Duration & Fees
Please note: The currency conversion is an estimate based on today's exchange rates and is to be used as a guide only. All payments to Amanzi Travel have to be made in Pounds Sterling (GBP)
Volunteers can join his project on alternate Mondays throughout the year.
2017 Start Dates:
22 May | 5 Jun | 19 Jun | 3 Jul | 17 Jul | 31 Jul | 14 Aug | 28 Aug | 11 Sep | 25 Sep | 9 Oct | 23 Oct | 6 Nov | 20 Nov | 4 Dec | 18 Dec
2018 Start Dates:
8 Jan | 15 Jan | 29 Jan | 12 Feb | 26 Feb | 12 Mar | 26 Mar | 9 Apr | 23 Apr | 7 May | 21 May | 4 Jun | 18 Jun | 2 Jul | 16 Jul | 30 Jul | 13 Aug | 27 Aug | 10 Sep | 24 Sep | 8 Oct | 22 Oct | 5 Nov | 19 Nov | 3 Dec | 17 Dec | 31 Dec
This project remains open over the Festive Season.
£180 deposit at time of booking – balance of project fee due 12 weeks before departure
- A contribution that goes directly back into the project itself which facilitates funding for items such as food for the lions, management and maintenance of the park infrastructure and further developments to the lion breeding and rehabilitation programme
- Transfers to and from Victoria Falls Airport on arrival and departure
- Assistance in the projects and comprehensive orientation by various trained guides, ecologists and field staff during time at the project
- Accommodation including full board and lodging and 3 meals a day
- Unlimited tea, coffee and juice/water throughout the day
- Laundry and daily domestic service
What's not included
- Travel insurance (to include cover for repatriation)
- Personal items eg clothes, travel goods, curios and gifts
- Flights to Victoria Falls Airport
- Soft drinks, beer and snacks
- Visas and any trips undertaken other than in the planned programme
- Emails and telephone calls made during the placement (charged out at cost)
Lion Release Programme
Although as recently as 1975 more than 200,000 lions roamed the African continent, estimates from 2012 showed evidence of an 80 - 90% decline in the lion population in less than 40 years, putting the number of lions remaining at 32,000. The decline continues and some lion populations believed to have existed in 2002 have now been confirmed as extinct. The Lion Release Programme is a valuable project, which aims to restore lion populations within Eastern and Southern Africa through an initiative that will also provide social benefits to surrounding communities. The project was launched in 2004 and since then has made amazing progress and has recently expanded the rehabilitation programme and now has a total of three Lion Conservation projects which work hard to raise captive bred cubs that can be released into the wild. The Victoria Falls Lion Conservation Project operates the pre-release stage of the programme, which was launched in 2004 and the release programme has so far successfully released two prides into fenced-wild areas, and these prides are having wild-born cubs of their own - one in Zimbabwe and one in Zambia.
The Lion Release Programme:
Pre-Release Stage: Cubs are born to captive-bred mothers and remain in her care for the first three weeks of their life to take advantage of the more nutritious milk that mothers provide in the first days post-partum. The cubs are then removed so that they can bond to a human handler assigned to raise them so that they build enough confidence in their surrogate mother to follow them into the African Bush; a vital part of their pre-release training.
The mother of the cubs is captive and therefore does not have the skills that the cubs need to learn to survive when given the opportunity to fend for themselves. Many of the issues that people have regarding the ethics of breeding lions in captivity come from the images they see of people holding cubs and bottle feeding them in their arms, with no time to rest and take part in species specific behaviours necessary for their proper development. This is not permitted in any of the lion projects and the development of the cubs' natural instincts is priority.
In the pre-release stage handlers take the place of dominant members of the pride and train the cubs only to the point that they are safe to walk with. The lions are given every opportunity to build their confidence in their natural environment both during the day and at night. As their experience grows they start to take an interest in the wildlife they enounter on the walks, and by the age of eighteen months they are able to hunt small antelope. By two years old the lions are already seasoned hunters, and are given plenty of opportunity to practice their natural hunting skills
Release Stages: In these stages the lions are given the opportunity to develop a natural pride social system in a semi-wild enclosure of up to 10,000 acres. They have sufficient prey species to hunt and their progress is monitored closely by researchers, although all human contact and influence is removed. The programme has so far successfully released two prides into fenced-wild areas, and these prides are having wild-born cubs of their own.
