Impromptu Elephant encounter


This mornings plan for the team was to collect hundreds of rocks from the dried up river bed to repair roads throughout the reserve. Once we had filled up a whole bucky (car with an open back) of rocks we drove to the damaged sites. Roads often form tyre channels during the wet seasons due to the water loosening the surrounding earth. So whilst the ground is dry, we fill the tyre channels with rocks so that vehicles can continue to use the roads safely without ruining their steering columns!


After one bucky load of rocks and countless numbers of trees removed from the roads we received a message from the radio that Elephants had been spotted crossing a region of open grassland not too far from our locations. We set off and made it to the open plains where we were treated to a fantastic sighting of not one, but two different breeding herds! With over 40 individuals counted and 2 big bulls located at the rear of them we speculated that their may even have been 3 sets of herds that happened to be moving towards the river at the same time. As photographed and attached to this blog entry, there were multiple calves within the herds, some no older than a year old. At a safe distance and minimal levels of noise, the herds passed straight by us down towards one of the few regions along the riverbed where water still remains.


The African Elephant is the largest land mammal on the planet and can weigh up to 6.5 tonnes and stand 4 metres from the ground. The male elephants, known as Bulls are either solitary or found within a bachelor herd of roughly 2 to 12 individuals. Female elephants, known as Cows form nursery herds. These contain a dominant female known as the Matriarch and any related cows or calves. Cows stay with their original natal herd, whereas males tend to move out when they become sexually mature from 14 years onwards.

Due to the drought, there are now limited sites on the reserve with large masses of water. This often results in a higher density of wildlife within the region and more frequent incredible encounters like this morning.

What a week!

Spotted hyena, cheetah and lion were all encountered this week with each giving an incredibly unique sighting.
Our first lion encounter occurred along a dried river bed where a male and female seemed to be relaxing after what looked like a large meal they’d devoured not that long before we discovered them.
Similar to that of our cheetah encounter who was mid way through devouring its kill. Due to their low level status as predators, after every mouthful the cheetah lifted its head out of the carcass to check if any intruders were planning on stealing its food. Cheetahs use a large amount of energy when hunting and can easily suffer from exhaustion and eventually death unless monitored. Therefore they are prone to giving up their kills when forced upon by larger predators such as lions and hyaena.
Finally on Saturday morning we came across a spotted hyaena cooling its body in the rising African climate by submerging itself in a lake. Relative pound for pound in force, the hyaena have the strongest jaw in the African bush. Although we were well and truly within a comfort zone view point, this still prompted our tracker seat volunteer to lift his legs onto the bonnet of the Land Rover!

Hopefully this coming week is filled with more incredible encounters and lots of work towards ongoing conservation projects.

Jess Wood………….click here

Picture2Having never done anything like this before I didn’t know what to expect. Nothing disappointed me though we did a variety of different activites but always allowed time to watch the animals. My first day here, on our way to move some fencing, we came across 3 lions in the river. We got close to them and sat and watched them for an hour or so. It was amazing! And slightly nerve wrecking! We were involved with trying to relocate Nyalas, which invvolved having them darted and having to pick them up and move them. It was very hands on and exciting but with a serious element to it., ensuring the animals were okay as they got a little stressed. Something I don’t think I’ll get to do again. The sleep out was initially worrying the hell out of me, but as soon as we got there I felt fine. Whilst we were setting up, I could not believe it, but 2 cheetahs just came trotting up to us and sat with us for a while! A memory I will always be very fond of.
Overall a great visit, lots of wildlife was seen and I found it fun and educational.

Just one of those drives!

Our new group of volunteers arrived this Monday and were extremely lucky with their first venture into the bush! We set off on a drive out into the bush for an obligatory sundowner where we all certainly did not expect to have such an eventful little trip!

