Blaz Blazic – Slovenia….click here

blazMy time at Askari was a life-time experience. All the activities we had were really enjoyable. Some of them were unique like river walk and sleep out for example. The Askari staff was also great. They were really helpful, welcoming, knowledgeable and always provided me with an information that I needed. I learned so many new things during my two weeks stay and I think that my knowledge has really grown a lot. I would recommend the Askari conservation programme to those who are interested in wildlife, nature and it’s conservation, because it’s really a pure and unique experience.

Alice Clark – Scotland….click here

aliceIf you’re interested in studying animal, a career in nature conservation or just fancy taking a break from your day to day life to see what all the fuss is about – Askari is for you. At Askari you learn first hand why conservation is so important in this day and age. Every day is new and exciting – some days we would plan to go fence painting and end up tracking down a lion and its kill! Most nights you can count on lions roaring and elephants walking nearby to be your natural alarm clock! There is no shortage of wildlife here, but rather than sitting idly by, you get to see what really happens behind the scenes of a safari. No experience has ever been more eye-opening for me than this past month. I would do it again in a heartbeat. For me it absolutely confirmed that I wasn’t to pursue this as a career – perhaps it could so the same for you. Nobody wants to leave Askari because we have built life long friendships and accomplished so much to be proud of. If you come to Askari I can promise you one thing: it will be the trip of a lifetime.

Sarah Cleave – England….click here

sarahIt was a privilege to be part of the team (even for a short time). Everyone was very friendly, welcoming and helpful. I learnt a lot and made some good friends.

Peter Slatinsek – Slovenia….click here

peterThe 2 week stay at Askari was everything I hoped it to be. Seeing different mammals in their natural environment was breathtaking. Being one of the volunteers and helping out at the conservation program was one of the best experiences in my life.

Jenny Milson – Canada…click here

jennyThe Askari program is an excellent way to learn about the South African wilderness while helping to ensure its conservation. I had an amazing experience.

Nadia Skokun – Canada…..click here

nadiaMy 4 week stay at Askari was the most amazing time of my life. Learning about South Africa along with doing activities that will help towards conservation was an absolutely amazing experience. Thank you Ed and Katie for being amazing leaders and teachers. You guys have the most amazing job ever! You even made me fall in love with birds

Monique Steenwinkel – The Netherlands….click here

Slide5My time here at Askari has been amazing! It’s unbelievable how much you can learn in 4 weeks. The long days, hard work, the staff, the other volunteers and all the wild animals – this all made it a lifetime experience. I will miss the lions roaring at night, the dogs waiting at the gate, the bird sounds, the good food, counting herbivores and doing my duties. I really hope I will be back one day.

Samantha Purton – England…..click here

There is one word I’d use to describe my time at Askari: unforgettable. I’ve enjoyed every moment – from sensitive tree protection to road maintenance to prickly pears to walking Safiya. But my favourite part has definitely got to be seeing the animals in their natural habitat, it’s indescribable. I’ve learnt so much over the past 2 weeks and have acquired knowledge that will benefit me not just throughout uni but also throughout life. I’ve always wanted to come to Africa and I’m eternally grateful to Askari for making that dream a reality and for making my stay so amazing. I would definitely recommend Askari to anyone who loves wildlife and having fun at Askari you really feel like you are part of something and that your work there is vital and really makes a difference. Thank you Askari for such a breath taking experience that I will never forget and will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Tamara Van der sluis – The Netherlands…..click here

Presentation1 I’m really glad that I found my way back to Askari! And Ed you did a really good job for your first month, I enjoyed your work. Thanks for everything, it was amazing.

Marcel Nieuwenhuis – The Netherlands…..click here

Slide3Askari offers a great chance to work in the nature and the reserve shows you how wilderness should be. It really opens your eyes and is a great learning moment.

