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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 **

20% discount between March 14th and April 11th!

We are offering a 20% discount to anyone booking for the period of 14th March 2020 to 11th April 2020!
Founded
2002

Reviews

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Adriano
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This program was excellent for a first time volunteering abroad. Daktari has everything someone need to have an excellent staying, while the staff was also amazing. The program is very organised and all the material has been pre defined and selected for everything to run smoothly.
The interaction with the kids is amazing and they are all so kind that make us feel really nice during our week with them. The animals at Daktari also enhances the programs value.

Considering everything this program has, I would definitely like to come back someday.

What would you improve about this program?
I think the program could have a more long term strategy towards the kids, as they spend only one week with the volunteers. Maybe there could be a mentoring program where volunteers kept track of the development of the student, maybe through quarterly meetings with Daktaris team. Although the program is excellent, maybe the impact on the kids lives/future is very limited as the duration of the program is only one week.
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Stephanie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I'm very happy and so rich after this week immersion with children and animals. Thanks to all the team and founders for this fantastic place wich contribute to educate futures generations. I loved the education part and the time spent with the children, thanks a lot <3

I appreciate the animals, the dancing fire, the walk bush and all the funny moments with the children

What was your funniest moment?
dancing with children around the fire, hugs with the donkey
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Ava
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I would highly recommend this volunteer experience, i had so much fun here and had such a rewarding time. This was because I could clearly see the positive impact i was having on the children and their education as a whole. To see the kids having fun and learning so much during their time here made the hard work worth it. I loved getting involved in the animal care and watching all the animals being happy and growing. If you are nervous or worried about coming all the way to South Africa by yourself don't be you won't regret it and you will have a great time.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I saw a leopard at Kruger National Park on an excursion at the weekend. It was a magical moment especially because i got to experience it with all my new friends.
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Rafaela
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I came here to learn how to take care of animals and how to interact more with kids, and I'm leaving with my goal achieved! It was amazing to see how much impact we can make in someone's life with just a little of attention. I went to Eco Club at Oaks High School and it was so different than what I was expecting. It was a experience that I'm going to take for life!
I loved it and I would definitely love to come back. Thank you to all the incredible staff and to all the amazing people that I got to know in Daktari.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would try to be less shy at the beginning and be more prepare for the classes.
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Jo
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

As an older volunteer, I was a little apprehensive about being at DAKTARI. Never having done a 'gap' year or travelled alone, however, my experience was something I certainly will never forget. My fellow volunteers were all in their late teens or 20s but we bonded so well. The shared experiences of stabling and teaching, not to mention the excursions and chats around the dinner table gave me so many incredible memories that I will treasure forever. Initially, I was skeptical about the impact we would have with the children after only one week, but when we heard their presentations and promises at the end, it demonstrated how successful the programme is. The long term volunteers and the staff at DAKTARI made me feel so welcome and their passion and commitment was clear to see. I expected to have an interesting time, but not to make the connections with so many individuals.
Highly recommend this organisation if you want to connect with nature, children and find out about yourself.

What would you improve about this program?
The teaching day is quite long and I think some of the lessons could be restructured to be more fun.

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.