DAKTARI

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 **

Founded
2002
Headquarters

Bona Ingwe Farm, Harmony 81
Hoedspruit
1380
South Africa

Reviews

Default avatar
Morgane
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Really great experience ! The experience of charing with kids is really interesting and the visit of the children of the village allowed a very interesting cultural exchange. we can see that all the children are really interested and this week has a good impact on them. The staff are always available if you need some help or answer your question. the accommodations are really good and the food is amazing.
Daktari propose a varied programme (theory lesson, practice lesson, animal care, stabling, swimming pool) for always keeping kids interested.
It was a special weeks with 26 children from Johannesburg and the kids really enjoy their week specially the dance lesson and, Halloween enrichment for the animal and the bonfire.

I recommend this experience.

What was your funniest moment?
the moment that i preferred was the Diphuti School Visit to camp for cultural dance lesson. the kids are very involved for the victory of the best dancer
Default avatar
Jennyfer
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I would recommend this program to everyone who wants to work with kids and make a difference in their life. You have a great opportunity to learn more about the culture and the traditions of the local communities. These kids are very underprivileged, and therefore, your lessons will have a great impact in their life. You will also take care of injured and/or hand raised animals that cannot be released into the wild. The staff also helps you organise trips during the weekends to explore the area (National Kruger Park, swing jump, Blyde River Canyon, etc.), to visit other game reserves or to go downtown and buy some gifts and souvenirs for you relatives. Nice to know: most volunteers are between 18 and 30 years old, but it would be suitable for any age group.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I was pleasantly surprised to see that we could book (with the help of the staff) activities during the weekends. With their recommendations, I did a swing jump in the nearby area with other volunteers. It was just awesome.
Default avatar
Stefani
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I really wanted to volunteer with a program that combines and unites children and animals without exploiting either. It was wonderful at Daktari to visit the communities of the children after the program. Many had joined eco-club for after school and committed their own time cleaning their schools, teaching their friends and family about pollution and rubbish. I could tell many became very concerned about poaching and saw sparks in kids wanting to protect nature. Most importantly, i believe i saw kids really have their eyes opened to possible careers within ecology, in reserves, in parks and/or with animals. I don't think many of the kids had thought that before. I definitely don't think most knew or could recognize the difference between hunting or poaching.

Default avatar
Renata
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Living in Daktari, makes you grow as a human. Being in contact with local kids and wildlife transforms you. It's for sure a fulfilling trip!
It's important for you to know that you don't need to have teaching experience, because they have a really good teaching program. We have board meetings to determine what we will do during the week, so our days will never be the same.
The staff is really welcoming and you meet extraordinary people with similar goals as yours.
I think one of the greatest thing I experienced was the children goodbye. Hearing them saying your name out loud, looking into your eyes, and thanking for everything that happened during their stay is so rewarding! I have never felt something so amazing like this.

Daktari is an amazing project!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
For sure the animal stabling. I have never been in contact with wild animals!
Default avatar
Simon
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Everything is peaceful here, it's a pleasure to work with children and and animals for such a price. Thank you for this experience
The program is very effective and even if you have never ever taught in your life, you will be able to teach very well.
To anyone who wants to travel, DAKTARI is an awesome way to visit the beauty of South Africa and to have a positive impact at the same time.
I have never seen such an amazing teaching and conservation program in african countries. It's an awesome opportunity to make the other people, and yourself, growing as humans.
I don't really know what else I could add to this review except to say that the variety of the tasks is really nice. Children, animals, teaching, cleaning, playing and visiting. Thank you

What was your funniest moment?
The bonfire is an amazing moment that we share with volunteers and children. Really funny

Programs

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

Alumni Interviews

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

Bente Schalkx

Bente is a student living in Utrecht, The Netherlands. She graduated from high school in 2018 and has taken a gap year to do travelling. After working two jobs simultaneously for half a year to save up money, she chose to go volunteer in South Africa.

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.

