with a passion for learning.

Working with the Animals 

The animals at DAKTARI are the cornerstone for the education program. Sadly, many of them are not able to be released but we are able to give them a second life at DAKTARI where they make a big impact. 

Most of the children that come to DAKTARI have never seen one of the Big 5 – Rhino, Lion, Leopard, Elephant, and Buffalo – or any of the local wildlife. Due to poaching and the killing of animals because they destroy crops, the wildlife has been relocated to private and national reserves for their protection. Entrance into these reserves is expensive so the local communities cannot enter.

This is where DAKTARI comes in. We teach the children that their local wildlife should not be inherently feared or hated. We teach them that animals should be protected and respected. We teach them that the local wildlife creates jobs through tourism and animal care.

Each day you will help with the different chores that need to be done to keep our animals happy and healthy such as cleaning each enclosure and feeding them. 

Many of the animals that come to DAKTARI are injured or require special care (especially the babies!). That means that you may be tasked with providing medicine, first aid, or additional feeding to animals at the camp, day or night. If we have any new arrivals or animal releases, you will also have the opportunity to renovate or build new animal enclosures with our staff! 

The Wildlife Orphanage

Having a safe place to rehabilitate injured or orphaned animals has always been part of the vision of DAKTARI. It has also grown into an integral part of the education of the local children.

The animals in the orphanage are integrated into the teaching program with the children. There are lessons about poaching, animal facts, and learning how to identify animals by their tracks. The children complete a scavenger hunt around the camp based on the different animals and facts about them.

Each morning and each afternoon, the children assist volunteers and staff in cleaning enclosures and feeding the animals. The children also interact with our more friendly residents during their free time.

By actively taking part in the animal care and by learning so much about animals during their stay, the children are inspired to protect the wildlife. It would be impossible to achieve our mission without the animals in our care. 

Community Projects

Some of the children enjoyed their DAKTARI experience so much that together they organised a small after school club to share their inspiration and love for conservation. We are proud to have mentored their club which has now developed into our DAKTARI Outreach Program. The eco-club is now running at two schools, Maahlamele and Ragkolokwane secondary schools. These voluntary clubs are very popular, with up to 60 children attending each week! The children help determine the curriculum and often help teach the classes with our Outreach Manager.

By working every week with children in their villages, we extend DAKTARI’s impact to a wider population, and empower the children to be role models in their community. Children from any grade can join and many will attend eco-club for several years.

Teaching at the Creche

The outreach program has expanded and now we visit two creche's in the Oaks village. The children at the creche range in age from 1 to 4 years old and we teach them about animals and the environment. The children enjoy learning about the different animals around, what they eat, and what sounds they make. We also teach them how to clean up rubbish and not to litter.

Community Improvement Projects

With the help of the children in the eco-club, DAKTARI has initiated and sponsored several community projects, such as community clean-up projects, reusing rubbish to build a dustbin, and planting trees at the creche and school. We aim to not only improve the aesthetics of the community, but the instil a sense of pride and responsibility for their community into the children. That way, they will take better care of it in the future.

The Career Guidance Program

During the weeks when DAKTARI is not able to bring children to the camp due to exams or school breaks, we will invite young adults who have completed school but have not found a job. They come to DAKTARI for five days to engage in a modified curriculum designed to teach them skills to get a job in addition to the environmental education. At the end of the week they leave with interview skills, a complete and comprehensive CV, and the confidence to go out and find a job to support themselves and their family.

Throughout the years, DAKTARI has helped several youth from our career guidance program get employment at local game reserves or even at DAKTARI.

Typical day

Monday through Friday you will be teaching a group of eight children, ages 13-16, about the environment, the importance of protecting wildlife, and about social issues like safe sex and substance abuse. All classes are taught in English but you do not need to be a native English speaker to teach at DAKTARI. You also don't need to have any teaching experience. We have everything you need to be a great teacher and we are happy to help you if you need it!

Your day starts at 7am and lessons begin at 9am. Classes are finished around 4:30pm and then we have group talks with the kids about social issues.

Don't worry, we do make time for fun too! You will play games with the children, join them in the pool, and dance around the bonfire to their favourite songs. You also work with the kids to feed and care for the animals at DAKTARI.

To get an impression of what your stay as a teacher could look like, have a look at our schedule.

Tracks (Monday 2:00PM):

This lesson is part theory, part practical. The children start the lesson learning different types of tracks and then matching them to the right animals. They then go out into the bush and get to track wild animals through prints, drops, and vegetation!

