Wildlife Conservation Volunteering in South Africa - Kruger
Love animals, the outdoors and want to be a Wildlife Conservation volunteer at Kruger National Park in South Africa? International Volunteer HQ’s Wildlife Conservation project is an exciting opportunity for volunteers to assist at Kruger - a reserve home diverse wildlife and scores of lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffalo. Volunteers will gain conservation experience and knowledge while being immersed in life on the reserve, enjoying the spectacular natural environment and making a meaningful contribution to its long-term sustainability and success.
- Programs start on the first and third Monday of every month
- Affordable fees from CA$1087 for 2 weeks
- Includes accommodation, meals, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
- See and protect wildlife at one of Africa's biggest game reserves
- Enjoy a unique, immersive volunteer experience in Kruger National Park
- Stay in a safari camp with extraordinary views and friendly animals
Who is this program suited to?
What to expect and how you'll make an impact
Kruger National Park is home to an abundance of wildlife, including the famous Big 5 - lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffalo. Originally established in 1898, Kruger became South Africa’s first official national park in 1926, and at nearly 2 million hectares it is one of Africa’s largest game reserves.
As a Wildlife Conservation volunteer you’ll have the opportunity to get involved in a variety of conservation work while being immersed in life on the reserve. You’ll be making a difference towards wildlife conservation and enjoying the spectacular environment that Kruger National Park offers.
Before you begin volunteer work you will first complete an introductory period where you will learn more about the work taking place on the reserve, reserve management practices, basic bush ecology training and about how your volunteer contribution is making a difference to the ongoing work on the reserve. Once work on the reserve begins, you may find yourself involved in:
- Orientation and bush craft training - covering animal identification and behavior, dealing with potentially dangerous game, navigation and basic bush skills
- Game drives and assisting with long-term biodiversity surveys
- Vegetation sampling
- Camera trapping
- Habitat assessments
- Monitoring of rare and endangered species
- Location and mapping of injured animals by vehicle patrols
- Assisting with bush and pest plant clearing
- Vulture nest monitoring
- Road maintenance and erosion control measures
- Fence line patrols
- Disaster management – preparing for and helping the reserve recover from drought, flooding, storms and wildfires
- Any other tasks that may arise including manual labour and general chores
Conservation work is very diverse and dependent on many uncontrollable influences such as climate changes, environmental factors, animal behaviour and external human intervention. Many activities listed above are seasonal and therefore all activities cannot be guaranteed during your stay.
Why do Wildlife Conservation volunteering in South Africa with IVHQ?
As a Wildlife Conservation volunteer in Kruger National Park you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:
- Contributing to conservation efforts and wildlife protection
- Learning about game reserve management and practices
- Developing your communication skills
- Gaining wildlife conservation experience
- Immersing yourself in South African culture
- Exploring one of Africa’s biggest game reserves
- Volunteers between the ages of 16-18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program
- All volunteers aged 16+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 16-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
- All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
- All volunteers must speak fluent English.
This IVHQ volunteer program is based in the Balule Game Reserve which is approximately 30,000 hectares on the western boundary of the greater Kruger National Park. Volunteer work takes place in and around the Balule reserve.
Arrival and orientation
The program begins on the first and third Monday of every month and volunteers need to arrive at Hoedspruit Airport (HDS) by 2pm on their start date.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Hoedspruit Airport (HDS) just outside of the city of Hoedspruit. Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee. You will need to arrive by 2pm on your start date to receive your airport pick-up and transfer to the reserve.
When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a local transfer service and transported to the volunteer accommodation on the reserve, approximately a 2.5 hour drive away. Volunteers depart from the airport to the program as one group, at 3:00 PM, so volunteers who arrive earlier in the day will wait at the airport until the 3:00 PM departure time.
Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes accommodation from your start date. If you are arriving earlier than your start date or traveling in South Africa prior to your volunteer program, you will need to meet the local team at the Hoedspruit Airport by 2:30 PM on your start date. You will then travel to the program at 3:00 PM with the rest of the volunteer group.
Orientation is hosted by our local team at the volunteer camp on the reserve. A camp orientation is given upon arrival with formal orientation taking place the following morning. Orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Kruger – an introduction to Kruger, South African customs, rules and expectations, safety, information on local town trips, tours and excursions, as well as an introduction to your project. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and complete your first game drive.
