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10 Day Victoria Falls Voluntour
Join fantastic game drives and take part in conservation and community projects in the idyllic setting of Victoria FallsTweet
This is a 10 day voluntour based at a Conservation Centre on the Stanley & Livingstone Private Game Reserve in the far western corner of Zimbabwe. Volunteers on the tour are provided with the opportunity to gain a hands-on experience in conservation management activities, and community development projects. This 10 day experience has been designed to allow volunteers to experience the many aspects of conservation taking place at the reserve, and the skills required to live in the bush, in a condensed amount of time. Of course, there will also be the chance to explore the world famous natural wonder and UNESCO heritage site of Victoria Falls. Also known as Mosi-oa-Tunya (meaning “the smoke that thunders”), the falls will completely take your breath away.
The reserve, just minutes from the falls, is a 2500 hectare, privately-managed piece of pristine African wildness. It is home to populations of all the African ‘Big 5’, including a large amount of elephants and even populations of the critically endangered black rhino. The focal point of activity at the Reserve is preservation and conservation through non-consumptive activity in order to sustain and support the various ecosystems. The reserve is also recognised as an Intensive Protection Zone (IPZ) for black rhino in the area. An intensive rhino monitoring programme is in place, with the aim of increasing the black rhino population in the area in the fight against the recent and widespread poaching of rhinoceros in southern Africa.
Day 1: Arrival into Victoria Falls International Airport and transfer to the project site. Spend the remainder of the day settling in, getting acquainted with your fellow volunteers.
Day 2: Today you will have an early morning wakeup call in order to experience your first game drive of the trip. The reserve offers incredible opportunities to see all of the Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo), with high numbers of Elephants and an ever growing rhino population.
In the afternoon volunteers will have a lecture based around the conservation taking place in the reserve following by an evening of star gazing, there is nothing quite like the African skies at night.
Day 3: This morning you will visit the incredible Victoria Falls (also known as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ – “the smoke that thunders”). Whilst it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it is classified as the largest, based on its width of 1,708 metres and height of 108 metres resulting in the world's largest sheet of falling water. It truly is an awe-inspiring sight, and as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, it truly is a must-see.
In the afternoon you will visit the local village and see how the people of Zimbabwe live, in the process gaining an incredible opportunity to get an insight into their rich culture.
Day 4: You will have another game drive this morning, giving you another opportunity to go in search of all of the Big 5 as well as all of the other animals present here.
In the afternoon, you will stray off the beaten path and go on a bush walk deep into the reserve. This is a fantastic opportunity to see some of Zimbabwe’s smaller animals and a chance to learn more about the extensive flora of the area.
Day 5: Time to become a Game Ranger! Today you will learn the basics behind the art of tracking wildlife.
The ability to track is integral to several fields within conservation, including poaching control, ecotourism, environmental education and scientific research.
You will head out into the bush to start the practical journey of learning how to recognise the tracks and signs of various different species.
Day 6: Bear Grylls at the ready! Today is a day of survival skills. You have seen the team at the project in action, now you will have a chance to learn some of the skills necessary to survive in the harsh realities of the bush.
Day 7: Today you will get truly involved in the day to day running of an African reserve via conservation management activities. The activities you will be involved in depends on what the reserve requires at the time, but you can expect to be involved in any one of the following:
• Alien vegetation removal
• Applying soil erosion control methods
• Vulture Restaurant maintenance
• Fence patrols
• Bush walks with IAPF
• Waterhole creation, maintenance and monitoring
• Game counts
• Road maintenance
• Upkeep of river crossings
• Predator culvert checks
• Reserve clean-up operations
• Game capture in season
• Game census counting
These activities are an essential contribution towards the successful operation of the reserve.
In the evening, you will truly get back to nature with a camp out under the stars. There is nothing more magical than being sat around a camp fire, truly immersed in the sounds of Africa (including the whooping of hyenas and the roar of lions) at night time!
Day 8: Today you will wake in the bush to a typical beautiful African sunrise before heading out on another day of conservation management activities.
During the evening you will head out on your final game drive of the trip - another chance to spot the Big 5!
Day 9: This programme is proudly associated with the ‘Children in the Wilderness programme’; one of Wilderness Safaris’ outreach programmes based at Victoria Falls. Today you will spend some time with the children, and volunteers can get involved in helping the teachers with teaching, helping out in the school’s vegetable garden and teaching the children new and exciting games…duck duck goose anyone?
On your last night in stunning Zimbabwe, what could round the trip up better than dinner on a sunset cruise on Zambezi?! A final dinner with the friends you have made on the trip surrounded my some of the world’s most beautiful scenery (and hippos and crocodiles of course)!
Day 10: Sadly, today is your last day and it is time to say your goodbyes. You will transfer back to Victoria Falls International Airport for your return flight home or commence your independent onward travel plans.
