Have you ever considered volunteering with Wildlife?
Claire, one of Amanzi Travel’s recent volunteers, has just returned from the Rhino and Elephant Sanctuary in Zimbabwe and has shared her fantastic experience.
“This was my first volunteering experience so I was a little apprehensive, especially as I’d booked to be at the Rhino and Elephant Sanctuary for 4 weeks. I’d been to South Africa before but not Zimbabwe and given the troubles that the country has been experiencing, had no idea what to expect. But wow, and a few more wow’s, several awesomes and a lot of “can I go straight back there!!!!!!!”
The sanctuary is a wonderful, relatively small farm/game reserve (very small compared to the likes of Kruger), but this is what helps to make it so wonderful. Starting at the beginning….the accomodation is really nice. Stocks and Tafadzwa,
who do the cooking, are two of the happiest people that I have ever met and cook really wonderful meals - their banana muffins were divine! Then there’s Chipo who does all the cleaning, making the beds, washing of clothes….again, she’s so up there on the happy scale. Marc and Anna, the Volunteer Managers, have the most amazing stories to tell over cups of tea and popcorn. Then there is Bright – awesome, brilliant, amazing, the list goes on as to how high a regard I hold him in – he made the trip. Bright looks after everyone on a day to day basis, drives volunteers around in the game truck, has a phenomenal amount of knowledge, has done all the jobs there, and is just such a lovely guy – lovely spending time in the front of the van chatting, singing, having a laugh…..
Then there are the activities. Every morning between 6.30am and 9am was spent cleaning out the elephants or rhinos, feeding the rhinos, then going out and observing them. Then back for breakfast and out again at 10am for the next round of activities. This could be goin
g to the local school to help the kids with their reading, paintballing, initiative tests, building rafts, fixing the fishing net and going fishing to rescue the fish, painting the fence, fighting bush fires….the list goes on and on! Back for lunch at 12.30pm until 2pm and then back out for the afternoon activities. This could be cutting browse for Tatenda (one of the black rhinos) with machetes, feeding Crispin the crocodile (he’s got the most wonderful, but sad story), or Mambo the Lion (another animal like Crispin needing relationship counselling), and the hyenas, gardening at the school, and then either walking the elephants back or putting the rhinos to bed. Stocks and Tafadzwa always had popcorn and tea waiting for us when we got back.
Then shower (solar showers were great and hot, even with 13 of us) and it could be off to the top of Castle Kopje (a stack of granite rocks) to have a beer and watch the sunset or Shona night where you have the most amazing food cooked by Mai Matzika (the Deputy Head of the local school), learning about the Shona culture, then geting to join in the singing and dancing with the local children. I had to be prised out of the sanctuary on my last morning and I’m sure there are still my finger marks on the door frame and the dragged heel marks. This is definitely the gold standard for volunteering. If you’re undecided – go, it was the best experience of my life. But take the Lion King soundtrack with you and DVD – I’ve still got Hakuna Matata going round my head!!!!”