• South Africa

Program Details

Guesthouse Host Family Hostel


Price Details
Program costs vary upon both placement and length. Included in cost are meals, accommodations, 24 hour on-site support, all in-country transportation, airport transfers and CRITICAL contributions to the projects themselves (The projects couldn't run without the financial support of YOU, the volunteer!).
What's Included
Accommodation Airport Transfers Meals
Jun 20, 2019
Sep 19, 2018
8 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

African Conservation Experience are working to create a brighter future for Africa’s wildlife. By bringing together people from around the world to work on real conservation projects, they’re turning a local challenge into an international movement. What makes them different to other companies? As southern Africa’s original conservation travel specialist, they have an unrivalled level of knowledge and connections within the region.

Video and Photos

Wildlife Veterinary Experience: The Wildlife Veterinary Experience offers you the opportunity to join the day to day activities of an experienced wildlife veterinarian in South Africa. You could be assisting with wildlife capture, collar predators for research purposes, micro-chip the horn of a rhino or carry out pregnancy tests on rare antelopes.

Hanchi Horseback Conservation Project: You will patrol and manage a vast reserve in South Africa’s Limpopo province on horseback. Daily tasks include fenceline patrols, monitoring the reserve’s rhino population and helping with wildlife surveys. You’ll also be responsible for the equine care and habituating the horses to the bush on work rides.

Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Center: Moholoholo is home to a vast range of injured, poisoned and confiscated wildlife. As a volunteer, you’ll be directly involved in the daily care for all the animals, from feeding them and cleaning their enclosures, to nursing infant wildlife and helping with rehabilitation and release.

Phinda Wildlife Management Project: Phinda Game Reserve offers a huge biodiversity, being home to black and white rhino, elephants, lions, leopards, cheetah, buffalo, many antelope species and hundreds of different types of birds. The reserve management rely on volunteers to support the research taking place at Phinda to ensure that the wildlife populations are balanced and animal management is optimum within the reserve. This is a fantastic project for anyone who is interested in learning what it takes to manage a wildlife reserve!

Game Capture Team: Working with a dedicated mass and specialized capture team, you will be part of a local team relocating wildlife. You’ll be involved in all aspects of the work, from building capture enclosures to conducting the actual capture, quarantining and relocating the wildlife. Capture is exciting, hands-on work and you can expect to be in the thick of darting rhino, buffalo and giraffe or herding impala, zebra and wildebeest.

Coastal Conservation and Education Project: Based in scenic Plettenberg Bay on South Africa’s South coast, you’ll get to join the comprehensive marine conservation work done by this amazing project. You’ll monitor dolphin, whale and seal populations and help with hands-on conservation work like turtle and penguin rehabilitation or beach clean-ups. You will also be part of an established education program, visiting pre-schools to teach children about the environment at their doorstep.

Game Ranger Guide Course: This course is an ideal introduction to the wildlife and habitats of South Africa. You’ll learn the basics of tracking, wildlife and bird identification and navigation in the bush while in a vast reserve in the North of South Africa. Spending a night in the Kruger Park, you will explore the bush on foot before concluding with a full day workshop on identifying and handling dangerous snakes and reptiles.

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Program Reviews

4.43 Rating
based on 7 reviews
  • 5 rating 85.71%
  • 4 rating 0%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 14.29%
  • Impact 4.45
  • Support 4.45
  • Fun 4.6
  • Value 4.45
  • Safety 5
Showing 1 - 7 of 7 reviews
Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program


My trip to the Blouberg clinic with the African Conservation Experience was very poor. There was both an opportunity to go and see a lion and a rhino during my stay which the team members couldn't be bothered taking us to. On top of this, the meals weren't all covered, the vets never explained what was happening (why we were doing certain things to the animals) and there were in total anywhere between 6 - 8 people sharing one, small 2 bedroom house and one bathroom.
I was lead on to believe that this would be a great adventure, that I would be 'kept on my toes' and was doing great work to help wild animals. All I saw on this trip were farm animals, far from what was promised, and the overall value of the trip was not acceptable. $4,300 and they couldn't even cover all meals.
DO NOT trust these people with your money, they are vultures.

What would you improve about this program?
Deliver on what you promised.
26 people found this review helpful.
Response from African Conservation Experience

Thank you Jamie for your feedback. Whilst we are disappointed to read your comments, we do appreciate your point of view and thank you for taking the time to provide your feedback.

It is clear from your comments that you did not enjoy your veterinary placement and we’re sorry to hear that. We ensure that we have an in depth conversation with every one of our travellers before they book their conservation trip to ensure that the placement they choose matches their expectations. After conversations with our sales team, including deciding between various projects you chose one of our veterinary placements.
During your placement you were exposed to valuable hands-on veterinary experience with a team of real vets. Work that you were involved in included chemical immobilisations to treat wounds, disease testing and parasite control. The team also work with production animals, something I believe you were keen to have exposure to and did. The busy team of vets that you were working with go out of their way to give students as much access as possible to all of the veterinary cases that they have. If on a rare occasion students are not able to visit an animal, this is for very specific reasons and not because the vets cannot be bothered. Working with real vets in the field, who will never undertake unnecessary procedures means that your workload will be varied and educational but the types of work and the animals you are working on are never guaranteed.