The Wild: At this point the lions that have been born in the Release Stages can be released into the wild in natural social groups. The aim is to preserve the African lion by producing quality, disease-free gene pools, rebuilding the diminishing numbers of lions and introducing the offspring back into wild environments.
- Take the opportunity to join a ground-breaking and globally recognised lion conservation project
- Enjoy hands-on work and extremely close encounters with the young African lions
- Walk alongside the lions in the African bush and watch as the young cubs learn to stalk their prey
- Experience the African bush in a very special way spending time out in the Big 4 Masuwe concession
- Become involved in a number of conservation activities
- Enjoy African adventures on the mighty Zambezi River and the majestic Victoria Falls
- Join the conservation education team and go into the local schools - having the opportunity to help save the future of this wonderful environment by educating the local children
- Get immersed in local Zimbabwean culture
- Take the opportunity to see something of the area by joining optional excursions
- Make friends for life with other international volunteers at the project
Days will be long but very rewarding, and volunteers will know that they have made a difference to the animals and people with whom they have come in contact. The project is based on the outskirts of Victoria Falls town, Zimbabwe - just a stone's throw from the magnificent Falls themselves - at a private Big 4 game reserve, Masuwe. Volunteers iat Victoria Falls will be involved in all aspects of the day-to-day running of the conservation project, including lion walks and important research as well as general conservation activities.
Daily tasks may include:
Lion Conservation: Volunteers will spend part of each day with the lions in the wild. This is essential to the cubs' upbringing and if they are to be successfully released it is vital that they spend time in a natural environment, from where they will adapt, learn, understand, observe, feel and smell the wild. Since the inception of this programme a marked increase in the lions' awareness of their natural surroundings and an improvement in their bush skills have been noticed and these skills improve each day under the supervision of the trained guides and volunteers. Alongside these walks volunteers will be involved in the care of the animals. During the nights the lions sleep in enclosures and need to be fed and cleaned and occasionally in need of veterinary care to ensure they remain in good health. Volunteers will gain a deeper understanding of these wonderful beasts as they assist the researchers in gathering vital information that will ease the lions eventual release back into the wild.
Research: A number of research activities are conducted to improve man's understanding of lion behaviour and ecology. Lion walks offer unique opportunities to observe the lions close up in their natural environment and the data collected assists in making the best decisions for any animal's welfare and eventual release. Volunteers will assist the research technician to gather and analyse this important data and will receive training to ensure that they can provide valuable input to the programme, regardless of lack of previous experience. The research studies at any time will vary according to the needs of the project but may include looking at character traits, spoor sizes or mane growth. Full training is given to ensure that all volunteers are able to provide valuable input to the programme regardless of previous experience.
Work in the National Park: There is a huge amount of work necessary to keep a National Park ecosystem healthy, and the project has two parks right on its doorstep. Volunteers will work with the research team and National Park rangers on several conservation activities that may include some or all of the following, based on need at the time of placement:
- Assisting in the development of a new waterhole and renovation (this is dependent on funding)
- At Masuwe concession: carrying out snare sweeps to remove wires set illegally by poachers trying to catch the animals in the Park
- Work with the local communities to mitigate lion/human conflict
- Victoria Falls Rain Forest: volunteers will be involved in the removal of Invasive Alien Plant spedcies as and when required by the Park Warden
Please Note: Research activities will be conducted on a case-by-case basis in collaboration with the National Parks team and their needs at the time, as well as seasonality and accessibility to the bush based on the time of year. Whilst every effort is made to accurately describe the conservation and research activities in which volunteers will be involved during their placement, it is essential to remain flexible and accommodating during time on the project and to understand that the team will always make every effort to maximise the involvement of volunteers in these activities.
Conservation Education: Volunteers are often involved in elements of community development, where they help youth to learn about wildlife, animal habits and why it is so important to preserve the environment.
