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Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre

Hoedspruit, South Africa
from £725 (1 week)

Ref: AV054

An exciting opportunity to work hands on with some of Africa's most endangered wildlife including Cheetahs, Painted Dogs, African Wild Cats, Small Spotted Cats, lions, leopards and many other animals at a this leading sanctuary and breeding centre in Hoedspruit.  Volunteers work with the dedicated staff in all aspects of wildlife care and rehabilitation as well as being involved in any wildlife veterinary care or hand rearing of animals that may be needed.  Where possible animals are rehabilitated and released and volunteers may be lucky enough to be part of this incredible process!  An interesting and educational lecture programme as well as exciting local trips are included for volunteers on this project. 

Who can join: 18 years and over
Accommodation: Mini Thatched Twin Cottages
Transfer time: 30 minutes
Pick up Point: Hoedspruit Airport or Town
Meals: Meals included
Volunteer numbers: approx 10

Duration & Fees

1 week£725
2 weeks£1,365
3 weeks£1,995

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Start Dates

2020 Start Dates:

7 Jan - 27 Jan | 4 Feb - 24 Feb | 3 Mar - 23 Mar | 31 Apr - 20 Apr | 28 Apr - 18 May | 26 May - 15 Jun | 23 Jun - 13 Jul | 21 Jul -10 Aug | 18 Aug - 7 Sep | 15 Sep - 5 Oct | 13 Oct - 2 Nov | 10 Nov - 30 Nov | 8 Dec - 29 Dec

8 Dec - 29 Dec (dedicated to community outreach programme)

Please note: during the months of June, July and August we only accept 21 Day bookings however during other months you can join for 1, 2 or 3 weeks.


£180 deposit at time of booking – balance payment due 12 weeks before departure

What's Included

  • A contribution to the project itself including funding for items such as animal food and medications etc
  • Full orientation and support from the project managers
  • Accommodation and meals
  • Excursions and trips as indicated
  • Return transfers on arrival and departure from Hoedspruit Airport or Town 

What's not included

  • Return flights to Hoedspruit Airport
  • Travel Insurance (to include cover for repatriation)
  • Visa (if required)
  • Personal items eg clothes, travel goods etc
  • Use of internet and telephone
  • Soft drinks, wines and spirits
  • Trips undertaken other than in the planned itinerary

This Centre, which is based on a beautiful game reserve near Hoedspruit has established itself as a leading sanctuary for endangered wildlife as well as a breeding centre for serveral species at risk in South Africa, particularly the Cheetah.  The wildlife that have found a safe home at the centre are not limited to the many cheetah found there (including the King Cheetah) but also include the African Wild Dog, Black-Footed Cats, Lions, Leopard, African Wild Cats, Hyena, Ground Horn Bills, Sable Antelope and Rhino to name a few...   The Centre has literally become a lifeline for many animals in need of care and a safe home in the local area and across South Africa. 

Where possible animals are rehabilitated and released into their natural habitat however this is not always possible and for many of the animals the Centre is now their home.  

Volunteers who join this project will have the opportuntiy to work as part of the dedicated Wildlife Department at the Centre, working up close and hands on careing for the many animals there.   The Centre has an on-site veterinary clinic and observation area for sick and injured animals and volunteers may be involved in any medical attention the animals require whilst on the project.  Volunteers may also be involved in the release of animals into suitable areas where they have a second chance at life in their natural habitat.    

As part of this project volunteers will have the opporunity to learn all about Africa, its wildlife and conservation through a lecture programme.   There is also an exciting excursion itinerary for all volunteers to experience the African bush and explore some of the incredible local attractions.  Making this an unique and incredible 3 week experience where volunteers will get to particpate in hands on conservation of endangered wildlife; learn all about wildlife conservation from the experts and enjoy the local area on a number of sightseeing excursions.  

The Game Reserve where the centre is based is home to a diverse range of wildlife including the Big 5 - Lion, Elephant, Leopard, Buffalo and Rhino and volunteers may also get opportunity to be involved in wildlife conservation initatitves on the reserve. 

