- posted on May 3, 2017
- by Leanne Sturrock
Find out what our volunteers can expect to get up to at the Wildlife Orphanage In South Africa over the coming months!
Play a vital role in the education of underprivileged children in South Africa.
This phenomenal project focuses on inspiring and educating underprivileged children in South Africa about the importance of wildlife conservation. South Africa has a large proportion of underprivileged children, which results in dramatic overcrowding in schools. It is common for classes to be larger than 160 pupils and as a consequence, the basic education of these children suffers which has serious implications for the surrounding environment as well as their own future.
This exceptional experience provides volunteers with the unique opportunity of not only caring for some of South Africa’s most iconic species such as cheetahs, wild dogs and meerkats, but also helps to connect the children's learning to the welfare of the orphanage's animals, with an aim to inspire a generation of underprivileged schoolchildren to become passionate about wildlife conservation. Most of the children live in areas where the surrounding wildlife continues to be eliminated, so educating them regarding these issues is a vital part of conserving South Africa's biodiversity as these very children are the future generation of caregivers for the ecosystem.
As a volunteer, you will be at the very heart of this inspiring project. Lead small classes of children, teaching them about animal conservation efforts and also educating them on social issues. As well as working with the local school children, you will assist with the care of the animals at the sanctuary by taking part in day-to-day activities such as food preparation and sometimes basic medical care.
If you're looking to make a real difference to both South Africa's animals and its youth, this could be the project for you!
Every Monday, a new group of 8 children are welcomed into the bush school where they spend the next few days learning about conservation as well as other important social issues. As a volunteer, you will play a vital role in educating these children as well as helping to take care of the animals here. Activities whilst on the project include:
Please note itineraries are subject to change and what follows is simply a rough guideline. This project usually runs in blocks of two weeks. If you choose to stay for a longer duration, the itinerary will repeat itself fortnightly. If you are joining for 1 week you will return to Hoedspruit Eastgate Airport for your return flight or continue your independent travel plans on day 8.
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!
"We meet regularly with teachers and the headmasters of our local schools. The teachers have reported significant progress in their students who have stayed at the Wildlife Orphanage. The improvements that teachers have reported include increased interaction in the classroom, and a greater motivation to learn and speak up in classes. The children are much more polite and attentive in class, a significant increase in self-confidence and self-esteem."– Michelle, Project Director.
The aim of this project is to inspire underprivileged children to discover a passion for their environment, education, development and motivation. This is achieved through intimate and interactive lessons within the wildlife orphanage and by learning about the wildlife itself.
The children who visit the orphanage benefit greatly from having a hands-on education supplement that the volunteers provide. The orphaned animals also benefit from having suitable care and accommodation in a world-class rehabilitation centre, something which volunteers here in South Africa play a vital role in.
2017 proved to be a very successful year for the project, and the dedicated team has even expanded to welcome new members! The rescue of orphaned animals continues to take place of course and this year they have the seen the likes of baby squirrels, baby bush pigs and more make their way into the sanctuary. The project also aims to rehabilitate as many animals as possible, and reintroduce them to their natural habitats wherever possible for another shot at life in the wild and this year various animals such as a brown snake eagle and a family of jackals have so far been released.
Find out what our volunteers can expect to get up to at the Wildlife Orphanage In South Africa over the coming months!
We wanted to find out what volunteers will be getting up to at the Wildlife Orphanage in South Africa this year, and it turns out that there is an awful lot going on! Coming up in the next few months is the release of the jackals and maybe even the mongooses, so take a look and see if you want to get involved and help!
Our latest update comes from the Wildlife Orphanage in South Africa where volunteers have been working hard so far in 2017! Take a look at the blog and find out more about the release of Molopo the crocodile, how volunteers have helped care for some baby animals, and how their hard work has helped with the creation of some new animal enclousures!
Whilst at the project base, volunteers share rondavels (round chalet) with a thatch roof or have a room in the main house. The chalets are rustic but comfortable with western toilets and hot water showers. There is no mains electricity on site, but lighting and power are provided by solar energy and a generator. The project staff go to every effort to make your stay a comfortable one, and if you are travelling as a couple, family, or group of friends, they will try to accommodate you in your own private room (subject to availability.)
Whilst on the project, you will be given three meals a day - these included in the price of the project. Food consists of local cuisine, however, if you have any dietary requirements they will be happy to cater to your needs. It is important to bear in mind that should you wish to have any alcoholic beverages or snacks, these are not included and come at an extra cost.
