As a South Africa Wildlife Reserve Volunteer, you will get the opportunity to work behind the scenes on a world-class wildlife reserve. In addition, you will gain a rich education in conservation management. PMGY’s South Africa volunteer programs provide a fantastic opportunity to engage in meaningful wildlife volunteer work in South Africa. If you have a real passion for animals then this South Africa wildlife volunteer program is the opportunity for you.
WILDLIFE VOLUNTEER PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
CONTRIBUTE TOWARDS THE UN’S SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL NO.15 – LIFE ON LAND
GET AN ALL-ROUND EXPERIENCE OF LIFE ON A BIG 5 GAME RESERVE
PLAY A VALUABLE PART IN THE SUSTAINABILITY OF THE REGION
LEARN ABOUT THE CONSERVATION OF LOCAL FAUNA & FLORA ON A STRUCTURED PROJECT
VOLUNTEER ON A PROJECT LOCATED IN THE HEART OF THE AFRICAN WILDLIFE
BACKGROUND TO THE WILDLIFE PROGRAM
The South Africa wildlife volunteer program is home to vast populations of the incredible ‘Big 5’. In Africa, the Big 5 game animals are the lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and buffalo. The term originates from hunters. More specifically, hunters would refer to the animals as the five most difficult to hunt on foot in Africa.
Poaching of wild animals is on the rise in most parts of Africa. Consequently, more species are becoming endangered. Most noteworthy, the Big 5 species represent the highest-profile examples being threatened with extinction. Other threats come in the form of diseases from domestic animals. Cattle and dogs can easily spread disease into wild animal populations.
Alien species of animals and plants introduced to Africa represent another threat to the extinction of flora and fauna. Whether introduced deliberately or accidentally, alien species compete with native species for limited food and water. Furthermore, the earth’s changing climate is making much of Africa more prone to drought. This puts even more pressure on all species to compete for scarce water. In the same vein, the human population are diverting rivers for their own needs, leaving many other species high and dry.
All of these are exacting a terrible toll on Africa’s once-thriving wildlife. Game reserves and their conservation efforts in South Africa aim to play a role in counteracting these threats. They provide a large area of land where wild animals can live safely. Not only this, they represent a managed ecosystem that encompasses many miles of beautiful terrain.
The focus of a game reserve is specifically animals (fauna). However, there can be an equal concern with all aspects of native biota of the area (flora, fungi, etc.). Volunteer support in conservation-based activities at the game reserve provides big support to maintaining the flora, fauna and biodiversity.
This project was established to return the natural land to its former glory. This includes being home to the wildlife species that once roamed freely here. Since its beginning, the project has worked hard to successfully reintroduce native wildlife and flora. To help sustain the environment, volunteers take part in a variety of conservation and maintenance based activities on the reserve.
WILDLIFE VOLUNTEER PLACEMENT
South Africa Big 5 Wildlife Reserve – This fabulous South African game reserve is situated on the Eastern Cape and spans over 6,000 hectares. This experience aims to give volunteers a holistic experience of life on a game reserve. Consequently, as you complete wildlife volunteer work in South Africa, opportunities and exposure will come in abundance. Not only will you be exposed to the majestic Big 5 family but also conservation of all types of fauna and flora. They all go hand in hand.
The game reserves education and rehabilitation centre is home to a number of species of endangered predators. For example, lions, Bengal tigers and cheetahs. The dedicated conservation team are committed to the preservation of these elusive creatures. Subsequently, this is done through rehabilitation and releasing them back into the wild. The team will conduct such a process whilst considering the effects on a managed ecosystem.
The work is exciting and varied with lots to learn! Naturally, due to the wild and predatory nature of the animals, this is not a hands-on experience. Furthermore, interaction and close-up monitoring of these animals is not an option as a South Africa wildlife reserve volunteer.
Big cats like the Bengal tigers are also found at the centre. Their population has deteriorated at an alarming rate. Over the last 100 years, hunting and deforestation have reduced tiger populations from hundreds of thousands to perhaps fewer than 2,500. The centre has been lucky enough to see the birth of a Bengal tiger cub. This was after an arduous 4 years of work and research at the wildlife sanctuary.