Volunteer Activities Might Include: 

  • Working with and caring for the wildlife at the centre including Cheetahs, African Wild Dogs and Wild Cats, Caracels ...
  • Animal food preparation and feeding
  • Enclosure cleaning and maintenance
  • Assisting in hand-rearing of wildlife when needed.  Previously volunteers have helped handrear the following animals that have come to the centre - elephant, white rhino, zebra, vervet monkey to name a few ...
  • Working with the Wildlife Vet and Wildlife Department on the reserve or in the onsite clinic.  This might include darting, animal capture, veterinary care, health examinations, vacinations, blood tests, post mortems and translocation of wildlife
  • Local community involvement where volunteers visit local schools in rural areas or help with conservation education at the centre
  • Bushwalks and sleepout on the reserve listening to the sounds of the wildlife in the African bush

Informal Lectures

A informal lecture programme is delivered to volunteers and may include:

  • Conservation
  • Animal Identification
  • Plants and Ecology
  • Astronomy
  • Survival
  • Fire Arms Handling and Safety
  • Tracks and Signs
  • Reptiles
  • Birds
  • South African History and Cultural Diversity
  • Anti-Poaching

Trips and Highlights 

Volunteers will have a chance to put what they have learnt into practice and experience the Africa bush doing some of the great activities in the local area.   These activities form part of your project itineary and are included for volunteers.  The activities that you will join will depend on when you join and the duration of your stay however if you are volunteering for 3 weeks you are likely to do most of the activities below:

  • Bush Experience with Trained Guide - tracking in the bush
  • Trip to local tribal village
  • Natural and traditional food preperations
  • Game Drive 
  • Identification of plants on walking excursions
  • Boat Trip on Blyde Canyon River
  • Trip to Kruger National Park
  • Game Drive
  • Trip to the local rural area to help treat dogs and cattle for rabies, ticks and other illnesses
  • Sleep out under the stars
  • Trip to the local Reptile Centre

Community work

Volunteers may also get involved with the under priviledged children in the communities who have so little but are so enthusiatic and hard working.  The centre has strong links with the rural primary school which is located 25 kms from the Centre.  School children also have the opportunity to visit the Centre to learn more about endangered wildlife and volunteers may help the wildlife departure in conservation education with these children. 

Please note: As with all our wildlife conservation volunteer projects volunteers should be prepared for the daily schedule to change at short notice to meet the needs of the project and animals.  Please remember that we can never guarantee the variety, number and type of animals that you will be working with.  Volunteers should also be aware that the degree of interaction with the animals will be subject to local laws and policies which can change at short notice. 

Optional Activities

There are many adventure activities available in the local area - such as hot air ballooning, river rafting in the Blyde River Canyon, horse rides and many more. These are optional at an additional cost and can be arranged through the project leader. 

Time off 

Volunteers have Sunday of as free time each week and often do trips together in the local area.

Programme Itinerary - A example of the activites (Guide only)

Week 1 



12 - 2pm Lunch 
2pm - Introduction, Orientation, and Tour



6am - Group A, Food and meat preperation and feeding of the big animals
9am - Group B, Food preperation and feeding of smaller animals.  Followed by a Buffalo talk.
12 to 2pm - Lunch 
2pm - Town Trip to visit the internet cafe, bank supermarket.  You may also need to take the Cheetah to the Vet for example         
Evening - BBQ with all the other volunteers and staff



8am - Group A, Feeding the Antelope
          Group B, Food preperation and feeding of smaller animals.  
12 to 2pm - Lunch 
2pm - Talk on Cheetahs in Captivity.  You may be involved in Caracal Sedations and treatment for example



6am - Group A, Food preperation and feeding of smaller animals.  Followed by a Buffalo talk.
9am - Group B, Food and meat preperation and feeding of the big animals
12 to 2pm - Lunch 
2pm - Group A, Feeding the Antelope
          Group B, Enclosure Cleaning and providing fresh water for animals 



8am - Group A and B - Talk on Conservation in South Africa
12 to 2pm - Lunch 
2pm - Boat Trip Blyde Canyon River



Optional Activity
Any plans for today?  Volunteers and staff discuss and finalise the plans for today on the Thursday evening.  



