As well as giving you a fantastic chance to see the 'Big 5' and many of the other animals that call the reserve home, game drives present volunteers with the opportunity to assist in animal monitoring to ensure the wildlife populations remain healthy. You will have the opportunity to take part in data capture and help the team identify any issues present within the animal populations at the project. Game drives allow you to learn more about the wildlife on the reserve, so make sure to ask your project facilitators anything that comes to mind. The real challenge here is to ask a question that they don't know the answer to!
The Amakhala reserve measures a massive 7,500 hectares, and as you can imagine a reserve of this size requires a lot of upkeep. As a volunteer, you will get the chance to take a behind the scenes look at how a game reserve is run by assisting with a selection of varied tasks. This could include anything from re-burying an electrical wire that has been dug up by a roaming elephant, through to heading out on a fence patrol to ensure that all of the fences are strong and stable. There is always work to be done so be prepared for anything as jobs can appear out of nowhere!
Local Community Centre Visit
Alongside the work you will be doing helping to assist the region's wildlife, you will also visit a school and community centre spending time with the local children. Up to 500 children come to the centre throughout the week and you and your fellow volunteers will be kept very busy playing football and most likely dancing!
Occasionally on the reserve, animals need to be captured and checked over by the vet or moved on to another part of the reserve to help control population size. As a volunteer, you may have the chance to help in this process! Animals of all shapes and sizes occasionally need help, so who knows when you may be called into action? This is a once in a lifetime experience and one you certainly won’t want to miss out on!
Alien Plant Control
Alien plant species become a big problem on the reserve as they kill the local plants, meaning that the region's animals have fewer food sources. This has a knock on effect through the whole food chain, so you will spend some of your time on the project helping to dig up, remove or cut back these invasive species. This is a fairly physical activity and will require a good work ethic to complete, we recommend packing a pair of gardening gloves to make the job that little bit easier!
Bush Camping and Night Drives
Remember to wrap up warm when you head out on night drives and maybe sleep out in the bush if the weather allows! This presents you with a fantastic opportunity to truly immerse yourself in the bush lifestyle, surrounded by nature at its most raw. Many of the animals on the reserve prefer to come out at night, under the cover of darkness, so keep your eyes peeled and you may be able to spot a lion stalking its way through the bush or a rhino crashing through the undergrowth!
Night at the Luxury Lodge
Volunteers will spend a night at the luxury lodge on the Amakhala Reserve. Here you will spend the night relaxing and enjoying an incredible dinner with your fellow volunteers before retiring to one of the beautiful rooms to enjoy a good night's sleep. This will help to ensure you are raring to get back to your volunteer activities the following morning! You will also have the chance to enjoy breakfast as you look out onto the nearby watering hole which has been known to attract a whole host of incredible wildlife, including Norman the resident elephant! (This is included in the fee for those joining for a minimum of 2 weeks. If you join for only 1 week, this can be provided for an additional cost.)
Canoeing and Boating
If the river is high enough and conditions are favourable, you may get the opportunity to go canoeing down the reserve's river. This offers a great chance to see wildlife from a different viewpoint to the one you get from the game drive vehicles. This experience comes with yet another picture-perfect photo opportunity, so keep your camera at the ready and don't forget to make sure it's protected from the water!
With weekends free, you will have time to relax at the volunteer house, take a swim in the pool or perhaps even visit Addo Elephant National Park. You can also take the chance to visit the Born Free Big Cat Rescue Sanctuary on the neighbouring Shamwari Game Reserve, where you have the chance of seeing lions and leopards that have been rescued from zoos, circuses and other captive facilities. Whilst any additional activities you choose to do will be at your own expense, the team will be happy to assist in booking transport and assisting where possible.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
After arriving at the project site from the airport on Monday, you will be given time to settle into the volunteer accommodation and given a tour of the facilities.
Day 2 - 14 - Project Days:
These will be your project days. You will be up early for breakfast followed by your first activity of the day beginning at 7.30am. Once this is complete you will head back to the house for lunch at around 1pm. After you have refuelled with a sandwich or two, you’ll head back out to take part in an afternoon activity until 4pm. There’s a lot to fit in, so you’ll be pleased to know that weekends are spent at your leisure.
Day 15 - Return Home:
Unfortunately, today is your last day of the project! After saying your fond farewells to fellow volunteers and project facilitators, you will make your way back to the airport to begin your journey home or commence your onward and independent travel plans. Wherever you're headed, you can be sure to be walking away with a lifetime of unforgettable memories in tow!
Dates, Availability & Price
You are able to join this project on any Monday throughout the year. To secure a place on this project, a deposit of $245 is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.
Select a duration below to see the available start dates. All dates shown are currently available for you to join this project!
Updates & Outcomes
The Amakhala Game Reserve was founded back in 1999 after 6 local reserves joined forces in an attempt to reintroduce the region's once-abundant flora and fauna back into its natural habitat. Since then the reserve has grown into a huge 7,500-hectare area and is now home to many African animals including lions, rhinos, and elephants. As well as its commitment to wildlife conservation, this game reserve is also home to the Amakhala Foundation which was started in 2009 on the reserves 10th anniversary. The foundation commits to numerous projects including its Environmental Education Programme, which offers local children the chance to learn about conservation from within the reserve and the Isipho Charity Trust which supports over 300 children through preschool classes, feeding schemes, HIV/AIDS education and providing materials for schooling.
