Elizabeth, South Africa)
The ultimate "Bush,
Beach and Community" experience!
the heartbeat and rhythm of Africa at our Amakhala Game Reserve, which has
quickly become one of the finest malaria-free "Big 5" destinations in the Eastern Cape
wilderness of South Africa. Amakhala is a 15,000 acre game reserve that will
refresh your soul and leave you in awe of life’s
abundance, beauty and spectacular scenery.
Sunlit grassy savannah plains, a mosaic of Valley Bushveld plants
including the Aloe from which Amakhala derives its isiXhosa name, the
gently dappled light of the sand forest, many watering holes and the wide
spellbinding Bushman’s River. This is home to great African mammals
(including lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino) as well as an wide
variety of small mammals, birds and insects. It will humble and fascinate you.
conservation "Pride" volunteer, you are the veins and arteries behind the heart
beat of reserve management at Amakhala. All aspects of conservation
are addressed on this program - the longer your stay, the more in depth
your experience will be.
assisting with our community program, you may
battle across language barriers, cultural differences and socio-economic
backgrounds, however the reward for the local community from our volunteer
efforts is enormous. It may even be a life-changing experience for
you - seeing the smiles and heartfelt appreciation for your small efforts
is absolutely unforgettable.
reserve is continuously monitoring and managing game throughout the
year. Volunteers assist "behind the
scenes" on various ongoing conservation projects and reserve
priorities. Our duty is to provide accurate and up-to-date
scientific information on the reserve and its animals to the people who make the life changing
decisions within the reserve.
the newly-introduced lions is a primary responsibility for the volunteers
at Amakhala, however you will also have the chance to assist with many
other short and long term projects on the reserve including some of the
• Game capture, counts and
Animal tracking using telemetry
• Wildlife identification
• Territorial ranges and feeding
• Lion health and breeding
• Erosion control / road
• Wetland rehabilitation
• Fence patrol and maintenance
• Vehicle maintenance
Alien plant control and bush cleanups
Navigation and compass orientation
Taxidermy - hunting discussion "conservation or not"
Guided bushwalks, tracking and trails through reserve
Bush survival - camping under the stars (weather dependent)
Report writing and updating project data
Kayaking/boat trips on Bushman's River
Reserve priorities at
any one time may continuously change dependent on many external
influences, therefore your involvement in certain projects may be affected.
As such, the longer your placement, the more in depth your involvement
across many facets of conservation and reserve maintenance.
program provides an insight into the environmental issues and management of
a game reserve. Volunteers
are acquainted with the techniques for collecting, analyzing and
disseminating information on ecological aspects. The main focus is having FUN while
contributing towards conservation and rehabilitating the land back to its natural
prides itself on its strong involvement with the local communities and
this work is a highlight for many volunteers.
• Children Aids Orphanage
- The Paterson Children's AIDS orphanage has between 12-30 children of
ages 4-12 at any time. Two dedicated locals run the orphanage,
providing hope, love and life to these children. Amakhala volunteers
generally visit the orphanage several times a week - organizing game days,
assisting with fundraising or just playing with the kids. Both the
volunteers and orphans love these visits - it is amazing to see the
children's happiness when the Amakhala vehicle arrives!
4 Thought Program
- Amakhala volunteers recently began a herb and vegetation nursery by the
AIDS orphanage and have plans to train the community to become
self-sustaining - providing food for themselves as well as making income
by selling their goods. Volunteers are currently responsible for the
fertilizing and maintenance of this nursery.
Welfare and Animal Care
- This latest community project undertaken by the volunteer program is
still in its early stages. Animal care is nearly non-existent within
the rural communities. Costs of having pets spayed or neutered are
simply unaffordable, and therefore overpopulation and sickness are
rife. We are in the process of setting up relief and educational
program whereby pets from the community can be washed/treated/spayed at
a fraction of the normal vet cost and locals can be educated about pet
care and diseases.
previous experience or knowledge is necessary to join the Amakhala
program. The vision behind the volunteer program is to provide
people with the opportunity to give something back to the environment and
have a life changing experience, while providing the reserve with
invaluable conservation assistance.
Amakhala accepts volunteers of 16+ years of
age. Volunteers under 16 years old are only considered when
accompanied by a parent/guardian. There isn't a maximum age limit,
though a reasonable fitness level is necessary.
