A brisk June morning

On an extremely brisk June morning, five groggy volunteers climbed into the game vehicle exhausted and eager to start the day. As we all drove with Katie, bundled up in layers to survive the wind, the sun slowly rose over the savanna till we finally reached the hyena den. Being Katie’s favourite animal, it was easy to hear appreciation in her voice for these magnificent animals. We’ve spotted 9 cubs total near the den and mostly watched a mother and her two cubs. “Brave from backup” Katie mentioned as these tiny fuzzy creatures crawled up to the car with a bit of side eye from the mother. We all watched as they rolled, fell and played with their siblings until we decided it was definitely past their bedtime and time for our breakfast. A few minutes later, we were at the lookout overseeing most of Pidwa south and Mikalali enjoying a few warm drinks and bread. A lovely start to a very eventful day.
Traveling back from the spotted hyena den, with a few travels struggling to keep their eyes open, Katie exclaimed there was a cheetah on the side of the road, just with a fresh kill! With about as much stealth as our roaring vehicle could muster, we crept up to the animal and watched as she panted, dragged her fresh juvenile impala into the bush, and call for her cubs. It was difficult to see after she moved the antelope into thick bush so we then decided it was time for lunch.
An absolutely delicious lunch was served, and it was time to venture out again into the bush to experiment with our skills in shooting. Against everyone’s’ expectations, the Americans did not get the best shots but it was still a load of fun practicing on the air strip. Complete with Katie’s bae showing us exactly what it takes to be at field guide levels, which apparently meant 4 but not 5 lions could be manageable. Ed picked us up, showed us an entire field of elephants (14 total) with a gorgeous fiery sun setting behind the mountains *cue lion king soundtrack*. Which lands us here, at the desk as a fire is being started up outside. It’s a braai tonight as the South African say it and a perfect way to wrap up an amazing day in the bush.

Vicki Baker – New Zealand….click here

Slide2I regularly do volunteer projects overseas, with a focus on wildlife/conservation. This project has been the best I’ve done, and I’ve worked in Tonga, Indonesia, China, Thailand and this was my 4th trip to Africa. The framework was well set-up, the facilities way better than I’ve experienced before and it was ethically focused and not on income generated from the volunteers. I felt very appreciated, respected and included. The coordinators were outstanding and that can make or break it in my view. Their passion was contagious! Great organisation and a good blend of activities. I learned heaps! 10 out of 10! Makes it hard to consider doing anything else really!

Elise Greve – USA….click here

Slide3I’m so very happy that I chose Askari for my south Africa volunteer program. The quality and knowledge of the team here is well above average – they are a superb team! I learned more than I expected and most importantly, I felt that I contributed to a highly ethical conservation program.

Mark Greet – England ….click here

Slide4To put this wonderful experience into words is nearly impossible but I will try. Firstly Ed and Katie are 2 of the nicest people you could wish to meet. Their knowledge is amazing and enthusiasm to pass it on makes you want to try and use this knowledge to better yourself. The physical activities were very enjoyable and made you feel like you were really contributing something positive to the projects. We arrived as individuals and 4 weeks later leave as a very close knit team having experienced so much together. Anybody thinking of coming here, stop thinking and book your trip. I promise you will not regret it for a second and the experience will stay with you forever. Askari is a priceless diamond in the South African crown and must stay that way. Thank you so much for everything.

Lindsay Reich – USA….click here

Slide2The Askari Conservation Programme has far exceeded my expectations. As this is my second volunteer project in Africa, I came into this with a general idea of what to expect, but what I got was so much more. The staff could not have been better; everyone was so friendly, eager to help, extremely knowledgeable, and made my stay as enjoyable as possible. Not only was the wildlife spectacular, but all of the activities and projects we helped out with were so fulfilling and rewarding. From the second I got here I did not feel like just another volunteer, but rather felt as one of the team. This programme has truly made an impact on my life and I will never forget my time here at Askari.

Allie Wisniewski – USA….click here

Slide3Askari has been the best trip I’ve ever been on. Since it was my first time in Africa I had no idea what to expect but since day one it’s been amazing. The guides are not only very educational with lectures, they work alongside us the entire month on the reserve and have become close friends by the end of it. This program truly shows you all the work that goes into running a reserve. Pidwa also stays true to its mission towards conservation and is a special place. I feel honoured and incredibly lucky to find such a gem and will always cherish the memories I made during my time here. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a genuine African adventure while learning a lot along the way. Thanks so much Askari, hope to be back soon.

Leopold Minvielle – France…..click here

Slide1Askari is a unique project where one can truly get to experience the African wildlife. Do not come here expecting to find lions or cheetahs that you will pet and touch, because this is not that type of project. But what you can find in very friendly staff, extremely knowledgeable guides such as Ed and Katie and memories to last a lifetime. Thank you Ed and Katie.

