Family volunteering - Teaching & Big 5 Conservation


A great combination of community work and conservation, absolutely perfect for family volunteer groups. Visit one of the most beautiful areas of Zimbabwe, teach English to rural children and experience life on a Big 5 wilderness conservancy. Family volunteers will deliver an approved English literacy programme to eager-to-learn rural primary school children, and make an impact on their early education.

Experience daily life on a 150,000 acre family-owned Big 5 game conservancy in one of Zimbabwe's most stunning wilderness areas. The reserve is home to huge numbers of big game including leopards, majestic spiral-horned antelope and, over the past 20 years, the area has also earned a reputation for producing stunning large-maned lions, elephants with amazing tusks and big-bossed buffalo - truly an animal-lovers paradise.

You and your family will learn to track and monitor rhinos, elephants, lions and the endangered Africa wild dog. Get a real experience of African life, whilst contributing to wildlife conservation and community projects. More than just your average safari holiday!

Your project is split between teaching English to small groups of children in the local school, and hard work in the game park. Learn about wildlife conservation and provide assistance in the daily running of the conservancy. Join anti-poaching rangers on patrol, track black rhino, and monitor wild dogs and their puppies.

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Quick Facts

Who can join: Families with children aged over 8
Accommodation: Volunteer house

Transfer time: 5 hours

Pick up from: Harare

Meals: 3 meals a day included

Project numbers: Minimum 3
Start dates: Throughout the year

How much: Pricing dependent on group size and duration

Programme Activities

Volunteering with your family? This project is perfect!

This programme, one of the only Big 5 Conservation Programmes aimed at families, is perfect for a family holiday with a purpose. The project is run by a Zimbabwean family who will soon take you under their wing and get you involved in day to day life!

  • Help improve the education and opportunities for local schoolchildren - inspire them to great things!
  • Learn about conservation from expert guides in Africa's largest privately owned wildlife conservancy
  • Join anti-poaching patrols and help protect Africa's endangered wildlife
  • Experience true African wilderness and enjoy the sights and sounds of the bush
  • Witness incredible animal sitings far off the beaten track
  • Get involved in local projects and learn about the challenges faced by rural communities

This project is all about fun, hard but rewarding work, amazing animal sitings and important community engagement: all set in a family environment within a piece of true, unadulterated African wilderness.

What sort of things will we be doing?

Volunteers enjoy a diverse mixture of wildlife conservation activities; learning about the animals and birds from experienced rangers; and teaching in the local school. Interspersed will be more activities dependent on the time of year, movements of the animals, the age of your children, and the weather!

Teaching and literacy (term time):

  • Deliver a Ministry of Education-approved English literacy programme to small groups of primary school children
  • Help with lessons in computer skills
  • Get involved with building, maintenance and painting projects at the school
  • Teach basic numeracy and literacy
  • Play sports and games with the children - be prepared for barefoot races!
  • Conservation education - teach children about the importance of caring for the animals and birds which surround them


  • Get involved on the farm - learn about citrus farming and learn to drive a tractor!
  • Help in the sheep and cattle sections
  • Learn about local projects to assist with poverty alleviation - sewing groups and community education programmes

Conservation and Wildlife:

  • Assist with the day to day running of the reserve, learn new practical skills and learn about conservation challenges
  • Go on patrols with experienced scouts and check for snares and evidence of poaching
  • Learn to track rhino and elephants on foot - experience the thrill of tracking and finding these amazing animals
  • Monitor the wild dog trail cameras - especially exciting in denning season (May - October). There are three wild dog packs in the area
  • Monitor other trail cameras and water points
  • Go on game drives to monitor the location of collared animals - have amazing animal sitings!
  • Road, river and fence maintenance, especially during and just after the rains
  • Go birding and on nature walks with knowledgeable guides
  • Help in the workshop - learn to change a tyre, Africa-style!
  • Experience the amazing night skies and experience the kingdom of the nocturnal creatures while on night patrols

Leisure time:

On your days off and during the week, there is plenty of leisure time to play volleyball and football in the river beds, go swimming, fish in the rivers and dams, experience the fun of flying a microlight, have a braai, go for sundowners and enjoy incredible views of the African wilderness.

If relaxing isn’t your thing, then you can also go horse riding, canoeing and help around the game park and farm - there is always something to do!