A day in the life of a volunteer
Every day is different, but as animals rarely operate to schedule, volunteers are asked to remain flexible. However, this is an example of a typical day with the lions to be used as a guideline only
||Volunteers will be collected by their project manager and driven out to the project base at Masuwe Lodge within the Zambezi National Park. This is about a 15 - 20 minute drive.
|6.45 am - 9.00 am
||Meet the guide and clients and join them for a lion walk, taking cubs from 4 - 18 months out into the bush - perhaps capturing data as the cubs practice their hunting skills.
|10.00 am- 12.30 pm
||One group may head off to nearby Chamabondo School to begin the day's conservation education classes - perhaps with up 60 children in a class! Good fun. The other group may be involved in enclosure cleaning, feeding the cubs or driving into the National Park to conduct a game census.
||Break for lunch and some free time to prepare for afternoon activities.
|3.20 - 6.00 pm
||Take the cubs out into the bush again for their afternoon walks.
||Briefing by the project manager regarding the following day's activities.
||Dinner. On some nights volunteers may head off into Victoria Falls town to experience the local night life. There may be the opportunity to join the research volunteers for a BBQ in the National Park.
Please note: That there may be clients joining volunteers on the lion walks and times may vary due to season.
Volunteers will be accommodated at Tokki Lodge, a comfortable and safe house with a garden, pool, indoor and outdoor living area, wifi, a bar and shared bathroom facilities. Situated close to the centre of Victoria Falls with 9 bedrooms sleeping between 2 and 4 volunteers each.
Breakfasts will be served at the Masuwe Concession - where the lions are based. Dinner will be served at the end of the day in the spacious dining area with restaurant and bar.
Zimbabwe - From Mana Pools National Park to Victoria Falls
Why visit Zimbabwe?
The beautiful country of Zimbabwe offers something for everyone; from the absolute wilderness of Mana Pools National Park, the ruins of Great Zimbabwe and the mountains overlooking Mozambique, to fine dining in Harare or bunjee jumping over Victoria Falls. It is rich in culture and colour and the Zimbabweans have not lost their humour and resolve.
Victoria Falls is one of the worlds’ biggest and most spectacular waterfalls, with a network of trails leading through the rain forest surrounding the “smoke that thunders”. Take an umbrella and raincoat and gaze at the incredible vistas of one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Victoria Falls village is home to a seemingly endless variety of adventure sports from bungee jumping to canoeing and white-water rafting. Apart from its appeal to adventure enthusiasts the village still has a gracious, pioneering and colonial atmosphere.
Hwange Park is one of the finest conservation areas in Africa and is said to contain the widest variety and greatest density of wildlife in the world. Game viewing is generally restricted to the Hwange Park road network, but it has private concession areas allowing off-road safaris and nature walks. Mana Pools is an unspoiled, remote Park in the Zambezi Valley, a subtropical region, with the terrain and vegetation varied from the river up to the Zambezi Plateau. Walking is allowed (at visitor's own risk) and can be exhilarating and rewarding, if caution is taken.
Lake Kariba is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world, with abundant game-sightings and excellent angling for bream and tiger fish. The Lake provides pleasure to locals and visitors alike with fishing, canoeing, sailing or drifting along on a houseboat. The Matopo Hills is an area of incredible beauty with a mythical history and a proud people, the Matebele. The Matobo Hills were so named because they looked like the bald heads of indunas (chiefs). The entire region is a complex of bizarre and exposed granitic formations. Once inhabited by the bushman, today one can find magnificent examples of rock art in and amongst the caves. The Matobo National Park is one of Zimbabwe's prime wildlife sanctuaries with a large population of white rhino, the elusive black rhino, a variety of antelope species, baboon, rock hyraxes and a large population of leopard and black eagle.
Highlights of Zimbabwe
- The magnificent Victoria Falls are classed as one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World.
- Zimbabwe is home to four World Heritage Sites - Victoria Falls, Mana Pools National Park, the Great Zimbabwe Ruins and the Khame Ruins.
- Lake Kariba is one of the world's largest man-made lakes, with abundant game and excellent angling for bream and tiger fish.
- Magnificent national parks include Hwange, Mana Pools, Matusadona and Chizarira.
