'Big 5' is a term coined for the five wild animals that are the most difficult to hunt on foot. The 'Big 5' game animals are African Elephant, Lion, Leopard, Cape Buffalo and Rhinoceros. South Africa, a country rich and diverse in wildlife is one of the eleven African countries where all members of the 'Big Five' can be found. The 'Big 5' Project enables volunteers to experience the 'Big 5' game animals in their natural habitat on foot and on game drives. They also get to encounter other species of wildlife that are roaming around in their habitats. This project offers a great opportunity to participate and get hands on experience in the conservation projects.
Goal of the Project
The project aims to enable people of all ages to experience nature and wildlife in its rawest forms. The project focuses on all aspects of nature conservation to maintain the eco system and bio diversity, working tirelessly, for the sustainability of the current and future generations.
Involvement and activities
Volunteers will be assisting the reserve in the management and maintenance tasks throughout the volunteering period. They will get the opportunity to work and learn, alongside getting involved in fun activities. Everyday can be a different experience, but volunteers can expect themselves to be getting involved in camp and bush work activities. Camp work includes camp development and improvement, small building projects, cleaning store rooms, general maintenance of equipment, and fence patrolling and checking the electric fence for faults. Bush work might include game monitoring, track identification and tracking, Vegetation Condition Assessments (VCA's), maintaining the bush camp, road and water reticulation maintenance (when necessary), removal of litter and alien plants along the river and elsewhere, bush clearing and erosion control.
Volunteers will be gaining a general picture of all aspects of nature, climate and other sides of the African Bush. Volunteer's assistance in conservation and maintenance tasks will be highly appreciated as the project aims to maintain nature in its most pristine state as possible.
Fees and Dates
Except our registration fee of $299, our fees are as affordable as $850. The detailed fee structure of the ‘Big 5’ Wildlife Program is as follows:
| Extra Week
The ‘Big 5’ Project starts Tuesday of every week.
The camp is based near the Olifants river. Volunteers will be living in a large and fully-equipped house which has 2 bedrooms, a fully-functional kitchen area, a dining room, a lounge, bathrooms and toilets, and a washing room. Each bedroom can accommodate to up to 3-4 volunteers. Each bedroom has cupboards, mirrors, and electrical plugs.
Volunteers can also choose to stay at the youth hostel at the project. It is a large dormitory that can house 6-12 volunteers. However, it is important to note that not all things are provided in this hostel. Bed linen should be brought by the volunteers themselves.
Volunteers will be given 3 meals per day. Breakfast will be served on a self-help basis, while the lunch and dinner will be prepared by the local chef. Volunteers can also choose to make their own meals, but they will have to provide the ingredients to cook it themselves.
Examples of Meals are:
- Breakfast - toast, cereals, tea, coffee.
- Lunch - spaghetti with pasta sauce, pastas, vegetables, salads.
- Dinner - roast chicken, pastas, meat, barbeques, vegetables, salads.
There are many activities volunteers can participate once they are done with their daily tasks. They can choose to participate on game drives, bush walks, camping, target shooting, and of course, cooking famous African cuisines.
It is important to note that these activities are subject to availability of vehicles and guides. Also, these activities may cost some money, which will not be provided freely by the project staff. If volunteers wish to participate on these activities, it is important that they bring extra money with them.
- Where do I need to fly?
From Eastgate Airport, volunteers need to arrange their flights to Hoedspruit.
- How can I get to the project?
Volunteers will be picked up on Eastgate Airport by one of the members of the project staff. Once all the volunteers have arrived and are ready, they will be taken to the project site for discussion.
- What vaccinations do I need?
It is recommended that you take extra precautions on this trip to South Africa. While majority of South Africa has been declared to be free of malaria, the Kruger National Park isn't. Therefore, getting a vaccine against malaria is very much recommended.
- How can I communicate with family?
Volunteers can send emails to their friends and families every once a week by visiting the town. They can also choose to bring along a mobile phone so that they can call their loved ones at their leisure.
If you wish to bring a mobile phone with you, be sure to activate the roaming functionality of your phone as well as bringing along enough mobile credits. Use the credits sparingly as well, as you will only be able to replenish your mobile credits every once a week when you visit the town.
- How safe is the project?
This project is entirely safe. The only things unsafe in here are the volunteers' belongings, which can easily be remedied by putting all your valuables and important documents (e.g. passports, travel documents, etc.) on a safe and secure place. The project staff will not be held liable for any loss of items, but will try to help in finding these lost properties.
- Will there be someone to guide/supervise us?
Volunteers will be supervised by a project staff every day, giving them the knowledge they need to be able to work on their daily activities. Once volunteers prove to be capable of doing the tasks by themselves, they will be left to do it independently.
- Will there be other volunteers?
Other volunteers are present at all times. There will always be around 2-24 volunteers at any given point in time. Make sure to mingle with them and make new friends.
- Any other important information to consider?
While animals are the main focus on this project, safety and precaution when in the company of these animals is a must. These are wild animals. As such, they can be feral and aggressive. Be sure to observe and adhere to the safety rules detailed on the project discussion to avoid getting yourself injured.
Another thing to note is that you should arrive on the airport on a Tuesday, as this is the only day when project staff members will pick up volunteers from the airport. If you arrive at any day besides Tuesday, you will have to get on the project site on your own.
Once you are done with your volunteer experience, you can go on various tours such as:
- 7-day trip to Chobe National Park and Victoria Falls
- 7-day trip to Okavango Delta
- 5-day trip to Chobe National Park and Victoria Falls
- 10-day trip to Okavango Delta and Chobe and Victoria Falls
NOTE: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) is derived from generic information about the country, and should not be used as a definitive travel guide. Travel information and situations abroad change constantly, and the information contained here may not be up to date. Participants should consult Helping Abroad staff or travel advisors to verify this information