Family volunteering - Rhinos, Elephants & Primates

Zimbabwe

Combine rhino and elephant conservation with small animal care and primate rehabilitation in Zimbabwe. Experience life in a 10,000 acre conservancy dedicated to black rhino protection, and work in a sanctuary focused on the rescue, rehabilitation and release of primates.

Split your time between two amazing projects and get a rounded experience of large and small animal conservation.

Project one is based in Eastern Zimbabwe, at a family run game reserve, home to free-roaming black and white rhino, elephants, buffalo and a variety of plains game. Your role as a volunteer is to work alongside the conservancy team in their daily care of the rhinos, elephants and other animals under their protection. You will get involved with animal monitoring, game counts, anti-poaching and community education programmes. You will also learn from experienced rangers about wildlife conservation and the battle which Africa's animals face to survive.

Your second programme is in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo, at a dedicated primate rehabilitation centre. Volunteers are critical to the daily care and well-being of all the animals at the sanctuary, which has an open-door policy to all wildlife, birds and reptiles. You will assist the animal care team with food preparation, feeding, rehabilitation work and animal enrichment - to encourage the development of natural behaviours.

Quick Facts

Who can join: Families with children aged 6 years and over (please still enquire if any of your children are under 6 years)
How long can I stay for: 2 weeks +
Accommodation: Volunteer house
Pick up from: Harare / Bulawayo
Meals: 3 meals a day included
Project numbers: minimum 4 people
Start dates: Mondays
How much: from $1,860 (2 weeks including transfers)

WHY CHOOSE THIS PROJECT?

Combine the excitement and exhilaration of interacting with rhinos and elephants on a 10,000 acre conservancy, with small animal care and primate rehabilitation in a wildlife sanctuary. Perfect for children of all ages, the projects give an amazing insight into both wildlife rehabilitation and endangered species conservation.

Programme Activities

A UNIQUE CONSERVATION EXPERIENCE FOR ALL THE FAMILY

Combine rhino and elephant conservation with small animal care and primate rehabilitation in Zimbabwe. Experience life in a 10,000 acre conservancy dedicated to black rhino protection, and work in a sanctuary focused on the rescue, rehabilitation and release of primates.

ACTIVITIES: RHINO & ELEPHANT CONSERVATION

Project one is based in Eastern Zimbabwe, at a family run game reserve, home to free-roaming black and white rhino, elephants, buffalo and a variety of plains game. You will work alongside the conservancy team in their daily care of the rhinos, elephants and other animals under their protection. Get involved with animal monitoring, game counts, anti-poaching and community education programmes. You will also learn from experienced rangers about wildlife conservation and the battle which Africa's animals face to survive.

Get involved with:

Rhino and elephant conservation activities: observe and record animal behaviour; feed and walk with the rhinos and elephants, and learn about their survival challenges; support the project's rhino breeding and release programme and maintain excellence in elephant conservation.

Anti-poaching and security: go on foot, vehicle and horseback patrols in vulnerable areas of the park; repair and build fences; train with the dedicated Anti-Poaching Unit.

Conservancy management: provide daily assistance to the Reserve Manager to ensure its successful operation; carry out feed deliveries; assist in game counts; reforesting; road, river and fireguard maintenance.

Community education: the heart of this project is community. Volunteers give additional primary school lessons and encourage children to appreciate the importance of living in harmony with wildlife.

Click for more details of the Family Rhino & Elephant Conservation Project.

ACTIVITIES: PRIMATE REHABILITATION AND ANIMAL CARE

Your second programme is in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo, at a dedicated primate rehabilitation centre. Volunteers are critical to the daily care and well-being of all the animals at the sanctuary, which has an open-door policy to all wildlife, birds and reptiles. You will assist the animal care team with food preparation, feeding, rehabilitation work and animal enrichment - to encourage the development of natural behaviours.

Get involved with:

Animal care: help raise baby primates, help with food preparation and enclosure cleaning. Work hands-on with all the animals at the sanctuary, from bush babies to zebra, klipspringer and ostrich!

Behaviour enrichment: go on bush walks and stimulate natural behavioiur and exploring; build and maintain enrichment toys and playgrounds and work with animals who cannot be released.

Rehabilitation and release: be part of individual animal rehabilitation and release programmes; join the vet team when releases are carried out and monitor released animals.

Community outreach: help run educational tours and activity days for schoolchildren; assist with making teaching materials

Click for more details of the Family Primate Conservation Project.

Accommodation

Rhino & Elephant Conservation Programme

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.

Primate Conservation Programme

Family volunteers live at the sanctuary in purpose-built brick and canvas accommodation. Your home is a large thatched open-plan lodge-style house with two bedrooms, living room and kitchen. There is hot and cold running water for the showers; the water runs off a solar geysers and the house has solar electricity only, so make sure to bring plenty of spare batteries for cameras. Cameras and phones can be charged in the evenings, but it is recommended, if you are able, to bring along solar charging setups for your devices and lots of spare batteries or solar chargers for head torches.

There is a laundry service available and a housekeeper who comes Monday - Friday.