This is a program designed for volunteers interested in having a true African wildlife experience. In other words, on the South Africa wildlife volunteer program, you will make a difference to the local wildlife and environment. Activities for this program vary on a day to day basis and are dependent on weather and other factors (so please expect the itinerary to change from time to time!).
The itinerary is designed in such a way that volunteers are divided into groups of up to 10 volunteers per group. Naturally, this is dependent on the number of South Africa wildlife reserve volunteers at the time. Each group will have an outdoor volunteer coordinator as a leader and mentor.
The groups will be engaged in different daily activities. However, each group will all do the same type and number of activities by the end of the week. In some cases, all the groups might do the same activity at the same time depending on the type of activity.
So it is a busy yet highly rewarding and exciting program from start to finish. The dedicated volunteer coordinator will ensure that you have a wonderful learning experience. In addition, the local staff will ensure you make a real contribution to the conservation work at the reserve. Ultimately, you will leave with a stronger understanding of the conservation issues in South Africa.
The volunteer tasks are largely a combination of land management and animal management program activities. Here is just a small selection of the volunteer opportunities you can expect to get involved in during the week on the wildlife volunteering abroad program:
• Lion monitoring
• Rhino monitoring
• Educational lectures and classroom activities within local communities
• Removal of alien vegetation
• Planting of indigenous trees
• Re-establishment of vegetation and vegetation management
• Fence and anti-poach patrols
• Fence repairs and road maintenance
• Monitoring of predators in the rehabilitation centre
• Game counts
Your efforts will help to make sure the reserve is a safe and suitable environment for these animals to not just survive but thrive. The activities for the week are extremely varied so no two days will be the same. It’s not all work and no play as the program is designed to provide a physical and fun experience every day.
YOUR VOLUNTEER ROLE & TYPICAL WORK DAY
Each volunteer in South Africa participant will play a big part and benefit to the conservation efforts of the reserve. All your day to day activities is shown on the itinerary which will be displayed on the volunteer notice board. The itinerary will show you what activity your group will be doing and at what time. If you have any suggestions around volunteering with animals in conservation, you can discuss these with the local team.
On the South Africa wildlife volunteer program, you will play a key role in saving the precious wilderness. This is not just for the here and now, but also in protecting it for future generations. So, if you fancy rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty in a once in a lifetime setting then this is the program for you. Whether it be for 1 week or part of a gap year, there is no better place to volunteer with animals in conservation when you complete volunteer work in South Africa.
Working hours as a conservation volunteer are generally quite fixed across Monday-Friday. They are split into a morning and afternoon session. The morning session is often more physically demanding where temperatures are relatively cooler running from around 9:30am-1:00pm. A lunch break then follows with the afternoon session usually running 2:30pm-4:30pm thereafter. Please note that times are subject to change based on summer/winter times and the activities. Finally, as volunteers are based on the reserve, they are only ever a short jeep drive or walk from where their daily volunteer tasks take place. Any project transport required is included in the Program Fee.
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER VOLUNTEERING IN SOUTH AFRICA
Additional Opportunities – On an ad-hoc basis, the local team sometimes arrange evening reptile shows, lectures, and cross-cultural dance shows. Additionally, volunteers may also have the opportunity to experience extra major conservation activities. Examples can include capturing of wildlife animals, game introduction and fire management activities. These activities take place on an ad-hoc basis but certainly provide volunteers with a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Free Time – It is important to note that the reserve is based remotely. Therefore, volunteers are encouraged to embrace all facilities and aspects of life on the reserve. During free time on the reserve, volunteers have great amenities around them. For example, volunteers can relax in the lounge and swimming pool. Alternatively, choose to enjoy the entertainment room and tennis courts. At weekends, transfers to and from Port Elizabeth run complementary at fixed times from the reserve.
Weekends – Your project work in South Africa runs from Monday-Friday and weekends are free. You are welcome to relax and hang out at the volunteer accommodation but most participants will use this time to travel and explore the country. As a result, you can check out our South Africa Weekend Travel Guide for top tips on how to spend your weekend.
Can people from outside of the UK or USA volunteer with PMGY?
Of course! Although PMGY was founded in the UK, with offices now extending between the UK and US, we welcome participants of all nationalities onto our programs. Within the last decade, we have hosted tens of thousands of volunteers from across the globe. From France to Italy, Mexico to India, Namibia to Russia and Ireland to China – these are only a handful of the countries volunteers have joined us from! We want everyone from across the world to have an equal opportunity at experiencing a different perspective on life, and make friends across the world.
