Wildlife Volunteer – Practical Information
Wildlife ACT’s camps offer conservation volunteers a genuine African wilderness experience. The camps are located within the reserves themselves so volunteers can expect visits from anything from an elephant during the day to a hyena at night!
The facilities are comfortable and charming yet fairly basic. The camps have a simple communal kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms or chalets. Each room has two single beds, which means volunteers might have to share a room, and the shared bathrooms have a warm water shower and flushing toilet. There’s also an outside dining area with a barbecue for a real South African outdoor dining experience.
Conservation volunteers prepare their own meals in the communal kitchen.There’s an oven, stovetop, microwave, solar cooker and of course a fire to cook on. Volunteers are encouraged to take turns preparing meals but can also cook independently if desired. There is a town trip for grocery shopping every two weeks. As far as possible we try to be environmentally friendly, eg. we don’t buy tinned tuna and we try to use game venison, instead of commercially produced beef and chicken.
Basic food items are provided for within our food budget, enough for three healthy meals a day, including fruit. Any additional ‘luxury’ items can be purchased at your own expense.
Please note: The drinking water at the camps is of good quality, but does not always taste great. You can purchase bottled water at your own expense if you prefer.
Internet access is different across the different reserves; some do have internet available and some don’t. Where it is available, you should be able to access the internet once a week in the office. That having been said, please be aware that our internet service out here is extremely slow compared to international standards, and is often unreliable. Although we will do our best to provide you with the opportunity to use it when it is available, you may not always get through. If you have a laptop with your own internet connection please feel free to bring that with you, as well as your personal cellphone as that is the easiest way to keep in contact with friends and family back home.
Maps and getting there
Getting to Zululand is easy!
The easiest way is for you to book your international flight through any airline of your choice, arriving in Johannesburg (O.R. Tambo International Airport), and then book a connecting domestic flight from Johannesburg to Richards Bay (our closest airport). South African Airlines (SAA) is the only carrier that does the connecting flight from Johannesburg to Richards Bay so it is best to book with them. Their website is http://www.flysaa.com.
Please note: You will be responsible for booking your own flights. The cost of flights are not included in the volunteer rate.
These are the flights to book:
Participants can choose to either fly in to Richards Bay on the SUNDAY and overnight at a B&B close to the Airport, OR arrive on the very early morning flight arriving in Richards Bay at 07:25 AM on the Monday, if they prefer not to overnight.
*NO FLIGHTS ARRIVING LATER THAN 07:25 AM WILL BE SUITABLE ON THE MONDAY.
The transport service will collect participants from Richards Bay Airport at 12:00 PM. Please ensure therefore that you book one of the following flights arriving in Richards Bay at:
- 14:30 PM or 18:10 PM on the SUNDAY,
- OR at 07:25 AM on the MONDAY.
Please be aware that if you book the 07:25 AM arrival flight you will have a few hours to wait until the transport service arrives to collect all arriving volunteers from Richards Bay Airport at 12:00. We suggest you wait in the small coffee shop within the Richards Bay Airport. You will be comfortable and safe there and they do sell beverages and light meals/snacks so you can sit and read or work on your laptop.
The transport service drops off participants at Richards Bay Airport at 12:00 PM.
Please therefore ensure that you book one of the following flights, departing from Richards Bay at:
- 14:40 PM, 15:05 PM, 16:20 PM, or 18:40 PM on the MONDAY of your departure.
Important Note: Please do not book flights departing from Richards Bay earlier than 12:00 noon, as we will simply not be able to get you to the airport in time, from the reserve.
When you arrive at Richards Bay Airport you will be collected by an organised responsible transfer company. A Wildlife ACT staff member will be accompanying the transport vehicle to Richards Bay to supervise the collection and drop off, of all the participants. He/she will have a copy of the transport schedule including all your photographs, and so will the driver. They will find you in the (VERY) small Airport: either in the small arrival area or in the little coffee shop within the airport if you arrive early.
All arriving conservation volunteers will be transported by the transfer company to a central meeting point where you will be met by your respective Wildlife ACT monitors, who will then take you into the reserve on the back of a monitoring vehicle. On the Monday of your departure you will be transported back to Richards Bay Airport to catch your departing flight home.
The area in which we work is within easy reach of the East coast, where you can get involved with a wide variety of exciting leisure activities. (please note: as these activities are not associated with our Wildlife ACT monitoring work, you will be responsible for arranging your own transport and accommodation should you choose to participate in them).
- Whale & Dolphin watching (seasonal)
- Turtle tours (seasonal)
- Deep sea fishing (all year)
- Scuba diving (all year) or a 5-day Open water course.
- Visit to local fossil sites
- Hiking (all year)
- Surfing lessons
- Surf board hire
- Horse riding
- Tiger fishing
- Birding/River cruise