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Phinda Wildlife Research Project: 28 November - 12 December 2023*
I have always had a fascination with animals and nature which firmly put South Africa on my bucket list and earlier this year I was fortunate enough to spend three months volunteering there with my partner Dan.
We were given a warm greeting by Martin in Johannesburg, who briefed us on what we could expect from our time volunteering and made sure we were happy and prepared before we embarked on our flight to Richards Bay. From there we were collected by a driver and taken to the most beautiful place I have ever been, Phinda. Martin described it to us as “Eden” and he wasn’t wrong though I don’t think even that accolade did it justice. From the second we were driven through the gates we were greeted by a vast array of stunning wildlife and a range of incredibly lush and diverse habitats, and that was just on the drive to our accommodation.
Once there we met the awesome research team we would be working with Meg, Axel and Craig, who made our experience all the more memorable. Day to day we would be out on a drive with Meg undertaking a variety of duties from radio tracking to population monitoring to assisting with game capture and relocation, no two days were ever the same.
The sheer variety of research we got to help with gave us a wealth of hands-on experience and meant that we really did learn something new every day. After a long day on the drive our evenings would be spent enjoying a meal prepared and eaten together with the researchers and other volunteers which gave us a real sense of community and an almost homely feel to our stay. When our time there was at an end it was genuinely quite difficult to leave Phinda as we had truly fallen in love with it and we had become close to Meg, Axel and Craig, who we can’t thank enough for sharing Phinda with us and giving us one of the greatest experiences of our lives.
As I’m writing this so many happy memories are flooding through my head that to articulate just how incredible our time at Phinda was I would have to write down each and all of our adventures, which would take far too long. So rather than do that I will simply say, to truly get a feel for just how special a place Phinda is you must go and experience it for yourself – you won’t regret it.