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 this project on any Monday throughout the year. This project is open year round.
£180 deposit at time of booking – balance of project fee due 12 weeks before departure
- Financing that goes directly back into the project to fund items such as food for lions, management of park infrastructure, and further development of the lion breeding and rehabilitation programme
- All transfers to and from Livingstone Airport on arrival and departure
- Assistance in the projects from trained guides, ecologists and field staff as required
- Full board and lodging including three meals a day
- Unlimited tea, coffee and water/juice
- Laundry service
- Daily room cleaning service
What's not included
- Flights to Livingstone International Airport
- Items of a personal nature, gifts or clothing
- Visa fees
- Soft drinks, beer and snacks
- Email and telephone calls (charged at cost)
- Any excursions over and above the planned itinerary
- Personal insurance which should include cover for repatriation
With lion populations estimated to have declined by between 80 - 90% since 1975, new approaches to lion conservation are necessry to ensure their long term survival. This project has established an approach to lion conservation that incorporates the needs of the lions, the ecosystems on which they rely, and the communities that surround them. By using African solutions to African challenges and by working with communities as an integral part of conservation, it is hoped to inspire the local population to protect and support the wildlife that surrounds them.
Volunteers will be involved in all aspects of the day-to-day running of this project including important research and general conservation activities. However, volunteers also have the opportunity to specialise and could spend up to 70% of their time focusing on related activities.
- Work on a ground-breaking and globally recognised lion conservation project
- Work with some of the community education and empowerment programmes and learn more about the Zambian people
- Experience the African Bush in a very special way in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park and become involved in many conservation activities
- Enjoy the many adventure options available at Victoria Falls - the adventure capital of the world - or on the mighty Zambezi River; or join optional trips to see the wide range of wildlife in Botswana and Zimbabwe including visits to the Hwange or Chobe National Parks.
- Make friends for life with other international volunteers on the programme
The 3 Stage Release Programme
The aim of this programme, which will also provide social benefits to local communities, is to create a sustainable source of lions that can be re-introduced into suitable habitats.
Cubs are born to captive mothers and spend the first weeks of their lives taking advantage of the nutritious milk that the lionesses produce. Unfortunately the mothers do not have the skills needed to survive in the wild and cubs, after being born in the breeding sites, are removed from their mothers after a period of initial care - and their handlers then take the place of the dominant members of their pride and train them to the point where they are safe to walk with. The cubs have opportunities to gain confidence in their natural environment both during the day and at night. As they become more experienced they begin to take an interest in the wildlife that they encounter on their walks, and by the time they are 18 months of age they are able to hunt small antelope.
In the release stages the lions move to a 10,000 acre enclosure where they have the opportunity to develop a natural pride social system. There is plenty of wildlife to hunt and their progress is closely monitored, although all human contact is removed. They remain in stage 2 until the pride is stable and the programme has so far successfully released two prides into fenced-wild areas and these prides are now having wild-born cubs of their own.
This is when lions that have been born in the Release Stages can be released into the wild in natural social groups
This three-stage programme will, it is hoped, preserve the African Lion by producing quality gene pools, rebuilding the diminishing numbers of lions and introducing the offspring back into the wild. So far the Dambwa Pride were released into a 700 acre natural area in 2010, where they have flourished and given birth to cubs. These young lions, which have had no human contact at all, will be released into the wild at an appropriate age.
Life as a Volunteer
Volunteers may be involved in the following activities:
- Contributing to research data collection about the release pride. The research is wide-ranging but broadly seeks to evaluate whether the captive born pride is functioning as a wild-born pride does, and whether the cubs are developing akin to their wild counterparts. Volunteers will help to collect data on a variety of social, territorial and hunting behaviours of the pride, and from this they will gain a unique perspective of the inner workings of a lion pride, and watch the cubs develop, ready for a life in the wild.
