The programme was perfect for us, as we love wildlife but at the same time wanted to have some contact with the local community.
My boyfriend Marcus and I were looking for a new experience and really wanted to help by volunteering in Africa. During our research, we came across The Mighty Roar on the internet and then started chatting to Chris. He was very informative from the start, answered loads of questions and helped us with any doubts we had whilst organizing the trip. So, in the end, we went to Amakhala for two weeks at the start of September and absolutely loved it!
The programme was perfect for us, as we love the wildlife but at the same time wanted to have some contact with the local community. We left from Rome as we were in Italy before our trip and all the journey was very smooth. When we got there, Johan was at the airport waiting for us and drove us to our accommodation in Paterson. He was very friendly and told us some stories to get us even more excited!
"I wish I could go back to Amakhala right now, it has been one of the best experiences of my life. I genuinely have some amazing memories from Amakhala and therefore, I definitely recommend it! "
On our first day, we had a full day safari to begin. We saw loads of giraffes, zebras, elephants, rhinos and much more - we got very lucky! I can’t describe how amazing it was to see all those animals in their natural environment, enjoy their lives whilst being free - exactly how it should be for any animal in the world.
The next days did not disappoint either, we had the chance to fix some roads in the reserve, clean the bushes from the fence and much more.
We also went to the local school to clean the garden, plant new trees, paint a room and play with the kids. The children were lovely and sweet, just wanted to play and jump with us all the time. They really made us feel loved and showed us how much they appreciate what the volunteers do for them!
Some highlights – every single day was a surprise, we got up to so many different experiences that I can’t describe them all. However, I want to highlight some of the best moments. We had an amazing stay at the luxury lodge in the reserve, where we had the best meal ever! I really enjoyed the sunrise safari when most of the animals were out eating or just running around, as well as helping to move some buffalos from one side to the other of the reserve. I will never forget the feeling of seeing a wild lion for the first time, or seeing a giraffe giving birth and then seeing the same calf walking around a few days later!! These are some of those moments that I will always remember and some feelings that I will always carry in my heart.
During our first weekend, we went to Jeffreys Bay. Here, we went horse riding and saw stunning landscapes along the beach. The day after, we moved to Plettenberg Bay where some of us did Bungee Jumping (other activities are available though!). Over the second and sadly last weekend, we went to Port Elizabeth to see loads of dolphins, penguins and whales! We went on both trips with the rest of the group – some lovely people that made us laugh and made our time in South Africa even better.
Ebin was the best leader ever! He taught us so much stuff about the wildlife, always had an answer for our questions about every animal and always knew where to go to find them. He helped us with the organisation of all the weekend trips and showed us through the town of Paterson. He is loved by everyone in town, which made me understand how much he does for the people there, together with the whole team. However, all the local team were friendly and kind and we had some fun times together!
Finally, the accommodation was as expected. It was a cosy house shared with all the volunteers, we felt safe and there were always some people around the common areas! A lovely lady takes care of the house, and does the washing for everyone three times a week. Everything needed was there, and there was also a barbecue set by the pool that we used all together a couple of times.
However, a few tips to make the trip a little more comfortable – take warm clothes with you for the sunrise and night safari, as well as some snacks to get you through the early wake ups!
I wish I could go back to Amakhala right now, it has been one of the best experiences of my life. Some days are harder than others but at the end of the day, you always feel like you have made a difference for someone else – and there is no better pleasure than that. It was an eye opener in all activities, from seeing the community and how they live, to finding out a lot about animals and their struggles.
I genuinely have some amazing memories from Amakhala and therefore, I definitely recommend it!