Marie Vincendon-McQuade – France…..click here

It was an amazing experience which I would strongly recommend. Katie and Ed are genuinely nature lovers and know how to share their passion with you. Everything is well organised and you feel safe even so close to wild animals. I would love to take my inner city pupils here, there is so much to discover! Thank you Katie and Ed for making this stay exceptional.

Sophie Papp – Canada….click here

Slide2My stay here was absolutely amazing. I’m going to miss everyone here and am already wanting to come back. Thank you so much. Good job on the birds and tree knowledge.

Mandy Li – Australia…..click here

Slide1Askari is the best place on EARTH! This has been the best 4 weeks ever! Katie, Ed and Joe were amazing.

Brown hyaena local to Askari

Since its start in 2011, ‘Project Impisi’ has been an amazing success. Following translocation from farm land, 4 of our 5 brown hyaenas were recorded to survive, establish and reproduce here on Pidwa. 3 years further on and we have confirmed 3 sets of cubs. As their population grows, the hyaenas are starting to spread further afield and cover new areas of the reserve in order to meet their needs.

This is why we were so excited by our most recent findings on a bush walk close to the house, here at Askari this week. We have been seeing hyaenaSlide3 tracks fairly regularly – yet even the trained eye will struggle to tell the difference between those belonging to a brown and those from a spotted hyaena. Hopeful that they belonged to one of our browns, further confirmation came with the discovery of not 1, not 2 but 3 fresh anal pastings!
Slide1The anal paste smells about as bad as you might imagine a substance would when secreted from the anal gland of a hyaena! It is a form of scent-marking that can be found on grass stalks around two thirds of the way up (perfect nose height for a hyaena!). Not only does it communicate information to fellow clan members but also to those of rival clans. The bottom mark is initially white which turns caramel and then brown over time. It is long lasting and presumed to be territorial warning intruders (hyaneas from other clans) that they are trespassing. The top mark is a message to fellow clan members to say that the area has been foraged recently and to move on somewhere else; it is brown in colour and lasts only a few days.

A little further on in our walk and we came across a hyaena scat, right next to an old wildebeest carcass which has been completely cleared. The Slide2scat is easily characterised by the shape, content, and size. The green-creamy colour seen here indicates the freshness of the scat.
It’s exciting to think that a brown hyaena may be establishing its home range right here around the Askari house.

In the coming weeks we will place camera traps to try and catch a glimpse of the hyaena and work out if it is one of our original adults or a young one moving into the area. We will keep you posted but in the meantime these photos come from a camera trap set at the den of our second pair of adults who are busy rearing 2 cubs.
Slide4
Slide2

Kensi van Rijswijk – The Netherlands……click here

Askari is so much more than just a volunteer project or a holiday. It is an eye opener, a once in a lifetime opportunity. The whole experience of working in the bush and helping out is amazing! And the people who really make it special are Katie, Joe and Ed, without them Askari wouldn’t be the same. Thank you.

Annie Fletcher – Australia….click here

annieI had the experience of a lifetime during my month as Askari. We were lucky enough to participate in a range of exciting and worthwhile activities during our stay including a Sable darting and receiving a delivery of zebra and buffalo! The volunteer house and food were amazing, as were Katie and Joe who were the most knowledgeable, fun and patient guides ever! I highly recommend this programme to anyone who wants to learn about and contribute to wilderness conservation in South Africa.

Jake Grifith – England (2nd stay)…..click here

Slide1Things change every day in the bush, and certainly there are some big changes underway at Askari right now, but the constant is an outstanding passion for wildlife and conservation shown by Joe and Katie. Perhaps more importantly their personal excitement is accompanied by an ability to instill a certain degree of passion into every one of the volunteers here and this I think is what makes Askari truly special. There is not a single thing that I would change about the activities or the lifestyle, no day here us the same and that is the magic of the place. Last time I came ot Askari I felt 2 weeks wasn’t enough, well now I fell like a month isn’t enough. IT is only now that I am coming to the end of my time here that I can begin to understand how much I am going to miss this place. In part this is down to the ever-changing nature of the bush and a personal love of wildlife, but mostly it is testament to the ability of Joe and Katie and all of the staff here to make you feel at home. There is nothing else to say but thank you for an amazing month and I hope I can make it back here as soon as possible.