1 weeks: GB£495 / US$795
2 weeks: GB£695 / US$1195
3 weeks: GB£945 / US$1595
4 weeks: GB£1195 / US$1995
Extra weeks: GB£295 / US$495 per week
Due to fluctuations in the major
currencies, Enkosini will be using the USD rates as our standard until
further notice. The GBP rates above are indications of approximate
www.xe.com to convert from USD to your
Volunteers receive a
US$100 / GB£50 discount when joining multiple Enkosini Eco Experience programmes
(one discount only).
The volunteer contribution
covers accommodation, meals, activities and donation
to the project. Flights and travel/medical insurance are
NOT included. The
only additional spending money required will be for personal purchases
(curios, alcohol, soda, luxury/imported goods, chocolates, sweets,
toiletries), weekend excursions away from Amakhala, and pre/post project
Please bear in mind that the sooner you
apply, the better your chances of securing your placement!
There are no set arrival/departure dates
for this project. Volunteers just need to inform Enkosini Eco Experience
of the date they are planning to arrive. Volunteers are required to sign
an indemnity form acknowledging and accepting the consequences of working
in close contact with wild animals.
You will be accommodated in an
eight-bedroom house in the nearby town of Paterson (10 minutes from the
reserve). The house is a beautiful converted railway station,
overlooking a large garden and within "crawling" distance of the local
drinking hole. Some of the rooms are single rooms, however please
be prepared to share if necessary. A communal dining room
and living room with TV are situated centrally within the house, leading
off to a kitchen. Internet is
available in the sunroom. The house also has an outside braai (BBQ)
area which has seen many festive nights!
program only accepts 8 volunteers, therefore ensuring a unified, highly
personalized experience. The house also accommodates several of the Amakhala rangers and
administrative staff, further contributing to a great family-orientated
atmosphere. Volunteers participate in the creation of
menus and the preparation of meals on a rotational basis.
/ Free Time
working week at Amakhala is Monday to Friday. Working hours are
dependent on the season and the heat - there are often earlier mornings
and longer mid-day breaks in the hot, summer months. Evenings and
weekends are at your own leisure. Volunteers generally relax in the
evenings at the local pub or around the open fire at the volunteer house.
can be used by volunteers to explore some of the surrounding areas.
Volunteers are welcome to hang around the volunteer
house on the weekends, but many people choose to head off in groups -
favorite outings include Jeffrey's Bay for great beaches and surfing, Grahamstown for shopping and festivals, and Port Elizabeth for amazing
are treated to a one night 4-star guest experience at the Safari Lodge at
the Amakhala Game Reserve (R1500 value). The Safari Lodge is tucked
away in a valley of indigenous bush, its location is ideal for the
best wildlife viewing. The intimate thatched lodge with unique
safari huts offers an undisturbed retreat where you can regenerate your
soul and tune into the sounds of nature. Four course dinners of
traditional dishes are cooked safari style over the coals. After a
luxurious bubble bath, a good night sleep awaits you before another active
Amakhala day in the African bush.
The closest towns to
Amakhala are Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth - approximately 600-700 kms
from Cape Town.
and buses are available from
Johannesburg/Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. Arrangements will be made
for the Amakhala staff or JC Shuttle Services to collect incoming volunteers
from either the Port Elizabeth airport or bus station (R350 South African rands or approx GB£25 each way paid directly to staff).
Amakhala is approximately 70 kms (45 minutes) from Port Elizabeth.
and buses can be booked online at www.kulula.com
Amakhala is based in a malaria-free area
and there are no formal vaccination requirements for entering South
Africa, however it is incumbent upon each person to get their own medical
advice on vaccinations and on whether or not to follow a malaria prophylactic program
(especially if you are planning onward travels into malarial zones). See FAQs for complete packing list.
"We arrived in Amakhala four weeks ago not
knowing what to expect. Some of us had traveled alone and were quite
nervous about meeting the rest of the group.
After meeting for 5 minutes we set off to
track the lions and were all blown away by seeing Mufasa, Scar and the three
5 month old cubs. We noticed our facilitator was using what looked like a
television arial to find the lions but we soon learned that this was called
telemetry. Every day we used the telemetry it to track down and
monitor the lions. By the end of the four weeks we were experts in using
telemetry and compete every day to get the quickest time. The record
currently stands at 9 min 30 sec- beat that! Monitoring the lions was
a key activity which we did every day. Doing this is critical for the future
success of Amakhala and its sustainability.
