Wildlife Reserve Project in South Africa

Volunteer at a wildlife reserve and contribute towards the protection of the 'Big 5'

Volunteer by observing and monitoring the likes of lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos, to contribute towards scientific research in the protection of these incredible animals. Due to a number of factors, including poaching and the destruction of their natural habitiats, these species numbers are in massive decline. Wildlife reserves are important area to provide a natural environment which is safe and secure.

Accommodation Included in Shared Volunteer House
Full Volunteer Placement of 2+ Weeks
Every Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included
Placements Available from 2-12 Weeks
Airport Pickup & Transfer Available
Complete Pre-Departure Travel Preparation
Full In-Country Orientation
Weekly Start Dates
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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. 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!

Skills Required
  • Energetic
  • Friendly
  • Outgoing
  • Adaptable
  • Animal lover
  • Patient
Types of Task
  • Monitoring and Reporting
  • Observation Reports
  • Cleaning & Maintenance
  • Assisting Team
  • Building Work on Local Facilities
  • Repairing Key Areas
Age Range & Requirements

Age Range

We are able to take applicants who are aged 18+, and although we do not set any upper limit on age, it is important to check if you're eligible for a visa with the relevant immigration authorities.


You must be an energetic and friendly person, who has a real passion for working with animals. A background or education in working with animals is beneficial, but not essential.


The project is located in the Port Elizabeth area of South Africa. It is about a 2 hour ride away from the airport.



Volunteer placements at the national park are available from 2 weeks up to 12 weeks. If you require longer than the 10 weeks available on the registration and booking form, please speak to our team and we'll happily discuss the duration with you and get it sorted for you.


Understandably, there are a few 'down' times, where there may be public holidays or religious dates, where no work will happen. This will affect arrival dates, but if you're in the country on project already, it will simply mean that it will result in some down time until the project starts back up.

Accommodation & Meals


The Shared Volunteer House brings the volunteers together to live under one roof, where you can meet other people who are also volunteering. There are multiple bedrooms and the home comforts you'd expect, including electricity, wifi, showers and more.


You'll certainly fully fed during your stay at either a host family or the shared volunteer house! You'll eat in a similar way to the locals and the local cuisine, so expect to get to know new foods and delicacies! If you do have any dietary requirements, please let us know about them as far in advance as possible, and we will do our best to accommodate them, or we will inform you if the local area can't.

Airport Transfer

We are able to facilitate an airport transfer from Johannesburg to first nights accommodation for a small fee.

Work Clothing

Clothes that can get dirty! You'll be physically active, so be prepared to wear clothes you're comfortable in and ones where you don't mind getting a bit messy. For the wider South Africa area, it's important to bring some clothing that covers knees and arms, which is at times expected in certain areas due to local culture and customs. However, most of the time, you'll be completely fine with shorts and t-shirts.

Documentation - What do I need?

There are certain pieces of documentation that RGV require during the application process, to ensure you're a suitable applicant to work at one of our projects. They are:

Copy of Passport - A pretty standard request for all volunteer companies!

Letter of Motivation - This is a one page letter stating why you want to do the programme. The people that use these projects need it's support, so it's super important we send committed and determined volunteers, who really want to make an impact.

CV - This just gives us a bit of a better understanding of your background and your past work roles, as again, this is a work placement and not a vacation!

Criminal Background Check - With nearly all of our projects, you'll interact with either children or wildlife, so an up-to-date (within 3 months of departure) clean, criminal background check is required. We suggest ICPC, as it is internationally recognised.

Travel Insurance - Travel insurance tends to be mandatory for most visas, and we also require it to ensure that you are completely covered in case of emergencies.

Flight Itinerary - We need to know when you arrive! By having this, we can keep up to date with where you're at. If you need help with flights, we will happily point you in the right direction.

What's Included

Pre-Deperature Prep & In-Country Orientation

Before you even depart, our friendly UK team will take you through every step of the process, from answering your questions about the programme, through to adivsing you where to go for your visa. We are here to help you and to ensure that you feel totally comfortable (and prepared!) before departing.

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!

Accommodation & Meals

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.

 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!

Meet the RGV South Africa 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!


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.

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
  • Travel Insurance
  • Airport Pickup Available
  • Criminal Background Check

Enquire about volunteering at the wildlife reserve in South Africa


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.


Volunteer House

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