My first ever solo travel experience was a volunteering with wildlife in South Africa. Not a country many consider for their first time going solo, but they definitely should. It was the best decision I ever made. If you’re not great with kids (like me), but want to volunteer, this might be a good fit for you too. I had always wanted to work with wildlife and after some research I chose to go with Wildlife Act. If you’re having trouble choosing an organization check out my post how to choose your wildlife volunteer project.
What I loved most about Wildlife Act is that you become part of a real conservation team. Our camp was in the middle of the reserve and full of researchers. It was such a privilege to talk to them and to contribute to real conservation. There’s no cuddling any animals, but a lot of time spend in the bush. They have a saying at Wildlife ACT: ‘ this is Zululand, not Disneyland’.
Why is the work neccesary?
The African Wild dogs are the most endangered carnivore in Africa. Without monitoring them, their numbers would probably diminish quickly. Besides wild dogs they protect other endangered species as well. I love this planet we live on and protecting it is important!
Day to day life
I’m not much of a morning person, but this project requires you to be up at 4 am every day. We were tracking the wild dogs and you have to be there early if you want to find them. Sometimes we would drive for hours and not even find them. Luckily you never know what you will see in the bush and other sightings kept the day interesting. In the afternoon you take a break and have a chance to relax at the camp. Late afternoon you head out again. Besides tracking wild dogs there were other projects going on as well. We hung camera traps throughout the reserve and analyses the data.
It’s not for everyone. You have to love the bush and be prepared to do hard work! But if you do decide this is your thing it will be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ve had.