Our reserve fence patroller called us because he was ‘blocked by the lions’ as he uses a motor bike to get around the perimeter. Fortunately the lions moved on by themselves by the time we arrived and we were treated to a fantastic sighting accompanied by some picture perfect low level light. Once we had a lovely look at the lion and lioness from a comfortable distance we parked up on the grassland opening and enjoyed an ice cold drink watching the sun go down behind the Drakensburg mountains. Just as we finished our drink we drove beyond the grassland and out popped 2 adult elephants stood beside a juvenile that was a little over 1 years old! The reason you can identify the age of a young elephant is that they are no longer able to pass under the stomach of their mothers beyond the age of 1. Pulling away from the opening we came across an incredibly unexpected visitor, one that we had moments ago expressed our love for them, the Honey Badger! Unfortunately at this point the light had completely gone so we were unable to take a picture and was testament to the team for spotting it in such difficult conditions!

Needless to say the new arrivals were treated to one hell of a first journey into the bush at Pidwa! Hopefully this luck will continue in the coming weeks when we shall be cracking on with some of the ongoing conservation projects

Cheetahs on Sleep out!

Slide1 So this week we had our sleep out session, as some of you may know this involves setting up camp at a nice spot somewhere in the bush before building a fire which we then sleep around. On this occasion we chose the river which is all dried up at the moment as we are coming towards the end of the dry season. The sun was on the verge of setting when one of the volunteers spotted two figures walking close to camp, as they got closer we identified them as the cheetahs ‘Kusala’ and her cub, which is yet to be named.Slide2 What an amazing sighting it was, as both Cheetahs seemed relaxed around us and came within the gas lantern perimeter of the camp, at one point coming as close as 5 meters away. They stayed with us for about 20 minutes before wandering back off down the river, leaving all of us absolutely awe struck for the rest of the evening!

Jess Wood 10th September 2015

Today we set out on the first of our 2 day Nyala moving! The first two males went down without a glitch, however the 3rd male wasn’t too happy… He jumped the fence, well more through the fence, into a different camp where he was unfortunately assaulted by another pretty fierce male. Not to worry though, the vet sorted him out, as well as covering the majority of people in blue stuff. Oh and I (Jess) very cleverly and not so spectacularly walked into an electric fence. I was only checking they were definitely working! Which they are…

We moved 14 Nyalas, all happy in a new home! After that we had a well-deserved lunch break then set out to carry on making the pizza oven. We needed supplies so headed off to get some stones and sand. The stones was a relatively simple affair, however the sand… We headed down to the river where we knew the lions had been chilling out there for a few days. After a quick scan, we were in the clear. We headed down the river maybe about 100metres and started digging. Then we had to turn back around to get off. But oh no, that was not to be. We got stuck in the dry sand, after relentless efforts from Ed and pushing from us guys, Ed had to give in and call in the boys to pull us out. Which naturally subjected him to a bit of stick!
We arrive back at the house with our sand, and start unloading it. Then we tried to work out what we were actually going to do with sand and stones and the whole making a pizza oven. Soon a plan formed, but we were all so pooped, we called it a day and headed for water and well needed showers. Just before dinner we could here elephants casually ripping a few trees apart down near the river, and could see some lightning storms happening in the distance, a storm on the way maybe? We will see…

Esther Cowen – Australia…….click here

estherVolunteering at Askari put me right in the middle of the reserve management experience. I learnt so much about what conservation means today and i could clearly see how our activities were contributing to that. Though it was sometimes hard work, everyday out in the bush with friendly, smart people was a joy. As well as feeling very useful for conservation, Askari was an incredible place for animal sightings. I had some spectacular sightings over my time at Askari. I had fun everyday and saw a side of conservation and the wild that not many people get to see. It was awesome.

The snakes are returning!

SAM_0999With Summer just around the corner we have had a few snake encounters in the last week, as they begin to come out of hibernation for the warmer weather. Firstly, we had a call recently to one of the hay stores by a staff member who had discovered a young Rock Python amongst the bales, these stores tend to attract a few rodents so it is likely that the Python was hanging around to catch a meal after its long Winter hibernation.
A new snake species for the reserve was also discovered recently, a Marbled Tree Snake, this species is SAM_1044mildly venomous, but not known to be dangerous to man, which is good seen as though it was discovered by one of the staff whilst in the shower! This species is known to actively seek out geckos for prey, which are frequently seen on the walls around the buildings trying to catch insects that are attracted by the porch lights. A couple of cool sightings so looks like we may have a big snake season ahead of us!