- Adventure activities abound and include canoeing on the lower Zambezi, kayaking and rafting on the upper Zambezi, and bungee jumping at Victoria Falls.
- For high adventure enthusiasts, white-water rafting is most exciting when the Zambezi waters are low (generally from August to December) and is often referred to as the best one-day white-water rafting in the world.
- Canoeing down the Lower Zambezi affords an ideal opportunity to get close to Africa's wildlife.
- Magnificent scenic areas in the Eastern Highlands Highlights of Zimbabwe.
|Seasons ||Max ||Min
|Summer/wet (November - April)
|Winter/dry ( May - October)
|Rainfall: November – March
Zimbabwe offers excellent game-viewing opportunities throughout the year. Due to Zimbabwe’s high altitudes, it has a beautiful and moderate climate, where temperatures are never very extreme. It has warm summers, November to April, where days are generally sunny in the morning with possible dramatic afternoon/evening thunderstorms. Temperatures of 35°C in summer are considered boiling.
Winter occurs from May to October and days are sunny and cool to warm while evening temperatures drop sharply. Temperatures of 7°C in winter are considered freezing. The end of the cool, dry season, around September/October, is the top time for wildlife viewing.
The main rains fall between November and March, although the Eastern Highlands are damp for most of the year. The Victoria Falls are spectacular in April and May after the rainy season.
Population – 12.5 million
Capital - Harare
Currency – none. The Zimbabwean dollar was suspended by the government due to hyper-inflation. The US dollar, South African rand, Botswanan pula, pound sterling and Euro are used instead. The US dollar has been adopted as the official currency for all government transactions with the new power-sharing regime.
Language – English is the official language, with Shona and Ndebele being recognised regional languages
Time difference – GMT +2 hours
Telephone – country code 263, international access code 00
I truly had an incredible experience from start to finish. This project was a perfect balance of both volunteering and vacation. I met wonderful people from across the world who I was able to bond with almost instantly, and truly felt that our work was making a difference for both the wildlife and community. Amanzi Travel made me feel confident in my excursion alone from the beginning stages of choosing a project all the way until the day before leaving. If you're on the fence about making the trip of a lifetime or choosing AmanziTravel, do it!!!! It will be everything you hope for and more. Thank you Amanzi Travel! Looking forward to choosing another trip with them in the future.
Kathleen, USA aged 24 (Victoria Falls Lion Conservation Project)
Writing this made me feel so nostalgic - was such a great experience, I cannot thank you girls enough for all your help.
I developed a great relationship with Pat prior to departure as she was incredibly helpful helping me decide on the project I wanted to go on. She also went above and beyond to ensure that I was comfortable with the departure information and answered all my questions
Well, I can honestly say that I had the best experience of my life at the Vic Falls Lion project. It was my 30th birthday and I wanted to do something completely different - think I achieved that!! Pat & Gemma made the booking and everything up to departure such a smooth and easy process. I was never worried about travelling alone as I knew I would meet people there and I have made some great friends (volunteers as well as staff).
You immediately feel welcomed and if you have any issues, there is always someone willing to help.
My time at the project and Vic Falls was amazing, I went in with an open mind and joined in as many of the additional tours and excursions that I could, which was great! The lions were a joy to work with and be around, so much so that I miss them so much - it is amazing how close you get to these animals after just a few weeks. I feel that I contributed to getting the lions to stage 1B of the programme. The guys made my actual birthday day memorable by going to Sunset Lodge and Boma restaurant and I would like to say thanks to all who were involved I really appreciate it.
Vic Falls is an amazing location as well, from the actual Falls to the bungee jump brige - in your spare time you will have plenty to see and do!!
What I would like to say to end this with, is if you go to these projects, go with an open mind, it will not be five star accomodation or food, but it will be the best experience that you ever invest in! Book today, you will not regret it
Chanelle, UK aged 30 (Victoria Falls Lion Conservation Project)
The trip was absolutely incredible and Africa has most definitely made it's mark on my heart. All I have left to say is thank you very much for all your work in making our trip one of our best ever holidays.