Greg Sollis – Australia….click here

Slide3Askari is in the enviable position of being a large scale conservation reserve with a secure, foreseeably long-term backing. As such, throughout the entire volunteer experience all efforts were able to be focused on important conservation work without any distractions or conditions. It is clear that the Askari programme has been running for a long enough time that it has managed to evolve through several iterations into the well-structured, highly organised experience it is today. All activities have a specific purpose, they are each an authentic insight into the workings of a reserve, giving the volunteers a feeling of belonging and contribution, and everything is cleverly tied back to the obvious goal of the reserve: conserving South Africa’s native wildlife. The passion of the Askari and Pidwa staff is obvious and infectious. There is a constant warm, welcoming felling in the house, and every effort by the staff has been made to ensure the comfort and enjoyment for each volunteer. It will certainly be difficult to say goodbye.

Claire Godfrey – Scotland……click here

Slide2This was my first time at Askari and before I arrived I wondered if my 4 week stay would be a bit too long. We are now in the last morning waiting to leave to the airport and honestly I feel like I could stay here forever. I came to Askari with little to no knowledge about the bush and I am leaving with a wealth of knowledge and a passion to spread it. In my 4 weeks here I feel like we have all become a family and I will never forget each and every person at Askari. I will most definitely be back – but next time for a lot longer – prepare yourselves!

Neil Cowper – Scotland…..click here

Slide2Never want to leave

Merric Fletcher – Australia…..click here

Slide1Staying 4 weeks at Askari was the best experience I’ve had on holidays. The program was amazing and I had so much fun while learning so much. The staff are fantastic and so welcoming. I would definitely come back, 4 weeks was barely enough.

Rosalie Hayes – England (2nd stay)…..click here

Lots of people questioned me when I said I was not only going back to SA, but returning to the same project. I’d left a few months earlier. But for me it was an easy decision to make, and I’m so glad I could spend another month here. Askari is a very special programme and stands head and shoulders above its competitors. It manages to strike the perfect balance between truly looking after its volunteers and helping them to understand the bush and experience magical sightings, and entrusting the volunteers with genuine responsibilities that actually do make a difference to the conservation of the reserve. As a volunteer, you see first hand how the actions of humans can help to return land back to its natural wilderness, and you learn so much about the animals, birds and plants of the South African bushveld along the way. On top of that, Katie and Joe are simply brilliant at what they do, and make every day at Askari one to remember. thank you for everything.

Victoria Hartley-Cox – Canada…..click here

As a first time traveller I was nervous at first, being so far from home and not knowing anyone. But from the moment I stepped off the plane I was welcomed. Askari felt like a little bit of home in the middle of the African bush.

Bradley Reynolds – Australia…..click here

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Askari for many different reasons. The managers Katie & Joe are very down to earth and keep everything you do light hearted and fun. the activities you do are hands on and you do feel like you are making a contribution to the reserve. Lastly, you can’t beat life out in the African bush where anything from elephants browsing outside the house to a pack of lions disrupting your activities can happen. It’s well worth the trip.

Elizabeth Lee – South Korea…..click here

There is no place I would have rather gone for my gap semester. Every aspect of the program was very systematic and well-planned. It was very apparent that all experience and feedback from past volunteers were seriously considered and incorporated into the program. The conservation activities were very fulfilling. The detailed processes and objectives of all activities were thoroughly explained to volunteers beforehand by managers who are more than over qualified. The Askari Wilderness Conservation programme will surely fulfil (and most likely exceed) anyone’s expectations of conservation projects.