Sinead Grigg – England….click here

blogBefore coming to Askari I was very nervous but excited and I didn’t really know what to expect. But as soon as I arrived Ketie and Ed were so welcoming and I felt at ease straight away. Over the past month has been the most amazing experience. I’ve had opportunities to see Lions, Elephant, Honey Badgers and many more. I’ve learned so many things from all the different animal species to birds. We also had very full-on activities like darting Sable which was incredible a very special couple of days I’ve enjoyed every single moment here and it’s been a life time opportunity doing this amazing programme. I’ve met some amazing people and a big thank-you to Katie and Ed for making this experience the best :)

Alexandre Rullier – France… here

blog2Absolutely a lovely month in the nature for my first travel to Africa! The panel of activities shows us a lot about the job to do for keeping the reserve healthy! We had some amazing moments with animals, nature an of course some good guys who were volunteers at the same moment! You can be sure that I’m not going to see European animals and birds by the same way I used to! Let’s get amazing sightings in French forest!!

Emberstar Wakefield – USA….click here

Presentation1I had a better time than I could’ve even hoped for. It was an absolutely wonderful experience, sometimes it was hard work but very rewarding. Saw and did a wide variety of things and enjoyed it all. A week in, I am already planning my return for next year. I wish I never had to leave!

Sable and Nyala darting, with bonus Cheetah!

Well today has been one hell of a day. Our initial plan was to dart the remaining Sable and Nyala to be moved to buffalo camp and the new breeding camps. We moved 33 of the Sable last week so we only had the large males and a few sub-adults still to be moved. After successfully re-locating all 9 of the Sable, which all went very smoothly (we are pro’s at this now), we had a bit of a surprise in store. Picture1

On return from buffalo camp we got word from Ed that they had spotted 2 Cheetah near the airstrip, so we all went to see if we could get a glimpse of them. One of which turned out to be Kusala, a female which has had an out of action radio collar attached to her for some years now. What a coincidence that we happened to have Peter the Vet on hand for the Sable and Nyala translocation, as normally it would prove difficult to even find Kusala, let alone hold sight of her long enough to call him in to anesthetize her for her collar removal.Picture2 So after tracking her movements for a couple of hours, Pete managed to successfully dart her and we were able to remove the broken radio collar, amazing! Kusala had been wearing that collar for 5 years, almost her entire adult life, so it was a relief to get it removed before it became uncomfortably tight on her, and additionally to eliminate the risk of it getting caught up in a chase. It was fantastic for the team to get some close up views of the Cheetah, and seen as we had to stay with her for 45 minutes for the drugs to wear off everyone was able to get some close up photos with her. This was a very special addition to the days work and one that nobody could have predicted would happen, just goes to show you never know what can happen when working with wildlife! Picture3

After lunch we began the Nyala darting, all went very smoothly and we successfully moved 11 Nyala into the old Sable breeding camps. Only one youngster gave us trouble. The month old Nyala gave us the run around in camp 1 for quite a while, but we persevered and it was able to be returned to its mother in the new breeding camp. A very hectic but exciting day!

