The activities you take part in as a volunteer on the Victoria Falls Conservation Experience will vary depending on the needs of the game reserve, however, key focusses and activities on the project are detailed below.
Wildlife monitoring is a vital part of reserve management as it helps to gain an understanding of which animals are thriving on the reserve and if any are facing pressures from their environment. On a series of game drives and bush walks, you will help to collect data on elephants, rhinos, predators and more, which assists the team in making important conservation decisions. Whilst out in the field, keep your eyes peeled for the more elusive members of the ‘Big 5’, they may be closer than you realise!
With a number of reserve maintenance activities such as anti-poaching snare sweeps, fence patrols, soil erosion control and waterhole digging, volunteers will have the opportunity to physically contribute to the protection of Zimbabwe’s wildlife, as well as helping the reserve to continue their successful operations, including rhino conservation which is helping to increase numbers of the critically endangered black rhino.
The reserve takes pride in its commitment to ‘going green’, helping to minimise their impact on the natural environment. As a volunteer, you’ll help with the planting and harvesting of fruit and vegetables in the onsite vegetable garden, as well as creating compost which is imperative to the project’s success in sustainability. You may also lend a hand with solar pump instillations or in the indigenous tree nursery.
Alien Plant Removal
Alien plant species threaten the wildlife as they encroach on native plants that form the diets of the herbivores on the reserve, which then has a knock-on effect along the food chain! You will therefore help to dig up, remove or cut back these invasive plant species with a focus on Lantana Camara removal. Your help in removing these plants will make room for indigenous plants to thrive, maintaining a balanced and healthy ecosystem for the animals.
Victoria Falls Visit
It wouldn’t be called the Victoria Falls Conservation Experience without a visit to Africa’s most iconic waterfall! With a width of 1,708 metres and a height of 108 metres, the Victoria Falls is the world's largest sheet of falling water, and with your group, you’ll spend a morning exploring the falls and finding out why the locals call it ‘The Smoke that Thunders’. For those thrill-seekers, you may wish to revisit the area in your free time for white water rafting or even bungee jumping!
Visit To Masuwe School
Another rewarding element of this project comes in the form of visiting local primary schools and helping with a range of activities that help build a better future for the children. You might assist with construction or maintenance tasks or tend to the school’s vegetable gardens. You’ll also spend some time with the teachers and students and have the opportunity to help shape environmentally conscious young minds!
A Night Under the Stars
Get in touch with Zimbabwean nature in a different setting - as you camp out under the stars! Serving as a perfect outdoor adventure, as well as a peaceful treat, you’ll be able to relax and unwind around the campfire and drift off to the sounds of wild Africa! If you’re lucky, you might even spot a few nocturnal animals that you may miss in your day-to-day activities.
Below is a sample itinerary for a 2-week stay, but please be aware, itineraries are subject to change and may also include additional activities not listed below.
Day 1 - (Sunday) The Adventure Begins:
You will be met at the arrivals hall of Victoria Falls International Airport before being transferred to the project site. You will spend the remainder of your day settling in, meeting your fellow volunteers and the team, and taking a tour of the project site. You might even spot a number of iconic African animals as your accommodation is located right in the heart of the reserve!
Day 2 - Project Briefing & Activities Begin:
After breakfast, you’ll spend the day learning about the project and its aims via a pre-week briefing and a day out on the reserve on orientation game drives! Today, you’ll see for yourself the impressive reserve and the bountiful wildlife you’ll be supporting by volunteering on this project.
Day 3 - A Trip To The Victoria Falls:
Your first Tuesday on the project will see you standing in awe of the Victoria Falls! As it is just a 10-minute drive away, you’ll have the whole morning to explore and witness the world’s largest sheet of falling water in all its glory. You’ll then return to camp for lunch, before venturing out in the field to tackle your first conservation activity!
Day 4 - Visiting The Local School:
On Wednesdays, volunteers visit the Masuwe Primary School and help with a variety of tasks, such as small construction projects and even fund-raising events! Here, you’ll have a chance to meet the incredible teachers and children and get to know the young minds of Zimbabwe. Later in the evening, you’ll head out on the reserve by the water for a classic African sundowner!
Day 5 - Camping Out In The Bush:
This morning, volunteers will work together to complete a conservation activity. Then in the afternoon, you’ll venture into the bush to set up camp for a night under the stars! With your fellow volunteers and coordinators, you’ll be able to relax around the fire and take in the sights and sounds of the reserve at night!
Day 6 - Alien Plant Removal:
You will start the day by packing up camp, before embarking on a bush walk or game drive in search of the 'Big 5'. The afternoon will see you tackling the alien plant Lantana Camara which has spread itself across the reserve, this will make room for native plants to grow. This evening, you’ll be able to relax and look forward to the weekend.
Day 7-8 - Free Time:
The weekends are free for you to spend as you please. You may wish to revisit the Victoria Falls to take part in some adrenaline-pumping activities, such as white-water rafting or bungee jumping, or perhaps, do some shopping in town or simply sunbathe and relax by the pool. You could also spend an evening at the famous Boma restaurant for an authentic meal and some incredible entertainment – the choice is yours!
