Shamwari Conservation Experience

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

From £823.00

  • Up to 16 Persons
  • All Meals Included
  • 14 - 84 Nights
  • Big Cats,Lions
  • Every Monday
  • Minimum Age 18

Project Details


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

Game count & monitoring
Game count & monitoring
Annual game counts of species (including rhino, elephants, lions, leopards and antelope) are carried out in order to establish the carrying capacity of the reserve, the movement of animals to and from the area, as well as predator to prey ratios.
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 the more elusive species like cheetah and leopards.
Restoration and rehabilitation of reserve landscapes and fencing
Restoration and rehabilitation of reserve landscapes and fencing
This is integral to the well-being of the reserve and ensures its long term revival as a pristine landscape suitable for an extensive collection of flora and fauna.
Maintenance of the reserve as a healthy breeding centre
Maintenance of the reserve as a healthy breeding centre
Shamwari is an important breeding centre for a variety of species. Management here can refer to anything from veld (open country or grassland) conditions assessment, mapping of breeding area, mapping of alien vegetation, monitoring animal numbers and managing water points.
Alien plant control
Alien plant control
An essential part of your volunteer duties here, alien plant control helps to get rid of unwanted (and potentially poisonous plants), increase the natural biodiversity of the reserve, as well as decrease fire risk.
Volunteering at Born Free Foundation
Volunteering at 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 - a world-renowned animal rehabilitation centre.
Volunteering at the Animal Rehabilitation Centre
Volunteering at the Animal Rehabilitation Centre
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 that they can be successfully released back into the environment.
Community Projects
Community Projects
This responsibility involves the education of local communities in the benefits of conserving biodiversity and stresses the importance of conserving the natural habitats of Shamwari and the surrounding area. Weekly trips are made into the local community to assist in various community projects that range from creating and maintaining vegetable gardens, recycling projects, painting classrooms and building jungle gyms.
Restoration and Rehabilitation of Reserve Landscapes
Restoration and Rehabilitation of Reserve Landscapes
The need to return the once pristine landscape to its original splendour includes the collecting and removal of old fence lines and rehabilitating degraded and overgrazed land.
Research Projects
Research Projects
These projects are often undertaken in conjunction with both local and foreign research and academic institutions and may range from elephant fertility testing to capturing data on lesser known species such as Brown Hyena.


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

Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
Upon arrival into Port Elizabeth airport you will be transferred to the project site. Once you have arrived, you will have a welcome orintation and briefing. You will then have the rest of the day to settle in and meet the rest of the volunteers.
Day 2-13 - Project Days:
On these days you will rise early and eat breakfast for 7.30am before meeting your volunteer coordinator from 8am.
You will then begin morning activities which are distributed on a rotational basis. Operations run from 8am to 5pm daily. Lunch is served from 12-1pm every 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 goodbye to your fellow volunteers and facilitators, you will transfer back to airport for you return flight home or you will commence onward independent travel plans.

Dates, Availability & Price

To secure a place on this project a deposit of £450 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!

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

*Rates other than GBP are estimates based on today's exchange rates. All payments are made in GBP.

Updates & Outcomes

Locally identified as Frontier Country, the Eastern Cape of South Africa enjoys unmatched biodiversity which unfortunately has suffered severely over past centuries as result of wildlife, fauna and flora being all but eradicated (with the exception of a few species). The impact of the early settlers in particular has left its mark on a district where several of the first encounters with wildlife in Southern Africa were documented.

This 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 flora and fauna but have also taken responsibility to manage and care for the natural resources which they are now custodians of.

As well as completing a diverse range of duties and activities (specified in the 'itinerary' and 'duties' tabs), volunteers will also get the opportunity to have lectures from an extensive range of experienced conservation specialists during their time here.

Wildlife Conservation Is EVERYBODY'S Concern - 50% Of All Species Could Be Endangered By Mid Century

Wildlife Conservation Is EVERYBODY'S Concern - 50% Of All Species Could Be Endangered By Mid Century

Sadly, there are so many endangered species all over the world, and the responsibility is upon everyone to change these circumatnces. We shouldn't just leave it up to wildlife conservationists, as they can't do it all themselves. The Great Projects aim to spread awareness of the shared responsibility of humans, to care and preserve the animals we are slowly destroying.

Read More

Is this trip for you?



Accommodation is within a purpose built guest centre that contains 15 twin bedded en-suite rooms, a dining room area, plunge pool, common lounging area with cable TV and a DVD player. There is also tented accommodation, sleeping 3 per tent with en-suite facilities. The availability at the time will depend on which accommodation you will be staying in. Wireless internet is also available at a small fee and laundry service can also be provided once per week.

Meals and Beverages

Meals and Beverages

During your time here, you will be given three meals per day as part of the project price. Bottled water and soft drinks will need to be purchased from local trading stores open daily.

There are no facilities to service Kosher or Halal requirements but the supply of such meals can be serviced at extra cost with adequate warning.

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! In terms of skills, all we ask is that you arrive with a willingness to get involved, have a respect for the wildlife and project staff with whom you’ll be working and aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty!



The vaccinations required will depend on your medical history of each volunteer. We recommend that you consult with your GP regarding your own immunisation needs. In conjunction with this, we would recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website.

Project Details

When is the best time to volunteer?

On this project nearly all of the activities take part all year round meaning the main factor that affects peoples’ decisions on when to volunteer is the weather.

In the coastal region where this project is situated there is not a big difference in day time 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 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 ongoing 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.

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 before 11am on your project start date. You will be met at the airport by a member of staff at the transport service and will be transferred to Shamwari at 1:00pm. You return flight needs to be after 2:00pm.

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

Holders of UK, most other EU countries, Australian, Canadian and USA passports do not require a Visa for South Africa. Upon entry you will be issued with a 3- month permit (at no cost). Make sure the correct date and length of stay in the country is entered onto your visa when at immigration. If you are travelling from Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Russian Federation, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Algeria, Angola, Comoros, China, Egypt, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mexico, Madagascar, Morocco, Mozambique, Paraguay, Rwanda, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia or Vietnam, you will require a Visa and should consult your South African embassy.

Currency and Exchange Rates

The currency in South Africa is the 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.

What's included in the price of the project?
  • Accommodation during your time volunteering
  • 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?
  • Travel insurance
  • Flights
  • Airport transfers to Shamwari (ZAR 550 each way, payable on arrival)
  • Weekend excursions
  • Alcoholic beverages, personal snacks etc.

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Give Us A Call


+44 208 885 4987

If you have any questions about this project or would like help finding the perfect project for you then please feel free to give us a call or send us through your enquiry and we will be happy to help.

Nikita & team.

Project Reviews

Where you can go
Contact Info
UK Office
The Great Traveller Ltd,
3 Dairy Yard
Star Street
Ware, Hertfordshire
SG12 9BX
United Kingdom
Opening hours: 9am–5pm

T: +44(0) 208 885 4987