Sabbaticals in Southern Africa

At a glance

Taking a career break or 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 outweigh any negatives.

Learn new skills on your sabbatical

If you’re considering a 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 kind 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 are able to 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. 

In fact, 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. 

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Travellers' stories

Maartje van Vlerken at Care for Wild | African Conservation Experience

Maartje'S STORY

The first time you feed the baby rhino’s is something you will never ever forget.
It makes you so emotional and realize this is what is going on in the world and all other things seem so unimportant

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.

Traveller Stories Sarah Smallwood


You get the opportunity to be involved in everything going on at Care for Wild. There are lots of presentations and everyone is really generous with their knowledge and experience. Petronel is such an inspiring lady but very approachable with an amazingly kind outlook on the world. I can’t recommend a trip to Care for Wild enough.

Claire'S STORY


When I say “Once in a lifetime experience”, that barely scratches the surface of my amazing Care for Wild Volunteer experience.


The greatest moment at Care for Wild for me was when the staff allowed me in with a six-month-old baby black Rhino called Swazi. She was in quarantine with a goat for company and I was to be more company for her. Due to my long stay and just working hard and being there for the right reasons, I guess I qualified for this honour.

Deschu'S STORY

For me, it was the ‘team effort’ that really cemented the experience and made it so much more than a just a safari. I felt, I was contributing in some small way, to the work that is being done at Phinda; I had a sense of ‘belonging’, even if it was for only 3 weeks.


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.


You won’t quickly forget a bushbaby landing on your shoulder on your way back from dinner, a fearsome honey badger lying on its back without a care in the world or falling asleep at night to the sound of lions roaring and hyenas laughing outside your window.


Work hard and you maybe given more responsibility with special cases – teaching vultures to fly to the glove, looking after the baby bush pig and assisting with the cheetahs were some of the extra cases I had. I have so many amazing memories from being at Moholoholo.


My time at Care for Wild Africa Rhino Sanctuary can best be described as life changing! It is a magical place.

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.


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.


What an experience that was! Bottle-feeding baby rhinos was simply amazing. Looking into their eyes, I saw their beautiful souls each and every time I fed them. “And I get to do this every day for two weeks”, I thought to myself.

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 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 rhino, elephant, 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.



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