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DAKTARI Bush School and Wildlife Orphanage

About

The mission of DAKTARI is to educate and inspire local children to value their environment and stimulate community development

Every Monday, eight new students come to DAKTARI’s camp to spend the week building their knowledge of the environment and wildlife. They attend lessons, do activities, and interact with the animals in the wildlife orphanage. DAKTARI also works at the secondary schools to further this education and undertake community development projects.

Our goal is to enable today’s local underprivileged children to eventually be able to secure good employment in nature reserves, thereby improving their future quality of life.

** 100% OF YOUR PAYMENT GOES TO THIS CHARITY **

Reviews

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Isabel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Living a dream

Spending those 6 weeks at Daktari has been even more amazing and wonderful than I would have ever imagined. I did not feel like a volunteer at all, I immediately became part of a caring and fun family. Working so closely with all the animals has always been a dream of mine and being able to do so, in such an ethical, respectful environment is a wonderful, life changing experience.

Pros
  • Meaningful Interaction with Children
  • Educational Work with all kinds of Animals
  • Safe and fun environment
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laure
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great experience !

The DAKTARI family is more than welcoming and you feel at home as soon as you arrive. The teaching program you receive as soon as you register, which allows you to have a look of what to expect, is great and you can feel the impact on kids at the end of the week. The coordinator is always here to help you in the teaching program if needed. Stabling twice a day allows you to interact with bush animals which is incredible. The animal manager and her coworkers makes a great job explaining what do it and how to do it. You'll never get bored though you're still having fun ! Thanks a lot to everyone !

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
When you re at Daktary, you feel like everyone (volunteers, staff and the kids) is your family so you feel at home within the bush ! Meanwhile you live among animals (dont panic, not the wild ones !) you dont even know the name who come sit on your laps and you can pet them !
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Francisco
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An amazing experience with an amazing staff

I work as a travel agent, bringing volunteers to DAKTARI and other projects around the world. After helping a lot of volunteers fulfil their dreams of coming to South Africa, I managed to arrange 2 weeks to spend at the project. What a wonderful time I had starting with the staff who are so friendly and polite, the animals being taken care of as if they were family and the amazing food that was prepared catering to each of the volunteers individual needs. I can only say that if you are looking for an unique and quality experience involving a well thought out educational program and the preservation of native animal species, this is the one for you.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Come with an open mind to experience and learn a lot of new things. You need to have a passion for animals and education, the staff really counts on you to do your duties!
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Emilio
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

nice experience!

I spend 4 weeks at DAKTARI and it was a big step out of my comfort zone to get here but when i arrived i felt home right away! i loved working with kids and animals, i learned a lot and i also got to know amazing people from all over the world!!! Amazing trips, nice food, lovely people, great teaching program about environment, poaching, tourist and jobs and wild animals. I made friends for life and i would never forget my stay at DAKTARI because it was such a wonderful time!! Thank you for this experience!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
i went on a safari and saw the big 5, also around the camp we saw a lot of wild animals
Default avatar
Emilio
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

3 weeks at DAKTARI!

Coming to volunteer at DAKTARI Bush School was an experience close to perfection. Without a doubt it was way better than expected and I would recommend this place to everyone. Since the moment I arrived, I was welcomed by everyone in the best way possible. During these three weeks, they made me feel part of a big family between the volunteers and the staff. From each person that you get to know from here, you will take new memories and create unique moments. Doing the teaching program is pretty easy as there is a guide extremely clear that explains everything that you have to do during each lesson. It feels really good to teach the kids from the community as you know you are making an impact in their lives as they learn about animals, environment, crime, drugs, alcohol, etc. Furthermore, specially for me, working with animals was something extremely new but I can say, although I'm very afraid of them, you get used to work in stabling every day and even you can start to like them. I had the opportunity to see cheetahs, ostrichs, owls, and many other animals, all days as something normal, and even sometimes you will see jiraffes near the campus. Also, we went on an excursion with other volunteers thats was awesome, and we got to see four animals out of the Big 5, and the remaining one, I saw it in one of our trips to town. On the other hand, food and accommodation was really good and overpassed my expectations, you will have something different to eat in every meal and in every day of the week, and absolutely everything is delicious. Overall, I can say I will always remember my time here at DAKTARI and I will take friendships that will remain for a long time.

What was your funniest moment?
All nights sitting in the lapa with volunteers were funny!