Activities on this project will include:
Victoria Falls: Spend a morning walking along and learning all about the largest waterfall in the world.
Community: The team and volunteers assist at a rural school through assisting with the nutrition programme, vegetable garden, sports coaching, English literacy workshops, and environmental awareness through the eco-club.
Conservation: Volunteers are involved practically in conservation management practices, all of which are vital for the successful operations of the game reserve. A major focus of the project is in tree protection and tree mapping. Tree trunks are wrapped with chicken wire in order to help protect the bark from elephants, whom often push over trees and remove bark in order to reach the leaves for them to eat. If bark is removed, the trees are often susceptible to disease, so this an essential part of habitat conservation.
Alien plant monitoring and removal is also an essential part of this project, with invasive species, such as the teak tree, being removed to help try and get the environment back to a pristine and natural environment.
Research: Research projects are primarily aimed at gaining a better knowledge and stronger understanding of specific species, enabling more informed decision making regarding species conservation action plans. The projects may be directly or indirectly connected to a particular species or group of species, which have either been identified as per the Red Data Species list as Vulnerable to Endangered, or species where data for effective game reserve management is required. Our projects include research on elephants, rhino, predators, raptors and Ground hornbills. Id-ing of elephants and rhinos is a major focus here
Sustainability: The project’s green operations include installation of solar-operated pumps at waterholes, vegetable garden upkeep which sustains the lodge, volunteer programme, and staff community, indigenous tree nursery and recycling initiatives.
Volunteer duties on this tour may vary depending on the needs of the reserve.
Sunset Cruise: Cruise on the Zambezi River downstream towards the Victoria Falls down to Palm Island before turning around and cruising back upstream. You will get to view hippos, crocodiles as well as an abundance of birdlife. Whilst on the cruise you will be offered drinks from the fully. After watching the sun set over the river, you will be served dinner while cruising on the river.
What Makes this Project Great
This voluntour allows you to get a well-rounded idea of the many skills and techniques the team use whilst out in the African bush – all within a jam-packed 10 day experience!
The project team acknowledges the importance of a holistic approach to tackling conservation issues, and is all about making a difference through integration of conservation, education and community. Thus, the programme structure on the Victoria Falls Conservation Project is based on the approach that everything is interconnected, and specific issues cannot be effectively addressed in isolation
The Victoria Falls Conservation Experience team have teamed up with other great organisations who share their vision, including the TUSK Trust, the Children in the Wilderness Foundation and the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF). The vision is to provide an education centre that is recognised for its high standards in the conservation and community work achieved and experiences and education offered to students and volunteers. Ultimately, the aim is to enrich the lives of all people involved and simultaneously preserve the unique natural environment and biodiversity of the Victoria Falls area for future generations.
What fitness level does this project require?
This project involves some manual work, mainly involved in enrichment and construction tasks, so a moderate level of fitness is necessary.
Are any specific skills required to work on this project?
No specific skills or experience are required, only a positive attitude and full commitment to the cause. You must be prepared to work as part of a team.
What vaccinations are needed to travel to Zimbabwe?
The vaccinations required will depend on the medical history of each volunteer. We recommend that you consult your GP regarding your own immunisation needs. In conjunction with this, we would recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website.
What is the Malaria risk in the area this project is situated?
There is a high risk of malaria in the Victoria Falls region. Therefore, it is recommended that you consult your GP to make a decision about anti-malarial tablets and other preventative methods prior to departure.
Upon arrival at Victoria Falls International Airport (VFA) you will be met by a volunteer coordinator and transferred to the project. This transfer is only around ten minutes. The airport is serviced by flights from Johannesburg, Bulawayo, Windhoek and Harare.
ALL volunteers are required to get a "Business visa" in order to join this project. These visas are obtainable from the embassy before travel or upon arrival from the immigration officers at the airport, and you will need to pay cash for the visa in USD – currently $55.00 for most European and US citizens, $70 for Canadian citizens and $70 for UK and Irish citizens. It is the responsibility of the traveller to ensure that you obtain the right visa.
Volunteers are accommodated in a purpose-built volunteer facility at the Stanley & Livingstone Private Game Reserve. Each participant is allocated their own room with bathrooms shared between two to three volunteers. All rooms have both South African and UK style plugs where you will be able to charge all of your equipment.
The facility also boasts a spacious, fully-equipped kitchen and canteen area where all meals are prepared and served. There is a safe on the premises for cash and small valuables. The lecture room at the conservation centre is well equipped with presentation equipment and a comprehensive book library. One of the highlight features of the conservation centre is the open-air entertainment area, which includes a deck, bar facility and small swimming pool. All overlook the game reserve with waterholes along the Masuwe River's ancient “oxbow”.
