South Africa: Wildlife Conservation Volunteer Adventure

April 28 - May 6, 2019

“Like us, animals feel love, joy, fear and pain, but they cannot grasp the spoken word. It is our obligation to speak on their behalf ensuring their well-being and lives are respected and protected.”
Sylvia Dolson

As an adventure travel company, being out in nature and seeing wildlife in their natural habitat is just about the best thing you can do. It’s no secret that the world’s wildlife continues to be negatively impacted by human actions worldwide. We decided we wanted to do something to help counteract the problem and make a positive impact.

On our wildlife conservation volunteer adventure, we have partnered with a wildlife conservancy non-profit organization to set up a week-long hands-on volunteer opportunity to lend a hand with the Siyafunda Endangered Species Project set in the 61,000-acre Makalali Game Reserve. Makalali is home to Africa’s “Big Five” – lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhino, as well as countless smaller animals and insects.

Each day will include a hike around the grounds followed by conservation activities such as animal tracking and plant and tree identification and practical lessons such as how to find food and water and how to make fires in the bush.

Join us for an unforgettable life-changing experience that directly impacts the lives of some of our world’s most incredible creatures!

About the Siyafunda Endangered Species Project:

We also have our South Africa: Hiking, Wine, & Safari Adventure if you are looking for something a little less rustic.

Private Tour Info

Interested in making this a private tour? Gather your friends and family, choose your dates (though due to the nature of the trip, you may want to choose dates at least a year in advance), and let us do the planning!

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  • Dates: April 28 - May 6, 2019
  • Cost Per Person: $2,700
  • Optional Single Supplement: $1,300
  • Private Tour Minimum: 10
  • Activities: Hiking, game drives, and data gathering
  • Difficulty: All Ability Levels
  • Guides: Beth Peluse

Other Info: This trip needs a minimum of 8 to run and has a maximum of 22 people. There are a very limited number single accommodations available. Two internal flights estimated to be $500 not included.

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Trip Highlights

  • Assist in wildlife conservation efforts in a direct, hands-on way
  • Take in the astonishing scenery of the Makalali game reserve
  • Get up close to incredible wildlife in their natural habitat on bush walks and game drives
  • Learn practical skills for living in the bush
Day 1

Flights to Johannesburg airport arrive at all times of the day. Depending on when you arrive, we will meet you at the airport or at our hotel for the night. We will set up an airport shuttle for all guests so don’t worry if you arrive at a different time than others. Since arrival times will be varied, we will have dinner on your own. The hotel has a lovely restaurant on the grounds. After dinner, you can head back to your room to catch up on some sleep from your long journey or head out to the bonfire to roast a few tasty marshmallows.

Day 2

After a good night’s rest, we’ll make our way back to the Johannesburg airport to catch our flight to Hoedspruit. Once we arrive in Hoedspruit, we will be picked up by the Siyafunda Endangered Species Project shuttle and take a 45-minute drive to camp. We will check in, drop our luggage off in our rooms, and reconvene for a thorough camp introduction where we will learn the details of our volunteer efforts over the next week, including which rotating meal prep groups we will be assigned to.

Days 3 – 8

Each day we will participate in a variety of activities, including but not limited to:

  • Bush survival skills (how to find food & water, how to stay warm & dry, how to make fires, etc).
  • Bush orientation/navigation skills (finding your way day & night)
  • Animal tracking skills
  • Approaching animals on foot and walking amongst dangerous game (theory & practical)
  • Field work methods (game census, carrying capacities, game capture, etc).
  • Sleep-outs and bush-walks
  • Big Five game drives
  • Biodiversity conservation and history of the area
  • Plant and tree identification, uses and mirths/traditions
  • Birding walks

The activities will be decided by our volunteer coordinators based on the weather, animal activity, and areas of most need.

Day 9

We will say our farewells to our wonderful camp researchers, coordinators, and guides and make the drive back to the Hoedspruit airport to catch our flight back to Johannesburg. You can then make your connection back home or continue your travels in South Africa.

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Trip Accommodations


This 4-star boutique hotel offers a rustic, art-inspired atmosphere where every room is unique. This is a perfect hotel to rest our travel-weary bones before heading into the bush.


At camp, we'll stay in small cabins with double rooms and en-suite shower/toilets, supplied with hot and cold water. There is a communal lounge and a separate kitchen.

If we reach over 14 people on this tour, the remaining guests will be staying in semi-luxury double tents (with interior dividers) built on wooden decks - each tent with two comfortable cots, linens/duvets, dressers and deck chairs. There is no electricity in the camp, but there is hot water and plenty of paraffin lamps as well as gas stove/fridge/freezer. The camp is wonderfully rustic!

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Arrival & Departure

We will meet you either at the airport in Johannesburg (JNB) or at our hotel located just a few miles from the airport. There are no direct flights from the United States but plenty of options that connect you through other major cities. Make sure to pay attention to the amount of travel time your flight requires as most journeys will take over 24 hours.

On the final day, we will fly from Hoedspruit back to the Johannesburg airport where you can connect to your flight home or continue on your journey through South Africa.

What's Included
  • A US-based Zephyr guide will be the tour host. We will work with several Siyafunda researchers and volunteer coordinators during our time at camp.
  • Double occupancy lodging is included. If you are traveling solo, we will match you with another traveler of the same gender. However, you may pay a single supplement to have your own room, though there are very limited spaces available on camp. The sooner you book your single supplement the more likely we can accommodate you.
  • All of your meals while at camp are included. Dinner on Day 1 and lunch on Day 2 and Day 9 are on your own. While at camp, we will participate in the creation of menus, the preparation of meals, and the general upkeep of the camp on a rotational basis.
  • All your ground transportation is included once you meet your guides on the first day.
  • All group activities are included.
  • NOT INCLUDED: Beverages and desserts for our first dinner, gratuities to your guides, personal expenses and travel to and from the destination.

We'll be staying in a nice, comfortable hotel in Johannesburg when we first arrive on Day 1 of the tour. For the remaining part of the tour, we will be bunking up at the research camp in double occupancy cabins with en-suite shower/toilets, supplied with hot and cold water. If we reach over 14 people on this tour, the remaining guests will be staying in semi-luxury double tents (with interior dividers) built on wooden decks - each tent with two comfortable cots, linens/duvets, dressers and deck chairs.


There is no electricity in the camp, but there is hot water and plenty of paraffin lamps as well as gas stove/fridge/freezer. We suggest you take advantage of this rare occasion where you can unplug from the rest of the world and truly enjoy the experience you are having without the distractions of phones and gadgets.

Changes to Your Itinerary

While everything under “What is Included” will remain the same, the actual restaurants, hotels, and activities listed in our itineraries are subject to modifications. Changes that are out of our control are common – a restaurant closes or loses its awesome chef, a winery changes its visiting hours, a hotel gets remodeled, a road or trail undergoes construction. You are entrusting us to create an outstanding vacation for you and so it is possible we may take the liberty of making necessary changes (even at the last minute, during the guides’ scout trip) to the itinerary that will improve your overall trip experience.

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