Day 9-13 - Conservation Activities:
These days will follow a similar format as the first week, and you can expect to take part in 2 different conservation activities on the reserve each day. You can guarantee that you’ll be kept busy with a number of exciting and important activities during this Monday-Friday, all of which will greatly contribute to the conservation of Zimbabwe’s most-loved wildlife.
Day 14 - Time To Return Home:
Saturday will mark the end of your stay at the project. Sadly, it's time to say your goodbyes and begin your journey home or onward travel plans with a lifetime of 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
This volunteer programme has been developed to address real conservation needs and issues primarily in the Victoria Falls area and beyond. The project team acknowledges the importance of a holistic approach to tackling conservation issues and is all about making a difference through the integration of conservation, education and community. Within the framework of the programme, the project tackles issues, encourages community involvement, and creates awareness of conservation solutions.
The project has teamed up with other great organisations who share their vision, including TUSK Trust, the Children in the Wilderness Foundation, and the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF). The vision is to provide an education centre that is recognised for its high standards in the conservation and community work achieved, thereby enriching the lives of all people involved and simultaneously preserving the unique natural environment and biodiversity of the Victoria Falls area.
- posted on 21/09/2018
- by Leanne Sturrock
This World Rhino Day (22nd September), learn about the plight of one of Africa’s most famous and at-risk species. But while white rhinos are something of a poster-child for conservation, it’s important that their Asian cousins are not forgotten - in fact, it is the continents own Javan species which is the most endangered rhino of all.
- posted on 13/11/2017
- by Matthew Prior
Our western calendar is full of unofficial observances, celebrating anything from ‘Ice Cream For Breakfast Day’ in January, to ‘Monkey Day’ in December. There are some serious ones, and some downright ridiculous. However, today’s blog is all about one of the more uplifting occasions: World Kindness Day! Join us as we celebrate the hard work of our amazing volunteers, and see how you can help too!
In light of World Rhino Day 2017, take a look at this infographic which details the current state of this endangered species, and see how you can assist in their conservation.
Is this trip for you?
During your time on the project, you will stay in the conservation centre, right in the heart of the reserve. Every volunteer is allocated their own private room (unless joining as a couple) with bathrooms shared between 2-4 volunteers.
The facility boasts a spacious and comfortable living area, with a fully equipped kitchen and canteen where all meals are prepared and served. One of the many highlights of the conservation centre is the open-air entertainment area, which includes a deck and swimming pool which overlooks the reserve - allowing you to see some incredible wildlife even whilst relaxing during your free time.
Three meals a day will be provided for you, consisting of a mix of western and traditional Zimbabwean foods, all prepared by the resident chef. On some days, meals (particularly lunches) will be pre-made, packed, and taken out into the field, giving you the opportunity to make the most of your time in African bush while taking part in conservation and community activities. Most dietary requirements, including vegetarian and vegan, can be catered for, though we kindly ask you to make us aware of any before arriving.
As this project involves some physical work, mainly in environmental and construction tasks, a moderate level of fitness is required. All volunteers must also be comfortable walking up to 6km per day, and whilst no specific skills or experience are required, a positive attitude and the ability to work well as a part of a team are certainly key!
There are no specific vaccination or medical requirements needed to join this project. Therefore, the vaccinations required will depend on the individual medical history of each volunteer and we recommend that you consult with your doctor/GP or a travel clinic regarding your own vaccination needs. We also recommend the Fit For Travel website for helpful information on how best to prepare for your experience.
When Is The Best Time To Volunteer?
The majority of activities take place year-round, so the main factor that might affect your decision of when to volunteer is the weather, and there are two distinct seasons here known as the ‘green’ season and the ‘safari’ season.
November to April: This is summer and also considered the ‘green’ season. During these months you can expect warm weather with average daytime temperatures of 30°C (86°F), but also some rain, with December and January being the wettest months of the year. Importantly, however, the majority of the game animals have their young at the beginning of this season making it a popular time to travel for anyone keen to see some of the reserve's youngest resident's, including baby rhinos, elephants and a whole host of other new-born animals.
May to October: This is the main ‘safari’ season and the weather is typically hot and dry. With fewer leaves on the trees, this provides a better viewing opportunity of the animals. May, June and July are the coldest months of the year but still have daytime temperatures of approximately 25°C (77°F). September and October, however, are the hottest months with temperatures reaching 33°C (91°F).
You will need to arrive at the Victoria Falls International Airport (VFA) on your project start date in time for the 3pm transfer, where you will be met by a member of the team and transferred to the project site. This transfer takes approximately 20-30 minutes. If you are already in Victoria Falls or would prefer to arrive a day earlier, a transfer can be arranged for you from the Wild Horizons office in the town of Victoria Falls at 11am on your start date.
All volunteers will require a 'Business Visa' in order to join this project, and these can either be obtained in advance of travel from your local Zimbabwean Embassy or on arrival into Victoria Falls Airport. This visa currently costs US$55 for most European and US citizens, US$70 for Canadian citizens and US$55 for UK and Irish citizens. Please be aware, it is the responsibility of every volunteer to ensure they obtain the correct visa to enter Zimbabwe and take part.
What's included in the price of the project?
- Three meals per day
- A trip to the Victoria Falls
- An airport transfer on arrival
What's not Included:
- Additional weekend activities
- Departure airport transfer (this can be arranged for approximately $30)