Sable Moving Day

Aug 18th - first day darting (12) This week was moving out time for Askari’s Sable Antelope. All the Sable from the camps in and around the Askari base had to be moved to Buffalo Camp, as their management is to be rearranged and expansion of the Sable breeding program is to follow. This meant moving 42 Sable from 3 different camps into their new home at Buffalo camp, using 1 veterinarian, 1 trailer, and a lot of willpower! Sable Antelope are very large, so a lot of strength and perseverance was required in order to safely transport the animals into the trailer and across the reserve to their new enclosure.Aug 19th - 2nd day darting (9)
Respected Veterinarian Peter was once again on the scene to handle the anesthetics for the animals, his experience shone throughout the day, ensuring the precision of the whole operation. Under his supervision the team where able to get some very up-close experience handling the animals.
Not only did the animals have to be transported, but information crucial to the breeding program had to be taken whilst the animals were in transit, a very tricky task, given that it was undertaken in the back of a moving truck whilst trying to ensure the safety of the animals (and ourselves!).Aug 18th - first day darting (34) Several variations on horn length and diameter had to be recorded, in addition the checking the animals teeth and taking photographs for their ID cards.
The proceedings so far have seen 33 of the Sable successfully translocated. All in all, a great success. All of the breeding females and their respected calves have been moved without harm, and a very dirty and sweaty team were able to enjoy a very well deserved beer at the end of the two days!

Buffalo Darting and Nyala relocation

Last Thursday was our scheduled day with our resident Veterinarian Peter. Our aim of the day was to dart 2 of the young Buffalo for routine procedures and to relocate two breeding male Nyala from Langa Langa into the breeding camps (if we could catch them!).DSCN8778 Peter explained to the team about the required dosage of sedative for the buffalo, along with the other processes which were accomplished whilst the animal was sedated. These included microchipping, attaching ear tags, vaccinating and dosing them with antibiotics, as well as checking for tick-load. The two young Buffalo went under without a hitch, all the procedures being completed within about 5-10 minutes so as not to keep the Buffalo sedated for too long. An antidote was then administered to reverse the sedative and both of the Buffalo came round and swiftly re-joined the herd.
After the successful Buffalo darting, we set out to relocate the two male Nyalas from Langa Langa for breeding, following the death of a breeding male in one of the camps. It took us some time to locate them, but eventually they were successfully anesthetized and moved into the Nyala breeding camps.DSCN8780 As Nyala have a high metabolic rate, this means that the amount of sedative given to them has to be much higher than other animals of their size, the dose is greater than that administered to an Elephant! Both of the males have since been seen on their feet and looking none the worse for wear. A successful hands on day for the team!

Saturday 1st of August _ Sinead Grigg

vulture pic for blog Jpeg
This morning at 6.30am we set of for an Herbivore drive. Soon after setting off we came across a herd of African elephants. The herd were enjoying their morning breakfasts and making a lot of noise while trying to get it but what a lovely start to the drive it was. After setting off again, only a couple of metres from the herd a massive Male African Elephant started moving near where we were situated. He was quite unsure, but soon went on his way. During the drive we mostly saw dazzles of Zebras and very pleasant they were too.
We also had brilliant sightings of Bird of prey. Several of the African Fish Eagle and our first sighting of the African harrier hawk, such a beautiful sighting.
Without a doubt one thing I was hoping to see during my Askari experience was Vultures. Luckily enough the hope did happen. On the way back we saw over 20 White Backed Vultures circling in the air. Ed took us to the Carcass of a Wildebeest not too far from the Askari house. It was a spectacular sight with nearly over 100 vultures. These Vultures were the Hooded, Cape and the beautiful Lapped Face which I was dying to see. This was by one of my top 3 best Askari Moments so far.

