Wildlife Reserve Project in South Africa

Big 5 observations and wildlife protection

Take part in research, conservation management and educational workshops at a wildlife reserve in South Africa! Set across 10,000 hectares, this private nature reserve will put you right in the heart of the wild!

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The Project

The Issue

South Africa is a true paradise for nature lovers. Unfortunately, poaching and the destruction of natural habitats is causing a worrying decline in this incredible biodiversity. Due to the increase in ivory trading, the African elephant is now endangered and the number of rhinos has decreased dramatically. In addition, in some areas, lion hunting has been made legal. In light of these problems, this project makes a significant contribution to the preservation of the species by providing the animals with a protected and controlled habitat in the wildlife reserve. The reserve keeps the experience as authentic as possible for the animals. Habitats are based on the wild and animals are not touched or handled unless they are sick or pregnant and require medical treatment.

The Workplace

The volunteer work site is a 10,000 acre nature reserve (approximately 150 km from Port Elizabeth), which has been privately owned for several years. With expertise and great respect for nature, the formerly agricultural area has been restored to it's original natural state. The land, set inside a valley with access to two rivers, wooded hills and savannah's boasts five distinct habitats. These habitats are home to a variety of animals, including the famous Big Five.

Your Tasks

You’ll be volunteering in three different areas; Research, Conservation and Education. In Research, you can use remote sensing techniques to observe the movement patterns of elephants around their use of the nature reserve area to determine their impact on vegetation. Similar tasks arise for the leopard, lion and rhino populations. In Conservation, you can expect more diverse tasks such as, controlling irregular vegetation, data collection on sex and age of certain species, administering medicine to unwell animals, controlling soil erosion, cleaning and maintenance work. When it comes to education, once a week you will have the opportunity to visit a local school. Near to the reserve, a school has been built on a farm but it is lacking in both funding and teachers. The building is in poor condition and often requires repairs, which is where you come in! The students and staff alike are always grateful for help from visitors.

The Hours

Working hours are from Monday to Friday between seven and nine hours a day, depending on season and weather. On Saturdays, excursions are made to the nearby cities, such as the coastal town of Kenton-on-the-Sea. The Eastern Cape region is also a popular choice for visitors as it offers a variety of activities, such as horse riding, skydiving and deep sea diving. On Wednesday evenings, our volunteers take a trip to the local pub. If the weather holds out, you can also go camping, our volunteers love spending the night around the campfire looking up at the stars!

It’s important to note that animals roam freely around the reserve, so it is necessary that you stay behind the fence surrounding your accommodation. You can not go jogging or take an evening stroll, as it could be very dangerous!

Meals Included
Full Country Orientation
Volunteer Placement
Airport Pickup Available
Assistance with Travel Preparation

From 18 years.


Enthusiasm for nature, enjoy working outdoors, interest in animals and nature, teamwork, good physical fitness.


English of a good level.


Port Elizabeth, South Africa.


From 2 weeks to 3 months.


Farmhouse on site. Please see our 'What you get' section for more information.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner which is cooked together in teams.

Airport Transfer

Airport transfer from Port Elizabeth to first nights accommodation.

Work Clothing

Clothes that can get dirty.

What You Get

For your volunteer work at the wildlife reserve, you will land in Port Elizabeth. The on-site project team will gladly arrange your airport pick-up (not included in the initial RGV fees). You will be picked up from the airport and taken directly to your accommodation which will take around 2 hours. As soon as you arrive at the site, you will meet the program manager Helena, the project coordinator Francis and other participants.

After getting to know the volunteer house, you will have your project introduction as a group with the other participants. This covers the project work, rules of conduct and house rules. Afterwards, you will be taken for a drive through the grounds of the reserve.

Your wildlife project is located near the coastal city of Port Elizabeth. This is located on the southern tip of South Africa and is known for it's beautiful beaches! Together with other surrounding regions of this coast, the bay on the Indian Ocean is also referred to as "Nelson Mandela Bay". Port Elizabeth is also considered a surfers paradise. So it pays to spend a few days there before or after your involvement in the project!

A note about Housing & Accommodation...

You live in the middle of the nature reserve in a cozy, fully furnished house. There are shared rooms and a shared bathroom. The volunteer house also has a common room with a pool table, TV, a dining room and a well-equipped kitchen with a fridge, oven, microwave and crockery. For valuables, such as passports and cash, a safe is available. The house has a garden where you can relax after work together with the other volunteers - there is a pool and a BBQ area.

Attention: It is important to note that the house is located in the middle of an animal sanctuary, in which the animals move freely. It is therefore necessary for your own safety that you stay within the fenced property!

The food consists of three meals a day. All volunteers should cook together or in teams. The volunteers are also responsible for keeping the house, rooms, bathrooms and kitchen clean.

