Wildlife Research in South Africa Expedition

Join an international team conducting vital wildlife and conservation research in the South Africa bushveld.

Durations:  1 - 12 weeks

Program information

Travel to a private reserve in South Africa, home to lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhino, and live alongside an international research team assisting in critical wildlife conservation work.

undefined 31 May 2022

Included in your program

Make the most of our unique programs with these exclusively curated local adventure and wellness experiences.

Learn to make a potjiekos

Develop your wildlife photography skills

Discover the medicinal uses of indigenous plants

Master basic bush survival skills

Watch a magical sunset at a watering hole

Enjoy a night sky safari

Walk through a prehistoric cycad forest

Sleep in the open bushveld

Connect with our alumni
Want to connect with some of our past participants about their adventures? Get in touch with hundreds of friendly ambassadors all over the world who would be more than happy to answer any questions.
Testimonial bg

Angelo Poupard

11 Oct, 2018
My name is Angelo, I am 24 years old and I am studying Zoology and Bioscience in Glasgow, Scotland. I am french but I choose to move to Glasgow a few years ago in order to improve my English which I knew would open me so many doors in the future, for both my professional career and my daily life. I've always been fascinated by animals or the wildlife in a holistic manner, however, I've always been struggling to find a direction or a path to pursue my career. Through Bushwise, which is a organisation that provide FGSAS, I heard about GVI and I took the chance to travel to South Africa to do a wildlife conservation internship. This has changed my life forever and I will never be grateful enough for this incredible experience that I've had the pleasure to share with the volunteers and the staff members. After 3 months of being in the bush, I am now sure that my future will lead me here, in the African wildlife to either work in conservation or as a field guide. I was nervous during my first flight, coming to Africa for the first time ever. But after my first day in Limpopo, I already felt part of the big GVI Family. The staff members and the volunteers present for my beginning were extremely friendly and welcoming. They knew exactly how to integrate the new volunteers. After a week of lectures and general research drives, where the staff members taught us about the animals and the work that GVI do in the reserve, the volunteers were fully trained and ready to work. I've never felt lost or confused once during my first week, even though we had a lot to learn. A typical day with GVI Limpopo, usually starts with a morning drive. I never got bored of looking at the indescribable African sunrise, meanwhile the animals are slowly waking up. Once the sun arose, we were looking for the cheetah coalition to collect data. The cheetah and lions in the reserve are part of the main focus of GVI. Being this close to the three male cheetahs every day was something that I could never forget. After finding the cheetah, we were either going to look for other animals of the reserve, always learning as much as possible with a very passionate and enthusiastic staff member. It is so much more pleasant to learn about elephant or eagle when they are standing right in front of you. In the vehicle, we get the chance to observe the animals closely, without intruding on their space and natural behaviour. I have had so many amazing sightings and every day has felt better than the previous day. The difference between GVI Limpopo and a safari experience from a lodge is that with GVI, we contribute to the welfare of the wildlife by collecting important data, or through reserve work management. Volunteers can leave here feeling like they have made a difference, and truly contributed to the wildlife conservation. Having awesome daily sightings is the result of the hard work that we all put in and this is a marvelous feeling. My GVI internship has been the perfect balance between learning a lot, having a lot of fun, and having so many unforgettable sightings. I would advise anyone coming here to not be shy or nervous, every single person that I've met has been super friendly and incredibly welcoming. Everyone here can truly be himself without being scared or pretending to be someone else. People here are so different in a positive way, which make this place so unique and wonderful. I would also advise anyone coming here to enjoy every moment during the internship. Time flies and I can not believe that I've already finished my 3 months internship. I felt like I arrived yesterday. I've been talking about this feeling with a lot of volunteers here and everyone agreed on this. No matter what you are looking to gain during this internship, you will leave GVI with a clear head and much more confidence in your daily life than you had before. Sharing the same house with 20 people in the middle of a reserve is an incredible feeling. Here, I've reconnected myself with nature, with the world, and with humanity. You can not have a bad day during your time here, as everyone's happiness and optimism will always cheer you up, even during your difficult moments. Meeting new people from different nationalities were also one of the greatest part of GVI. Everyone here came with different cultures and different stories, but also with different reasons for being here. For example, I met many volunteers and staff members studying the same subject as I did, and which are also looking forward to doing a career in the wildlife conservation. My social network is now broader and much more meaningful for my future plan. I also met volunteers studying or having jobs not related at all to animals conservation, such as math, fashion or chemistry. However, everyone here shared a common passion which is the wildlife, and everyone was always keen to teach or learn about it. What I learned the most about myself during my time here, is that I want to dedicate my life working with African wildlife. I've also learned what is really important in life, such as making the difference between what I need and what I want. Through basic living, I've learned to appreciate what really matters in life. When I came to Limpopo for the first time, my knowledge about the bush was poor. Through my 3 months internship, I have improved so much in terms of wildlife knowledge, but I've also improved my confidence. I can not wait to come back here next summer. I made friends from all around the world, and I am very excited to come to visit them when I will have time. One of the main believes of GVI is to make a difference in the field, which means that we were not only learning and working on the reserve but also outside the reserve, being involved in the community around Karongwe. During my time, I visited the local schools where I've spent time with the kids, playing football and teaching them about the environment. The kids were lovely, they wanted to learn as much as we wanted to teach them, and they gave me motivation and conviction in the path I've chosen. If I could have the chance, I would love to discover more GVI base in the world, like GVI Costa Rica wildlife program, or GVI Seychelles scuba diving. I believe so much in the Global Vision Internation project, which is to impact volunteers careers by helping local people in places where they need us the most. In September I will return to university in Glasgow, to finish my third year of university. I will then come back to GVI Limpopo in June 2019 for another 3 months internship, this time as a staff member. I planned to lead my own research project through my next internship, which would both benefit the reserve, GVI, but also my studies. The results that I will collect in Limpopo will be used for my dissertation during my fourth year of university. Once my zoology degree completed, I am planning to return to South Africa, hopefully in the long term, where I will spend another year studying for my FGSAS through the Bushwise organisation. GVI has given me the chance to project myself in the long term, and I feel like this internship has answered so many questions to my professional life. GVI has given me conviction in the fact that, when united, we can truly make a difference in the world, with a lot of work but also by having a lot of fun.