Meals and drinks
Volunteers enjoy three meals a day, prepared for by the camp cook. Meals are simple, yet tasty and nutritious. Please note that on some days, meals (especially lunches) will be pre-made and packed, and taken out into the field, giving volunteers the opportunity to make the most of your time in African bush while applying yourselves to conservation and community activities.
There is also an honesty bar present in the accommodation where you check off what drink you have had and then you will be billed on leaving.
The most used currency in Zimbabwe is usually the South African Rand. The exchange rate is around 1 ZAR = 0.06 GBP, 0.1 USD, 0.07 EUR. Please note exchange rates are subject to change. For up-to-date rates, click here.
What essentials should I take with me?
• Passport, travel insurance and travel documents.
• Cash and a credit/debit card.
• Camera, charger and adapter.
• Small backpack for daily use.
• Shorts, t-shirts, flip-flops and trousers.
• At least one pair of sturdy closed shoes.
• Raincoat if travelling during the rainy season.
• Warm clothes and a sleeping bag if travelling during the winter, where temperatures drop at night.
• Suncream and aftersun.
• Insect repellent.
• Toiletries and a towel.
What's included in the price of the project?
• Three meals per day (including weekends)
• A trip to Victoria Falls
• Airport transfers on arrival and departure
• All lectures, all listed activities and community visits
What's not included?
• Travel and health insurance (please check you have one covering all aspects of the trip)
Population: 13.72 million
Capital City: Harare
Language: Zimbabwe has 16 official languages. English, Shona and Ndebele are the most widely spoken.
Currency: Since the Zimbabwean dollar was abandoned as a currency in 2009 due to skyrocketing inflation, the US dollar, South African rand, British pound sterling and euro have all been adopted for transactions. Please be aware however that ATMs often don’t work in Zimbabwe, so we advise you take an adequate amount of cash with you.
Time Difference: GMT +2 hours
Country Code: +263.
Zimbabwe is renowned as a fractured and scarred country, which has suffered greatly in recent years. However, the tourist industry is fast emerging, a much-awaited platform for showcasing the astounding beauty, vibrant cities and uniquely energetic atmosphere of this truly remarkable country. Zimbabwe comprises endless expanses of sheer, natural beauty, lively cities and towns, teeming with warm, friendly locals and a wealth of fascinating wildlife. The unequalled beauty of the Victoria Falls aside, Zimbabwe has much more to give, including many breathtaking national parks, indigenous community cultures and collection of museums, galleries and exhibitions in the buzzing city of Bulawayo.
Harare, the country’s capital, is surprisingly visually beautiful given its size and status. With dusty trails running throughout, and a charming, laidback atmosphere, Harare is an excellent tourist destination for anyone visiting Zimbabwe. Despite its collection of chic bars, delightful cafes and restaurants and multiple museums, it is Harare’s amazing selection of traditional markets that give it its unique flavour.
However, it is undeniable that Zimbabwe’s greatest treasure is the stunning Victoria Falls region. Long-revered as a vista of unequalled beauty, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and a draw for tourists from all over the globe, the beauty of Victoria Falls cannot be understated. This magnificent waterfall was given its name by the Scottish explorer who is said to have first discovered it, christening it after his queen. Its indigenous name however, is Mosi-oa-Tunya, which loosely translates as ‘the smoke that thunders’, and indeed it is the mystical, almost hypnotic clouds of spray that make the falls so spectacular to behold.
Victoria Falls is not the highest or longest waterfall in the world, but is the largest. With a width of 1,708m and a height of 108m, it forms the largest sheet of falling water of any other waterfall. Many visitors find the most impressive aspect of the falls to be the immense height reached by the falling spray rebounding from the rocks below; this can reach heights of up to 400m.
The surrounding area, including the town of Victoria Falls, is understandably perennially popular with tourists. The town offers restaurants, shops, markets and hotels, as well as being the starting point for many activities and tours around the falls themselves. Due to the proximity of the town to the falls and Zambezi National Park, there are very often warthogs and occasionally elephants wandering through the streets – a pretty incredible experience needless to say!
Climate: Zimbabwe’s climate can be considered as being sub-tropical. There is a rainy season which generally arrives from early December to late March. The rest of the year is usually dry. Please be aware however that June, July and August are often much cooler, particularly at nights, so don’t forget to bring warmer clothing! Below is a rough temperature and precipitation graph. Please be aware however that this is only a rough guide, as weather patterns in Africa are becoming more and more unpredictable.
Average Temperature and Rainfall
Basic Phrases in Shona:
‘Goodbye’- ‘Sara zvakanaka’
‘How are you?’- ‘Wakadini zvako?’
‘Please/Thank you’- ‘Ndinokumbirawo/ Waita zvako’
‘Yes/No’ – ‘Hongu/Kwete’