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Gap year travel and volunteering in Africa

This is your adventure

You hop off the plane. Warm air hits you. There’s friends to make, animals to help, and an epic wilderness out there. Ready to explore? A gap year adventure is a time to get in touch with nature… and yourself. Time to figure out what makes you… well, you!

Make it count

Want to grow and expand your horizons? Sure thing. Buzzing to learn about different cultures and wildlife conservation? You got it. Volunteers like you are vital to the projects we work with. They need you. You need them. It’s a perfect match. Whatever your ambitions, we can work with you to design a gap year programme to help you learn and grow.

We’ve got your back

Even the most experienced adventurers can end up in unexpected situations. No worries, we’ve got the know-how to smooth out any bumps in the road. Our teams in Europe and Africa are on-hand 24/7 to help with problems, big or small. So wherever your adventure takes you, we’re just a call away.

Travellers' stories

Siske'S STORY

I spent 2.5 months across 4 different projects, each of which were so incredible and different from one another. It is insurmountable how much I had learnt about the culture, language, politics, myself and of course, wildlife.

Mira'S STORY

My experience was amazing and I would book with ACE again without a second thought.

Lucas'S STORY

My trip was quite unique as I was already in South Africa but having ACE do my planning and itinerary to make sure everything went smoothly was the best!

Melany'S STORY

They also gave me their full support by providing 24/7 support from the team in the country and so I felt 100% safe

Savannah'S STORY

I learnt so much being right in the middle of it all and experiencing it all first hand

Sam'S STORY

The consultation and booking process was really personal and efficient and ACE made it easy for me to select the right projects.

Douglas'S STORY

I’ve been to a lot of countries and photographed a lot of creatures in the oceans and on the land.  But, I’ve never been “in the field” and experienced “hands on” action like this.

Kate'S STORY

Nearly every morning we would get up at around 5:30am, gulp down a quick cup of coffee, and be out of the door by 6. We would drive through the morning mist, watch it diffuse into shimmering light as the sun rose, in search of an elephant herd, a lion pride or to check on the animals in the boma enclosures.

Jessica'S STORY

Being able to work so closely with rhinos was incredible at Care For Wild Africa, whilst Phinda was one of the best experiences of my life.

Jodie'S STORY

I will never EVER forget the rhinos. The sounds they make, the look in their eyes, the way their skin feels, the way the babies sleep next to each other, the way they walk over to you for their milk. I’ll never forget the people I met there either.

Why an African wildlife conservation gap should be top of your list

Gain stacks of confidence

Ready to give it your all? This is exciting work and you’ll be right in the thick of it. It’s a chance to learn a lot and develop yourself as well as your skills. Our project teams have years of practical experience and incredible conservation knowledge and are ready to support you every step of the way.

Work with leading conservationists 

You’ll work alongside conservation professionals. These are people you wouldn’t find in any other projects. They’re shaping the future of wildlife conservation and they need people like you to join the fight. 

Make friends from all over the world

Imagine the excitement of spotting a leopard at dusk as it heads out hunting. Or the reward of becoming part of the team during a rhino dehorning. Sharing these moments  – creates strong friendships, many of which will last a lifetime. Really. Good. Friends.

Boost your career

If you’re aiming high – whether it’s animal management, vet science, wildlife conservation or anything in between – you’ll know that you need to stand out from the crowd. This is your chance to gain real workplace experience with people on the front line of conservation. We’ll help tailor your trip to reinforce your academic learning, giving you applied, practical experience. Many universities even allow you to convert this into credits.

Make a REAL difference

Whether you’re rushing to the aid of an injured rhino, releasing pangolins that have been rescued from poachers, or tracking a herd of elephants across the bush, the work you’ll do will have a real impact. For each animal you help and for the future of African wildlife and ecosystems. You will get to see how each project and its people are directly benefitting conservation.

Awe-inspiring Africa

Love exploring other cultures? There’s nowhere in the world like Africa. The people, the animals, the landscape. You’ll get to see things from multiple perspectives and understand how every step in conservation is crucial, complex and intertwined with many others. This is an incredibly rich experience with unlimited possibilities for adventure.

