African Big 5 Volunteering Project in South Africa

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Stand Up for Wildlife Conservation Efforts That Matter

Volunteer in South Africa with the African Big 5 wildlife conservation project and join our expert field guides and wildlife conservation research team in the most beautiful game reserves in the Greater Kruger Area. Our most popular volunteer project in Africa and our most remote destination is situated in the untouched African bush. African Impact provide the ultimate African volunteering safari and some of the most memorable encounters with Africa’s iconic ‘Big 5’ species.

This volunteer program is ideal for wildlife lovers, nature enthusiasts, and aspiring conservationists or zoologists. No matter your skillset or expertise, this volunteer program immerses you into the African bush like never before. Volunteering in South Africa in the greater kruger region is perfect anytime of year with mild cool winters and warm sunny summers, what are you waiting for? Complete the volunteer application form now!

Project Highlights

  • Spend your time in the wild, researching Africa’s ‘Big 5’ – Lions, Elephants, Rhinos, Leopards, and Buffalo
  • Collect information that will influence wildlife conservation by protecting wildlife from threats such as poaching and habitat loss
  • Track the movements and behaviours of herds of elephants and prides of lions through the wild African bush
  • Witness nocturnal animals such as leopards in their natural habitat on unforgettable moonlit night drives
  • On your free weekends, explore the spectacular Blyde River Canyon, go on a safari in the Kruger National Park, or experience the fascinating culture of the people in Eswatini
  • Live in the heart of the world-famous Greater Kruger Area in a private volunteer lodge surrounded by nature and open skies
  • Offer much needed assistance with removing invasive plant species and going on anti-poaching snare sweeps
volunteer in south africa photographing an elephant

Quick Facts

Greater Kruger Area, South Africa

Hoedspruit Airport

Specific Start Dates

2 – 12 weeks

Impact: Wildlife Conservation

Travel is better with friends special (15% off each)

$3,555 – $8,555

Where is this project located and what is the accommodation like?

Group standing together with beautiful background of the ocean.

The Greater Kruger Area encompasses over 20 private wildlife reserves on the west side of the world-renowned Kruger National Park in South Africa. These private reserves come together to create one big reserve. A significant contribution to wildlife conservation efforts, helping to protect and preserve one of the world’s last remaining wildlife strongholds.

The whole area comprises almost 5.5 million acres of unfenced land where animals roam freely across wild savannah. The Greater Kruger Area is a major hotspot for wildlife conservation and offers endless opportunities for wildlife encounters. Weekend trips further into the wider area for encounters with iconic animals such as elephants, lions, rhinos, and wild dogs. Many of these animals are endangered or vulnerable.

You will be staying at Olifants River Camp in the heart of the African wilderness. It is a traditional bush lodge set in a big 5 reserve with all the facilities and furnishings you need for a comfortable and authentic stay in Africa.The team are passionate about environmental conservation and it is reflected in how the lodge is run. Recycling, sustainable use of resources, environmental education, and the use of locally grown produce and ethically sourced ingredients are all important aspects of life at Olifants River Camp.

The accommodation includes 7 large dorm rooms overlooking the Olifants River. All the rooms have aircon and bathrooms. Some of the facilities include a swimming pool, outdoor fire pit where we have braais (BBQs), all set in a great shared social space. 

We believe that the best way to learn about a people and a culture is through their food and food customs. Some examples of traditional South African meals our local chefs prepare for you as part of our delicious and nutritious menus include bobotie, a potjie, a Cape Malay-style curry or the experience and excitement of cooking on an open fire with a South African braai.

Braais (an African style BBQ) are one of our beloved traditions. However, although meat is the preferred braai food, just about anything can be thrown on a braai, so even vegetarians and vegans can experience this proudly South African tradition. Meals are provided 7 days a week – help-yourself breakfast and 2 cooked meals a day. We proudly cater for most dietary preferences.

WiFi is available throughout the lodge, but you will be in the bush, so it can be slow and unreliable, please be patient with this! 

Although South Africa has the usual 4 seasons, there are 2 distinct seasons in the Greater Kruger area. The climate in Kruger is generally considered to be subtropical with hot weather throughout the year. The dry winter season is generally considered he best time for wildlife viewing. Animals tend to congregate around the limited water sources and the vegetation isn’t so dense, meaning animals are easier to find and view! However, the landscape is more lush and beautiful during the rainy summer season and baby animals are aplenty!