Askari Kruger trip

Earlier this week we were given the news that the team would be having a mid-week excursion to Kruger national park. For those of you who don’t know, Kruger is the largest national park in South Africa covering 19500 square kilometers. It was also the first of its kind, having been established in 1926. After just shy of a 2 hour drive we arrived at the Orpen gate to the park, getting there very early at roughly 6:45 to make the most of it! SAM_0742
Almost instantly we were greeted with about a dozen elephants, Kruger is renowned for its large elephant population, but this would lead on to a very diverse array of bird and mammal sightings (with the odd reptile and even fish thrown in for good measure). Our first notable sighting was a family of Southern Ground Hornbill, a critically endangered species which habits Kruger as one of its last remaining strongholds. SAM_0734Throughout the day we were treated to 4 fantastic lion sightings, one of which was a particularly elderly Lioness patrolling a very low-level water source containing a concentrated population of African Catfish being surrounded by a vast array of species: Nile Crocodiles, Hippopotamus, Waterbuck, Impala, Hammerkop, Zebra, and more Elephants! Naturally most of these made themselves scarce when the lioness arrived…
Additionally, a significant sighting of an African Buffalo herd of over 100 individuals!
The bird populations in Kruger is also somewhat different to Pidwa, although most species share the habitat range we were treated to a few which are infrequently seen on the Askari base reserve, including Double-banded Sandgrouse, Water Thick-knee and a Brown-headed Parrot!SAM_0758
After a lengthy 10 hour stint in Kruger park we departed back to Pidwa, the trip having been a first for most of the team it was a worthwhile treat, a must-see experience if you are visiting this part of South Africa. That being said, there no sighting quite like the welcoming wagging tails of the Askari dogs after a full day away from the picturesque paradise that is Pidwa!

Honey Badgers, Lions, Elephants and more!

So with our new batch of eager volunteers, the bush has not disappointed us with amazing sightings this week! Less than 24 hours after arrival and not even 10 minutes into our first game drive with our new volunteers, we spotted a Honey Badger foraging for what we suspect was hibernating frogs, Amazing!SAM_0619 The Badger hung around for around ten minutes before skulking off back into the bush, only to reappear when we came past the same spot later that evening. We have also been very lucky with the Elephants! A sighting almost every day with large herds of up to 18 having been spotted down by Lilypan near the Askari house. SAM_0631 Finally to end the week off on a high, an amazing sighting of a pair of spotted Hyenas down in the far south of the reserve on our early morning drive, who were very relaxed around us and lay in front of the vehicle warming up in the early morning sun. Thinking our luck could not continue we headed back for home, only to discover a Lion and Lioness in the road by the Selati river! They would not stop showing off their impressive teeth by continuously yawning in front of us as they prepared themselves to venture out for the evening. What a week of sightings, lets hope that our luck continues!

Nienke Holtrop – The Netherlands….click here

nienkeMy time at Askari has been amazing and unforgettable! During my stay here I’ve seen so many amazing animals, and besides that I also learnt a lot about all the animals and the bush. This programme makes you feel like you were really helpful during your stay here. The staff is also very nice.

Charlee Shepard – Canada……click here

Slide4This was the most incredible experience of my life. I learned so much from my time here and I’d come back in a heartbeat. This place changed my life and people and memories will forever be cherished and dear to my heart.

Ryan Wheatley – Canada… here

Slide3My time with Askari has been the most amazing experience of my life! It has been over 100 years since anyone in my family has been in South Africa, previously prior to the Boer War my great great uncle owned a diamond mine here. It is very significant to me to return to SA with conservation as the reason rather than resource extraction. Through my journey with Askari I have been able to rediscover myself and re-aim my goals of collaboration to improve the world around us by rebuilding what has been lost. It is inspirational to me that people like John McCormick exist and would dedicate themselves to ensuring that Pidwa exists in perpetuity. Pidwa is very special and so easy to fall in love with, The ideology and concepts learned here will be with me for the rest of my life and will be passed on to others who are willing to listen. Thank you for this endlessly valuable life changing time of my life. Thank you for the moments and the lessons I have learned while at Askari. This truly amazing and unique opportunity is unlike any other. Dreams come true and perceptions change, I cannot begin to describe how this place has changed me. The staff, the animals, the people, the culture and the memories will ive with me in my heart forever. The world is a better place because of Pidwa, Askari and the people who make it possible. Thank you.

