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Wildlife Conservation Volunteering in South Africa - Kruger

Wildlife Conservation Volunteering in South Africa - Kruger

Protect & preserve endangered wildlife
Start dates
Programs start on the first and third Monday of every month
Choose from 2-12 weeks
Volunteer hours
Up to 8 hours a day
Volunteers aged 18+, or 16+ accompanied
Volunteer house
Program fees
From £793 for 2 weeks
What's included
Find out here
Apply for free
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Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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This program is ideal for:

Volunteers with a good level of physical fitness who are passionate about animals, interested in conservation and like working outdoors 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 reserve staff on the project.

Project details

Love animals, the outdoors and want to be a Wildlife Conservation volunteer at Greater 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.

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 Greater Kruger National Park offers.

You shouldn’t expect to be involved in hands-on research or touching the animals on this project, but you’ll have an important support role carrying out vital conservation work at the reserve.

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 behaviour, 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.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #15: Life on Land

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #15: Life on Land

Human activity has altered almost 75% of the earth’s surface and around 1 million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction. Nature is critical to our survival. We must promote kindness to animals and use regenerative techniques to combat deforestation, conserve biodiversity and protect wildlife.

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

Volunteer requirements

  • 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.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

Apply for free

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'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

George Cady
06 Jun 2024

I gained a better understanding of what conservation looks like. I also developed a better appreciation for animals after seeing them properly in the wild.

Sam Glasper
06 Jun 2024

I’ve learnt so much from my voluntary experience in South Africa. Originally, I came into the trip feeling anxious and apprehensive about the unknown, but within a short amount of time I felt really comfortable with where I was. My advice to anyone who may be hesitant about the programme is to go into it with an open mind, and that everyday brings something new so enjoy it whilst you can as you only live once.

Nick Christopher
15 May 2024

I have gained lifelong friends through relationships I built over the 4 weeks. I have a new love and respect for the workers and nature in the bush of South Africa.

Leticia Meckien
21 Feb 2024

I gained a lot of knowledge about the wildlife and nature of South Africa. Every day we had lectures which were very insightful and made me understand the environment around me more and the animals we were collecting data on - such as being able to identify the sex of an animal from afar. I also learned a lot about conservation and I believe that I was able to grow as a person and learn skills that can be used in my everyday life, of which I am very grateful for.

Ana Paola Solorzano
08 Dec 2023

This experience is something unique. The people, the job you do, the animals and the wildlife. Everything was just amazing!

Christine Terblanche
07 Nov 2023

The Kruger program helped me disconnect from the world outside and focus on the small, important things that are so often overlooked in modern life. I learned so much from the people around me, not just the rangers but the volunteers as well. My biggest piece of advice would be to take any chance you have to spend time working in the reserve, because the most unexpected experiences come out of this!


To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

Learn about course credit


Volunteer Abroad in Kruger National Park, South Africa with IVHQ


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 1:45pm 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 1:45pm 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 2:15 PM, so volunteers who arrive earlier in the day will wait at the airport until the 2:15 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 1:45 PM on your start date. You will then travel to the program at 2:15 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 Greater 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 £8), 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.

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, at their own expense.

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 (vegetarian, 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.


  • USD

Spots are limited. For a Registration Fee of just US$329 (approximately £267) you secure your spot and unlock all our preparation and training tools.

You don't need to worry about paying your Program Fee until you get closer to your start date.

Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
2 weeks $975 Equivalent to $70/day
4 weeks $1,615 Equivalent to $58/day
6 weeks $2,255 Equivalent to $54/day
8 weeks $2,895 Equivalent to $52/day
10 weeks $3,535 Equivalent to $51/day
12 weeks $4,175 Equivalent to $50/day
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately £267) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Due to the remote location of the camp and limited availability of specialty items, there is an extra charge 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$50-75 per week to be sufficient for expenses, if not joining weekend tours.
  • Any changes or cancellations within 30 days of the program start date are subject to at least a US$488 late change/cancellation fee.
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Airport pick-up
  • Airport drop-off
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Personalised preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • Flights
  • Visa (if required), travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Personal spending money for snacks, laundry, public transportation, drinks and leisure activities during your free time.

Check what's required to visit South Africa

Safety and support

Safety and support with IVHQ

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.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Essential country information

Capital Pretoria (Executive), Bloemfontein (Judicial), Cape Town (Legislative)
Population 58.56 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. Kruger National Park sees very hot and humid summers with temperatures often above 38 °C (100 °F).

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