As a volunteer on this project, you will have the opportunity to visit the school where the Isipho Charity Trust works. This is something volunteers (and indeed the children) love and during this time you can play with the children, help in their computer classes or maybe just sit and have a conversation to allow them to practice their English.
- posted on 02/10/2018
- by Leanne Sturrock
This World Animal Day 2018, we'll be focusing on South Africa - one of the most conflicted countries with regard to animal protection, conservation and trading. As we discuss why, we look into whether or not unity can ever become widespread across Africa. With a global spotlight on the continent and pressure to improve, maybe there is hope yet for South Africa's most at-risk species to survive.
- posted on 21/09/2018
- by Leanne Sturrock
This World Rhino Day (22nd September), learn about the plight of one of Africa’s most famous and at-risk species. But while white rhinos are something of a poster-child for conservation, it’s important that their Asian cousins are not forgotten - in fact, it is the continents own Javan species which is the most endangered rhino of all.
Are your holiday snaps causing harm to Thailand's wildlife? Read on to see how you can help.
Is this trip for you?
Throughout your time on this project, you will stay in a renovated railway station building which is now the very comfortable and unique volunteer house. The house can hold up to 8 volunteers at a time with a mixture of twin-share and single rooms. Room allocation will be done on arrival and will be based on a same-sex sharing basis where applicable. The volunteer house has 2 bathrooms shared between the volunteers, a communal living area with wireless internet and television, and an outdoor braai area beside the pool. There is also a small shop and community pub located just next door which is a great place to relax of an evening.
Whilst food is provided on this project, volunteers will be cooking for themselves presenting a great opportunity to try different foods from all around the world! Generally, volunteers will take it in turns to cook dinner, with breakfast and lunch being prepared by yourself. The food is always fresh so this is a good chance to show off your culinary skills! Drinking water should be purchased from the small shop located just next door to the project site for a minimal cost. Once each week you will also have the chance to enjoy a braai outside and taste this traditional South African style of cooking.
We recommend that you come with a moderate level of fitness as the days are busy and you will be involved in a whole host of activities! In terms of skills, all we ask is that you arrive with a willingness to get involved with tasks and a dedication to the ethos of the project, as well as a respect for the enchanting wildlife and the committed project staff with whom you will be working.
The vaccinations required will depend on the individual medical history of each volunteer. We recommend that you consult with your GP regarding your own immunisation needs as this will ensure you are protected and prepared to travel. In conjunction with this, we would recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website for more helpful information on what you need to do before your departure.
When is the best time to volunteer?
On this project nearly all the activities take part all year round, meaning the only factor that may affect your decisions on when to volunteer is the weather.
In the coastal region where this project is situated there is not a big difference in daytime temperatures throughout the year. These can reach 35°C (74°F) but average 20 – 25°C (68-77°F). Night-time temperatures, however, are much colder in June, July, and August. During this period which is winter in South Africa, they can drop to between 5 and 10°C (41-50°F). The rest of the year they average between 13 and 18°C (55-64°F). Whilst it does not rain heavily for long periods of time, February and March are definitely the wettest months, with October and November being extremely dry.
Community work, however, is the one activity that is affected as schools are closed between mid-December and approximately the 7th of January. Therefore, if you are keen to get involved with the community projects you should avoid volunteering during this time.
For this project, you will need to arrive into Port Elizabeth Airport (PLZ) on your start date and transfer to the project site from there. The transfer from the airport to the project site takes approximately 1 hour and while it is not included, it can be provided for an additional cost. We offer two airport transfer options; the first is a shared transfer which departs at 2pm, meaning you would need a flight that arrives into the airport by 1pm to allow time for you to get through security and collect your luggage. The second is a private transfer which we can arrange for any time between 9am and 5pm. The shared transfer costs $61 each way and the private transfer costs $129 each way.
For your return journey back to Port Elizabeth Airport from the project site, the shared transfer departs at 7am and arrives at approximately 8am. If you take this transfer, we recommend booking a flight that departs Port Elizabeth no earlier than 10:30am. Alternatively, you can take a private transfer on your project end date at any time between 9am and 5pm.
If you are staying in Port Elizabeth before your project start date please contact us and we may be able to arrange a pick up from your accommodation instead of the airport. If not, you will need to make your way to the airport in time for your transfer.
If you would like help booking your flights, please visit our flights page and fill out the form. A member of our team will get back in touch as soon as possible with a suitable quote.
Citizens of most countries, including the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and most of those within the EU, do not need to obtain a visa to enter South Africa and are granted entry for up to 90 days upon arrival. You will, however, need at least 2 blank pages in your passport for the immigration officials to use and your passport must be valid for a period of at least 6 months from your date of entry.
If you are unsure of your individual visa requirements, we recommend speaking to your local South African embassy at least 2 months prior to travel.
Currency and Exchange Rates
The currency in South Africa is the South African Rand (ZAR). The exchange rate is approximately 1 ZAR = £0.06, US$0.07 and €0.07. Please note exchange rates are subject to change.
What's included in the price of the project?
- Three meals per day
- Fruit juice, tea and coffee
- All volunteer activities
- 1 Night at the luxury lodge (if joining the project for a minimum of 2 weeks)
- A conservation donation to the project
What's not included?
- Travel insurance
- Airport transfers to and from the project site (available at an additional cost)
- Weekend excursions
- Alcoholic beverages, personal snacks, etc.