This, of course, is one of the main activities you will do when on the project. Nearly every day, with the exception of the weekend, will start and end with 2 hours of game drives to check on the lions. This offers an incredible opportunity to see these beautiful animals as you record their behaviour and hunting habits.
As the Global White Lion Trust was the first to reintroduce white lions into the Timbavati region it has been, and remains, very important to ensure the habitat continues to be maintained and outside factors such as alien plants are not able to significantly change the ecosystem here. Therefore activities such as erosion control and alien plant removal can form part of your time on the project.
This is a key aspect to ensure a future for not only the project but also the species in the region. Important tasks such as predator and prey surveys need to be carried out in order to understand how the lion population is managing, and to therefore understand what pride size can live in what area and exactly what the region needs in order for the pride to be sustained. This is something that can be shared between the three reserves at the project, each home to a different pride of lions.
Working with the local communities forms a very important part of this project. Whilst on the project you will be a part of this by helping create and maintain nurseries and vegetable gardens and assisting in recycling projects and mural painting with the local children at their schools! Volunteers have the opportunity to visit the local school on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday should they wish to.
Every Sunday is free for everyone to do as they please. You can take the day to relax at the volunteer house or leave the reserve to take part in activities such as trips to Kruger National Park, Horseback safari’s, Blyde River Canyon waterfalls, and many more. Please note these activities will be at your own cost and we recommend booking these on arrival so you can discuss any options with your fellow volunteers.
Wilderness Camp Out
Get in touch with nature as you camp out under the stars. This gives you a fantastic chance to bond with your fellow volunteers whilst listening to the incredible roars of the lions which can be heard across the project site. Please bear in mind the camp out is dependent on external factors such as the weather, and what time volunteers return to camp after a hard day's work.
Trip To See The Sunset
After a hard days work you and your fellow volunteers will have the chance to head out on a drive to an incredibly picturesque location to watch the famed African sunset. One day during the week you will be able to head out and relax whilst watching this unique sight, and your project facilitators will know exactly where to go to get the best view!
Friday Night Braai
Friday evenings give volunteers the chance to relax and enjoy a traditional South African braai amidst the incredible surroundings of the South African bush. Braais are seen as an important social event in South Africa, so this will be the perfect time to get to know both the project staff and your fellow volunteers a little bit better!
Exploring The Local Area
There is also the chance to explore the local town of Hoedspruit and the surrounding area and really immerse yourself in the culture of the Timbavati region. You will have the chance to grab a bite to eat in the town, explore the local shops, or even take a trip to the bush pub, but please bear in mind that this is a working week so whilst there is no curfew, you must be ready to start bright and early the following day!
Please note that this is only a rough guideline, and the itinerary may be subject to change depending on the needs of the project.
Day 1 - Arrival:
You will arrive into Hoedspruit Airport by either plane or coach from Johannesburg and be met by the project facilitator. You will then transfer to project site by car, which takes approximately 30 minutes, stopping on the way at a supermarket so you can buy any snacks or drinks you would like for the week ahead. Upon arrival you will settle into your accommodation and meet the project team and your fellow volunteers before a health and safety briefing and orientation is given.
Day 2 – 14 – Project Days:
Each day starts (depending on the season) at 5:30 where both you and the volunteer facilitator will go to check on the lions and to see the other animals. Breakfast is usually from around 7.30 – 9.00am again depending on the season. When breakfast is finished you will start the morning’s activities followed by lunch between 12 – 2pm and then it is time for the afternoon activities. Before dinner, around 4.30pm you will go on another game drive and check on the lions. Dinner is normally around 7pm and then you have the evenings to relax. Evening activities could include a camp out, a sunset drive, and a Friday night braai.
Day 15 – Final Day:
After breakfast and some fond farewells, you will transfer back to Hoedspruit Airport for your return flight or to continue your independent travel plans.
