Xtreme Wildlife ExperienceBook Now
By far the most beautiful private game reserve in South Africa (in our opinion).
- Living right on the reserve, with lions and big five on your doorstep.
- Daily game drives, to spot and monitor a wide variety of animals.
- Location! The reserve is set in one of the most stunning locations in Africa.
- Beach access. Unlike other reserves, you are only 15 minutes from a gorgeous beach which is great on your weekends off.
- Good times! Joining people from all over the world, you will do fun social activities as well as the nitty-gritty hard work of wildlife conservation. Game walks, waterfall treks social events.
- Reporting on your findings Xtreme gap exclusive.
Wildlife Volunteering in South Africa
Xtreme gap wildlife conservation experience: the difference.
Plenty of gap year companies offer wildlife conservation programmes. On the face of it they seem the same, but how do you tell them apart? Without visiting the reserves, and checking out the projects it’s hard to know what you’re getting.
Well we have, and we have selected an exclusive partner in South Africa to run a wildlife conservation programme.
This Experience You Are Not Just Getting a Conservation Programme, You Are Getting a Completely Immersive Experience.
The Volunteer House is located smack bang in the middle of a big five game reserve. As you enjoy a cold beer, by the swimming pool as the smells of the barbecue carries off into the bush, it’s not uncommon for lions to come right up to the fence in your garden.
From the moment you leave the sanctuary of your accommodation you are in it and it is on!
While other companies will station you off the reserve, you will be located in a stunning region. We purposefully run small groups (there is a maximum of 10 participants at one time) whereas other companies can run 60 to 80 volunteers. This means you will get an intimate and personalised experience. You will learn all about the animals and gain a deeper understanding of African nature.
The work you do will genuinely make a difference, with rhino conservation at the forefront of your activities.
So what will you do?
There is no set schedule as such but your itinerary will be filled with some incredible moments. From game drives, game walks and hikes to waterfalls, you can expect plenty of interaction with African wildlife.
You will be working alongside leading African conservationists, and have your own mentor Throughout. On arrival you will be given a full introduction, and your programme will be laid out in full. You will be given some essential do’s and don’ts, and it is obviously important that you stick to these as you will be living with potentially dangerous animals all around you.
As the name suggests game drives is where you go out looking for the animals. Our wildlife volunteers have at their disposal one specially modified land cruiser that can take up to 10 people. These landcruisers are virtually indestructible, and you will not believe the terrain we can cover with them. Steep rock paths get devoured by the 4×4 which means you will be taken to some quite inaccessible places on a quest to discover the wildlife.
The activities you partake in each week, will have a genuine benefit. From collecting scientific data on animal populations, kills and any other areas of interest that affects the wildlife population.
There are other activities that you can partake in as well. It’s a fairly close-knit social experience, with other volunteers from all over the world. You are sure to make friends very quickly. We take you on excursions, the local town canton on Sea is only 15 minutes away and has some of the best beaches in South Africa.
The reserve has a sea view, not only does this make it an already impressive location even better, it serves to bring in the cool winds from the sea, meaning you are not so roasting when you are out in the field.
Safety and guidance
Bear in mind you will be staying surrounded by the wildlife, it’s good to note that there is a fully trained conservation guide stationed with you. Should you have any questions, needs or issues during your stay help is at hand. Not only that our team is young, dynamic and impassioned about wildlife conservation. This will no doubt rub off on you as you work closely with our highly experienced team.
You are located in a shared volunteer house right in the heart of the reserve. The compound is secured with an electric fence, which is completely necessary as there are lions, elephants and other dangerous game roaming freely around the perimeter. Incredible views giving way to the sea and the stunning South African bushveld. It is a haven that constantly reminds you you are in the heart of Africa. There is a gorgeous plunge pool, barbecue area, and garden few to enjoy after a hard days work. There are multiple bedrooms and you share with members of the same sex. Wi-Fi Internet is available although a little slow, but all of the creature comforts you could need are there. We even have a treehouse overlooking a watering hole to enjoy a nice sundowner in the company of wildebeest and warthogs!
