Horse Riding & Rhino Conservation

Zimbabwe

The perfect volunteer project for horse riders as you combine horseback safaris, anti-poaching patrols and cattle ranching with hands-on volunteer work with endangered black rhinos and elephants.

Live and work in the heart of a 10,000 acre family owned game park in the heart of Zimbabwe and get involved in a world-renowned black rhino breeding and release programme. With daily horse rides and hands on conservation work, this project is an absolute must for anyone who wants to combine horse riding with volunteer work.

If you are passionate about horse riding and wildlife conservation, this combination project will be a perfect experience. Join this Horse Riding Programme and get involved with black rhino breeding, elephant conservation and game park management as well as daily riding on the back of your very own bush horse - perfect for riding enthusiasts.

Volunteer experience a different Africa as they explore the game park on horseback, undertake fence and boundary monitoring and join the dedicated anti-poaching team for moonlight snare patrols. Camp out with your horse as you drive cattle around the game park and interact closely with wildlife, who not afraid or threatened by horses as they sometimes are by people or vehicles.

You will experience the amazing animal sitings, enjoy the African bush and do essential volunteer work, all on horseback, as well as having the opportunity to interact closely with rhinos and elephants and monitor other wildlife on the reserve.

If you have a passion for wildlife, especially rhino and elephant and love to horse ride, this volunteer programme is definitely for you!

LIMITED AVAILABILITY:

The project has very limited availability for the remainder of 2018. Please enquire ASAP if you are interested in joining us this year.

Quick Facts

Who can join: Riders aged 17 years and over
Accommodation: Volunteer house
Transfer time: 2 hours
Pick up from: Harare
Meals: 3 meals a day included
Project numbers: 4 (12 in the volunteer house)
Start dates: Mondays. Closed from 17th December 2018 - 7th January 2019.
How much: from $1,155 (1 week)

WHY CHOOSE THIS PROJECT?

Experience a unique Africa as you volunteer on horseback. Combine daily horse rides with valuable anti-poaching and game park work and get hands-on with elephants and the endangered back rhino.

Background

The game park was established in the 1950s as a maize, tobacco and cattle farm. During the 1970s game was introduced back onto the land and, like Noah’s Ark, the animals came in two by two and by 1980 the park was home to large herds of plains game - waterbuck, impala, nyala, zebra and the rare sable antelope.

Pioneering elephant studies

In 1980 an orphaned baby elephant from a sanctuary in Harare was offered to the park as it was now too large for their premises. This female elephant, Nzou, was placed with a herd of buffalo, this being the largest herd animal in the park (there were no other elephants at the time). An unknown nuance of elephant behaviour was unwittingly discovered - that they could take on the identity of a species other than their own. Today, despite the best efforts of the park to introduce her to the other four elephants, Nzou continues to live with the buffalo, where she has established herself as the undeniable matriarch of the herd.

Rhino conservation

During the 1980s, a decade which saw some of Zimbabwe’s worst rhino poaching, most of the remaining black rhino in the country were moved out of National Parks into the relative safety of private conservation areas. Since then, 15 black rhino have been born with 11 released back into the Matusadona National Park in the north of Zimbabwe. The government’s release programme was stopped due to excessive poaching and the black rhino again faces extinction.

Volunteers get very involved in rhino monitoring and data collection to learn more about these incredible animals, as well as enabling successful management planning.

In addition to the larger mammals - rhino, elephant, buffalo and lion, volunteers will also witness spotted hyena, jackal, baboons, vervet monkey, aardvarks, zebra, giraffe, mongoose and a huge variety of birds, reptiles, snakes and frogs.

Highlights

  • Combine horse riding with hands-on rhino and elephant conservation
  • Participate in a wide range of activities from horse management and general care to game monitoring, anti-poaching and cattle management
  • Live in a family-run game park, dedicated to rhino conservation and wildlife preservation
  • Immerse yourself in the wildlife around you as you live next door to rhino in the heart of the game park
  • Form close bonds with amazing animals, dedicated staff and volunteers from around the world
  • Get up close and personal with a wide variety of wildlife in their natural environment

Volunteers on this programme will ride for 3-4 hours a day, 5 days a week and also enjoy daily interactions with the game park’s resident elephants, black and white rhino.

What sort of things will I be doing?

No two days are ever the same in Africa and there is usually something unexpected around the corner, but horse riding volunteers get involved in some or all of these activities:

Horse management and general care:

  • Feeding, grooming and general health checks
  • Maintenance and cleaning of equine tack

Anti-poaching support:

  • Ensure Imire is a safe and secure environment for the animals and people within its boundaries through regular patrols
  • Undertake horseback anti-poaching patrols, snare sweeps and boundary patrols in areas inaccessible by vehicle
  • Undertake moonlight patrols and camp-outs
  • Assist with the communication of anti-poaching and conservation messages to local children

Cattle ranching:

  • Monitor the welfare of the cattle herd, assist in their wellbeing and manage their usage of the game park’s resources - all on horseback
  • Move cattle to different sections of the game park
  • Health inspections to check for injury, pests and pregnancies
  • Patrol the game park to find lost cattle, check for new calves and monitor the 800 head herd of cattle
  • Assist with cattle counts and dipping to remove ticks and pests

Game Park Management:

  • Provide daily assistance to the Game Park Manager to ensure the effective running of the reserve
  • Assist in game counts and animal welfare studies, all on horseback
  • Find and assess the condition and health of specific game around the park

Rhino and elephant interaction:
This part of the programme is not done on horseback

  • Observe family interactions and monitor the behaviour of both the black and white rhino and elephants
  • Maintain and clean rhino and elephant beds
  • Carry out research projects and data collection on behaviour and feeding

Details

Do I need any experience to volunteer on this programme?

