Volunteering in South Africa – Happy Days

Posted by: Leva

This project wasn’t a “light bulb” idea or something I did because my friends were doing it. This was execution of my lifetime dream to work with the animals as well as cross out a few things off my bucket list while volunteering in South Africa. The opportunity to work with the wildlife was one of the main reasons I chose the African Wildlife Ranch project and even though I went on my own, I never regretted any of it, not even a single moment. But let me tell you my adventures in summary and perhaps it will inspire someone else to experience all of this “amazing-ness” personally.

My new home was very hot (I went in summer so 30⁰C and above). Oudtshoorn (semi-arid, mountainous region in Western Cape) was really cozy, housemates and local hosts were just great. Also, who else can brag that they have white tigers in the back garden? The volunteering itself was at the African Wildlife Ranch and I had a chance to experience a variety of tasks and jobs while there, from cleaning big cats enclosures, preparing food for smaller animals and birds to walking a massive tortoise, creating enrichment for all big cats and brushing cheetahs.

Of course, some jobs were less exciting (like sorting out beetles and worms) and some really interesting (like observing animal training and being part of it). The hosts and staff there are really friendly and always willing to share their knowledge or share a joke or two (one of the more popular ones was to tell volunteers that they count cheetah spots each night to make sure none are lost).

All in all, it is not an easy job, but rewards are so well worth it as you won’t have a chance to experience most of these things as a tourist or meet amazing people.