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Wildlife Conservation Volunteering in Kruger - South Africa

Apply now. The next available start date for this project is May 3, 2021

Kruger National Park is home to an abundance of wildlife, including the ‘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 wildlife environment that Kruger National Park offers.

Wildlife Conservation in South Africa - Kruger National Park with IVHQ.

On this project volunteers 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, the following tasks can take place:

  • Orientation and bush craft training - covering animal identification and behaviour, dealing with potentially dangerous game, orientation and navigation as well as basic bush skills
  • Game drives
  • 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 alien plant clearing
  • Vulture nest monitoring
  • Assisting with long term biodiversity surveys
  • Road maintenance
  • Erosion control measures
  • Fence line patrols
  • Disaster Management – drought, flooding, storms and wildfires
  • Any other tasks that may arise including manual labour and more mundane tasks

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.

This project is perfect for anyone who is passionate about animals and wildlife conservation. It is also great for those looking for an experience away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. You do not have to have any previous training or experience as volunteers work closely with the Field Facilitators, Reserve Manager and Scientific Coordinator on the project. However, all volunteers must have an adequate level of fitness given the physical nature of the work.

Apply now
Apply now
Project Highlights
What you need to know
  • Affordable fees from $825 for 2 weeks
  • Opportunity to learn about and contribute to long term conservation efforts

  • Suited to volunteers passionate about animals and interested in conservation

  • Volunteering for up to 8 hours per day

Destination Highlights
South Africa at a glance
  • Based in the Balule Game Reserve which forms part of the greater Kruger National Park

  • Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support

  • Accommodation in a dormitory-style volunteer camp

  • Between 5 and 10 volunteers start in Kruger each month

Fill out the quick form below to find out what the Covid-19 restrictions and visa requirements are for South Africa, based on your country of residence.

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. Volunteers will need to fly into Hoedspruit Airport (HDS) where they will be collected and transported to the reserve.

Volunteer programs begin on the first and third Monday of every month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 2 week to ​12​ weeks.

The program orientation 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 member of the local team 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 3pm, so volunteers who arrive earlier in the day will wait at the airport until the 3pm 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 2.30pm on your start date. You will then travel to the program at 3pm 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 – Introduction to Kruger, South African Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Local town trips, Tours, Excursions, Introduction to your Project and Placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and complete your first game drive.

Weekdays: 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 AM Brunch at the volunteer accommodation.

12.00PM - 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.

7.00PM Dinner at the volunteer accommodation.

Please note, this schedule will vary depending on the tasks you are volunteering on and the time of year you are volunteering.

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 accommodations can host up to 24 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, and 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 WiFi. Please note access to the WiFi costs R100 (approximately US$10) per 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 a standard set of supplies to cater for three meals per day which volunteers prepare for themselves. Meals are usually prepared by a few volunteers at a time 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 sandwich packed lunch to take with them.

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 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.

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.

South Africa - Kruger

Duration Program Fee $USD
2 weeks $825
4 weeks $1,380
6 weeks $1,885
8 weeks $2,390
10 weeks $2,895
12 weeks $3,400
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee (from US$299) on top of the Program Fee (partially refundable until 60 days before your program start date*). A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • * Terms and Conditions do apply
What extra costs will I have?
  • Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, souvenirs, in-country trips or tours.
  • Spending money - Volunteers in South Africa generally find US$50 to be sufficient for weekly expenses
Registration Fee
What it covers
  • Most affordable program fees
  • Expert support from a program specialist
  • Full MyIVHQ account access
  • Online volunteer training
  • Comprehensive preparation tools
  • IVHQ alumni rewards
Program Fee
What it covers
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • Airport pick-up
  • Program orientation
  • Volunteer placement
  • Accommodation
  • Meals
Capital Pretoria (Executive), Bloemfontein (Judicial), Cape Town (Legislative)
Population 51.19 million
Languages Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Swati, Tswana
Currency South African Rand (ZAR)
Time zone UTC+02:00

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. Across much of the country, summer (December to February) is characterized by hot, sunny weather with temperatures averaging around 25°C (77°F). Winter (May to September) is cooler and drier with evening temperatures averaging around 10 °C (50°F). In Cape Town, sporadic showers and chilly winds are common during the winter months, but with daytime temperatures can average around 15°C (59°F). Kruger National Park sees very hot and humid summers with temperatures often above 38 °C (100 °F).

Volunteers who are under 18 years old will be required to provide IVHQ with parental/guardian consent and two character reference letters in order to participate on the program, and may be asked to provide additional documentation to the local team. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance, including medical evacuation, and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ’s local team on arrival in South Africa.

All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ’s local team on arrival in South Africa.

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.

How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
Meet your personal volunteer travel expert
Pay the Registration Fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
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