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South Africa Big 5 Wildlife & Conservation

14-42 days from $1,487

$91 Deposit

Volunteer to help protect Africa's famous wildlife

Stay on a private game reserve
Help wildlife conservation efforts
See Africa's Big 5!
Group size: Varies

Trip Highlights

  • Stay on a beautiful award-winning game reserve
  • Get to work alongside expert zoologists and conservation staff
  • Help monitor and protect wildlife - leaving a legacy for future generations
  • Gain skills and experience in conservation
  • Explore Port Elizabeth and the famous Garden Route

Trip Summary

Experience the diversity and true beauty of Africa's famous wildlife in the utterly breathtaking Eastern Cape. Staying on site at an award-winning Big 5 game reserve on the famous Garden Route, near Port Elizabeth, you'll get to work directly with zoology staff, game rangers, and conservation staff to help protect the animals, including the Big 5: lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, and buffalo, as well as preserve the land - to ensure the future of one of the most biologically varied regions of Africa for generations to come.

You'll also be able to explore stunning South Africa in your time away from volunteering! Head out to the stunning nearby beach towns of Port Elizabeth and Jeffreys Bay, where you can learn to surf, kayak, bungee jump, zip line, sandboard and even safari in Addo National Park with other volunteers!  



Want to find out more?

Download more trip information and detailed itinerary

What to expect at the project

Set in the tranquillity of the African bush, you'll be staying within the 6000 hectares of an award-winning Big 5 game reserve, near Port Elizabeth, South Africa, where you'll carry out valuable volunteer work to help protect the land and wildlife. Located on South Africa's famous Garden Route, you'll get to enjoy the rich biodiversity of your surroundings, as well as providing important support to the reserve's team of conservation experts.

You'll be part of a team, and working with other volunteers as part of the project, who will more than likely become lifelong friends following this incredible experience. Staying at one of the two five star backpacker lodges on site, you'll benefit from the accommodation's brilliant facilities in your downtime, and at weekends will be provided with transfers and accommodation in surrounding towns to offer you the opportunity to explore African life outside of the reserve.

Day in the life

Waking bright and early each morning, you'll set out onto the reserve with your team for a couple of hours before heading back to base for a hearty breakfast. Then it's back out again until lunch time. Your day-to-day activities will vary, depending on where the reserve needs your help most. You can expect to be helping out with fence patrols to make sure the reserve's animals are safe from poachers, removing alien plant species and replacing them with indigenous plants to ensure the right balance is kept to protect the natural ecology, monitoring and counting game, and even assisting with animal capture for medical treatment and relocation to other areas of the reserve.

Lunchtime breaks up the day nicely, and you'll have a range of delicious meals served up throughout the week, before finishing up your duties in the afternoon. Downing tools for the day, there's plenty to keep you entertained. You might fancy spending the afternoon sunbathing poolside, or playing a few rounds of tennis before heading back to camp. Then spend the evening with your fellow volunteers to discuss the day's events over dinner and maybe chilling out in the communal lounge area. On Thursdays you'll have the opportunity to visit a local school with the reserve's staff to help with their community feeding programme, making sure the children get a nutritious meal (during term time only).

Please note that all activities, inclusions and itineraries are subject to change.

Purpose and aim of the programme and how do you benefit the programme

Your work on this programme is designed to give you wide and varied hands-on experience of conservation work in a naturally diverse area, as well as a once in a lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the world's most majestic animals. You'll be helping to gather valuable information about the reserve's wild animals, protecting the animals from poachers, assisting with captures for medical treatment, and maintaining some of the 6000 hectare reserve, to ensure the best natural environment for the wildlife to flourish.  


You'll gain skills and knowledge in conservation whilst working directly with our on-site conservation experts and zoologists, and during school term times you'll get to work with the local community, making sure children receive nutritious meals and really make a difference to their lives. 


  • Airport transfer on arrival
  • All accommodation
  • Orientation on arrival
  • Weekend transfers to Port Elizabeth, and hostel accommodation
  • All meals whilst on the Game Reserve
  • Project t-shirt and cap
  • Working with trained zoologists, rangers, and conservation staff
  • Full support from the in-country team
  • Access to the reserve's tennis courts, swimming pool, and games room
  • 24/7 emergency support

  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals whilst in Port Elizabeth
  • Drinks and refreshments
  • Optional activities
  • Return airport transfer

Accommodation on the game reserve is made up of two backpacker five star volunteer camps, with shared single sex dorm rooms and shared single sex bathroom facilities. The lodges are fully furnished with a tea/coffee station, lounge area, entertainment area with a television and satellite, and an on-site shop for essentials.