Volunteer House
What's Included
  • Breakfast & Dinner
  • Accommodation
  • Volunteer Placement
  • RGV Orientation
  • Personal Contact Person in RGV
  • 24Hr Emergency Number
  • Assistance with Travel Preparation
  • RGV Family T Shirt
  • Participation Certificate
  • Extensive RGV Travel Documentation
Additional fees
  • Flights (request a quote to include flights)
  • Visas & Vaccinations
  • Public Transport/Extra Transfers
  • Beverages
  • Tours/Accommodation Outside of Stay
  • Travel Insurance
  • Private Expenses
  • Airport Pickup Available


Total Cost: £1249

Additional Weeks Cost: £440 per week (up to 12 weeks)

Initial payment consists of a 20% deposit, with the remaining balance due 8 weeks before departure. There is also an option to pay the full amount up front at time of booking.

Additional weeks can be added on through the ‘profile’ area of each applicant, which is created upon initial booking.

Types of skills
  • Energetic
  • Friendly
  • Outgoing
  • Adaptable
  • Animal lover
  • Patient
Types of Tasks
  • Monitoring and Reporting
  • Observation Reports
  • Cleaning & Maintenance
  • Assisting Team

Trust us - The Team

Helena is the manager of the project and will greet you at your job site, where you meet Jerret , who looks after the local volunteers. This is who you will be working with most of the time. Jerret grew up in the savannah of South Africa and will show you all about working in the wildlife reserve and how important it is for people to live in harmony with nature. He is happiest when he can share his knowledge and experience with others.

Jerret is certain; Your involvement in the Wildlife Reserve will be an unforgettable adventure!


Don't Just Take Our Word For It...

Our programmes have been running for many years now, and we've had countless numbers of happy and inspired applicants join us in making an impact. The best way of understanding our projects are through the words of our previous volunteers, so check out a few of their experiences below!

"My Experience Report of the Big 5 Project in South Africa"

Paule N.
From seeing 30 elephants in their natural habitat, through to kayaking on days off, Paule's report shows why the time in South Africa was amazing.

"My Volunteer Work for the Conservation of the Big Five"

Christian S.
One of the major contacts at the project is Jarrett, and in this report, Christian highlights his role and how he will help you have an incredible time.


When should I register?

Ideally, you'll need to register at least 4-6 months before your desired departure date. Of course, short-term registrations of 1-2 months before departure are possible - but it may then be that your dream project is already full. In this case, we will try together to find a suitable alternative for you.


Lead time is especially important for the countries in which a visa has to be applied for in advance.

For medical projects as well as for internships, short term registrations are not possible.

What happens after I sign up?

Our UK team will send your registration through to the Germany headquarters as soon as possible, who will then confirm your booking as soon as possible, after liaising with the relevant in-country team. They will contact you to ensure you’re fully prepared for your stay abroad. Our headquarters in Germany has 20 years experience in organising successful stays in Africa and Asia and are more than happy to answer your questions.

What documents do I need to participate?

You'll need a few documents (which are listed below), but only once you've signed up. Our team will happily talk you through what is needed and when it is needed.

CV with photo, letter of motivation, copy of your passport (identity card is not enough), copy of your extended police certificate (no older than 3 months), simple proof of an existing health insurance abroad (name of insurance and insurance number are required), your signed code of conduct.

Is there an age limit?

You must be above 18 to make a booking through us, but there is no upper age limit set by RGV (however, you must check that you fit the required visa criteria for the country you wish to go to).

Who is my contact person at RGV?

Pre-booking, you have a customer service team in the UK. Once you have booked, you will have a dedicated contact within our RGV Head Office team in Munich.

Before you leave, you are in direct contact with one of our coordinators. You can find out about the program coordinators through our ‘The RGV Team’ page, and there is also a dedicated local team in each country.

Can I plan my volunteer work in a flexible way?

Our organisation works in the countries exclusively with our own RGV teams. That means maximum flexibility and planning freedom for you. You can choose a travel date to suit you, because we are not dependent on collection dates.

If you want to fly together with a further participant, you can inform us about this upon booking.

What is the minimum/maximum stay?

The minimum duration of volunteer work in Africa or Asia is 4 weeks for most projects (with a select few being 2 weeks) and can be extended weekly. This gives you the freedom to adjust your length of stay to what suits you.

Maximum duration of volunteer work is based on visa restrictions (Ghana: 12 months, South Africa: 6 months - up to 12 months through an extensive visa procedure, Thailand: 12 months).

Do I need a visa?

For all our destination countries, a visa is required. However, we distinguish between visas that must be issued before departure and visas that are issued automatically upon entry. Our Head Office team in Munich can guide you through every step of the way.

