2 ACE volunteers observe wildlife from a jeep at sunset on the Phinda reserve 2 ACE volunteers observe wildlife from a jeep at sunset on the Phinda reserve 2 ACE volunteers observe wildlife from a jeep at sunset on the Phinda reserve 2 ACE volunteers observe wildlife from a jeep at sunset on the Phinda reserve

Sabbaticals in Southern Africa

At a glance

Taking a career break or work sabbatical is a big decision. It needs to tick all the boxes: excitement, fulfilment, personal development and perhaps a few bucket-list dreams along the way. We spend time fine-tuning the details to create a perfect sabbatical travel plan to fit your goals.

  • Exclusive, tailor-made experiences
  • Work in small groups, with like-minded people, taking time out from busy lives
  • Go behind the scenes on genuine conservation projects, contributing to positive change
  • Work directly alongside conservation professionals
  • Get to know the real Africa

Why take a sabbatical?

Maybe you caught the travelling bug in your backpacking youth before your career and family became your whole world. Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of a great adventure but never had the time or money to make it happen. Or maybe you simply want to put more ‘life’ into your work-life balance. 

Whatever your motivations, a mid-career sabbatical is a break unlike any other. Armed with more life experience and financial stability than you had in your youth, it’s a chance to plan an expedition that is truly personal and meaningful to you. To break away from the routines of your everyday working life, learn about the world around you and gain new and valuable perspectives.

Hang on, can I really take a career break?

Absolutely! Our busy lives mean many of us are working harder than ever before and facing increased pressure in our everyday lives. Rather than seeing a sabbatical as ‘time out’, it’s actually a fantastic way to avoid burnout and stay fresh and motivated in your career.

For these reasons, more and more employers now offer sabbatical schemes or approve requests for short career breaks as a reward for dedication and hard work. After all, the time off is typically unpaid, so the costs to the business are relatively small – and the advantage of a re-energised employee returning to work after a few weeks out far outweighs any negatives.

Learn new skills on your sabbatical

If you’re considering a work sabbatical, it’s also worth thinking about the best way to ‘pitch’ it to your employer. Our top tip: managers are far more likely to approve a request for a career break if they see it as a learning opportunity rather than an extended holiday.

At African Conservation Experience, all our sabbaticals are designed to expand your skills and knowledge. Working with wildlife professionals on real projects, you’ll gain a wealth of insight into global and local conservation issues, as well as practical techniques for researching and managing wildlife in the field.

Working with wild animals, you’ll also be challenged to think on your feet and work as a team in all kinds of unpredictable situations – what manager would turn down the chance for their employee to learn those kinds of skills?

Short sabbaticals in the African wilderness

When most people think of a sabbatical, they imagine taking months or even years out of work. While a small percentage of people can realise this dream, most career breakers find a mini-sabbatical of around 3-6 weeks is a more realistic option. 

A career break of this duration still offers many of the benefits of a longer sabbatical – that could mean fulfilling a lifelong ambition, adding something unique to your CV, or discovering something new about yourself. But of course, by returning to work sooner, a mini-sabbatical is much easier to arrange with your employer and less of a financial commitment to you. 

When you start to think in these terms, it’s actually possible to plan multiple short sabbaticals throughout your career.

Applying for a sabbatical

If you’re thinking about planning a wildlife conservation adventure as part (or all) of your sabbatical travel, then get in touch! We want you to have an unforgettable time with African Conservation Experience, which is why we work hard, planning every detail of your trip so you can rest assured that you get the most out of your itinerary.

Why choose Southern Africa for your sabbatical?

From Australia to Zimbabwe, communities around the globe are looking for new ways to co-exist with the natural world. As southern Africa’s original conservation travel company, we’ve spent decades building a network of inspiring projects and people in one of the world’s most unforgettable locations. This means you can now work alongside renowned conservation experts with an infectious passion for wildlife while aiding a great cause – the transition to a more sustainable future.

As the continent’s landscapes are being visibly transformed by a changing climate and pressures from the increased human population, some of our planet’s most majestic species are facing a struggle for their survival. Thankfully, they are not alone. The conservation movement in southern Africa is working day and night to help protect, nurture and re-establish wildlife populations.

If you’ve ever dreamed of seeing rhinos, elephants, lions, buffalo or any of Africa’s legendary species in the wild, now is the time to go. Not just to see these wonderful animals in their natural habitat, but to join the fight to save them. It’s a fight that needs the whole world to work together. And it starts with people like you.

Sabbatical career break with African Conservation Experience

At African Conservation Experience, we offer you the chance to get behind the scenes of ground-breaking wildlife conservation projects. You’ll be welcomed into real African communities to share the expertise and wisdom of our seasoned conservation professionals.

Learning and assisting in small groups or one-to-one with conservation and wildlife experts, you’ll come face-to-face with some of the world’s most iconic species. The experience is very different to a safari. You’ll live and work on the project of your choosing and help to research and/or care for animals 24/7. 

You’ll also be making a valuable contribution to Africa’s wildlife. During your sabbatical in Southern Africa, you’ll be working alongside conservation experts, veterinarians and local people to care for the animals. Whether you’re preparing bottles for feeding infant animals or monitoring animals in the wild, you’ll be making a real difference. 

We understand the significance of taking time out for sabbatical travel and pride ourselves on our ability to listen and work with you, tailoring your experience for the perfect fit. Before you book, we go through your interests and aspirations, allowing us to recommend the projects and experiences that will suit you best. We are here to guide you through every step of the process, making your transition from the office to the African wilderness as seamless and exciting as possible.

We are ATOL bonded and ABTA accredited giving you 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.