Why are PMGY’s fees so much more affordable than other travel organisations?
The PMGY International Team works hard to ensure that our fees are kept as low as possible. Consequently, this makes our experiences affordable and accessible without sacrificing the safety and quality of the overall experience.
Registration Fees to join our programs are assigned to the high levels of comprehensive support that we are renowned for. This includes telephone and online support staff available 24 hours each day, as well as detailed hand-guides and interactive webinars. Therefore, the remaining Program Fees to join the program go directly to our in-country teams, covering everything for your time volunteering. In general, these fees are reflected in your accommodation, meals, airport pick-up, in-country support and project upkeep during your time abroad. Furthermore, we make sure our fees are transparent, which is something our volunteers really appreciate.
Similar organisations offer fancy brochures, run large high-street offices and are usually owned by larger travel organisations with many shareholders. As a result, participants are charged an extremely high price to cover all of these overheads. Therefore, at PMGY, we have embraced the online age by focusing everything around an online presence. We have done away with out-dated brochures, an unnecessary high street presence and we are an independent organisation without any outside financial interests.
What are the requirements to volunteer in South Africa?
PMGY welcomes South Africa wildlife reserve volunteers of all nationalities, religions and backgrounds. The minimum age to join the program is 18 and there is no upper age limit. Furthermore, all volunteers need to have a good level of English, although it does not need to be your first language. Of course, you do not need to speak the local dialect. However, you will find that learning a few words in your days with us in South Africa will go a long way.
As a South Africa wildlife reserve volunteer, you must be able to provide a clean criminal background check in advance of volunteering with us abroad. Thus, we are unable to accept anyone who has any previous criminal convictions. In general, no formal experience or qualifications are required for the projects, just lots of energy, enthusiasm and preparation! However, medical and healthcare projects usually require additional documentation before participation begins in-country.
Volunteering overseas can be both physically and mentally challenging. Therefore, all participants must be fit in both areas. Consequently, if you have any medical/mental health conditions that may affect your participation overseas, then these must be declared to us during your online application. If you have any queries regarding your suitability to participate, we recommend that you contact us before committing to the program.
What date should I arrive and leave the South Africa volunteer program?
For your volunteer trip to South Africa, you should book your flights to Port Elizabeth International Airport in Port Elizabeth on the Monday start date. Our airport pickup service is available until 3:30pm. The airport code is PLZ. You will be met at the airport by a member of the local team or an appointed driver, who will be holding a named sign. They will take you to your accommodation where you will spend the rest of your day at leisure.
The program ends on the Sunday of your final week. Therefore, you must depart the accommodation on this day.
When is the best time of year to volunteer in South Africa?
Feedback from South Africa wildlife reserve volunteers often suggests that it is best to join a PMGY project outside the European summer months. This is since June-August tends to be when we have peak numbers at each of our projects and volunteer accommodations. Conversely, outside of these months, there is typically the greatest opportunity to become fully immersed in the project and within the local community.
Are there any age restrictions to be a volunteer in South Africa?
In order to join as a South Africa wildlife reserve volunteer, you need to be at least 18 on the program start date. Generally, the average age range of volunteers is 18-25.
There is no upper age limit to our programs, and in the past, we have hosted participants up to the age of 70-years old. Whilst we have found that our more mature participants get a lot from the experience, at times individuals have found it more challenging to integrate with a younger crowd. Furthermore, some participants have perhaps expected a higher level of accommodation, the structure within the local community, and general overall communication at the project setup. Consequently, whilst we welcome volunteers of all ages, we stress that all participants should remain open-minded and flexible. Additionally, participants must appreciate that the majority of our participants are across the 18-25 age range.
When should I apply to be a South Africa wildlife reserve volunteer?
For the majority of our programs, you can apply at any time. However, we advise that you apply as soon as possible to ensure we have availability on the program. This is since some of our programs only have limited capacity, meaning that spaces get filled very quickly. Therefore, it is particularly important that you apply in good time if you’re looking to travel between our peak period of June and August. This is because spaces can fill up very quickly during this period. Furthermore, please only apply if you are 100% committed to joining the program. You need to apply online by locating the “Apply Now” button on the individual project page. This will guide you through our online Application Process.
