Tracking cheetahs, daily safaris, clearing bushes, community work and so much more! Say hello to Amakhala
For the same price as a two night safari stay, the three weeks I spent at Amakhala Game Reserve showed me a lot more, and taught me a lot more about the animals and conservation efforts than I could have got by quickly adding in a safari to a tour of South Africa.
"I absolutely loved my time volunteering at Amakhala, so honestly grab your binoculars, put on a pair of gloves, have some fun and you’ll thank yourself afterwards."
The work we did each day varied, but with efforts mainly targeted at helping the community, maintenance and education. I took part in tracking a cheetah which hadn’t been seen in weeks because she was raising cubs, we built roads, cleared bushes, planted new bushes, taught literacy at local schools, held sports days, worked at charity clothes sales and changed many, many tyres.
We also helped to fix bomas, which would allow a smoother introduction of new animals into the reserve. Although the work was often hard, the reward of seeing these animals in their natural habitat was far, far greater.
On my first day, we saw an elephant herd (calves included) coming out of the thicket, walking right past our cruiser and into the watering hole to cool down. The matriarch came up to the back of the cruiser and even sniffed us. We caught lions in their prime mating season. Antelopes and giraffes were spotted from the plunge pool in our safari lodge stay.
Every Friday an excursion is arranged for us, and I think one of my highlights was horse riding through the reserve. You might get the chance to camp out under the stars, or visit surrounding parks and rehabilitation centres. Just ask Ebin and Petrou (Peaches) and they will try and put it in the next week’s itinerary. They are the best to work with, so much fun and so knowledgeable.
There is always something to do, on the reserve or back at the volunteer house. You are cooked for twice a week by Andrea and provided food for cooking for the rest. I am vegan and found it very easy to find meals to cook. Patricia will do your laundry for you and clean your rooms (make her a good cup of tea and she’ll love you). There is a pool for when it gets too hot and a braai we used nearly every night. We spent way too many nights at Aunty D’s pub essentially at the bottom of the garden and definitely reaped the consequences when the wake-up call was 04:30 the next day.
At the weekends, organise something to do with the whole group, we rented a beach house in Kenton-On-Sea and went hiking in the Zuurberg mountains.
I absolutely loved my time volunteering at Amakhala, so honestly grab your binoculars, put on a pair of gloves, have some fun and you’ll thank yourself afterwards.