6am - Group A, Food and meat preperation and feeding of the big animals
9am - Group B, Food preperation and feeding of smaller animals. 
12 to 2pm - Lunch 
2pm - Group A, Enclosure Cleaning and providing fresh water for animals 
          Group B, Feeding the Antelope

Week 2


4.40am - Cummunity work in Bushbuck Ridge Veterinary followed by a talk and presentation by the vet        
12 - 2pm Lunch 
2pm - Group A, Food preperation and feeding of smaller animals.
          Group B, Feeding the Antelope



6am - Group A, Food preperation and feeding of smaller animals.
9am - Group B, Food and meat preperation and feeding of the big animals
12 to 2pm - Lunch 
2pm - Town Trip to visit the internet cafe, bank supermarket. 
Evening - BBQ with all the other volunteers and staff



9am - Visit to the Khamai Reptile Centre
12 to 2pm - Lunch 
2pm - Volunteers may help with post mortem on a warthog for example



6am - Group A, Food and meat preperation and feeding of the big animals
9am - Group B, Food preperation and feeding of smaller animals.
12 to 2pm - Lunch 
2pm - Group A, Enclosure Cleaning and providing fresh water for animals 
          Group B, Feeding the Antelope



5am - 6pm - Full Day Trip to the Kruger National Park



Optional Activity
Any plans for today?  Volunteers and staff discuss and finalise the plans for today on the Thursday evening.                                   


6am - Group A, Food preperation and feeding of smaller animals. 
9am - Group B, Food and meat preperation and feeding of the big animals
12 to 2pm - Lunch 
2pm - Group A, Feeding the Antelope
          Group B, Enclosure Cleaning and providing fresh water for animals 

Week 3



9am - Protrack: Anti poaching unit - Talk on the importance of the unit and a tour of the facilities 
12 to 2pm - Lunch 
2pm - Town Trip to visit the internet cafe, bank supermarket. 



7.30am - Group A, Food and meat preperation and feeding of the big animals
               Group B, Food preperation and feeding of smaller animals.  
12 to 2pm - Lunch 
2pm - Group A, Enclosure Cleaning and providing fresh water for animals 
          Group B, Feeding the Antelope
Evening - BBQ with all the other volunteers and staff



5.30am - Elephant Back Safari @ Camp Jabulani
       Rifle Handling and darting training 
12 to 2pm - Lunch 
2pm - Introduction on Survival Skills talk



6am - Group A, Food preperation and feeding of smaller animals.  
9am - Group B, Food and meat preperation and feeding of the big animals
12 to 2pm - Lunch 
2pm - Group A, Food preperation and feeding of smaller animals.  
          Group B, Enclosure Cleaning and providing fresh water for animals 



Following on from the survival skills talk - you will put these skills to good use and sleep out under the start tonight                         
collecting wood for the fire to keep you warm



Optional Activity
Any plans for today?  Volunteers and staff discuss and finalise the plans for today on the Thursday evening.  



Departure Day and say good buy to some new found friends

Getting There

Volunteers should fly into Johannesberg (O.R. Tambo) or Cape Town International Airport and take a connecting flight to Hoedspruit (Eastgate Airport) where they will be met and taken to the volunteer base.  We can also arrange to have you picked up and dropped of anywhere in Hoedspruit town as well as Hoedspruit Airport.

Alternatively volunteers can arrange to fly into Johannesburg and get a bus to Hoedspruit and we can arrange to have you picked up at the bus stop on arrival.

There may be a number of ways to reach your destination airport and Amanzi Travel will be happy to offer advice or even book your flights for you, giving you the advantage of the company's ATOL licence to cover your package.  Please contact Amanzi Travel for details.  

A perfect way to explore more of Africa

Before heading straight back home, why not take an Overland Journey through Africa to explore more of the wonderful sights and experiences that this beautiful continent has to offer.  You can take a trip that starts and finishes in the same city (eg Windhoek to Windhoek) or you can use it as an opportunity to get your from one city to another (eg Cape Town to Nairobi).

“This has got to be the best way to see Africa in a short period of time ... brilliant. The guides were fantastic, the campsites great, and the food excellent. The overland trip was excellent - really well run”
Southern Sun 21 days, Cape Town to Victoria Falls - Jennie and Stuart, Sweden, aged 32 and 34.

“I didn’t know I could become such close friends with people in just a week. The trip attracts a great group of people who are so easy to get along with. My group ranged from 20 to 70 and we all sat down with a drink, played cards together and just gathered around the campfire.  It was an experience of a lifetime and I will definitely recommend this to my friends and family”
Tanzanian Game Parks and Zanzibar, 10 Days and Masai Mara Safari, 3 Days - Sara, Canada/Malaysia, aged 20.

 From 3 days to 56 days, take a look at the exciting Overland Trips here.

