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Endangered Species Program

Project Highlights

Learning about South African wildlife conservation
Helping out in saving endangered species
Going on game drives and seeing wild animals up close
Experiencing what it is like to live in the bush

Optional Welcome Orientation

If you choose the Welcome Orientation, then your project starts with a 2-day orientation in Johannesburg. Arrive in Joburg or Jozi, as it is known locally, and get shown around by people who know the city well. The orientation is excellent for first-time visitors to find their feet the local way and meet other volunteers on your project. If you choose to fly directly to Hoedspruit Airport (and not book the Welcome Orientation), then it needs to be on a Monday. You will be picked up at HDS airport. At the end of the project, you will be transferred by shuttle bus to JNB or HDS airport (included).

Day 1
You will be picked up from the airport and taken to the hostel. Here you will be given a chance to settle down before meeting your volunteer representative. You will be given a briefing on your volunteer program and then meet other travellers and volunteers for a welcome dinner.

Day 2
After breakfast you will be collected from the hostel and shown around the sites of Johannesburg like a local. We will start off with a visits to Soweto, South Africa’s biggest Township here you will have the opportunity to take some photos at the iconic Orlando Towers and Soccer City, home of the World Cup Final. We then head to a local food market where you can have a light lunch (at your own cost), shop for local arts and crafts and listen to some live music. We then head back to the central business district of Johannesburg to immerse ourselves in the regeneration of this city that has reimagined itself over 5 times. Here we take a deep dive into the architecture, history and art which is an integral part of the city scape. Please note that the tour itinerary is flexible and may change according to the group’s interests for the day. This is your personal tour of our lovely city with our local guide to show you the best sites and places.

Day 3
After breakfast we will take you to Johannesburg Airport for your onwards travel to the project.

Weekly Schedule & Activities

The project runs 6 days a week. Volunteer tasks are focused on monitoring, which forms the basis for the majority of our research assistance on the reserve. We conduct monitoring walks/drives in the mornings and afternoons. The monitoring coincides with times of increased activity of the specific animals we are observing. We also spend time on foot tracking the more elusive animals, which is an amazing way to experience the bush. During the drier winter months, we have several hides based at waterholes which allow you to observe the various animals and their interactions at close quarters.

The early morning monitoring walks will have you locating the rhino and cheetah. You will learn how to identify and age their tracks and how to record this information. Once the animals have been located you will monitor their behaviour, environment and interactions in order to better understand them. Meanwhile, you will also learn how to track other big game such as elephant, lion and hyena in order to better understand utilisation of the areas covered. At all times you will also be on the lookout for potential sightings and nest sites of the southern ground hornbill.

On return to camp, you will enter the data collected onto the computers. You’ll also get the chance to go through your bush knowledge work books to help improve your tracking skills. During the week there will be a series of talks on the project, data collection, bush skills and maybe even a Zulu lesson.

In the afternoons you will set out on monitoring drives in order to cover more ground to determine new areas to locate rhino, cheetah and southern ground hornbill. Once signs of activity and tracks have been located you will continue on foot to discover more. Whilst driving through the reserve you will also get the chance to see some of our other resident Big 5 - elephant, lion and buffalo. In conjunction with the research, all sightings of leopard will also be monitored and recorded - the more eyes the better when trying to monitor this elusive animal.

On Friday afternoon, you will meet up with the research group for a sleep-out under the stars. Saturdays are free for you to relax and spend the day as you like or to join an outing if one has been planned. On Sunday morning you will help out with some habitat work, either bush clearing, erosion control or road maintenance. Upon return from the afternoon monitoring drive, we may head out to the local pub or have a typical South African braai (BBQ).

In between activities, you will receive a series of presentations on the work of the project, or how to approach dangerous game on foot, or possibly even a presentation on Rhino Poaching lesson. This time will also be used to transfer all data collected onto the computers and compile the weekly research report, as well as helping out with vehicle checks and cleaning.

Average working day
The project runs 6 days a week from Monday to Saturday. In summer we start at 5:30am and are out for 4 to 5 hours. In the afternoon we leave at 16:00 for another 3 to 4 hours. In winter we leave at 6:30am and are out for 4 to 5 hours. In the afternoon we leave at 15:00 for another 3 to 4 hours. We also give lectures and presentations 2 or 3 times during the week over the lunch period. For the remainder of the time between monitoring sessions, volunteers are required to enter all the data that they have collected into our databases.

When you volunteer with us you are joining us on the frontline our Nature Reserve, helping meet all the challenges we face daily managing our reserve and the animals that call it home, while helping us meet the financial burden that comes with keeping them all safe.

This routine is kept as best as possible, however, working with animals requires a flexible schedule. The above outline is subject to change.

Supervision/Co- Ordination

As the nature of the work varies we will place volunteers under the supervision of various staff members / Rangers to facilitate the smooth operation of the volunteers stay and provide guidance where necessary.