Indeed, once you have applied and confirmed your place on the program, it may be possible to change your start dates and this will not incur a fee. However, please note that this will be subject to availability and any changes should be made at least 60 days prior to your start date.
What duration would you recommend to volunteering for?
Based on feedback from previous South Africa wildlife reserve volunteers, we believe that 4-6 weeks is the ideal amount of time to volunteer in South Africa. Consequently, this means you have enough time to integrate into the local community and really get involved in a project. For one thing, you will be able to make a positive impact on community development. Additionally, you will have a greater opportunity to explore during your weekends. South Africa wildlife reserve volunteers who join us for 2 weeks frequently tell us that this was long enough and wish they had stayed for longer!
For those looking to potentially join us for a longer period, we recommend checking out our Encounter Programs that offer a 2-4 week stay across 3-10 destinations.
Can I volunteer abroad with my friend/parent/boyfriend/girlfriend?
You’re more than welcome to travel and volunteer with friends, family members or with a boyfriend/girlfriend. If required, we can make sure that you stay in the same accommodation and volunteer for the same project. However, please note the majority of our volunteer accommodation is on a single-sex basis. Consequently, we cannot guarantee that you would be able to be placed in the same room.
Please outline in the ‘Special Requirements’ box of your online application if you’d like to make sure you’re placed alongside another applicant/s.
Is it safe to travel to PMGY destinations?
Although our volunteers work in the developing world, we work hard to ensure that our host locations are safe. Firstly, volunteer safety in each of our destinations is monitored regularly. Each of our volunteer programs has been inspected by a member of the PMGY International Team. Additionally, PMGY closely follows advice published by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Alongside the frequent contact we have with our local teams, we are able to ensure that our volunteers are never placed in unstable or unsafe regions.
The PMGY International Team have visited and participated in every program we offer. Thus, we have carefully inspected every little detail of our set-up, from the living conditions to local neighbourhoods and even the food you’ll be eating. Through these checks, we are able to ensure that all of our projects are up to scratch. Furthermore, all of our local teams are experienced development professionals, with years of experience hosting international volunteers. They are PMGY’s representatives on the ground and assist volunteers 24/7 throughout their stay. Our teams are therefore always on-hand to assist in any emergencies that may occur. Additionally, our 24 hour international emergency telephone line is always accessible. PMGY’s in-country staff also have access to local medical professionals should these be required during a participant’s time with us.
When you join as a South Africa wildlife reserve volunteer, we will send you a Volunteer Handbook. This document addresses a range of issues such as health, safety, visas and dress codes. For any unanswered or specific questions, PMGY offers a comprehensive support network, with online and telephone support staff available 24 hours each day. Our advisers welcome participants to ask as many questions as needed for them to effectively prepare for their trip overseas. On a monthly basis, our International Team also hosts both an Introductory Webinar and Safety Webinar. These are interactive opportunities for international volunteers to learn more about our projects and managing their safety overseas.
When you arrive in-country, you’ll be given a comprehensive introduction to the general volunteer program and your specific project. During this session, our team will also cover important safety advice specific to your country. You’ll also be given the opportunity to purchase a local SIM-card. This is something we strongly suggest, so you’re contactable at all times. In like manner, we will provide you with a full list of the important contact numbers that you’ll need to know.
Although we cannot guarantee your volunteer experience to be 100% trouble-free we have taken all the necessary precautions to make sure each program is as safe as possible.
When do I pay for my volunteer program? Can I pay in instalments?
In order to confirm your place as a South Africa wildlife reserve volunteer, you need to pay a deposit of 249 USD. The remaining fee is then due no less than 60 days prior to your program start date. During this period if you need to make a change to your trip (destination, program or date) then this can be facilitated free of charge. If you’re applying within 60 days of your program start date then you’ll need to pay the full amount to confirm your place. Likewise, in the unlikely event that we are unable to offer you a place on the program then your payment will be refunded in full within 48 hours of applying.
Payments made in advance of the 60 day window can be made in one lump sum or in several instalments. Payments can be made directly through our website using all major debit and credit cards. We will outline instructions to make payment in our email communication with you. Please note credit card payments are subject to a 3% additional fee to cover the bank charges that PMGY incur. Bank transfers can be accepted by UK participants only.
