Volunteering in Bulawayo

Make a difference to the wildlife and community of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Why volunteer in Bulawayo

Characterised by wide streets and lined with sweet-smelling Jacaranda trees, Bulawayo offers the hustle and bustle of African life. Rich with cultural history, charming colonial architecture and exquisite wildlife right on its doorstep, Zimbabwe’s second city is an inviting one for many good reasons.

Also known as The City of Kings, Bulawayo marks the centre of Ndebele (originally a Zulu tribe) civilization and offers an insight into a deep and interesting cultural history. 

Bulawayo provides the perfect balance between a vibrant city atmosphere, while surrounded by some of Zimbabwe’s greatest treasures. Providing the pathway for Hwange National Park and Victoria Falls, with the breathtaking Matopos National Park right on its doorstep, Bulawayo rightly deserves its reputation as one of Zimbabwe’s most attractive cities.

Bulawayo Volunteer Projects

Free To Be Wild

Work directly with orphaned animals and help rehabilitate them for release. 

Location: Bulawayo

Duration: 2 – 12 Weeks

Volunteering in Bulawayo 

Bulawayo offers a whole array of opportunities. Whether you are caring for wildlife orphans, as part of our wildlife rescue program, or enriching the lives of vulnerable children, as part of our social work and interim care facility program; you will be making a meaningful difference.

Get ready to take initiative, learn from our experienced staff and embark on a life-changing adventure.

Fun Facts about Bulawayo

  • Bulawayo is the second-largest city in Zimbabwe and the chief city of Matabeleland province. 
  • Bulawayo loosely translates to ‘place of slaughter’ named after history of bloodshed and civil war.
  • Bulawayo is the nearest city to Botswana and South Africa.
  • Bulawayo is close to Matopos National Park, home to a large population of the endangered white rhino. 
  • Bulawayo is also known as ‘The City of Kings.’ 
  • Bulawayo was the industrial hub of Zimbabwe during the colonial era. 
  • Bulawayo is the main pathway to Hwange National Park & Victoria Falls.
  • The streets of Bulawayo are as wide as they are because Cecil John Rhodes decided that they be wide enough for a cart drawn by 16 oxen be able to make a full turn.

Bulawayo Highlights & Excursions

Bulawayo is a vibrant city offering volunteers a plethora of activities to do while on your project. Below are just a few highlights you can expect. 

Matopos National Park

The world heritage site boosts one of Zimbabwe’s most stunning national parks, with towering rock formations, unique balancing rocks, ancient cave paintings, and bush walks with a 90% chance of getting close to the iconic, yet extremely endangered, white Rhino. Rich with history and the home of Cecil Rhodes, the founder of the former British colony, grave is located. Take this rare opportunity to track these magnificent creatures on foot with professional guides, all in the beautiful setting of one of Zimbabwe’s greatest spots. 

Natural History Museum

If only walls could talk, they would boast about the rich and unknown history Zimbabwe has experienced. Discover Zimbabwe’s roots, alongside decades of history and changes at the National History museum, portraying the country’s history, mineral wealth and wildlife.

Open Air Markets

Visit a vibrant African market, for a souvenir of your trip to Zimbabwe. Pick up fresh fruit and handmade goods, while soaking in the bustling atmosphere. 

Hwange National Park & Victoria Falls

See more of what Zimbabwe has to offer. Bulawayo provides a pathway for Hwange national park and one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the mighty Victoria Falls.

Wildlife Sanctuary Volunteers – Free to be Wild

You will be living at the sanctuary, in the spacious and comfortable thatched safari house, which boasts two volunteer bedrooms, a kitchen and lounge for you to use.

Depending on the number of volunteers, you may be required to share a room, although often volunteers have their own room.

There is an en-suite bathroom attached to the house with running water. The house runs on just solar power, so be prepared for any little ‘This is Africa’ moments and be ready to go with the flow. However, you will have access to hot water when the sun is shining! 

Living on-site means you will be with the orphans for all hours. You may be called on for nightly feeds, or to cuddle a little one through the night. It’s all part of the hands-on experience! 

All meals are included during your stay. You are provided with all the necessary ingredients to prepare your own breakfast and lunch. For dinner, volunteers cook at the house. We can accommodate any dietary requirements.

The bush is our internet! There is no WiFi available at the sanctuary.

However, you can purchase a local SIM card and buy data bundles for Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and emails to keep up to date with the outside world. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Bulawayo safe?

Despite negative portrayal within the Western media, Zimbabwe remains a very safe country to visit and considerably safer than neighbouring South Africa. However, like anywhere in the world, the usual theft and crimes occur. We encourage you to remain aware of your surroundings, keeping valuables out of sight and ensure you follow rules and tips given to you by the project staff. Check out our safety tips for more advice on staying safe, while enjoying all that Bulawayo and Zimbabwe have to offer. 

How do I get to Bulawayo?