Being on-site means that you are able to be close to the orphans day and night in case you are needed for night-time bottle feeds. You might find yourself with a little orphan sleeping with you! The sanctuary is also home to three deaf Dalmatians who are all rescues. They are easily excited and will seek attention wherever you are! Popular volunteers are those with the energy for evening walks and runs!

Three meals a day are supplied and tea, coffee, water and juice is freely available through the day. If you have any dietary requirements, inform us when signing up for the programme.

There is no WiFi available at the sanctuary, however you can purchase a local SIM card and buy data bundles for Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and emails, to enable you to keep up to date with the outside world. Do bring games, books and other activities for the evenings - laptops and DVDs are welcome.

Itinerary

This combination experience is a minimum two week programme, with the first week usually spent at the Rhino & Elephant Programme, and the second week at the Primate Conservation Programme.

Day 1 (Monday) - arrive into Zimbabwe and transfer to the Rhino & Elephant Programme

Arrive into Harare and transfer by car to the conservancy (approximately 2 hours). Have a full orientation and briefing, meet the team and, if there is time, go on a game drive.

Days 2 - 6 (Tuesday - Saturday lunchtime)

Each working day is split into three parts: an activity before breakfast, one after breakfast and one after lunch.

You will interact daily with either the reserve's rhino or elephants (sometimes with both) and do at least one other activity in the game park - which could be a snare patrol, game count, horse ride, maintenance or anti-poaching training. Twice a week you will visit the local school or community, to give extra English lessons, play sports and help with homework. You will also spend time learning about Shona culture and may get the opportunity to visit a rural village and spend an afternoon experiencing life in the local community.

Day 7 (Sunday)

Saturday afternoon and Sunday is at leisure, and you can spend your time hiking, go on a nature walk, go fishing or canoeing on the dam or relax by the pool at the volunteer house.

Day 8 (Monday) - transfer to the Primate Conservation Programme

Early departure from the conservancy to catch the bus to Bulawayo at 0730 (5 hours), or a domestic morning flight (1 hour). You will arrive into Zimbabwe's second city and transfer to the sanctuary. On arrival you will meet the team, get settled into your accommodation and then go and meet your new animal friends (the deaf Dalmations will probably already be in your room)!

Days 9 - 13 (Tuesday - Saturday lunchtime)

Volunteers begin each day at around 7am preparing food, cleaning enclosures, replenishing water and feeding animals. You will also conduct daily bush walks with the baboons - an essential part of rehabilitation as it teaches them to forage and explore as a group. You may also check the boundary fences, remove traps and snares, plant new trees and collect litter. Certain animals are fed mid-morning and most are fed every evening as well. Other activities might include sitting with the baby baboons and monkeys, looking after the orphans, hunting for browse (and grasshoppers!), checking water and making enrichment toys. You will also have traditional cooking lessons, learn to make a braai and some evenings you may also be required to feed the nocturnal bushbabies, or give a tiny baboon a late night bottle.

Day 14 (Sunday)

Saturday afternoon and Sundays are at leisure, and there is plenty of opportunity for exploring Bulawayo (home to one of Africa's finest Natural History Museums), the neighboring Matopos National Park, visiting Victoria Falls or going to Hwange National Park.

Day 15 (Monday) - departure

Either depart for home from Bulawayo Airport, or head back to Harare for your onward travel.

Rates & Dates

When can I volunteer?

The projects both run from early January through to mid-December. Volunteers should aim to arrive and leave on a Monday.

Project pricing

2018 pricing for this combination project is as follows (all prices in USD):

2 weeks (one week on each): $1,775
4 weeks (two weeks on each): $3,395

Longer lengths are available up to a maximum of 8 weeks on each.

2019 pricing:

2 weeks (one week on each): $1,795
4 weeks (two weeks on each): $3,495

What does the cost include?

  • Programme fee - financing which goes back into the programmes you are involved with; this includes funding for equipment, supplies, vehicles and foodstuffs
  • Return bus transfer between Harare and Bulawayo
  • Accommodation and three meals per day
  • Laundry and housekeeping
  • All programme-related transport and equipment required to do your work
  • 24 hour support and guidance from volunteer programme staff

The programme cost excludes:

  • Transport by air to and from Harare or Bulawayo
  • Return car transfers from Harare to the programme ($100 per car each way)
  • 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 additional 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

FAQs

Who should volunteer on this combination programme?

Both projects are wonderful experiences for volunteers of all ages, where you will experience Africa in a safe, family environment and become part of a very special team, caring for Africa's wildlife. This combination project is perfect for anyone who wants to experience both large and small animal conservation.

How old do I need to be?

The minimum age for participation is 6 years. Families must be aware of the rules concerning minor travellers transiting through South Africa.

When can I arrive?

Arrivals and departures are on a Monday unless otherwise agreed.

How do I transfer between programmes?

Included in the price of your project is return bus tickets from Harare to Bulawayo, and a car transfer from the bus terminal in Bulawayo to the Sanctuary.

It is possible to fly from Harare to Bulawayo on Air Zimbabwe (approximately $90 each way) - if you choose to do this, your flight is for your own account.

The car transfer from Harare to the Rhino Conservation Programme is $100 per car each way. Cars can take a maximum of 6 volunteers at a time.

For more FAQs, please visit the individual project pages:

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 family-friendly tours and safari options around Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls.

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