Group of ACE volunteers relaxing around the campfire
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Giraffes in the Kruger

Arno Te Veldhuis

🇳🇱 Netherlands

Length of Trip
14 Nights

Project Year

The African Conservation Experience (ACE) has been incredible from the start. The phone call before booking is really important as it allows the team to figure out which projects are the perfect fit for you, and they will also explain what you will be doing for each project in detail.

You feel supported every step of the way. I was particularly impressed with our meet and greet at Johannesburg airport.

Like any new airport, it's a little worrying trying to navigate through it. However, with ACE, you are picked up at the gate, taken to a restaurant where you have a lovely chat with the team, and then taken to your next transfer. All concerns are removed!

At The Vikela Kruger Conservation Experience, I had a wonderful trip filled with various activities such as wildlife research, bush clearing, and wildfire protection. It was hard work, but also very educational.

I came to understand the value of my role as a volunteer in Kruger because I spent every day in the bush collecting valuable conservation data. This could include basic information such as the number and species of animals seen and their gender. We also gathered environmental data, such as visibility, and behavioural data, including whether the animals seemed startled by our presence. All of this information was logged into a database, which helped management understand the location and well-being of the wildlife.

Our data played a crucial role in making decisions, such as determining whether additional water holes were needed due to a drought, or if more camera traps were necessary to cover blind spots. 

We had the chance to see many animals, but the most memorable day was the second Wednesday of our trip. We were headed out for a morning of habitat restoration when a neighbour radioed to inform us that a cheetah had killed an impala. We were able to witness the cheetah eating the impala, which was a very cool experience!

Afterwards, we headed back to camp, where we saw many elephants. It was so peaceful just sitting there and watching them for a few minutes. Just as we were about to enter the camp, we saw a buffalo that had been hurt by lions walking very slowly towards the riverbed.

Then, out of nowhere, eight lions came out of the bush, following its tracks. My guide and I jumped into the car and went to the riverbed, where we saw the buffalo being killed.

It was such an amazing experience, one I won't forget. We were very close, less than 100 metres away when we saw it. It was like watching National Geographic in front of us.

Two days after the lion had killed the buffalo, we decided to go down to the riverbed to see if there were any more lions around. Suddenly, a big male lion roared at us from about 30 metres away. It was the first time a lion had roared at me. It was very surreal and a little scary!

If you're considering volunteering at Vikela, it's a fantastic project to be a part of. You'll have the opportunity to take part in physical conservation work, such as habitat restoration, and also go out on game drives where you get to see a wide variety of wildlife.

The bush walks allow you to explore the area amongst the wildlife. The night drives are particularly remarkable; going out at night with a flashlight to catch the reflection of animals' eyes is a beautiful experience. You'll encounter different animals, as many species are nocturnal.