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You will be met at the airport and given the mobile phone number (which is 24 hours) of your main contact, Martin Bornman – our southern African Operations Manager. He will give you an introductory talk and emphasise that he is available in the event of a problem (however big or small!). You will then have a further level of support at each of the projects in the form of at least one and normally two supervisors. The supervisors at the projects are fully qualified game rangers, marine biologists, wildlife veterinarians or nature conservationists, and there are staff trained in first aid on each site, all of which can ensure your safety in Africa.
All of our volunteers are met at the airport by an ACE representative. In Johannesburg this is normally Martin Bornman or Natalie Shaw, who will give you an introductory talk covering expectations, personal safety, HIV/AIDS, cultural differences and personal feelings you may experience, such as homesickness. Volunteers travelling directly to Bulawayo airport in Zimbabwe, Maun airport in Botswana or Windhoek airport in Namibia will be met by a member from the project team. We will make sure you aren’t hungry and have enough water before setting off to your project. Generally not all conservation travellers arriving on a particular day will be going to the same place, so normally you travel in smaller groups to the projects. You are driven either by the trusted drivers of our partner transfer companies (small private businesses and reputable public transport shuttles, such as the Citibug), which we have used for many years, or occasionally by Martin himself, or by his assistant. Either way, you will be accompanied for the whole journey, with regular stops for refreshments. Transfers provide the perfect opportunity to take in the local scenery!
All drivers have Public Driving Permits which require police checks to ensure that the driver has no driving violations and all vehicles have public liability insurance and are road worthy. Only new, air conditioned vehicles are used for transfers. All transfers are done during daylight hours to further increase your safety in Africa.
There is full in-country back up if there is a problem. You can first turn to your project supervisor if you have a problem, and then you can contact our head coordinator if the problem can’t be sorted out at the project site. We stress to all volunteers that we are available for ANY problem, however trivial it may seem, and they can come to us for help with things like homesickness and lost passports as well as any other problem they may have. In medical emergencies and other serious incidents, the project supervisor will provide initial support and take immediate action.
Due to the more remote location, all travellers on the Elephant & Predator Study & Okavango Experience are covered for medical emergency air rescue from the project.
We also have our own Major Incident Protocol, encompassing our UK staff as well as our in-country staff. We have good relationships with the local private hospitals, doctors and the air ambulance in case of the need for airlifting from a reserve.
We ask that all ACE travellers have adequate medical travel insurance and will not allow you to participate unless you have this in place. These arrangements extend throughout the period that you are with us (including days off and down-time). Once you leave the project at the end of your stay (if for instance you are travelling on independently afterwards), we are unable to provide the same level and quality of support. Those planning to travel after the end of their placement must be responsible for themselves. However, we provide support if we can and would certainly provide any further assistance we could to you if you contact us after your placement. We can also help you with advice on safe onward travel and backpacker accommodation as well as booking tickets and internal flights.
Travel insurance is essential to travel on a placement with us. We will not allow anyone to travel unless we have their insurance policy details. We can assist in organising your insurance for your placement and can organise the policy for you. The policy has been created specifically for the work involved in the projects we work with and we will discuss this with you at the time of booking.
African Conservation Experience have full public liability insurance and are ATOL bonded.
ACE are ATOL bonded
Your Financial Protection
All the flights and flight-inclusive placements on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay for your flights you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate.
ACE are full members of the Year Out Group
We are full members of the Year Out Group, an association of leading UK organisations promoting the concept and benefits of a well structured gap year, and adhering to specified codes of practice. We also have our own Volunteer’s Code of Conduct covering things like participation, behaviour and alcohol consumption that we expect all our participants to adhere to.
This is a publication from the British Standards Institution (BSI) that pulls together expertise and good practice into a new national standard for the safe management of overseas ventures. BS8848 provides a specification for organising and managing visits, fieldwork, expeditions, and adventurous activities outside the United Kingdom. African Conservation Experience was among the first group of organisations working towards compliance to this new standard currently.
The staff at ACE are not eligible to give healthcare advice as we are not qualified to do so. You should ideally seek advice from a healthcare professional around three months before you travel. When you phone to make the appointment, explain that it is for travel vaccinations as there may be a particular doctor or nurse that you will need to see. You can also get advice from MASTA (the Medical Advisory Service for Travelers Abroad): http://www.masta-travel-health.com. Malaria protection is required for some, but not all, areas of southern Africa. When you book a placement with us, we will let you know which region of southern Africa you will be working in, and you will need to pass this onto your doctor or nurse so they can advise you about malarial prophylactics. There are many different types of malaria tablet and your surgery will be able to advise you as to which one will be best for you.