Support and Orientation

Support and advice is available from Amanzi Travel office staff and project/trip leaders. Upon booking, you will receive a comprehensive pre-departure pack that provides all the details you will need to prepare for your trip.  This document includes information on accommodation, staff, visas, optional activities, packing checklist and medical advice and if you have any questions that are not answered in the pack we are always on hand to help and advise. We will do all we can to ensure that you are well prepared and looking forward to your trip. You will also receive an in country orientation on arrival.

A 24 hours a day, 7 days a week emergency contact number is provided for everyone who travels with us.

Amanzi Travel holds an ATOL licence (9401) and is able to arrange your flights on request giving you financial protection for your flight and trip costs. We also offer advice on personal travel insurance for your trip.

Hoedspruit, South Africa, Hoedspruit Endangered Species CentreHoedspruit, South Africa, Hoedspruit Endangered Species CentreVolunteers are accommodated in mini thatched cottages - each sleeping two people - in a  camp which is situated within the boundaries of a beautiful Game Reserve, which is home to the big 5.  Accommodation is basic, but clean and comfortable and bedding is provided.

There are handwash laundry facilities availalble in the camp and regular trips are made into Hoedspruit town (approximately 25 km) for supplies, banking and the use of internet facilities.  Telephone facilities are available at a small charge.  

Three meals are prepared each day in the camp and volunteers are asked to participate in meal preperation.  There is a well equiped kitchen with fridges as well as barbeque facilities and a lovely outdoor social eating area.

Click here to view the full interactive mapSouth Africa - Help Local Communities Get Started

Why visit South Africa?

Every country in the world displays some diversity, but South Africa, stretching from the hippos in the Limpopo River to the penguins waddling on the Cape, takes some beating. There’s the deserted Kalahari, Namakwa’s springtime symphony of wildflowers, iconic Table Mountain and Cape Point, Africa’s biggest game reserve - Kruger National Park - boasting the most mammal species of any game reserve, and the magnificent peaks and plunging valleys of the escarpment of Drakensberg.

Cape Town is widely described as one of the world's most beautiful cities. Some of its more famous landmarks include Table Mountain, Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for decades), Cape Point, Chapman’s Peak, Kirstenbosch Gardens and the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. A combination of historical coastal charm and urbane sophistication, Cape Town has some of the finest beaches and is also the gateway to the lush Cape Winelands, famous for world-renowned wines. From here, it is an easy journey to the Whale Route, where Southern Right whales can be seen (June - November) and humpback whales, Bryde's whales, Minke whales and bottlenose dolpins can be viewed year round.

The Garden Route is renowned for its beaches, indigenous forests, nature reserves, lakes, mountain ranges, adventure opportunities and hiking trails. Plettenberg Bay is a relaxed beach paradise with spectacular walks and hikes where one can watch dolphins and whales on eco-marine cruises. With some of the world's finest beaches, the Eastern Cape's untouched and pristine coastline also has a rich social, cultural and political history. Port Elizabeth is the gateway to the Eastern Cape, and the perfect complement to the Garden Route. Cape St Francis is situated on the Indian Ocean coastline, in and around Africa's largest man made web of canals and waterways, and is renowned for its long, sandy beaches, surfing, rock fishing and tranquil lifestyle.

Kruger National Park is the flagship of South Africa's game reserves, offering an unrivalled wildlife experience over two million-hectares. Private concessions operating within and alongside Kruger National Park feature luxurious, exclusive game lodges with many exciting safari activities. Some of these lodges are unfenced, allowing for the free movement of wildlife. Madikwe Game Reserve, in the North West province, is one of South Africa's largest private Big Five game reserves and features numerous lodges and camps. The Waterberg area in the northwest is also malaria-free and is aptly named for its strong streams that flow even in dry seasons, making for excellent game viewing. Both reserves are great for those seeking an accessible malaria-free wilderness experience.

Durban is a sub-tropical city and the gateway to KwaZulu-Natal. It offers a unique mix of Zulu, Indian and colonial cultures. Visit the Anglo-Zulu battlefields, take a fascinating glimpse into Zulu culture, hike in the beautiful Drakensberg Mountains, dive the reefs, marine and coastal reserves of Maputaland, as well as experience Big Five game reserves. The Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve is renowned for saving the white rhino from the brink of extinction, and Phinda Private Game Reserve is well known for its award-winning lodges and conservation initiatives.

