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South Africa Big 5 Conservation

Help to protect some of the most amazing animals in the world

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Group photo of conservation volunteers

Group Size: Varies

Trip code: KWBF

Duration: 14-42 days

See the big 5
Explore the Garden Route in free time
Stay on a private game reserve

South Africa is hands-down one of the best wildlife destinations in the world. Spend between 14- and 42-days volunteering on our incredible Big 5 game reserve in the heart of the African bush. You’ll get involved with everything from capturing animals for medical treatment, to feeding predators, securing fences from poachers and maintaining indigenous plant species. Enjoy the reserve’s fantastic facilities during your free time and spend weekends exploring the local area with excursions to some of the brightest highlights of the Garden Route. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, that’ll leave you with magical memories as well as the satisfaction of helping to conserve some of the most amazing animals on the planet.

Trip highlights

  • Get up close and personal with the Big 5 in their natural habitat
  • Get involved with everything from fence patrols and feeding predators to helping with animal capture for medical treatment
  • Gain invaluable conservation experience working alongside a team of zoologists, rangers and conservation staff
  • Join epic weekend excursions to Port Elizabeth and other amazing locations on the Garden Route
  • Enjoy the reserve’s swimming pool, tennis court and games room during your free time
Gap 360 Trip Notes

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What's included
  • Airport transfer on arrival
  • All accommodation during your stay
  • Orientation on arrival
  • All meals whilst on the Game Reserve
  • Project t-shirt and cap
  • Working with trained zoologists, rangers, and conservation staff
  • Local community work (term-time only)
  • Full support from the in-country team
  • Access to the reserve's facilities
  • Return transfer to Port Elizabeth
  • 24/7 emergency support
What's not included
  • Flights
  • Visas
  • Insurance
  • Meals in Port Elizabeth
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Optional activities
  • Return airport transfer from Port Elizabeth
Further trip information

The game reserve

You’ll find the 6,000 hectare reserve in the heart of the African bush on the malaria-free Eastern Cape. The reserve is home to an astonishing mix of animal life, including the Big 5 (lions, leopards, black rhinos, African bush elephants, African buffalos) as well as zebras, giraffes, hippos, wildebeest, cheetahs, warthog, lynx, meerkats and over 250 bird species. Basically, it’s an animal lovers’ paradise.

Why join the programme?

In a nutshell, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, where you get to give back to the natural environment and the local community. It’s an immensely satisfying feeling knowing that you’ve helped to protect this incredible part of the world for generations to come. You’ll also gain invaluable skills and knowledge in conservation that can really boost your CV.

What to expect

You’ll be staying in one of our amazing volunteer camps in the heart of the reserve and working alongside trained zoologists, rangers, conservation staff and other volunteers from Monday to Friday (8:30am – 430pm), with weekends free for you to relax. Day-to-day itineraries vary and might include helping with fence patrols to keep animals safe from poachers, feeding predators, replacing alien plant species with indigenous vegetation, and even helping with animal capture for medical treatment. During term-time, you may also work with the local community, delivering nutritious meals to local children.

Free time and weekend excursions

With the working day ending by 4:30pm, you’ll have plenty of time during the week to relax on the reserve. Play a few rounds of tennis, soak up the sun by the reserve’s pool or relax in the communal lounge with your new friends. Weekends are yours to spend as you choose. The programme runs various overnight excursions to locations in the surrounding area such as Port Elizabeth, Jeffreys Bay and Grahamstown, where you can go hiking, windsurfing, whale-watching, horse-riding and much more. 

Download the trip notes for more information

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Booking options

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Online booking is unavailable for this trip

Online booking isn't currently available but if you'd like to enquire please use the form below. Alternatively if you'd like to discuss alternate trips or if you have any other questions please don't hesitate to contact us.
Call us on: 01892 527392
Email us at: [email protected]
Arrival information

You’ll need to arrange for your flight to arrive in Port Elizabeth Airport (PLZ) before 4pm on your programme start date. You’ll be met at the airport by some of the reserve’s staff, who will transfer you to the volunteer camp on the reserve. The camp is around 85km from Port Elizabeth and the transfer may not depart until other volunteers on later flights have arrived. 

You’ll spend the final night of your stay in a lodge in Port Elizabeth (reserve staff will transfer you there) and you’ll need to make your own way back to the airport in time for your flight. Please allow plenty of time for transfers to allow for any potential traffic or delays.