Anti-Poaching (Tuesday 2:30PM):

Many of the children know about poaching, yet are not aware of the reality and the damage that poaching entails. Through powerful photos, the children learn about how devastating poaching is both to the environment, but also how much pain it involves for the animals.

Job Opportunities (Tuesday 9:00AM) & Makalali Trip (Wednesday 10:00):

This is a two-part lesson split between Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning. The two activities are structured and designed to open the door to the world of jobs in eco-tourism. In the first part, they children learn about the different roles they can take on in a game reserve and what skills or qualifications they would need for each. Then, on Wednesday, the children visit the nearby Game Reserve of Makalali! The children are given a tour of the different jobs at the reserve and speak to the staff to learn more.

After you spend your day teaching children you will help our staff care for the animals around camp. This can be anything from feeding an animal with a bottle to cleaning their enclosures or picking up a hammer and renovating their homes. 

Free-time activities

Weekends and time off

On Saturdays you can take a trip into Hoedspruit with Ian. This gives you the opportunity to do any shopping you might need and a chance to get our of the camp for a while. There are plenty of great restaurants in town to have lunch at too!

Sundays are your day off. You can plan a day excursion if you like or just relax at the camp. We are happy to help you plan a trip or put you in touch with a local guide. If you are interested in taking a longer break over the weekend (Friday to Sunday), you are welcome to arrange that with our staff.

Here are just some of the things you can do around DAKTARI:

  •     Visit Kruger National Park for a safari
  •     Go to Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre
  •     Do the Tshukudu Game Lodge Cheetah walk
  •     Visit the Kinyonga Reptile Centre
  •     Hot air ballooning over the Blyde River Canyon
  •     Boat trips on the Blyde River
  •     Horseback Riding safaris

Water Sports
Swimming
Climbing
Safari/Zoo
Hiking
Riding

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). Of course, there is an exception for children that are accompanied by their parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Health Declaration
required
Criminal Background Check
required
Education Requirements
at High School level
Required Documents
Copy of flight details, Copy of passport and Copy of travel insurance
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
We do not require any particular skills aside your enthusiasm and willingness to take part!
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 07:00 - 20:30

Suitable for

Singles
Couples
Families
Groups
50+

Any questions? Just ask. We at DAKTARI Bush School are happy to help you.

Contact Project Coordinator
Contact & Reservation
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Included Services

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We refund your fees if DAKTARI Bush School cancels your trip
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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by DAKTARI Bush School .
Services by DAKTARI Bush School
  • Food for volunteers and the children
  • Costs of accommodating volunteers and children
  • Fuel for the generator & transport of the child
  • Telephone and internet
  • Animal food and care
  • Community work
  • Gas for refrigeration
  • Renovations, upgrading of facilities
  • Educational equipment and practical material
  • Veterinary fees

Airport Pickup at Hoedspruit Airport

Hoedspruit Airport or
Kamogelo Centre, Hoedspruit

Accommodation

We are located in the middle of the bush and so the camp is rustic, although we do our very best to make sure everyone is kept clean, comfortable, and well fed. You will enjoy hot showers, running water, and solar-powered lights in your traditional chalets. You may be sharing your chalet with up to 3 other volunteers but everyone has their own bed and space to store closes and personal items.

Laundry is done for everyone each day, with the exception of Sunday, and the rooms are cleaned every day.

Living and working at DAKTARI is very safe. Our camp is fenced in and the farm is in a protected area. You won't need to worry about crime while staying with us and we take precautions to make sure that our staff and children are safe from the predatory animals around DAKTARI. 

Dorm Room Bedroom (Single) Bedroom (Double) Camping
Food & Beverages

Our wonderful staff provides us with healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week. Moreover, we are more than willing to accommodate any dietary requirements that you may have!

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.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Hoedspruit Airport (HDS) in Hoedspruit. 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.
Vaccines
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)
4 weeks (min. stay)
$1,555.00
5 weeks
$1,873.00
6 weeks
$2,191.00
7 weeks
$2,509.00
8 weeks
$2,828.00
9 weeks
$3,146.00
12 weeks (max. stay)
$4,100.00
Average fees
$365.00/week

You can volunteer at the project site in Hoedspruit/South Africa between 4 weeks and 12 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. DAKTARI Bush School 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 DAKTARI Bush School during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.
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Hoedspruit, South Africa DAKTARI Bush School NGO | DAKTARI Bush School
Manage the day-to-day marketing tasks across all platforms including social media, the website and specific umbrella organizations.
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