EXPERIENCE FIRST-HAND THE WONDER OF WILDLIFE CONSERVATION
You’ve always wanted to go on a safari, here’s your chance. Our 10-day conservation experience is the perfect way to combine your dream holiday with making a difference for the endangered wildlife you love and your favorite charity helping to protect them. A true adventure of a lifetime awaits in South Africa—make your reservation today!
LEARN THE INS AND OUTS OF WILDLIFE CONSERVATION
VETPAW’s goal is to help end the African poaching crisis and conserve endangered species. We invite you to join our conservation efforts on our beautiful sanctuary in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Experience an incredible vacation, while getting hands-on conservation experience with some of the most critically endangered species in the world.
Your immersive safari will leave you with a true appreciation for the magnificent beauty of African wildlife, and the realizations of the imminent threats to their survival. Most importantly, you will head back home with a sense of confidence in these animals’ continued safety and a sense of achievement for taking part in such a crucial task.
“I love it so much that I’ve participated four times!“
Nothing compares to the feeling you get when you help an animal. Learning about, and contributing to the survival of these precious creatures moves you in ways you cannot imagine.
— Suzanne Weerts
100% of profits fund vetpaw
100% of all profits from conservation safaris go directly into funding VETPAW’s mission of protecting African wildlife and empowering US Veterans.
Your donation dollars are more important today than ever as we continue to expand our areas of protection, hire more veterans, train local park rangers and combat the ever-increasing pressure from poachers.
What you’ll be doing
TASTE OF THE EASTERN CAPE
You will be part of a day/night monitoring and tracking team dedicated to finding and documenting our black and white rhino, elephant and cheetah populations within the reserve where information is collected and made available to the reserve managers..
Determine the animals territory and home range activity using territorial midden sites and GPS technology in an effort to improve protection procedures and ensure the future success of the reserves priority population.
Monitoring the animals behavior and interactions to achieve an understanding of the population structure, anti-poaching practices, and management planning through information collected.
Our guests need to be mindful that they are in the bush, all our work is seasonal, weather dependent and while we have our routine, project life can change regularly in accordance with the reserves own routine. So be prepared, you will have a real adventure!
What will I leave with?
- An understanding of the seasonal movements and to be able to create range maps within rhino, elephant and cheetah territory
- An idea of population structures and management mapping necessary in providing sustainable conservation
- The beautiful diversity of African nature – a variety of animals and plants in various regions
- A first-hand look at anti-poaching practices and military-grade tactics used by VETPAW team members
- An in-depth engagement with the surrounding communities and culture of the Eastern Cape
Who will be our field guide?
Your field guides will be a mix of our veterans on the ground!
I’ve never done any conservation work before. Will I be able to participate?
Yes. However, it’s essential to come with an open mind, as conservation is more than just keeping an eye on our wild African friends. The VETPAW experience is on an active game reserve, which means you will encounter conservation from all perspectives.
What kind of involvement will I have?
Activities centered around our conversation strategy on the reserve:
- Monitoring, through telemetry. The rhinos, elephants, and cheetahs have a telemetry device that puts out a signal which we can track. We need to know where each animal is by noon.
- Camera traps. We have a multitude of trail cameras on the reserve. They provide vital research data, which is incredibly important, for the various conservation strategies on the reserve. You will be part of this program, where you will be capturing the research data and then resetting the cameras.
- Game capture and game movement (this is not guaranteed as it depends on what time of the year you visit and whether the reserves have game capture activities planned.
In addition to assisting us in our amazing day to day conservation work, you’ll get to go on daily game drives around the reserve where you can just sit back and enjoy the extreme beauty of African wildlife and our amazing landscapes.
Our reserve is teeming with wildlife and you’ll have the opportunity to see the Big 4 and much much more!
You’ll experience day and night safari rides around the reserve itself!
Escorted by our veterans on the ground, you’ll get to go on daily/nightly patrols around the reserve to see what a day in the life of a VETPAW team member is like!
You’ll be able to appreciate the vastness of nature and land this reserve has to offer!
Note – Our guests need to be mindful that they are in the bush, all our work is seasonal, weather dependant and while we have our routine, project life can change regularly in accordance with the reserves own routine. So be prepared, you will have a real adventure!
What time do we get up in the morning?
It depends on the time of year but between 5 and 6 am.