Other project facilities include table tennis, table football, pool table, a library, internet, and sporting facilities such as a swimming pool, tennis courts and a cricket field, all free for you to use in your spare time. At the weekends, you will get to stay in Port Elizabeth, where you will be provided with dorm accommodation. You're free to explore the town and try out the numerous activities available, so let your hair down, indulge in the fabulous food and drink on offer and take the opportunity to party with new friends. 

Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be prepared for you while on the reserve. Please let us know if you have any dietary requirements when booking. Please note that the game reserve is an alcohol-free environment - you'll have the chance to drink and go out with the other volunteers during the weekends in Port Elizabeth. 


Your flight to South Africa should arrive at Port Elizabeth airport (PLZ) before 4pm on your start date, and your return flights should be arranged to depart from the same airport on your programme end date.

Scheduled arrivals will be met at the airport by the reserve's staff. You will be transferred to a lodge in Port Elizabeth for the final night of your stay, and will need to make your own arrangements for transport back to the airport.

Important: Please ensure that you arrive and depart on the times and dates stated. If you arrive or depart outside of the set dates and still require a transfer, you will be required to pay for an out of hours transfers which is bookable and payable prior to departure.


Minimum age for this programme is 18. 


UK nationals don’t require a visa to enter South Africa for stays of up to 3 months. You should ensure that your passport will still be in date for six months after your return. All visa information is subject to change and you should consult the nearest High Commission or Embassy for the most up to date information.

How Many Hours Will I Be Working On The Game Reserve?

Your daily hours will be broken up into three slots: 07:30-09:30, then break for breakfast, 10:00-13:00, then break for lunch, 14:00-16:30. The rest of the day is yours to relax on the reserve with your fellow volunteers. You're free to do your own thing during the weekends.

What Can I Do In My Free Time?

On the reserve you'll have the opportunity to use any of the site's fantastic facilities, including swimming pool, tennis courts, communal lounge, TV area, and pool table. At weekends transport and accommodation to the beach city of Port Elizabeth is included, where there's lots to see and do: take a sand boarding lesson on the dunes of the Sundays River, experience the longest dual zipline in Africa and take in your surroundings 70 metres above ground, play volleyball or go windsurfing on Hobie Beach, visit the South End Museum or Volkswagen Auto Pavilion, peruse the market stalls in New Brighton, or go horse riding through the Sardinia Bay Nature Reserve.

Will I Need Injections/inoculations?

Please visit your GP or travel clinic at least 6-8 weeks before travelling, to discuss any medication or injections you may need before and during your trip.



Due to Covid-19, many of our partners and suppliers across the globe are putting in place new procedures and policies regarding health and safety in response to the outbreak. These new measures will adapt and change as the state of travel evolves, and the policies and procedures will vary depending on each trip. Some changes that you may experience on our trips are:

Updated safety & hygiene procedures
Health and safety measures will be adapted by our partners and suppliers, dependent on local laws and restrictions.

Different transport & accommodation
You may find yourself on transport or in accommodation that would not typically be used, such as hostels that are more secluded, or on more private transport. This may vary by trip, or even by individual departure dates.

Arrival meetings
Most trips include a meeting on arrival with the guide or local team to discuss the trip, and this is an opportunity for you to ask any questions. You should arrive in time to attend these briefings.

Emergency support 24/7
We have a UK based 24/7 emergency phone line if you have a genuine urgent matter that you need attending.

Knowledgeable & Trained Staff
We can help answer any questions or concerns you may have before you depart. Whilst travelling the guide or local team on our trips are there to help, and to ensure the smooth running of our trips.

Medical care
Should you require medical assistance whilst travelling, the local team or guide will be able to help you get to a point of care. Medical facilities and standards can vary across the glove, so you should ensure you have adequate travel insurance in place.

Varying group sizes
To begin with, many trips will run with amended group sizes, so you may find smaller groups than would be typical. This may vary by trip, or even by individual departure dates.

Whilst there may be changes on our trips, it is vital that you make travelling safer for yourself, your travel companions, the local staff and guides, and the people of the country you are visiting. You should follow all local laws and restrictions, and follow the guidance of the local team. In addition, you can help make travel safer by bringing and using your own face coverings/masks and hand sanitiser, social distance where appropriate, wash your hands frequently, and cover your face when coughing or sneezing.

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