Stef Westerik – The Netherlands…..click here

Presentation1I had no idea what to expect when I went to Askari. But my stay here was above all expectations. The staff involve you in everything what is happening around here. They know a lot and teach you really much. The camp you live in is absolutely beautiful and real luxury. I have done and seen so much in the past 4 weeks. Amazing things from nyala and sable relocation to impala poo spitting competition! I was not into birding at all, birds were just boring flying things to me. But the way they teach you about birds and with the enthusiasm made me really like birds and birding. My stay here has confirmed to me what I want to do after I am done with school. It has been an amazing time here for me.

Claire Miller – Australia……click here

Slide1I felt privileged to work as a volunteer at Askari, that I could share in the vision of a wilderness reserve managed for habitat and wildlife conservation as the first and only priority. And have such fun doing it! We slept under stars one night and watched the sunrise with lions roaring in the distance. We watched hyaenas play and elephants wander up close. We rescued trees strangled by wire and murdered more prickly pear than I can remember. Thanks so much to the Askari staff Katie & Ed, and Pidwa staff Andrew and Elricht for their incredible knowledge, good company and honesty about the management dilemmas facing wilderness reserve s and national parks under pressure on a crowded planet. It was a great experience.

Natalie Steiner – England (2nd stay)…..click here

Slide2I wasn’t sure if it would be possible for my second visit to Askari to be even better than the visit last year but it was!! Amazing sightings all month long, new animals, birds & reptiles & a never ending learning experience about the South African bush & all it’s intricacies. Askari has yet again proved it is the only volunteer programme anyone should consider if they’re serious about working hard, contributing to real wildlife conservation and making the most of an invaluable opportunity. The team at Askari are passionate, dedicated and fully committed to ensuring the best experience for all their volunteers – regardless of age, background & experience. Thank you again for an incredible month, I’m already planning my next visit!

Molly Shannon – Canada……click here

Slide3Askari was hands down the greatest experience of my life. The staff are amazing and friendly and the backbone of this reserve is strong. When you’re not enjoying the countless wildlife you are partaking in meaningful activities that lead to the longevity of this reserve’s ecosystem. I would suggest it for all who want to make a difference in their own and this earth’s life.

Shannon Farmer – Canada…..click here

Slide3Askari Wilderness Conservation Programme is unlike any other volunteer opportunities I have heard of or experienced. The people here are truly passionate about the conservation, preservation and restoration of South Africa’s pristine ecosystems and wildlife. It can be hard work at times, but to see the meaningful projects you are contributing to makes it all worth it. It is an unforgettable experience and I feel incredibly lucky to have been involved in this programme. A special thanks to Katie and Ed who have made my experience here infinitely better by providing the necessary support, knowledge and true passion for conservation to make this programme so fantastic.

Meidan Leiderman – Canada….click here

meidanMy stay at Askari has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. The amount of things I learned and saw was unique and soul-satisfying. Katie & Ed are amazing people in so many ways and I would love to come back for another stay at Askari

Ryan Wheatley – Canada….click here

Slide4Returning for a second stay at Askari I knew this experience would be equally incredible. This time around was completely different and allowed our team to excel and contribute to Pidwa in new and exciting experiences. Askari and Pidwa have a way of inspiring positive change in the lives of participants. You leave with a reaffirmed understanding and responsibility to conservation. The lessons I have learned will be with me always.

Tyla Reed – Canada…..click here

Slide1Coming to Askari from half a world away gave me the opportunity to work with like-minded people, towards the larger vision of Pidwa. I truly admire the support and dedication the Askari team has for their work. Such passionate and inspirational people make it easy to learn from. In the beginning it seemed as though this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, however now looking into the future I have prospects of returning. Thank you for making an impact on my life Askari.

Carly White – Canada….click here

Slide2Having returned for a second time, I was continually blown away by the knowledge and passion shown by the Askari staff. My time at Askari will push on to be the highlight of my year. This programme is highly recommended.

Alexander Brekelmans – Canada….click here

Slide2My time at Askari has been one that has forever changed me and an experience that I will never forget. Being able to help and support a reserve whose main goal is to restore the landscape to it’s original form is amazing. I can definitely say that going to Askari has helped broaden my outlook on restoration and given me a better idea on the practical side of things. I cannot wait until I can return here again

Will Richmond – Canada……click here

Slide5The Askari programme us truly a rare experience. Their focus is on education, conservation, and restoration – which sets it apart from other reserve programs. I felt like my work was making a difference and that the people at Pidwa appreciated it. The reserve staff and guides were all extremely welcoming and quickly became close friends of mine. They were also very accommodating to the volunteer team, especially when sighting the fantastic wildlife species on the reserve. The wildlife at Pidwa is spectacular and jaw-dropping to say the least. The ecosystems are beautiful and the flora species made me fall in love with this country. I made memories at Askari that will last a lifetime, and I am sad to go. I will miss every part of the experience, but I fully intend to return to Askari. The experience is too good to not come back.

Samantha Croxford – England….click here

SamA month I will never forget! I can’t recommend the Askari conservation programme highly enough! From day one I loved every moment and Ed and Katie go out of their way to ensure you have the most amazing trip! The programme is really well organised so that there is a balance between the wow of seeing an elephant pass right by the vehicle and the conservation work involved to ensure their natural habitat remains. I have learnt so much in my time at Askari and feel incredibly lucky to have been part of this world and the fantastic work the whole team carry out on a daily basis. I am so happy I was able to contribute to this unique programme. Askari is a very special place and I think it’s safe to say it’s stolen a piece of my heart forever.

Wendy Cutting – England….click here

WendyA month in a true wilderness with enthusiastic guides and everything from elephants to dung beetles to discover – what could be more amazing. I am closer to the top of the age range of volunteers and not that fit and I would say do NOT let age put you off – all the tasks and activities are manageable and give such a sense of achievement as you can see the benefits. Katie and Ed are both so enthusiastic and all the staff at Pidwa/Askari went out of their way to make the experience as great as possible for us. Book, come and enjoy – you will not regret this and you will leave a much happier person. This is true conservation, with real wild animals in the most incredible private place.

Sofie Banister – England….click here

SofieI have greatly enjoyed my 2 weeks here at Askari. The team was very welcoming and friendly and I would definitely consider returning as 2 weeks simply isn’t enough time to experience the beauty of Pidwa and all it has to offer. I have seen some amazing things which I will look back on with the fondest of memories from experiencing the elephant darting, not once but twice, to watching young hyaenas run around with flowers in their mouths and identifying some incredible wildlife. These are just a few of the things that have made the past 2 weeks truly special. Thank you.

Dario Piovesana – England….click here

As someone who has been involved in quite a few volunteer projects, I can honestly say Askari is one of the best. Fun, interesting and you leave feeling you have done good with your time. The staff are awesome and make your experience here fun and rewarding.

John Key Powell – USA….click here

KeyAskari was a more than satisfying experience for someone looking to see a great part of South Africa. I think you all do an excellent job of maintaining the reserve and properly teaching the important and current values of wildlife conservation. I will recommend Askari to anyone trying to visit South Africa for its wildlife.

Kate Hewitt – Canada….click here

KateThis experience has been extremely life-changing. The knowledge and experiences I gained here have helped me learn a lot more about myself. The small group sizes allow for a more intimate experience with the wildlife.

Richard Goetz – Canada….click here

RichardI very much enjoyed my time here in the African bush and was so happy to return as the intern. It just goes to show that hard work and commitment really pays off. It was almost 5 years ago since I was last here, so I’m really pleased this opportunity came to fruition. I enjoyed every sighting, big or small. Seeing the big 5 was just the icing on the cake.

Anna McNeillie – England….click here

Absolutely loved my time here at Askari! Complete mixture of learning about the conservation work that is done here. Physical, but rewarding tasks like fence clearing, and incredible wildlife encounters alongside sleep outs and braai’s! Ed and Katie are awesome and so much fun – would definitely recommend anyone to volunteer at Askari.

John Young, United Kingdom………….Click Here

Presentation1At 56 years old, I am the oldest person on the project, but fit in very well. A great bunch of volunteers. The project was very well planned and the day itinerary was also varied and interesting. The knowledge of the staff was excellent and the games at the house and one drive made it fun whilst learning. I would urge anyone young or old with a passion to make a difference for African wildlife to sign up!

PS. This may well be my last trip to Africa as a volunteer. I would just like to say thank you for making it the best.

Luke Harris, United Kingdom……………Click Here

Presentation1Really enjoyed my time here, the staff are great and very knowledgeable. I’ve learnt so much in the short time I was here. The drives have left me with some amazing experiences that I will remember for the rest of my life. They are very personal and exciting. One highlight for myself was the sleep out. What an experience in the open at one with the wildlife. Just a bit upset we didn’t see an animal come into camp :).

Mark Harris, United Kingdom…………Click Here

Presentation1Spent two weeks at Askari. Made you feel very welcome by the staff. I can honestly say I have enjoyed every minute of it. We learnt a lot, had some great sightings and very hot weather!! Would certainly come again and will take away good memories.

Susan van Rijn – The Netherlands….click here

susanI had a great time at Askari! I came to do conservation work but did not realise I would go home with so much knowledge of the bush and many new friends.