Thomas Lowe

11 Oct, 2018
Before I started the project I had preconceived ideas of what to expect and can happily say that everyone of those was exceeded. GVI gave me so many great experiences and opportunities to try new things and for that I will be forever grateful. The project has improved my employability, but more importantly it has given me direction which for the last few years I have sorely lacked. The impact of the program on the ground was a privilege to be a part of, waking up at 4.30am for morning drive and not knowing what you might see is a great feeling to wake up to. Everything you do on a day to day basis is a learning experience, but its done in a such a way that you don’t realise its happening. No classroom or website could have taught me in a month what I learnt during my time on Karongwe and not just the surrounding wildlife, but conservation, culture and history. The support of GVI from the start and hopefully onwards has been incredible, from my first phone call not knowing what I wanted to do, down to every member of staff I have met along the way. I was lucky enough to meet members of staff from other GVI projects who had stopped by for a few days, namely Richard Wilks and Tilda Christensson. Getting to talk with them about the different areas they work in was very enlightening. All in all everything I hoped I’d get out of the project I did and more. The one moment that will stay with me forever is the entire pride of lions chasing down the Cheetah mother and her four cubs whilst our field guides were off the vehicle, it was a rush of every emotion at once and a feeling I wont forget anytime soon. The staff on base were astonished at what we had experienced, many of them have lived/worked in the bush their entire lives and never witnessed anything like it, really put it into perspective.

Susan Miller

11 Oct, 2018
While volunteering for GVI on the South African Wildlife Expedition I learnt many skills that have proved useful over the years in my new career in wildlife biology: the science (and art!) of tracking wildlife using telemetry and spoor (footprints), navigation by GPS (and stars!), animal ID and census techniques and so much more. As an intern I also learned data analysis including GIS. I have now used some of the data gathered by GVI in my thesis on lions in small reserves in South Africa – a testament to the quality of the data being collected by GVI volunteers over the years.

Shareef Haq

11 Oct, 2018
I chose to volunteer Karongwe, South Africa program for a month this past September. I found it quite exciting as well as educational. The experience made my passion for wildlife conservation even stronger (I also participated in an another conservation in Namibia in the past). The staff was very helpful. Base Manager Leah was very open and helped with adjusting to the new environment as well as staff members Greg, Malen, and others. Learning behaviours of animals up close and personal gave additional appreciation for wildlife for me. Also, the community program ran by staff member Faith was excellent. Teaching local kids in Africa and helping build schools is a great way to combine the the conservation efforts. I plan on going to the GVI Thailand marine conservation next year.

Peter Haygarth

11 Oct, 2018
Peter Haygarth spent four weeks at Zimanga Game Reserve volunteering on the Wildlife Research Expedition. He is an ex-policeman who has taken up photography in his retirement, producing a blog and selling some of his images online. Peter used his vast experience in photographing a wide variety of subjects, including high speed motor sports to produce high quality images of the wildlife on Zimanga. Peter ran classroom-based lectures on all aspects of photography for the rest of the volunteers and staff and gave advice on settings and positioning out in the field to allow everyone to maximise their photography potential. The skills he transferred to the staff in that time were invaluable and enabled them to produce fantastic images for social media and accurate images for animal ID kits. This is part of our work to assist the land owner with determining the social structure of various focus species.

Emilie Todd

11 Oct, 2018
I took a short career break from work and decided to do a 2 month community and wildlife internship at the Karongwe base in South Africa. I had an incredible time with GVI learning about wildlife conservation, teaching in the local school and helping build a new creche. I could see that the work we were doing in the local community was really making a difference and the kids loved having us there. The internship is one of the best travelling experiences I have had and has left me with some lifelong memories and friends.

