L A P O L O S A
W I L D E R N E S S
(with safari to Kruger National Park)
A True Wilderness / Work Experience
The word wilderness derives from the notion
of "wildness" — in other words, that which is not controllable by humans.
Wilderness areas are the most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on
our planet — those last truly wild places that have not been developed or
significantly modified by human activity.
Wilderness areas are important for
biodiversity, species survival, ecological studies, conservation, solitude,
and recreation. Wilderness is deeply valued for cultural, spiritual, moral
and aesthetic reasons. We at Lapolosa believe wilderness areas are also
vital for the human spirit and creativity.
Simply, being a wilderness area is the
primary goal of Lapolosa. When the land is protected, then the
wildlife, the flora, the entire ecosystem flow naturally from there.
is a bushveld haven, offering a unique malaria-free bush experience for nature lovers. Steeped in history and beauty, Lapolosa is a spectacular
20,000 acre preserve located on a
magnificent escarpment of rolling mountains and
plains in South Africa. It is home to a myriad of indigenous wildlife,
birdlife and flora, and the atmosphere provides an antidote to the
stresses of everyday living. Coming away from Lapolosa, one is left with a feeling of true
intimacy with Africa.
Lapolosa Wilderness was formed in
2001 to protect and preserve Africa's wildlife and habitat. Lapolosa
(derived from the Sepedi word meaning
“place of rest") was established as a conservancy, by joining together large South African farms with the aim of restoring the
environment back to its natural state and establishing a larger preserve for
the benefit of African wildlife.
The area Lapolosa encompasses was hunted
clean in the late 1800s to feed the inrush of miners when gold was
discovered. South Africa has the highest gold producing ore-reserves
in the world, and the first discovery occurred in the Lydenburg area. Later
Lapolosa was home to as many as 11 cattle ranches.
Lapolosa is a unique conservation
initiative to restore the land to its original state as wilderness.
Lapolosa is re-introducing indigenous wildlife onto the land they once
naturally roamed, ultimately re-establishing all of the original flora and
fauna to the area. Lapolosa will also continue
to acquire habitat to expand the wilderness as funds allow.
Lapolosa strives to create a self-sustaining
model of responsible conservation that preserves Africa's natural heritage
(habitat and wildlife); enhances the South African economy through overseas
capital infusion, voluntourism, and
job creation; and promotes education and awareness of conservation issues.
Volunteers are an integral
part of Lapolosa's conservation initiative. The work can be unglamorous,
challenging and physically demanding at times, but the camaraderie, team
spirit and beautiful surroundings make it a rewarding experience and
adventure. Volunteering at Lapolosa is best suited to those who don't mind
getting their hands (and more) dirty and are prepared to undertake any task
or challenge thrown at them!
Volunteers participating in the program all have a
common ambition – to see, feel, and smell the African bush while developing
a practical knowledge of wilderness management. You will leave with
a greater knowledge and understanding of Africa, and a feeling that you made a positive contribution to conservation.
Volunteers will get to experience firsthand
the early stages of restoring the wilderness area and be involved in various aspects of
conservancy management, including some of the following:
Restoration and rehabilitation of damaged habitat
Anti-poaching efforts, specifically snare removals
Alien plant and soil erosion control
Removal of old cattle fence lines
Boundary patrols for breaches in perimeter fencing
Vegetation management with fire breaks and block burning
Re-introduction of wildlife (releasing and monitoring)
Building wildlife bomas / ramps for reintroductions
Animal capacity analysis for habitat size and vegetation
Construction of facilities, camps, bridges, and roads
Education / sports outreach with
local schools and communities
Bird, insect, snake, wildlife
and tree identification
Nature conservation, fencing
and law requirements
Horse trail, hiking trail and bush
Development of renewable
The upcoming years are going to be a fantastic
time at Lapolosa. We
recently began wildlife reintroductions, and releases are
planned each year. Reintroductions have been scheduled in three phases: 1)
plains game (giraffe, zebra, eland, nyala, wildebeest, blesbok, impala); 2) large herbivores
(rhino, buffalo, hippo); and 3) large predators (cheetah, spotted hyena,
leopard, wild dog). We
are targeting for releases of rhinoceros, eland and nyala in 2013. Volunteers will be actively involved in the preparations for these
Lapolosa is currently home to the following
wildlife species, though some are quite elusive - leopard, hippo, brown hyena, jackal, serval, genet, caracal,
civit, honey badger, African wildcat, mongoose, porcupine, pangolin,
aardwolf, aardvark, baboon, vervet monkey, bushbaby, ostrich, zebra,
giraffe, red harteebest, kudu, waterbuck, duiker, bushbuck, impala, black
wildebeest, mountain reedbuck,
steenbok, klipspringer, bushpig, warthog, otter, crocodile and an amazing
variety of birdlife (approximately 250 species), reptiles and smaller
Relaxation is an important part
of the Lapolosa experience, and there will be time on weekends to explore
the beautiful wilderness. Lapolosa is a hikers paradise. Rockpools and
waterfalls provide for great swimming, the Buffelskloof Dam offers fishing,
and horseback riding is available for experienced riders. The horses
live wild at Lapolosa, though they do often come into camp on their own
Volunteers may also have opportunities to enjoy sleep-outs in the bush
and excursions to Kruger National Park and surrounding communities / schools, providing a
wonderful mix of wildlife and cultural experiences.
