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South Africa Wildlife Research Expedition Course

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

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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.

Witness nature unfiltered, from a lion taking down its prey, to newborn cheetah cubs playing for the first time, or even a stand-off between two massive elephant bulls. Experience the African savannah landscape on safari. Unlike a conventional safari trip, this program allows you to play an active and meaningful role in the research and long term conservation of South Africa's natural resources.

This program, which takes place in 4, 8 or 12 week durations, is of particular relevance to students wishing to gain practical exposure and experience in the field, as well as to develop the necessary ‘on the ground’ skills in order to become a more well-rounded wildlife field researcher in the conservation industry.

Skills & Experience Acquired

Time Commitment

Monday - Friday

Active Periods

All year round with set start dates


Work and Activities Description

By the end of the course you will be able to:

  • Identify common large mammals species of the region.
  • Learn how to identify individual research study mammals, including techniques such as lion whisker patterns and elephant ear notches.
  • Identify the common trees and grasses using keys, and thus be able to apply these skills to carry out vegetation surveys and identify other vegetation in Southern Africa.
  • Understand the concept of veld management as a tool for wildlife conservation.
  • Be familiar with the different biomes in South Africa.

On this program you will cover training on 9 different modules:

  • Safety in the field (orientation, survival, weather & climate)
  • Camp Set-up
  • Management and Logistics
  • Identification of fauna and flora
  • Animal behaviour in relation to safety and data collection
  • Field Research Techniques
  • 4×4 and Bush Driving
  • Tracking in the field

Get in touch for a more detailed breakdown of each one.

Typical Day

Through hands-on experience, game drives and lectures, students will have the opportunity to develop their bush and field biologists skills and to elevate their understanding and skills as field biologist.

This could possibly include:

  1. Interpreting the environment for field safety, specifically utilising and using field survey techniques
  2. Gaining skills to set up and manage field camp
  3. Learning fundamental skills in identification of fauna and flora
  4. Learning how to interpret animal behaviour in relation to safety and scientific data collection
  5. Developing techniques and skills for studying wildlife, animal behaviour and biodiversity survey of reptiles, birds, amphibians and arthropods
  6. Gaining training and skills in 4×4 driving and learn how to communicate via VHF radio
  7. Learning fundamentals of tracking animals using tracks and signs.

Free Time Activities

Some highlights that could possibly be enjoyed include;

  • Blyde River Canyon: boat trips, kloofing, whitewater rafting, paintball, hot air ballooning and camping to name just but a few.
  • Kruger National Park: Orpen and Phalaborwa Gates are just an hour and a half’s drive from the campus. Day Trips/overnight camping available as well.
  • Moholoholo Rehab Centre: endangered species rehabilitation, a fascinating adventure for those interested in the conservation field.
  • Panorama Route: Bourke’s Luck potholes, God’s Window and waterfalls are just some of what you can see, easily completed in a single day.
  • Giant Baobab/Upside Down Restaurant: get up close with huge baobab trees, and don’t forget to try the great pancakes.
  • Debengeni Falls, Tzaneen: stunning waterfall, picnic area and hiking trails. Talk to one of our trainers to learn more about this.



Accommodation Options

Accommodation Description

Accommodation is in shared rooms with shared bathroom facilities at the field station of 2 people per room. We try and keep these same sex but on the odd occasion you may need to share with someone from the opposite sex when there are odd numbers however this will be communicated with you in advance. There is hot water available for showers. Flush toilet facilities are available, and participants share general cleaning duties around base and are responsible for their own rooms.


Facilities Description



Food & Drink

Meals are prepared for you by our catering team. Food is generally western style with some cooked in the traditional local style. Breakfast could be cereal, porridge, fresh fruit, pancakes, etc., lunch is sandwiches, pasta and sauce, etc. and a typical evening meal may include rice, mielie pap, meat, fresh veg, etc.

Internet Access

WiFi is available on base

Phone Signal

Participants typically use mobile phones to keep in touch, with limited access to internet. MTN South Africa and Vodacom are the service providers that covers both bases. Check with your home service provider that they have roaming agreements with MTN or Vodacom. SIM cards and starter packs/ airtime are easily available on the weekly town trips for less than R5.00, but will require a passport for registration purposes.

Nearest Facilities

Airport Pickup

Airport pick up included & details will be confirmed at time of booking


Language Requirements


Document Requirements

Criminal background check & Medical form

Nationality Requirements

Qualification Requirements

Medical Requirements

Doctors note must be signed if you have any illnesses to declare

Other Requirements

Must apply for a STUDY visa

Recommended Gear

Kit list will be provided for you at time of booking

Included Services

Before Journey Services / Support

Once you have confirmed your spot on this program, you will be allocated to a dedicated program expert who will assist you as you prepare for your program.

On-Site Support

Highly skilled staff to facilitate project & training


Pricing Breakdown

You will be given the option to pay in instalments for an Instalment Fee of £125 per booking. If you select this Instalment Fee option, a non-refundable deposit payment of £350 is due within 48 hours of notice of acceptance onto the program, 50% of the balance will fall due 16 weeks before departure and the remaining 50% of the balance will fall due 12 weeks before departure. If you the Participant cancel this agreement, the Participant shall not be entitled to a refund of any monies paid.

If you do not select the Instalment Fee option, the full cost of your booking is due within 48 hours of notice of acceptance onto the program. If you the Participant cancel this agreement more than 16 weeks prior to departure, the Participant shall be entitled to a refund of the full amount paid minus £350.

If you the Participant cancel this agreement between 16 and 12 weeks prior to departure, the Participant shall be entitled to a refund of 60% of the full amount paid. If you the Participant cancel this agreement less than 12 weeks prior to departure, the Participant shall be entitled to a refund of £100.

Not Included in Price

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Personal kit
  • Police or background check
  • Police or background check (where necessary)
  • Recommended reference books
  • Visa costs

Reviews & Ratings

A real-world application and experience that started off my career...







I chose this volunteering expedition as an opportunity in my summer break away from university. This trip has changed my life in the most honest way I can explain. I studied Environmental Science at University and this trip not only allowed me to put my university skills to practice in the field, but I also gained an incredible depth of knowledge, skill and understanding for the African bush whilst being there for a duration of 4 weeks. Not to mention the lifelong friends I now have and the amazing community support I have gained through this journey with GVI.

Review by:

Danielle Roche

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