Can I use the program as part of a university or college placement?
It is certainly possible to be a South Africa wildlife reserve volunteer as part of your university or college placement. However, PMGY is unable to guarantee that your time as a South Africa wildlife reserve volunteer will fulfil the requirements of your establishment. Therefore, participants are encouraged to speak to a member of the International Team to establish whether the required parameters can be met. This should be done in advance of applying to the program. When appropriate, school/college/university representatives are welcome to contact PMGY to discuss further the suitability of the program in meeting the participant’s requirements. In addition, we can arrange a school trip abroad to South Africa.
First of all, the PMGY International Team are able to complete paperwork after a South Africa wildlife reserve volunteer has confirmed their place on the program. Additionally, project staff in South Africa can also sign-off any paperwork that is required by your course tutors. However, while our team will do their best to complete any paperwork, we are unable to guarantee that we will be able to comply with every learning objective and requirement or your university/college. PMGY regularly receives medical, nursing, childcare and psychology placement students on our projects globally, with ties with some leading universities.
If you’re a course tutor and would like further information about how one of PMGY’s programs could meet the placement requirements for your course, please contact us directly to schedule a meeting.
BEFORE YOU DEPART
Can I fundraise for my volunteer trip?
With PMGY, the money our volunteers pay goes towards the structure you receive on the South Africa volunteer program. The fundamentals of this cover aspects such as accommodation, airport pick-ups, around the clock support from our international and in-country teams, pre-departure training as well as the implementation and monitoring of the projects.
We do our best to keep our program costs as low and affordable as possible, without sacrificing quality and safety. However, with flights, travel insurance and spending money to factor into your overall budget, you may find you need a little bit of help with the finances. Consequently, a large number of PMGY volunteers decide to fundraise for their trip. In these instances, we recommend that South Africa wildlife reserve volunteers set up an online fundraising page to notify friends and family of your trip.
PMGY have partnered with the online crowdfunding website GoGetFunding for volunteers to create a personalised fundraising page for their trip. This professional online fundraising service allows you to set financial goals and get the message across about what you’re doing. You can also share your PMGY fundraising page across various social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to spread the word.
Can I raise money for the projects?
The PMGY Foundation is a UK registered charity (1169415). This charity has been created to help provide financial aid and assistance to projects we work with on an ongoing basis. Importantly, the objective of the PMGY Foundation is the prevention or relief of poverty for people living in the communities we support. This is achieved by providing or assisting the provision of education, training, healthcare and general living support. Therefore together, we hope that the support offered by the PMGY Foundation helps to enable individuals to generate a sustainable income and be self-sufficient. Consequently, donations made to the PMGY Foundation will be directed to the projects most in need. This is determined by the trustees of the charity during our International Team overseas visits.
If you are looking to help raise money directly for the PMGY Foundation, you can do so via our Virgin Money Giving fundraising page. 100% of all money raised will be donated directly to the projects we support around the world. However, please note that participants are unable to raise money through the PMGY Foundation to help finance the cost of their trip overseas. For South Africa wildlife reserve volunteers looking for further information on how to raise money for their trip abroad, please visit our fundraising page.
How do I register for your online webinars?
Every Tuesday at 4pm (London time), the PMGY International Team hosts one of four pre-departure webinars. These last approximately 45 minutes each and importantly provide volunteers in South Africa with invaluable advice on their upcoming trip. The webinars are hosted by a member of our International Team, who all have extensive knowledge of our projects around the globe. You can attend (and even ask questions) from anywhere in the world, simply by logging in through your own computer. All you need is a computer, a good internet connection and a pair of headphones. In addition to this, if any family or friends would like to attend the session as well, they are more than welcome to do so.
For individuals who have not yet signed up to one of our programs, but would like to learn more about us, we encourage you to join our Introductory Webinar. Across 45 minutes, a member of the International team will introduce you to the concept of volunteering abroad, our destinations and both social and safety aspects of our programs.
For South Africa wildlife reserve volunteers who have already confirmed their volunteering role on the program, there are three for you to choose from. Please note that you need to sign up for the webinar a few days in advance.
