- Stay on an incredible 10,000-acre wildlife reserve in the heart of Zimbabwe
- Feed and walk with elephants, rhinos, and an abundance of other amazing wildlife
- Carry out vital tasks and research that will provide a safer environment for Africa’s iconic animals
- Enjoy the benefits of living in a beautiful farmhouse in the reserve grounds, with wildlife all around you
- Get to work with the community and educate children on animal welfare
- Try out different activities at the reserve including canoeing and horse riding, camping out under the stars!
On this exceptional programme, you’ll get to live and work in the heart of Zimbabwe on a magnificent 10,000-acre family-run African game reserve. You’ll be responsible for carrying out crucial animal care, research, and conservation work, helping the dedicated team reach their aims of providing a safe environment for Africa’s most iconic animals to live free in the wild and thrive. Living in close proximity to both black and white rhino, elephants, buffalo, giraffe and many other animals and birds, you’ll be staying in a unique setting that’s hard to imagine without having experienced it first. You’ll get to hear incredible stories, learn about the reserve’s history, witness amazing animal relationships and help with projects that will further your knowledge of the wildlife around you. You may also have an opportunity to meet some of the local children and community leaders as you spend time at one of the nearby schools; teach them a little about conservation or even help them out with their veggie patch! Come and experience Africa in a safe environment, work hard and become part of a very special family.
Interested and want to find out more? Download more trip information and detailed itinerary HERE!
What to expect at the project
On your first day, you’ll be collected from Harare Airport by our friendly team and taken to the animal reserve to get settled in. You’ll get a full orientation of the site, with a tour and explanation of the sorts of work you’ll be carrying out and where to find everything you’ll need. You’ll be introduced to some of the animals and be given a brief history of the reserve to better understand the aims and goals of the project and why the work you’ll be taking part in is so essential.
This is a really diverse project, so you won’t simply be feeding and looking after animals, the point of you being there is to create an all-round safety net for at-risk species’ future survival in the wild, and that means carrying out research, monitoring behaviour, counting herd numbers, maintaining the reserve’s land, working where you’re needed around the game park, and helping out at local community projects and visiting schools. Every activity you take part in on this project makes a difference, no matter how small.
You’ll also get hands-on experience working with the reserve’s animals, from black and white rhino and elephants, to the reserve’s other residents, including giraffe, buffalo, antelopes, zebra, wildebeest, warthogs, crocodile, and numerous birds, lizards, and snakes – it’s an animal lover’s heaven!
When you’re not working, there are plenty of things to see and do.You can go fishing and canoeing, enjoy camp-outs in the bush or relax by the pool at the volunteer house with a beer after a hard day’s work.Go horse riding in the bush or hiking – the team can arrange trips to Wedza Mountain and Markwe Caves to see the Bushman paintings.
There are also a couple of optional excursions, including an adventurous weekend trip to Victoria Falls (you’ll need to budget around 500USD for this) and a trip to Mana Pools for a wilderness safari – the only national park in Zimbabwe that you can walk through without a guide.
Please note that day trips and excursions outside of the reserve can be organised by the reserve team, but aren’t included as part of your programme, so will need to be paid for locally.
Day in the life
No two days are ever the same on the reserve, but there’s always plenty to do and usually something unexpected to add to the list of normal duties! Your time will be spent largely with the animals on the reserve, and assisting the staff there to help with conservation, research, and care, but you’ll also be involved in community projects and helping to educate children at local schools on the welfare of wild animals.
Some of the activities you may be in involved in include:
- Learn about rhinos and elephants from experienced handlers
- Observe and record rhino and elephant behaviour for research projects
- Feed and walk with rhino and elephants
- Clean out elephant and rhino beds and repair enclosures
- Repair elephant damage at the reserve
- Undertake snare patrols and critical anti-poaching monitoring
- Go fence and boundary monitoring on horseback and on foot
- Practice weapons training
- Help maintain fences, roads, fireguards and park equipment
- Feed nutritional supplements to all reserve animals
- Plant treesand help clear the bush of alien species
- Help the cattle section on dip days
You’ll be involved in the monitoring of rhino and elephant behaviour to identify patterns between individual animals and establish their relationships with different handlers and each other. Observations are used to identify the personalities of different rhinos and elephants, gauge their moods and try and predict behaviour or responses to different situations.
You’ll also monitor feeding patterns to help prevent over-grazing, to plan movements through the game park and to determine if any supplements are needed to ensure they have a balanced diet.
Walking with these incredible animals on their way back to their shelters in the evenings is a wonderful experience and you’ll be helping the handlers ensure they are secure for the night with sufficient food and water.
You will ride out on horses with staff once a week and carry out herd monitoring and boundary patrols (please note that there is a weight limit of 85kg for horse riding). You’ll get to experience at least one camp-out during your stay (depending on the weather), where you‘ll cook over an open fire and sleep out in the game park under the stars. You’ll also have the opportunity to do weapons training with the Anti-Poaching Unit and scouts. Don’t panic though, you’ll be using a paintball gun rather than a rifle!
You’ll also get to help with the reserve’s community work, which will mainly consist of helping out at the local schools, teaching English lessons, helping to educate children about conservation and promote animal welfare, play sports and games with the younger children, and join in on cooking and traditional dance sessions.
Purpose and aim of the programme and how do you benefit the programme
Our Zimbabwean rhino and elephant conservation project not only aims to rescue and protect African wildlife, but has a huge ambition to help repopulate the dwindling numbers of certain species in the wild. Part of that work involves collecting information and monitoring animal behaviour in order to learn more about the challenges they face in their natural habitat, and understanding their movements in the wild.
