Trip Details

The Big 5 Wild gap volunteer project offers you a unique experience in the African bush and gives you the opportunity to both observe and be a part of the research and monitoring teams on the reserve. The focus of this project is key species; elephants, lions, hyenas and leopards. You will also be involved with monitoring breeding initiatives for buffalo, Livingston eland and nyala.

The Reserve is a vast Big 5 nature reserve covering an area of 25.000 hectares and sits in the Lowveld area, the home of nature conservation in South Africa. The monitoring work done here helps with management of the animals in the reserve.

The data collected is also made available to students and researchers, as well as a number of national conservation projects, including the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT).

Whether on a monitoring drive, on foot, or observing the wildlife at a waterhole, all of your work will be done under the guidance of qualified rangers. As each activity has a pre-determined objective, you don’t only get to view the animals, but are also able to assist in the conservation of these species. You will be living close to many wild animals in the bush. Nothing beats being surrounded by a herd of elephants or a pride of lions and being able to spend time observing their individual traits and family dynamics.

At the end of the day, you’ll return to the camp to share your experiences over dinner around the open fire and then fall asleep to the sounds of the bush. Join us for what is, quite simply, the experience of a lifetime.

Trip Itinerary

Example itinerary
Volunteers will work 6 days a week.

Monday:
Project start day. Town trip to pick up volunteers and restock supplies.

Tuesday:
Early start on a set-route drive as part of our game counting programme to determine populations of general game. In the afternoon we depart for a monitoring drive to locate one of our key species of interest; lion, elephant, leopard or hyena.

Wednesday:
Waterhole monitoring in the morning to determine species utilisation of the area. We set off for a drive in the afternoon to the breeding boma to monitor the buffalo,Livingstone eland and nyala.

Thursday:
Habitat work; we could be busy with exotic plant removal, erosion control or bush clearing. In the afternoon or evening, we head out on hyena monitoring and night patrol.

Friday:
Early morning start, we will be out locating the elephants as part of the ongoing research into the elephant contraception programme. The afternoon involves monitoring bird species en-route to a sleep out under the stars with the Endangered Species project.

Saturday:
Habitat work in the morning, followed by an afternoon monitoring drive focusing on the lion population. The evening could involve a visit to the local pub or indulging in a typical South African braai (BBQ)

Sunday:
A planned outing or free day for volunteers to relax or head out on their own. In between activities, volunteers will receive a series of presentations on the work of the project, or how to approach dangerous game on foot, or possibly even a Zulu lesson. This time will also be used to transfer all data collected onto the computers and compile the weekly research report, as well as helping out with vehicle checks and cleaning.

Trip Accommodation

Trip Country Info

South Africa

Population: 55 million
Capital: Cape Town (legislative), Bloemfontein (judicial), Pretoria (executive)
Language: English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana, Northern Sotho, Venda, Tsonga, Swati, Ndebele
Currency: South African Rand
Time zone: UTC +2

South Africa is a vast country with an incredible variety in landscapes, people, traditions, languages, cuisines and more. The country is often referred to as the “Rainbow Nation” due to its population diversity. The country is also renowned for its wines, so make sure not to miss these while you are here!

While big cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg can look quite first worldly, most of the country has remained underdeveloped. This is a perfect example of the economic inequality that exists in the country.

South Africa is an ideal destination for those interested in nature and it is incredibly varied in terms of landscapes. The country boasts a large number of National Parks such as Kruger, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which is located in the desert, Addo Elephant National Park, Simangaliso Wetland Park and many more. It is also a great place to spot the “Big Five” (African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and White/Black rhinoceros) as well as a wide range of other species.

All in all, South Africa is an ideal place to start if you wish to travel in southern Africa and get a good insight into the region.

South Africa is situated at the southern tip of Africa and has a landmass of 1 233 404 km² edged on 3 sides by a nearly 3000km coastline washed by the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic. It is bordered in the north by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and also wraps itself around two independent countries, the Lesotho and Swaziland.
Natural beauty abounds with beautiful beaches, dramatic mountains, lush forest belts and of course the famed Table Mountain. South Africa also boasts no less than 20 National Parks with the opportunity to see lion, leopard, rhino and elephants, to name but a few!  We have a selection of gap year adventures in South Africa including work at wildlife sanctuaries, work and travel in local South African communities, development projects and much more.  If you are interested in volunteering in South Africa please get in touch or read on for our latest experiences.

Participant Criteria & Requirements

Standard Requirements

No requirements have been provided.

Additional Requirements

No requirements have been provided.

What's included

  • 24/7 support in case of emergencies
  • Accommodation
  • Airport Pick up
  • English speaking coordinator
  • Meals
  • Orientation

What's not included

  • Airport drop off
  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Vaccination
  • Visa