Voluntourism – where travellers participate in voluntary work – is a growing trend. While a beach holiday can be fun, it may not provide the satisfaction you get from knowing you’re doing something good for the world.
American booking site, Booking.com published a list of travel predictions for 2019, and according to its website, ‘68% of global travelers would consider participating in cultural exchanges to learn a new skill, followed by a volunteering trip (54%) and international work placements (52%).’
Daktari Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage in Hoedspruit is one of the many volunteer tourism offerings in South Africa. The NGO is situated in a nature reserve and educates underprivileged children from local communities about the environment and runs an orphanage for injured wildlife.
The orphanage is situated in an enclosed area within a nature reserve where leopard, hyena, buffalo, impala, kudu, wildebeest, zebra and giraffe roam freely.
Volunteers can spend anything from a week to up to 12 weeks at Daktari, where they’ll be surrounded by wildlife and join other volunteers from all over the world.
Days consist of educating the children about the environment and teaching them important life skills. Not only do volunteers helping them understand a bit more about nature and animals, they empower these children through education.
Most of the kids that come to Daktari have never seen the animals that are typically found in the South African bush in real life, as game drives are not financially accessible.
Daktari takes care of injured or orphaned animals in all shapes and sizes in the wildlife orphanage. This gives the students a chance to see these animals up close and develop a bond with them.
Volunteers also get to take of care of these animals. Stabling is done twice a day, which includes cleaning enclosures and preparing food. The ‘guests’ at the orphanage range from tiny meerkats or squirrels to a painted wolf (wild dog) and even a cheetah.
All of these animals have been rescued and brought to Daktari to get a second chance at life.
Each day is different and a new animal could arrive at any time. Sable, klipspringers, buffalo and many other creatures have been hand-raised at Daktari after they were found abandoned.
Daktari strives to teach the children love for their peers, love for animals and love for the environment. Volunteers have the opportunity to be a part of this and to make lasting friendships with others along the way.
The chance to take care of these wild animals in the orphanage is an incomparable opportunity.
If you are interested in volunteering at Daktari, visit daktaribushschool.org
Words and images: Silke Gadeyne
Also read: Things to do in Hoedspruit