Family volunteering - Rhino & Elephant Conservation

Zimbabwe

Bring the kids, as you get closer than you ever thought possible to endangered rhinos and elephants. Experience the thrill of interacting with these iconic animals while doing valuable conservation and community work.

This unique conservation programme gives families a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience wild animals in a safe and natural environment. Based on a 10,000 acre private game reserve in Zimbabwe, this family volunteer programme is truly one of a kind. Where else could your children touch the leathery skin of a black rhino, look an elephant in the eye and learn bushcraft and survival skills? Learn about endangered species conservation and the battle that these ancient animals face to stay alive.

Our Rhino & Elephant Conservation Programme is the sister project to this family volunteer experience and is one of our most popular projects. This programme can be adapted to make it more suitable for younger children, and has activities added which we know children (and parents!) will love! The reserve has  wonderful guides who are experienced at teaching children to appreciate and understand the bush, and help them develop leadership skills and empathy towards rural communities and the wildlife which surrounds them.

The reserve is home to four of Africa’s Big 5 game (there are no leopard) and has a huge range of plains game including kudu, waterbuck, wildebeest, crocodile, giraffe, zebra and the rare sable antelope. With 150 species of birds and lots of reptiles and small mammals, it is an animal-lovers paradise which will enchant your whole family.

Quick Facts

Who can join: Families with children aged 6 and up (please contact us if any of your children are under 6)
How long can I stay: 1+ weeks (shorter stays on request)
Start dates: Year-round (Christmas and New Year on application only)
Accommodation: Volunteer house / tented camp (dependent on group size and availability)
Meals: 3 meals a day included
Transfer time: 2 hours
Pick up from: Harare
How much: $855 per person (1 week) (based on a minimum of four people)

Programme Activities

VOLUNTEERING WITH YOUR FAMILY? THIS PROJECT IS PERFECT!

The project will of course focus on rhino and elephant conservation! Learn about these amazing animals, hear the fascinating story about the reserve and hear their amazing animal stories. Enjoy nature walks and game drives with experienced guides, get your hands and clothes dirty doing work around the conservancy and engage with local communities to experience a different way of life.

WILDLIFE CONSERVATION & ANIMAL INTERACTION

Increase your knowledge of rhinos and elephants and get up close to these endangered animals. Learn about the animals, birds, trees and environment as you immerse yourself and your family in game park life.

Activities:

  • Walk with the rhino and elephants and learn from their experienced handlers
  • Learn about rhino conservation and the challenges the species faces to survive
  • Help put the rhinos and elephants to bed and make sure they have adequate food and water
  • Track and locate the white rhino using telemetry
  • Learn to recognise different animal tracks and signs as you hike through the bush
  • Go on nature walks and game drives and learn to identify different animal and bird species - prepare for spot tests!
  • Enter the kingdom of the nocturnal creatures as you go on night walks after dark

GAME PARK WORK

Get involved with every aspect of the game park, and get a behind-the-scenes peek into the running of a 10,000 acre conservation area.

Activities:

  • Go on patrol to check for evidence of snares and traps, and report damage to the boundary fence
  • Deliver feed and nutritional supplements to sable, zebra and other plains game. Help feed the lion and hyenas
  • Join the Anti-Poaching Unit (APU) as they undergo training exercises
  • Assist with fence building and repair
  • Help with game park projects such as building fireguards and repairing roads
  • Remove invasive plant species and help with tree planting

BUSHCRAFT & SURVIVAL SKILLS

Your guide will teach you how to survive in the bush, how to find water and how to navigate without a compass - all activities which are great for developing leadership skills. Take part in practical conservation lessons and learn how to work together as a team.

Activities:

  • Learn bush survival skills - how to find water, how to nagivate using the natural environment, how to make a fire and find food
  • Use the trees and grasses around to you make rope, a bush shower and even a toothbrush!
  • Do physical training with the APU on the obstacle course and abseil from the top of Castle Kopje
  • Learn about the night skies and the constellations - so different from the ones at home. Learn to navigate at night using the stars

CULTURE & COMMUNITY

The heart of the game park is our community. The programme's vision is to share the importance of protecting the wildlife and environment with rural communities and school children, to better secure the future of all Africa's animals, in particular the black rhino. 

