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African Conservation Experience


African Conservation Experience has been organizing experiential volunteer opportunities in Africa for fifteen years. With projects in South Africa and Zimbabwe ACE is one of the most experienced wildlife volunteer organizations in Africa. Volunteer placements provide sustainable and ethical opportunities for gap year, university students and mature volunteers. By volunteering with ACE you will experience the real world of wildlife conservation while making a critical contribution to essential conservation work while gaining unmatched hands-on experience.


Unit 1 Manor Farm Churchend Lane
GL12 8LJ
United Kingdom


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My trip to the Blouberg clinic with the African Conservation Experience was very poor. There was both an opportunity to go and see a lion and a rhino during my stay which the team members couldn't be bothered taking us to. On top of this, the meals weren't all covered, the vets never explained what was happening (why we were doing certain things to the animals) and there were in total anywhere between 6 - 8 people sharing one, small 2 bedroom house and one bathroom.
I was lead on to believe that this would be a great adventure, that I would be 'kept on my toes' and was doing great work to help wild animals. All I saw on this trip were farm animals, far from what was promised, and the overall value of the trip was not acceptable. $4,300 and they couldn't even cover all meals.
DO NOT trust these people with your money, they are vultures.

How can this program be improved?
Deliver on what you promised.
Response from African Conservation Experience

Thank you Jamie for your feedback. Whilst we are disappointed to read your comments, we do appreciate your point of view and thank you for taking the time to provide your feedback.

It is clear from your comments that you did not enjoy your veterinary placement and we’re sorry to hear that. We ensure that we have an in depth conversation with every one of our travellers before they book their conservation trip to ensure that the placement they choose matches their expectations. After conversations with our sales team, including deciding between various projects you chose one of our veterinary placements.
During your placement you were exposed to valuable hands-on veterinary experience with a team of real vets. Work that you were involved in included chemical immobilisations to treat wounds, disease testing and parasite control. The team also work with production animals, something I believe you were keen to have exposure to and did. The busy team of vets that you were working with go out of their way to give students as much access as possible to all of the veterinary cases that they have. If on a rare occasion students are not able to visit an animal, this is for very specific reasons and not because the vets cannot be bothered. Working with real vets in the field, who will never undertake unnecessary procedures means that your workload will be varied and educational but the types of work and the animals you are working on are never guaranteed.

All meals, as well as your accommodation, internal transfers and 24/7 support from our in-country team are all included in our placements. The only exception to this being if you visit a local restaurant during your free time.

From the time that you set foot on South African soil you had 24/7 support from our in-country team. They are available to all of our travellers to ensure that they get the most out of their experience. It was not until your day of departure that they heard from you, which meant that they were not given the opportunity to either address your issues or to move you to a project which better matched your expectations.

Our vet placements provide valuable hands-on experience to our travellers, many of whom are considering veterinary as a career option or are currently studying veterinary sciences and wish to gain some real experience with African wildlife. We have been working with the vets you were placed with for 8 years and whilst we understand that it was not what you wished it to be, we have received much positive feedback from previous travellers.

We do wish you all the best in your future career. Both us, the vets and people on the ground could see your passion and they truly wish you all the best.

No, I don't recommend this program
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Traveling with ACE to the Okavango Delta in Botswana was an amazing experience. I traveled to Concession 43 in June 2017 to work on a elephant and predator study, which included several days stay on an island in the Okavango.

While there we worked with local researchers to measure abundance of a variety of game on the concession. This included lion, leopard, gemsbok, roan, wild dog, and many other species. During my stay we saw several hundred elephant, something that is now impossible throughout most of Africa.

The typical days were variable, and usually included several hours of game drives to conduct line transects to collect data for use in a multi-year survey of the area. This trips can be rough at times, as the trails are unkept and the temperature changes dramatically throughout the day.

The team I worked with was excellent, and ACE's expedition staff is second-to-none. The staff is highly experienced in conservation work and knowledgeable of the region. Planning the trip and arriving on location was easy, as their office staff was helpful every step of the process.

I highly recommend traveling with ACE to the region. The trip was unlike any other, and a valuable experience for conservationists and adventurers alike.

Yes, I recommend this program
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I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Chipangali and actually felt much safer in the country than I anticipated before my trip. One of the little stories I would like to share (and there are many) is that whilst myself and another volunteer were busy cleaning the lion cages on a really hot day which was a great experience in itself working so close to these majestic animals but in a very safe environment because of the lock down system within the cages - we returned for a lunch break to find 5 of our fellow volunteers all in the pool outside the main house. They had 6 hand reared ducklings with them in the swimming pool giving them their first swimming lesson and they were lining them up and having them race to the other side of the pool to declare the winner of the duck race. There was something so funny and yet caring about it in a sanctuary that has so many charismatic animals - these lovely baby ducklings were bringing so much joy and were equally cared for.

How can this program be improved?
I did find the days fairly chaotic but that's the nature of working with wildlife your day depends on what is happening at the time and can change very rapidly - however we did seem to get mixed messages from different staff at times at to what was happening - its no big deal and nice to be spontaneous but for the volunteer who likes a routine it could be a bit of a shock
Yes, I recommend this program
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This was my first solo trip ever and it could not have been more ideal. South Africa may have a bit of a reputation but had always felt completely safe since I had arrived. I did have some problems with my luggage going missing but Martin straightened it all out.
I participated in the Shimongwe vet program with Dr.Kreil and the Phinda wildlife management.
To get to the vet placement we drove approx four hours out of Johannesburg. Our host Family was Alfie and Jackie and they could not have been more fantastic, and so much fun. With Dr.Kriel we experienced clinic life and getting to go out on calls. He got us to be very hands on which really made the experience powerful. I would this recommend for anyone interested in veterinary medicine.
To get to Phinda you fly to Richards bay from jo-burg. Then a 3 hour drive out to the reserve. I personally loved Phinda, it was so amazing and educational to see these animals interacting. The amazing thing about this one is you get to see so much behind the scene that normal safari goers don't get usually see. Everyone at the researcher house was so much fun and so kind.
I honestly could not recommend ACE enough. It has left me with such a lasting impression and I miss SA practically everyday. I know I will return to the country, because of such an amazing time!

How can this program be improved?
I honestly don't have any suggestions.
Yes, I recommend this program
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I went to the Moholoholo Rehab centre in South Africa and my biggest regret was that I didn't stay longer. I have always dreamed of working with lions, servals, cheetahs, rinos, giraffes, and hyenas but I had no idea I would be able to work with all of them in one place. We helped relocate young leopards, bottle-fed baby rinks, giraffes and sables, and in my down time took pictures and played with the servals, baby honey badger and all the other amazing animals on site. Trips to waterfalls and canyon tours as well as horse back and buggy tours of Kruger were also offered (for a very reasonable price). As spectacular as the animals were, the staff and other volunteers made the experience that much better. I am making it my mission to go back and bring my friends with me some time soon!

How can this program be improved?
The food could have been better but it was good enough!
Yes, I recommend this program


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