About Enkosini

Apply Online





 Project Map





Lapolosa Wilderness
Makalali Game Reserve
Siyafunda Bush Experience
Kariega Conservation Project
Amakhala Game Reserve
Zingela Endangered Species
Modisa Wildlife Project
FGASA Game Ranger Course
Bambelela Wildlife Sanctuary
C.A.R.E. Baboon Sanctuary
Noah's Ark Wildlife Centre
Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary
Penguin Conservation Centre
O.R.C.A. Marine Conservation
Great White Shark Project


To apply for an

Enkosini Eco Experience

volunteer project:

To subscribe to e-news for exciting conservation developments at Enkosini Eco Experience projects:





































(Hoedspruit, South Africa)

Research Camp

The Siyafunda Conservation Initiative within the Makalali Game Reserve is a unique conservation program to expand South Africa's green frontier by re-establishing the ancient traditional wildlife migration routes that linked the famous Kruger Park in the east to the lush Drakensberg Mountains in the west. One of South Africa’s premier privately-owned conservation areas, Makalali currently comprises an amazing 61,000 acres (including a 5,000 acre clean buffalo breeding camp) in the Lowveld region of the Limpopo Province of South Africa, a short distance from the world-renowned Kruger National Park.


Over the past decade, Makalali has reintroduced a variety of wildlife onto the reserve, including lion, cheetah, leopard, elephant and rhino, making Makalali home to Africa’s “Big Five.” In the process of relocating wildlife, Makalali has consistently contributed to conservation efforts to protect endangered species. Elephants were relocated from Kruger sparing them from annual culling.


Makalali’s research activities are fueled by the support of the reserve’s rangers, together with the Siyafunda volunteer program. The Siyafunda Conservation Initiative, located on the southern part of the reserve, was primarily established to assist with existing research projects and to provide reserve management with the necessary data needed to make well-informed decisions. The two most important ongoing monitoring and research initiatives conducted on Makalali are:


Elephant Contraception - Makalali recognizes the need for alternative methods of elephant population control other than culling and translocation; with the introduction of immunocontraception, a safe, effective and non-lethal biological control method now exists.  Since May 2000, Makalali has implemented an immunocontraception programme on their elephant population and 23 cows have been vaccinated to date. These cows are individually recognized by means of identification templates and photographs. Extensive records are maintained, including observations and reactions to the darting and their behaviour thereafter. To date, no unusual behaviour or side effects have been detected. As the Kruger trials proved the vaccine’s efficacy, safety and reversibility, the aim of the Makalali study is to determine the vaccine's reliability in controlling population growth. Since August 2002, a 0% growth rate has been maintained indicating very promising applications for population growth regulation of elephants on small reserves.


Lion/Predator Management - In all small game reserves, a delicate balance between prey and predator species needs to be carefully managed and maintained because they exist in closed environments. The aim of this project is to produce a GIS based model that will act as a tool for correctly managing the predator population at Makalali. This project will allow one to determine the ‘carrying capacity’ of each large predator in the reserve and will also consider the possibility of introducing more predators into the system.


Volunteer Work

The Makalali Game Reserve provides volunteers with a stimulating and practical experience focusing on wildlife monitoring and research projects, and a physical component through reserve management activities. Daily activities are interesting and varied, and may include assistance with some of the following projects:


Elephant contraception: behavioural and range utilisation monitoring of the elephants.

Lion contraception: behavioural monitoring of targeted females and range utilisation of the pride.

Leopard monitoring: activity monitoring by traversing fixed routes within the reserve.

African wildcats: long-term monitoring program to acquire data on the ranging, foraging and reproductive behaviour of released offspring in savannah environment.

Species demography: identification and sexing of reserve individuals (lions, rhino, cheetah and elephant) and continuous monitoring of these populations with reference to predator/prey density, inter and intra-species relations and the maintenance of identification kits.

Sex ratio analysis: establishment of repeatable routes to accurately record the sex/age ratios of herbivore species for the optimal ratio to increase productivity (in conjuction with annual game counts).