Natalie Durant – England…..click here

Slide6I feel so lucky to have found and spent a month at Askari.  Having never volunteered (or even been to Africa!) I was nervous but Katie, Joe and previous volunteers immediately made me feel comfortable.  Learning about the reserve conservation projects and general safety in our orientation week really helped me to see how our efforts as volunteers were valuable and made a difference for the vegetation and wildlife on the reserve.  There was a fantastic mix of volunteers from many different backgrounds, countries and all at different stages in their lives.  I learnt a lot from all of them, made some great friends and had so much fun along the way.  The house was really comfortable with nice bedrooms, bathrooms, (with hot water horray), a good kitchen (always lots of food and snacks) and there were always things to do at the weekends or in our breaks such as hanging out in the pool, the volleyball court, darts, and I loved being able to go for runs too.

The work involved a diverse set of activities from tree protection, herbivore drives and sable monitoring to helping with the vet visit.  Each day brought new exciting sightings and we weren’t hidden from what was really happening on the reserve.  The organisation of the programme was fantastic and made sure it ran smoothly each day.  I learnt so much in just a month and didn’t expect to fall in love with Africa quite so quickly but I am now counting down the days until I can go back again!  I cannot thank all the staff at Askari and Pidwa enough for sharing all their knowledge, their dedication and all of the fantastic braai’s, sleep outs and leaving parties.

Cassandra Macmillan – Canada….click here

Slide3This place makes you feel like you’re living in a documentary. The work really feeds your soul, an empowering experience that makes you never want to leave.

Autumn Barrett-Morgan – Canada……click here

Slide5My time at Askari was a life-changing experience in the most positive way possible. Every day I felt so alive and a part of something so much bigger than me or anything else I’d ever been part of before. Peace, joy, teamwork, safety and hope were everyday emotions/feelings. It’s a soul nourishing experience that you will feel you have to be a part of again. Everyone here makes you feel at home. Every day is a new, unpredictable adventure.

Jeffery McFarlane – Canada….click here

Slide2Askari was a wonderful, one of a kind experience. Volunteering here at Pidwa was so incredibly humbling. It was so refreshing to experience the wilderness here as nature intended and 100% uncensored. Askari is a phenomenal experience because you get the chance to help something that is so much bigger than any one person. Askari and Pidwa is as real as real can be. Anyone who reads this testimonial should seriously consider this life-changing experience and so some research of their own. Seize the moment and come enjoy the coolest place on the planet. We all still have so much that we can learn and appreciate.

Keri-Ann Ward – Canada….click here

blogThe amount of knowledge and experience that I have gained at Askari in 2 weeks, I could not gain from 2 years of college or university. Askari is hands-on and practical. Everything is done for a reason and that reason is conservation. Truly a benchmark reserve of not only South Africa, but the world.

Deanna Hergert – Canada…..click here

Slide1We truly did feel like we were living in a documentary the entire time. It is a rare thing in this world to get to work towards conservation of such world-renowned wildlife and be so intimately involved in their world every day. Being part of Askari has been like a dream which will be re-lived in grand memory for the rest of my life.  This experience will charge me with the fuel sometimes needed to continue on my dedicated life path towards conservation of wild spaces, Askari being a true benchmark to which other efforts should be compared. Thank you from the depths of my soul Katie and Joe for such an amazing experience and for encompassing application of the Ecosystem Management Program into 2 perfect weeks on Pidwa reserve!

Joseph Broughton – Canada…..click here

Slide4My time at Askari has been one of, if not the greatest, experiences of my life. That may seem like a bold claim but everything from the relationships with the team members I’ve made here, the amazing animal sightings and working with Katie and Joe are all things I will treasure for the rest of my life. It may have only been 2 weeks – which absolutely flew by – but every single one of those days was a new and incredible experience. In one of our lectures we learned about wilderness and how it’s fulfilling to our lives. This is something that you cannot truly understand until you have spent time here. It really does make you feel alive.