- Care for the captive founder breeding group of lions, and those lions awaiting release, that all need constant care. This may involve:
- Behaviour Enrichment - keeping the lions happy and nothing makes the lions happier than toys (or food! However lions are prone to demolish, chew and often swallow most things they get their paws on so it is necessary to use imagination a little and make toys out of natural materials. Think ice blocks made of blood, bunches of feathers hanging from trees, balls of elephant dung and apple bobbing! This is a chance for volunteers to use their imagination - and have fun at the same time.
- Enclosure Cleaning - Lions are not the cleanest of animals, so to ensure they remain healthy, it is important that their environment is well maintained, So with the lions looking on - we shovel ...
- Meat Prep - Unfortunately until the lions learn how to use a knife and fork, their meat has to be chopped into appropriate sizes for them.
Optional Add-On: The lion release programme starts with young cubs being taken out into their natural environment on walks so that they can develop the skills necessary to survive on their own. This is the process that the very successful Dambwa pride undertook before their release. Volunteers have the option of joining the lion walk programme as part of their time on this project. The lion walk programme is operated a few kilometres away in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Volunteers can visit the project site to walk the lions as a day visit during their stay in Zambia, or join for a week or more before, during or after their placement.
Volunteers will assist with research as follows:
- Assist in a monitoring programme for a seasonal population (April - October) of elephants, with a focus on their impact on the ecosystem and conflict with rural communities;
- Collect and identify a vast array of insects to catalogue the entomological diversity in the area; the foundation of a functioning ecosystem;
- Help the carbon dynamic monitoring programme that is assessing the health of the Dambwa Forest, the local of the conservancy;
- Record bird sightings to contribute to the Southern Africa Bird Atlas and collect data on vulture populations for a BirdLife Zambia study;
- Assist in biological surveys and vegetation mapping;
- Collect data on ecosystem use by transient lion, hyena and African wild dogs**;
- Contribute to surveys of small mammal populations.
Research programmes are operated in partnership with the Zambia Wildlife Authority, Zambia Forestry Department, and Coventy, Edinburgh, Western Kentucky and Copperbelt Universities. Many research programmes are necessary seasonal and volunteers will be advised as to which they will be assisting with on arrival at the project.
** The presence of these large carnivores in the area is infrequent and cannot be predicted. Volunteers should note that sightings of these predators is rare, and research relies on indications of the animals' presence (eg tracks and signs) rather than direct observations.
Managing land is often physical. Volunteers could be undertaking snare sweeps as part of anti-poaching patrols, repairing access roads, removing invasive plant species or clearing areas for fence lines for a new release site. Volunteers will also assist in a reforestation effort that includes caring for trees in the custom-built nursery, and transplanting them back into the Dambwa Forest.
Teaching and School Development
The rural schools serving the local communities are severely lacking in resources. As part of the responsible development approach volunteers will assist in these schools in a number of important ways:
- Helping to upgrade school facilities through refurbishment or building projects to provide a better learning environment;
- Assisting the teaching staff in lesson planning, producing teaching aids and providing pupils with more individual attention during lessons;
- Preparing and giving lessons themselves in a variety of subjects to those eager children - of all ages - from pre-schoolers to school-leaving age.
In addition to supporting daily basic education, a variety of courses is undertaken within communities to support classroom teachingh, all of which are intended to uplifty these poor, rural communities and give them greater opportunities in life. Volunteers will be involved in preparing and leading each of these programmes including:
- conservation education
- literacy courses at the Book Club
- numeracy courses
- health and nutrition programmes
- basic life skills courses
These courses have been created with the assistance of Coventry and Copperbelt Universities, John Taylor High School, AXIS Education, TESSA and Happy Readers. Volunteers will receive training in the use of all educational materials as part of their induction to the project.
Project Orientation and Support
On arrival at the project volunteers will receive a comprehensive orientation which will include information that will help them to integrate quickly into the project, and introduction to the senior project staff and heads of department, familiarisation with work areas and work duties including rivers, internal roads and tracks and some wildlife species and a briefly on how to complete data capture forms and further information on the lion breeding programme and the ultimate objective of the free release of lions into the wild.