Erin Burton – Canada….click here

Slide6My two weeks at Askari were two of the best weeks of my life. I’ve always wanted to work in animal conservation and I had high expectations coming into the program, and it surpassed all of them. Pidwa is such an amazing place. I could see my own values reflected in the practices and goals on the reserve, which was refreshing. Overall it was a great experience and I would love to come back in the future

Kristen Glass – Canada ….click here

Slide2Working at Askari was a chance to experience conservation efforts at their finest- a program that brings together people from all over the world to participate in a program which strives to preserve one of the mot beloved natural systems out there. Seeing the big five and working with the fantastic staff at Pidwa and Askari was something I will never forget. Thank you so much for your effort to bring us into this experience.

Aike Kraayenvanger and Martijn Schurink – The Netherlands….click here

Slide2We were at Askari for 2 weeks. It was amazing how quick Askari felt like home. In even two weeks we’ve learned so much about the bush, animals, vegetation, birds etc. It was very special to join the conservation work and to work in a team with so much love for nature and help them following their dream.

Laura Earl (second stay) – England….click here

lauraThis is my second visit to Askari and it has been another awesome stay. So many amazing sightings and experiences over the last few months, ones which I will never forget. Katie and Ed are both so welcoming and both go out of their way to ensure you have a truly unforgettable experience. Even on weeks where there is minimum sightings you still have an awesome time. I had one week like this and can safely say I thoroughly enjoyed it. All the work which you do on the reserve really makes you feel like you are making a difference. This place is just so incredible, every day is a new adventure. I have taken so much from this experience and learnt so much. So many memories have been made here, ones of which I will definitely never forget.

Davine Arckens – Belgium….click here

Slide1My time at Askari was awesome. I never did a project like this before and I learned so much from it. I also never thought I would see so many cool animals. We were the lucky group. I’m very happy with my stay here, the staff here and so much respect for the people who work here, they are doing an awesome job! Many thanks to Ed and Katie for teaching, motivating and taking care of me. I will never forget my time here. I would definitely do it again one day.

Natalie Steiner – England….click here

natalieAskari is as much fun, adventure and excitement as you can ever hope for. Every day is different, with a new set of activities – both planned and unplanned. The animal sightings are just part of the experience, getting involved in all the other conservation work is just as enjoyable and rewarding. Learning how the African bush truly works and functions by having hands on experience is something everyone should experience at least once. Askari will never disappoint. I can’t wait to come back and do it all over again!!”

Jennifer Alexander – Canada……click here

Slide2The depth of knowledge, enthusiasm and passion were inspirational moments throughout my stay. Both Katie and Ed demonstrated leadership qualities that really formed the glue for a teamwork atmosphere. The education I received here with regards to conservation has really opened my eyes to the utmost need for sustainability for both the wildlife and the ecosystem they inhabit. Being a part of all the projects was engaging and informative and gave you a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. I highly recommend the program. Be prepared to “embrace the bush” as Katie would say! Thanks for an amazing experience guys!

Molly Easton – England… here

Slide1Thank you so much Askari for the hilarious-hard working-muscle building-information absorbing-nature watching-erosion stopping-wildlife protecting trip! I had a really brilliant time. The animals were incredible (I am officially into bird watching) but the people even more so. Katie & Ed thank YOU for your constant help and hospitality and for your knowledge!! Safe to say I had a fantastic time and would recommend it thoroughly.

Joanne Laton – Canada… here

Slide3I spent a wonderful 2 weeks at Askari. Made great friends and shared some amazing experiences. Exploring Pidwa reserve opened my eyes to many beautiful parts of our world, some I didn’t even know existed. If you have the opportunity, come.

Richard Wiles – England… here

Slide2I found the project very informative and well organised. There was a good mix of providing information and background about the aim of the project along with hands on experience with activities to assist with achieving the aims.

