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.
The arrival day for the project is Monday and the departure day is Sunday.
£180 deposit at time of booking – balance payment of project fee due 12 weeks before departure
- Transfers to and from Johannesburg’s International Airport on arrival and departure
- Three Meals Daily
- A proportion of the project fee which goes directly back into the project to facilitate funding for resources
- Orientation on arrival
- Support and guidance from the Amanzi Travel staff, local staff and project managers
What's not included
- Travel Insurance to include cover for repatriation
- Any soft drinks or alcoholic beverages
- Any optional activities
- Visas (if applicable)
- Return flight to and from Johannesburg Airport
This project is based on a quiet sanctuary far from any major city in a wild and beautful African setting in the remote North West Province, an hour from Sandton/Johannesburg and just fifty minutes from Pretoria. The park covers 750 hectares of pristine bushveld and falls into the World Heritage Site known as the 'Cradle of Humankind'. It is a unique eco-system where animals, birds and man live in harmony. There are more than 340 species of identified birds as well as bass, kerper, tilapia and karp in three well-stocked dams.
The sanctuary is home to many orphaned and injured animals who have found a safe haven whilst recovering from their trauma. The aim is to rehabilitate these animals back into the wild whenever possible. The park is home to elephants, lions, tigers, cheetah, spotted hyena, white lions and hippo as well as the free-ranging game such as giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, warthog, impala, waterbuck and red hartebeest to name just a few. Volunteers work closely with the staff at the sanctuary and can learn first hand about animal feeding, health and husbandry and also what it takes to run a wildlife park. There are also opportunities for game drives, elephant walks and to go on horse-back safari.
Volunteer Living with Big Cats Programme
The project staff, with the help of volunteers, aim to make the most of every day and to make the lives of the animals in the sanctuary the best that they can be. No cats are bred at the Park but cubs are rescued from other farms and reserves. There is no guarantee that there will be cubs at the Park but there is a good chance that volunteers will assist with a cub at some point. Volunteer activities may include (but are not limited to)
- taking the lion cubs for walks - when there are young cubs at the park
- caring for sick and injured and young animals
- enclosure cleaning and feeding of the animals
- providing fresh water for the animals daily
- construction of a rock pool for the tigers to swim in
- building a shaded lookout to view the vultures feeding
- maintaining roads
- removal of alien species of plants and weeds
- keeping the grass cut in lion, leopard and cheetah camps and cleaning and refilling water troughs as required
- trimming of trees along the roads and general park mainternance
- help with a fencing project designed to enlarge the area for grazing for the animals
- As well as wildlife there is livestock on the project and volunteers help with feeding
There are also great fun activities that volunteers can join which may include:
- star gazing - fantastic in the Southern Hemisphere
- elephant walks
- game drives
- bird watching and fishing
Volunteers can also join horse back safaris around the reserve for an additional cost (approx 30 - 40 USD). This can be arranged with the project staff whilst on the project.
The working day is from 8.00 am - 5.00 pm with a two hour break in the middle of the day for lunch, and volunteers work for six days a week. Saturdays generally are a quick check that everything in the sanctuary is well and the rest of the day is spent on fun activities that are organised for the volunteers such as a visit to Sterkfontein Caves, Lesedi Village - the local ethnic village - or Chameleon Village where the locals sell African curios. Sundays are a day off to relax, sleep, read or just spending time with other volunteers.
All volunteers will receive a brief orientation upon arrival at the project with time to settle in and will commence their duties on day 2 when team leaders will get everyone started on the first project. All necessary tools will be provided and team leaders will be working alongside volunteers.
Note: 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 the animals are rescued, cared for and if possible, released into their natural habitat, therefore the variety and number of animals at the park can change daily and we can never guarantee the number and type of animals that volunteers will be working with.
South 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.
|Seasons ||Max ||Min
|Summer (September - April)
|Winter (May - August)
|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.
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
The Living with Big Cats programme was the best experience of my life. There was so much involvement with all the animals that were there and there was such a great atmosphere created not only by the staff but also by the other volunteers that attended. There were also a lot of other activities that you could get involved with outside of the day-to-day role as volunteers such as sky diving, safari or quad biking! I am definitely going to return for another trip as it was unforgettable.
Anna, UK aged 26 (Volunteer Living with Big Cats )
I had an amazing time volunteering on the 'Living with big cats' conservation programme. I met some awesome people, learnt so much, gained so many life skills. The work we did was so rewarding and I would definitely reccomend this programme to anyone who loves animals and wildlife, and who feels strongly about anti-poaching. The staff and project leaders were so much fun and made my time in South Africa even more enjoyable! I really didn't want to leave! I will definitely be back at some point :)
Gabrielle, UK aged 18 (Volunteer Living with Big Cats )
I will never forget this wonderful experience. I met so many great people and I spend good time with all the volunteers.
Emma, France aged 16 (Volunteer Living with Big Cats )
I spent three weeks at "living with big cats" in South Africa and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I met some truly amazing people and have made some friends for life. The project leaders were very easy to get on with, extremely welcoming and made every aspect of the project enjoyable (even weeding under the hot sun). It was well worth the money and it crammed in everything I could have wished for and more! I definitely want to go back for a longer period of time and would highly recommend this to anyone and everyone!!!
Kaylee, UK, aged 19 (Volunteer Living with Big Cats )
If you are thinking about going on a project then stop thinking and just book it. If you have a love for animals and want to meet like minded people of all ages and backgrounds then just do it. I had the best experience at all 3 projects in Africa. Gemma was fantastic at listening to what I wanted and got it spot on. Book it and go and have a brilliant experience!
Shelly, UK, Aged 41 (Naankuse Big Cat, Wild Dog and Elephant Conservation Project , Volunteer Living with Big Cats , Wildlife Volunteer Makalali Game Reserve)
This was without a doubt the most amazing experience of my life. Gemma was extremely helpful and answered all my questions no matter how daft they were. As for the place itself it was amazing. Everyday i experienced new amazing things working with these beautiful animals . I will without a doubt be returning at some point.
Sarah, UK, aged 44 (Volunteer Living with Big Cats )
I cannot recommend Amanzi travel and the Living with Big Cats project highly enough. This was a holiday that my daughter and I had wanted to do together for some time and had high expectations, so before booking the holiday I gave Gemma an outline of what we were looking for and she was extremely helpful in providing honest advice and guidance as to the best holiday for my daughter and me. The pre-departure pack was very thorough and Gemma was also happy to answer our many questions before the holiday, so we felt well prepared. The holiday itself was amazing – we had so much fun and it far exceeded our expectations. There were so many highlights – walking with the lions and elephants; working with the tigers; horseriding in the park; rhino tracking on foot and camping in the bush (this took place outside of the project location and was an extra that we paid for). Along with these highlights there were the every day chores such as cleaning the elephant house, the stables and the cow pen, weeding or maintenance on the animal enclosures. But even these were fun because of the friends we made there. The project is a good balance of everyday chores, animal interaction and some free time to socialise by the pool or at the bar. One thing I hadn't appreciated beforehand is that unless on an organised activity, it is very difficult to go outside of the park. This didn’t present a problem to us at all as we were only there for two weeks, and were able to participate in the rhino tracking overnight trip, but some volunteers who were there for longer did find this a little restricting at times. Both my daughter and I had an absolutely amazing time on this holiday and really weren’t ready to leave after 2 weeks – another week would have been ideal. I am definitely be going back to South Africa and will be booking this through Amanzi again
Sarah and Amber, UK aged 51 and 21 (Volunteer Living with Big Cats )
I cannot begin to explain how beautiful and amazing my time in Africa was.
Thanks from the bottom of my heart.
Elizabeth, UK aged 43 (Volunteer Living with Big Cats )
I spend two weeks in South Africa on the project "Living with Big Cats". The two weeks were way too short to see everything. On the farm I made a lot of new experiences while I was there. I learned a lot about the animals and made plenty of new friends and the landscape of South Africa is just breathtaking. Just to see the landscape the trip is worth its money. The work on the farm is not too hard and I still had some free time where we had bonfires or just talked and had fun. One great moment was chasing out the zebras of our camp and waking up with the roaring of the lions. It really is great to see giraffes or wildebeests in the morning next to the farm. We had very close contact with the animals so we did two elephant walks and a lion walk. Also we watched how the animals are trained. The excursions every week where always interesting to great places and to see the nature. So we went canopying in my first week and went to visit cheetah cubs and lion cubs in the second week. I really can recommend this project, it was an awesome experience and I will definitely do something similar next year. I gained so much more than I thought I would.
Natalie, aged 21, Germany (Volunteer Living with Big Cats )
I took this trip with my 20 year old daughter and we had the time of our lives. I am 54 and was initially concerned that the work would be too much for me but it was not. If I felt I couldn't do something it was no big deal and there was always some other way I could help. As a parent it was great seeing my daughter meet and bond with so many other kids her age from all over the country. This trip was so much more than I ever thought it would be. Going to sleep hearing the lions roar at night and waking up to the giraffes coming in for their 7:00 feeding was absolutely amazing. We could also choose to go on weekly excursions which allowed you to also be a tourist and see some of the other areas of South Africa. My daughter had the thrill of going sky diving and we both went zip lining which was something really out of the box for me to do. I came back from this trip so fulfilled I can't really put it is words. This wasn't just a vacation or volunteer project, it was truly an unforgettable and amazing experience.
Sandra and Amanda aged 54 and 20, USA (Volunteer Living with Big Cats )
Thank you so much for all of your help organising my trip, it has been an amazing one!
My experience volunteering with Big cats in South Africa has been a life changing. Each day we were presented with new challenges and I was given the opportunity to face a number of my fears which has allowed me to develop an awful lot as a person.
Laura, UK, aged 21 (Volunteer Living with Big Cats )
My time volunteering at the Living with Big Cats project was inspiring and motivating. Contributing to the welfare, conservation and safety of the animals in such an enjoyable way was made even more memorable by the enthusiasm and passion shared by the staff. Their knowledge and love for the animals in their care is plain to see and they were always on hand to share their skills with the volunteers and ensure that we got the most out of every activity and task throughout the day. The interaction sessions with the lion cubs and cheetahs were a highlight of the trip, as was participating in the training of the lion cubs, taking them for walks as well as walking with the elephants and even sharing a splash in the mud pool with them! There was a good mix of daily tasks and excursions to enable volunteers to take in other sights of South Africa such as quadbiking, zip lining, scad falling (for the brave), visiting the Monkey Sanctuary, the Croc and Reptile Park, and taking in some culture and history at the Sterkfontein Caves. There is something to suit everyone on this volunteer project and it is definitely one not to be missed.
Sarah, UK, aged 37 (Volunteer Living with Big Cats )
When I booked "Volunteer Living with Big Cats" I wanted to leave within a month, so there was a little pressure to make sure everything was ready. But Gemma and the rest of Amanzi Travel were extremely prompt and with a lot of patience when I had questions and incredibly friendly. The moment that i arrived until the moment i left, i loved every second of the project. The other volunteers were amazing, the staff was incredibly kind. Everyone made me feel like I was home. The jobs we had to do include cleaning stables, the elephant house, feeding mongooses, pigs, ostriches, building enclosures, weeding poisonous plants (the plants are only poisonous for animals), road construction, feeding the predators, cleaning the enclosures of the predators, we started walking the lion cubs. But that is not an activity that is ensured, because they don't always have lion cubs. If you are thinking of booking this project, realise you'll have to work and you'll probably get dirty. For me it was all worth it. The days are like this: 7:30-9:00 Morning jobs (this tasks are the same every day) 09:00-10:00 Breakfast. 10:00-12:00 Work 12:00-14:00 lunchbreak. 14:00-17:00 Work. At 18:00 dinner will be ready. On thursdays and sundays volunteers have the day off. Hopefully you'll love it as much as I have. I'm home now and i feel homesick to this project. Thank you Amanzi Travel for helping me with the pre-departure process!
Isabella, Netherlands, aged 22 (Volunteer Living with Big Cats )
My trip was absolutely amazing and I cannot wait until I can return again! Thank you so much for what Amanzi Travel has done to help make my trip as smooth and special as possible - I truly appreciate it!
The Farm (at Volunteer Living with Big Cats) was absolutely beautiful and everyone I worked with made the experience so special, I couldn't have asked for a better group of volunteers and leaders to work with. I had fun every single day, no matter what we were doing. The extra trips and activities on the days off were also excellent, and gave me the chance to experience other aspects of the local area.
Although the volunteer work wasn't directly related to conservation, it was valuable in that we still worked to help provide a good life for the animals on the farm.
Eva, aged 20, USA (Volunteer Living with Big Cats )
I can honestly say that I had one of the greatest experiences of my life! The staff at the farm were amazing, especially our volunteer leaders who made each day even better!
Everyday was different, and everyday was fun! The Farm is a wonderful home for its animals! The people who work with them, genuinely care about each and every one of them, and they are all well looked after! It was incredible getting to walk with the elephants and spend time with the two lion cubs.
Meeting the people that I did was most definitely one of the highlights! There were volunteers from all over the world including Italy, Germany, Spain, Brazil, the USA, and more! I'm glad I can call them all my friends now. My only complaint was that 2 weeks was not long enough. If I go back, it will be for at least a month!
Wesley, aged 21, Canada (Volunteer Living with Big Cats )
The best was walking with Sheba and the cubs and feeding the animals. All the staff at the project are so friendly, happy and very knowledgeable. They are responsible and care so much about the animals and about each other. They have a great sense of humour and are so much fun to work with. The receptionists are so nice and helpful. I am so thankful for this programme and all the things I’ve been able to do…I’ve been able to interact with all the animals and so glad that there are great parks like this that care about the animals and take care of them… Very happy and hope to come back.
Lindsey, from USA (Volunteer Living with Big Cats )
Activities included walking with Sheba, elephant walking, feeding all the animals, different trips, digging the tiger pool and game drives. The best things were walking with Sheba… feeding cubs, helping with the tiger pool and painting the elephant house.
There was nothing that I did not like. Best people I’ve ever met and because of that I want to come back. Food was great.
Best thing in my life, I’ve had so much fun in these two weeks…Wonderful and caring staff – very welcoming!
Maia Henriksson, Felicia Nilsson, Diella Hisenai, Sweden (Volunteer Living with Big Cats )
Thank you for a great experience... we fed the lions, tigers, horses, zebra and donkeys, we cleaned the elephant house, walked with elephantsa and with Sheba (lion cub). We also got involved with making a pool for the tigers. I really liked all the activities and the staff were fantastic! Les, Bainet and Cosmos - I loved them. The people in the kitchen and the bar are wonderful! I want to come back – this place and the people are amazing! Food was great. Fantastic!
Lillian Guardian, Brazil (Volunteer Living with Big Cats )
I feel so lucky that I had the chance to volunteer at their beautiful centre.
All of the work you do on this project is all for the animals, they are the number one priority. I got to work with cheetahs, tiger and the lion cub as well as bigger lions, who kept me awake at night with their beautiful loud roaring. It was an experience out of thousands..
Sharan, Netherlands, aged 22 (Volunteer Living with Big Cats )