Throughout their time at the project volunteers will have the support and guidance of experienced field workers and co-ordinators who will provide 24 hour field support and assistance. Amanzi Travel will also provide a full support service should it be required.
The accommodation is ten newly-built volunteer rooms, each for two people, a common lounnge room and a recreational area with toilet and shower facilities attached. Set on a private section of a two hectare property, there is plent of space for ball games and other outdoor activities.
The accommodation is located just 7 km from Victoria Falls, 3 km from the town centre and 1 km from the Zambezi River. It provides a great base to take advantage of all the activities Livingstone has to offer. It neighbours the Mosi-au-Tunya National Park and the Dwamba Forest and the Lion Rehabilitation project base is 20 km by road to the north of Livingstone Town.
Meals will be prepared and eaten at the "Serenity" restaurant located on the property, Packed lunches and breakfasts will be provided depending on activities.
Zambia - Take A Working Holiday & Support Local Communities
Why visit Zambia?
For anyone out to experience the ‘real’ Africa, Zambia is that diamond in the rough. The country boasts some of Africa’s best game parks and shares (with Zimbabwe) some of the region’s major highlights, such as Victoria Falls, Lake Kariba, Lower Zambezi National Park and South Luangwa National Park. South Luangwa National Park is one of the best parks in Africa for night game-drives. More than 60 mammal species and over 400 bird species are found in this Park, which is also renowned for thousands of hippo and crocodiles. Luangwa is the birthplace of the Walking Safari and there is no better way to explore this wilderness. Featuring leafy woodlands, slow-moving river channels and lily-bedecked lagoons, South Luangwa is renowned for the expertise of its guides. It is also excellent for spotting leopards and is home to about 15,000 elephants and the same number of hippo. The Thornicroft's giraffe and Cookson's wildebeest are unique to the region.
The mighty Zambezi River is tamed by the Lower Zambezi valley, becoming gentle as it spreads languidly across the Valley. Islands and floodplains create a densely vegetated habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, elephant in particular. This area is seasonal and many of the lodges and camps are closed from November to March. It is also an angler’s dream as fishermen try their luck on the mighty Zambezi, with the hopes of landing a tiger fish or rare, giant vundu. Avid birdwatchers also flock to Zambia to glimpse its fabulous diversity of birds.
Game viewing along the upper Zambezi River by canoe or cruise boat is rewarding and relaxing. Adrenaline junkies may want to experience the spectacular view while bouncing upside down from the end of a bungee cord off the Victoria Falls Bridge. Intrepid travellers will also be attracted by the white-water rafting excursions on the swirling waters of the Zambezi Gorge. Helicopter or micro-light trips over the Falls, game-drives in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, horse trails along the Zambezi River and a visit to Maramba Market are also available. Most activities are accessible from the quaint colonial outback frontier town of Livingstone.
Highlights of Zambia
- Renowned for its pristine National Parks, including Kafue, South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi.
- It is named after the mighty Zambezi River flowing along its southern border, which is fed by the Kafue and Luangwa tributaries.
- Victoria Falls and the Zambezi River are accessible from nearby Livingstone Town.
- Livingstone is home to numerous activities for adventure seekers, including bungee jumping, white-water rafting and abseiling down the gorge.
- It boasts one of the largest areas of land under the protection of national parks in Africa, featuring abundant wildlife.
- Canoeing, rafting and fishing safaris, upstream from the Falls on the Zambezi River, are possible, as are canoeing trips on the Lower Zambezi.
- Kafue National Park is about the size of Wales or Massachusetts, with exceptional bird watching.
- The country, shaped by three great rivers, is characterised by water, including a trio of massive lakes - Lake Tanganyika, Lake Kariba and Lake Bangweulu.
|Seasons ||Max ||Min
|Summer (November - April)
|Winter (May - October)
|Rainfall: April - May (Long rains) November - Mid December (short rains)
Zambia's elevation on a plateau gives it a moderate climate, despite the fact that it is within tropical latitudes, and the average monthly temperature remains above 20 °C most months.