MSc research: assistance with any Masters of Science student fieldwork and data collection.

Alien vegetation & bio control monitoring: identification and mapping of alien and invasive vegetation within the river and reserve, spreading of biological and chemical agents, and follow-up monitoring of problem areas.

Community work: Siyafunda provides support for the Holy Family Orphanage every 2-3 weeks.  This is a Catholic run HIV orphanage with approx 90 children under care. Volunteers are welcome to bring old clothes, school supplies or food during visits. 


Through these collaborative research projects, volunteers make an important contribution to the “bigger picture” of conservation in Africa - monitoring biodiversity processes and addressing challenges created by the ever-increasing human population, specifically fragmented and isolated habitats.


An average volunteer week generally consists of: 2 elephant monitoring sessions, 2 lion monitoring sessions, 2 rhino/cheetah drives, 2 nocturnal drives (late evening to early morning) for tracking leopards and small predators, and bush clearing/erosion control. Volunteers will also have the opportunity to participate in bush walks and sleep outs within the Reserve.


Other Activities

Makalali is remote and there is no public transport to town. However, volunteers will have an opportunity to visit town approximately once a week (Mondays) in coordination with trips to collect food and pick up/drop off volunteers. The nearest town, Hoedspruit, is small but has all the usual amenities, including medical doctors, supermarkets, restaurants and Internet cafés.  


Field Conditions

Accommodation comprises double rooms (volunteers to share) with en-suite shower/toilets, supplied with hot and cold water. There is a communal lounge and separate kitchen. Volunteers participate in the creation of menus, the preparation of meals and general upkeep of the Camp on a rotational basis. 


For further information, visit www.siyafundaconservation.com.


Training / Qualifications

Training will be given in all aspects of the African bushveld, including wildlife conservation, tracking and research.


Age Requirement

Makalali 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.



Volunteer Contribution:

1 week: GB£545 / US$895

2 weeks: GB£795 / US$1345

3 weeks: GB£1095 / US$1895

4 weeks: GB£1395 / US$2395

Extra weeks: GB£295 / US$495 per week


Volunteers can also choose to experience both camps at Makalali (2 weeks at Research Camp, 2 weeks at Bush Camp) for a discounted rate of GB£1395 / US$2395.


Please Note:

Volunteers receive a $100 discount when joining multiple Enkosini programs.

Enkosini uses USD rates as standard due to currency fluctuations. GBP rates are indications of approx recent values. Currency convertor at www.xe.com.


Volunteer contributions cover meals, accommodation, activities, transfers from Hoedspruit/Tzaneen to Makalali, 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 Makalali, and pre/post project travel. We do not have discounted rates for partial weeks.


Please bear in mind that the sooner you apply, the better your chances of securing your placement!



There are no set dates for this project, although we always organize arrivals/departures on Mondays to coincide with weekly town trips for food/supplies/etc. There is no charge for Monday transfers, but off-schedule transfers will cost R500 South African rands.  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.  



The closest towns to Makalali are HOEDSPRUIT and TZANEEN - nearly 500kms from Johannesburg.  Hoedspruit and Tzaneen are approximately 70kms, or an hour away from Makalali.  


Flights and buses are available from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit or Tzaneen.  Arrangements will be made to collect incoming volunteers from either the Hoedspruit Eastgate Airport or the Tzaneen Bus Station.


If you need to overnight in Hoedspruit either before or after your program, the Makalali staff can pick you up or drop you off at the Blue Cottages Guesthouse (www.countryhouse.co.za).


By Plane – Jo'burg to Hoedspruit Eastgate Airport

Flights leave from the domestic terminal at Johannesburg International Airport. The flight is ± 1hour, 15 minutes.  These flights are conducted by SA Express (www.flysaa.com).


By Bus - Jo'burg to Tzaneen

Buses leave from the Johannesburg Park Station or Pretoria Bus Station.  To get to these stations, you will need to organize transport with your hotel/backpackers or catch a taxi.