Accommodation & meals


All accommodation during your stay on the programme is included. You'll be staying in one of our backpacker five-star volunteer camps in the heart of the game reserve. These are made up of single sex dorm rooms with shared single sex bathroom facilities. The camps feature a lounge area, entertainment area with TV and satellite, and an on-site shop. You’ll have access to the game reserve’s facilities including table tennis, table football, pool table, a library, swimming pool, tennis courts and cricket field.

A laundry service is available twice a week at an additional cost, and internet services are available between 9-10am, 1-2pm and 7-8pm. The internet service may vary from day to day because of the service provider (the only provider in South Africa), so it may be less reliable than you are used to at home.

You’ll spend the last night of your programme in a lodge in Port Elizabeth, so that you’re close to the airport for flights the following day.

Please let us know if you're travelling as a couple or a mixed sex pair and would like to be placed together. This may be arranged at an additional cost and depending on room availability.


You'll be provided with three meals a day during your stay. Please let us know in advance if you have any dietary requirements.

Breakfast consists of cereals, bread, butter, jam, tea, coffee and cheese, but we sometimes serve eggs, sausages and baked beans as well.

Lunch and dinner are varied and include meals such as burgers, chicken and chips, veggie dishes and potato casserole – you definitely won’t go hungry!

Meals are served in the central dining area. Breakfast is served from 9.30 – 10am, lunch is from 1 – 2pm and dinner is from 6 – 7pm.

Please note: The reserve is an alcohol-free environment, but you will be able to go out for drinks in Port Elizabeth during your free time.

Minimum age & eligibility

You'll need to be a minimum of 18 years old to participate in this project. You don’t need to have previous experience of working with animals, but an enthusiasm for animals and conservation is a must!

British citizens visiting South Africa for tourism for a period of up to 90 days, don’t need a visa. Your passport should be valid for at least 30 days beyond your intended date of exit from South Africa. However, some immigration officials request 6 months’ validity on your passport, so it’s best to go with that, to avoid problems at the airport.

Please note: Visa and passport restrictions can be subject to change. Always check foreign travel advice and visa rules with the local embassies before travel.

Covid safety

This trip is designed with your safety and wellbeing in mind. As a result of Covid-19, many of our suppliers and partners around the world are introducing new policies and procedures surrounding health and safety in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. As the state of travel is evolving these new safety measures will adapt over time, and will be different for each trip. Here are some of the changes you may see on your trip:

Arrival safety meetings
Most trips have an arrival meeting on the first day where the guide or local team will run through the trip, the safety protocols, and to answer any questions you may have. Now more than ever it is important you arrive in time for these meetings.

Proof of vaccination or negative covid test
For the safety of all travellers, at the start of some trips you may be required to show evidence that you are fully vaccinated (14 days after your second dose) and/or show evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the tour start date in order to join the programme.

Updated hygiene and safety procedures
Our suppliers and partners have health and safety procedures in place on all of our trips. These protocols will be updated and adapted as a response to the Coronavirus outbreak, dependent on local restrictions and laws.

Transport and accommodation choices
Our suppliers and partners choose the accommodation and transport on our trips very carefully, and you may see a change to what would normally be used as a response to the outbreak. This may involve such changes as enhanced use of private transport or quieter accommodation.

Trained and knowledgeable staff
Our staff in the UK are trained to help you with your trip before you depart and answer any questions you may have. In addition, the local team and guides on our trips are there to help with any health and safety concerns and to ensure our trips run safely and smoothly.

Reduced group sizes
Some trips will run with reduced group sizes to start with. You may find that trips are more intimate and chilled, whilst still being packed with fun and adventure.

Your guide or the local team will be on hand to help you seek medical attention should you require it during your trip. As medical facilities and standards can vary around the world, you should ensure you have adequate travel insurance in place before you depart to cover you for any medical emergencies.

24/7 emergency support
We operate an emergency phone line for our travellers abroad. This is operated by a UK based member of staff 24/7 if you have a genuine emergency or urgent matter that you need attending.

It is important that you take measures to make travelling safer for yourself and others around you. Ensure you frequently wash your hands, cover your face when you sneeze and cough, bring and use your own hand sanitiser and facial coverings/masks, and enable social distancing where necessary. You should also ensure you listen to the instructions and guidance of the local team at all times, and follow all local laws and restrictions.