As a volunteer on this project, you will be helping out with all aspects of animal care as well as collecting information and assisting the conservationists on site to help measure growth and predict potential problems– and in doing so, you’ll be helping to safeguard the future of incredible species in the wild.
This is a fantastic programme for anyone passionate about protecting wildlife and wanting to work with animals, but particularly so if you’re studying for a zoology, biology, or conservation degree. This is a conservation programme, so you won’t just be working with animals, you’ll be helping to preserve and maintain the land in which wildlife can thrive, so you’ll also get to learn more about the ecology and environment in addition to animal behaviour. You’ll come away from the project having gained plenty of knowledge on bush and veldt management, carried out grassland research, tick and pest control, water and fish conservation, geology, and cattle management as well as wildlife observation and protection. If you’re studying a specific topic at home that your experience on this project would benefit, let the staff on the project know so they can give you work on the site that would be useful to you.
- Airport transfers on programme start and end dates
- All accommodation during programme dates
- 3 meals per day and drinks during the programme
- Arrival orientation
- Volunteer placement and all activities on site
- Laundry and housekeeping
- Help and guidance from on-site team
- 24/7 emergency support
- Travel insurance
- Visas/entry or exit taxes
- Drinks from the bar
- Wifi - on a token system (5USD per 100mb)
- Optional activities, excursions, or transport during free time
You’ll be staying in superb volunteer accommodation during your project placement: a thatched, two-storey farmhouse with garden, pool, bar, and braai (barbecue) area. You’ll share the house with other volunteers and have access to three bathrooms, three outdoor solar showers with views across the dam, two living rooms, a dining room, and a kitchen. The house has hot and cold water and electricity – although it’s not that unusual to experience power cuts from time-to-time, so you might want to bring a torch! You’ll share a room with other project volunteers of the same sex, in some cases you might be able to book a private room at an additional cost – ask us about this when you call to book.
The site’s cooks will prepare three meals a day for you for the duration of your stay, that will be made up of simple home-cooked and typical African meals, usually served buffet-style. The staff don’t work on Sundays, so you’ll have the choice of preparing your own meals with food provided, or head up to the main lodge to enjoy a three-course meal (at your own expense – around 20USD per person). Specific dietary requirements can be catered for, but do let us know details when you book.
There is no wifi at the project but there is 3G signal so you are encouraged to bring an unlocked phone with you and purchase a local sim card and data bundle on arrival. The project team will be able to assist you with this.
To get a flight quote simply use the form below, or contact our fantastic flights team on 01892 277037.
Get A Flight Quote
Your flight to Zimbabwe should arrive at Harare International Airport (HRE) on your programme start date before 1:30pm. This programme operates a scheduled transfer system, the transfer on your programme start date will depart from Harare International airport at 15:00. The scheduled transfer on your programme end date will depart from the project at 8:00am and the journey takes approximately 1.5 hours; please arrange flights that depart after 13:00 on your programme end date. If you are unable to arrange flights to arrive and depart at the correct times, please contact us for more information before arranging your flights. Additional transfers can be arranged but are subject to a charge of US$100 per person each way, payable locally.
To arrange your flights, contact our fantastic flights team on 01892 277037 or email them at [email protected] They will be able to search for the best flight offers to your chosen destinations, so you can plan and organise your trip in one place. Just make sure you give them your full name, as stated in your passport, along with your chosen departure dates, return dates, and any other details you want to include.
It is important that once you have booked your flights you add these details to your online account or alternatively you can contact us with your departure date, the flight number and arrival time at your destination.
Minimum age 18 years, maximum dependent on health and fitness of participant.
You will need a visa to enter Zimbabwe, which you can obtain from the Zimbabwe High Commission before travelling, although UK citizens will be able to obtain a visa on arrival. Please ensure you have two completely blank consecutive pages in your passport for immigration stamps and that your passport has at least six months' validity left on it following your planned return date.
DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service)
On this particular programme, as you’ll be working with children, you’ll need to undergo an enhanced DBS check and will need to have a clean criminal record.
DBS checks may list past convictions, cautions, reprimands, warnings, and if applicable will show whether or not you have been barred from working with certain vulnerable groups. Non-conviction information such as fixed penalties may also be included.
There is an additional cost for the DBS check, please speak to your travel advisor at the time of booking. The DBS process is in three stages:
1. Once we receive your booking payment, you will then be sent an online application link for the DBS check, which you will need to complete.
2. Once you have completed the application, the DBS will need verification of your identity – to do this you will need to take three original documents to your nearest crown post office and use their DBS and ID verification service. This costs approximately £5 and is payable directly to the Post Office.
3. It can take up to two weeks for your DBS to be processed, which will be sent to you directly in the post.
How Much Spending Money Would You Recommend I Take?
We generally recommend that you take around £70-£80 per week. If you wish to visit Victoria Falls during your stay, you'll need to budget approximately USD$500 for this particular excursion.
Upon Arrival, How Long Does It Take To Get To The Project?
You will be met and transferred from Harare airport which will take around 1.5 hours.
Will There Be A Safe/safety Deposit Box Available?
Yes, there will be a safe available for you to use.
Do I Need Any Vaccinations?
We’re not qualified to offer you medical advice, so you should visit your GP well ahead of time to find out what inoculations you might need. Remember to tell them exactly where you’re travelling to as vaccination and medication requirements vary between different regions. You’ll also need to make sure you have enough of any prescribed medication to see you through the duration of your trip.
What's The Average Age Range Of People On This Trip?
This trip welcomes travellers of all ages, so it's difficult to put an average age to a group. You might have a mix of people your own age or some much older or younger than you.
Do I Need To Have Experience Working With Animals?
Nope! You’ll receive all the training you need at the game reserve; all we ask is that you’re fit and healthy and have a passion for animals.