Rocks, aliens and wilderness

This day started at 7:15, aiming first for protecting trees. So we went to the old Mica mine, where volunteers, Katie and our brave Norman dig into the little hill, searching for the biggest rocks possible. As Katie said “the bigger the better “, especially when it comes to elephants. On our way, we were lucky to see the only ostrich of the whole reserve. Too clever and quick for leopards, this giant bird is definitely a lonely soldier, but a happy soldier. Newbies had first aid lecture with Ed, concerning all venomous and poisonous animals in Africa. Some weren’t so confident after it ! Old volunteers went for alien plant monitoring. And, at lunch, we had those amazing burgers, YUMMY !! In the afternoon, we went for this lovely wilderness lecture, consisting on watching an amazing scenery at a really good place on the reserve. We have heard lion calling tonight, was near the house, at 9.

Natasha Eastwood – England….click here

Slide3This programme far exceeded all expectations. I learnt an incredible amount about a wide range of conservation areas whilst getting up close and personal with the animals. The team are impressively knowledgeable and passionate about what they do. They warmly welcomed me into the Askari family and I can honestly say I’ve has the best time of my life. I will definitely be coming back to Askari and strongly recommend this place to anyone who loves wildlife, is prepared to get their hands dirty and has a keen interest in conservation.

Shirley Coopman – The Netherlands….click here

Slide2My time at Askari was incredible. We do so many different activities, one day seems like two days. You can’t imagine what is happening in the bush until you see it for yourself. We participate in each task and choice about the bush. You become part of an awesome team where you make new friends. People who share the passion and who want to make a difference. Do not hesitate, just do it. This is adventure!

Jordan Gledhill – England….click here

Slide1Having been at Askari 3 years ago I have been following it’s progress on facebook with Katie’s great picture. 3 years later I am back in South Africa and it would have been rude to not pop into Askari for 2 weeks. It was just as much fun as I remembered , if not even better with the additions of the pool, sable station and the bird loving South African bloke. So cheers guys.

Mike Oldridge – England….click here

This was my second stay at Askari and the only time I’ve gone back to a holiday destination which tells you all you need to know. Different people, different activities and the same result; an incredible experience full of amazing sightings, laughs and excitement and you come away feeling that you’ve actually made a difference. Would recommend to everyone.

Zachary Bogar – Canada….click here

To my dearest Katie and Ed, where to begin? My time at Askari has been much better that I ever could have imagined and that is thanks to you two. The knowledge and experience you’ve given me is incredible, and it’s inspiring to see the Pidwa family work so hard for conservation. I never thought I would have come away with all the amazing wildlife memories I have and that’s thanks to the hard work Pidwa puts into protecting their animals. I will forever remember and be thankful for my time here at Askari, and for having Katie and Ed.

Anouk van den Bosch – The Netherlands…..click here

I wish I could stay at Askari. It was truly amazing. There were only highlights, but there are some that jump out. The herds of elephants, spotting 2 male lions, seeing lots of cheetah and noticing how tall a giraffe actually is. It was an experience I will never forget. Thank you Katie & Ed and all the others that made it fantastic.

Iris Jonker – The Netherlands….click here

It has been a life changing experience to me which I will never forget. I never imagined learning so much in such a short period of time and being able to have amazing sightings and meeting people that made me feel so at home during my stay. “Nature is not a place to visit, it’s home” and Askari has definitely felt like a home to me over the past three weeks. Thank you for that!

Mathis Drapeau -France……… Click Here

mathisWhere to start, and where to end after 4 amazing weeks here?!

Maybe saying it was too short, but that I have enjoyed every minute, every activity, every sighting and moment shared with the Askari family.

I was expecting something good, but it was more than just good. The time I have spent here is one of the best times of my life. Waking up here was a pleasure, and feeling that you are doing something for the wilderness which is today struggling unbelievably.

Ed and Katie are always here to teach you new things about every type of life or vegetation you could be able to see. For that, I wanted to thank them so much.

I will always miss my time here, thank you again for everything Katie and Ed.

Janneke van Kraglingen – The Netherlands ……… Click Here

Slide2I got picked up at the airport not really knowing what to expect and immediately we were Askarians!

Within no time we new arrivals were part of the team. Everybody helped each other. I learnt so much about animals and conservation and the idea of Pidwa. I am so happy that I have been able to contribute to this idea.

The balance between work and relaxing was really great. Even though I am not that sporty, I enjoyed the Volleyball! I also loved the sleep out, the games we did together and the space we gave each other to do their own things. I never saw the animals so up close and in such a relaxed way: Amazing! I learned a lot of new birds and bird calls! Loved it!

This was an adventure, an experience I will never ever forget. I loved being here!

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