Thailand (Elephant volunteering) – The Elephant Nature Park

Chiang Mai, Thailand is plagued by organizations claiming that they are helping rescue elephants. Many even go as far to say that they are a rehabilitation center and help the Asian Elephant re-enter nature. How does one decide which organization to volunteer with the most or to even go so far as to give financially to? It can be tough, as the number of volunteer organizations grow to tell if you are really making a difference in the lives of the Asian

The Elephant Nature Park ( is the exception. This “park” a wonderful organization located in Northern Thailand, 60 miles north of Chiang Mai. It is a place that accepts volunteers on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. A Thai woman, Sangduen “Lek” Chailert, started this organization in the early 1990’s because she saw that these beautiful and large animals were being grossly mistreated since legal logging in Thailand has gone by the wayside. Elephants were being starved because their owners couldn’t provide enough food for these incredible creatures. Elephants were being put to work in shows in the major cities, often times walking around amidst traffic and trash, eating whatever their owners could toss their way. This is was no way for these magnificent animals to live.

Lek founded The Elephant Nature park to provide sanctuary for elephants in Thailand and in neighboring countries. Now, the park has expanded to include wildland and deforestation protection, cultural preservation of the local community so that the surrounding villages can live sustainably, and public elephant and nature education to park visitors and volunteers.

Daily visitors to the park can learn about the elephant and ways in which they can help educate the world and spread the word about the plight of the Asian Elephant. Volunteers can work as little as a week and upwards of a month or two. As a volunteer you work side-by-side the elephant, cleaning and preparing food, bathing the elephant, picking up their excrement, and maintaining the elephant’s facilities and park.

Volunteers at the Park will not be disappointed with their experience as this park does provide real aid to the Asian Elephant. The Elephant Nature Park is not a rehabilitation center with the hopes of releasing the animals into the wild, but a sanctuary where these majestic animals can live out their lives in protection from poaching, deforestation and working in illegal logging camps. The Elephant Nature Park hopes that one day the Asian elephant’s numbers will rise and can officially be removed from the endangered list and with public education and volunteerism, it is the only way for this to happen.

Madagascar (Marine based volunteering) – Blue Ventures

For Madagascar…I did a 6 week expedition with an organization named BlueVentures. I’d highly recommend it. It’s a great bit of fun and adventure, its amazingly beautiful, and it’s an incredible experience to be able to see marine life conservation in the reef vs the Askari land based conservation in the bush (askari always wins though lets be honest). But I had an unforgettable time, Madagascar is a pretty stunningly unique country, not to be missed. Another similar Madagascar NGO that I don’t know too much about (a friend worked with them) is called Reef Doctor, and it’s a bit cheaper. Can’t speak to that one though. We did two dives a day 6 days a week, certainly got my money’s worth. Hope that helps.

Sharing information on Volunteer projects around the world

Our volunteers are often joining Askari as part of a larger trip, maybe alongside additional travel through Africa and other volunteering projects. We are regularly asked by past Askarians about other projects, similar to Askari, that we would recommend. Here at Askari we work on the ethos of strong conservation values. We believe it is likely that if you enjoyed your time at Askari then these same values will be important to you in your next volunteering capacity. We have therefore collated this information, all from past Askari volunteers, and produced a platform on which you can share information and search for other projects around the world that come recommended. Along with this, there are a number of projects that have NOT come RECOMMENDED. While we do not wish to name and shame, we invite you to contact us if you have a particular project you are considering that is not here on this site. It is possible that we do have a (less complimentary) review that we will be happy to share with you confidentially so you can make your own, informed decision. We hold reviews on projects from around the world, not just South Africa, others include turtle conservation work, working with big cats, rehabilitation centres etc; please just drop us an email. We hope you find this resource useful and please help us by adding your feedback if you have a volunteering experience you are willing to share.

NB: Askari cannot take responsibility for opinions given in this section, all information is the personal opinion of the author. Likewise, we cannot definitely recommend a programme, we have not visited ourselves and have no information, this is simply a section to share information.

