project review

Aviary Building & Jeep Herding Antelope

Review submitted by Peter Warren
Review date 3 Aug 2009

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I spent four weeks on a game reserve in the eastern cape and had an amazing time.  There were on average sixteen other volunteers at a time from all different volunteering companies, ages, occupations and backgrounds coming and going all the time so it was very sociable; I made some very good friends.  However, most of the volunteers were from the UK and were of student age, which was really good.  The reserve is nice and small so I soon got to know the staff really well, all of which were very friendly and helpful.  The animals quickly came to recognise me and it was especially great to see how quickly the lion and tiger cubs grew up over the month I was there and were always pleased to see me when I saw them.

Peter Warren Diary EntryThe work involved doing a number of activities such as going on lots of game drives to do game counts, every time of which we got to saw elephants, rhinos, water buffalos, lions, giraffe, lots of different species of antelope, wildebeast, zebra, etc.  Other work included building an Aviary, clearing vegetation from the fences with Machetes and planting native plant species.  One of the most fun activities was doing game capture, which involved a ranger in a jeep herding antelope and wildebeast towards nets while we hid in nearby bushes and when they ran past we ran out and jumped on them pinning them down before putting them in a truck to be released on another part of the reserve!  However, the most memorable and regular activity was playing and feeding the lion and tiger cubs.  We also got to feed the other predators in the camp (cheetah, wild dogs, tigers and lions).  Spending a day at the elephant sanctuary was good fun as well and we got to ride them at the end of the day.

The accommodation was much grander than I expected and we were very well looked after, being waited on hand and foot with plenty of staff there to cook us lovely meals, clean for us and do our laundry.  We could freely use all the facilities of the nearby six star hotel, including an hour a week’s free internet access and the games room, which had a table tennis table, a pool table, a table football table and a large television.  However, in our volunteer block there was a large television with sky and lots of DVDs.  Being a Muslim game reserve no alcohol was allowed to be drunk on site and the men and women were put in separate dorms and were not allowed to go in the other sex’s dorm, but I expected this to be done anyway.

At the weekends we had the option of going on excursions or doing our own thing.  I spent three of my weekends in Port Elizabeth, about an hour’s drive from the reserve and one of my weekends in Grahamstown, a university town about half an hour’s drive away.  I got the chance to go Bungee jumping on the world’s largest jump (we hired a car from Port Elizabeth), which was an exhilarating experience!

I spent my last week in Cape Town as I felt four weeks on the reserve was long enough for me and I wanted to see other parts of South Africa.  I did the usual touristy things like climb Table Mountain and go on a Cape Peninsula tour.  I travelled there with one of the other volunteers I met on the reserve and we had such a great time.  The highlight of that week was doing cage diving with Great White Sharks.  My five weeks in South Africa were brilliant and really helped develop my character by putting me in new environments and unexpected situations that could not have been planned for in advance.  Doing volunteering work is a great way to experience a country properly and I will definitely do it again in the future in whatever place I choose to visit next.
 

Read more about the South Africa Wildlife Adventure.