Volunteers are based in the very centre of the Save Valley on one of the most beautiful of the 15 privately owned areas which make up the Save Valley Conservancy. The 150,000 acre conservation area is home to all of Africa’s Big 5 game as well as thriving packs of the endangered African Wild Dog - there are dens right by the volunteer house which makes April - August great times to visit!

Your home will be in a volunteer house, sleeping 4-6 people in three shared rooms with two bathrooms. Other accommodation is available for larger groups. There is a cook and a housekeeper who will make sure you are well fed and looked after! There is a borehole for drinking water and there is hot and cold running water for showers and baths.

Larger groups can often be accommodated in the lodge on the property if required. 

Three meals a day are provided from Monday - Saturday plus tea, coffee, juices and water. On Sundays volunteers are responsible for cooking for themselves (food is provided).

Rates & Dates

When can I volunteer?

The project runs from the first week of January through to the middle of December. Volunteers should aim to start their project on a Monday, but dates can be flexible.

Project pricing

We will calculate a bespoke rate for you, depending on how long you want to stay and your group size. Children aged 10 and over pay the full adult rate. Children under 10 receive a 15% discount.

Sample pricing is below:

2 adults and 2 children over 10 staying 1 week: $3,860
2 adults and 2 children under 10 staying 1 week: $3,571
2 adults and 2 children over 10 staying 2 weeks: $7,720
2 adults and 2 children under 10 staying 2 weeks: $7,141

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 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

View our booking terms and conditions


Who should volunteer?

This is a wonderful experience for families with children 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 recommended age for the project is 8 years. However, families with younger children should still apply, and will be dealt with on a case by case basis. 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 there is only one family group taken at a time, but larger groups can be accommodated or combined if necessary.

Do I get some time off?

On your days off (usually Saturday afternoon and Sunday), and during the week, there is plenty of leisure time to play volleyball and football in the river beds, go swimming, fish in the rivers and dams, experience the fun of flying a microlight, have a braai, go for sundowners and enjoy incredible views of the African wilderness.

If relaxing isn’t your thing, then you can also go horse riding, canoeing and help around the game park and farm - there is always something to do!

When can I arrive?

Project start dates are flexible. Included in your programme fee is a return car transfer from Harare. As the Save Valley is approximately 5 hours from Harare we would ask that family volunteers arrive at least the day before their project start date to ensure an early start in the morning.

How long can I volunteer for?

We recommend a minimum 1 week stay as the transfer time is 5-6 hours each way.

Do I need a visa?

Most nationalities can get a 30-day tourist visa upon arrival into Zimbabwe. Fees are dependent on nationality and vary from around $30 to $75. 

Please check your visa eligibility prior to travel.

What animals are in the conservancy?

The reserve is a Big 5 area (lion, elephant, rhino, leopard and buffalo), with strong populations of African wild dog - one of only eight African countries with viable populations.

Volunteering in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is the true home of Conservation Travel Africa. The country has previously been in the international news for all 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 through adversity, 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 wild-ness 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.

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.

Please enquire about our tours and safari options around Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls.

Other family volunteer programmes:

Take a look at some other family-friendly volunteer programmes and experiences:

Project Gallery - Family volunteering - Teaching & Big 5 Conservation


Family volunteering - Teaching & Big 5 Conservation This was a great choice of ways to spend some time together as a family. Great for the synapses, the mind, the air and the body - and much tougher than New York living! I enjoyed the people and the animals the most. The animals were amazing, even the stories of the bad animals - mad elephants and baboons! I ll always remember the two giraffes running in the spotlight at night, the ... Robert S, USA Read More
Family volunteering - Teaching & Big 5 Conservation We chose this programme because it allowed us to bring our four children aged 8-12, enabling us to volunteer as a family. We stayed in a beautiful cottage with plenty of space and a lovely garden and the food was great - roast beef and yorkshire pudding was a highlight for me! On the old maps of Zimbabwe, the area is described as unfit for human habitation. It is easy, when looking at the ... James G, UK Read More
Family volunteering - Teaching & Big 5 Conservation Totally worthwhile project We were the first volunteers on this program and a family of 4 (children 13 14). We all had an amazing experience. Very quickly we were made to feel part of the local community and kept very busy, whether teaching in the local school or helping out on the conservancy. The children in the school are amazing, great fun and very keen to learn. Among the activities on the conservancy we were ... Cathy H, UK Read More

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