You can expect to take part in the following during your time on the Shamwari Conservation Experience.
As well as providing the opportunity for some incredible wildlife viewing, regular game drives enable the project to understand more about the animals on the reserve. 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 important reserve management decisions, such as whether certain species should be moved on or off the reserve.
Camera Traps & Telemetry Tracking
The use of camera traps allows the team to gather data on the reserve’s wildlife at all hours, including throughout the night, which gives the team more insight into the behaviour of nocturnal animals and those that are particularly elusive. For certain high-profile animals, such as cheetahs, telemetry tracking (or tracking using remote sources such as wire or radio) is used. This is particularly helpful in their efforts to mitigate human-animal conflict with neighbouring properties that house livestock which carnivores can pose a threat to.
Restoration, Rehabilitation & Alien Plant Control
To continue the restoration of the reserve’s once pristine conditions, volunteers help to remove invasive plant species that were introduced by the farmers who previously owned the land. By working to restore the natural biodiversity, you will be actively helping to preserve the reserve’s herbivores native food sources, as well as protecting natural water sources and reducing fire risks. You will also help to remove old structures and fencing that may pose a risk to the resident wildlife.
The Born Free Foundation
The Born Free Foundation is renowned for its incredible efforts in combating and raising awareness of the horrific ways in which wildlife is exploited in captivity around the world. On the grounds of the Shamwari Game Reserve, the foundation’s sanctuary and education centre houses rescued lions and leopards that are unable to be reintroduced back into the wild and you’ll have the opportunity to experience a behind the scenes tour, with the possibility of helping to clean enclosures and even feed the sanctuary’s resident cats!
The Animal Rehabilitation Centre
The Shamwari Animal Rehabilitation Centre was built to aid the rehabilitation of any injured animals found on the reserve or in the surrounding area. As a volunteer, you will receive a personalised tour of the centre where you’ll gain an insight into the rehabilitation process of injured animals, from rescue to release. You may also be invited to assist the veterinary nursing team, should the need arise, though this is not a guaranteed activity.
As part of this project, you will also get the opportunity to visit local communities, and alongside the Shamwari team, help to educate them on the benefits of conserving biodiversity and the importance of preserving the natural habitats of Shamwari and the surrounding area. You might assist in a variety of projects from creating and maintaining vegetable gardens and working on new recycling initiatives, to painting classrooms and building jungle gyms for the children.
These projects are often undertaken in conjunction with both local and foreign research and academic institutions. These fascinating projects can range from elephant fertility testing to capturing data on lesser-known species such as the brown hyena. The more the team understand about these species, the better equipped they will be to aid in their conservation.
There are a whole host of other activities which you may get to take part in during your time on the project, and the longer you visit the more you might do! These can include game capture, nature walks, sleep-outs on the reserve, assisting the anti-poaching team with patrols and even assisting with veterinary work. Whatever you are up to, you can expect to be busy at all times on this action-packed game reserve!
Below is an example of a 2-week itinerary, though you can take part for up to 12 weeks.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
Upon arrival at Port Elizabeth Airport, you will be transferred to the project site where your exciting conservation adventure begins! Once you have arrived, you will have an informative welcome orientation and briefing. The rest of the day will be free for you to settle in and get to know your fellow volunteers and some of the Shamwari team!
Day 2-14 - Project Days:
Each day, you will rise early for breakfast at 7:30am before meeting your volunteer coordinator at 8am to begin your morning activity. Lunch is then served from 12-1pm each day, after which you will head back out to take part in the afternoon's activity until 5pm. Evenings and weekends are typically free time for you to spend as you wish.
Day 15 - Final Day:
Sadly, today is your final day, and after saying a fond farewell to your fellow volunteers and the team, you will be transferred back to the airport for your return flight home or to continue with your independent travel plans. Wherever you're headed, you can be sure to be walking away with some unforgettable memories in tow!
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 available start dates. All dates shown are currently available for you to join this project!
Updates & Outcomes
Locally identified as Frontier Country, the Eastern Cape of South Africa had suffered severely over previous centuries as a result of hunting, drought and over-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 Private Game Reserve 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 an extensive range of wildlife back into the lands where they truly belong but have also taken the responsibility to manage and care for the area's natural resources of which they are now the custodians.
This blog is for all the elephant lovers out there. With news of the latest calves, some incredible interspecies friendships and a review from a recent volunteer on The Great Elephant Project, this blog has all you need to get you packing your trunk and on your way to volunteering with elephants!
Mowgli is a black panther who was rescued last year by the Born Free Foundation. He now resides at the Big Cat Sanctuary in the Shamwari Conservation Experience grounds. Take a look at recent footage of him in his new enclosure, showing he is very lively when no one is watching!
- 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.
Is this trip for you?
Volunteers are accommodated in the guest centre which has 15 twin-share rooms with en-suite bathrooms. Rooms are allocated on a same-sex basis, except for couples who are accommodated together. There are excellent communal facilities including a swimming pool, lounge and entertainment area, and a boma area with a fire pit. A laundry service is also available and there is access to Wi-Fi for an additional cost.
Three meals per day will be provided for you, along with a big cooked breakfast served once a week. Water, juice, tea and coffee are freely available, and soft drinks are available to purchase on-site or from local shops. Vegetarian and vegan diets can be catered for but please contact us if you have any other dietary requirements.
We recommend all volunteers have a moderate level of fitness, as the days are busy and you will be involved in a variety of activities! Whilst no specific skills are required, we ask that everyone arrives with a willingness to get involved and a respect for the 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 doctor/GP regarding your own vaccination needs as this will ensure you are protected and prepared to travel. In conjunction with this, we also recommend that you take a look at the Fit for Travel website for more helpful information on how best to prepare for your experience.
When is the best time to volunteer?
Nearly all the activities take place 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.
You will need to fly into Port Elizabeth Airport (PLZ) on your project start date and then transfer to the Shamwari Private Game Reserve. The transfer from the airport to the project site takes approximately 1.5 hours and while it is not included, it can be provided for an additional cost. If you would like to take the transfer on your start date, please ensure your flight arrives by 12:50pm at the latest as it departs at 1:30pm. Similarly, there is a return airport transfer available on your final day which arrives at Port Elizabeth Airport at midday. If you would like to take this transfer, please ensure your flight departs no earlier than 2pm. The cost of these airport transfers is $63 each way.
If you cannot find flights that arrive/depart in time for these transfers, we may be able to arrange a private transfer for you at a cost of $126 each way, but this is dependent on the availability of vehicles.
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.
What's included in the price of the project?
- Three meals per day
- Fruit juice, tea and coffee
- All volunteer activities
- English-speaking project coordinator
- A laundry service
- A donation to the project
What's not included?
- Airport transfers to and from the project site (available at an additional cost)
- Weekend excursions
- Alcoholic beverages, personal snacks, etc.
Covid-19 Travel Requirements
Use our ‘Covid-19 Travel Requirements’ tool to see if there are any travel restrictions or requirements currently in place for entering South Africa or for your return journey home.
The information provided relates to the current travel requirements and can change at any time.