I cannot fault the project and the people who are a part of it. It was a special experience and will be remembered for many years to come. My time was spent in such close proximity with lions that it felt almost surreal. They are animals of such beauty and grace, yet they progress towards such a bleak and uncertain future. The project offers a hands on experience, and one is an active part of lion conservation in Zimbabwe. Seeing the development of the lions and the subsequent positive impact of my involvement was a heartwarming feeling. Nowhere else in the world will anyone find such a real and unique experience working with one of the most admired and feared animals in the world; my time at the project was phenomenal.
George, UK, aged 17 (Victoria Falls Lion Conservation Project)
I was extremly impressed with how helpful and quickly all of my questions were answered and also the quailty of information i was given before my trip. Also, i loved the website and how easy it was to navigate yourself around, but also with the wide range of projects it was also able to offer me, allowing me to make sure i definitely picked the trip that suited me most.
The project was better then i ever expected it to be and when i arrived in Victoria Falls everyone was so friendly and welcoming so i settled in immeditatley.
I think that it was extremly valuable because i definatley feel like i had an big impact on the lions and getting them to stage 2 of the lion encounter project. I also like i was able to help the community by visitng the orpganage and also by seeing their smiles when we came to visit them.
Going on this volunteer project was the best decision of my life. I had the most amazing time and I came away from the project feeling like I have really made a difference to the people and lions I was working with. The whole experience seemed surreal to be able to be so close to lions and interacting with them, but this is certaintly something that I will never forget. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming and make you feel right at home. I have been able to take away so much from my trip and learnt my valuable life lessons, and I certaintly plan on booking some more in the future.
Lydia, UK, aged 18 (Victoria Falls Lion Conservation Project)
I had an awesome time in Zimbabwe on both the Amanzi Travel volunteer projects. Both experiences gave me some time to reflect and to savour doing something completely new and exciting. The two projects were very different but both were enormously valuable. I loved working with the lions, it was particularly rewarding to take cubs for walks and watch them discover the bush. It was also extrememly encouraging to see captive bred lions living successfully. Not all the volunteer duties are glamourous so be prepared to get your hands dirty, but if you have ever considered volunteering then my advice would be 'Go for it'!
Liz, UK, aged 56 (Victoria Falls Lion Conservation Project, Lion Conservation Volunteer)
Undertaking this project was undoubtedly the best experience of my life. Not only did I get to work with these incredible lions but I got to explore this beautiful region of Africa and met some amazing people who will remain life long friends. I would recommend it to anyone. I can't wait to go back!
Judi, UK, aged 33 (Victoria Falls Lion Conservation Project)
Going on this project is the best thing I have done in my life, it has opened my eyes in so many ways and feel I have come back with a much more positive attitude. AT were excellent agents to go through they answered all my questions and were very friendly and helpful. Zimbabwe is such an axazing country and my 4 weeks were well spent although I wish they could have lasted a little longer. All of the people at the lodge I was staying and all the guides at the lion rehabilitation centre were fabulous. I could not have asked for better people to have guided me on my journey. They were all incredible! I am so glad I took the courage to go on this trip and I hope I return.
Kerry, UK, aged 18 (Victoria Falls Lion Conservation Project)
An amazing life changing experience mainly due to the dedicated and friendly staff. The other volunteers really made me welcome and from day one welcomed me into their team, even though I was 40 years older – interacting with the lions, walking with them in the bush and learning about their behaviour and feeding them was unforgettable. All activities were varied and interesting as well as being well organised. Accommodation was good. Food very average but considering the economic situation in Zimbabwe it was varied and substantial. Staff were friendly as well as knowledgeable and dedicated to the project. All pre-departure information was handled professionally and promptly.
Maureen, UK, aged 64 (Victoria Falls Lion Conservation Project)
The Vic Falls project was an incredible experience. The time I spent in Zimbabwe was like nothing I have ever faced before. I will never forget the experience and will always appreciate everything I learned. The country is beautiful, the people are caring and giving, the staff were knowledgeable and informed, and the program was the experience of a lifetime. The hard part was leaving!
Brenna, Canada, aged 24 (Victoria Falls Lion Conservation Project)