Wildlife Conservation Volunteering with African Impact

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About

Southern Africa is known for its spectacular wildlife, and the reality certainly lives up to the dream. Yet much of this wildlife is under threat from poaching, damaging agricultural practices, and climate change. If you want to contribute to a more sustainable future and play a key role in improving the precarious conditions of endangered animals, apply for one of our conservation initiatives.

Your daily tasks can include a wide variety of activities; you can go on research game drives or boat trips to collect data, take photos of the animals in their natural habitat, observe and document animal behavior and ultimately, learn all about what it takes to protect these iconic animals.

African Impact's Top Wildlife Conservation Volunteer Programs

Impact

Questions & Answers

Reviews

97%
based on 14 reviews
  • Impact 9.5
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.8
  • Value 9.4
  • Safety 9.8
Showing 1 - 14 of 14
Max
10/10

Some of the best four weeks of my life

I can only recommend the Photography Project in the Greater Kruger Area, it was perfect for me in every way. It was amazing to spend so much time on Game drives either in the near Buffaloland or in Klaserie, where you will actually spend the night camping in tents after a tasty dinner and campfire talks. At both day- and nighttime we have gotten many chances to put the things we learned in the classes to practical use. For me, especially the Macro Photography Bushwalks in the early mornings let me have a look into a world I have never really looked into before. Thanks to the honest, constructive and frequent critique sessions we had many chances to improve our photos.
It was so nice meeting so many different people from all over the world, volunteers and staff, which made my stay in the Dumela Lodge unforgettable. We spent so much time together, both on the project as well as in weekend activities. During the week, asides from the Game Drives, Bushwalks, classes, critiques, and presentations, we gave one to one English classes in a school nearby, played with the kids, removed invasive plants in the bush and worked in a garden designed to teach young African's how to grow and harvest plants. On the weekends, there are many options you can choose from, as long as enough other volunteers want to go as well. Going on hikes, taking a trip to Swaziland, more Game Drives in the Kruger Park, taking a microlight flight and a town trip to Hoedspruit are some of the numerous options.
I can't wait to go back to South Africa and hope to see you there :)

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Marvin
9/10

The best way to travel

I decided join the Dumela family at Kruger for my sabbatical and had several goals in mind:
- do somethng comletely different than what I do professionally
- work on a sustainable / environmental issue
- find like minded people
-discover the beauty and culture of the country
-don't get stressed
-enhance my skills as photographer
The Photography Programm from African Impact at Dumela turned out to be the perfect choice to achieve all that. From day one you felt like home, still in an professional environment where volunteering doesn't mean partying but real work; 8 hours a day, five days a week. At the weekends they offer a great variety of trips and tours where you can discover the surrounding area and get to know your volunteer friends in a more relaxed atmosphere. What I liked most about the whole program is that by all the explanations the staff gives you, you can enlarge your knowledge, get aware of the real environmental challenges the country faces, you find loads of spectacular facts and "wonders" of nature and at the same time understand that your daily work adds up to a massive impact. As they have research, community and photography projects in one place you'll also learn a lot about the other's work and the schedule offers plenty of opportunities to collaborate and at the same time document their doing by taking pictures.
It's in every regard a very special time you'll definitely enjoy!!!

Response from African Impact

Hey Marvin,

Thank you for this wonderful feedback and the awesome photographs attached! Keep in touch and we hope to see you again.

The African Impact team

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Emma
10/10

Unforgettable Experience

I had such an amazing time with African Impact, spending a month working on the Wildlife Photography and Conservation Program. I met like minded people who were interested in volunteering, photography and conservation. The staff were fantastic at making us feel welcomed, ensuring we were well fed and looked after. It was a home away from home. The guides were incredibly knowledgeable and were always keen to share information during drives, which made taking photographs even more interesting and exciting. During the program, staff were able to take on feedback and make alterations to better suit the needs of the group. I have come away with new friends, improved photography skills and a greater understanding of conservation and the risks animals like the rhino face. It was an unforgettable month and an experience I would recommend to anyone interested in making an impact.