While the project does not include much manual work, there are regular walks to be taken with the wildlife and you will have to keep up with the children! Therefore, a moderate level of fitness is necessary, and you must feel comfortable interacting with children and the team, but no specific experience, skills, or teaching qualifications are required.
The vaccinations required will depend upon your individual medical history. Therefore, we recommend that you consult with your GP regarding your own immunisation needs to ensure you are fully protected and prepared to travel. In conjunction with this, we would also recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website for more helpful information regarding this.
With the majority of this project spent at the wildlife orphanage, there are no real seasonal issues except the changes in weather.
Summer which is from mid-October to mid-February is characterized by hot, sunny weather - often with afternoon thunderstorms that clear quickly, leaving a warm, earthy, uniquely African smell in the air.
Autumn which is from mid-February to April offers in some ways the best weather. During this time very little rain falls over the whole country, and it is warm but not too hot.
Winter, from May to July is hot and dry but can have cold evening and night time temperatures as low as 7°C (45°F).
Spring which is August to mid-October can be known as baby season, which means you have a much higher chance of seeing and working with any new born babies at the wildlife orphanage!
You will need to fly into Johannesburg (O.R Tambo International Airport) in order to get to Hoedspruit - a town situated at the foot of the Klein Dragonsberg (Dargon Mountains) and in close proximity to Kruger National Park. From here, you will be picked up by a member of staff and taken to the project site. There are two options for getting to Hoedspruit from Johannesburg:
The Ashton Shuttle Bus:
If choosing this option, you will need to book accommodation for one night at an additional cost and arrive into Johannesburg the day before your start date. This is because the shuttle bus will depart from The Rockfig Centre at 6.45 am. Therefore, we recommend you get a good night's sleep so you can wake up on your start date, make your way to the centre and begin your conservation adventure! Please note, it is imperative that volunteers only book the hotel available in Johannesburg airport for safety reasons.
The shuttle bus is available at an extra cost of ZAR450 (around £25) each way.
Domestic Flight To Hoedspruit:
For this option, you will need to book a domestic flight from O.R Tambo International Airport to Hoedspruit. You must arrive here between 11am and 3pm on the day of your project start date, where you will be picked up by a member of staff either from the airport or in the town.
On the day of your departure, the transfer from the project site will leave at 8.30 am, and depending on traffic, will arrive into Hoedspruit at roughly 9.45 am. Whether you are flying from Hoedspruit or taking the bus back to Johannesburg, you will be dropped off at whichever location you are departing from.
If flying from Hoedspruit, please book departure flights from 11.30 am at the earliest to make sure you have enough time to check in and board the plane.
If returning to Johannesburg via the Ashton Shuttle bus, this will depart from the Rockfig Centre at around 11.15 am, and arrive into Johannesburg between 5pm and 6pm. We therefore recommend booking return flights from 8pm or later.
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.
UK passport holders (as well as holders of Australian, American, Canadian, and most other EU passports) do not require a visa for South Africa. You will be issued a 3-month permit upon your arrival at no cost but do ensure that the correct arrival date and length of time in the country is entered onto your visa at immigration. Please note that visas are of the volunteers own responsibility, and that requirements specific to your own country need to be checked. Please consult your South African embassy.
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 - we advise checking www.xe.com for up-to-date rates.
Due to the nature of this project, please note that we will need to see a copy of your insurance policy and your passport before your date of departure.
Preparing an enrichment activity for the meerkats and carrying it out with them is something I'll always remember!
Catherine Hodgkinson, 2017
The efforts to help the community are sooooo wonderful and are working well. The children LOVE it and are learning so much to help themselves and their community and the world. I will keep the memory of their beautiful souls with me forever. Such a wonderful organisation!
Jennifer Young, 2016
My favourite moment of the project was on one Thursday evening when we were gathered round the bonfire with the other volunteers and children. We all toasted marshmallows on sticks, then the children taught us different African songs, chants and dances. After working hard all day, it was a great way for everyone to unwind and bond as a group - and the children seemed to love our (pretty bad!) attempts at copying their singing in Sepedi! I have had such a fantastic experience at the wildlife orphange, and my only regret was that it didn’t last longer! It’s incredible what Ian and Michele (the owners) have achieved in 10 years, and it’s clear the impact it has on the children, animals, local communities, and the volunteers who visit. I cannot recommend it enough, and I hope very much to visit again in the not too distant future!
Sophie Boulter, 2016
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.