Rhino & Elephant Equestrian Project

Explore a beautiful African game reserve on horseback as you work to conserve rhinos and elephants in Zimbabwe.

Offering a closer experience, the Rhino & Elephant Equestrian Project presents a chance to explore Zimbabwe by horseback while working to protect iconic African wildlife. This is a chance to contribute and enrich the conservational story being written here and immerse yourself in the rich history of this stunning family-run reserve. You'll be an experienced rider, joining an intimate group led by the matriarchal figure of the conservancy's family. As you head off the beaten track, far from vehicle reach, you’ll integrate yourself into the herds of the reserve, including rhinos, elephants, giraffes, and more.

Here, you will learn the ‘ins and outs’ of herd structures, search for specific families and new mothers, assist the anti-poaching unit in snare sweeps, and locate missing animals, all while bonding with the horses and your group. Not only will your rides rival adventures of the wild west, but the activities you'll partake in on foot will see you walking with elephants, feeding the resident carnivores and engaging with local communities. So come and experience Africa at its wildest on a project that brings you closer to wildlife than ever before!

Offering a closer experience, the Rhino & Elephant Equestrian Project presents a chance to explore Zimbabwe by horseback while working to protect iconic African wildlife. This is a chance to contribute and enrich the conservational story being written here and immerse yourself in the rich history of this stunning family-run reserve. You'll be an experienced rider, joining an intimate group led by the matriarchal figure of the conservancy's family. As you head off the beaten track, far from vehicle reach, you’ll integrate yourself into the herds of the reserve, including rhinos, elephants, giraffes, and more.

Here, you will learn the ‘ins and outs’ of herd structures, search for specific families and new mothers, assist the anti-poaching unit in snare sweeps, and locate missing animals, all while bonding with the horses and your group. Not only will your rides rival adventures of the wild west, but the activities you'll partake in on foot will see you walking with elephants, feeding the resident carnivores and engaging with local communities. So come and experience Africa at its wildest on a project that brings you closer to wildlife than ever before!

To participate in this project, you’ll need to be an experienced and confident rider, as you’ll be riding three to four hours per day, five days a week. 

Horse Riding in Zimbabwe
Horse Riding
Find yourself among a rhino herd or trotting through grazing zebras and wildebeest, as you get closer to wildlife than ever before. While horse-riding in itself is a beautiful way to travel, it allows you to get closer to the herds in a way that vehicles cannot. Being able to get closer to the wildlife means you’ll be able to record more accurate data on the size of a herd and its health. Alongside herd monitoring and observation, you’ll also join in with a number of other exciting activities by horseback, such as game counts, rounding up cattle for dipping, patrolling for fence disruption, and sweeping for snare traps.
Rhino Tracking
Rhino Tracking & Observation
Owing to its successful breeding programme, the project’s rhino numbers are steadily growing and getting stronger. It’s the hope that raising these rhinos in an environment as natural as possible will allow them to one day be released into the wild. For this reason, the rhinos are free-roaming, protected by the anti-poaching team that locates them each day using radio telemetry. You’ll learn to use the equipment to track down the rhinos where you’ll observe them and gather information on their behavioural and feeding patterns. All the information taken can significantly contribute to conservation decisions.
Walking with the elephants
Elephant Observation & Care
Unlike the rhinos, the elephants were rescued from a young age and are sadly too habituated to be released in the future. The project provides them with a high quality of life and strives to deliver them natural enrichment activities and exercise such as long walks in the bush. You’ll help care for the elephants, walk with them as they roam, observe their behaviour and assess their indicators of happiness and health. You’ll spend quality time getting to know their individual personalities, learn about their history and how they came to be rescued, and bond with these gentle giants, making incredible memories along the way.
Breakfast with Elephants
Breakfast with Elephants
Arguably, one of the most unique mornings you will have on the reserve is that spent eating breakfast alongside elephants! You will head out into the field, find a perfect spot and settle in as the project team prepare your on-location breakfast. It won’t be long before your unusual, majestic guests arrive. After an al fresco meal in the picturesque reserve, you'll head back on a morning walk with these gentle giants at your side for a surreal yet serene way to start the day.
Weapons Training
Weapons Training
In this heart-racing, action-packed activity, you’ll learn just what it takes to be part of the anti-poaching unit as you become an honorary member for a morning or afternoon. Both educational and fun, volunteers will experience exercises and drills used by the anti-poaching team to keep their skills sharp against potential threats. You'll also get to try your hand at target practice with paintball guns; this will likely turn into a healthy competition between your group!
Carnivore Feeding
Carnivore Feeding
Between a lion named Mambo and a crocodile named Crispin, the reserve has some hungry carnivores on its hands, and as a volunteer, you'll take part in feeding them. This activity makes for a change against the calming pace of grazing herds and allows for a front-seat viewing of Africa's best predators at mealtime! Contributing to the care of the reserves' carnivores is a chance to learn about the full circle of reserve management and what it takes to care for the more ferocious animals of Africa.
Community Outreach
Community Outreach
A meaningful part of your time on the project is spent in the company of local communities. You'll have a chance to exchange similarities and differences on cultural nights where the locals are invited to join you at the volunteer house for a night of music, dancing, conversation and traditions. Volunteers also help at the local school during term times, teaching English, playing games and imparting knowledge on wildlife conservation which you’ll have experienced first-hand out in the field.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
After arriving at Harare International Airport, you will be welcomed by a member of staff and transferred to the project site. Once there, you will have the opportunity to meet your fellow volunteers and members of the team before settling in for the evening.
Day 2-14 - Project Days:
During your project days, you’ll partake in a whole range of exciting conservational activities with days typically running from 6am-5pm. Occasionally, there will be some night activities such as the ‘cultural evening’ and even a game drive under the stars! Sunday is a free day which is yours to relax or embark on some incredible excursions at an additional cost. There is lots to explore, and the project team will be happy to discuss and suggest options with you.
Day 15 - Return Home:
Today is your final day, so after saying goodbye to the team and your new friends, you will transfer back to Harare Airport to catch your return flight home or commence your onward travel plans.

