I volunteered for the first two weeks in June in Victoria Falls at the Nakavango Conservation Program ran by Justine and Dean. The experience was absolutely amazing. The staff are awesome and really make it that much better. Their humor, passion, and kindness are great. You'll help out a lot, learn a great deal about the reserve, and of course see tons of animals. I wish I had stayed a little longer, but I plan to go back. Zimbabwe will always have a special place in my heart.
Each person was given their own room and shared a bathroom with one other person typically of the same sex. Rooms and bathrooms were cleaned everyday which was very nice. The rooms each have a twin size bed, a desk with a folding chair, and a closet unit next to it with a couple of hangers and three shelves to place your belongings. We were also provided one towel and one blanket (in addition to the sheets on the bed). The sitting areas around the camp were nice. They were covered and offered a great view of the pool and reserve - very nice eating lunch and seeing giraffes and kudu walk into the 'backyard'. Lunch and Dinner were provided every weekday which was tasty; the chefs are very good. Basic breakfast is available all week which includes toast, cereal, and yogurt. On the weekends instead of lunch, the chefs will prepare a hot brunch and dinner is still prepared.
Weekly routine: -- This agrees to the program pamphlet --
Most days you will head out to start working about 7 or 8am until 11 or 12pm. This varies depending on the sunlight and the weather. If it gets too hot, they won't make you stay working out in the sun too long which is very considerate. Everyone will then head back to Nakavango for lunch and some downtime until about 3 or 4pm at which time you will head out again for a couple hours until about 6pm. Again, this also varies depending on the task, daylight, and temperature. The rest of the night consists of dinner and relaxing.
Mondays: typically game drives and tracking
Tuesdays: Mornings, picking up rubbish and taking it to the dump - this is your chance to go into town should you need to quickly pick anything up. In the evenings, typically worked around the Nakavango camp - composting, clearing and cleaning the grounds, various other projects
Wednesdays: Mornings, working at a local school with different projects (we helped construct sinks out of 'Shake Shake' bottles while I was there). In the evenings, typically we did a game drive.
Thursdays: Mornings on this day varies, the first week - myself and the other new arrivals were taken to Victoria Falls. The second week - we pulled out the lantana plant. Evenings, you'll leave a bit earlier because it is the camping night in which you camp out on the bush.
Fridays: Mornings, a few people will go out tracking for about 2 hours while the others stay at camp and help clean up. Evenings, the first week we pulled out the lantana and the second week we asked for the night free so those of us leaving that weekend could go on the boat cruise .
-During the week, many of us played cards, laid by the pool (the daring ones including myself actually swam in it - the water was quite cold!), watched movies, and/or napped.
-Weekends, this is your chance to go into town and do many of the great activities offered. We used a taxi - Sheppy - for getting around - this is the taxi service that Nakavango always uses. The white water rafting and bridge swing were awesome. Also, managed to do the Boma dinner in which we were able to try crocodile, warthog, buffalo, impala, etc. For nightlife, you'll go to Shoestrings, the local backpackers bar, and then likely head to Adventure Lodge's bar afterwards. Both a fun experience.
What you may want to know:
-Bring good gloves. I brought the kind used for gardening only paid $6 at Target (USA) and they worked very well. You'll use them for potentially digging in the dirt, picking up rocks, trash etc.
-Bring a book. I wish I had brought one to read in my downtime since there was more of it than I expected
-Bringing cards or any board games you don't want anymore may also be good for downtime
-Good hiking boots. I wore sneakers which were fine, but going tracking in certain areas were very sandy and had thorns and grass seeds that would stick to my sneakers and made even through the sneakers
-Bring extra clothing to trade - t-shirts, shorts, shoes, socks, hats etc. as you can trade these items at the Elephant Walk markets for various trinkets you may want. They also seemed to want hair ties (hair elastics) and water bottles.
-Depending when you go, it can get quite cold at night I wish I had brought an extra sweater or sweatpants