There are three seasons:
- cool and dry from May to August, when temperatures drop at night but the landscape is green and lush;
- hot and dry from September to November, the best time to see wildlife as flora is sparse;
- warm and wet from December to April, ideal for bird-watching.
The Victoria Falls are spectacular in April and May after the rainy season.
Population – 12.9 million
Capital - Lusaka
Currency – Zambian kwacha (ZMK)
Language – English is the official language, with Nyanja, Bemba, Lunda, Tonga, Lozi, Luvale and Kaonde being recognised regional languages.
Time difference – GMT +2 hours
Telephone – country code 260, international access code 00
I booked my two week Zambia Lion Encounter volunteer vacation through Amanzi Travel and I would book another vacation through them in a heart beat! Throughout the entire process the staff at Amanzi, especially Gemma and Ingrid, who were both amazingly helpful. I am afraid because of my circumstances I was the "problem traveler" but you never would have know it because of their patience, and even working on weekends to make sure I got to my vacation!
I have wanted to go to Africa and work with lions since I read Living Free by Joy Adamson when I was eight years old and Amanzi Travel helped make that dream come true. For two weeks I got to work with lions every day. I was also able to enjoy white water rafting on the Zambezi River, Zip lining at Victoria Falls and a day safari at Chobe National Park in Botswana! The whole trip was a dream come true and the next time I need help fulfilling a dream I will call Amanzi Travel first thing!
Thank you for a wonderful vacation!
Jennifer, USA (Zambia Lion Conservation Volunteer)
Words cannot express how much I loved my 2 weeks in Zambia! Walking with lions each day, brilliant deep blue skies, smiles and laughter and a fantastic group of volunteers and staff. I didn't want to come home!
Julie, UK aged 53 (Zambia Lion Conservation Volunteer)
Had a fantastic time in Africa. Thank you for all your hard work in organising my adventure. It has certainly been a trip of a lifetime and a life changing experience. Will look through my many photos and send some in the near future.
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A trip to volunteer in Africa should be on everones to do list. It is an extremely rewarding and fullfilling experience. Amanzi Travel took the time to ensure that I was placed in the right projects to suit my needs and requirements. You need to approach volunteering with an open mind but the more you put into a project the more you get out off it. i was well looked after on all my projects from the pick up at the airports right through to the end. Everyone was extremely friendly. The only down side was having to leave Africa. i certainly did not want to come home. Volunteering in Africa has certainly been a life changing experince and one I would recommend to anyone.
Alexandra, UK, aged 36 (Zambia Lion Conservation Volunteer, Naankuse Teaching and Wildlife Volunteer, Zambia Teaching Volunteer, Askari Wildlife Conservation Volunteer)
Thanks for such an amazing trip! I was assisted by Pat Hinton. She is so friendly and helpful and made me really enjoy the contact I had with Amanzi Travel.
The staff on the project are great, they really get to know the volunteers and make them feel very welcome. The rooms are great too, though you never know what different bugs and spiders will be waiting in there for you! The activities were so enjoyable, some of the jobs made us feel that we worked really hard which is rewarding because it was all for the lions.
This project has excellent aims. It may take a while to release lions but they are well on their way, lions they release will be completely wild and will have had no contact with humans. They have a good chance of saving lion populations. The volunteers are there to feed the lions and walk them. When the lions are walking in the bush they are feeling what it's like to be wild. I feel that this is just as important as releasing wild lions as it nourishes the captive bred and gives them a great life as well as giving the volunteers an unforgettable experience.
I had an absolutely brilliant experience. Every day brought a new surprise but that's part of the fun! The lions are amazing creatures, stroking and being licked by a lion is something i will never forget. Within a few days we all knew their personalities and which one was better to stroke. It was surreal, but one of the best experiences I've ever had. They are such relaxed and lovable animals, I would definitely go back to this project.