Volunteer schedule example
Please note, this schedule will vary depending on the tasks you are volunteering on and the time of year you are volunteering. A typical day would be as follows:
|4:00 - 5:00 AM||Volunteers leave accommodation for their work site. Work and hours are dependent on the project and work that each volunteer is assigned to.|
|10:00 AM||Brunch at the volunteer accommodation.|
|12:00 - 3:00 PM||Volunteers resume work at the accommodation site. If volunteers are working on the reserve for the afternoon a light packed lunch will be taken from camp.|
|3:00 - 5:30 PM||Volunteers resume work on the reserve for the afternoon.|
|7:00 PM||Dinner at the volunteer accommodation.|
On the weekends, volunteers have spare time to relax or enjoy the other activities that the Kruger area has to offer. These include: hiking, hot air ballooning, white water rafting, abseiling, zip lining, mountain boarding, and African cultural experiences. You can also explore the town of Hoedspruit which offers weekend activities and popular tourist spots for sampling South African cuisine and buying handicrafts from local artisans. Volunteers can also spend weekends on the reserve relaxing. If you wish to travel into Hoedspruit it is important to note that there is an additional fee for the transfer to and from the reserve.
Looking for more ideas of things to do in South Africa? Check out our South Africa Travel & Tours page!
Accommodation and WiFi
Volunteers in Kruger are accommodated in dormitory style volunteer houses in Rusermi Camp, located within Kruger National Park’s Balule Game Reserve. The camp is located about 50 kilometres from the nearest town of Hoedspruit and runs beside the Olifants River. It has a true safari feel with abundant game and bird life around the camp. The main house accommodation has a stunning view of the river and distant mountains from the lounge area.
Volunteers can expect to share with 1 to 7 other volunteers usually of the same gender. However; please note that due to limited space we cannot always guarantee this and mixed gender rooms may occasionally be required. The accommodation can host up to 24 volunteers at any one time.
Camp living is basic but comfortable with an outdoor dining area and a braai (barbeque), separate bathroom facilities that have hot and cold running water as well as western toilet facilities and a swimming pool. Bed sheets are provided but you will need to bring your own sleeping bags/blankets, towels and toiletries. Volunteers will be responsible for cleaning up after themselves in bedrooms and communal areas.
If you would like to keep connected during your stay, we recommend bringing a laptop, mobile phone or other device that you can use to connect to the accommodation’s WiFi. Please note access to the WiFi costs R100, or about US$10 (approximately CA$13), a week and is paid for directly at camp.
Accommodation upgrades to double or single rooms, with private ensuite bathrooms, are available and can be arranged at an additional cost. All accommodation upgrades are subject to availability.
Volunteers are provided with supplies and groceries to prepare their own meals. Usually a few volunteers at a time work together to cook on a rotating schedule shared between the group. The local team has menu suggestions available to help with meal planning. When working in the field volunteers need to prepare a packed lunch, usually with sandwiches, to take with them.
On the way to camp on your arrival day, volunteers will stop at a supermarket to purchase any additional supplies they may like to begin with. After this, volunteers can request additional items and snacks through the local team, as part of their weekly shop. The local team will need the cost of any specially requested items to be covered up front and can only accept cash.
Please note that due to the remote location of the camp and limited availability of specialty items, there is an extra charge in order to cater for some dietary requirements (vegan, gluten-free and lactose intolerance). Additionally, due to the rural location you should not expect to eat or have access to the same supplies of food that you normally do at home.
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
|2 weeks||CA$1090 Equivalent to CA$78/day|
|4 weeks||CA$1824 Equivalent to CA$66/day|
|6 weeks||CA$2492 Equivalent to CA$60/day|
|8 weeks||CA$3160 Equivalent to CA$57/day|
|10 weeks||CA$3828 Equivalent to CA$55/day|
|12 weeks||CA$4496 Equivalent to CA$54/day|
- 24/7 in-country support
- In-country program orientation
- Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
- Airport pick-up
- Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
- Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
- Certificate of International Volunteering
- All programs attract a Registration Fee of CA$394 in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in CAD.
- A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
- Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations and a criminal background check.
- Please note: due to the remote location of the camp and limited availability of specialty items, there is an extra charge in order to cater for some dietary requirements (US$20 per week for vegetarian and US$30 per week for vegan, gluten and lactose intolerance).
- Recommended spending money: Volunteers in South Africa generally find US$50 per week to be sufficient for expenses.
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Safety and support
IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.
- All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
- All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
- All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
- All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Protecting against COVID-19:
Volunteers tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel
Health & safety information provided during orientation
Strict disinfecting standards for programs & accomodation
Greater physical distance between volunteers
Essential country information
|Capital||Pretoria (Executive), Bloemfontein (Judicial), Cape Town (Legislative)|
|Languages||Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Swati, Tswana|
|Currency||South African Rand (ZAR)|
Weather and climate
The subtropical location, moderated by the Atlantic and Indian Oceans on three sides of the country and the altitude of the central plateau, are responsible for the warm temperatures typical of South Africa. Kruger National Park sees very hot and humid summers with temperatures often above 38 °C (100 °F).