Alumni Spotlight: Tanya Branagan


Tanya's from Dublin. She's currently learning programming and her last jobs was teaching children to make small basic robots.

This holiday was her first foray into long-distance solo travelling.

Why did you decide to go abroad with your provider?

I picked Original Volunteers because many providers charge up to €2000 for 2 two or three weeks at an animal sanctuary, and these guys charged €600, which all goes to the sanctuary. Having gone to the sanctuary, I found out that you can book your stay directly with a sanctuary, which can be cheaper and more beneficial to the sanctuary.

How has this experience impacted your future? (Personally, professionally, academically, etc.).

I'd never properly traveled abroad alone before, and had been spending the last couple of years trying to get out of my comfort zone and meet new people and do new things, and going to a country and a continent and spending time with people I'd never met before for three weeks was incredibly enriching and confidence building for me.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

This is ridiculous, but since I was a child, I've really like Capuchin monkeys, like the monkey Binks, who was one of the monkeys who played Spike from Ace Ventura, Marcel from Friends, and the little ebola monkey from Outbreak, so I really wanted to meet one of these monkeys.

When I got to International Primate Rescue, I met a little monkey called Chino who didn't like a lot of people, but he really liked me and would do a cute little lip smacky thing whenever he could see me, so I would come over and tickle his belly. He was great.

What was the best place you visited outside of your home-base city?

Kruger Wildlife Park was incredible. We spent three days there and stayed in an incredible wooden cabin, and spend our days driving around the par. We saw the Big Five: Elephants, Buffalo, Leopards, Lions, Rhino, and my personal Big Five: Meerkats, Warthogs, Hyenas, Hornbills and...also Lions. I also saw a mongoose!

Describe your favorite must-have food that you tried abroad.

I had so much great food, but it wasn't so much the type of food as the fact that they cook everything on a braai in South Africa. And instead of a side of chips they have a ham and cheese toastie. They're onto a winner there. I went to a restaurant called Karnivore one night, which was incredible, but so as not to offend any vegetarians I won't say which or how many animals I ate.