Johannesburg meaning "Place of Gold", is South Africa's economic powerhouse. This vibrant and cosmopolitan city is home to many attractions including the Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill, and also offers shopping from world-class to atmospheric curio markets. Known as the "Jacaranda City", the state capital of Pretoria features beautiful blossoming trees, significant old buildings and fascinating museums, including the Transvaal Museum, home of Mrs Ples, the australopithecine fossil found at the Cradle of Humankind.

Highlights of South Africa

  • Breathtaking scenery, quaint coastal villages, cosmopolitan cities, wine routes and exclusive bush lodges.
  • Exciting Big Five safaris in unspoilt wilderness areas.
  • Malaria-free game viewing and sunshine all year round.
  • See Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held in prison for 27 years.
  • Go up Table Mountain by cable car for stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and beautiful Cape Town.
  • Whale watching and great white shark cage diving.
  • Beautiful, pristine beaches perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
  • The Cradle of Humankind: Sterkfontein is one of the world's most productive and important palaeoanthropological sites.


For Johannesburg:

Seasons Max Min
Summer (September - April) 25 °C 10 °C
Winter (May - August) 19 °C 4 °C
Rainfall: October to March, with November to January heaviest

South Africa has typical seasons of weather for the southern hemisphere, with the coldest days in July-August. The Benguela Current, a cold motion that moves from the lower South Atlantic Ocean, causes moderate temperatures on the West Coast. On the central plateau, which includes Free State and Gauteng provinces, the altitude keeps the average temperatures below 30 °C.In winter, also due to altitude, temperatures drop to freezing point, and in some places, even lower. Heavy snows have fallen recently for the first time in decades in Johannesburg. During winter, it is warmest in the coastal regions, especially on the Eastern Indian Ocean coast and Garden Route, where it has year round mild weather with occasional rain. As winter is cooler and drier, it is more suitable for hiking and outdoor pursuits, and is also a good time for game viewing as vegetation is less dense and thirsty animals congregate around rivers and other permanent water sources.

In summer, South Africa experiences the hottest temperatures and this is generally when most rain falls, October – March. However, there is one exception -  the Western Cape, which is a winter-rain area that enjoys a Mediterranean climate (average 26°C).

Christmas to mid-January, and Easter are the height of the peak season for visitors.
Autumn (April/May) and Spring (mid-Sept to November) are ideal almost everywhere.

Key Facts

Population – 50 million

Capital – Pretoria (executive), Bloemfontein (judicial), Cape Town (legislative)
Currency – Rand (ZAR)

Official Language(s) – Afrikaans, English (South African English), Southern Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu
Time difference – GMT +2 hours

Telephone – country code 27, international access code 00

Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre
Fantastic volunteer project where we made amazing memories - we will defo be returning...  We had an amazing time in Hoedspruit - both the staff and fellow volunteers were all fantastic, what a fabulous experience and definately highly recommend

Jo, UK aged 41 (Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre)

Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre

Elephants, giraffe, impala all came up close to observe us in the volunteer camp.  A hippo would sometimes keep us from moving around easily in our jeep.  Mostly I worked on behalf of cheetahs, but also wild dogs, ground horn bills and blue herons, other smaller wild cats, all critically endangered. Some mornings I prepared meat for the cheetahs to eat and then spent most of the day feeding them in their enclosures as well as feeding the other species..  Thirteen cheetah babies were born, a lot, and the enterprise is to shore up their gene pool, at this point highly corrupted via so much of killing them in the wild and reduced numbers.   

In camp we lived with a young monkey, a young warthog, an African Wild Cat (a species) and a miniature dog, all rescued.  They made for much entertainment and lots of chaos.  A few times the cat (three-legged owing to a black mamba snake bite) slept with me in my thatched hut.    It was challenging work particularly preparing the meat for feeding but the feeding was good, and the perks were amazing.  I went into Kruger National Park twice, once with with  the group and once before I began volunteering.  It's a reserve about the size of England and full of amazing wildlife.  A great adventure all around.    

Mary, UK, aged 67 (Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre)

Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre

Thank you very much for everything!  We never expected to get sooo close to all the animals in the centre, it was a really hands on and close up experience.  Also the excursions were great!  We saw a lot of the regions amazing landscape and an awesome sunset yesterday. 

Annete and David, USA (Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre)

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