Travel Essentials Pre-Departure Webinar – covers all the basics.
Program Preparation Webinar – covers specifically childcare and teaching community work programs.
Safety & Wellbeing Overseas Webinar – covers the risks associated with overseas travel and how you can keep as safe as possible.
Will I require vaccinations and malaria tablets for my volunteer work?
It is possible that as a South Africa wildlife reserve volunteer you may require a course of vaccinations in preparation for your volunteer work in South Africa. However, unfortunately, PMGY is unable to legally advise on these matters, since we are not medical experts. Therefore, it is vital that you contact your local doctor or travel clinic a few months in advance of your intended travel. Your local doctor/nurse will be able to advise you on vaccinations and malaria prevention you may need for entry into your volunteer destination. Additional information can be found on the NHS Fit For Travel website.
How do I arrange my flights to volunteer in South Africa?
When you apply to be a South Africa wildlife reserve volunteer, we cannot guarantee your place on the program immediately. Indeed, on receiving an application, we have to liaise with our local team to ensure there is space available on the program and to assess your suitability for the specific project. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you do not make any flight and/or travel arrangements until your program has been confirmed by us in writing. Of course, once your place as a South Africa wildlife reserve volunteer has been confirmed, you are then free to book your flights either with PMGY or through a third-party travel agent.
After confirming your place on a PMGY volunteer program, we strongly advise that you book your flights as early as possible. This is since it will help ensure that you get the lowest airfare. You can choose to book your flights independently or we can help you with arranging them. PMGY has a wealth of experience in travelling to and from our host countries. Therefore, we know the most affordable ways to travel and the best airlines to use. Therefore, if you would like any assistance booking your flight, you can request an optional flight quote during your online application. Alternatively, feel free to contact us on the phone or by email.
Do you offer travel insurance?
Importantly, having an appropriate travel insurance policy during your time abroad is essential. Therefore, it is mandatory for all of our international volunteers to be appropriately covered across all of their trip dates. This includes your travel to and from the host country, as well as any onward travel. Although PMGY does everything to ensure your trip is safe, inevitably things can go wrong. Therefore, having a travel insurance policy in place helps you effectively deal with any problems you may encounter during your time away.
We have partnered up with the insurance company Endsleigh to create an affordable and comprehensive optional policy. This has been designed with our international volunteers in mind, to cover our participants for all of their travel essentials. The policy is available to anyone across the globe, up to the age of 65 years. The document will cover you for your time on any PMGY destination and any onward travel (excluding the US and Canada). You can purchase PMGY Travel Insurance during your online application or you can contact us directly to arrange it.
How do I obtain a background check?
To become a South Africa wildlife reserve volunteer, you’ll need to provide us with a clean DBS or Police Check before you travel. This is a check that must be issued by an official Governmental or Police Body. PMGY have a commitment to the projects we support to ensure the volunteers we send are trustworthy and of sound moral character. Consequently, we are unable to accept participants who have had any previous criminal convictions.
If you hold a current DBS or Police Check, then we can accept this, providing it is clear and issued no more than 18 months prior to your program start date. You will need to upload a copy of this to your online portal after confirming your place on the program. Furthermore, the DBS or Police Check must be submitted to us no less than 21 days prior to your program start date.
If you don’t have a valid DBS check , then you will need to apply for one. UK volunteers need to apply for a “Basic Disclosure” through Gov.uk (which serves all people in the UK). This costs 23 GBP and takes around 15 working days to process. Full information on how to obtain a DBS check through Gov.uk is outlined in the Volunteer Handbook, received once you have confirmed your place as a South Africa wildlife reserve volunteer.
For South Africa wildlife reserve volunteers from the US, you can apply for a background check through US Criminal Checks. It costs 17.95 USD and is usually processed immediately. Alternatively, you are welcome to arrange your own background check through your local Sheriff’s Office or governmental body.
For all other international participants, we recommend you obtain a Police/Criminal Background Check through your local police station or official governmental body.
When will I receive my Volunteer Handbook?
All volunteers in South Africa will receive a PMGY Volunteer Handbook once they have paid their deposit and confirmed their place on the program. We will send you an email entitled ‘Welcome to PMGY’ which will include a link where you can download the Volunteer Handbook. Please note that we do not send a hard copy of the PMGY Volunteer Handbook.
