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JOIN THE

VETPAW EXPERIENCE

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

     Conservation

  Safari Experience

TASTE OF THE EASTERN CAPE

 

Program Details and faqs

Conservation

Safari

Taste of the Eastern Cape

Accommodations

Costs/Schedules & FAQs

Conservation

You will be part of a day/night monitoring and tracking team dedicated to finding and documenting our black and white rhino populations within the reserve where information is collected and made available to the reserve managers.

Determine rhino 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 rhino behavior and interactions to achieve an understanding of the population structure, anti-poaching practices, and management planning through information collected.

You will assist and be part of the reserves routine and any science/monitoring programs that BRCC is involved with. The Mutogomeli project is not on an ecotourism reserve so guests will be given a completely personal and unique African experience while living remotely at our bush camp.

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!

You will get to experience having these encounters with our own biologist who will be available for questions and concerns at any point throughout these processes and your stay!

What will I leave with?
  • Understand seasonal movements and create range maps within rhino territory
  • Understand 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
  • First-hand look at anti-poaching practices and military grade tactics
  • Engagement in the community and culture of Eastern Cape
Who will be our field guide?

You will be joining our professional team of wildlife managers and game reserve operators, as well as getting to know our amazing group of veterans on the ground!

I’ve never done any conservation work before. Will I be able to participate?

Yes. However, it is important to come with an open mind, as conservation is more than just keeping an eye on our wild African friends. The VETPAW experience is located on an active game reserve, which means you will see conservation from all perspectives. Remember that a mind is like a parachute, it works best when open.

What kind of involvement will I have?

Your activities will be centered around the conversation strategy on the reserve:

  • Rhino monitoring through telemetry. Each rhino has a telemetry device that puts out a signal which we can track. We need to know where each rhino is by 12 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 what time of the year you visit and whether the reserves have game capture activities planned)

Safari

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!

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You’ll experience day and night safari rides around the reserve itself!

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Escorted by our Vets on the ground you’ll get to go on patrol around the reserve to see what a day in the life of a VETPAW team member is like!

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You’ll be able to take photographs and see the nearby San Rock paintings which many are over a thousand years old depicting an ancient way of life for the area.

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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! Since we are in sole charge of the property we can 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 in an emergency we will be able to accommodate most requests.

Are binoculars provided?

No, 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.

Will I see the big 5 (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, rhino)? Everyone talks of Africa’s Big 5, what is this exactly?

Opportunity to see the big 4 of the big 5 up and personal- we are in the process of reintroducing lions back into the ecosystem of this reserve and until then you will get to see Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo and Leopard. African Wildlife is unpredictable but through the course of your stay it is very well within your reach to see all of these animals during your stay!

Taste of the Eastern Cape

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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

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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!

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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!

  • Sit back and relax after your day-to-day activities and soak in the wild of the Bush around our lodge! We always recommend bringing a book or journal to relax poolside on one of our hammocks or on our patio overlooking the reserve.
  • Since our Vets patrol the immensely large reserve (40,000 acres to be precise) there are plenty of trails you can enjoy some clarity and embrace your surroundings! Hiking led by one of our vets of course!
  • You’ll get to enjoy dinners under the stars at night surrounding our camp fire! (And yes there may or may not be S’mores involved.)

Accommodation

Amenities 

  • Wi-Fi
  • A/C
  • Bar
  • Laundry Service
  • Personal on-site Chef
  • Personal Guides/Driver
  • Pool
  • 2x Indoor Fire place and Outdoor Fire Pit
  • Smart TVs (with, yes, Netflix)
  • 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 along with the basics
  • An on-site VETPAW gift shop with exclusive items available for
    purchase
Can we take credit card payments at the camp?

Yes, Master and Visa card payments can be done at Safari Camp. Bush Camp guests can pay at Safari Camp on the way out.

ATM-s?

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 you wish to leave for the staff will be GREATLY appreciated. These can be paid in CASH directly to the member of staff at your discretion, or by CREDIT CARD along with your beverages account on the morning of your departure.

Schedules

* 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.

Day 2:

  • Black Rhino Monitoring/Game Drive
  • White Rhino Monitoring/Game Drive

Day 3:

  • Village Visit
  • White Rhino Monitoring
  • Game Drive

Day 4:

  • Camera Trap Data Recover (part 1)
  • Game Drive
  • Option to book additional activites*

Day 5:

  • Camera Trap Data Recovery (part 2)
  • Game Drive

Day 6:

  • Beach/sand dunes Trip
  • Local town visit OPTION*: Boat ride up the river nearby
  • Dinner in town** (participants required to pay for their meal out)

Day 7:

  • Morning Game Drive
  • Leisure time* option to book additional activities
  • Night Game Drive

Day 8:

  • Cheetah Tracking/Game Drive
  • Evening Game Drive

Day 9:

  • Elephant tracking
  • Leisure time *option to do more activites at your disposal
  • Elephant tracking

Day 10:

  • Final Day Farewell
  • Breakfast and briefing
  • Depart to Airport

Costs

Groups of 6+ planning to participate in the experience program can contact experiences@vetpaw.org for scheduling and any immediate questions regarding dates if accommodations are needed.

April-November 14-23 of every month, 10 days $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.

Disclaimer:

Due to the High Risk of placing our immediate location we choose not disclose our location but will say we are in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa. We hope you understand our reasoning’s for being discrete and only with a secured position for our trip will you have more specifics to where you will be traveling to. Rest assured you will be in the wild of South Africa with these beautiful animals you see on our media platforms!

 

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!

How is VETPAW able to offer such competitive prices?