Leela, Ireland, aged 20 (Zambia Lion Conservation Volunteer)
Just to let you know, James & Charlotte have returned safely from their 2 week trip to the Livingstone and they have had an absolutely amazing time. They have both fully enjoyed the experience and it was far more hands-on with the lions than they could have imagined. At no point did they feel un-safe. They fully immersed themselves in as many of the tasks and activities that they could do including a full day white water rafting down the Zambezi and jumping into Devil’s Pool at the edge of the Victoria Falls. James would like to return next year but Charlotte is already committed to go to Malawi for 3 weeks with her school. They have made some great friends and are keeping in touch the staff in Livingstone.
Best wishes and I hope to organise future experiences through Amanzi.
Jackie, mother of James and Charlotte, UK, aged 17 and 21 (Zambia Lion Conservation Volunteer)
'This was the most amazing experience ever! I walked lions in Zambia and I cannot wait to go back an do it all again. I cant even describe how totally awe inspiring it was. Even enclosure cleaning and meat prep could not put me off - in fact you even get to enjoy it! It is a humbling experience especially after talking with the project manager as you realise the extent of what the project is trying to achieve. It really gives you a new perspective and I have come back wondering what I can do now to help.
From the start of the process at initial enquiry right through to the last minute vaccination updates Amanzi were totally awesome. They answered all questions quickly and were so friendly and helpful.
I will definately be using them again and would tell everyone to give them a go - even if lions aren't your thing they have loads of other volunteer programmes you can choose from.'
Lesley, UK, aged 34 (Zambia Lion Conservation Volunteer)
I had a great time! With the animals and with the people. I would definitely recommend it, because it's such an experience to be 4 weeks in a complete different world. It's also nice that you know you can help the programme as much as you can.
Lars, Germany, aged 36 (Zambia Lion Conservation Volunteer)
I wanted to say thank you as I had the most amazing experience and will be definately be returning to the project as soon as I can. On that note - how far in advance can you book?
This was so much more than a holiday. It was the most fantastic time of my life and something which deeply affected me. This is certainly not the end of my association with the project as I am already planning to return and share my experiences with as many of my family and friends as I can...
The people and staff have been so welcoming and I will really miss the cubs.
Lesley,UK, aged 37 (Zambia Lion Conservation Volunteer)
Just letting you know we had the best time here! We happened to be here for the first lion release! Today five lions will be released into Stage 2 and there will be dignitaries, kings and many others for the celebration. We have been working hard and becoming lion walkers! Love it!
Debbie, USA, aged 58 (Zambia Lion Conservation Volunteer)
I had and amanzing experience with Amanzi Travel. Everything was so simple, they found flights for me at a good price, they picked me up and dropped me off on time. Any questions I had they were very helpful in every way they could be!. I would so recommend this company, it's very safe as safety always comes first with volunteers, pick them if you want to get the best out of your money for a life-changing experience .
My project in Zambia (Lion Rehabilitation ) was brilliant and the project co-ordinators went out of their way to ensure we had a brilliant time. It was an absolutely amazing experience and I would love to return in the future! All the staff involved were brilliant at organising activities and had a wealth of knowledge which they were all happy to share. I would truly recommend this experience to everyone . I really would have liked to stay more than 2 weeks!!
Sandra, Spain, aged 36 (Zambia Lion Conservation Volunteer, Chimpanzee and Wildlife Orphanage)
Congratulations on 4 years of a fantastic company!!! We only ever hear fantastic things from our volunteers through Amanzi Travel!! A massive well done.
Nicola, Project Manager (Zambia Lion Conservation Volunteer)
We believe that the project could succeed in releasing lions into the wild. Management and staff are very committed to their work and have a real passion for lions.