Bulawayo has its own international airport, so getting here could not be easier. There are two direct daily flights from Johannesburg (JNB) to Bulawayo (BUQ), with South African Airways. 

You will need to arrive into O.R Tambo International airport, in Johannesburg, to connect to Bulawayo. 

Many Airlines fly regularly into O.R Tambo International (Johannesburg – JNB). The main flight operator to Johannesburg is South African Airways, which offers many direct flights from different international cities. 

  • British Airways: London – Johannesburg
  • Virgin Atlantic: London- Johannesburg
  • South African Airways: London- Johannesburg 
  • Air France: Paris- Johannesburg
  • Ethiopian Airways: Addis Ababa – Johannesburg 
  • Emirates: Dubai- Johannesburg 
  • Etihad Airways: Abu Dhabi – Johannesburg
  • Qatar Airways: Doha – Johannesburg
What is the weather like in Bulawayo?

The weather and climate in Southern Africa are reversed to the Northern Hemisphere. The weather is generally warm reaching hot most days, with evening cool to warm evenings. 

However, during the winter months, May-September the climate drops significantly, with the early mornings and the evening dropping to very low temperatures, although most of the time, the days will remain warm. 

The summer months, October- April can get very hot, with October reaching peak temperatures. Between the raining season December-February, you can expect some cloud coverage and rain to cool things down, however, these are usually short and sharp. 

It is worthy to note that the climate in different areas of Zimbabwe can differ hugely. Victoria Falls has the hottest climate in the country. While Bulawayo is cooler, be prepared for African heat! 

What electrical plugs are used in Bulawayo?

Generally, power sockets in Zimbabwe are ‘Type G’, the square three pin style found in the UK.

What languages are spoken in Bulawayo?

The official language of Zimbabwe is English, alongside the two main local languages Shona and Ndebele. As Bulawayo is the chief city of Matabeleland, Ndebele is the most common local language spoken, whereas in Harare, Shona is the most common language for locals.

Is there Malaria in Bulawayo?

There is very low-risk malaria in Bulawayo or in the immediate surrounding areas. We do not advise that you need malaria medication in Bulawayo. However, if you decide to discover more of what Zimbabwe has to offers (which we fully recommend you do) you may require medication. 

There is a high risk of malaria in Victoria Falls, so we recommend you bring the correct malaria medication, while you are visiting one of the seven natural wonders of the world! Find out more about Victoria Falls here!

What should stay in my hand luggage while travelling?

All valuables should be kept in your hand luggage, not left in your checked bags; wallets, Laptops, large sums of money, the usual.

We would also recommend that when connecting to Bulawayo via Johannesburg to recheck in your bags to minimise the risk of your luggage getting lost. 

What is there to do in Bulawayo?

Bulawayo is a significant pathway from some of Zimbabwe’s most iconic locations. These include Matopos National Park (home to a population of white rhinos), Hwange National Park (with an abundance of Big 5 game), and, Victoria Falls (one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World). Bulawayo is also home to the Natural History Museum and lots of open-aired markets, perfect for picking up some souvenirs.  

Know Before You Go

Visa Requirements

Packing List

Code of Conduct

Volunteering Safety Tips

  • Do not enter any enclosures or fenced off areas without the supervision of the animal handlers or managers on the ground.
  • Do not wander off-site on your own or without informing a member of staff.
  • Follow all instructions given to you by your project manager or project staff. 
  • Avoid travelling alone, especially at night.
  • Ensure that excessive amounts of cash are left in safe boxes, not lying around in plain sight.
  • Do not carry excessive amounts of cash on you.
  • If you are taking a taxi anywhere, make sure you book it in advance through a trusted and reliable driver.
  • Avoid wandering down dark streets, even in large groups.
  • Be aware and alert at bars. Do not leave your drink unattended at any time. If you drink has been left out of your sight, discard it. 
  • Do not enter township areas without being accompanied by one of our local staff members.
  • Be wary of people who seem too friendly too fast.
  • Avoid leaving your personal items like bags or mobile phones unattended.
  • Do not share personal information with anyone under any circumstances.
  • Save your project manager’s number on your phone and make sure to provide us with a copy of your emergency contact person at home.

Zimbabwe Vaccinations

Please consult with your private physician or doctor in regards to what immunizations or vaccinations are needed.  

Our recommendations:

  • Tetanus: Recommended
  • Hepatitis A&B: Recommended
  • Typhoid: Recommended
  • Malaria:  There is no malaria in Bulawayo. However, if you are considering visiting Victoria Falls, we advise you to bring an ample supply of anti-malarial tablets to last the duration of your stay there. Ask your doctor to prescribe the best ones available. We do not recommend Larium (sometimes known to cause hallucinations) nor Doxycycline (many people have bad reactions to the sun when using it).
  • Yellow Fever: Zimbabwe is NOT at risk to yellow fever.

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