This Handbook contains everything you need to know to prepare as a South Africa wildlife reserve volunteer. Ranging from what to pack to how to obtain a visa, we do our best to ensure you are ready to hit the ground running. Therefore, it is really important that you read through the Volunteer Handbook carefully once you’ve downloaded it. If you find any of your questions unanswered after reading through this, then our team are always on hand to assist you. You can contact us via email, telephone, Skype, Facebook, online chat…whatever works best for you!
ON YOUR TRIP
Can I arrange a private room?
All of our accommodation options on the South Africa volunteer program involve sharing a room with other participants (usually same-sex). Unfortunately, we are unable to arrange private room options for our South Africa wildlife reserve volunteers.
Can you cater for my dietary requirements?
Our teams will do their best to cater for any dietary requirements. However, this cannot be guaranteed as a South Africa wildlife reserve volunteer. Consequently, there may be instances where you need to purchase alternative ingredients at your own expense. Any dietary requirements should be noted within your application and re-iterated to the local team on arrival into the country. Importantly, any concerns for major requirements should be raised with the PMGY International Team before confirming your place on the program.
Are there any public holidays that affect project availability?
We aim to communicate as clearly and accurately as possible all holidays that impact project availability. This information can be found via our Holiday Dates page and in the Volunteer Handbook. However, due to the nature of developing countries, holidays can often be sporadic or prone to change. In turn, these can unexpectedly affect project availability. Therefore in such instances, we ask our volunteers to be flexible and appreciative of this. These periods often provide volunteers in South Africa with a unique experience to enjoy the festivities and holidays themselves. However, our local teams will always do their best to find alternative project work if applicable/possible.
What is the dress code at the projects?
Dress code varies from country-to-country and sometimes from project-to-project. Importantly, we ask that our volunteers adopt a smart and responsible image during their time in the communities. Of course, we will outline the specific dress code requirements in your Volunteer Handbook so you know exactly what to pack. In addition to this, our local team will also brief you during your in-country orientation on arrival in South Africa.
The general rule of thumb for girls is to cover shoulders, chest, stomach and thighs. In a like matter, for men, shorts should not lie above the knee and shirts should cover shoulders. Whilst we do not wish to impose strict regulations on our volunteers, we do ask that you respect the local culture during your travels. Moreover, dressing appropriately will earn you the respect of the people you’ll be working with. Therefore, our Volunteer Handbooks, outline preferred dress-codes in detail.
Additionally, it’s also a good idea to take some nicer clothes for the weekends and special occasions. However, please avoid tight and very short clothing. You should also avoid clothing that may have potentially offensive slogans on it. Tattoos and piercings should be covered where possible whilst you’re at your placement, particularly if you’re working with children.
How much spending money will I need?
The amount of extra spending money you should take with you as a South Africa wildlife reserve volunteer can depend on a multitude of factors. Considerations include what you undertake during your free time and how many souvenirs you purchase! Therefore, if you plan to go for a safari in Tanzania or perhaps go trekking in South Africa, you will need to budget accordingly. However, for general expenses and some independent travel, you should find 100-150 USD per week a suitable amount.
Will I be able to travel whilst on the program?
You’ll have plenty of opportunities to travel during your time with PMGY. In fact, we encourage you to travel during your free time! Most of our programs have been designed so that you have weekends off. Therefore, this gives you the opportunity to explore the local area or even travel further afield within your host country. Our local coordinators will provide you with all the weekend opportunities and travel tips you need to help you plan any independent adventures. During your time as a South Africa wildlife reserve volunteer, you are sure to make some travel buddies along the way!
Before booking your flights, we recommend that you look into travel opportunities across dates on either side of your volunteering placement. It is always great to spend some time travelling and seeing more of the country you wish to volunteer in. However, if you plan to travel extensively, please factor this into your flight itinerary. This is since we only encourage travel during weekends while you’re volunteering, as you have made a commitment as a South Africa wildlife reserve volunteer.
During your time on the South Africa volunteer programs you will live in one of our Volunteer Houses. This is located right in the middle of the reserve compound. The accommodation is basic but comfortable. Furthermore, it offers a friendly and lively atmosphere for international volunteers. You’ll be living with other volunteers from around the world, so you’ll make plenty of friends along the way.
