Group of ACE volunteers relaxing around the campfire
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Volunteers working in habitat restoration in the Kruger

Sebastian Lerner

🇺🇸 United States

Length of Trip
14 Nights

Project Year

I found organising my trip with African Conservation Experience (ACE) very easy. The ACE team on the phone were extremely helpful in finding the project that suited my goals and interests. I had a 45-minute talk with them on the phone, discussing potential projects, what I was looking for, and what I didn't want to do. Also, speaking to someone on the phone gives you so much more information on the project than just what's available on the website.

ACE ensures that you are joining the projects that suit your interests and provide you with a clear understanding of the work before you begin.

I visited The Vikela Kruger Experience for two weeks and loved every second. On a typical day, we wake up at 5:00am and have breakfast around 5:30am. Then, we head out into the bush either for a monitoring drive, where we collect data on the animals, or a bushwalk, where we track the wildlife on foot.

At lunch, we would head back to the camp for about an hour. Afterwards, we hung out and socialised or took a nap if tired! Then we would go back into the bush a second time at around 3:00pm. We occasionally did work that needed to be done within the reserves, such as removing alien plant species or maintaining the roads, which is such an important part of habitat restoration.

After a long day of work, we would come back to a big dinner, play cards, chill out, and then go to sleep. Ready for an early start the next day!

If you are interested in conservation, this project is perfect for you! You can see the difference it's making for wildlife and the ecosystem you are working in. The work is helping monitor all of the animals that come through this particular region, to help gain an understanding of where the animals are and their behaviours. It allows us to check that the ecosystem balance is normal, and you can also help maintain their habitat. The Kruger Project plays a massive role in rhino conservation, particularly by directly supporting anti-poaching units in the area. 

My highlight of the trip would probably be the night we slept out in the bush. We arrived at our very nice campsite on the riverbed, and immediately set up a fire and had a braai. The food was great, and then we all sat around and talked until it got dark. Once it got dark, we headed to bed. At that point, one of our guides told us all to be quiet as something was coming down the path.

Suddenly, a herd of elephants was heading towards us down a game path. They came right up to us and almost did a semi-circle around us. We were completely quiet, and we could hear all the noises the elephants made, and the cracking of the bushes. It was incredible. 

I learned a lot about native animals, their behaviour, and some interesting fun facts. Additionally, I gained a good understanding of conservation and the local area. The guides taught us about the different ecosystems such as the lakes, the local plant species, and the local people. Learning how different cultures view wildlife and their surroundings gave me a comprehensive understanding of the country.

We saw so much wildlife: lions, cheetahs, white rhinos,  buffalo, wildebeest, impalas, giraffes, kudu, steenbok, duiker, baboons, hippos, crocodiles, and of course, A LOT of elephants.

The outings included at The Kruger Project added to the experience. The day trip to the other side of Kruger Park was very cool because it allowed us to see a different landscape within the area, as well as a more relaxed way to see lots of different animals. 

During our trip to Blyde River, we got to witness a unique ecosystem and explore the stunning canyon. We also learned about the various wildlife species in the area, such as hippos and crocodiles. On the same day, we visited the Moholohlo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre to understand how animals that have been injured or can't be released into the wild are being taken care of. This experience helped me develop a deeper appreciation for the efforts of people who help these animals.

My advice to anyone thinking of visiting the Vikela Kruger Experience would be to simply: DO IT! Once you get there, make the most of it, and ask as many questions as you can as the team there are so knowledgeable.