• Welcome to
    Kariega Conservation Experience

    Eastern Cape, South Africa

Kariega Conservation Experience

2 - 12 weeks / contact us for prices
  • About

    Make a real difference, grow your skills in conservation and have the experience of a lifetime! At the Kariega Conservation Experience, you will get the ultimate big five adventure monitoring elephants and rhinos, checking camera traps, capturing data on lion prey selection and much more! All the data collection done by you and your fellow volunteers is used to further conservation efforts on the reserve.

    Your experience will consist of physical work, joining in on community outreach efforts by teaching basic English to local children and exploring South Africa’s amazing coastline. The project is located less than 16 kilometres (10 miles) from the beautiful Indian Ocean. The coastline is filled with endless sand dunes and beautiful beaches.

    The programme runs from Monday to Friday. Weekends are spent at your leisure, offering the opportunity to explore the beautiful surrounding area and participate in exciting local activities.

    The project has a dedicated coordinator who will ensure that you have a wonderful learning experience on both a theoretical and a practical level. This will ensure you leave the project with a much stronger understanding of conservation issues. The work you do at Kariega and the knowledge you bring home with you are important contributions to the future of Africa’s wildlife.

  • Activities

    • Monitor elephants, rhinos and game counts
    • Take bush walks, game drives and night drives, which include the identification and discussion of various mammals, plants and birds
    • Have sleepouts in the bush under the African sky (available depending on weather during the summer months only)
    • Participate in sex- and age-ratio recordings of specific species, like eland and giraffe
    • Help with alien vegetation control and habitat management
    • Clear bush in selective areas as part of bush encroachment control. This involves hard physical labour, so be prepared to get your hands dirty!
    • Help to rehabilitate areas damaged by previous land utilizations practices, like cattle ranching. These practices caused erosion gulleys in certain areas on the reserve.
    • Assist in pulling out old cattle fences and water pipes on the reserve
    • Help with road maintenance and the repairing of river crossings
    • Work with indigenous plants, including landscaping around the lodges
    • Assist the rhino anti-poaching unit
    • Make and administer anti-parasite medications to specific species, when required by the reserve
    • Other conservation management activities that may pop-up

    Other possible activities include, when available:

    • Capturing of Wild Animals

    Our recent volunteers had the amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to assist with the capture of the following species on the reserve: elephants, lions, rhinos, hyenas, giraffes, wildebeests, zebras and impalas. Please remember that captures only occur when required by the reserve and are not done for the sake of volunteers.

    • Game Introduction 

    There is an ongoing programme for the introduction of additional game species, especially as the reserve has acquired more land that will need to be stocked with various African mammals.

    • Fire Management 

    An important driving force in the savanna ecosystem (please note: this activity is available depending on the time of year and fire regimes).

    Activities available at additional costs (can be arranged on Saturdays and Sundays with a minimum of two people. Please note: Transportation fees to cover the trip from the project to the activities apply):

    • Horseback riding on the beach
    • Tandem skydiving (meaning you are strapped to an instructor!)
    • Deep sea fishing
    • A two-day overnight canoe trip on the Bushman's River (this is a hit with many of our volunteer groups)
    • Quad bike riding
    • A field trip to Addo Elephant National Park
    • Paintball
    • Weekend trips, which can include bungee jumping, canopy tours and cage diving with sharks
  • Facilities

    Volunteers are accommodated in a renovated, fully furnished house on the reserve. The house is comfortable, but it’s not luxurious. There are five bedrooms in the house, each with its own bathroom. Four bedrooms have room for two people each while one bedroom has room for three people. You will be sharing a bedroom and a bathroom with someone. Bedding is provided.

    You will also find a pool table, a TV lounge, a fully equipped kitchen, a plunge pool and a braai (barbecue) area.

    • Laundry

      Laundry is done on-site by the volunteer programme's two cleaning ladies. The project will not be held responsible for any damage to apparel as result of hard water, colour runs, shrinkage or marking due to chemical cleaners.

    • Food & Meals

      Ingredients are provided for three basic meals daily. Volunteers are divided into cooking teams and all meals are made by volunteers at the house. Volunteers are also responsible for washing up and keeping the kitchen clean and tidy.

      If volunteers wish to add ingredients that are not available to them at the volunteer house to meals, they can buy the ingredients on town trip days at their own expense.

      Please note: We can cater for vegetarians, but we cannot cater for people with other dietary restrictions. If you have a gluten or dairy allergy, for example, you will need to buy your own gluten-free bread or soy milk. These products are readily available at our local supermarkets. Meals that volunteers choose to eat at restaurants on town trip days are also at one’s own expense.

      Sample Menus:
      Breakfast: Cereal, porridge, toast and eggs
      Lunch: Sandwiches and fruit
      Dinner: Spaghetti bolognaise, chicken stew, cottage pie, pork sausages, veggies and salad

    • Internet & Phone Reception

      There is free, but limited, Wi-Fi at the volunteer house. Volunteers who bring their phones, laptops or iPads and tablets will be able to get internet access.

