Shamwari Conservation Experience

Volunteer with the 'Big Five' and the Born Free Foundation in one of South Africa's finest game reserves

From $1,232.00

  • Up to 16 Persons
  • All Meals Included
  • 14 - 84 Nights
  • Lions, Big Cats
  • Every Monday
  • Minimum Age 17 (Or 15 With A Parent)

Project Details


You can expect to take part in the following during your time on the Shamwari Conservation Experience.

Game Drives
Game Drives
Regular game drives enable the project to understand more about the animals on the reserve, and you will aid the team in their efforts to compile information on the family structures of certain species, their feeding habits, and other important ecological information. The data gathered on each game drive will allow the project team to make appropriate reserve management decisions, such as whether certain species should be moved in or off of the reserve.
Telemetry Tracking & Research
Telemetry Tracking & Research
Telemetry tracking (or tracking using remote sources such as wire or radio) is used throughout Shamwari - particularly with regards to high-profile species like cheetah and leopards, as well as the more elusive species in the area. This information can be used to help avoid human-animal conflict with neighbouring properties that house livestock which carnivores can pose a threat to.
Restoration, Rehabilitation & Alien Plant Control
Restoration, Rehabilitation & Alien Plant Control
In order to restore the reserve to its former glory, you will help to remove old fence lines and nourish degraded and overgrazed land. This activity also sustains the incredible work which the staff and volunteers have already completed on the reserve's 25,000 hectares. You will also remove invasive plant species to further help restore natural biodiversity and reduce fire risks.
Maintaining The Breeding Centre
Maintaining The Breeding Centre
Shamwari is an important breeding centre for a variety of species. Management here refers to anything from veld conditions assessment, (open country or grassland) mapping of breeding areas and alien vegetation, species abundance and managing water points. Information collected provides the project with data regarding the health of the surrounding environment and animal ecology.
The Born Free Foundation
The Born Free Foundation
An opportunity will be given on a weekly basis for you to volunteer with big cats (lions and leopards) at the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary. This world-renowned rehabilitation centre shares an ethos with the Shamwari Conservation Experience which is compiled of a passion for animal welfare and habitat protection. This certainly is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The Animal Rehabilitation Centre
The Animal Rehabilitation Centre
The Shamwari Animal Rehabilitation Centre was set up to aid in the rehabilitation of injured animals found on the reserve and surrounding community. The aim is to give the animals the short term care they need so they can be released to take on life in the wild once more. Please bear in mind that this activity is subject to the needs of the centre during the time of your stay.
Community Projects
Community Projects
You will help to educate local communities about the benefits of conserving biodiversity, and stressing the importance of preserving the natural habitats of Shamwari and the surrounding area. Weekly trips are made to the local community to assist in various projects that range from creating and maintaining vegetable gardens, recycling initiatives, painting classrooms and building jungle gyms.
Research Projects
Research Projects
These projects are often undertaken in conjunction with both local and foreign research and academic institutions. These exciting and fascinating projects may range from elephant fertility testing to capturing data on lesser-known species such as brown hyena. The more the project can understand these species, the better equipped they can be to aid their conservation.
General Reserve Maintenance
General Reserve Maintenance
Volunteers will also help with more general tasks. These can range from game capture and other wildlife veterinary work to orientation and nature walks, right through to sleep-outs on the Big Five reserve! Whatever you are up to, you can expect to be busy at all times on this action-packed game reserve!


The program generally runs in fortnightly. However, you may be asked to assist and conduct related weekend duties from time to time.

Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
Upon arrival at Port Elizabeth Airport, you will be transferred to the project site where your exciting conservation adventure will begin! Once you have arrived, you will have an enriching welcome orientation and briefing. The rest of the day will be free for you to take the time to comfortably settle in and meet the rest of your fellow volunteers.
Day 2-13 - Project Days:
On project days you will rise early and eat a tasty breakfast at 7.30am before meeting your volunteer coordinator from 8am. Morning activities will then begin which are distributed on a rotational basis. Operations run from 8am to 5pm daily. Lunch is served from 12-1pm each day and you will take part in the afternoon's activities between 1 and 5pm. Evenings (after 5.30pm) and weekends are generally available for you to spend as you wish.
Day 15 - Final Day:
Unfortunately, today is your final day! Once you have said your fond farewells to fellow volunteers and facilitators, your transfer back to the airport will depart at 11am for your return flight home, or you will commence onward independent travel plans. While you may not want to leave the project, you will certainly walk away with a lifetime of lasting and precious memories!