How can this program be improved?
This program was well organised and run. During the month I was volunteering we did have a reduced number of guides and a very large group of photographer volunteers. This did influence the weekly schedule with the activities that could be provided. It was unfortunate timing so I'm sure African Impact will keep volunteer numbers in mind with their knowledge of staff schedules (visa renewals etc.). The staff did their best to ensure there were limited changes to the weekly schedule, they worked flexibly and took on board volunteer feedback. Their efforts here were greatly appreciated.
Response from African Impact

Hello Emma,

Thank you so much for your feedback and we are so sorry that the balance between volunteers and guides/staff was challenging during your stay - we do hope you still managed to experience every aspect of our project and thank you for your contribution to our programs there. We will definitely action this feedback and hope to see you on another our projects in the future.

The African Impact Team

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Sophie
10/10

An unforgettable experience on the photography project

The month I spent on the photography project in summer 2017 was truly fantastic. It is a totally different experience volunteering compared with your standard safari style holiday. Not only do you encounter amazing animals, you learn the importance of conserving their environments and the research being done to aid this in addition to how your images can also benefit this. Without a doubt you will be taking better shots with more confidence by the end of your stay. The project had a great variety of activities, challenging your photography skills using a range of repertoires and settings, giving a well rounded experience. I loved the opportunities to do community work and bush clearing in addition to the drives at the reserves.

It was great to meet such a variety of people from all over the world. The lodge and all of the staff were fantastic with all the staff really passionate about the work they are doing which is essential for a project like this.

I came away from this project with a completely different understanding of how I can use photography and enhanced my passion for the subject, so much so it has completely changed my plans for the future. I cannot wait to get back there!

How can this program be improved?
Just continue what you are already doing with the passion you already have.
Yes, I recommend
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Anna
10/10

African Impact - Photography Course

I had an amazing time on the photography course African Impact offer in summer 2017. It was definitely a trip of a lifetime - we saw so many amazing animals, were given the best advice for getting the best photos possible, and all around had an amazing month in South Africa. The extra trips offered on weekends were great too, as there was a big variety of things to do. I'd love to go back, and hopefully will do soon!

How can this program be improved?
Continue to offer everything I was offered; maintaining the level of care I got will ensure that all new volunteers feel as comfortable as possible.
Response from African Impact

Hi Anna,

Thank you for this feedback and for this heartwarming suggestion. Hopefully you still look back at your photos and remember your time with us. We hope to see you soon!

The African Impact team

Yes, I recommend
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Lorena
10/10

Wonderfull experience

To go to africa and to african impact was one of the best choices i made in my life. The photography project helped me a lot to understand my camera and to get used to lightroom. To work in such an amazing place for one month, with the animals and the beautiful landscape gave me a lot of awesome memories. The staff and the people I met during this time were just great. To volunteer with african impact means to work hand in hand with people, nature and animals. And I had the possibility to do what I love, beeing able to spend hours and hours in the nature with wild animals and my camera and just live in the moment.
I am thankfull for every minute I passed at this beautiful place.

Response from African Impact

Hey Lorena,

Your photographs attached are beautiful! Thank you for spending time with us and for making your impact in wildlife conservation. We hope to have you back with us in the near future. Keep in touch!

The African Impact team

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
James
10/10

One of the best experiences of my life

It has always been my dream to come to Africa and see the diverse wildlife. African Impact certainly helped that dream come true and more. I learned and saw so much as well as made plenty of new friends. It is also quite evident how the research one conducts here is making a difference in terms of conservation. The staff is also very helpful and supportive and they will answer any question that you might have.

How can this program be improved?
The research program is certainly in need of new equipment such as computers. Some of the electronic devices used for research are quite out dated.
Response from African Impact

Hey James,

Thank you for this feedback. We're aware of the outdated equipment and do encourage our past volunteers to do some fundraising. Please do get in touch if you'd like to help out. We're glad to hear you enjoyed our project and that you have some new skills under your belt. Keep in touch!

The African Impact team

Yes, I recommend
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Samuel
10/10

The Best Way to Experience Africa

Previous to me volunteering at African Impact, my experiences with Africa where purely based around safari holidays and photographic expeditions. What I didn't realize was just how these trips had blinkered me from a much wider and more encompassing experience.

The photography project was perfectly in line with my own personal opinions and viewpoints of photography and ethical approaches to wildlife, and it was nice to be taken back to basics and to rebuild my skills and creative techniques with more focus. Getting to know more about the research being done and, in particular, the community was fantastic and knowing how photography aided these projects was great. The fact that our photographs weren't just for our own use but making an 'impact' too, it reaffirmed my love and passion for photography and opened my eyes up to just how important this artistic medium can be if correctly tapped into.

