Volunteering in South Africa – Life-Long Friendships

Posted by: Kristen

Volunteering in South Africa at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center project was truly one of the best experiences of my life. There is so much interaction with the animals and education about South African wildlife and conservation. Spontaneous opportunities to experience something unique are bound to pop up.

For example, one day we got the opportunity to join a group who were tracking down wild buffalo to be darted and treated. On any day an injured leopard, hyena, bird, or any other African animal might be brought in, and you can take part in whatever treatment is necessary.

Most days start at 7 am with morning rounds, where you clean the enclosures and feed your assigned animals. After rounds you meet at the clinic (main building of the rehab) at 8:30 to hike to Forest Camp for breakfast. When breakfast is over you hike back to rehab center to have a daily meeting, where you’ll be told what big jobs need to be done, and then go complete these jobs. The daily big jobs are things such as cleaning the cheetah, lion, leopard, hyena or wild dog camps or cleaning any of these animals’ feeding cages.

After big jobs you eat lunch, and then have free time during which you can do whatever you want, such as go see the servals, play with the honey badgers, go on a bush walk, or go on a hippo run to feed the hippos that live near Forest Camp. You do your feeding and cleaning rounds again at 4 pm and then meet for dinner at 7 pm, after which you have free time for the rest of the evening or you can go feed the bush babies.

The accommodations, food and staff are all wonderful and I will probably dream about the breakfast buffet for the rest of my life. There is a wide demographic of volunteers; while I was there I saw volunteers aged 16 – 65 from all different countries and occupations. But no matter the age, all the volunteers form camaraderie and I definitely have some life long friendships to take away from this experience. If you go I would recommend staying minimum 3 weeks, it takes a full week to really adjust to the experience.