Daniel Sturgess

11 Oct, 2018
I spent three months in Limpopo Africa with GVI doing the South African Wildlife Research Expedition. The long wait between me booking the trip and actually being able to go on it had finally finished, and there I was stood nervously but excited in the Hoedspruit airport, I was instantly greeted by a GVI rep that could obviously pick me out from the crowd due to the stereotypical clothing that I was wearing. I was then lead towards the big group of people who had arrived on the flight before me. Everyone instantly bonded over the fact we were all excited but at the same time nervous. We then had a short trip from the airport to the base where we would be spending our time in Africa; we had a big shared dorm and a veranda area which was awesome because it was so open meaning that we could always see all the different visitors that happened to come into our ‘garden’ including giraffe, elephant and hyena. The veranda contained a few large handmade sofas which previous volunteers had made during their days off and a few different things to do whilst we had spare time including a darts board, pool table and a table tennis table. A typical day would consist of waking up at at least 4:30 in the morning so that we were up and ready for morning which left at 5:00. In this half hour rush we would have to ensure we had enough clothes for the chilly start and enough water for the beaming heat that would follow shortly. We would also have to complete our morning duty which would be assigned the evening before; these duties would be something along the line of doing a vehicle check or getting equipment ready all of which we were tough in our first week there which acts as a training week including daily presentations about the importance of the project. Morning drive consisted of finding the focus animals which we tracked which at the time were three lions, a female cheetah and the ele’s. We also had an afternoon drive daily which would be easier as the animals would be in roughly the same area as where they were found in the morning. Once a week we would be partnered up with another volunteer to do base duties which included cleaning and cooking which was good fun (if not only because we could have a lay in). We would also get one day a week off. This was really awesome there was lots of things to do in the surrounding area like a dam which was good as a tourist P.O.I but also right next to it was a natural hid away water pool which gave us many a hours distraction as there was ledges to jump off. Every day at Karongwe was different and I think that’s what I liked most. The whole trip was the experience of a lifetime and I can’t wait for my next adventure with GVI.

Charmaine Mohlala

15 Aug, 2018
My name is Charmaine Mohlala from South Africa, an ex volunteer at GVI (Global Vision International) at the Karongwe Private Game Reserve base in South Africa, which is under management of Leah Brown. Being part of GVI was the most amazing experience I have ever had in my life. A highlight in particular was meeting, staying with, working and socialising with different people from different countries such as United States of America, England, Australia and Dubai. As I was engaged in the GVI wildlife research program, my responsibilities were to check sign and tracks of animals, placing cameras in every spot of reserve, monitoring behaviour of animals and collecting data regarding the big five (age, sex, species and more). The GVI wildlife research program gave me an opportunity to overcome my personal fears by adapting to a different situations, difficult environments (such as getting in touch with wild animal) as well as bush walks. It also helped me to strengthen my professional skills and abilities as I have now become good at planning, organising, leading, controlling, working as a team, and for my ability to complete given tasks in a specified amount of time. Giving back to community was my favourite part of the program. We used to visit Magapane Preschool at The Willows Village and Diphuthi Primary School at The Oaks village in Hoedspruit with the aim of educating kids on the importance of nature and the environment, as well as why we should prioritise conservation, and how. Playing sport (netball, volleyball, basketball and soccer) also played an important role of my trip, as it gave me the opportunity to get to know and understand my fellow participants as a family, even sharing ideas and encouraging each other. I hope I will achieve even more with GVI in the future, as I am now also being introduced to a PADI Scuba diving course, of which I am excited to be a part of. Thank you GVI!

Danielle Tischler

15 Aug, 2018
I have finally settled in back home and it's just not the same. I truly do miss being back in Karongwe with all the gang. I was only there for a short time, a mere two weeks, but it has changed my entire perspective on life and helped me find myself. I went over there a little lost having no idea what I truly wanted to do. I study a Bachelor in Science in Conservation and Biological Science and I came over to test if it was something I truly wanted to pursue. And man did I make my mind up. It’s 110% what I want to do an you and the team helped me come to that realisation. GVI Karongwe are so inspiring and supportive whilst letting everyone at base have their own opinion and letting us stand on our own two feet and taking responsibility for our beliefs and actions. I would love to come back on volunteer internship or whilst doing my masters, and even better hopefully work for you guys or over in Africa!!! But until then I just wanted to say thank you again! For anyone that is considering going on a GVI trip I cannot recommend it enough, even if you want a holiday, consider doing GVI, it is so rewarding and you see parts on the country and its community that wouldn’t be able to see as a mere tourist. There is no previous knowledge necessary, the team trains everyone up to get ready to hit the safari. I made life long friends on this trip from all over the world, from UK to Ireland to Columbia. We still talk at least once or twice a week. It's an experience you’ll never forget. Danni x

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