Find out more about the accommodation on our blog here.
You cook meals in the house. There is a cooking rota so once per week you will be expected to cook for the rest of the volunteers with a partner. Food is purchased once per week, and rationed accordingly. Males are basic but hearty, and dinner time is a very social experience.
Airport pickup is included from Port Elizabeth on a pay on arrival basis. There are set arrival dates so please see the date section for availability.
Some of the projects you might become involved in include:
- Elephant impact monitoring identifying elephants and monitoring their movement, so that they can be managed effectively in the future.
- Lion prey selection monitoring this is not for the faint-hearted! You must record as many lion kills as possible, so it´s possible to form a picture of what they are eating. As lions are fitted with collars, you´ll get regular glimpses of this majestic beast.
- Population status of leopards as one of the most elusive animals in South Africa, recording the population of leopards is tough. You´ll help to monitor them, and will be part of a privileged group to have seen this amazing cat.
- Rhino monitoring rhinos are becoming rarer and rarer, so it is vital that the remaining animals are monitored effectively. With 633 rhinos poached in South Africa in 2013 alone, protecting them is one of the biggest conservation priorities for the whole continent.
- Birds in Reserve Project (BIRP) mething that lets you see the beauty of this part of the world first hand!
- Conservation projects these include projects such as game counts, sex and age surveys for certain species, controlling invasive plants and controlling soil erosion.
You won´t just get to do one of these projects though you´ll be able to have a go at many of them! That way, you´ll get a real feel for how this important game reserve works. Occasionally, exciting projects such as animal releases and captures will also spring up, but these are not regular and therefore can´t be guaranteed. You´ll also get a number of educational lessons before each activity don´t worry, they are informal and not like the formal classes found at schools and universities!
What Else Is There?
Don´t worry: it isn´t all work, no play on this trip! You´ll get plenty of days off and will have the choice of many different activities to complete or you can simply sit back and relax for the day, while you take in the sun and the beautiful scenery in the game reserve. Some of the additional activities you can complete are:
Horse riding on the beach
- Deep sea fishing
- Quad biking
- Two day canoe trip on the Kowie River
- Trips to the Addo Elephant National Park
- Shark cage diving
- Tandem sky-diving
Additionally, the closest town, Kenton, is only 15 minutes away and has an absolutely amazing beach, with a bar overlooking the sea the perfect place to grab a beer and reflect on what you´ve done during the day. The town also has shopping facilities, where you can stock up on essentials. Port Alfred and Grahamstown are also close by, should you fancy a change of scenery.
Trip Frequently Asked Questions
Please note that our activities are based on a minimum stay of four weeks. Although many of the activities listed below may take place in two to three week placements, not all are guaranteed. So the longer your stay, the more in depth your experience.
Many volunteers also bring items from home that they can donate to the local school. Popular gifts include stationery, sports equipment and vegetable seeds for the school´s garden. You´ll be amazed at how grateful the children and staff will be when they receive these gifts from you.
No need to really worry about a rabies vac – highly unlikely that you will need it. Most hospitals have this in stock and they could definitely get this within 24 hours (they don’t keep stock but can get in very quickly). Our pharmacist in Kenton also said that they can order the rabies vac should someone wants to get vaccinated once here. Most good pharmacies should be able to do this. We always suggest to our volunteers to get a tetanus jab before coming out – if possible but also not to stress if they haven’t (in case they stand in a rusty nail, hurt themselves with a machete whilst chopping out alien plants etc.)
- Representative to pick you up from the airport: local payment charge applies (1 pax 1250 zar (approx £60)
- All accommodation in a shared volunteer Lodge
- All meals included
- All Wildlife conservation activities
- Wildlife field guides and mentors throughout the duration of the course
- Travel insurance
- Spending money (budget five pounds per day)
- Costs of transfers (paid locally)
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