We welcome volunteers with a passion and interest in wildlife and conservation and the ability to communicate suitably in English. You should be of reasonable mobility and fitness as there is some walking and foot-based tracking involved in the project when you are not on horseback.

Riding Ability

  • You must be able to confidently carry out a rising trot and canter
  • You must have had a number of years of experience of handling different horses
  • You must be confident you can handle a horse on your own and get out of potentially difficult situations
  • This is not a teaching programme - all volunteers must be able to ride when they arrive
  • Please bring your own helmet - no volunteer is allowed to ride without one
  • There is a weight limit of 80kg per volunteer as our horses a smaller bush horses who cannot carry heavier weights for long periods of time

How do I get to the project?

Included in your programme price is a return transfer from Harare.

A day in the life

Volunteers will usually get up around 6.00-6.30am to get started before the day heats up.

Have breakfast and then pack your water and a packed lunch, feed and groom the horses and then head out into the game park to locate the sable and blesbok; count the size and composition of the herd, assess the condition of the babies and check the health of the mothers. Locate the baby giraffe and check the health and location of baby and mother.

After your packed lunch and rest, sitting in the shade of Castle Kopje or on the top of one of our viewpoints, its back onto your horses to ride the fence line to the east of the game park, checking for snares, fence damage and evidence of fires. Make your reports to the Game Park Manager who may task you with fixing any broken areas, or repairing fireguards.

Then its time to drop the horses off, feed and groom them and head back to the house for an evening swim to cool off before a much-needed dinner!

Rates & Dates

When can I volunteer?

Volunteers can begin the Horse Riding and Wildlife Conservation programme on any Monday throughout the year: the project is closed from 17th December 2018 - 7th January 2019.

Note that the maximum length of time is 2 weeks, but volunteers are welcome to join the project’s Rhino & Elephant Conservation Programme if they wish to stay for longer. Please enquire for options.

Project Pricing 2019:

1 week: $1,155
2 weeks: $2,315
1 week riding and 1 week on the Rhino & Elephant Programme: $2,020
2 weeks riding and 1 week on the Rhino & Elephant Programme: $3,185

Additional weeks Rhino & Elephant Conservation: $895 per week

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 etc
  • Transfers to and from Harare on the scheduled date and time
  • 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 only)

View our booking terms and conditions

Accommodation & Leisure

Accommodation

Your home on this project will be a large, thatched, self-contained two-storey house which has a family atmosphere. Situated in the heart of the game park on our largest dam, Numwa House is in an idyllic spot with a pool and plenty of opportunities for fishing. There is a cook and housekeeper who will make sure you are well fed and looked after! You will share the house with volunteers on the Hands-on Black Rhino and Elephant Conservation Programme.

Numwa House has three twin rooms and two dormitories- twin rooms can be requested at the time of booking and a double bed is available in one of these rooms.

There are two bathrooms, one with bath and one with shower and bath and, for those hot days, three outside solar showers. There is hot and cold running water for showers, baths and cooking and a borehole with fresh drinking water.

Three meals a day are provided from Monday - Saturday plus tea, coffee, juices and water. On Sundays the volunteers are responsible for cooking for themselves (food is provided) or you can opt to have a three-course dinner cooked for you by chef’s at the main lodge (additional charge).

Leisure

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). During your spare time you can go fishing on the dam, go on nature walks, or relax at the volunteer house by the pool!

We highly recommend that volunteers take an optional excursion to Victoria Falls and experience Africa's Adventure Capital - home to white water rafting, bungee jumps, zip lines, helicopter rides and, of course, the majestic Falls themselves!

Volunteering in Zimbabwe

Volunteering in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is the true home of Conservation Travel Africa as our founders were all born and still live there. Zimbabwe is often in the international news for the wrong reasons but the reality is quite different and tourism is beginning to grow again in one of Africa’s most beautiful and unspoilt countries.

The country offers something for every traveller - from the absolute wilderness of Gonarezhou and Mana Pools to the ruins of Great Zimbabwe and the hustle and bustle of Africa’s adventure capital,  Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe is rich in colour and the people have retained their resolve, sense of humour and friendliness.

No trip to Zimbabwe would be complete without a visit to Victoria Falls. Mosi-au-Tunya (“the smoke that thunders) is accepted to have 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 between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Victoria Falls is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. As well as the Falls being a definite must-see for visitors, Victoria Falls town is a also lively centre for adventure. For white water rafting the best time to visit is when the waters in the Zambezi are low (August - December) - these rapids have often been referred to as the best one-day white water rafting in the world.