Dates, Availability & Price

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 project start dates.

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

Updates & Outcomes

Locally identified as Frontier Country, the Eastern Cape of South Africa had suffered severely over previous centuries as result of hunting, drought and farming on the lands. Several of the first encounters with the iconic 'Big 5' are said to have been documented here, however, most of the species of fauna and flora were eliminated (with the exception of a few species) before the project team came to the rescue. The Shamwari Conservation Experience was established to return the land to its former glory including the wildlife species that once roamed freely. Over the past twenty years a dedicated team of conservationists have not only been successful in reintroducing and extensive range of wildlife back into the lands where they truly belong, but have also taken responsibility to manage and care for the natural resources of which they are now custodians.

2017 was a successful year for this incredible conservation project in South Africa, as they continue to rescue wildlife in dire need of care, such as lions, baby elephants and orphaned rhinos. The reserve has also welcomed the births of many new residents - including Berry the baby elephant! Additionally, Shamwari has been placed on the list of Africa's Sustainable Tourism Gems as well as even managing to donate essential supplies to the victims of the Garden Route Fires in June!


World Animal Day 2018

World Animal Day 2018

  • 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. 

Read More

Is this trip for you?



Volunteers will be staying in the guest centre which contains 15 twin, en-suite rooms. The guest centre contains a plunge pool, a dining area, a common lounging area fit with cable TV and a DVD player and a boma and fire pit area which is available for use by all volunteers. A laundry service is also available and wireless internet can be obtained at an additional cost.

Meals and Beverages

Meals and Beverages

Three meals per day will be provided during your time on the project. Bottled water and soft drinks will need to be purchased from local trading stores which are open daily. There are no facilities to service Kosher or Halal requirements but the supply of such meals can be serviced at an extra cost. Please, however, be sure to advise the team of such requirements with plenty of notice to ensure your dietary needs can be met for the duration of your stay.

Fitness & Skills

Fitness & Skills

We recommend that you come with a moderate level of fitness as the days are jam-packed and you will be involved in a whole host of activities, so don't be afraid to get your hands dirty! No specific skills are required for you to be able to take part, all we ask is that you arrive with a willingness to get involved with tasks and a dedication to wildlife conservation.



The vaccinations required will depend on the individual needs 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.

Project Details

When is the best time to volunteer?

Nearly all of the activities take place all year round with the exception of the community-based projects; schools are closed in South Africa between mid-December and early January. Therefore, if the community projects associated with the Shamwari Conservation Experience are on your bucket list, then volunteering on the project at this time of year should be avoided.

There is not a big difference in daytime temperatures throughout the year around the project area. These can reach 35°C (74°F) but average 20 – 25°C (68-77°F). Night-time temperatures are affected by the seasons with the winter months (*June, July and August) dropping between 5-10°C. The rest of the year temperatures 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 remaining extremely dry.

Getting There

The easiest way to get here is to arrive into Johannesburg (O.R. Tambo International Airport), and then book a connecting domestic flight from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth. The project is approximately 1 hour (75 kilometres) from Port Elizabeth Airport. Please ensure that you book flights to arrive in Port Elizabeth by 12.30pm on your project start date. You will be met by the coach office in the arrivals area and transferred to Shamwari at 1pm. Your return flight needs to be after 2pm to ensure enough time to get to the airport from the project site from which you will depart at 11am on your final day. Please bear in mind, airport transfers are NOT included in the project price and cost 715 Rand each way.

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.

Visa Requirements

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. The exchange rate is around 1 ZAR = 0.06 GBP, 0.07 USD, 0.07 EUR. Please note exchange rates are subject to change.

What's included in the price of the project?
  • Accommodation
  • All meals and juice, tea and coffee
  • Volunteer activities (including at the Born Free Foundation)
  • Full-time English speaking ground staff
  • Towels and sleeping bags
What's not included?
  • Flights
  • Airport transfers to Shamwari (715 Rand each way, payable on arrival)
  • Weekend excursions
  • Alcoholic beverages, personal snacks etc.

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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

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