Activities:

  • Play sports and games - challenge yourself in a soccer or volleyball game
  • Immerse yourself in the Shona culture; learn to cook sadza and nyama, sing songs and move your feet in traditional dances. Meet members of the local community and exchange ideas and experiences
  • Visit Markwe Caves and learn about the ancient Bushman paintings and the history of the Wedza area
  • Brave the ladder and climb to the top of Castle Kopje as you learn the game park's rich history and listen to fantastic stories!

Accommodation

Pre-programme accommodation

We recommend you arrive into Harare the day before the programme starts and settle in, ready for your pick-up the next morning. You will be collected from your hotel, B&B or lodge on the Monday morning, and transferred by vehicle to the game reserve (around 2 hours). If you choose to arrive into Zimbabwe on the Monday, we recommend your flight arrives before 1500.

We recommend the following accommodation in Harare:

  • Lodge: Kutandara Lodges (beautiful lodges in a tranquil garden with a pool)
  • Lodge: Sunbird Guest House (very welcoming, with rooms in a lovely old-style single storey home).
  • Hotel: The Bronte Hotel (small, independent hotel in the city centre with lush gardens)

Please ask us for other recommendations according to your budget!

Accommodation on the project

Depending on when you arrive, and the size of your group, you will either be accommodated in the dedicated volunteer house, situated in the heart of the conservancy on the banks of a large dam (lake). Here, you will sleep in comfortable twin, double or dormitory accommodation with shared bathrooms and hot and cold water. There are also three outside solar showers with an amazing view of the sunset! All bedding, linen and towels are provided. 

For smaller groups (4 people), you will be accommodated in a cottage situated at the reserve's guest lodge. The cottage will comfortably sleep two adults and up to three children (depending on ages), and has its own bathroom, small kitchenette and lounge. All bedding, linen and towels are provided. 

All family volunteers will enjoy three home-cooked meals a day. Tea, coffee, water and juice is freely available during the day and there is the option to purchase fizzy and alcoholic beverages. Both accommodation options have a housekeeper who will make beds, clean and do any laundry you might have.

The houses have no wifi but 3G signal is available, and you can buy a local Econet SIM card at the airport when you arrive. Telephone signal is good around the conservancy.

Rates & Dates

When can I volunteer?

Volunteers can begin on any Monday throughout the year (Christmas and NY on enquiry only). Please arrive into Harare the day before and stay overnight, ready for your early morning transfer the next day. We recommend a minimum 2 week stay. 

Project pricing 2018:

1 week - $855
2 weeks - $1,715
3 weeks - $2,570
4 weeks - $3,430
5 weeks - $4,285
6 weeks - $5,145
7 weeks - $5,995
8 weeks - $6,860

Project pricing 2019:

1 week - $895
2 weeks - $1,795
3 weeks - $2,700
4 weeks - $3,605
5 weeks - $4,505
6 weeks - $5,405
7 weeks - $6,305
8 weeks - $7,210

(Prices are per person based on a minimum of four people)

 

What does the cost include?

  • Programme fee - financing which goes back into the programme your are involved with; this includes funding for equipment, supplies, vehicles and foodstuffs
  • Transfers to and from Harare on a Monday
  • Full board and lodging for the duration of your programme including laundry (exc. alcoholic and fizzy drinks)
  • Practical instruction on wildlife and plant identification as well as spoors, tracking and animal behaviour
  • All programme-related transport and equipment required to do your work
  • 24 hour support and guidance from the volunteer programme staff

The programme cost excludes:

  • Transport by air or bus to Harare
  • Visas
  • Any expenses prior to your programme start date
  • Any personal items such as alcoholic drinks, snacks, additional food or souvenirs
  • Personal medical and travel insurance, which must cover the entire duration of your programme and should include cover for repatriation, air evacuation and any activities you may undertake or plan to undertake
  • Any additional trips outside the volunteer programme
  • Telephone calls and internet (3G internet only)

View our booking terms and conditions

FAQs

Who should volunteer?

This is a wonderful experience for families of all ages, where you will experience Africa in a safe environment, work hard and become part of a very special team. No experience is required to volunteer - as long as you have a passion for wildlife and an enthusiastic “can-do” attitude, you are very welcome!

How old do I need to be?

The minimum age for the family project is 6 years, although younger children can often be accommodated. There is no upper age limit, but if you are over 65 we will need a completed medical form signed by a doctor. 

How many people will there be?

Usually just one family is accommodated at the same time, but if you are a larger group please do enquire for more options!

Do we get some time off?

Volunteers get one and a half days off per week. For those volunteers who are keen hikers, we can arrange a trip to Wedza Mountain and for those who are interested in cultural history there are some very old bushman paintings at Markwe Caves (just outside the reserve).

