This was my first volunteer trip and I can't believe it has taken me so long to take the leap. When I was preparing to leave for Hoedspruit, I was nervous about so many things: the organization, the food, my safety, and how I would fit in.
After the long flight to Hoedspruit, I arrived at the most quaint airport and was greeted by Etienne, their driver. From the beginning, Daktari was supportive and welcoming. Daktari is about an hour drive from the airport and will give you your first glimpses at wildlife in Limpopo -- we passed giraffes, impalas, and kudu. Once I arrived to Daktari, I was greeted by Pretty & Michele who walked me around to play with all of the animals and get acquainted with the camp. They have a few different types of rooms, single & multiple. For the first few nights, I was in a single room with a little patio. For the second half of my stay, I was in a more hostel-style room and it was great too, just a different experience.
Everyday was set up similarly with a dog walk, breakfast, stabling, lessons, lunch, swimming, more lessons, afternoon stabling, showers, social talk, dinner, games, and bed time. I loved the way the days were set up and it had a great mix of time for the kids to be moving around (typically playing soccer) and learning. The best part about this structure is that you get to have a lot of one on one time with the kids and down time. In between lessons I always played soccer with the kids and after lunch I was in the pool playing games with them. It's easy to go back to your room during down time but I recommend spending that time getting to know the kids and volunteers. Soak up every moment because I guarantee you will wish you had more time with them, regardless of if you stay a week or a year (although, I recommend a year).
I'm so thankful to work for an incredible company that has provided the opportunity for me to volunteer at Daktari. Whether you have volunteered before or this is your first time, I think that Daktari is the perfect organization for you. They have a great mix of structure and freedom. My only regret is not staying there longer.