Where friends become family!
Escape from the ordinary and immerse yourself in a month of personal interaction with some of the most charismatic mammals in Africa, brought to you by this team of passionate and experienced wildlife staff. The program allows up-close experiences with wild lions, elephants, buffalo, rhinos, and possibly the rarely occurring leopards, as well as other South African wildlife – all within malaria-free, private game reserves. You can rest assured that you will be able to get to know the unique wildlife of Africa in a safe, controlled and responsible manner.
Welcome to Umhkondo Big-5 Wildlife Volunteering
Our program is a once in a lifetime opportunity for aspiring wildlife conservationists or nature enthusiasts. The program will demand much from participants, mentally and physically; however, the demands are well within the capabilities of most volunteers, and whilst being challenging, is both enjoyable and exciting. It is an opportunity to learn invaluable new skills, experience Africa’s unique environment and wildlife, be part of the difference that returns the environment to its natural, original state. It’s not only about what you take with you, but the lasting effects of what you leave behind... your footprints.
What does Umhkondo mean, and where did it all start?
A Xhosa word (one of South Africa's 11 official languages), which stands for footprints, the marks left behind, a trace suggesting something moved through, was once present or was otherwise important.
In February 2009 Hein and Kim Schoeman saw an opportunity to share their passion for conservation with others who shared a similar calling. They wanted to make a difference in their local community by teaching about agriculture, wildlife, sustainability and returning the land to its natural, original state. They wanted to make a difference. That difference is the Umkhondo Project.
The Umkhondo Project offers an absolutely incomparable volunteer experience in practical knowledge and diverse hands-on encounters with the world famous Big-Five animals of Africa. The program allows up-close, personal experiences with lions, elephants, buffalo, rhinos, and in the rare occurrence leopards, as well as other South African wildlife – all within a malaria-free, private game reserve.
You will learn every facet of operating a game reserve producing memories that will last you a lifetime and more importantly, you will be part of the difference that returns these lands to their natural, self-sustaining state.
It’s not only about what you take with you, but the lasting effects of what you leave behind... your footprints. In 2016 we added 2 new partners to the Umkhondo family, as well as adding a few new reserves, we have made such a difference at the Garden Route Game Lodge we have decided to expand our efforts to other reserves nearby, we divide our time according to the needs of these reserves.
Health & Safety...
First Aid kits are available on site and per student vehicle.
Fire extinguishers are set out
Umkhondo is a malaria free area
All Medical costs are for own account of the participants and are required to be paid in cash (no terms allowed) to medical service providers. We advise a minimum amount of 5,000.00 ZAR be kept in credit per participant for this service, should the need arise.
Please note that all medical services in South Africa are on a paid basis and medical insurance is not recognised as cash or means of payment and will generally only act to service claims and recovery of funds on a reclaim basis.
There are strict access controls measures with no unauthorised individuals allowed on the property.
Health and Safety audits and risk assessment are reviewed and updated periodically
Some areas in South Africa have a high crime prevalence rate and should be avoided.
H.I.V / AIDS is of high prevalence in South Africa thus we advise that all the necessary precaution be taken.