Do we do drives in the rain?
Of course, as this is one of the best times in the bush as all the animals are smiling.
Do we go off road?
Absolutely! We have the freedom to do whatever we want (within the reasons of safety, of course!)
We’re going on safari into the bush, can I get hold of personal items, drinks etc. while on safari?
Yes, our reserve is well-located to outposts and stores where we can pick things up for you if you need them. We recommend trying to bring everything that you think you may need, but we will always be able to accommodate requests.
Are binoculars provided?
No, but we would recommend bringing a pair of binoculars as sometimes there is a great sighting deeper into the bush or up a tree. Sometimes the animals are close to or on the road, but it is never a guarantee.
Taste of the Eastern Cape
Thirty minutes away you’ll get to experience some of the largest sand dunes in the world! Once you get over to the other side you’ll find yourself overlooking the Indian ocean!
*Beach activities available at an additional cost upon arrival to the beach and or to coordinate through us
Enjoy a local boat ride up the nearby river! You’ll be able to kick back and take in the vastness of the wildlife that flourishes near this area!
Enjoy shopping and culture in the local beach town village!
Sustainability program visits
One of the pillars of our mission in South Africa is a sustainable upliftment of communities surrounding the reserves we protect!
We have created a variety of sustainability projects for the ladies and men who live in these nearby traditional communities, which we will roll out over the course of 2020. These projects not only provide sustainable income for the community, they also add another layer of protection for our rhino. In their view a rhino is worth far more to them alive because it’s not just an animal to them, it’s their heritage!
- You’ll be able to visit the nearby village and visit the women who lead our sustainability initiative for the village
- You’ll get to see what a day is like for the women and children and hear their stories of the area
- You’ll also get an exclusive chance to be able to work with and or purchase their crafts they cultivate
- A visit to one of the nearby traditional Villages will grant you a glimpse into the customs of a fascinating heritage
Note – For more information on how you can contribute to this cause please take a look at our sustainability page!
Enjoy the Wild of the Bush from our lodge!
- Since our veterans patrol an immensely large reserve (40,000 acres to be precise) there are plenty of trails where you can enjoy some clarity and embrace your surroundings! Hiking led by one of our veterans of course!
- You’ll get to enjoy dinners under the stars at night surrounding your camp fire!
- Laundry Service
- Personal on-site Chef
- Personal Guides/Driver
- 2x Indoor Fire place and Outdoor Fire Pit
- Smart Tv’s (With online streaming services available)
- Communal garden for harvest (when the season is appropriate)
- On-site safe to store all of your valuables
- All Bathroom essentials
- Tea and coffee facility
- Fully equipped kitchen
There are ATM-s where you can draw South African Rands available at our stops en route to the camp.
Do we take foreign currency?
Yes, we do take American Dollars or Euro as well as South African Rands.
About tipping staff
Our rates do not include gratuities. Any gratuities left for the staff will be GREATLY appreciated.
* The schedule can be flexible within the parameters of whether or not the overall goal of the day was completed.
Day 1: Arrival Day
- Participants picked up from airport
- Participants arrive at VETPAW Volunteer Home
- Safety Briefing/Introduction to Key Volunteer Project Members (Volunteer Experience Guide/Team Leader) and Schedule Briefing.
- Black Rhino Monitoring/Game Drive
- White Rhino Monitoring/Game Drive
- Village Visit
- White Rhino Monitoring
- Game Drive
- Camera Trap Data Recover (part 1)
- Game Drive
- Option to book additional activites*
- Camera Trap Data Recovery (part 2)
- Game Drive
- Indian Ocean beach/sand dune trip
- Coastal town visit for food and shopping
- Morning Game Drive
- Leisure time* option to book additional activities
- Night Game Drive
- Cheetah Tracking/Game Drive
- Evening Game Drive
- Elephant tracking
- Leisure time *option to do more activites at your disposal
- Elephant tracking
- Final Day Farewell
- Breakfast and briefing
- Depart to Airport
14th-23rd of every month, 10 days at $2,500.
A deposit of 20% = $500 will be garnered. Program must be paid 30 days in advance of the program scheduled date.
*Failure to notify VETPAW within thirty days of your booked trip will result in a non-refundable deposit.
*Failure to notify VETPAW within 5 business days of your scheduled trip will result in a non-refundable deposit and fifty percent of the program fee.