      Please note: The Wi-Fi in the house is not unlimited. Browsing is allowed only with the available, limited data in the house – you cannot download, place a video or Skype call and or stream and watch videos. Volunteers contact friends and family by emails, on Facebook, by blogging and other activities on their devices.

      Cell phone reception is available. Check with your service provider for costs or purchase a local SIM card at the airport.

    • Credit Cards & Cash

      You can take out cash in town once a week. We recommend that you bring South African rand in small bills to purchase snacks, soft drinks and other goods on-site.

    • Shops

      On weekends, volunteers can visit the nearby beachside village, where you can shop, eat and spend time at the beach. The taxi fare between the reserve and the nearest town, Kenton On Sea, is R200 per person.

  • Travel info

    This page will guide you on how to book your flights, how transportation to and from the Kariega Conservation Experience works and which vaccinations are required for your trip.

    • Flight Itinerary

      Flights booked to Port Elizabeth International Airport (PLZ) should arrive between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Please note: It is easiest to arrange for shared transportation, meaning that your wait at the airport will be shortest, if you arrive midday, between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.
      Please book your departing flight to leave after 12 p.m. on a Monday.

    • Airport Transfer

      The transfer from Port Elizabeth International Airport (PLZ) to Kariega leaves around 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. at the latest – on Mondays. The transfer from Kariega to PLZ leaves between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., which means you will arrive at the airport around 10:30 a.m. or 11 a.m. Passengers must check in for flights from PLZ one hour before departure. Please book your flight to depart after 12 p.m. on a Monday.

    • Vaccinations

      No vaccinations are required to enter South Africa; however, we recommend that volunteers get a tetanus vaccination their own peace-of-mind. The project is not in a malaria risk area.

    • Visa

      People from most countries will automatically get tourist visas valid for up to 90 days upon arrival in South Africa. If you are unsure about whether this applies to your country, please see the government’s list of exempt countries: http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/countries-exempt-from-sa-visas

    • Travel Insurance

      It is mandatory that you have valid travel insurance for your entire trip. The insurance will cover all costs involved with any kind of an emergency or incident, i.e. an air rescue, hospital or medical costs and flights. Please contact your local travel insurance agent, otherwise we can recommend the travel insurer World Nomads: https://www.worldnomads.com/

  • FAQ

    • Do I need a visa?

      People from most countries will automatically get tourist visas valid for up to 90 days upon arrival in South Africa. If you are unsure about whether this applies to your country, please see the government’s list of exempt countries: http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/countries-exempt-from-sa-visas

    • Do I need insurance?

      Yes. After you are accepted to the programme, you will have to sign a liability waiver, copyright documents and an agreement that states that you are knowingly partaking in dangerous activities. You will not be covered financially for accidents or illnesses. Please organize to have medical and health insurance. Be sure to have insurance to cover your entire stay in South Africa.

    • Do volunteers get weekends off?

      It is up to you how you spend your weekends and most weekend activities can be arranged once you join the project. Your coordinator can help you plan weekend trips and activities. He generally urges the group to decide on plans for the upcoming weekend by Wednesday. The volunteer coordinators takes Sundays off, so he will not be on-site. Please note: The coordinator has weekends off from time-to-time.

      Weekend taxi fares and other costs associated with activities outside of the programme are at your own cost. Most of our volunteers make the most of this by choosing a different activity every weekend. Please note: Some activities are available depending on how many people in the group want to participate in the activity.

    • What are normal working hours?

      Working hours are generally Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with an hour or two taken for lunch. (Please note: Working hours depend on the weather and activities.) Evenings and weekends are spent at your leisure.

    • What if I miss the transportation to or from the airport?

      Upon arrival: If you can’t find a flight that lands before 2:30 p.m. on a Monday, you will need to arrange for overnight accommodation in Port Elizabeth. The project will arrange for your pick-up Tuesday morning at your accommodation. Make sure to inform us ahead of time so that we can arrange for your transfer.
      Please inform the project of any flight delays as soon as possible so the driver can be informed. Contact information will be provided in your predeparture PDF.

      Upon departure: f you book a flight that departs before 12 p.m., you will need to take transportation from Kariega on the day before your flight. This means you will spend an evening in Port Elizabeth.

  • Reviews

    “I actually have no idea how to say what an amazing experience these past 5 weeks have been. Every day has been a new adventure and I have learnt something new. I’ve enjoyed all the animals, from dung beetles to elephants and all the work. Kariega feels like home now and I really don’t want to leave. Hopefully I will be back!”
    Emily Underhill, UK

    “There are no words to describe my time on Kariega. I didn’t know what to expect and now anything I could have expected as still not enough. I had a great time here, met wonderful people, laughed and learned a lot and experience something that happens once in a lifetime. I won’t forget a minute of my experience here. There is no project with a better coordinator and Jarrett makes this programme as special as it is. Thanks for this experience, seeing all the animals and having me here.”
     Judith Sielski, Germany

