Location
  • South Africa
    • Hoedspruit
Length
1 to 8 weeks

Program Details

Language
English
Age Min.
18
Age Max
75
Timeframe
Year Round
Housing
Rondavel
Groups
Small Group (1-15) Medium Group (16-30) Large Group (31+)
Travel Type
Budget Family Older Travelers Solo Women

Pricing

Starting Price
670
Price Details
*Rates on site
1 week $670
2 weeks $1 120
3 weeks $1 660
4 weeks $1 920
5 weeks $2 280
6 weeks $2 560
7 weeks $2 940
8 weeks $3 280
//
Your fees include:
- Transfers on Saturdays for arrival/departure
- Three meals per day, tea, coffee, juice
- Accommodation including bedding and towels
- Laundry
- One trip to town per week
- Working in the community
- Internet and telephone charges
//
Your fees exclude:
- Flights, internal/international
- Travel insurance
- Personal toiletries such as shampoo, sun block, mosquito cream
- Sodas, cokes, alcohol
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Airport Transfers Meals Transportation Wifi
What's Not Included
Some Activities Airfare Domestic Airfare Equipment SIM cards Travel Insurance Visa
Jan 18, 2021
Apr 01, 2022
125 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

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!

Video and Photos

So - what are you waiting for?
COME JOIN US & HELP CHANGE OUR WORLD

**100% of your payment goes to the charity connected with the school children.**

Program Highlights

  • 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!

Program Impact

Our programs have reached more than 4,000 children in 14 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 and community development initiatives.

Related Programs

Program Reviews

9.64 Rating
based on 64 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 93.75%
  • 7-8 rating 6.25%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Impact 9.4
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.5
  • Value 9.5
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 49 - 56 of 64 reviews
Default avatar
Julie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An amazing experience!!

It was the first time for me, as a volunteer for a humanitarian organisation and I don't have any regrets. Even if my level in English is bad, I managed to get by during my 15 days. It's also a good way to improve the language because we are with others volunteers from all around the world. Moreover, the staff are very patient and know that we can have some problems speaking English. They are always there to help us and they are all nice.

Michèle and Ian, the two co-founders have created DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage since many years and this project is beautiful. It's a peaceful place where benevolence reigns for kids and animals.

The teaching program is interesting and well developed, every topics covered are current and important. The animals are also very well here.

About the accommodation, everything is fine here and it feels like living in the middle of the bush.

To conclude, do not hesitate, you will not be disappointed. South Africa is a wonderful country!!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
To not hesitate to go and enjoy every moment here because it goes so fast.
10 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Rebecca
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great opportunity to try things out of your comfort zone!

Hi all,
I came to work as a volunteer at DAKTARI for 2 weeks and it was an amazing an experience!!
In this time I had the chance to work in different activities such as giving classes to children and young students to learn about the environment, politeness and animals but also to take care of animals (like feeding and cleaning them) that I had never saw before. As I never teach before and neither took care of animals before all activities were a new learning and I had a great time with that. Volunteers helped each other and if you feel quickly part of a community.

Also, interacting with the staff working in DAKTARI was a fun way to learn more about South African culture. People are extremely nice and happy and fun to be around (music and dancing all the time!). I had the opportunity to also go in an excursion to the National Kruger park and see a bit more of South African landscape and animals diversity. It is amazing and worth going for sure!

This experience was a great way for me to "disconnect" from my usual day to day life and be part of something completely different. I learn so much new things and also had time to reflect about myself. I hope I help to made a difference in the kids and students I taught and as well the animals I took care. I am bringing back to me a lot of souvenirs, good memories and contact of friends made in DAKTARI. I encourage you to try out also :)

What would you improve about this program?
The program is great but there are some improvements that could help:
- some of the structure (amenities could be better)
- the onboarding of the volunteers could be done in more details and more clear so new volunteers could start more active in the beginning. Maybe could be also preparation before coming
- organisation of the activities could be better coordinate
10 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Delphine
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Exciting and meaningful experience at Daktari

I stayed at Daktari during 3 weeks from end October to mid November 2016. This was not my first holiday volunteering but Daktari provided me with a unique opportunity to both bring some of my experience to children and to be surrounded by nature and animals.

Each Monday 8 children aged 12-13 year old came from local villages to spend the week with us. Our days were organised around giving lessons to the children (mostly linked to the environment) and taking care of the animals (meerkats, mongoose, eagles, wild dogs etc.). The programme of lessons is very well prepared and detailed but Daktari is always keen for volunteers to bring their own experience and personality, and improve it if necessary. Depending on the number of volunteers present, we usually led with another volunteer a couple of lessons a day (which we chose the day before) and attended the other lessons in order to bring one on one support to the children. We also had more relaxed talks with the children on topics such as respect, substance abuse and safe sex and played board games. Overall the days were quite busy but you have some breaks to relax. There was no obligation to attend all the activities but most volunteers wanted to help and spend as much time as possible with the children. A volunteer coordinator attended most of the lessons and helped with the organisation and translation in case the children struggle to understand in English.

Daktari is situated in the middle of a game reserve which makes it a unique location too. You are surrounded by the bush and the sound of animals. This is a place where you feel very quickly at home and relaxed. The accommodation (chalets) was comfortable and to my surprise, we had hot water everyday! The food was very good too (and I'm French) and you don't have to drop bad habits like smoking (there is a nice quiet area for smokers) and drinking (for a cheap price too). There was a really nice atmosphere among the volunteers who came from everywhere.

Every Saturday we had the opportunity to go to the nearest town for shopping. I also spent an amazing week end in the Kruger Park with Greg, our guide, and 3 other volunteers. Visiting the park in a small group and accompanied by somebody like Greg who has a great deal of knowledge and passion about the animals is something you'll experience nowhere else. Greg also offers other types of day or week end excursions for Daktari.

In short, I had an unique and amazing experience at Daktari and guess what... I'm already planning to go back there for a longer period...

9 people found this review helpful.
Sophie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Such a fantastic experience!

A few friends had travelled abroad and it looked like a lot of fun, and I was always incredibly jealous seeing their pictures when they got back! As it was my first time travelling solo, I decided that a volunteering project would be the best way to get out there, whilst not being completely alone. I think the thing that makes Daktari unique is the combination of working with children and animals. I was drawn to this project as very few others give this opportunity. As a volunteer, you have a real impact on the children by teaching them about job opportunities, tourism, their environment, how to look after the animals and social issues such as substance abuse. After a long week of teaching, you then have the chance to cuddle up to the meerkats at the camp, go on a Big 5 safari in the nearby Kruger park or go bungee jumping off of Blyde river canyon. It was just such a fantastic project!
At the start of both weeks, the children were so shy and quiet, but it was fantastic to see them growing in confidence and knowledge as the week progressed. By the time Thursday rolled around, we were all toasting marshmallows on the bonfire, with the children teaching us different songs, chants and dances.
The teaching programme at Daktari covered so many areas in such a short space of time, but it managed to do it in a way that kept the children engaged and motivated. As volunteers, we were encouraged to improve the lessons, so we worked on the existing knowledge hunt lesson to create a challenging scavenger hunt. The children got incredibly competitive running around the camp looking for the clues, and it was great to see them helping the other children in their team.
I was also given the opportunity to visit a local crèche as part of Daktari’s outreach programme and teach a lesson to the 3-4 year olds. It was a real eye opener, and such a contrast from my school back in England.
All in all, I have had such a fantastic experience at Daktari, and my only regret was that it didn’t last longer! It’s incredible what Ian and Michele have achieved at Daktari in 10 years, and it’s clear the impact it has on the children, animals, local communities, and the volunteers who visit. I cannot recommend it enough, and I hope very much to visit again in the not too distant future!

What would you improve about this program?
The programme from a volunteer's perspective is absolutely fantastic, and I can't think of any improvements I would make (only put a big banner on your website telling volunteers to make sure they stay for at least three weeks, two was not enough!)
9 people found this review helpful.
Read my full story
Default avatar
John
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

DAKTARI Summer Experience

My summer at DAKTARI primarily consisted of teaching local children and working with orphaned African wildlife. Working with local children proved to be the largest interaction while working at DAKTARI as students would come for five days a week and we would work with them from 7 A.M. to 8 P.M. each day. We would teach the students different subjects related to the environment and eco-tourism with some lessons touching on making South Africa a better place, safe sex, respect, and substance abuse. The schedule for working with the children was very similar to that of an educational summer camp, and also involved the children and volunteers with the care taking of animals kept within enclosures around DAKTARI's camp. Taking care of the animals consisted of cleaning their enclosures and feeding and watering them every day. At times, volunteers created projects to enhance the animal enclosures and would work on those projects when students were not at DAKTARI. There were also opportunities for volunteers to go on excursions during the weekends, where every Saturday volunteers could go into town or go on other excursions such as hot air balloon tours, trips to Kruger National Park and to different wildlife centers around Hoedspruit. I had a wonderful time and would recommend looking into DAKTARI as a possible volunteering opportunity. Be prepared to work, as it can be a demanding and tiring job at times. While I worked at DAKTARI some issues arose between volunteers and managerial staff where views did not align at times, and jokes could be off-color, but the long term volunteers were great to discuss these issues with. DAKTARI gave me a wonderful, life changing experience and really opened my eyes to the world outside of the United States. I could have never predicted what the experience was like and the African bush was truly breath-taking. I greatly enjoyed working with the local children, they were very fun to teach and to play games around the camp with. I enjoyed working with all of the other volunteers and I am so glad that I met all of the long term volunteers, all of which are wonderful people and great company around a dinner table. I hope DAKTARI continues to touch the lives of the locals and to make a difference in how the environment is perceived in Africa.

8 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Sabrina
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable time in Daktari

Staying at Daktari was such a great experience for me. I was impressed of the amazing people who made me feel welcome. I didn’t need previous knowlege to teach the chiledren and to take care about the animals I could easily handle it, because of the good introduction of the Daktari team.

Ian and Michelle are just like caring parents for the children, animals, the staff and volunteers.
I had the feeling to really make something useful for the the children and the animals.
I enjoed showing them the real world and the real south africa.

Reflecting the time in africa I really miss the beatiful landscape of Daktari, the morning Dogwalk, the colourful sunset, the run to „Leopard Rock“, singing and sitting around the ,,Bonfire’’ and last but not least the people from Daktari.

A big thank you to all the people who made my visit at Daktari unforgettable.

Best wishes

Sabrina from Germany

8 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Jodie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Daktari Experience

My four weeks I spent at Daktari is, and will always be one of the best experiences I have ever had! If you love animals and kids this is the perfect volunteer programme for you! From the moment I arrived at Daktari and met everyone I was made to feel so welcome within their family atmosphere and the location of the camp is beautiful, the fact you can be sitting chatting and a Bushbuck can come wandering up to talk to you is just an incredible. The accommodation was ideal and I was surprised at how comfortable it was despite the fact you are out in the middle of the bush. My first day of teaching the children I was so nervous but the kids are so great and enthusiastic that they make it easy and it was actually really fun. We had such a great time with them, especially on Thursday evening's when we had our bonfire where we sang and danced around the fire, everyone is in such great spirits! Each group of children we had at Daktari were great, along with those we got to meet in the local schools, we all had so many great laughs together. For me that loves animals, being surrounded by some of the most beautiful creatures, as well as looking after them, was literally a dream come true. I also had the opportunity to do a home stay at the local village with a great family where I was made so welcome, and to experience their culture and their daily lives is fantastic, I would highly recommend it! I have so many brilliant memories from my time in South Africa, and I met some of the most amazing people! I couldn't recommend Daktari enough it is one of the greatest places I have been lucky enough to have been to, which I would go back to in a heartbeat!

11 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Brigitte
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An incredible and unforgettable experience @ Daktari!

A couple of years ago, I watched a documentary on the French television about Daktari.
I had been thinking for a while to do something different during my holidays, and this year was the year!

I have had the chance to spend 3 weeks at Daktari and take part in the Alternative Teaching Program, as we welcomed older students from the nearby community.
Very fast I was asked to lead a class and, although I did not have a teaching experience, the fact that I am in my mid-forties (with a bit more work and life experience than the other volunteers) was an advantage as I could share my own experiences.