Translux buses depart every day from Jo'Burg at 09h30 and Pretoria at 10h30, arriving into Tzaneen at 15h40.   For bus reservations, contact Veena at veena@apx.co.za - email her with your name, dates of travel and where you will be traveling to/from.  Volunteers need to arrive at the bus station at least 30 minutes before departure to pay for your bus ticket or the ticket will be forfeited.  Try to book your bus ticket at least a month in advance as they definitely fill up!



The Hoedspruit area borders a malarial zone and it is incumbent upon each person to take medical opinion on vaccinations and whether or not to follow a malaria prophylactic programme. There are no formal vaccinations requirements for entering South Africa.  See FAQs for complete packing list.



"If I was asked to rate my experience at Makalali, I'd simply say that it was "off the charts".  With elephant drives, leopard stake outs, hyena catches and bush walks, along with the constant monitoring of lions, hippos, cheetahs and rhinos, plus other animal and bird sightings too numerous to mention, learning to read tracks, shoot a rifle and drive a safari four wheeler.... I was in heaven, albeit a dusty one!  Thank you for letting me be part of an important research project.  I won't say that it was a once in a lifetime experience, because I am definitely going to return..."

-Michelle Janko, USA


"What I can I say about my Siyafunda Conservation experience, other than it was fantastic! I was only there for 2 weeks, but in that time experienced a great deal and learnt so much about the flora, fauna & people. We would go on daily game drives, where we would go 'off road' to get close to the animals and often spend up to half an hour watching them - there is nothing like watching wild animals in their natural habitat up close & personal! My most enjoyable and exhilarating experiences were sleeping out under the stars, watching a male lion while on a game walk, watching two cheetahs eat a kill and being visited by a rhino up close while sitting in a hide around a water hole. I got some amazing pictures and met some great people from all over the world. I was also lucky enough to be there when we had a visit from a local orphanage - the kids were so excited on the game drive and thanked us by singing for us. I would like to thank Mike, Greg, Andrews & the team for a fantastic experience and for being so friendly & accommodating. They are all extremely knowledgeable & were always available to help in any way. I can't say enough about my experience & so wish I had stayed longer than 2 weeks. I am eagerly looking forward to my next trip!" -Kellie Phelps, Australia


"Audrey was a mind of information about the Elephant project... we had some magical times following the ellies.  We also saw some truly amazing things while we were on animal monitoring duties with Marius and Mike.  I hope the data we collected and posted onto the computer has been a small help in the overall picture, and the broken dam may yield some vegetation in years to come.  I would love to come back to Makalali... the experience is very special." -Janice Bennett, UK


"I had an excellent experience at Malakali.  Marius, their ranger, was so knowledgeable and so thorough in pointing out and explaining the behaviours of the animals. He was also excellent at birds and grasses and trees, which are a particular interest of mine. I also very much enjoyed doing habitat reformation with Ross, and had a wonderful experience with the elephants with Audrey and her telemetry equipment." -Maxine Crook, UK

"I had a wonderful time at Makalali.  I think Ross and Audrey are doing a wonderful job - they were nice enough to organize and include us in several projects that I felt really contributed. Marius is a great guide and knew so much about the plants and the birds -I was really impressed. I had a wonderful trip and I thank you very much for all of your help getting me there!" -Jennifer Benjamin, USA

"The staff were absolutely awesome, they all seemed to know a lot about everything and whenever they didn't know something they'd find out and let us know. They were amazingly friendly and went so far out of their way to make sure we all felt at home.  I really enjoyed following the herds of elephants while we monitored things like their mood, the male's sweat excretions etc and the late night frogging sessions were awesome."

-Ben Colagiuri, Australia





To contact our South African office:

Enkosini Eco Experience

P.O. Box 1197, Lydenburg 1120, South Africa

E-mail: info@enkosini.com, Web: www.enkosini.com


To contact our US office:

Enkosini Eco Experience

4111 East Madison Street, Suite 76, Seattle, WA 98112, USA

Tel: +1.206.604.2664, Fax: +1.310.359.0269

E-mail: info@enkosini.com, Web: www.enkosini.com


Copyright © The Lion Foundation/Enkosini