Group of ACE volunteers relaxing around the campfire
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Margaret Houghton: Female volunteer feeding a bushbaby

Margaret and Harriet Houghton

🇬🇧 United Kingdom

Length of Trip
14 Nights

Project Year

My granddaughter, Harriet, and I had a fabulous trip with African Conservation Experience (ACE). We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves - we learnt so much and have grown even closer! We volunteered at the Okavango Wilderness Project in Botswana and the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in South Africa.

Margaret: The organisation of the company is fantastic. A representative from ACE met us at every stage of our trip, making sure we felt supported every step of the way. 

I was really impressed with the other ACE volunteers and how welcoming they were to both myself and my granddaughter, who will be 14 in a few months. At the Okavango project, we had the chance to live in a tent and go to sleep hearing the lions and all the other wildlife. I had never even seen an African animal, so hearing the roars and hippos at night was indescribable.

Harriet: This was completely different to my normal school holidays and I feel I have learnt a lot about the culture and the animals, and now I can go back to school and talk to my peers about the experiences I've had.

We saw so much in the Okavango: lions, hippos, elephants, and leopards. We saw about three leopards, which is so exciting! There are so many impala, buffalo, red lechwe, kudu, zebra, sable and roan antelope, spring hares, African kangaroo, and lots of different birds like eagles. There were so many species we lost count.

Harriet: We even saw sitatunga, which is a type of antelope with specially adapted hooves that allow them to be semi-aquatic, which is a very rare sighting.

We, of course, saw a lot of elephants! Big bull elephants, big groups of them together at the water, even a very young baby that had just been born. It was so fascinating, you really got to understand elephant behaviour and their social interactions.

We had a great experience at Moholoholo, where we had the opportunity to help rehabilitate various species we encountered in the wild. The environment at Moholoholo was very welcoming, and although the work was challenging, it was incredibly rewarding. I even had the chance to bottle-feed an orphaned bush baby!

Harriet: A highlight for me was the night sky at both projects. In England, you don't see many stars because of the light pollution, so sitting under the night sky after a day of volunteering was mind-blowing. We saw the Milky Way and shooting stars - it was awesome. The African night skies, sunsets, and sunrises are almost as beautiful as their wildlife.

During our stay at both projects, we learned a lot from the local staff about the conservation issues in the area and how our efforts were directly supporting wildlife conservation. We also learned about seasonality in the Okavango and how it affects the movements of the wildlife, which was the main focus of our research. It was amazing to see how this data is used in conservation decision-making, all the way up to the Botswanan government. At Moholoholo, we were hands-on in the care and rehabilitation of a variety of species, which gave us a deeper understanding of conservation efforts in the Kruger region.

Margaret: My 13-year-old granddaughter has grown immensely in confidence. She mixed with other nationalities and ages and embraced all she did. I thoroughly recommend ACE whether you are a 13-year-old or a 70-year-old grandparent. If you are considering volunteering with ACE - just do it!