    “They told me I’d fall in love with Africa and I did. This continent is so magic, full of music, good food, beautiful animals and incredible people. I’ll come back as soon as I can, ready for another adventure full of adrenaline. I loved being woken up by the monkeys running on our volunteer house roof. And I loved that we didn’t know what we were going to do the next day, it was all so thrilling! Thank you for making this possible for me”
    Virginia Rossi, Switzerland

    “Thank you, thank you, thank you for making this the most incredible experience for us. We knew we were coming to a game reserve in South Africa, but we did not know that the experience would be this inspiring. Our volunteer coordinator shared all his knowledge with us and we have learnt so much. All those night and dawn drives were simply magical. We found that the programme had a perfect balance between adventuring in the jeep, digging up plants, going to the soup kitchen, socializing and relaxing and so many more activities. Our coordinator made every volunteer feel special and so included. See you again in the future!” 
    - Alice and Sophie Moniz, Bermuda

    “Thank you for this awesome time here. I can’t express how much I enjoyed it, but I can say for sure that coming here was the best decision I made in my life. I have met so many great people, learned an awful lot about wildlife, conservation but also about me. It was an honour and such a pleasure to work alongside Jarrett, the volunteer coordinator. Thank you for a great project.” 
    - Melissa Spaar, Switzerland

    “Words cannot express my gratitude for this 3rd stay at beautiful Kariega. The joy of being here again can only be equaled by the joy I saw in the eyes of the people who trusted me when I said this would be an unforgettable experience. I know for me Africa has changed my life. So much pure beauty, a place dreams are made of. Thank you for showing us some of the many facets of this place that feels like home. Every time has been a new adventure, a new beginning and even if the weather wasn’t so kind this year, I think we all realized that a bit of rain could do nothing to spoil our fun. We will be back!” 
    Laura Valentine, France

    “I will never forget my time as a volunteer on Kariega Game Reserve. Not only have the experiences on and off the reserve been some of the best I’ve ever had, but also the people I have met, and the beauty of South Africa have meant I’ve had the time of my life! I have fallen in love with this country and if I could, I would never leave this reserve. I have been so fortunate to partake in rhino dehorning as well as darting lions. My last memory on the reserve is spending hours looking for elephants, only to find them right at our volunteer house. Above everything else, the volunteer coordinator made my time here so special. He puts all of his energy into ensuring everyone learns so much about nature and themselves. We were taught so much – from star constellations to animal and plant facts. My time here has passed way too quickly.”
     Anastasia Cooke, UK

    “This experience has been life changing and incredible. Working on Kariega Game Reserve has been such an eye opener and so fantastic. I’ve learnt so much and it’s been so different from my day-to-day life at home. The people here have been outstanding, and I’ve had the best time with them. Leaving this place will be one of my saddest moments. I love what Kariega Game Reserve is doing here to look after the animals. I will miss Kariega and South Africa immensely.”
    Megan Wilkinson, UK

    “Well this is our second time at the Kariega volunteer programme. I can’t believe our time here is already over again! We celebrated our first wedding anniversary here. The last month has been amazing with so many memories that I will cherish and remember forever. I am not going to list these things we did as there are too many. My advice to future volunteers is to embrace every moment here. Kariega has opened my eyes and made me appreciate the smaller things in life. Nature is amazing and we all need to protect it more. Frances, our coordinator is so kind and funny. Thanks for everything!”
    Paul and Mega Troughton, UK

    “My seven weeks at Kariega Game Reserve were too short. Kariega is an absolutely stunning and unforgettable game reserve. I can’t believe my time here is over. I learnt so much about all the animals, birds, plants and even about myself and life … you’ll find more here than you could ever expect in your wildest dreams. My highlights include having breakfast with the elephants, hippo sightings, hearing lions roar whilst sitting under the most amazing night sky ever, jumping out of a plane, climbing a mountain … the list is long. Frances thank you so much for everything you did – your knowledge, patience and organizational skills and always being up for a laugh.”
    Lisa Thoma, Germany, 

  • Dates & Prices

    Dates: The programme starts and ends every Monday. Please contact us for prices and availability.

    Number of participants: Max 10




Why you'll love it

  • You will get an amazing “behind the scenes” experience at the beautiful 10,000 ha. Big Five game reserve

  • Before you start with a practical task, you will be trained in the theoretical background on the subject in the form of informal lectures

  • The project is very involved in community development and you will get the opportunity to assist at the local farm school once a week

  • There is a maximum of 10 other volunteers, which makes the programme very personalised

  • Kariega has excellent facilities and the helpful staff will take great care of you

  • You will get to monitor rhinos, elephants and predators in a beautiful environment

  • Kariega is situated at the beautiful Garden Route, close to the ocean and offers lots of activities in the weekends


We work with volunteer projects that offer meaningful learning experiences and the space to experience the remarkable wildlife you’ll be supporting. Most projects only take between 10 and 20 volunteers, so the earlier we start planning your trip, the better. The best time to start making arrangements is six to eight months before your planned departure date – especially if you want to volunteer during peak seasons, including around school holidays.

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