Remember, 100% of all proceeds go back into our non-profits mission in helping build a safe environment for these animals! Our unique style of off the beaten track, face-to-face travel is the only way to really experience the true wild of South Africa! Another thing you’ll notice are the inclusions. While we don’t include everything, we give you a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a difference for these endangered species! Through assisting our biologist and team members in their day-to-day regimen to simply booking this trip! We also leave many other activities as options, to provide you the freedom and flexibility to choose what you want to do on a daily basis.

What vaccinations are recommended for this adventure?

It’s important that you receive the most accurate and up-to-date travel health information for the region you will be visiting. The only one qualified to provide you with this advice is your family physician or a specialist from a Travel Health clinic.

Do we need to take Malaria Medication?

The Eastern Cape is designated as a Malaria Free zone so you shouldn’t have any issues! Additional preventive measures such as covering your arms, feet and legs during the early mornings and evenings by wearing long sleeve clothing, apply a good quality mosquito repellent and sleep under a mosquito net. Lodges are equipped with mosquito and insect repellent as well as mosquito nets around the beds and on the windows and doors. Do not let the risk of malaria stop you from enjoying your safari! Over a million people visit the nearby Kruger National Park every year, and very few cases of malaria are reported!

Passport, Itinerary, tickets and traveler’s insurance

It seems obvious, but we would be remiss if we didn’t put this at the top of the list of what you must pack for your trip!

Prescription medicines

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!

Prescription glasses (sunglasses, hat, sunblock et al)

If you wear prescription glasses, be sure to pack more than one set (in case you lose one or they get broken). You will be outdoors for much of the time, so be prepared. Pack a hat, sunblock, long sleeves, and lip balm.

Camera, video and binoculars

While most people will remember to take their camera and/or video (or will use their mobile phone), not everyone thinks they need to take binoculars!

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 a pair of 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 is also blessed with stunning landscapes, colorful people and fabulous light! Don’t miss out. Buy a camera, if you don’t already have one.

Clothing

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 – those that zip off at the knees are very handy, too!
  • Comfortable walking shoes and or a pair of hiking boots!
  • Be sure to bring a good pair of socks!
  • We suggest Merino wool! It’s a good choice of fabric 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 hot
  • A safari hat that is SPF proof to avoid any sunburns!
  • Bandanna or cotton scarf and a sarong (kanga, pareo, kikoi)
  • Maybe a pair of open sports sandals for general daytime use in warmer months
  • Swimsuit – For your beach day and yes, we do have a pool!
  • A light, compact raincoat

Dull and/or neutral colors are more suitable for safari, white and/or bright colors are not practical as they tend to stand out – definitely not advisable on a walking safari. Cotton clothing is recommended although the newer synthetic safari clothing lines are quick drying and extremely comfortable.

Electronics

Feel free to bring your electronics! Just ensure you have the correct country specific adapter plugs! type M 3 pin round plugs, 220V, 15amp are what we have available in our lodging!

Preventative pharmaceuticals

Just in case the worst happens: diarrhea, headaches, heartburn, insect repellent, hand sanitizer, bites (antihistamine), indigestion, sore throat (lozenges), and eye drops. We will have all of the preventative medicines available on-site for purchase if any of these issues arise for our guest!

Odds & ends

A good (flashlight) is a must. A rechargeable torch is ideal but a small battery-powered torch is sufficient as well. The new LED miner’s lights that fit on your head (and leave your hands free) are also a good option. A smaller (pencil) torch for emergencies or looking at star maps is also worth considering. Most camps will provide a torch, or will walk you back to your tent as required, but being self-sufficient is always a good idea.

A good book. It never hurts to have an interesting book when travelling. You never know when you are going to be delayed at the airport or fall victim to Africa time!

A travel diary or journal is something we recommend. You will see and experience so much in such a short period of time on safari, that the only way to maintain a good record of it will be to write it down. It does require discipline, but will serve as an invaluable record of your safari adventure.

How many people can join a tour?

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 visas?

Requirements for travel visas vary widely depending on your nationality and your destination. If you do require a visa you can arrange them yourself or use the services of a travel agent or visa processing company.

What are the age restrictions on your tours?

To travel independently you must be at least 18 years of age. There are no upper age limits for most of our tours (although 18-to-Thirtysomethings tours are restricted exclusively to 18-to-39-year-olds). Also, travelers with pre-existing medical conditions are required to complete a medical questionnaire.

I’m a single traveler, how will my room be accommodated for?

If you are travelling on your own, you will be sharing a room with another VETPAW participant of the same sex. Some tours have an optional single supplement or rarely a mandatory single supplement.

 

An optional service that may be available is called “My Own Room”. This service allows solo travelers to request their own private room while on tour. The cost and the details vary by trip, so please contact experiences@vetpaw.org for more information.

Can I join a tour late or leave it early?

It’s extremely difficult if not impossible to join a tour after it has begun. It is possible to leave a tour early however you will be responsible for your own arrangements from the moment you decide to leave the tour. You would also be responsible for all costs associated with joining a tour late or leaving one early. If you feel this may be necessary please consult experiences@vetpaw.org before you book your adventure.

Are airfare fees included in the price?

No, the programs fee only includes your stay and accommodations for the ten days.

Do we need to rent a car?

No, you do not need to rent a car during your stay with us. All transportation to and from the airport will be arranged for your arrival/departure. Also, during your stay with us on the reserve you will be driven around in our safari Land cruisers by our team members. However, you’re more than welcome to rent a vehicle at your own discretion.

Who are my travelling companions?

You’ll be placed in a Facebook group once your group is filled and there you will be able to make introductions and share any tid-bits of information prior to your arrival. 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!