All meals, as well as your accommodation, internal transfers and 24/7 support from our in-country team are all included in our placements. The only exception to this being if you visit a local restaurant during your free time.

From the time that you set foot on South African soil you had 24/7 support from our in-country team. They are available to all of our travellers to ensure that they get the most out of their experience. It was not until your day of departure that they heard from you, which meant that they were not given the opportunity to either address your issues or to move you to a project which better matched your expectations.

Our vet placements provide valuable hands-on experience to our travellers, many of whom are considering veterinary as a career option or are currently studying veterinary sciences and wish to gain some real experience with African wildlife. We have been working with the vets you were placed with for 8 years and whilst we understand that it was not what you wished it to be, we have received much positive feedback from previous travellers.

We do wish you all the best in your future career. Both us, the vets and people on the ground could see your passion and they truly wish you all the best.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Simply life changing...

This was my first solo trip ever and it could not have been more ideal. South Africa may have a bit of a reputation but had always felt completely safe since I had arrived. I did have some problems with my luggage going missing but Martin straightened it all out.
I participated in the Shimongwe vet program with Dr.Kreil and the Phinda wildlife management.
To get to the vet placement we drove approx four hours out of Johannesburg. Our host Family was Alfie and Jackie and they could not have been more fantastic, and so much fun. With Dr.Kriel we experienced clinic life and getting to go out on calls. He got us to be very hands on which really made the experience powerful. I would this recommend for anyone interested in veterinary medicine.
To get to Phinda you fly to Richards bay from jo-burg. Then a 3 hour drive out to the reserve. I personally loved Phinda, it was so amazing and educational to see these animals interacting. The amazing thing about this one is you get to see so much behind the scene that normal safari goers don't get usually see. Everyone at the researcher house was so much fun and so kind.
I honestly could not recommend ACE enough. It has left me with such a lasting impression and I miss SA practically everyday. I know I will return to the country, because of such an amazing time!

What would you improve about this program?
I honestly don't have any suggestions.
19 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

I want to go back

I went to the Moholoholo Rehab centre in South Africa and my biggest regret was that I didn't stay longer. I have always dreamed of working with lions, servals, cheetahs, rinos, giraffes, and hyenas but I had no idea I would be able to work with all of them in one place. We helped relocate young leopards, bottle-fed baby rinks, giraffes and sables, and in my down time took pictures and played with the servals, baby honey badger and all the other amazing animals on site. Trips to waterfalls and canyon tours as well as horse back and buggy tours of Kruger were also offered (for a very reasonable price). As spectacular as the animals were, the staff and other volunteers made the experience that much better. I am making it my mission to go back and bring my friends with me some time soon!

What would you improve about this program?
The food could have been better but it was good enough!
18 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Veterinary Experience

Animals I encountered:
Rhino, Lion, Leopard, Giraffe, Buffalo, Kudu, Sable, Roan, Eland, Gemsbuck, Nyala, Wildebeest, Zebra, Ostrich, Baboon, Elephant, Hippo.

I was able to give injections (muscular and venous) to these animals and treat them at the age of 17 - what more can I say? If you have the means, this project is totally mind blowing and will give you some of the best experiences of your life. I went on the Shimongwe Limpopo project for 4 weeks and had the best time - I want to go back already!
Alfie and Jackie will take care of you like you're their own children, and you will feel very welcome and eat good food. Niel the vet will teach you about anything you're interested in, and show you how to carry out everything you'll be getting involved with. You should be outgoing and enthusiastic to get the most out of this project. You will also gain a fair amount of small animal clinical work, as Niel has his own clinic where consultations and surgeries take place.

Good luck and enjoy!


21 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Could it have been any better!?

After spending two months and 1 day in South Africa working with ACE there was a HUGE part of me that never would have left. The first project, Khulula Care for Wild, supplied me with an experience I will carry with me for an eternity. If you don't mind early mornings and long days that is... The work is hard, but the people you meet you'll not want to say goodbye to. This project is a big eye opener to the reality of South Africa, both people and animals, but with a willingness to learn and accept your surroundings it becomes a beautiful place to work. After working with orphaned White Rhino for four weeks, vervet monkeys and many other animals, I can easily say that it was completely worth the money.
The second project, Hanchi conservation experience, simply topped off my trip. I met people I will never forget, who opened my eyes to so many life opportunities. This project, which involves tracking animals such as buffalo, white rhino and elephants, was just unforgettable. The camp is shared with the Elephant and Rhino tracking project, which I was lucky enough to be involved with several times. The members of staff were fantastic, ensuring we all had the best experience possible. I highly recommend ACE as a program to use, I was entirely safe in their hands and any problems people had were sorted immediately. ACE have all the right priorities and volunteers happiness at heart. Don't think twice about this, I promise it's something you'll never regret!

What would you improve about this program?
If there were any imperfections about this programme they were certainly only minor as I seem to have completely forgotten any of them!
19 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Botswana Conservation

My time in the Tuli block was just incredible.

The variety of animals and the unknown of what you will see that day is very captivating. I was lucky enough to see the Tuli block in two different cycles of life. When I arrived it was the dry season; everything was brown, raw and harsh. There was a little water and it was a really big check for me to see these animals live in this sort of environment. Large herds of elephant, many species of antelope, hippo and crocodile, lions, leopards and cheetahs!

When the rains came..and boy did they come it was like a waterfall was falling on the entire world. It was very humbling to witness the power of mother nature. When they stopped the Tuli block came alive. The trees began to burst and the flowers began to bloom. The contrast between when I arrives and the rains was so inspiring, life finds a way!

I also helped with some of the maintenance of the area. This involved controlling soil erosion, invasive plant removal, wire and fence removal, clearing and cutting of roads as well as providing a presence to deter poachers. I also had the opportunity to help with data drives. We would hop in the 4x4 and drive out into the bush, with the aim to see as many animals as possible that were logged into the data system for future reference.

I had a brilliant time. The tuli block is an amazing place to be when the seasons change as you get to witness the hard times and the easier times too!

What would you improve about this program?
One of the techniques to protect species of rare trees is to hang chili from them. This put off the elephant but the kudu took a liking to the chili and our hard work was just eaten. I guess situations like this can't always be predicted.
21 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Month of my life!

After deciding to take a gap year between 6th form and university I started searching for companies that would allow me to work abroad and get experience in the veterinary field, which is what I eventually want to end up working in!
I quickly found the African Conservation Experience (ACE) and emailed them asking for more information about their veterinary projects, the speed of their reply was very impressive and this continued throughout my whole booking experience! They sent me all the information I would need and I felt confident this was the company to give me a really great gap year, after applying and getting accepted they rang me and gave me even more info on the project I had been accepted on, Shimongwe Wildlife Veterinary Experience with Dr Rogers. Even at this early stage I was so impressed with how ACE kept me updated with all the information I would need, they booked my flights for me and allowed me to pay in instalments which was very helpful. ACE were great at answering all my question in the run up to my departure and I felt so confident and excited to get to my project even though it would have been my first time out of Europe let alone going without family!
Upon arriving in South Africa we were met off the plane by a lovely guy called martin who made sure we were put on the right transport to get us to our specific projects, he made sure we were sorted and happy and told us to contact him at any time should we have concerns about our placement, needless to say I never had to but it was nice to know there was someone there for us!
My host family were the most friendly and welcoming people I have ever had the pleasure to meet! They went above and beyond to make sure we got the most out of our time in Africa and even spent hours driving us round so we could see all the different attractions, I got to go elephant riding and got to hand feed a hippo, basically if there was something you wanted to do, they would do everything in their power to make sure you got to do it. They took us to the vets practice every morning even if we had to be there at 4am and picked us up when ever we were finished, the food was perfect every night and all dietary requirements are catered for, you certainly become one of the family, I don't think I have ever been as happy as when I was there!
Spending time with the vet was incredible too! I was lucky enough to get hands on with 4 of the big 5!! (minus the lion) Dr Rogers is such a nice guy and an amazing teacher, he answered all my questions happily and in a way I (with no vet school background) understood and didn't mind having to repeat the names of drugs or funny diseases to me over and over until I remembered them. He always explained exactly what he was doing and why and talked us through everything so I really do feel like I got the most out of my time there. On the days where there was no wildlife stuff to do (these were few and far between!!!) we got to spend time in his small animal practice watching small animal surgery which was also really interesting!
My time there was 100% perfect and I wouldn't change a second of it for the world! It was better than I could have ever imagined and I'm so grateful to ACE for giving me the opportunity to go and for organising it for me! Everyone I spoke to at ACE was lovely and really helpful and answered all my silly panicky questions as my departure date got nearer and nearer, and everyone in Africa was so friendly it was so refreshing to feel like I was accepted into their community, I didn't feel like a foreigner at all! I miss it so much and I still cry looking through all my photos I would give anything to go back an do it all over again!
I cannot recommend ACE enough and I would seriously encourage anyone wanting an amazing gap year or summer project to look into what ACE can offer.
I will definitely be back at some point, There was a point on y trip when I was stood on the back of an open top truck racing round a game reserve trying to find the rhino when I realised that this was what I wanted to spend my life doing, ACE gave me the happiest most amazing month of my life and I'll always be so grateful for that!
Thanks ACE!

What would you improve about this program?
"No program is perfect. If you had to change one thing what would it be?" I beg to differ, this programme was perfect, the only thing I would change would be having to come home, I was so desperate to stay longer! England just isn't the same!
21 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers