Volunteer in Victoria Falls
At a glance…
- Available year-round
- Special Wildlife Conservation project
- Program based on a private game reserve in the province of Matabeleland North
- Accommodation is in single rooms and located within the conservation center
- Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
- Program fees from US$880 for 2 weeks (approximately CA$1090)
- Volunteers live in the midst of the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site of Victoria Falls
- Between 5 and 15 volunteers start in Victoria Falls each month
- Most affordable fees - as the world leader in affordable volunteer travel, we’re able to keep our fees low by partnering with a local organization in Victoria Falls to support meaningful community projects and local employment.
- Superior support - your experienced IVHQ Program Manager, teamed with our local team in Victoria Falls will ensure you feel supported every step of the way - from planning to volunteering.
- Responsible projects - we’re dedicated to ensuring that our projects are responsibly run and have sustainable positive impacts that are supporting local needs.
- Online training - as soon as you register on an IVHQ program, you will gain access to our interactive volunteer training to ensure you’re well prepared for your program.
- Safety-first - volunteer safety is a top priority for IVHQ and we have clear standards for risk management on each program. You can feel confident that you are placed with trustworthy institutions, organizations and families that have been screened by our local teams.
- New friendships - as an IVHQer, you’ll always be in the company of friendly locals and like-minded volunteer travelers who will quickly become your life-long friends.
- Epic weekend adventures - you’ll have your weekends free to explore Victoria Falls with your new-found friends.
The IVHQ Victoria Falls volunteer program is based within a private game reserve in the province of Matabeleland North, Zimbabwe. Volunteers are required to fly into Victoria Falls International Airport (VFA), which is a 15 to 17 hour flight from most major airports in Canada. Located on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, Victoria Falls is a popular destination for travelers to Africa and offers the unique opportunity for IVHQ volunteers to join Wildlife Conservation efforts in close proximity to the spectacular Victoria Falls.
The volunteer program begins on the first and third Monday of each month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 2 to 12 weeks.
Volunteers on the Wildlife Conservation project have the unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience in conservation management activities and assist with on-going research in a private game reserve and surrounding areas within Victoria Falls. The reserve is home to a wealth of native wildlife, including ‘Big 5’ animals – lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo; and serves as an intensive protection zone for the critically endangered black rhino.
This project is well suited to volunteers who are passionate about supporting a diverse range of conservation management practices, all of which are vital for the successful operation of the game reserve, its surrounding areas and their ecosystems. Conservation management and research activities may include:
- Alien vegetation removal
- Soil erosion control methods
- Vulture feeding ground maintenance
- Fence patrols
- Bush walks with International Anti-Poaching Foundation
- Waterhole creation, maintenance and monitoring
- Freshwater eco-system analyses
- Game, predator and bird monitoring, tracking and counting
- Road maintenance
- Upkeep of river crossings
- Predator culvert checks
- General reserve and surrounding areas clean-up operations
- Game census counting
- Camping out on the reserve
- Animal tracking
- Watching Rhino supplement feeding
As a volunteer on this project, you will work in tandem with members of the game reserve team and anti-poaching unit, with your work also benefitting partner organizations, including Birdlife Zimbabwe, Endangered Wildlife Trust and Zimbabwe National Parks Authority. You also have the opportunity to attend lectures on related conservation topics, delivered by senior reserve staff or guest speakers, which will help enhance your understanding of conservation issues in Africa and help support the effectiveness of your contribution to this project. Additionally, volunteers supplement their time by working on development projects in the local community that are focused around education, fundraising, nutrition and small-scale vegetable gardening.
The program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of each month and volunteers need to arrive in Victoria Falls on the Sunday before orientation.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Victoria Falls International Airport (VFA). Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee.
When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation in Victoria Falls. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.
If you are traveling in Zimbabwe prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up from the Victoria Falls town center, on the day before your program orientation.
Orientation is hosted by our Victoria Falls team at the volunteer accommodation. Orientation begins on the morning of your chosen start date and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Victoria Falls – Introduction to Victoria Falls and Zimbabwe, Culture and Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities, Introduction to Project and Placement.
First Day: On your first day of volunteering, you will take part on your program orientation at the center on the reserve.
On the following days, you will have a morning and afternoon shift, which will last around 2 to 5 hours. A typical day would be as follows:
7.00AM - 7.30 AM – Breakfast at the conservation center.
8.00 AM – Volunteers typically begin work for the day on the reserve or in the surrounding area.
11.00 AM – Volunteers return to the center to clean up before lunch. If volunteers are not able to return to the centre they will receive a packed lunch.
