We provide quite an extensive list of things to bring for those coming to spend some time volunteering in Zululand. However it’s always useful to hear from past experiences! Conservation volunteer, Kaja Falkenhain, offer us her 10 Essentials for volunteering to help protect our endangered species.
10 Essentials for Volunteering in Zululand
Not only useful for checking for spiders in your shoes, or to prevent stepping on snakes while walking to the bathroom, but also helpful in case you’re confronted with a lion in the bush. Shining a light in their eyes might just save you – since lions are cats after all (although, admittedly, quite big ones).
2) Camera (with a bunch of memory cards)
On the way from the airport to the reserve you’ll already be overwhelmed by the stunning landscape, the cows standing in the middle of the road and the traditional Zulu villages you pass by. You might arrive at camp to find monkeys playing in the trees above and you’ll hate yourself if your memory card is already half full and it’s only your first day.
3) Gloves & Scarf
Whether you’re digging out camera poles with a pickaxe, holding up a telemetry kit scanning for wild dogs, or simply holding on to the truck while your monitor tries to avoid potholes, gloves will definitely look after your hands. And a scarf won’t hurt either.
4) Rain clothes
Even during the dry season you might still not escape without being caught in some rain. Rain gear and singing are a must.
The African sun can be really unforgiving and it can get really hot even on a winter’s day. So lather up!
On some days you might spend many hours on the vehicle tracking animals. Having a backpack with a bottle of water, something to eat and some space for your jacket will help a lot with keeping you feeling good throughout the day.
The early morning chill just before dawn can make your nose trickle a little. Also useful for anyone who might be overwhelmed by Africa’s amazing wildlife.
This one’s for the girls. Doing your job in the African wilderness means your nails are constantly dirty. Either keep them short or come equipped!
9) Hair Mousse & Hat
Don’t let yourself become annoyed when trying to watch a lion hiding in the bush while your hair is blowing in your eyes; or by taking a picture of a wild dog hunting a nyala with your hair getting in the way of your subject.
10) Triple P – Patience, Positive Attitude & Power!
The long days can be exhausting, but with a little positive thinking and the willingness to help, you’ll get the chance to be a part of something really rewarding and can help prevent Africa’s wildlife from being destroyed.
And it will be easy to enjoy your time there – no matter whether there are times with no electricity or there is brown water coming out the tap; just remember: “This is Zululand, not Disneyland!”
Post by Kaja Falkenhain