This exceptional experience provides volunteers with the unique opportunity of not only caring for some of South Africa’s most iconic species, but also of using these animals as a tool to inspire a generation of underprivileged school children to become passionate about wildlife conservation. Work with children and wildlife in the heart of the Limpopo Province of South Africa with DAKTARI, a non-profit organization.
Be it doing bush walks, learning about the negative aspects of poaching, or discussing the importance of respect, you will always be busy! Members of the project’s team will guide you and help you whenever needed, so you will never be alone!
DAKTARI volunteers pay a fee in order to cover the cost of their stay and to contribute to DAKTARI's programs. Your fee will feed a cheetah, get someone a job, and educate an underprivileged child. It helps us make an impact in the community and provides you with an amazing South African experience!
- Take an active part in educating underprivileged children about the environment to make a real impact in their community! You, alongside the other volunteers, will be in charge of leading the lessons as well as the activities.
- Help care for injured and orphaned animals as part of the educational program.
- Meet the community through our outreach program in the local schools and creche, and help further our impact in the village!
- Experience Africa by immersing yourself in the community, or visiting some of the iconic sights and areas surrounding the project’s location!!
- You can also sign up for a home stay in which you and up to one other person can spend the night with one of our local families to see what it's like to live in an African village. Be prepared to get up early to help out!
What to Expect
A DAY IN THE LIFE:
You meet at 7:00 in the morning for tea/coffee. From 7:10 you do a quick bush walk with the children and the dogs and at 7:30 you have breakfast. Afterwards you feed the animals and clean their camps. Lessons start from 9.00 till 12.30. Then you have lunch and everyone is off till 14:00, when the lessons start again and will go on until 16.30. You will feed the animals again between 16:30 and 17:00 then afterwards you will be discussing social issues with the children. Dinner is served at 18:30 and is followed by an educational game before the children go to bed at 20:30.
You will have a group meeting every evening to discuss the tasks of everyone and the progress of the children.
As a volunteer, you will be working 5 days a week from 7am in the morning until dinnertime or till the children go to bed. In your spare time, there are a number of activities such as the swimming pool, walks, games, reading or just relaxing within the stunning surroundings. You will have time off on Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday and will be able to take this opportunity to visit the surroundings. A trip to town is organised every Saturday and you will enjoy meeting up with the local community.
It is tiring but very rewarding to volunteer at DAKTARI. Although the days are long, it is great to be able to have such an impact on less privileged children and to make their week as enjoyable as possible. From shy, quiet children on day one, the kids leave feeling confident and ready to get home and tell their family and friends about the amazing time they had at DAKTARI.
WEEKENDS AND TIME OFF:
On Saturdays you can take a trip into Hoedspruit. This gives you the opportunity to do any shopping you might need and a chance to get out of the camp for a while. There are plenty of great restaurants in town to have lunch at too! Sundays are your day off. You can plan a day excursion if you like or just relax at the camp. We are happy to help you plan a trip or put you in touch with a local guide. If you are interested in taking a longer break over the weekend (Friday to Sunday), you are welcome to arrange that with our staff.
Here are just some of the things you can do around DAKTARI:
• Visit Kruger National Park for a safari
• Go to Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre
• Do the Tshukudu Game Lodge Cheetah walk
• Visit the Kinyonga Reptile Centre
• Hiking in the Blyde River Canyon
• Boat trips on the Blyde River
• Horseback Riding safaris
• Visit African elephants
Personal toiletries such as shampoo, sunblock, mosquito cream
Housing & Meals
DAKTARI is located in the bush, on a private reserve of 1600 acres and you will have the opportunity to observe animals such as buffalo, giraffes, kudus, warthogs, zebras, impalas, beautiful birds, etc. You will participate mainly in the educational program for the children. You will also take care of the animals, such as: cleaning the camps, feeding them and you can help with renovations if necessary. You can also visit the local villages as part of our community program. Remember, you will be signing up for a "bush-life" & teaching experience!
We are located in the middle of the bush and so the camp is rustic, although we do our very best to make sure everyone is kept clean, comfortable, and well fed. You will enjoy hot showers, running water, and solar-powered lights in your traditional chalets.
You will share a cottage called a "rondavel" or Chalet/hut with others. Each room can take between 3 to 5 volunteers, boys and girls are accommodated separately. We can accommodate families and couples in their own rooms IF we have the space for it. Each room is equipped with one bathroom including a toilet, a sink and a shower with hot and cold water except for chalet 2 & the cabins. You will be provided with a towel, bedsheets and a blanket so no need to bring some with you. Your room will be cleaned everyday and laundry will be done on a daily basis. Your bedsheets will be washed and changed once a week. We do provide mosquito nets but sometime they get damaged, so please be aware that (you are welcome to bring your own).
There are no plugs in the chalets but we have an allocated charging station in the bar where you can charge all of your electronic devices. The only items we do not allow are hair dryers and straighteners.
At DAKTARI, everyone is served three meals a day by our experienced kitchen staff.
Our meals consist out of normal dishes:
• Breakfast: yoghurts + fruits + cereals + toast and different spreads
• Lunch: could consist of - different starches (potatoes/rice/pastas etc.) + some vegetables + meat (beef/chicken/pork), etc.
• Dinner: could consist of - salads (green/pasta/rice/carrot/cabbage, etc.) + pies or sandwiches or burger & chips or pizza, etc.
Our programs have reached more than 4,000 children in 13 years, cared for hundreds of animals, and helped employ dozens of youth.
Teaching Program: We teach children about the environment and conservation. We supplement their schooling with math games and social talks about respect, substance abuse, and safe sex.
Wildlife Orphanage: The animals here have been found abandoned or injured. These animals can not be rehabilitated into the wild because they are too dependent. Our goal is to give them a second chance, while educating underprivileged children to care, love and protect them.
Outreach Program: Our work doesn't stop at our gates. We also have eco clubs, career guidance, and community development initiatives.
Hoedspruit is in the Limpopo province in Big 5 country, which refers to the Game Lodges and Private Nature Reserves. This town is agriculturally oriented and the majority of activities involve wildlife, environment, and people.