Throughout the week, we helped the students writing a CV, creating a cover letter, practicing job interviews. We talked about the job opportunities in the tourism industry as, surprisingly, they actually don’t know much about them, as most of the students are not in contact with the tourists visiting South Africa. The visit to the nearby Big Five reserve was one of the highlights of my stay. Not only did we have the chance to see a leopard on our way, the students had the opportunity to talk to some of the managers of the reserve who explained their daily tasks and how they got there. It was very motivating! We visited the workshop, the kitchen, housekeeping and talked to the camp manager.

Back at Daktari, we also worked with the students on their presentation and debating skills. We had a lot of fun during the debate on ‘Girls are better students than boys’, where the boys had to defend the statement and the girls had to disagree! The other debate we had fun with was on ‘Marriage to more than one person should be legal’. During the exercise, the students came with strong opinions to express their agreement or disagreement.

The rest of the week, we stuck to the normal teaching program. We talked about Plastic and the environment, and I even learned a few things! This is why I love being part of a community with volunteers coming from all horizons, having different backgrounds and coming from all over the world. You learn so much!

We tried to illustrate as much as possible the class, using for example the video of the Harley Davidson that was washed away by the tsunami in Japan and found more than a year later on a beach in Canada, to explain how far plastic or rubbish can travel in the ocean.
Also we made drawings to explain the different cycles (breathing, water, life) and the consequences if something went wrong. If the local community doesn’t take care of the animals and the environment, tourists will no longer go to South Africa, reducing job opportunities in their area but it might also impact my job in Belgium as I work in the airline industry. We live in a world where everything is connected.

I must confess, it has not always been easy. First, at the beginning of the week, the students were shy but after playing a game at the end of the first evening or playing football in the early morning, they opened up. Also taking care of the animals brought us together.
Secondly, some of the problems the community is facing are tough. During the social talks, we talked about difficult topics related to respect, culture and traditions (like forced marriage, rape and poaching). The students were asking for some advice and it is so difficult when you don’t have an answer to give them and when you have to tell them that sometimes they will have to choose between bad or worse, to be silent or to stand up and in this case to be ready to cut ties with some people (as they might not believe or understand you or minimize the problem). Reporting a crime is not that easy, especially if it concerns somebody you are close to or if you expect retaliation…
I thought it was important to show the video of Lady Gaga ‘Til it happens to you’.
This song is directed to victims of rape - but when you hear the lyrics, it can be addressed to anybody who has been emotionally or physically abused or has suffered any kind of pain whether it is harassment, bullying, depression, drugs, alcohol, losing someone, failing at something, being humiliated, being betrayed...
We debated amongst the volunteers about whether we should show or not the video as the content is pretty violent and we decided to show it. To be honest, I was actually unsettled (and not the only one) by the reaction of some of the students who thought the video was ‘cool’. It was not the reaction we had expected on such a difficult topic. Obviously the message ‘Til it happens to you, you don’t know how it feels’ didn’t get through. Rape is a scourge that is minimised and victims are not recognised as such. There is still a lot to do in this area to make them realize how much damage such an event can have in someone’s life.

Anyway, at the end of a very busy week, it was heart-breaking to see the students go. They had become our friends and I want to know what they will become in the future. Hopefully we will stay in touch.

I only made a small contribution but I hope that for some of the students I made the difference. One of them told me I was ‘inspiring’, another one said I was ‘motivating’. I wanted them to become ambassadors, to teach their community what they have learned at Daktari because I believe in education.
I also found out, through the comments of the other volunteers that I was good at teaching and they were impressed about all the stuff I knew. I like to keep myself informed because knowledge, just like education, is power.

To finish, I was really happy when Daktari gave Patience and Thato a job. They were both very shy at the beginning of the week but they have really grown during the week and increased their self-confidence.

The students just need a little push and that is what Daktari and the volunteers are striving. We want to educate and make sure the students act responsible and think long term and create awareness of animal welfare. Their future is now in their hands!

It was definitely an incredible and unforgettable experience!
Keep on the good work!

11 people found this review helpful.

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