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 must 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 based on its wildness and beauty together with its wide range of large mammals and birdlife. 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, from the Kariba Dam to the Mozambique border, which has no physical boundaries and animals are able to move freely throughout the area. It is the only National Park where visitors are allowed to walk unaccompanied by a guide.

Lake Kariba: the world’s third largest man-made lake offers spectacular elephant and buffalo sitings on its shores as well as being home to the ferocious tiger fish! Take the 24-hour ferry from Milibizi on the southern tip to Kariba town in the north and witness the beauty of remotest Zimbabwe.

Great Zimbabwe: a ruined stone city in south Zimbabwe, which was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the country’s late Iron Age, in around 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.

Nyanga: Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands is home to rolling green hills, majestic waterfalls and the country’s highest peak, Mount Inyangani. A tranquil retreat from the heat of the Lowveld, Nyanga is a haven for bird-lovers and hikers and is also home to rivers ideal for tubing and canoeing.

What will the weather be like?

During the Zimbabwe summer (September - April) temperatures average 28-30°c. Volunteers should bring light clothing in neutral colours (not white), a wide-brimmed hat (as well as a riding helmet), polarised sunglasses, a water bottle, plenty of high factor sunscreen (and after-sun!), strong mosquito spray and closed shoes. A light waterproof jacket is also essential for sudden downpours! Average lows are around 15-20°c.

During winter (May - mid-August) daytime temperatures average 25-27°c with no rainfall at all. Temperatures during the night and in the mornings and evenings can get down to 7-10°c (and it has been known to frost!) so volunteers are advised to bring lots of layers including fleeces and a warm hat for nighttime camping with a wide-brimmed hat or cap and loose light clothing for daytime.

From Bush to Beaches

If you have a little more time to spare and want to make the most of your volunteer experience in Southern Africa, why not combine two horse riding volunteer programmes in two countries, and have twice the fun!

Horse Riding & Conservation, Zimbabwe

Live and work in a 10,000 acre private game reserve in Zimbabwe and get involved with conservation activities on horseback. Go on horseback anti-poaching patrols, ride alongside rhinos and elephants, monitor game and contribute to the management of a large conservation area, home to four of Africa's iconic Big 5. Project details...

Horse Riding Internship, Mozambique

Train horses on white sandy beaches and ride on coastal trails overlooking the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Work in the riding school and take clients riding and swimming on stunning island and beach rides. Help care for more than 70 horses and immerse yourself in the laid-back culture of Southern Mozambique. Project details...

Project Pricing:

- Horse Riding & Conservation, Zimbabwe

1 week: $1,115
2 weeks: $2,230

- Horse Riding Internship, Mozambique

2 weeks: $1,800
Each additional week: $600

Combination project pricing:

4 weeks (2 weeks on each project): $3,750. This includes a discounted rate off the individual project prices - you save $280!

We highly recommend combining both these fantastic projects into one amazing volunteer and intern experience. Please email us for more details and to check availability!

Testimonials

Horse Riding & Rhino Conservation It’s hard to put my experience into words! It was so amazing to learn about and help with the amazing conservation effort that goes on here. Working so closely with the rhino was incredible - a real once-in-a-lifetime experience - and the work that goes into protecting this wonderful animal is inspiring and never-ending. The passion that there is for all the animals is wonderful. I had such an amazing experience trying to re-introduce an orphaned ... Margot H, Canada Read More
Horse Riding & Rhino Conservation We spent two weeks on the horse riding and conservation project and had the best experience ever. We went in October so not too hot (30 degree peaks in the day but much cooler at night), and perfect for early morning rides and beautiful sunsets. As horse riding volunteers we rode every morning nice and early then joined the rest of the volunteers for the daily activities after that. This meant we got the best ... Amy S, United Kingdom Read More
Horse Riding & Rhino Conservation I can t choose one best experience because almost everything was amazing. My best experiences were to horse ride among all the animals, to come so close to the animals, to meet all the children at the school and learn about the Shona culture. I also learned a lot about the animals and their situation, and also about the people which I m very happy about. The best way to experience the bush is from ... Alex E, Sweden Read More
Horse Riding & Rhino Conservation Cattle rounding, baby counting and and rhino proofing! I enrolled in the equine programme and was so excited when I found out I would be riding alongside Judy Travers. She has been a bit of a hero of mine for a while now, and her passion and enthusiasm for wildlife and the surrounding community is so undeniable and inspiring! She assigned us each a horse depending on ability. I got to ride a beautiful pony – Mware ... Rachel M, New Zealand Read More
Horse Riding & Rhino Conservation So many special moments! Where to start! Amy and I arrived late in the evening in the pitch black. Mike and two other volunteers, Steve and Bryan, stayed up to welcome us – everyone else was in bed! In the morning we woke up early to a strange banging noise, looked out the window and saw that there were two rhino (Tatenda and Shanu) knocking their horns on the gum pole pen where they spend their ... Erika W, UK Read More

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