Mike Oldridge – England…..click here

Slide1An incredible experience that will live with me forever. Every day varied and interesting new challenges met, new knowledge acquired. Hard work at times but always fun and you feel like you’re genuinely making a difference. Accommodation excellent. Food great, the program itself is superb but made doubly so by the fact that it is run and organised by Joe and Katie, both incredibly hard working who have strived to make our time here as fulfilling as possible. They have an infectious passion for their work and have also gone out of their way to accommodate individuals requests and needs – LEGENDS! I truly hope to return one day.

Joanne Auberson – Australia…..clcik here

Slide4Askari is not just a conservation program, it gets under your skin and makes you feel alive. It challenges you but also rewards at the same time. It is an experience that you will not find anywhere else. I can safely say I recommend Askari to anyone wishing to be truly involved in wildlife and wilderness conservation and to have a great time whilst doing it.

Lieke van Moorsel – The Netherlands…..click here

Everyday was a different day, and that’s what I like. The drives were perfect, not too short aSlide2nd not too long. Also walking with the caracal was very interesting, you can learn so much about the bush and the behaviours of the animals. Also after this you know names about animals that you didn’t know and other information about the animal and that’s very helpful and interesting.

Cindy Prevost – France…..click here

Thank you so much for all, it was amazing, I will not forget this experience. It was a dream for me to come hereSlide3 and now I am really sure that I want to do this job during my life.

A busy day

Slide1Busy day today! Started with trying to seek out the lions (no luck unfortunately, yet!) followed by a research drive in Langa Langa. We saw so many animals we nearly filled a whole page! Over 70 individual animals were seen! Also enjoyed watching a dung beetle roll his perfect little ball of dung, and also watched a very short lived fight between two male dung beetles for a dung ball, which ended very quickly when one of the poor little guys ended up on his back for ages! By the time he was back on his feet, the other one had rolled the dung ball far away and was nowhere in sight!

 

We started driving back to Askari when we bumped into the same mother and son cheetahs that we met last week – they were in the middle of the road and completely not bothered by us so they lay down and had a rest. The mother got up at one point to smell a Mopani tree at the side of the road, where cheetah, lions and leopards mark their scent. The son soon followed in her steps – teaching at its best!

We drove on and the rain started to fall and by the time we arrived back it was a massive storm. We all had a little rest and waited out the storm by playing cards and reading. We then heard over the radio that two elephants were in the river and soon enough Joe was shouting “You have 60 seconds to get into the vehicle!” – so we all raced off and found the two gorgeous males by the river. The biggest male came very close to us and I think we were all holding our breaths at a few points, but he was just being inquisitive. We stayed with them both for quite a while and all of us were over the moon that we had finally seen an elephant in Pidwa. We had lunch.

 

After lunch we headed out around 3 to the boma in Langa Langa as it needed a bit of attention. The plants around Slide2the electric fence had been poisoned some time ago but they needed clearing so we did the remaining half of the outside perimeter with spades. Joe was impressed with our speed and we got more done that he had anticipated! We then also painted a number of the poles with a special antirust coating. We were lucky that most of the work was in the shade but we all still got very sticky, and some of us seemed to have landed up with more paint on ourselves than the posts! We all enjoyed a bit of physical work after sitting in the game vehicle for over 4 hours this morning, and felt a great deal of satisfaction! A long but good day.

 

Michael Leuchtenberg – Germany…..click here

mikeAskari is like a dream come true that I didn’t even know I had.

Alexander Bowscher – England….click here

alexMy month at Askari was a memorable one, and was made by the Askari team – Katie and Joe. The programme they developed and delivered was exceptional, to food varied and plentiful and their knowledge of the bush inspiring. Not to mention the accommodation, an old farmhouse surrounded by antelope and roaring lions. Thank you guys, you surpassed my high expectations.

Samantha Williams – England….click here

Slide1If you want to truly contribute to conservation, animals and the environment Askari is the place to go! You gain hands on experience as well as learning from experts in the field. It is the experience of a lifetime…you will never look at animals in captivity the same!