Volunteering in the Greater Kruger Area

Making a difference to the wildlife of the Greater Kruger Area, South Africa

Why volunteer in the Greater Kruger Area?

Bordering the world-famous Kruger National Park, the Greater Kruger Area is an appealing alternative to the national park itself. Referring to many private game reserves located along the recently unfenced border with Kruger National Park, there is an abundance of free-roaming game between the Greater Kruger Area & the National Park. 

If you are looking for an authentic, undisturbed wildlife experience, this is the place for you. Nestled in a wildlife haven, where you will rarely see more than two vehicles per sighting. Get ready to discover the true African bush, during your real, off the track safari experience. Get up close to the game, away from the hustle and bustle of the national park. 

Kruger National Park- the iconic hub of South African Wildlife

Just 45 minutes away lies one of the world’s greatest wildlife destinations, Kruger National Park- a true safari paradise. With breath-taking landscapes & the iconic Big 5, you will witness some of nature’s most incredible sights with an abundance of wildlife right at your fingertips. 

One of the oldest & largest national parks in Africa, Kruger covers an impressive 20,000km2, nearly the same size as Wales! Kruger boasts the world-renowned ‘Big 5.’ Originally referred to as the 5 most dangerous animals to track on foot; this includes the elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard & rhino. 

Today, these animals are incredibly important and symbolic to Africa as a continent. This is your chance to see these iconic animals with your own eyes. 

With huge numbers of conservation projects and internationally recognized wildlife foundations; Kruger is acknowledged as a wildlife protection unit. Not only providing an unforgettable game viewing adventure but also stands as a major conservation hub for Southern Africa. 

This is your chance to experience the hype of this world-famous wildlife hotspot.

Kruger Volunteer Projects

Big 5 Project

Make a difference to South Africa’s big 5 volunteer project. Work to preserve the conservation for future generations. 

Location: Kruger National Park

Duration: 2 – 12 Weeks

Volunteer project in the Greater Kruger Area

Wildlife is under significant threat and African wildlife is declining at an alarming rate. There has been an 85% decline in Africa’s wildlife, in the last 35 years. The lion population alone has seen a 43% decline in the last 21 years. Today, less than 20,000 remain in the wild. 

Animal 1940’s 2010’s % Decline
Rhino 70,000 2,500 96%
Leopard 2,000,000 700,000 65%
Lion 200,000 20,000 90%
Elephant 4,000,000 500,000 88%
Cheetah 90,000 10,000 88%

Source: WWF Living Planet Report 2016.

You will be involved in data collection, research, physical conservation, conservation education, as well as monitoring and studying incredible wildlife, in their natural environment.

This is your unique opportunity to see these incredible animals up-close, while also contributing towards ensuring they will always have a place on this planet. 

Fun Facts about Kruger National Park & the Greater Kruger Area

  • Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa.
  • Kruger is recognized as the home to the “Big 5,” including the lion, the elephant, the rhino, the leopard and the buffalo. 
  • Kruger spans nearly 20,000 kms, (nearly the size of Wales and slightly smaller than Belgium!) 
  • The Kruger National Park & the Greater Kruger Area have an unfenced border, allowing for the game to freely roam between the national park and surrounding conservancies. 
  • The Kruger park was proclaimed a national park in 1926, making it the oldest national park in Africa.
  • Kruger National Park has the largest variety of wildlife compared to any other park in Africa, with 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals. 

Great Kruger Highlights & Excursions

Kruger offers visitors an abundance of activities to keep you busy. Below we have highlighted 10 activities that we recommend our volunteers experience before the end of their project. 

Kruger National Park

Right on your doorstep, discover the hype of this safari tourist hotspot. Take a day or an overnight trip to South Africa’s largest game reserve.

Blyde River Canyon

Take a trip on the famous Panorama Route and enjoy Africa’s second-largest canyon. Discover nature at its finest, while either hiking or taking to the skies in an unforgettable microlight flight.

Venture into Swaziland (eSwatini)

Expand your adventure. The small, independent land within South Africa, with the amazing Lebombo Mountains as the backdrop for the Mlawula Nature Reserve with many hiking and nature trails.

Volunteer Accommodation

Located just 45 minutes away from the world-famous Kruger National Park, you will be living right in the heart of the Greater Kruger Area; a wildlife paradise in South Africa. Famous for its stunning scenery and incredible wildlife sightings, there is no better place to make a difference in conservation. 

Our volunteer lodge is located in a prime spot, surrounded by game reserves and the African Wilderness. Nestled in the UNESCO Kruger to Canyons Biosphere, you are located between the famous Kruger National Park and the renowned nature reserve, the Blyde River Canyon. 

You will be living out your African experience in our spacious thatched lodge, with a stunning swimming pool, sitting on 18 hectares. Dumela Lodge has eight large rooms that can each sleep between 2-6 people and 4 rondawels, for either single rooms or rooms that can also sleep, 2-6 people. All the rooms have en-suite bathrooms and air conditioning, for those hot African days. 

With impala, warthog, bush pig & an abundance of birdlife right on your doorstep, you will embrace the African wilderness in your stride. The nearest town is Hoedspruit, just 30 minutes away from your volunteer base with a weekly town trip on offer. 

Know Before You Go

Visa Requirements

Packing List

Code of Conduct

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Greater Kruger Area safe?

Organised tours in parks and reserves in Kruger are very safe and the area is a tourist hotspot. During your game drives in the parks, you will encounter wild animals.

It is essential that you remain calm, obey all instructions and listen to the experts around you. We encourage you to remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings.

Check out our safety tips for more advice on keeping safe, during your incredible safari experience.