Due to the high risk of disclosing our immediate location, we’ve made the conscious decision not to. Our priority is to ensure the safety of every animal we look over, so we hope you understand our reasoning for this. Once you have completed all the necessary paperwork and have placed your deposit, then will this information be released to you.
Note – Our guests need to be mindful that they are in the bush, all our work is seasonal, weather dependent and while we have our routine, project life can change regularly in accordance with the reserves own routine. So be prepared, you will have a real adventure!
What vaccinations are recommended for this adventure?
We require every participant to purchase travelers insurance before coming out to our Experience program. You may provide proof of travelers insurance if your job covers it.
*You must be sure that your travelers insurance covers Covid-19. The agency we recommend to go through for travelers insurance does cover for Covid-19.
Remember to put your prescription medications in your carry-on (in case your check-in bag goes astray… it happens!) and make sure you have enough of each type to last your entire safari!
Apart from selecting reasonably neutral or ‘non-bright’ colored clothing, safari-wear is generally casual and practical. Be sure you take clothes that you feel comfortable in – especially when it comes to your walking/hiking boots. The newer quick-drying fabrics, shirts with ventilation, and trousers that convert into shorts are all worth considering. Be sure to check the average temperature for the month you’ll be visiting to best prepare!
Layering is key
Wearing clothes in layers is the most practical way to cope with fluctuating day/night temperatures and cool evenings while on safari. As the day warms up, you can peel off another layer. Then as it begins to cool toward evening, you can put them back on. Here’s the “must-haves” to pack for your safari:
- T-shirt, shirt, or blouse – long sleeves and collars help to protect from the sun and mosquitoes
- Fleece or warm jacket
- A pair of safari trousers – the ones that zip off at the knees are useful for night and day temperature changes
- Comfortable walking shoes and or a pair of hiking boots!
- Be sure to bring a good pair of socks! We suggest Merino wool because it keeps your feet from becoming
over-heated and it absorbs a lot of moisture. Built-in synthetic support panels may give a good, comfortable
fit but may make your feet too warm
- A safari hat that is SPF proof to avoid any sunburns!
- Bandanna or cotton scarf and a sarong (kanga, pareo, kikoi)
- A swimsuit – For your day at the beach and by our pool
- A light, compact raincoat
Dull and or neutral colors are more suitable for safari-like white, tan, and greens. Bright colors are not practical as they tend to stand out – definitely not advisable on a walking safari. Cotton clothing gets recommended- however, the newer synthetic safari clothing lines are quick-drying and extremely comfortable.
Gadgets to bring
Binoculars are ESSENTIAL for optimum wildlife viewing on safari (and a GOOD pair of binoculars will make a BIG difference to your safari). We strongly recommend investing in binoculars for our safaris!
Africa is a photographer’s dream. Not only does the boundless wildlife come in all shapes and sizes, but the continent has stunning landscapes, colorful people, and fabulous light! Don’t miss out. Buy a camera, if you don’t already have one. A good flashlight is a must too.
How many people can go on a trip?
We keep our group sizes low, so you have the freedom to move around and get involved with your surroundings, as well as more personal attention from our local guides. This intimate size ensures that your group will not crowd your experience. You can expect up to 8-10 MAX participants on a trip but, the average is 8.
Can you help arrange my travel visa?
Requirements for travel visas vary widely depending on your nationality and your destination. If you do require a Visa, you will have to arrange for it yourself or use the services of a travel agent or visa processing company.
To travel independently, you must be at least 18 years of age. Also, travelers with pre-existing medical conditions are required to complete a medical questionnaire.
What if I want my own room during my stay?
If you are traveling on your own, you will be sharing a room with another VETPAW participant of the same sex.
An optional service that may be available is called “My Own Room.” This service allows solo travelers to request their private room while visiting. The cost and the details vary by trip, so please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Are airfare fees included in the price?
No, the program’s fee only includes your stay and accommodations for the ten days.
Do I need to rent a car?
You will not need a rental vehicle during your stay with VETPAW. We will arrange for your pick-up/drop-off at the nearby airport along with all excursions during your stay with us.
Who else will be in my experience group?
Our program does appeal to a wide range of travelers, most of whom share an adventurous spirit and a desire to experience these destinations at a grass-roots level! So get ready to have a great time with people who share the same interests as you most likely do!