Anne Wiles – England……click here

Slide2The Askari Wilderness Conservation program provides an excellent opportunity to learn about life in the South African Bush and conservation in practice. The staff (Katie and Ed) make everyone welcome and manage to provide an excellent mix of education, hands on experience and fun during the program. Their enthusiasm is infectious but they combine that with a very healthy respect for the wildlife. They lead by example in terms of the vigilance needed to stay safe while allowing the inhabitants of the Bush priority since they were there first! Everything about this program is well thought through and planned but the flexibility is there as needed to respond to the varying demands of Bush Life. I cannot imagine anyone coming away from this program without gaining a significantly improved understanding of what conservation means in reality and how to contribute to achieving the Askari vision. In addition its great fun

Steven Bradburn…..England…click here

steveOur two weeks stay here at Askari has been the most enjoyable experience. You really do feel like you have contributed and helped the programme with everything you do. Katie and Ed are both amazing hosts, very friendly and they will certainly teach you a heck of a lot about the bush. My only regret is having decided to do 2 weeks instead of more – if only money and time was no issue.

Casey Mckeown – England….click here

caseyThis was an absolutely fantastic experience and I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone who loves wildlife and conservation and wants to learn about it. You learn new things everyday. Even the staff do! I thought it was particularly beneficial working on a private reserve because when you see an amazing sighting like an elephant or a cheetah or a lion you don’t have to radio everyone else in the area and then have the rest of the public crowding the area trying to see the same thing, you get this sighting all to yourself. It’s not just what you see though, the work you do there is good, to know that it’s making a difference and that’s a great feeling. Furthermore working with other volunteers is great. You get to meet new people from all over the world and you end up leaving as friends. If you ever get the chance to do a project like Askari then go for it. You will have so many memories to cherish and it is a chance in a lifetime!

Shauna Mckeown – England….click here

shaunaThis has been the best experience! There are no words to describe my time here, you can only know how amazing it is by experiencing it for yourself. I would recommend you stay for as long as possible, we have done 2 weeks and it is nowhere near long enough. Askari definitely gets under your skin and I would love to return in the future.

Sumayah Rahman – USA……click here

I volunteered at Askari for 3 months and it is easily the most amazing experience of my life, and one that I will never forget. 29th Dec - Lions (24) Ed and Katie, the staff, are two of the most incredible people I have ever met. Not only are they great teachers, eager to impart their knowledge of the bush, but they are incredibly nice and caring people, and they made me feel comfortable at all times even in new environments. Everyone at Askari is so friendly and all the volunteer work and duties around the house really make us (the volunteers) feel like a team. Experiencing the wildlife here on Pidwa was amazing and it means even more to me now that I have made a contribution to the conservation work being done. I’ve also enjoyed the dinners out, and the many game nights, sleep outs and parties at Askari. Here at Askari, we work hard and play hard. I am really happy and grateful for my wonderful times at Askari.

Liz McBriar – England….click here

lizIf you’re fascinated by wild animals and Africa, want to learn about life in the bush and want a hands on adventure, don’t hesitate, book to stay Askari. If you want to pet lions and have a relaxing vacation however, this is not the place for you! As impressive as the reserve itself is, it’s the knowledge, passion and friendliness of Katie and Ed (the program managers) who really make Askari what it is. I have rarely met such inspiring people and they made my stay memorable in so many ways. I cannot praise them both highly enough. Be prepared to get stuck in and to deal with the bugs (especially in the summer months) – this is a true volunteer project which depends on everyone participating. I’m scared of everything – bugs, elephants, even long grass – but I survived 4 months at Askari, made some great new friends and have many memories I’ll cherish forever. Everything Katie tells you in the pre-visit emails is accurate. The house is spacious and is kept to a good standard by Maria and Lindiwe – your housekeepers. Don’t expect 5 star luxury but do expect a true African bush experience and the opportunity to participate in activities only a privileged few do. Askari really is an outstanding volunteering project. Believe the reviews!

Mathias Weigand – Germany….click here

Slide3My girlfriend brought me to Askari after she had been here 3 years ago. Back then she fell in love with Askari and now it happened to me as well after 3 weeks. The reserve has a stunning nature and we had our accommodation in the middle of it. Katie and Ed are amazing and you can tell that they love their work. They involved us in so many different conservation activities that every day was unique and exciting for us. Thank you very much to both of them for the fantastic time.

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