South Africa Experience
Volunteer on a big 5 game reserve and explore the Garden Route
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Group Size: Varies
Trip code: SAEP
Duration: 2-3 weeks
Experience the best of South Africa with this incredible combo tour. Spend 1 – 2 weeks (you choose) volunteering on an award-winning game reserve with a team of zoologists, rangers and conservationists. You’ll have the kind of close encounters with Africa’s iconic wildlife (including the Big 5) that you just can’t get on a normal safari. Then hit the world-famous Garden Route, for big surf, wine-tasting, horse riding, hikes through national parks, boat trips and beautiful beaches. Finish up in cosmopolitan Cape Town for some of the most epic scenery on Earth. What are you waiting for?
- Spend 1 – 2 weeks volunteering at an award-winning game reserve
- Choose between a surf lesson or a horse-riding session in chilled-out Jefferey’s Bay
- Walk the leafy trails in Tsitsikamma National Park
- Take a boat trip round the jaw dropping Knysna Heads
- Explore Cape Town’s spectacular scenery, vibrant centre and epic nightlife
Day 1: Port Elizabeth. Well, hello South Africa! One of the staff from the game reserve will pick you up from Port Elizabeth Airport and take you to the reserve where you’ll meet the gang and enjoy a welcome dinner together.
Day 2-8: Volunteering at the game reserve. Spend the next 7 days exploring the award-winning 6,000-hectare game reserve. Stay in five-star backpacker accommodation and work with zoologists, rangers and conservation staff. Get up close with amazing animals every day, doing work such as game monitoring, animal capture and relocation – it’s like a non-stop safari. In your free time, the reserve’s swimming pool, tennis courts and lounge area are yours.
Day 9: Port Elizabeth. If you’ve chosen the 2-week option, head to Port Elizabeth today. Spend the afternoon exploring or sign up for one of our epic optional activities, including sand boarding on Sunday River and the longest double zip-line in Africa!
Day 10: Jeffrey's Bay. J-Bay is on the menu today for total surfing heaven. Check into the accommodation and choose from a morning surf lesson in the bay or a horse ride in the afternoon. The rest of the day is yours – that beach is calling!
Day 11: Tsitsikamma. The garden of the Garden Route, Tsitsikamma is seriously gorge. Walk the bridge trail (if you dare - the park is home to the world’s highest), join a treetop safari, do a spot of white-water rafting, or take on the 700-foot bungee.
Day 12: Knysna. Next up it’s gorgeous Knysna. Check out the bright blue lagoon and take a boat tour to Knysna Heads. Back on dry land, explore the town, grab a drink harbourside, or do an optional spot of paragliding.
Day 13: Oudtshoorn. Say ‘see ya later alligator’ to the coast and head to Oudsthoorn (the ostrich capital of the world) for a guided tour of the Crocodile Ranch. The afternoon’s yours – sample some fine wine at a vineyard or check out the amazing Cango Caves.
Day 14: Cape Town. Our last stop is epic Cape Town. You get to either take a cable car up Table Mountain, visit Cape Point or Robben Island (activity is dependent on availability). Later, tuck into a slap-up farewell dinner with the gang.
Day 15: Trip end. Say goodbye to your travel fam and either head to the airport (your group leader can help with transfers) or spend a couple more days in gorgeous Cape Town. Start planning your next trip on the way home!
Want to volunteer for longer? If you’d like to spend an extra week on the game reserve choose the 3-week option when booking.
*Please note: Some activities on this itinerary will depend on seasonal conditions. We’ll do everything we can to advise you of changes to this itinerary wherever possible.
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You’ll need to arrive in Port Elizabeth before 4pm on your trip’s start date. Fly into Port Elizabeth Airport (PLZ) where a member of the game reserve’s staff will meet you.
The trip ends on day 15 if you take the two-week option, or a week later if you opt to stay for three weeks. You should arrange return flights to depart from Cape Town (CPT). We can arrange airport transfers for you from 7am on your last day (extra cost), but we’d recommend that you stay on to enjoy Cape Town for an extra night or two.
You’ll spend the first part of your trip staying on the game reserve (8-15 nights, depending on whether you opt for an extra week at the reserve). Accommodation here comprises of two five-star backpacker lodges with dorm-style rooms and shared bathrooms. Both the rooms and bathrooms are single sex. Lodges also feature a lounge, entertainment area with TV and an on-site shop.
For the rest of the trip, you’ll stay in backpacker hostels along the Garden Route. These have shared dorm style rooms.
During your stay on the game reserve, breakfast, lunch and dinner are included. The menu changes, but breakfasts usually consist of cereals, bread, jam, cheese, tea, and coffee (and sometimes cooked breakfast). Examples of the kind of lunch and dinner you can expect, include burgers, chicken and chips, veggie dishes and casseroles.
During the second part of the trip, we’ll provide breakfast, but you’ll need to buy your own lunch and dinner. It’s a great opportunity to explore the local cuisine.
You’ll need to be a minimum of 18 years old to take part in this tour. This trip is designed for those aged 18-35.
UK nationals don’t require a visa to enter South Africa for stays of up to 3 months. Your passport should be valid for at least 30 days beyond your intended date of exit, but some immigration officials ask for at least 6 months validity, so it’s best to have this, just to be sure.
Please note: Visa, passport and entry requirements can change without prior notice, so please check requirements at the time of your trip. It’s your responsibility to obtain the necessary visas for your time away.