We will transport you via jeep to and from the accommodation for your volunteer work in South Africa. Volunteers will be transported to each volunteering activity on the reserve. This service is included in your Program Fee.
You will be housed in either the Kubs Quarters or Mafusa Camp dorms. The dorms are single-sex dorms. Volunteers are provided with bed linen, cupboard space and a mini-locker safe to store any valuables. We strongly recommend that volunteers bring a padlock. Alternatively, they can often be bought from our small shop on-site if forgotten. Bathrooms are shared In a dorm-like form with a western-style toilet. In addition, hot showers are usually available.
There are communal areas across the accommodation. They come with comfortable sofas, fridge space, books and tea/coffee stations to enjoy some relaxation. Wi-Fi is available (although intermittent) in the main lounge area outside of volunteering hours. This is a short walk from the volunteer accommodation. Volunteers have access to the swimming pool, tennis courts and entertainment room during downtime as well.
Furthermore, a chargeable laundry service also operates once per week for all volunteer in South Africa participants. As a result, volunteers can hand over their clothes to be washed, dried and returned to them. Most importantly, the reserve has on-site security throughout. This includes around the accommodation compound and on the main entrance into the reserve.
During your volunteer trip to South Africa, volunteers will be provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Meals are aimed to be as varied as possible across the week so that each day is different. For example, the breakfast consists of cereals, bread, butter, jam, peanut butter, tea, coffee and cheese. However, sometimes the reserve serves eggs, sausages or baked beans. In other words, it can vary and also be a combination of the above from time to time.
As for lunch and dinner, the reserve provides a wide variety ranging from burgers, chicken and macaroni cheese. This extends to vegetarian dishes, chips, potato casserole and so on (so you definitely won’t go hungry!). Finally, all meals come with a salad option as well. Please note that all meals are served at the Mafusa dining area. Above all, no cooking is allowed in any of the kitchen areas.
* Please note our local team will do their best to cater for any dietary requirements. However, there may be instances where you may need to purchase alternative ingredients at your own expense. Any dietary requirements should be noted within your application and re-iterated to the local team on arrival into the country. Most importantly, any concerns for major requirements should be raised with the PMGY International Team before confirming your place on the volunteer program.
* These fees apply to each individual application.
In order to apply to join PMGY you are required to make your Registration Fee payment of 249 USD. In the unlikely event we are unable to offer you a place on the program then your Registration Fee will be refunded in full within 48 hours of applying. The remaining fee is then due no less than 60 days prior to your program start date. During this period if you need to make a change to your trip (destination, program or date) then this can be facilitated free of charge.
If you’re applying within 60 days of your program start date then you’ll need to pay the full amount to confirm your place. Likewise, in the unlikely event that we are unable to offer you a place on the program then your payment will be refunded in full within 48 hours of applying.
Any remaining payments must be made no less than 60 days prior to your start date. This payment can be made in one lump sum or in several instalments. If you chose to take our insurance or book a flight with PMGY then these must be paid for (in full) at the time of booking.
Payments can be made directly through our website using all major debit and credit cards. We will outline instructions to make payment in our email communication with you. Please note credit card payments are subject to a 3% additional fee to cover the bank charges that PMGY incur.
OPTIONAL TRIPLE CARBON OFFSET SCHEME – 45 USD
PMGY provide participants with the opportunity to contribute towards our Triple Carbon Offset Scheme. This not only helps eliminate your carbon footprint but helps the planet with a positive contribution every time you fly. The Triple Offset Idea for volunteers in South Africa works as follows –
🇰🇪 Kenya – 59 mango trees are planted in Kenya. These are capable of absorbing the total carbon emissions for a volunteer trip to South Africa and also help provide a sustainable income for local farmers.
🇮🇳 India – 80 days of access to a solar cooker are provided to a family in India. This means the family don’t have to spend on firewood and thus reduce their dependence on trees.
🇺🇸 USA – 1.25kg of rescued meals are provided to the homeless in the USA. This recycles wasted food reduces methane emission from food waste which is equivalent to 1lb of CO2 emissions.
This optional add-on can be added during the online application process or can even be added on at a later date. The offset platform is provided by our charity, the PMGY Foundation and ensures that 100% of contributions are put towards high impact projects around the world.