You can expect to take part in the following during your time on the Shamwari Conservation Experience.
With regular monitoring, it is possible to identify individuals on the reserve and compile information about their family structures, feeding habits and other ecological information. This data enables the team to understand which important decisions need to be made in order to run the reserve in the most efficient way.
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
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
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
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 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.
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.
Annual game counts are conducted to indicate the carrying capacity of the reserve. In turn this provides information to the project team about predator to prey ratios and their movements, which then provides them with the correct information enabling them to make appropriate management decisions for the running of the reserve.
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
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 £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!
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!
We have a great update for you from the Shamwari Conservation Experience! Take a look at these awesome pictures to see just what project staff along with the amazing volunteers have been getting up to throughout October - from birthdays, to wildlife sightings, right through to working with some truly adorable children!
We have a fair few Great Projects that are situated in stunning South Africa, and some on its beautiful Eastern Cape near the bustling city of Port Elizabeth. During your free time on our volunteering projects, you are free to explore to your heart's content! Check our list of a few suggestions on the kinds of adventures you can get up to during your time in South Africa!
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.
Is this trip for you?
Volunteers will be staying in either the guest centre which contains 15 twin, en-suite rooms, or in tented accommodation that sleeps up to three people per tent and also has en-suite facilities. 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, even if you are staying in tented accommodation. A laundry service is also available and wireless internet can be obtained at an additional cost.
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.
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.
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 day time 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.
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 1:00pm. Your return flight needs to be after 2:00pm 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 550 ZAR each way. Please inquire for more information regarding this.
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.
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 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 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
- Airport transfers to Shamwari (SAR 550 each way, payable on arrival)
- Weekend excursions
- Alcoholic beverages, personal snacks etc.