3.00 PM – Volunteers resume work at the center or surrounding area.
5.00 PM - 5:30 PM – Volunteers return to center to clean up before dinner.
7.00 PM - 7:30PM – Dinner at the conservation center.
Please note, this schedule will vary depending on the season and the nature of the work being done at the time.
Volunteers are accommodated within private rooms at the conservation center where the program is based. As the conservation center is situated on a private game reserve, it is not uncommon to see African wildlife grazing throughout the day! Bedrooms are private with one single bed per room and a ceiling fan, desk and storage shelving. Bathrooms are shared between up to four volunteers of the same gender and offer western toilets and hot showers. In addition to the sleeping quarters, the accommodation also offers an open-air communal area with a swimming pool, braai (barbecue) and picnic tables, where volunteers can socialize and enjoy meals. WiFi is also available at the volunteer accommodation.
Bed linens are provided and during the hot months and a sheet should be adequate cover in the evenings, as there is no air conditioning in the volunteer accommodation. During the cooler months, you may wish to bring a sleeping bag for an extra layer of warmth. Volunteers are asked to bring their own towels.
The conservation center has a 24-hour security guard and a safe is available in the staff office for volunteers to store small valuables. As the reserve is a ‘Big 5’ area (home to lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo), the property is protected by an electric fence and volunteers are required to ask permission before leaving the facility.
On-site staff clean the accommodation throughout the week, however volunteers are also required to keep these areas tidy. Laundry services are provided on a weekly basis.
Volunteers are served three meals per day, prepared by an on-site local cook. All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) will be a mix of western and traditional Zimbabwean food. Breakfast may include cereal, eggs, pancakes, porridge, fruit or toast, accompanied with coffee and tea. Lunches will be a mixture of sandwiches, quiches, burgers, salads and other similar foods. Dinners will commonly comprise of pastas, fish, meat, starches and/or vegetables. The local team is happy to accommodate special dietary requests (vegetarian, vegan, dairy or gluten free, etc.). Please let your IVHQ Program Manager know of any special dietary needs in advance so we can ensure the local team is prepared for you.
“Great first experience! The accommodation was amazing, fantastic..our rooms were cleaned and beds made once a day. Special thanks to one of the cleaners who helped me take out a giant spider! Toilets are sprayed to keep out the mozzies, really helpful! Also we were never short of good food - kudos to the chef :) Every single second of my my volunteering experience was great - the staff, fellow volunteers and the locals!” - Jingying Chan (Wildlife Conservation Volunteer in Victoria Falls)
There is no shortage of things to do in Victoria Falls, with activities ranging from whitewater rafting to sunset river cruising. Victoria Falls is one of the largest and most spectacular waterfalls in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, situated within three separate national parks - Victoria Falls National Park (Zimbabwe), Zambezi National Park (Zimbabwe) and Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park (Zambia). Nature enthusiasts and animal lovers will have the unique opportunity to explore these areas via safari and guided tour, exploring rainforests and swirling clouds of mist, which house many endangered species. The town of Victoria Falls offers many popular tourist spots for sampling Zimbabwean cuisine and buying handicrafts from local artisans. Extreme sports are also plentiful in Victoria Falls, with whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, abseiling, zip lining and gorge swinging on offer. Outdoor enthusiasts can take part in fishing, horseback riding, canoeing and cycling. Volunteers staying for longer periods of time who wish to travel further afield, can explore the ruins of the Great Zimbabwe, check out the unusual rock formations in Matobo Hills National Park, or go diving in the cobalt blue water of the Chinoyi Caves. There is a wealth of national parks in Zimbabwe, leaving no shortage of options for adventure. Victoria Falls’ advantageous location also allows volunteers to easily visit the bordering countries of Zambia and Botswana during the weekends. See our Victoria Falls Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in Victoria Falls!
|Population||13.72 million (Zimbabwe)|
|Languages||English, Shona, Ndebele|
|Currency||US Dollar (USD)|
Weather and climate: The climate in Zimbabwe is tropical, however this is moderated by altitude. There is a dry season, including a short cool season from May to September when there is often very little rain. The rainy season is typically a time of heavy rainfall from November to March.
Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate, however 16 and 17 year olds can volunteer with a parent or guardian. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ’s local team on arrival in Victoria Falls.
English is spoken on the IVHQ Victoria Falls volunteer program. While community development initiatives within local schools will be carried out in English, some of the younger children will only speak Ndebele. Fluency in Ndebele is not a prerequisite for the program, however we recommend that volunteers learn some basic Ndebele prior to departure, as this can help immensely in communicating with local people.
Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.