Volunteers will be based in the Limpopo Province, an area renowned for its abundance of wildlife and getting up close and personal with the ‘Big Five’ of South Africa (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo). You will volunteer alongside an international team to collect vital behavioural data on reintroduced predators and large herbivores on a private game reserve. In order to assist with this vital conservation work you will be trained to use research equipment to help locate predators in the reserve and you will receive invaluable training in large animal identification, tracking and behavioural study skills.
Volunteers can take approx 3 to 4 days off after the initial 4 weeks. The same applies every 4 weeks thereafter for longer term volunteers. This is not compulsory, you are welcome to stay on base and continue helping out.
Where you’ll stay
Accommodation is in shared (mixed sex) rooms with shared bathroom facilities at base. There is cold running water available for showers. Flush toilet facilities are available, and participants share base duties, including cleaning and other chores.
Activities & Training
Things to do
During the expedition you will have one day off a week. In this time you could visit the stunning local mountains, go curio shopping, or just spend some time wandering around the local town. Depending on your start date you may have an additional week (or more) off between program phases. Before and after your program you could visit the Kruger National Park, go on a hot air balloon ride, horse riding etc. Popular trips include a vist to the spectacular Blyde River Canyon, the picturesque villages of Sabie, Pilgrims Rest and Graskop and other local activities such as canyoning, rafting and bungee jumping. The possibilities are endless!
Orientation and Training
Staff in the field will provide training on the skills required, but you may benefit from learning more about local history, culture and customs before you travel.
Good to Know
All volunteers are encouraged to learn more about local history, culture and customs before travelling. All training will be taught in the field.
- The Behavior Guide to African Mammals: by Richard Despard Estes
- Field Guide to Mammals of Southern Africa: Chris & Tilde Stuart
- A Field Guide to the Tracks and Signs of Southern and East African Wildlife – Chris and Tilde Stuart
- The Bushveld including the Kruger Lowveld: Lee Gutteridge
- Birds of Southern Africa: Ian Sinclair. Struik (South Africa) or Princeton Field Guides (USA)
- Wildlife Campus – offers a variety of online study courses.
Volunteers need not have any specific skills just an enthusiasm and passion for contributing to the project and the local partner objectives. Reasonable fitness is required, with 8-10 hours a day on the back of open safari vehicles on rough roads as well as physical conservation work and possible 12km hike.
Health and safety
A change of environment, climate, food and lifestyle often results in minor, and occasionally more serious, illness. Please inform staff if you feel unwell at any time. The nearest emergency medical facility is located in Hoedspruit, about an hour’s drive from base. All staff are trained in Emergency First Response. Detailed Risk Assessments are part of training, as are the Emergency Action Plans, including regular drills to ensure familiarity by all. Karongwe base is located within a malarial area and, as such, anti-malaria prophylaxis should be taken as recommended by your GP or home doctor. Daytime temps at the reserve are very high during the summer months (Oct – March), averaging over 95 degrees on a daily basis. Days in the field are long, so make sure you have a wide-brimmed hat, plenty of sunscreen and a water bottle with at least 1.5 litre capacity.
Volunteers will need to fly into Johannesburg International airport and take a
connecting flight to Hoedspruit where our field staff will meet you on your Saturday start date.
Field staff advise that you enter the country using a tourist visa if your stay is 12 weeks or less. For most nationalities this can be obtained upon arrival. For durations longer than 12 weeks, you will require a volunteer visa. For most nationalities this must be arranged in advance.