Group of ACE volunteers relaxing around the campfire
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Phinda Wildlife Research Project: cheetah

Georgina Lyon

🇬🇧 United Kingdom

Length of Trip
14 Nights

Project Year

I was originally planning to just go on holiday and then decided I wanted to use the time I had off to do something that I have not had a chance to do before, and maybe help myself grow as a person. My grandparents spent a lot of time in Africa when they were younger and spoke about it a lot, so I always had an urge to travel there.

I looked at many different providers and projects, and I felt that African Conservation Experience (ACE) worked with a small number of projects rather than offering opportunities worldwide.

It felt like ACE knew Africa and really cared about projects that it worked with, which definitely turned out to be the case! 

My journey from application to arrival in the country was pretty swift because I switched to a new team in July and travelled in August. So it was only really a month from enquiring to arriving. I spoke to a member of ACE’s team and they were brilliant and really helpful. They answered every question I had.

I think I spoke to them for about two hours in total about different projects. They clearly explained why they recommended them, and what my experience would be like. This gave me a lot of confidence to book. 

Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre was amazing. They really took care of me as well as they did the animals. We got to go to the Kruger National Park for the day on safari, which was great, and something I've always wanted to do. The guide used all of his contacts to work out where everything was. We also spotted a cheetah ourselves, which ended up walking right towards us and crossed the road in front of the car which I think was really, really special.

My highlight was just working at the centre, where you understand the human impact on wildlife, and I got to feel like I was really contributing.

My second project was Phinda Wildlife Research Project. Here I experienced the main highlight of my whole trip where I got to see a rhino capture and the trimming of its horn. For me, this was such a bittersweet moment because it's a reminder of the impact of poaching, that we have to trim the horn of such an iconic animal as part of the efforts to keep it safe.

It was one of many influential lessons from my experience!

All the projects I worked with had a heart to them. I really wanted to work on a project that wasn't just about tourism, with a facade of conservation, and ACEs projects fulfilled what I was looking for. I can't recommend them and ACE highly enough.