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because it offered me the amazing opportunity to combine teaching and volunteering with animals. The programs social media and online reviews gave a realistic idea of what to expect. In addition, unlike a lot of other programs, they stated clearly what my money contribution would be used for. It just felt like the right program for me.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I applied through Daktari Bush School and Wildlife Orphanage’s online site myself without the assistance of any travel agency. This meant I had to organise my own flights. To apply to the program, I had to provide Daktari with my international travel or medical insurance details. In addition to that, I got vaccinated to prevent diseases.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

First of all... JUST DO IT! You have nothing to lose. It will be one of the best adventures of your life with memories that will stick with you forever.

Secondly, don’t go for just one week. By staying longer, you will be able to improve your teaching skills and you will have time in the weekend to do awesome excursions.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Monday through Friday you will be teaching a group of eight kids, aged 12-16, about their own environment and important life skills. These lessons include helping the children with chores that need to be done to keep the animals at Daktari happy and healthy. Volunteers also have the opportunity to get involved with the local community by teaching at Eco-Club. A voluntary after school club at two schools in the neighbourhood.

In the weekends, you have time off to go to Hoedspruit or go on an excursion.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was not feeling at home and not being able to connect with other volunteers. I overcame these fears quickly. During my layover at Johannesburg airport, a man approached. Awkwardly, he asked me “Are you going to Daktari?”. Friendships are so easily made. With so many different people there’s never a dull moment.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Marie Bauvin

Job Title
Project Manager
Marie is a French 26 years old girl who has always loved to travel! After studying in Hong Kong and Scotland, she moved to Mexico where she stayed and worked for 2 years. She is now in South Africa, fulfilling a lifelong dream to live in the bush, working for a cause that is close to her heart.

What is your favorite travel memory?

It is not easy to choose just one favorite travel memory as I am lucky to have plenty in mind! But if I have to talk about one it would be Christmas Eve in Uyuni, Bolivia, during my first backpacking adventure ever! We were staying in a salt house and I remember sharing this meal with complete strangers, eating cold pasta with salt for Christmas and drinking beer, with 3 blankets wrapped around me, and going to bed at 8pm to wake up early the next day to see the sunrise on a laguna with flamingoes. Definitely one of the most unusual Christmas I had, but also one of the best!

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Working for DAKTARI has been a great yet challenging experience that made me grow so much on the professional side as well as the personal side. I have had the work with people from all over the world and work under pressure at times. I have definitely improve my conflict resolution and communication skills. I also had to work different positions to cover for leave or in interim and this has allowed me to expand my skillset and knowledge in different areas.
I have also a better understanding of the South African culture and history, and its current challenges. This makes me someone I believe even more open-minded and eager to give back to the communities.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

We regularly have former students who attended our onsite Environmental Education program or our offsite Eco Club who come back to DAKTARI to visit us. I especially remember Wellington: he first came when he was 12 years old, and kept coming back during his holidays to help with animals. He had always been passionate about animals and wanted to work with them.
Over the years we eventually offered him a volunteer experience as animal manager. We trained him at the wildlife orphanage and arranged for him to attend several courses, one of which was a wildlife rehabilitation course, and another a tracker-training course. Thanks to the support of Kruger2Canyon Biosphere he was enrolled in their Environmental Monitors Program. While he was a full-time paid employee as the DAKTARI’s animal manager he became confident with computer work and was always trying to improve the camps of the animals, coming up with innovative ways to give them enrichment. After two full years of experience with us, he has been recruited by Hoedspruit Endangered Species as a curator. Willington is such an ambassador for DAKTARI!

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

Our programs are divided into three main areas: Onsite Environmental Education program, Wildlife Orphanage, and Outreach, which comprises of bi-weekly Eco Club, campaigning in primary schools, Village Tour and Homestay. Volunteers can experience all of the above if they want. The longer they stay, the more likely they are to be able to do all the activities, and even more! We also offer excursions in the Kruger National Park or the Blyde River Canyon so they can explore the wonders of South Africa. Staying for 3 to 5 weeks is recommended to have a complete experience of DAKTARI!

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

DAKTARI is unique as it offers a combination of teaching children with our Environmental Education program and taking care of animals through our Wildlife orphanage. The volunteers that come to DAKTARI can experience a wide range of activities, both onsite and offsite, as we also make them participate in our Outreach programs. The team is flexible and always making sure we can provide the best experience possible, adjusting schedule to try to meet everyone's needs whilst still achieving our goal that is to educate and inspire local children to value their environment and stimulate community development.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I believe that a company can only be successful if it has strong values and ethic and stand by them even in difficult times. The employees must also be aligned to these values and share the vision of the company, working as a team towards the same goal. Successful organisation are driven by passionate and competent leaders who are willing to take feedback to improve so they can keep delivering excellent results.