Marie-Helene & Guillaume, UK, aged 33 (Zambia Lion Conservation Volunteer)
Working so closely with the lions and the Zambian people on a daily basis was a fantastic experience and can only be described as life enriching. I would recommend volunteering with these lions to anyone with a passion for animals, it's an experience I'll talk about for years to come. Amanzi Travel made the process simple, and in my view, could not have been more helpful.
Adelle, New Zealand, aged 38 (Zambia Lion Conservation Volunteer)
I had an incredible time, all the staff were excellent, the lions are amazing, the programme itself is remarkable and everything surrounding the last few weeks was fantastic. I just wish I could have stayed a lot longer! I also wanted to say a big thank you for helping me book the trip in the first place. Your knowledge and enthusiasm about the project really came across when we initially spoke. I'll be in touch when I am planning my next trip.
Michael, UK, aged 28 (Zambia Lion Conservation Volunteer)
Going to Africa and working with the wildlife there had long been a dream of mine, but it wasn’t till I retired from teaching that I was able to go. My three weeks spent in Zambia working with the lions was the best experience of my life so far. Being with the lions on a daily basis and getting so close to them was wonderful. All the people I met on the project, both staff, volunteers and locals were friendly and helpful and the fact that I was by far the oldest volunteer really didn’t matter. I was also able to visit Victoria Falls and Chobe National Part in Botswana, both places not to be missed. I just wished that I could have stayed longer, but I shall certainly return to Africa next year.
Gill, UK, aged 59 (Zambia Lion Conservation Volunteer)
Fantastic experience. Thanks for all you did. Having an 8 month old leopard rubbing his head against your face while you are loading him into a land rover, an orphaned baboon snuggling up to you for warmth at night and walking young lions along the edge of the Zambezi river are just a few of many highlights of my 3 months in Africa. Earning and obtaining the trust of these magnificent animals is a very special experience which for certain will live with me for the rest of my life. Africa is magnificent, as is the work and dedication of the people who run these projects. I would get on a plane back there tomorrow if I could.
Paul, UK, aged 48 (Zambia Lion Conservation Volunteer, Naankuse Wildlife Sanctuary)
I feel impressed with the guides and lion handlers and how dedicated everyone is with the work and the research, makes me proud to have been part of a worthwhile project. It’s good to look at life with a different perspective.
Mark, Wales, aged 32 (Zambia Lion Conservation Volunteer)
I feel this is an excellent program, both in helping with the lion re-population issue and the help given to the local community. I have gained a feeling of true self satisfaction in helping with the lion project and great esteem for the work in the local villages. It was awesome to see the smiles on the faces of the children at the schools.
The elephant mitigation bough me great pleasure, due to helping the local community. I loved the lion walks and meeting new friends, I found it a pleasure working with all the staff both at management level, the handlers and staff at the white house.
I felt totally safe during my stay both in the accommodation and on lion walks, visits to the villages etc. The staff were very re-assuring and well trained. I felt at total ease, thank you all!
It has made me feel more appreciative of what I have at home and given me a first hand experience of the needs of people in other countries such as Zambia and Zimbabwe etc.
Pietro, UK, aged 50 (Zambia Lion Conservation Volunteer)
Great to deal with professional people who treated us sensitively when we had a couple of problems regarding our trip. Thank you!
Very valuable project – it is an ethical project with the interest of lions its sole aim.
The whole walking with lions experience was truly amazing, and unforgettable. It is great how confident you can feel after only 2 weeks with the lions - we only wish we'd had more time. The days are varied including working in local schools, elephant research and the numerous lion walks (both with and without clients), where you begin to feel like a member of the pride more and more each day. It is the best thing we've ever done, and we are still talking about it now to friends and families. We fell in love with one lion in particular each and have chosen to sponsor them! We look forward to receiving the newsletter to see how they're getting on. It's surprising how you can bond with them so quickly! We're considering going back to volunteer at the next stage already and we're not even home from our round the world trip! The project and experience was amazing.
Russell and Helen, UK, aged 30 (Zambia Lion Conservation Volunteer)