Airport pick-up
2-day orientation in Johannesburg including 2 breakfasts & 2 dinners
Three meals a day (on project)
24-hour support and supervision
Donation to the project
Certificate of appreciation

Mandatory Volunteer Requirements

Minimum age of 18
Basic level of competency in English
Acceptance subject to availability

What Makes a Good Volunteer?

Volunteers need to be flexible and keep an open mind concerning their placements as situations can arise beyond our control which could require you to be placed at a different project than the one you have initially chosen. We will of course always do our utmost to fulfill your initial wishes but do remember that where you are going is quite different from where you are coming and as such one should be prepared for things not always going according to plan.

Volunteering and intercultural travel share a common trait: the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. This program is designed for proactive individuals and groups that are prepared to adapt to the local environment and its current needs. Naturally, the scheduling and activities of our program are subject to change. Alterations in activities are mainly due to changes in local conditions, which we believe is part of what makes overseas programs the interesting adventure and incredible learning experience that they are.

How Long Should I Volunteer?

Our projects range from 1 week up to approx. 30 weeks. Projects have a specified minimum stay, then it’s up to you how long you can commit. In our experience the longer you stay the more you will gain, as your understanding of the project broadens and you take on more responsibilities. Every volunteer will be given a certificate of appreciation at the end of their stay as a symbol of volunteering stay.

Wat is inbegrepen?


Optional Orientation Weekend
Accommodation during the orientation weekend in Johannesburg is dorm-based.

Project Accommodation
We have a bushcamp that has been set up especially for the volunteers on this project. Here, you will be staying in comfortable twin shared tents set up on raised platforms. There are bush showers, flushing toilets and a kitchen available at the camp.

Lokaal vervoer

Arrival with Optional Welcome Orientation
You will be met by the driver with your name on a board as you exit the terminal at Johannesburg International Airport. We'll then transfer you to your accommodation for your orientation in Johannesburg.

Getting to/from the Project
With Optional Welcome Orientation:
You will be transferred to the bus terminal to catch a public shuttle at 07:00 so that you'll arrive at the Karongwe/Makalali gate around 12:15-12:45. The return transfer to Johannesburg Airport is also by public bus, so you will be transported to the Karongwe/Makalali gate to catch the 12:00 shuttle. You will arrive at Johannesburg International Airport around 17:00-18:00.

By plane:
Alternatively you can book domestic flights to and from Hoedspruit Airport, which will save you a 6-hour bus shuttle from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit and back. Please note that the flights are at your own cost. Your travel advisor can assist you with booking the flights, there are no specific restrictions as to what time you book the flight. Your return transfer between Hoedspruit Airport and the project is included. Alternatively, you can also take the return shuttle to Johannesburg at no additional cost.

Transportation at the Project
The vehicles used at this project are roadworthy, safe and reliable, and have all relevant licenses and liability insurances.


Volunteers may help themselves to tea, coffee, cereal and toast in the morning. For a late brunch you can make sandwiches or salads or have a tasty fry-up. In the evening, after the game drive, the volunteers cook a delicious meal together or just braai (South African BBQ) in our Boma, where we light up the fire after sunset. In the evenings we spend most of the time under the South African stars and start a fire in the boma. We sit around enjoying a well earned drink and an amazing dinner, telling stories of the day's adventures.
All meals are cooked by the group. Volunteers may help themselves to tea, coffee, cereal and toast in the morning.

- Cordial fruit drink, tea and coffee are provided.
- Soft drinks, alcoholic beverages (beers and ciders) and snack foods are not available in camp but you can buy them on the weekly town trips.

Exception: During your Johannesburg orientation you will receive 2 dinners and 2 breakfasts; other snacks are at your own expense.

Please advise us on your dietary needs when filling out your application form. Participants with very specific dietary needs may be required to supplement their meals at their own expense.

Houd er rekening mee

Visas, Insurances & Flight Tickets
Visas and insurances are the responsibility of the intern. Travel insurance is compulsory. You are also required to present a copy of your return flight itinerary when entering South Africa.

While there is no Wi-Fi available at the Endangered Species camp, when you go for lectures at the research base camp, you can access the Wi-Fi available there for a small fee.

There is a laundry service on-site for a small fee.

There are plenty of ATMS in Johannesburg where you will have your orientation. Once on project you will have the opportunity to withdraw money on your weekly shopping trip (not always guaranteed, only when space is available otherwise staff will pick up any groceries you need). The nearest ATM is at a garage 20 km away.

Winter in South Africa
Please note that May through to September are our winter months and it can get quite chilly with an average temperature ranging from 5 degrees Celsius at night to 15 degrees Celsius during the day. So please make sure to pack enough warm clothes if you plan your trip in that period.

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