DAKTARI Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage
Want a life changing experience helping underprivileged children and orphaned wild animals in Africa? 100% of your payment goes to this charity This educational project,...
Such an amazing project with the loveliest people!
Submitted by Shana Van Dyck - Leuven Belgium | October 12, 2016
I have had the most amazing month at Daktari! Daktari is such a great project, what they do is amazing! I've always wanted to go and volunteer in Africa but I wasn't sure if I wanted to find a project with animals or with people and this was just such a good combination, I immediately knew this was it!
My first week, the group of kids we got were amazing! They were a little shy in the beginning because this is such a new experience for them. For most, it was the first time they went away from home for that long. But very quickly the kids opened up to us. They were so enthusiastic to learn! You can tell they're not used to having people actually ask them questions and pay attention to them in class.
In the beginning of the week we take a survey with each kid with questions about animals, the environment, safe sex, respect,... all the topics we teach about in the week. On Friday we take the survey again and we can see how much they improved. A girl there my first week went from 2/16 to 14/16! All the kids improve and grow so much! Not only pure knowledge, but also their English, their confidence,...
The animal part was amazing as well! My first night I hardly slept because of all the noises; owls, ostrich, dogs, donkey, squirrels,... But I got used to it so quick and now it's weird to be back home and to hear cars and plains at night! Every day you do stabling twice a day; preparing food, cleaning out the cages, giving clean water,... There was also an orphaned baby nyala we had to take care of while I was there which was such an amazing experience! It's also good to know that all the animals at Daktari are there for a reason! That was something we really tried to teach the kids as well; protecting the animals doesn't mean putting them into cages if they can live in the wild!
On Friday afternoon and in the weekends you have free time and there are lots of trips and excursions to take! Me and another volunteer Beccy, went to the Blyde River Canyon with Gregg. Not very cheap but definitely cheaper than a tour with a company, and Gregg knows so much about the area, the animals, the history! We also went and did a homestay in the Oaks village to really get immersed in the culture! I was also very lucky and joined the students of the week (each week the volunteers choose a student of the week; someone who improved the most and has shown the most interest. They win a free game drive) for their game drive to Kruger! We saw so many animals and all the Big 5 except for a leopard!
Last but not least, the people there, staff and long-terms and Michele and Ian are so wonderful! They have been so sweet!
I would highly recommend this project, you'll have the time of your life!
An incredible two weeks!
Submitted by Sophie Boulter - Birmingham United Kingdom | August 29, 2016
First of all, I want to say a massive thank you to everyone at Daktari for an incredible two weeks which I will never forget! As a primary school teacher, I wanted to find a productive way to spend my summer holidays, and Daktari Bush School seemed like the perfect way to spend a couple of weeks; teaching local children and working with animals.
I was a little nervous when I first arrived as this was my first time travelling solo, but I soon realised I had no reason to be! Ian was there at the airport to greet myself and another volunteer, and he immediately made us feel welcome. He even stopped the car a few times on the way back to show us the giraffes and other animals! Arriving at Daktari, the warm welcome continued and it seemed like Ian and Michele had created a proper little Daktari family. After settling in, we were invited to join the other volunteers on an overnight safari, organised by Greg, which was such a fantastic experience and allowed me to bond with the other volunteers before the children arrived, and get a real taste of Africa.
At the start of both weeks, the children were so shy and quiet, but it was fantastic to see them growing in confidence and knowledge as the week progressed. By the time Thursday rolled around, we were all toasting marshmallows on the bonfire, with the children teaching us different songs, chants and dances.
The teaching programme at Daktari covered so many areas in such a short space of time, but it managed to do it in a way that kept the children engaged and motivated. As volunteers, we were encouraged to improve the lessons, so we worked on the existing knowledge hunt lesson to create a challenging scavenger hunt. The children got incredibly competitive running around the camp looking for the clues, and it was great to see them helping the other children in their team.
I was also given the opportunity to visit a local crèche as part of Daktari’s outreach programme and teach a lesson to the 3-4 year olds. It was a real eye opener, and such a contrast from my school back in England.
All in all, I have had such a fantastic experience at Daktari, and my only regret was that it didn’t last longer! It’s incredible what Ian and Michele have achieved at Daktari in 10 years, and it’s clear the impact it has on the children, animals, local communities, and the volunteers who visit. I cannot recommend it enough, and I hope very much to visit again in the not too distant future!