The lodge was beautiful, all staff were enthusiastic, passionate and kind, the food was plentiful and tasty. The worst thing was having to say goodbye to people who had become more like family by the end of a short four week stay.

How can this program be improved?
Keep doing what everyone's doing. Don't settle or tread water, keep pushing and looking for new innovative ways and avenues to carry on making an impact.
Response from African Impact

Hey Sam,

Thank you for such an awesome review. We're so happy that you've joined the African Impact family!

Your African Impact team

Yes, I recommend
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Charline
10/10

One of the most amazing experience ...

I took a gap year last year and decided to come for 7 weeks in the Kruger area to know more about the bush and about the wild life but also to know more about Africa, about other lifestyle and about myself.
I was here during December and January. During this time I've been lucky to live some amazing moments, to meet some incredible persons from all around the world and to see some unbelievable sightings of animals and for sure to learn more about everything, myself, wildlife, conservation....
If you want to know more about the wildlife, if you want to see the big 5, if you are open-minded, if you want to work for conservation and research this project is definitely for you and you should take the first flight to come here.
I would like to explain you all the schedules all the activities, to show you how cool it is to give you the motivation to come. I think if you only see the pictures in the page you already want to come and spend some time at Dumela Lodge.
After this experience I was supposed to go to England to improve my English but I changed my plan to come back here as a staff member for 6 months....
I hope I gave you the motivation to book and to come here...
Enjoy your time!
Enjoy every moment, take pictures but most important enjoy with your eyes...

How can this program be improved?
Personally I would enjoy to have more bush walk in the BIG 5 reserves to have an other perspective of the bush... and to learn more how to "read" the bush with our amazing guides....
Response from African Impact

Hi Charline,

Thank you for joining us on project, and for sharing your experience. We're so glad you can be part of the team and hopefully implement those bush walks you've recommended.

The African Impact team

Yes, I recommend
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Pablo
10/10

Experience of a Lifetime

Volunteering with African Impact in their Big 5 Wildlife Research and Conservation program is the best thing I've done! I had always dreamed of experiencing Africa's wild in person, so my expectations for this program were very high. To my delight, African Impact surpassed these expectations. There were all sorts of magical experiences in the bush: encountering a leopardess and her cub, eating and talking around a bonfire while an elephant ate just a few yards away, and sleeping in tents to the sounds of lions, elephants and hyenas. African Impact is very professional and I felt safe at all times. Dumela Lodge is a great place to stay and the food is really nice. I highly recommend this program.

How can this program be improved?
The only negative experience I had was the day I arrived when we were picked up in Johannesburg airport by an African Impact third party. They were not very organized nor hospitality, so our arrival to Africa for the first time was a discouraging and a little bit distressing. Nonetheless, I understand that this has been changed and volunteers now arrive to Nelspruit airport, so I hope this situation is better now.
Yes, I recommend
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Kath
9/10

Photography project of a lifetime!

What a fantastic way to learn and practise wildlife photography! The best experience out of my many best experiences here in Vic Falls was staying out in Zambezi National Park Cottages, with wildlife wandering past. The first day I couldn't get enough of photographing the baboons climbing on the roof and peering through the (barred!) windows, but I have to say it was the elephants that stole my heart. Sitting at the table on the porch and watching a herd of elephants wander past between us and the Zambezi river around 60m away was amazing. Even more amazing was peering cautiously around the edge of the house at a massive elephant feeding on ivory nuts by head-butting an ilala tree RIGHT next to the cottage! And I learnt so much about photography - there was a professional photographer who basically custom-designed a programme for me. We went and took photos of the vulture-feeding at Safari Lodge, hung out at the Vic Falls Golf Course to practise on birds and antelope, did Victoria Falls at dawn, and then I got some great editing tuition on Lightroom. Oh - and I haven't mentioned walking with lions, visiting the local orphanage, giving a lesson on lion conservation at the local primary school (outside under a tree), and going for game counts in Zambezi National Park. Oops... running out of room, but programme is flexible, and staff are extremely helpful, friendly, and safety-conscious. What do I remember most? Sitting at the table on the porch after dinner and seeing hyaena and genet wander around the corner of the cottage. Actually, so many memories (all recorded on my camera). It's made my photography leap ahead, actually - but I spent hours and hours on the photos after the trip, doing a photobook, and choosing a few photos to print. Great experience!