nearest town, Lydenburg, is an hour drive away and visited once a week by the Lapolosa staff for supplies. Volunteers
do not join these supply trips, but will have an opportunity to visit town
excursion to Kruger National Park.
The volunteer camp is completely eco-friendly and
"off the grid." We strive to maintain
harmony with nature by using solar power and fire-driven water heaters. Drinking water flows from one of
Lapolosa’s many natural
springs and there is no permanent electricity, although limited solar power
will be provided for charging cell phones, camera batteries, laptops, etc.
A good flashlight / headlamp is strongly
recommended. Volunteers may also stay at other camps depending on reserve activities.
Volunteers may bring personal laptops for
internet (3G datacard with usage cost). Cell signal is also available.
Laundry can be done by hand.
simple and rustic. Volunteers sleep in comfortable dorm style rooms,
with shared bathrooms.
Pillows and fitted sheets will be provided,
however volunteers must bring their own sleeping bag. This program
will suit people who enjoy natural places, simplicity and practical work.
Couples, friends or
families volunteering together who wish private accommodation may reserve a
lovely private chalet with amazing valley views and outdoor "safari" shower
for an additional $95 USD per person per week (1.5x single supplement).
Our program coordinators are
responsible for each volunteer during their time at Lapolosa, from arrival
until departure. The program coordinators are the point of
contact to allocate work projects, act as guide and mentor, and
generally look after your well being.
Lapolosa 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.
Lapolosa 2-Week Experience: GB£595 / US$995
One-week stays may also be considered, at
discount, especially in combination with Makalali / Siyafunda / Ingwe / CARE
Most volunteers choose to enjoy a
fantastic 3-day, 2-night camping safari to Kruger National Park
during the Lapolosa experience. This optional
safari costs only $195 USD
and includes everything (guide, transport, camping fees, daily conservation
fees, etc) except meals in the Park.
Volunteers receive a $100 discount when joining multiple Enkosini
uses USD rates as standard due to currency fluctuations. GBP rates
are indications of approx recent values. Currency convertor at
Volunteer costs cover meals,
accommodation, activities, transfers from Lydenburg to Lapolosa, and project
donation. Flights and travel/medical insurance are NOT included. The only
additional spending money required will be for personal purchases, social excursions away from Lapolosa, and pre/post project travel. We do not have discounted rates for partial
Please bear in mind that the sooner you
apply, the better your chances of securing your placement!
Lapolosa offers a 2-week program, starting
Volunteers take the Bushveld
Link Shuttle on the Sunday before start date, departing directly from
the Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport at 2:00pm and arriving into Lydenburg at
6:00pm (discounted rate of 220 ZAR for Enkosini
volunteers - www.bushveldlink.co.za). Volunteers must arrive into Johannesburg on Sunday by no later
than 12:00pm as it can take some time to go through customs and collect your
Volunteers spend Sunday night at The
Manor Guesthouse (www.lydenburgmanorhouse.co.za) in Lydenburg
(discounted rate of 360 ZAR, including dinner,
bed and full English breakfast). The shuttle drop off at
the guesthouse and Lapolosa staff pick up from the
guesthouse at 12pm on Monday to start the experience!