Sunday is your day off and there are activities you can do in the area ranging from day trips to Kruger National Park, horseback safari’s, Blyde River Canyon waterfalls and many more. The trip to the Kruger National Park is something that is not to be missed, and this will run if 4 volunteers show an interest. You will be up bright and early at around 4.30am in the summer and 5.30am in the winter, and as well as a game drive around the park you will get to tuck into a delicious picnic and visit the Satara Camp. Please note there is a minimal cost involved with this trip.
Dates, Availability & Price
To secure a place on this project a deposit of £195 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
The white lion reintroduction project officially began in 2001 when Linda Tucker, the founder of the Global White Lion Protection Trust published her book "Mystery of the White Lions: Children of the Sungod," and this book was the result of 10 years of research and first-hand experience of the white lions' history and mythical origins.
In 2003 a piece of reserve land, which was identified by indigenous elders as the 'heart of the sacred heritage lands' in the Timbavati region was acquired before, in 2004, a white lioness and her 3 cubs were reintroduced. Then a year later a male white lion who was due to be trophy hunted was rescued and and reintroduced into the region.
Since the white lions' release into their natural distribution range in 2006 the founding pride has proven its ability to survive and hunt and has successfully embraced the second phase of this project; integration with tawny lions.
Moving forward the project aims to establish a subpopulation of white lions integrated with tawny lions in their greater endemic range to ensure their long term survival and protection. Alongside this the Global White Lion Protection Trust is also campaigning to have white lions listed by the IUCN as critically endangered and also for the Minister of the Environment in South Africa to have them protected as an animal of national and cultural importance.
In August 2016 the project took a big step forward by introducing Letaba, one of the big white lion males, to two female tawny lions in the hope that they would start their own pride and eventually mate. The release went very well and Letaba has now been joined by his brother Reagus and the pride is doing well together.
We've received news all the way from South Africa about the majestic white lions on the white lion conservation project and we want to share it with you! We are delighted to report that the newly formed Akeru pride is doing well and all of the lions have come to accept each other (more or less!) so read up and see what Dorethee the volunteer coordinator had to say!
International Dawn Chorus Day occurs annually on 7th May. It aims to celebrate the magnificent phenomenon that is the dawn chorus, where several species of bird sing their songs as dawn breaks across the globe. However, it is not just birds that participate, some animals that you would never expect their melodies at dawn...
Visiting our White Lion Conservation Project in South Africa? Find out what else you could get up to during your stay!
Is this trip for you?
The accommodation on this project is in a converted farmhouse with 2 shared bedrooms and 2 shared bathrooms. The two rooms house 3/4 volunteers each and whilst there is no air conditioning they do both have ceiling fans. Linen and towels are provided and there is a washing machine on site. There is also good mobile phone reception and internet access is available for your entire stay.
All meals whilst on the project are prepared by volunteers and a weekly budget of R500 is given so you can purchase food for the week from the supermarket on the day you arrive. There is then another trip to the supermarket on the first weekend so that more food for the second week can be bought. Whilst at the supermarket you are free to buy any additional snacks or soft drinks you wish, although this will be at your own cost.
The work required during this project is not overly-exerting, but it is advised that all participants have a moderate level of fitness. No specific skills or experience are required, just commitment to the project and its aims. You must be prepared to work alongside other members of the team.
The vaccinations required will depend on your medical history. 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.
You will need to arrive into Hoedspruit
Airport on the start date of your project where you will be met by a member of
staff who will then transport you to the project base (approximately 30 minutes
away). Hoedspruit can be easily reached via Johannesburg, either by flying with
South African Airways or by shuttle bus.
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 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. For up-to-date rates, click here.
What's included in the price of the project?
- A monetary contribution to the project itself
- Airport Transfers
- Full orientation and support from the project staff
- Money for a weekly food shop
- Cooking facilities
- Laundry facilities (with a small fee)
- Weekly trip to Hoedspruit for food and other supplies
- Internet Access
What's not included?
- Travel and health insurance (please check you have one covering all aspects of the trip)
- Any other drinks or snacks outside of the game reserve
- Visa fees if applicable