I first came to South Africa with my parents a few years ago and I had the time of my life. I loved experiencing the wildlife and knew I wanted to come back with a focus on this. I did a lot of research into what company to travel with, and when I found African Conservation Experience (ACE) I realised they were the most organised. They made the time to talk to me, making sure they explained the projects in depth and that I had all the information. They were really welcoming and they were lovely to speak to on the phone.
ACE definitely exceeded my expectations, I knew it would be well organised but I didn't realise just how organised they really were - everything was perfect!
The in-country team were waiting for me at the airport and answered any of my questions about my upcoming trip and projects. As I did a long trip I had many transfers - but they were all well organised, explained to me, and on time.
The first project I visited was Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. Due to staying here for nearly a month, I was given extra responsibilities at the centre. While it was a lot of work, it was such a highlight for me because of the relationships I built with the animals at the centre.
It was such a rewarding experience, and I will never forget the animals I worked with.
The second project I visited was Phinda Wildlife Research Project, which was different from Moholoholo, as I went from seeing all these species in a rehabilitation centre to seeing them in the wild at Phinda. This was incredible as I saw them interact with other animals in the wild rather than just humans. Watching how the animals acted differently in their natural environment than in an enclosure was very interesting.
The final project I visited was Coastal Conservation Experience. The highlight of this project was seeing the whales and dolphins in Plettenberg Bay. The Coastal project was a very social experience and the work we did there was really interesting. While Phinda and Moholoholo were more educational, I still learned a lot about marine life, and it made me realise I was a lot more interested in marine species than I was before.
I really recommend ACE to travellers thinking of volunteering. If you are worrying about organising your own trip to Southern Africa, by going through ACE there is no stress of having to book internal flights, organising road transfers, or trying to figure out what projects to go to - instead, everything is done for you.