How can this program be improved?
It would have been great if there were a few more photography volunteers to share photos and tips with.
Yes, I recommend
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Stephen
9/10

Miss the lion cubs

How hard are you prepared to work on your holiday? I ask because you're only going to get as much out of volunteering as you put in - and Lion Encounter provides you with many, many opportunities to help the lions as well as the local communities and schools - if you're ready!

I have always had a passion for big cats, especially lions and tigers - but have only ever been able to see them at the zoo or in pictures. I wanted hands on experience with lions, but not at a tourist zoo, I wanted a project that was making at difference to save wild lions - and Lion Encounters 4 Stage release program matched my wishes.

Spending time with the lion cubs each day was a dream come true, but this would not be possible without the amazing staff they have onsite - from the co-ordinators, lion handlers to the kitchen staff - all very friendly, happy and willing to assist with your stay in any way possible!

I'm not a morning person, but getting up for 5:30am to feed the cubs their morning milk was not a chore - seeing the cubs lap up their milk as the sun started to rise was an amazing experience.

The day is divided into three blocks - morning, mid-morning and afternoon. Each day was different with a variety of activities, from lion walks to meat prep, school visits to cook stove making, enclosure cleaning to visiting the pride of lions at Stage 2, and more.

Time off can also be arranged - I went White Water Rafting with some of the other volunteers - something I never thought I would do! I was nervous at first, but after making the first rapid successfully, it was so much fun!

I could go on, but best to go and experience the project for yourself - who knows, maybe I'll see you there - I'm sure I'll go back again!

How can this program be improved?
The accommodation is very modest - some days water didn't work in the morning (fixed when maintenance arrived) or the wifi stopped working (boo hoo, not a big deal).

Any of the small inconveniences were easily forgotten after a rewarding day of activities and visiting the lions.

I usually stay at 5 star resorts - but was happier than I've ever been out in the middle of the national park with just the basics!
Yes, I recommend
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Sarah
10/10

Rhino and Elephant Research- Amazing Experience

It is really difficult to put into words how fantastic this entire experience was. I recently returned from three weeks and Thanda and found it exceeded my expectations.

I was very very nervous, having never traveled much before, and certainly never having traveled alone. But from the minute I landed in Durban and was greeted by African Impacted staff, I felt completely at ease. Everything was explained right away, I was never guessing where I needed to be or what I needed to be doing. The staff there is incredible. Everyone from the guides to the business managers to the cooks was incredibly friendly and helpful and cheerful. The happiness and joy is contagious, even when you are in a new environment and very jet-lagged!

The first day included a lot of orientation. All of the information we needed was presented to us, which was a LOT of information, but necessary to have. The project aims orientation was very intense as well; there is a lot to learn and remember! I would definitely recommend reading through the information they give you via email ahead of time!

I felt like I really knew the importance of the data we were collected, and exactly how it was being used. It was great that members of the wildlife management team, the ecologist, APU, etc, were often stopping by for dinner or joining us on projects. It allowed us to really understand everything that goes into maintaining a healthy reserve and how the work we were doing helped this.

I feel like I accomplished quite a bit in three weeks, and I left feeling like I had really done my part towards a cause I care greatly about! On top of that, I had so much fun! Great friends, great times. All together, a life changing experience.

How can this program be improved?
Honestly, nothing comes to mind! Accommodations are great, food is great. No complaints!
Yes, I recommend
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BAlaeddin
9/10

Sweet Paps!

All I can say is that since I left Thanda in Sept.2011, I've been planning my next trip back again in 2012. It was amazing, awesome, fantastic. The project managers, the game-drives, the laughs, the braai under the stars, the children we gave presentations to, the road trips to the market to get ice-cream, the photography workshop with Emile, the lions eating a warthog at night, watching the elephant herd for four hours, and everything in between. If anyone asks me, I recommend this program 100%. You will need a sense of adventure and maybe be ok with roughing it a little, and give my sincere regards to the project managers who will be your friends for life... :)

Yes, I recommend

About African Impact

African Impact pioneered responsible volunteer travel in Africa back in 2004 and have since grown into the largest provider of volunteer projects on the continent. Proudly African, they work hand-in-hand with local communities to establish, develop...