Other animal activities which we were
involved in included elephant monitoring, jackal count, game counts,
crocodile capture and animal relocation. One of the main highlights was
coming eye to eye with Norman the 36 year old elephant bull. He was so close
that if we reached out of the land rover we could have touched him. It was a
breath taking experience!
We were also involved in community based
projects which included giving a life science lecture to the children at the
local school and undertaking some maintenance on the school building.
Twice a week we visited the local orphanage.
This was one of the most rewarding experiences durng our time here as we got
the opportunity to bond with the children there. Every time we went we
played different games with them and did some arts and crafts which they
Other activities we took part in included
camping under the stars in the reserve, a survival challenge where we had to
construct our own shelters and had minimal provision, canoeing on the
bushman’s river, rifle handling, alien tree removal, and fence and road
maintenance. Another opportunity we were lucky to have was behind the scenes
tour of the Born Free Foundation.
During our time off we socialized with the
locals and the rangers at the nearby pub or at the volunteer house. The
house we live in is situated in the small town of Paterson, a short drive
from the reserve and has a resident dog called Odie who likes to join in the
fun. At the weekend there was lots to do in the surrounding area. From sky
diving to horse riding in Addo National Park. We even took on the worlds
highest bungee jumping at storms river.
Last but not least we have Ettiene our
facilitator, to thank for all the amazing experiences we had and the
knowledge he imparted to us. His enthusiasm made our stay interesting, fun
and memorable and we all went away with fond and happy memories of our time
spent at Amakhala. It has been an experience of a lifetime and we all plan
to return in the near future."
"If you are looking for excitement, adventure
and a lot of fun on your trip then read on. I have been a volunteer at
Amakhala for four weeks now and it has exceeded my expectations. Being an
ecologist, I was looking forward to getting up close and personal with South
Africa's wildlife and I have not been disappointed.
The main focus of each
day is the family of lions on the reserve so we normally go out and find
the male (he has a collar) at the beginning of each day and record the
behavior of all five lions before moving on. This is my favorite part of
the day. Even if you are not a morning person (I am not) I am eager to get
up at whatever time necessary. Wednesdays are the earliest starts before
dawn as that is game count day. We are responsible for recording data on
the game in two zones on the reserve which can mean counting every animal
depending on the type of count. The impala can be very tricky to count.
Binoculars are well worth investing in before you come.
Twice a week we spend time
at the orphanage in Patterson so come prepared to give the children there
plenty of hugs and organise fun activities. Last week we set up an obstacle
course for them. Even something as simple as ring a round the roses brings
out lots of laughter. One of the best days here so far involved helping the
vet, William, dart two eland bulls before they were transported to another
area. Things did not go quite according to plan with both animals escaping
from the boma once darted and we had to take cover in the vehicle. The eland
is the biggest species of antelope and it was a privilege to be so close to
these animals. You learn very quickly that a call from William always leads
to an exciting day. A lot of other activities also occur during the week
such as game drives, maintenance work (alien vegetation removal, road
maintenance etc) so bring some sturdy gloves and plenty of energy. You will
be shown what to do for the practical work so do not be worried if you have
not done this sort of thing before.
A trip here would not be
complete without some sort of camping experience. You need to watch out for
the local wildlife of course including the off-duty rangers who like to play
practical jokes on us gullible volunteers!!! You have been warned.
You have the weekends to
yourself but it is easy to hire a car or organise to be picked up and
dropped off at places by the local shuttle service. A group of us spent last
Saturday in Port Elizabeth which has some fantastic beaches. Addo Elephant
National Park is also well worth a visit and you can hire one of the
Amakhala Rangers to take you round in one of the safari vehicles. The local
pub is just over the road and it stays open until the last person leaves.
Food wise everyone helps out and you just need to remember to fill in the
food order each week. You will meet a wide range of people during your stay
which makes things interesting but do not let that put you off as you often
learn a thing or two. I am having a great time and I will definitely be
coming back to Africa again and again. If you choose to spend time at
Amakhala, I hope you enjoy it as much as I have." -Claire Vetori
"Amakala was a very
interesting program because it combined animals, conservation and community
involvement. A week was too short a time but I thoroughly enjoyed all
aspects of the program even a stay at the fancy lodge!" -Ruth Cohen, United