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.

Duration Price
Please choose a trip using the select menus to the left.
Price:


Accommodation

Whilst on the reserve, you'll be living alongside 3 other volunteers from this equestrian project, as well as up to 12 other volunteers from the Rhino and Elephant Conservation Project. You will be staying in a beautiful, thatched house which contains five large bedrooms typically shared on a same-sex basis, and bathrooms with western-style toilets and hot water.

Please note: Wi-Fi is not available at the project site, but with a large swimming pool and neighbouring lake, your free time will make for a perfect digital detox in the serenity of the African bush!

Meals & Beverages

Three meals a day will be provided for you on this project, all served buffet-style, not including packed lunches taken out in the field. Water, juice, tea and coffee are also available throughout the day. On Sundays, the chefs have a day off, but ingredients are supplied in the kitchen for you to prepare your own meals. Vegetarian and limited vegan options are available upon request and there is a small onsite bar at the volunteer house offering a variety of snacks, as well as both alcoholic and soft drinks, at an additional fee.

When is the best time to volunteer?

The activities on the reserve run year-round, with the exception of working with school children, which is term-time specific. This is an active reserve so you'll see wildlife no matter when you choose to visit, however, the weather may impact your chosen time to visit.

Summer (November-March) – Referred to as the wet season, this is the rainiest time of the year. Rain may fall in the afternoons and may even continue for a few days; however, more rain usually makes for more activity on the reserve. Vegetation improves food sources, so you may have a better chance of spotting wildlife grazing. Temperatures throughout the summer will still be warm, around 32°C/90°F at their peak.

Winter (April-October) – Alternatively, the dry season will see minimal rainfall, and the reserve’s animals will likely congregate around waterholes and rivers when other water sources dry up. In fact, it’s not uncommon to catch sight of one elephant, Mac, as he searches for water near the volunteer house! Temperatures during this period are much cooler and tend not often exceed 10°C/50°F in the mornings and 28°C/82°F in the afternoons. Night times are even colder, so we advise that you pack warm clothing in the event of an evening game drive!

Getting There

You will need to fly into and arrive at Harare International Airport by 1pm on your project start date, as the private transfer will depart from the airport shortly after this time. On your final day, your flight will need to depart after 12pm to provide enough time for your transfer back to the airport. Outside of these times, private airport transfers can be arranged though they will incur an additional fee of US$120.

Visa Requirements

Citizens of most countries, including the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and most of those within the EU, will be granted a 30-day tourist visa upon arrival into Zimbabwe. However, there is a charge for this of approximately USD $55. We strongly advise checking what visas are needed and their charges before travelling as they are subject to change. It's your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct visa and money in order to pay the fees upon arrival.

Fitness & Skills

To join this project, you must be an experienced and confident rider. You should have several years of experience riding different horses regularly and be confidently able to carry out a rising trot and canter. You’ll be expected to handle a horse on your own and be able to get out of challenging situations should they arise. If the project team feel your riding ability does not meet the required standard, you may be asked to switch to the Rhino & Elephant Conservation Project.

The horses are unable to carry weight exceeding 80kg, and you should be of a moderate fitness level to carry out the other activities on the reserve. Aside from being an experienced rider, there are no other specific skills needed for this project; we just ask that you come along with an open mind and willingness to get involved.

Vaccinations

As required vaccinations depend on an individual's medical history, we strongly recommend that you consult with your GP or travel nurse regarding your own immunisation needs. We also recommend that you check Fit for Travel's website for additional information on what you may need to do before your departure.


Download Project Guide Image Download Project Guide

What's Included

  • Accommodation
  • Airport transfers
  • Three meals per day
  • Tea, coffee, water and juice
  • Laundry service
  • A donation to the project

What's Not Included

  • Flights
  • Visas
  • Travel insurance
Where you can go
Contact Info
UK Office
The Great Traveller Ltd,
3 Dairy Yard
Star Street
Ware, Hertfordshire
SG12 7DX
United Kingdom

Opening hours:
   Mon-Fri 8:30am–5:30pm
   Sat 10am-4pm

T: +44(0) 208 885 4987