You care for nature, we care for you

A gap year is a journey of self-discovery. You’re stepping – perhaps for the first time – into new situations. With new people. You’re going to push yourself. Get out of your comfort zone. And into some really exciting work. Scary? All the best things are.

But don’t worry, we’ve got your back. We’ve got the know-how to get you through any tricky situations. And we’re here to listen and help if you’re feeling anxious or missing home.

So… why us?

  • We’re there. In person. To meet you as soon as you step off that plane. There’s no wondering the airport feeling lost. You’ll be briefed and onto the next leg of your journey in a flash.
  • We’ve got the boring bits sorted. Bags delayed? Flights need changing? Don’t you worry. We’ve got this. And we’ll catch you up so you don’t spend your time standing about in airports or making phone calls. 
  • Our people are in South Africa. Loads of travel companies offer overseas support. That means you can talk to them via phone or email. So what’s the big difference? Our South African team are always close at hand. Ready to spring into action. You’ll have 24/7 access to them. If needed, they’ll be there in person to help.
  • We look after you if you get sick. We’ll organise medical care, transport and anything else you might need. Sound essential? It is.
  • Your safety is our priority. After all you‘re going to be getting hands-on with wild animals. Protocols are always followed and up to date.
  • We know how to network. With embassies and foreign offices so we can give real-time information and travel advice for all our locations.
  • We’re super picky. We care a lot about our work and only want to work with true leaders in wildlife conservation. Our staff and partners are very experienced and exceptionally good at what they do.

This is your time. We want to make it the experience of a lifetime! It’s essential that you are able to embrace your travels confidently, knowing that whatever happens, we’ve got you covered.

One for the parents

However incredible your own travels were, seeing your child board a plane to the other side of the world is an anxious moment. That’s natural. But fear not, we can help! There’s a lot of reasons why booking with us can help you get a better night’s sleep.

We are ATOL bonded and ABTA accredited for total legal and financial protection

As a UK-based travel company we comply with the UK Package Travel Regulations’ strict standards, which ensure we operate in a way that protects our travellers. This covers all our customers, no matter where you come from in the world.

We are proud to be the only organisation of our kind to be offered ABTA membership, one of the world’s most recognised quality standards for travel. And in the highly unlikely event that we stop trading after you make your booking, you are guaranteed to receive your money back. Full details can be found on the ATOL and ABTA websites.

The serious bits

  • We are South Africa’s original conservation travel organisation. It all began in 1999. That’s before loads of our travellers were born! We’re passionate, focussed and we really know our stuff.
  • Real African conservation is at the heart of what we do. We put animals and their welfare first. We protect large ecosystems. We care about the future of the planet.
  • We only partner with projects we’ve vetted. So we’re sure they have the highest ethical standards. Many of which we actually helped to set up!
  • We visit our projects. Regularly. To stay informed, check standards and maintain positive relationships.
  • We are members of ABTA Animal Welfare Working Group. We work within the travel industry to encourage good practice in animal protection and welfare.
  • We offer incredible support and world-class customer service. From the first time we talk, through to the moment we wave goodbye at the airport. 
  • Our dream team are experts in travel and on top of that, they have zoological and conservation-related qualifications.
  • We have our finger on the pulse. Of conservation, research and up-to-date political and ecological issues. 

Plus, there’s no stupid questions. If you are unsure about anything, just give us a shout. We’re very happy to chat to parents directly. We really get it.

Could a short or mini gap be the answer?

Modern life is packed with commitments. Planning an extensive trip doesn’t work for everyone. But great things come in small packages too. 

We can offer the same exciting itineraries, in short or mini gap experiences. All the fun. Less time, less money.

But planning is key. On a short gap you don’t want to waste a second. Not to worry, we’ll work with you to create your perfect mini gap. Ever imagined tracking and monitoring lions in one of the most remote areas in Africa? Great. Want to get hands-on with practised experts in animal rehabilitation? Here’s your chance. You’ll have an impressive stock of photos and an even bigger stash of memories. Plus, you’ll be super ready for whatever comes next.

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CHOOSE A CONSERVATION CATEGORY FOR YOUR AFRICAN GAP YEAR

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