My time volunteering at GoEco’s Big 5 Wildlife Reserve in the Greater Kruger Area project was better than I could have ever imagined. I didn’t know what to expect when I left New York and traveled to South Africa alone, but once at the lodge, the staff immediately made all of the new arrivals feel comfortable and welcomed.
All of the volunteers became immediate friends through the positive atmosphere and a common goal of making the world a better place- and it was such an amazing experience to work and connect with more people from across the globe than I ever have before.
Our purpose there was to assist in the data collection of a variety of species, including elephants, rhino, lions, leopards, birds of prey, and many others, to give to conservation organizations that protect these animals and their environments. Without the help of volunteers, the staff wouldn’t be able to collect and maintain all of the information that they need.
Almost every morning, we would wake up bright and early for a game drive at a nearby reserve and would get to watch the sunrise from the jeep with beautiful landscape and animals all around. I felt that volunteering in South Africa was the absolute best way to enjoy the beauty of country, while also giving something back and doing your part for the magnificent animals that are in danger of not always being around.
If we weren’t busy with our research work, we were camping in the bush, hanging out by the pool, going on scavenger hunts, helping out at a local reptile park, and going on weekends trips like to Kruger National Park. If you have the opportunity to volunteer here, do it. It was the best possible experience I could have asked for.