How do I get to the Greater Kruger Area?

To get to the Greater Kruger Area, you will need to first arrive at O.R Tambo International airport, in Johannesburg, which is one of the main airport hubs in the whole of Africa. 

Airlines that 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
  •   Air France: Paris- Johannesburg
  •   Ethiopian Airways: Addis Ababa – Johannesburg 
  •   Emirates: Dubai- Johannesburg 
  •   Etihad Airways: Abu Dhabi – Johannesburg
  •   Qatar Airways: Doha – Johannesburg

You can then connect in Johannesburg to either Hoedspruit’s Eastgate Airport (HDS) or Nelspruit’s Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (MQP.) Both are small airports, so not too tricky to navigate your way around. South African Airways operate domestic flights to both Hoedspruit and Nelspruit, from Johannesburg.  

What is the weather like in the Greater Kruger Area?

The Kruger area has a subtropical climate, with cool, dry winters (May-September) and hot summers, with a chance of afternoon thunderstorms, caused by the heat (October- March.) But when we say winter, we aren’t talking the same level of winter, as found in European and North American winters. While you can expect some very chilly evenings and early mornings, the days remain sunny and warm. Many wildlife enthusiasts enjoy visiting the Kruger National Park during the dry season, between April – September. With a lack of rain, animals gather around the water holes, providing more opportunities to spot some of Africa’s most incredible wildlife.

What electrical plugs are used in the Greater Kruger Area?

The majority of power sockets found in South Africa are ‘Type D’ the three-round pin style sockets.

Is there malaria in the Greater Kruger Area?

From October to May (during the summer, rainy season) Kruger National Park and the surrounding area is considered a high-risk malaria area, while during winter, dry season (June-September,) there is a much lower risk of malaria. 

But, don’t let this stop you from visiting! Malaria is very preventable and not all mosquitos carry the illness. 

If you take the medication and follow some suggestions on how to avoid being bitten whilst in the Kruger area; you will be able to enjoy your trip without the worry of malaria. We suggest wearing long sleeves and trousers during the evenings and to apply plenty of repellents. 

We advise you to ask your doctor for advice on malaria medication.

What is the currency used in the Greater Kruger Area?

The official currency in South Africa is the South African Rand (ZAR or R) The notes are R10, R20, R50, R100, R200. 

The rand is weak against most western currencies (GBP, USD, EUR,) therefore things in South Africa are considered much more affordable than many parts of Europe and North America. The majority of places in South Africa will only accept Rand. 

Most major retailers, hotels, and restaurants accept major international credit and debit cards, such as MasterCards and Visa Cards. 

You can withdraw cash at ATMs as well.

What languages are spoken in South Africa?

South Africa has 11 official languages, including English, Afrikaans, and Zulu. English is widely spoken and understood, especially in the more touristy areas.

When is the best time to visit the Greater Kruger Area?

Kruger is a year-round destination and the best time of year to visit depends entirely on what you want to see. 

The summer months are warm and rainy, which is a great time to enjoy bird-spotting However, animals may be a little trickier to see around this time because of denser vegetation. If you are keen to spot some baby animals, the summer is prime time for this. 

In the winter, the temperatures drop in the early morning and evening, but the days remain warm and sunny. This is also the dry season, which means that vegetation is thinner, and water is limited, encouraging Kruger’s wildlife population to congregate around water sources, providing amazing wildlife spotting opportunities.

Autumn is the time where green vegetation becomes thinner, but you can also expect some regular thunderstorms – an African thunderstorm is simply stunning and electrifying! Spring is often the peak of the dry season, allowing for better visibility of the game. 

Volunteering Safety Tips

Avoid travelling alone, especially at night. 

  •   Don’t walk around the lodge’s ground at night.
  •   When travelling, keep all important documents and valuables in a safe place like a hidden pocket or money belt. 
  •   Do not carry excessive amounts of cash on you. Only bring what you need for the day. 
  •   Don’t wear expensive jewellery or watches. 
  •   Be wary of people who seem too friendly too fast.
  •   Keep your camera out of sight and always keep bags and purses in your sight. Do not leave unattended. 
  •   Don’t get too close to wildlife and don’t feed them. Remember, you will be living around the wild game. 
  •   Be aware of your surroundings and that the animals you will be researching are wild. Remain calm at all times and listen to our highly experienced guides.
  •   Use the safe spaces provided for you and don’t leave valuables lying around the lodge, your room or in an open space. 
  •   You will be working outdoors, in a new and different community and environment. Ensure you listen to project staff and respect the local rules and customs at all times.
  •   We recommend you do not share your contact details with anyone.
  •   Save the emergency numbers of the Project Team in your phone.
  •   Provide us with a copy of your emergency contact person at home

South African Vaccinations

Please consult your private doctor with regards to immunizations/vaccinations.  Below are details of what is likely to be recommended.

Tetanus: A recent tetanus injection is highly recommended

Polio: Recommended

Hepatitis A&B: Recommended

Typhoid: Recommended

Yellow Fever: If coming from a yellow fever risk country or transited through one (mainly Latin America and Central and Western Africa) it is a requirement to show proof of yellow fever vaccination, through a valid yellow fever certificate. If unsure, please check with your Destination Specialist.

You will need an adequate supply of sunscreen cream for the hot African sun – SPF 30 and above.

Even if the sky is overcast, the sun is very strong and it is usually on those days when you don’t realise the sun is there. Don’t let the sun stop you from having an amazing time. Make sure you have a full water bottle at all times, and you apply plenty of sun cream. Bring a hat with you and take plenty of breaks out of the sun.

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