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Meaningful conservation in
the heart of
Victoria Falls

Follow in the footsteps of explorer David Livingstone

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  • Duration
    2-12 Weeks
  • Minimum age
    18+
  • Start dates
    1st & 3rd Monday
  • From
    £850
  • Duration
    2-12 Weeks
  • Minimum age
    18+
  • Start dates
    1st & 3rd Monday
  • From
    £850

Zimbabwe Victoria Falls big five conservation

This is your opportunity to take part in meaningful conservation as you follow in the footsteps of explorer David Livingstone. Get up close to some amazing animals, enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful surroundings, take part in some awesome adrenaline activities and meet like-minded individuals from around the world.

Home to the famous African Big Five, this 2,500 hectare game reserve boasts many elephants, black rhinos, lions, leopards, buffalo and a wealth of other native wildlife including giraffes, zebras, antelopes, crocodiles, hippos and a wide array of birdlife.

You will have the unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience in conservation management activities and assist with ongoing research in a private game reserve and the surrounding areas. Some of these activities includes game, predator and bird monitoring and tracking, supplementary animal feeding, collecting research on animal behaviour and movement and assisting within the local school. Not only this, but you will have the unique opportunity to camp out under the stars in the reserve, with all of the wildlife around you!

Victoria Falls Conservation

I volunteered in Zimbabwe for 2 weeks and I was definitely not ready to leave. It was the most rewarding and life-changing trip I have ever been on. I think from now on when I travel it needs to be in this way - volunteering and travelling with a purpose.

Greg WallaceDecember 2019

Background to the Victoria Falls conservation programme

Zimbabwe and other African countries endured their worst poaching crisis during the 1980's, which saw rhino numbers crash from 10,000 to less than 1,000 in just a few years. On top of this, the wild elephant population also dramatically declined, with over 100 being killed every year during the peak of the crisis. 

To try and combat this devastating and increasing situation, The Department of National Parks & Wildlife moved the remaining wild rhino into the custodianship of private conservancies, called Intensive Protection Zones.

In spite of these extreme measures, which saw a drastic decrease in poaching incidents, ivory poaching is still rife throughout Zimbabwe. In the fight against poaching, the reserve was recognised as an Intensive Protection Zone for the critically endangered black rhino and is now a safe haven for many animals.

The reserve spans thousands of acres in order to ensure the wildlife can roam freely and be in surroundings as close to their natural habitat as possible. With such a vast space and many species calling the reserve home, not only do all of the animals need monitoring, but the reserve also requires a lot of regular maintenance and upkeep. As a volunteer, you will be assisting with all of the conservation and research activities where you will aid with all of the day-to-day activities associated with running the reserve. As a team, you will tackle crucial conservation activities, help educate the local community and assist with general maintenance around the reserve. 

Where will I be volunteering?

You will be volunteering on a 2,500 hectare private game reserve, located in the UNESCO protected area of Victoria Falls. The programme was started in 2000 to specifically address real conservation issues facing the wildlife and environment within the reserve and surrounding areas. 

Home to the famous African Big Five, the game reserve boasts many elephants, black rhinos, lions, leopards, buffalo, along with giraffes, zebras, antelopes, crocodiles, hippos and a wide array of birdlife.  An intensive rhino monitoring programme is in place here, with the aim of increasing the black rhino population and standing against the recent and widespread poaching of rhinoceros in southern Africa.

The programme has 5 main focal points; education, conservation management, research, community development and sustainability. As a volunteer, you’ll have a chance to make a difference and contribute to these 5 areas by taking part in incredible activities such as elephant monitoring, anti-poaching snare sweeps, game counts and visiting the local school.

You'll be located just 10 minutes from one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Victoria Falls. You will of course get the chance to explore the area and go on a guided tour around the famous falls - although you may get a little wet! You'll also have the opportunity to partake in many activities to get your blood pumping, including white water rafting, helicopter rides and bungee jumping!

What is my role?

You will have the unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience in conservation management activities and assist with ongoing research in a private game reserve and the surrounding areas within Victoria Falls. Working in tandem with members of the game reserve team and anti-poaching unit, you will have the opportunity to assist with ongoing research and community development work, where the day-to-day activities contribute to the successful operation of the game reserve, it’s surrounding areas and their ecosystems. Some of these conservation activities may include:

  • Game, predator and bird monitoring and tracking
  • Game census counting
  • Animal tracking and identification
  • Supplementary animal feeding
  • Collecting research on animal behaviour and movement
  • Anti-poaching snare sweeps
  • Fence patrols and bush walks
  • Alien vegetation removal and soil erosion control methods
  • Waterhole creation, maintenance and monitoring
  • Road maintenance

Within your first few days in Zimbabwe, you will get the incredible opportunity to visit one of the seven natural wonders of the world, Victoria Falls! Our local co-ordinator will accompany you as your guide and you’ll get to learn all about this magnificent site and have ample opportunity to take many photos.

One of the most memorable activities will be camping out on the reserve under the stars. There is nothing more magical than being sat around a campfire, with the sounds of hyenas and lions around you!

You will also head to the local school to help provide a basic education to all of the children, ensuring they have the chance of a brighter future. During your time at the school you can get involved with teaching English, playing games or helping with any ongoing building and gardening projects.

During your time in Zimbabwe, your knowledge of conservation and African wildlife will be greatly enhanced and you will leave after having made a real contribution to nature conservation and the local communities. You may get the chance to enjoy entertaining and interesting lectures on various topics that are regularly delivered by our highly knowledgeable and qualified co-ordinators or sometimes even guest speakers. You can also gain a greater understanding of all topics by talking with the wildlife manager who is always on hand to enhance your experience.

What will a typical day look like?

You will generally go out onto the reserve Monday to Friday, starting around 6:30am and returning for lunch at 11am. After a rest to stay out of the heat, you will begin volunteering again at approximately 4pm and return for dinner at 7pm.

A sample schedule for your first week in Zimbabwe is:

Monday - 1st orientation game drive / 2nd orientation game drive
Tuesday - Maintenance on the reserve / community centre
Wednesday - Assisting in the primary school / working on the reserve & sundowner
Thursday - Maintenance on the reserve / camping out on the reserve
Friday - Bush walks or game drive / maintenance on the reserve

You will have the weekends free to explore Victoria Falls and the rest of Zimbabwe.

Where will I be staying?

You will be staying within the purpose built volunteer accommodation situated in the heart of the game reserve. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled as you wander around as it is not uncommon to see wildlife throughout the day! The accommodation boasts an open-air communal area that overlooks the reserve. It’s the perfect place to congregate with everyone else and comes complete with a swimming pool, braai (BBQ) and an eating area.

As already mentioned, you will be just 10 minutes away from the famous and world heritage site of Victoria Falls. You will have plenty of time to take part in many free time activities where you can challenge yourself to do a bungee jump or zip-line off the Victoria Falls bridge, go white water rafting or take a sunset cruise down the Zambezi River listening to the cries of the hippos and elephants.

Other things to consider

Victoria Falls - During your first few days in Zimbabwe, our local team will take you on a guided tour around Victoria Falls - a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The trip is included within the programme fee and it will be sure to be one of the main highlights of your time in the country.

Volunteering with elephants in Zimbabwe

My time in Zimbabwe is something I will never forget. You'll get to experience seeing amazing wildlife, friendly volunteers, passionate staff and the most surreal landscapes.

Stuart's story