On the Monday departure, volunteers take
Bushveld Link Shuttle, departing Lydenburg at 7:45am, arriving
Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport at 12:15pm.
Off-schedule transfers will only be arranged when absolutely
necessary and will cost R795 South African rands.
From all ages,
from all walks of life, and from all over the world, Lapolosa volunteers
have the experience of a lifetime while making a lasting impact on the
No previous experience is required, however
all volunteers should have a love of nature, positive attitude, reasonable level of fitness, sensitivity and respect for other
cultures, willingness to help and learn, and strong sense of humor. The sanctuary is run in a
spirit of co-operation, and all are expected to
give their best. There is no typical day at Lapolosa - each brings its own magical moments, trials and tribulations -
all adding to the adventure and spirit of living and working in Africa.
Families and groups are welcome to join!
Lapolosa is based in a malaria-free area.
There are no required vaccinations for joining the program or entering South
Africa, however it is incumbent upon each person to get their own medical
(it is possible that volunteers may enter malarial zones during the safari
to Kruger National Park). See
FAQs for complete packing list.
huge thank you for welcoming me into your home and
giving me the most amazing opportunity and experience... I have never felt
as happy, comfortable and complete as I did at Lapolosa. In the best
way I don't think my life will be the same. Lapolosa has made me
realize things about life and the direction I would like my life to go
in... I think you guys are doing a wonderful thing, and I am proud that I
was a able to contribute something to it.”
-Rebecca Dicks, England
“It is difficult to know where
to start when talking about my visit to Lapolosa. It was one of the most
amazing things that I have ever experienced. The way that the staff
have built up such an incredible relationship with the animals left me
"open-mouthed" and, of course, more than a little jealous!
is my idea of heaven. To someone born and brought up in the centre of
London, the quiet, the darkness and the beauty is almost impossible to
describe to someone who has not experienced it. I was also fascinated by the
bird-life. I had never seen sun-birds close up before. I am so grateful for
the day that I was in the AfriCam chatroom and someone mentioned the
existence of Lapolosa.”
-Sheila Knight, England
“I had a really wonderful time at Lapolosa...
your animals and your mountains and your crisp, fresh air and your
shuddering sea of tawny-colored bushgrass and that lovely spectrum of colors
which paint the land in every direction you look... when I cry or joke about
staying forever, it's not because home is so bad but because Lapolosa is
that good. It is magical and addictive and worth fighting for.”
-Kathleen Graham, USA
“Just wanted to let you know
that we arrived home safely. We had such a wonderful time in South Africa
and the highlight of our trip was spending time at your sanctuary… you are the ambassadors
for those that will follow in your footsteps. Knowing now what your “big
picture” plan is, I think that Lapolosa is going to be the most beautiful,
tranquil sanctuary for wildlife in all of Africa!”
-Jeff & Trina Gawron,
Vancouver B.C., Canada
“I don’t know where to begin in
thanking you for all of your hospitality while I was in South Africa.
Visiting Kruger, the Baboon Sanctuary and the Elephant Sanctuary were highlights of my
life… More importantly, you have introduced me to the serious threats that
South Africa’s wildlife faces and I plan on doing as much as I can in the
future to promote programs such as yours. I truly admire the life that you
have chosen and know that wildlife is in good hands if it has you to look
over it… I am looking very forward to my next visit and thank you again!”
-Kelly Loyd, USA
“I'm now back from South
Africa and I wanted to say THANK YOU. I had the best time ever, you're
doing a great job. I'm seriously thinking of coming back for a longer period
of time, four to six months!”
-Sophia LeRoy, France
“A week has passed since me and
my father returned home from South Africa. Our visit to Lapolosa was
certainly a highlight to our trip, as my father and I have spent more than a
few nights telling family and friends about our experience. The relaxed atmosphere you
provided was appreciated…. getting to know local people in an informal
environment was a highlight for both me and my father.”
-Richard & Charles
“Just wanted to write and say
thanks for the amazing experience I had with you at Lapolosa! Everybody here
is so jealous of what I did and fascinated by what you're doing.”
-Charlie Sabey, Channel Islands
“Hi everyone! I am home safely
and yet I feel sick for Africa and I can’t wait to jump on a plane and come
back! Thank you so much for your hospitality and friendship while I was
there. I really did feel at home with you. I am really looking forward to
raising money for the local school…”
-Sarah Stares, Australia