Project Impact Areas

Wildlife Research Safari Drives

Venture into the African bush on daily volunteer safari drives in search of the Big 5 species and other iconic African wildlife. You will monitor wild animals and collect vital data. Your observations and volunteer work are essential for providing critical information that will influence wildlife conservation strategies that protect endangered and vulnerable wildlife in africa. These safari drives will also give you a chance to experience the wonders of the African bush and go on private safaris in the most beautiful reserves in the Greater Kruger Park area in South Africa.
Volunteers seated inside safari vehicle documenting on-site wildlife research
wildlife conservation interns in Greater Kruger Area

Physical Conservation work

Physical conservation work is a vital part of volunteer wildlife conservation program (and a lot more fun than you would think it would be), so you will have plenty of opportunities to get your hands dirty on foot in the African bush amongst the wild animals natural habitat. Whether you assist in getting rid of snares or removing invasive species, the volunteer work you do is key to the survival of wildlife and the success of wildlife conservation in the Greater Kruger area of South Africa. It transforms the land back into a healthy habitat where wildlife can flourish. You don’t have to be particularly fit for this kind of volunteer work – we have a role for all volunteer project participants.

Research and Analysis

You will work alongside our experienced team of wildlife conservation research experts and help to compile data of the wild animals encountered into reports, maps, and up to date profiles (ID kits). The techniques you will learn about doing this volunteer work include analyzing whisker patterns, scars, and ear notches to understand and distinguish individual animals.

These research sessions will teach you about data collection and compilation techniques that are used to influence wildlife conservation strategies both within the reserve and greater surrounding areas of Kruger National Park. Conservationists and field guides can use this data to monitor the movements and health of wildlife for years to come.

Program team member documenting information on clipboard

Other Activities

Recent Volunteer Reviews


15%off EACH*

Dates & Rates

When would you like to volunteer?

Give us an idea of your travel plans, you can also say ‘I’m not sure yet.’ We’ll take it from there.

How long would you like to volunteer?

This is the place to select your preferred duration(s). The African Impact team recommend at least 4 weeks for a truly memorable experience!

2 weeks $3555
3 weeks $4055
4 weeks $4555
5 weeks $5055
6 weeks $5555
7 weeks $6055
8 weeks $6555
9 weeks $7055
10 weeks $7555
11 weeks $8055
12 weeks $8555

Personal Information

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By opting in to SMS and WhatsApp communication, you give consent to receive text messages from African Impact that will assist in booking your placement. You can opt-out at any time by texting STOP.
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Conservation volunteers conduting research at project location

Project Fee Includes:

  • Airport pick-up and drop-off
  • Accommodation throughout your stay
  • 3 delicious meals a day
  • Transport to and from project
  • 24/7 support from experienced international and local staff
  • Full orientation to ensure you contribute responsibly
  • Project equipment and resources

Project Fee Excludes:

  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa-related costs
  • Weekend trips or tours not on the itinerary
  • Snacks, soft drinks, gifts, and souvenirs
  • Mandatory contribution of US$25 that is donated to the African Impact Sustainability Fund

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Frequently Asked Questions

Joining our Big 5 Wildlife Conservation volunteer project in South Africa is the adventure of a lifetime. You’ll spend your days immersed in the stunning Greater Kruger Area, conducting valuable research on the iconic African Big 5 and other incredible wildlife. Venturing out on regular game drives, your analysis of these creatures’ health, behaviour, and populations will inform conservation strategies in the park, ensuring wildlife in South Africa are protected in the best possible way.

You’ll be volunteering in South Africa’s Greater Kruger Area, a sprawling expanse of over 20 private game reserves. Sharing a fenceless border with the Kruger National Park, The Greater Kruger Area hosts the same iconic beauty and African wildlife that the neighbouring national park is world-renowned for, but without the crowds. On this volunteer conservation project, you’ll be swept away in the exclusive and unforgettable wildlife encounters that only lucky travellers in the area get to experience.

Here is a list of a few of the benefits of volunteering in South Africa with African Impact:
– You’ll walk away from your volunteer experience in South Africa as a transformed individual, with adventures and memories to last a lifetime.
– Joining a volunteer conservation project in Africa is a great CV booster, regardless of if you are going into an ecology-related field or something completely different.
– Lastly, you’ll be making real, tangible impacts on the protection of endangered and vulnerable African wildlife, which is, perhaps, the greatest benefit of all.

The Big 5 makes up some of the most stunning and iconic wildlife of South Africa. They are the African elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros.