Join us in one of three camps in the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. With a wide array of experiences, suitable for a range of age groups, this is your opportunity to immerse yourself in wild places, embark on an adventure and directly contribute to meaningful conservation and community-based projects.
Immersed in a wilderness area, you will learn bush skills, embark on research and conservation activities and have the opportunity to engage and contribute to community projects. Your itinerary can be as focussed or as diverse as you want it to be with an emphasis on Discovery or Volunteering or both!
You will be exposed to wilderness areas that provide an ideal opportunity to learn about the sights and sounds of wild Africa that surround you. Bush walks, tracking, animal identification, nocturnal sounds and night skies all provide a means to learn and appreciate the value of these wild places. A key component of this experience is simply engaging with the natural environment in a meaningful way without the distractions of everyday life.
One’s experience in a game reserve is enhanced by the knowledge that wild animals call this home, and you have the opportunity to observe them in their natural habitat. Whether you hear them, see them, or just know that they are there, it is a privilege to share this time with them. One of our camps is home to Africa’s big 5 (lion, leopard, elephants, rhino and buffalo), while the other two locations support plains game such as zebra, giraffe and buck. The presence of all species, including hundreds of birds and smaller animals, lends magic to your stay.
Learn what it takes to manage protected areas and contribute to the conservation activities that are needed at the time. Whether it is repairing roads, fixing fences or removing alien invasive trees, this is your chance to make a positive contribution to this wilderness area. Volunteer activities lead to a sense of achievement at the same time as providing tangible impacts on the ground
Conservation organisations and scientists work together to undertake a variety of research activities in these areas. You will be directly involved in monitoring Africa’s keynote species, including predators at two locations. Some of these species have radio collars, which allow researchers to collect data and track them through telemetry. Other research activities vary depending on what is happening at the time, but you have a unique opportunity to learn about wildlife research, data collection techniques and the importance of research for achieving conservation goals.
You have the privilege of engaging directly with the communities who live nearby these protected areas. In order to ensure that your participation is meaningful, we support existing non-profit organisations that work in the area — such as Project Rhino, the Kingsley Holgate Foundation and Move Africa. Together, you are given the opportunity to work with local communities and directly contribute to building conservation awareness, supporting food programmes and promoting women’s health. This is an enriching experience and provides insight into the lives of rural South African families.
A highlight of any wilderness experience is the adventure of sleeping in the bush, under the stars and exposed to the elements of nature. Whether it is hearing nocturnal sounds, spotting an owl in a tree or losing yourself in the vastness of Africa’s night sky, this is an experience not easily forgotten. Small groups will take turns keeping the fire burning throughout the night and the first rays of sunlight will awake you to a new day
The student camps vary between locations but include a series of huts or 2-person safari tents with comfortable beds and linen. There are shared ablutions with flush toilets and hot and cold showers. All camps are immersed in nature, where you will fall asleep to the nocturnal sounds of the bush and wake up to birdsong! There are simple communal areas for gatherings and fire pits that are perfect for evening stargazing. Kitchens are located nearby where healthy food is prepared for the duration of the camp.
OBJECTIVES & IMPACT
Youth 4 Conservation works with partners on the ground to make this experience possible. Every Camp location is situated in a protected wilderness area where conservation projects and active research are being undertaken to promote biodiversity and to support local community initiatives. One reserve is completely community-owned, which means that your participation in this programme brings direct economic benefit to local people. Other Camps are committed to extending wilderness areas by re-wilding existing land in partnership with communities and other landowners. Collaboration with local non-profit organisations in the area ensures that volunteer activities are supporting existing development efforts through channels that work.
A core objective of these programmes is to provide a hands-on experience that directly contributes to the long term goals of wildlife and habitat protection, as well as promoting community partnerships and projects.