We would recommend a trip to Victoria Falls, which can be done either at the beginning or end of your holiday. We are experts at arranging family adventures in the Falls, so please enquire for more details!

When can I arrive?

Ideally volunteers should arrive on a Monday, but the project can be flexible. Transfers from Harare are $100 per vehicle each way. Groups of up to 6 can usually be accommodated in one car.

How long can I volunteer for?

1 - 12 weeks. Longer or shorter stays can usually be accommodated, please enquire for more details.

Do I need a visa?

Most nationalities can get a 30-day tourist visa upon arrival into either Harare, Bulawayo or Victoria Falls Airports (Harare is the most local to the project). Fees are dependent on nationality and vary from around $30 to $75. Extensions are available from the Harare Department of Immigration, to a maximum stay of 6 months.

Please check your visa eligibility prior to arrival.

What animals are at the conservancy?

The sanctuary is currently home to four elephants, seven black and three white rhino, buffalos, a lion, giraffe, a variety of antelopes, crocodiles, zebra and the rare sable antelope.

Combination Projects and Travel Experiences

We highly recommend making the most out of your trip to Africa and consider combining two or more volunteer projects, or taking part in a safari or tour.

Please enquire for more details of our family friendly tours, excursions and volunteer programmes!

About Zimbabwe

Weather and Climate

According to International Living Magazine in 2011, Zimbabwe ties with Malta as having the best climate in the world. With the sun appearing an estimated 90% of the year and 300 fully sunny days a year, who can argue with that?

Summer is from November to March where temperatures range from an average minimum of 15°C to an average maximum of 35°C with localised, intermittent rainfall. Winter is from April to early September and is dry, with an average maximum temperature of 25°C. Temperatures can drop to 5°C at night but frosts are rare except on high ground and the daytime temperatures are extremely sunny and comfortable. When packing during winter, think layers!

Travel Hotspots

The country is safe to navigate and there are is a good public transport system between Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls (buses and flights). Car hire is very expensive to go city-city or to go on your own self-drive safari. However we can assist with organising add-on experiences to any of the places below, to make your trip even more exciting!

Victoria Falls or Mosi-au-Tunya (“the Smoke that Thunders) has the largest sheet of falling water in the world (1,708m wide and 108m high), and is located on the far western tip of Zimbabwe on the border with Zambia. Victoria Falls is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. As well as the Falls being a definite must-see for visitors, Victoria Falls town is a lively centre for adventure. For white-water rafting the best time to visit is when the waters in the Zambezi are low (August - December), and these rapids have been referred to as the best one-day white-water rafting in the world. From Victoria Falls it is also easy to organise day trips to Chobe National Park in Botswana.

Hwange National Park: at 14,000 square kilometers, Hwange is a wildlife enthusiast's dream. With some of the most unspoilt wild areas in Zimbabwe, an abundance of elephants as well as leopard, lion, rhino, buffalo and over 100 bird species, a trip to Hwange should be on everyones To Do list.

Mana Pools National Park: Mana Pools is synonymous with the Zambezi River, elephants, lions, wilderness and remote beauty. It is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name “mana” means “four” in Shona, relating to the four large pools inland from the Zambezi River, the remnants of four ancient ox-bow lakes. Spread over 2,196 square km, the Park is part of a region of 10,500 square km which has no physical boundaries and animals are able to move freely throughout the area.

Great Zimbabwe: a ruined stone city in south Zimbabwe, which was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the 11th Century. One of its most prominent features are its 5m high stone walls, constructed entirely without mortar and the ruins are some of the oldest, largest and most impressive stone structures in Southern Africa. The city was built over a period of 300 years and it is believed that over 18,000 people lived there at its peak before being eventually abandoned and falling into ruins.

Please ask if you are interesed in visiting any other parts of Zimbabwe and we can assist you with booking transport and organising flights and guides.

Project Gallery - Family volunteering - Rhino & Elephant Conservation

Testimonials

Family volunteering - Rhino & Elephant Conservation An incredible family experience Submitted by Patsy B | July 2016 What an amazing experience we have had on the family volunteering project here at Imire. Our leader, Dolf, shared his passion for the bush with us in such a humble way, imparting his knowledge to us all, keeping the boys interested, motivated and involved in all the activities. Wow, what a priviledge it has been to be at Imire, taking part in the day to day ... Patsy B, Dubai Read More

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