More Interviews

Staff Interviews

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

Nathalie Roure

Job Title
Fundraising Manager

What position do you hold at DAKTARI and why do you like working there?

I am currently the Fundraising Manager at DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage. I first came to volunteer at DAKTARI 5 years ago! I came for 6 weeks, it was my first volunteering experience and it is hard to find the words to describe the amazing time I had back then. I came back to France and never forgot about my time at DAKTARI. I decided to help and support them from France by participating in a fundraising contest and was one of the winners. This made me really happy to keep supporting DAKTARI from so far.

Thinking about my experience here very regularly, I decided to come back in 2013 for a couple of weeks. As I knew that I was more confident, I wanted to make an even stronger impact in volunteering here by teaching the children and taking care of the orphaned animals. At the end of my stay, The co-founder and I decided I could come back for a long term volunteering (1 year) and take a position with more responsibilities. I came back in March 2014, first as a Volunteer Coordinator and since August 2014, as the Fundraising Manager.

Working at this position is wonderful and teaching me so much as it is very challenging and there is not one day like another. So I am now doing a interesting and challenging job in a dream place, surrounded by wild animals and volunteers from all over the world! What a once in a life time opportunity!

Did you volunteer abroad? If so, where and what inspired you to go?

Apart from volunteering at DAKTARI in 2010, I did one other volunteer program. It was also in South Africa on more of a conservation project. I stayed there for 8 weeks. I have always been taking part of helping association in my country. I took part in associations supporting homeless people, people with HIV and oldery people. Giving some of my time for underprivileged people has always been something important for me.

I feel privileged in my life and want to give some of this privilege to others. Therefore being part of a humanity project has always been something I did for others, but also for me. Its so rewarding to be able to put a smile on someones face and give a bit of time without worrying about the next day.

With this in my heart, I decided to link it with one of my favorite hobby: travels! Therefore I decided to volunteer and give some of my time and heart to people abroad. South Africa was not a specific choice but I wanted to be in touch with animals and children. DAKTARI was the perfect combination.

What does the future hold for DAKTARI - any exciting new programs to share?

There is nothing like a routine at DAKTARI! The project is now soon entering its 10th year anniversary and since the start it has been a non stop evolution. In 2011, DAKTARI started a new project within its main activity called the Outreach Program. The Outreach program is about complementing the work done at DAKTARI. Through it, we are helping and supporting the local community in different ways.

For instance, we go to two different schools each week to keep a link with the children who came to DAKTARI and want to always learn more. We also help locals who are looking for a working placement in their process. But one of our big projects at the moment is "The Recycling Project”. Last year we started a recycling project at the Oaks, a nearby DAKTARI underprivileged village, in order to get the place clean and welcoming.

The objective of DAKTARI is to work closely with the Municipality and, step by step, to make it a Eco Tourist village. We want to make the place welcoming, in order to create jobs and to invite the tourist to discover their heritage and culture. This is a long term project and quiet challenging and exiting.

What is one thing you would tell any future volunteer?

I would definitely say…do not hesitate anymore! Sometimes it might be a big step to actually make the decision but it is not possible to regret it! Volunteering abroad is so rewarding and make people grow up in their world vision and life so much quicker! It is almost impossible to come back and not have learned something about others or about yourself.

The only thing you must ask yourself before you choose a project is why I want to go? What do I want to get out of my experience? Am I ready to try to go over my small fears? If the answers are yes, then your motivation will do the rest!

How do you think volunteer abroad will change over the next 10 years?

I believe that the abroad volunteering industry will grow more and more as it is now something considered as normal in most European countries to take some time off to get this kind of experience. In most cases it is actually even considered as being courageous and able to take initiatives.

However I believe that the industry must be careful to not use this tendency and develop projects just to attract volunteers. It is for me quite important to always make sure of the right impact that the project will have on the society or the environment. It is very good to give people the opportunity to support and help the ones in need but the priority must be given to the impact and benefits of the community.