DAKTARI summer experience
Submitted by John Stanton - Columbia United States | August 22, 2016
My summer at DAKTARI primarily consisted of teaching local children and working with orphaned African wildlife. Working with local children proved to be the largest interaction while working at DAKTARI as students would come for five days a week and we would work with them from 7 A.M. to 8 P.M. each day. We would teach the students different subjects related to the environment and eco-tourism with some lessons touching on making South Africa a better place, safe sex, respect, and substance abuse. The schedule for working with the children was very similar to that of an educational summer camp, and also involved the children and volunteers with the care taking of animals kept within enclosures around DAKTARI's camp. Taking care of the animals consisted of cleaning their enclosures and feeding and watering them every day. At times, volunteers created projects to enhance the animal enclosures and would work on those projects when students were not at DAKTARI. There were also opportunities for volunteers to go on excursions during the weekends, where every Saturday volunteers could go into town or go on other excursions such as hot air balloon tours, trips to Kruger National Park and to different wildlife centers around Hoedspruit. I had a wonderful time and would recommend looking into DAKTARI as a possible volunteering opportunity. Be prepared to work, as it can be a demanding and tiring job at times. While I worked at DAKTARI some issues arose between volunteers and managerial staff where views did not align at times, and jokes could be off-color, but the long term volunteers were great to discuss these issues with. DAKTARI gave me a wonderful, life changing experience and really opened my eyes to the world outside of the United States. I could have never predicted what the experience was like and the African bush was truly breath-taking. I greatly enjoyed working with the local children, they were very fun to teach and to play games around the camp with. I enjoyed working with all of the other volunteers and I am so glad that I met all of the long term volunteers, all of which are wonderful people and great company around a dinner table. I hope DAKTARI continues to touch the lives of the locals and to make a difference in how the environment is perceived in Africa.
Submitted by Mary Ann - New York United States | April 05, 2016
I had just retired and decided to travel to South Africa to begin my new life of "giving back." When my husband and I (both in our early sixties) arrived at Daktari our first activity was after dinner -- the baby dassies needed their evening bottles. I fed the furry little creature, then she crawled onto my neck and went to sleep. Believe me -- it was more relaxing than any spa treatment I have ever experienced. So began our wonderful 2 week adventure at Daktari. We feed and cuddled the dassies every morning and evening, met the cheetah, held brand new baby mice, petted the jackal and laughed with Eeyore the donkey. We also worked hard stabling and feeding the animals. That was the animal orphanage part of Daktari. The Bush School part was just as rewarding. Who knew my husband could command such attention in the classroom - the kids really listened to him. We had the opportunity to talk about politeness, respect, the environment and the economic and humanitarian importance of protecting the animals in South Africa.
I loved every minute. Everything was wonderful -- from my first email inquiry until the day we left. We plan to go back. Animals and kids in the African bush. What could be better than that?
My Daktari Experience
Submitted by Jodie Clark - University of the West of Scotland | January 18, 2016
My four weeks I spent at Daktari is, and will always be one of the best experiences I have ever had! If you love animals and kids this is the perfect volunteer programme for you! From the moment I arrived at Daktari and met everyone I was made to feel so welcome within their family atmosphere and the location of the camp is beautiful, the fact you can be sitting chatting and a Bushbuck can come wandering up to talk to you is just an incredible. The accommodation was ideal and I was surprised at how comfortable it was despite the fact you are out in the middle of the bush. My first day of teaching the children I was so nervous but the kids are so great and enthusiastic that they make it easy and it was actually really fun. We had such a great time with them, especially on Thursday evening's when we had our bonfire where we sang and danced around the fire, everyone is in such great spirits! Each group of children we had at Daktari were great, along with those we got to meet in the local schools, we all had so many great laughs together. For me that loves animals, being surrounded by some of the most beautiful creatures, as well as looking after them, was literally a dream come true. I also had the opportunity to do a home stay at the local village with a great family where I was made so welcome, and to experience their culture and their daily lives is fantastic, I would highly recommend it! I have so many brilliant memories from my time in South Africa, and I met some of the most amazing people! I couldn't recommend Daktari enough it is one of the greatest places I have been lucky enough to have been to, which I would go back to in a heartbeat!