Traveling to South Africa truly is an amazing experience. I am an avid traveler — I have traveled to many locations in my home country and in other parts of the world. Even with that experience, I must admit I had butterflies in my stomach before volunteering at The Big 5 Wildlife Reserve in the Greater Kruger Area project in South Africa.
I thought about the length of the flights, finding my staff member at the airport, what kind of people I would meet, the level of difficulty of the research, and how interesting the excursions would be to name some items.
However, from the moment I met my project staff member at Johannesburg airport, I knew what kind of tone this experience would entail. He was very welcoming and right away I meshed with the other volunteers on the way to the bush.
The accommodations did not disappoint, as the food was delicious and plentiful and the rooms were very clean. The staff gave us a sufficient amount of training before we went into the field. Everyone was responsible for a different task related to research. These tasks were educational but not overwhelming. The sights and sounds in the South African bush were extraordinary. Our schedule kept us busy but still allowed some time for resting and sharing photos.
There was a wide variety of tasks to be completed, including research, conservation work, community involvement, camping, and social events. On the weekend, everyone got to sign up for a fun excursion. My trip to Swaziland proved to be memorable.
My time in South Africa went extremely quickly. Meeting people from all over the world was truly a great experience. By keeping an open mind and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone a little, it is amazing what you can accomplish. I highly recommend this trip to anyone interested in a life-changing experience!