We have sorted our destination countries by visa type for you:

Apply for a visa before departure: • Ghana and South Africa (for over 90 days stay) • Thailand (for over 30 days stay)

Visa on entry: • South Africa (only up to 90 days) • Thailand (only up to 30 days)

What vaccinations do I need?

The required vaccinations vary widely from country to country. In the tropics, more vaccinations are needed than in the extra-tropical latitudes. In health care we recommend to use several information channels:

Consultation with the doctor, personal counseling of RGV (you benefit from our many years of practical experience in our target countries), forums and travel reports on the Internet

Attention: For the countries Ghana and Togo, you also need the yellow fever vaccination - this is obligatory upon arrival.

Do I need insurance?

The proof of a valid foreign insurance is a basic requirement for all volunteers and trainees abroad.

Can I choose my own project?

In volunteer work, you always have free choice and you can pick your dream project according to the job description - if there are still places available!

If you have signed up for a specific position and we can not offer you this position, then you can either take advantage of an alternative, or you can withdraw from your application absolutely free of charge.

Can I extend my stay when I'm there?

Yes you can, but there may be some additional costs that need to be covered. Our team in Germany can advise you of this in advance.

Can I choose my accommodation?

At locations where both options are available, you can choose whether you’d prefer to stay in a host family or in the shared volunteer house. For some places, however, only one or the other is appropriate due to the distance from the project. We will give you a recommendation as to what fits best in your case.

How are host families checked/selected?

The host families in our target countries are, in most cases, part of the family environment and circle of close friends of our local team leaders. Selection and review is regularly undertaken by our teams.

Can I share accommodation/project with a friend?

We are always happy to give our participants the opportunity to work together with friends in a project, and to also place them in the same shared accommodation. Shared occupancy requests for the project and accommodation must be indicated at the time of registration.

Since some of our countries are traditionally conservative, it is often not possible to accommodate male and female participants in the same room. However, this is country / site specific and our Head Office can talk you through the options.

When do I find out the exact project/accommodation I'm in?

No later than 4 weeks before departure, our Head Office will send you the specific location with description and associated accommodation, provided that we have your exact departure date and all necessary documents have been submitted by you in good time.

In exceptional cases, it may take a little longer to confirm your project and your accommodation - for example, if the internship placement is particularly complicated, for special project wishes or changed conditions on site. You can always ask us for the current status of your placement.

How will I prepare for my time abroad?

In addition to the extensive information material that you receive, our coordination team in Germany is always there to help you with advice and answers.

Do you have a packing list/info sheet?

You will receive a travel ABC (our complete travel guide) from us before your departure. It contains everything you need to know about your trip, specific to your destination country.

Why do I have to call RGV 3 days before departure?

This phone call is important to discuss last points and to coordinate the progress of your trip and arrival in your destination country. For example, it will explain where you will be picked up from your destination airport and brought into your project.

Will I meet other volunteers?

Yes you will! You will generally meet a range of volunteers who come from Europe at each project.

Can I travel on the weekends?

Almost all of our participants are very active in their free time and use the weekends to travel! Nobody should travel alone, there is no need, as at most locations there are always several participants on site, so you can go on tour together. Our local teams have plenty of insider tips for you and are happy to advise you on organisational issues, such as public transport.

Can I travel after my project?

Yes, you should always plan your travel for the time after your project work, so that you can concentrate fully on your work during the placement. You have to pay attention to the expiry date of your visa. This is the perfect time to enjoy breathtaking nature, diverse wildlife and unforgettable experiences.

Do I book additional activities in advance, or in country?

Most additional services can also be booked flexibly on site, as well as in advance.

Is there internet?

Often there is Wi-Fi in our accommodation, but might not be at the speeds you’re used to in western countries. If this is not available, the mobile network is developed enough in order to browse the internet. SIM cards can be bought very cheaply near all accommodations and come with some great data passes (your team leaders can give you tips here).

What happens if I have a problem when there?

In your destination country, our RGV teams will assist you with all your problems. If your problem can not be solved with the help of the team leaders on site, contact the RGV team in Munich.

How much money should I take?

We have already covered most of the costs with your contribution. Nevertheless, you should plan additional costs of an average of 75 to 125 pounds per week. The biggest additional costs usually arise from your own personal expenses, as well as your leisure time activities.

Here is a list of possible additional costs on site:

• Private expenses • Leisure activities • Use of public transport or rental vehicle (during the week to the project and back to the accommodation, or on weekends for travel) • Extension of your visa • Telephone costs (prepaid)

What rules are there?

With your RGV registration, you will receive important behavioral guidelines to follow. You should also adapt to country-specific practices so as not to appear rude. For example, in Africa and Asia, it is particularly important to treat older people with respect.

Will I receive a certificate of participation?

Yes, after your successful participation in an RGV project, you will receive a confirmation of participation.

Wildlife Reserve Project in South Africa
from £1,249 2 weeks

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