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Wildlife Conservation with IVHQ in Victoria Falls
International Volunteer HQ collage photos of participants International Volunteer HQ collage photos of participants

Wildlife Conservation with IVHQ in Victoria Falls

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Live in Paradise!

The Nakavango Conservation Programme in Zimbabwe is a beautiful piece of paradise. And there's not better way to experience it than to live and work on site for a few weeks! Where else would you find yourself camping under the stars surrounded by Africa's Big 5?!

This programme is for you if:

1) You want to experience the African wilderness
You'll get to take game drives through the reserve (almost) every day, and are sure to see to a variety of African wildlife such as buffalo, elephants, giraffe, black rhino, and kudu (and *maybe* a lion or leopard if you're lucky). You'll also get to spend one night a week camping on the reserve, and nothing says 'wilderness' like cooking over a fire and sleeping under the stars (or peeing in the bush!)
Notice, I said *wildlife*! Nakavango is not a zoo. You are never guaranteed to see an animal, and you will not pet them. This is an authentic wilderness experience.

2) You enjoy a work/life balance
You can expect to put in some sweat equity wielding a shovel or hoe (duties include clearing roads, removing alien vegetation, working in the garden, and watering trees in the orchard), but that will take up just a few hours a day. The rest of your week days will be spent getting to know the other volunteers while you eat, relax, play games, and enjoy the pool. On the weekends you will have more free time to go into town and enjoy Victoria Falls, including local restaurants (I recommend the Three Monkeys), souvenir shopping, and all the adrenalin tourism you could ask for (white water rafting and the gorge swing are a must)!

3) You want to make friends
The volunteers at Nakavango include individuals of all ages and nationalities. Have an open mind and invest in developing relationships in order to make the most of your time at Nakavango. Remember, you'll be eating, working, driving, talking, and exploring with these people!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

A beautiful somewhere in the middle of nowhere

3 weeks at Nakavango did not feel like enough, but when I first arrived I was terrified and they actually felt like an eternity stretching in front of me. It was my first time travelling alone, I didn't know what to expect and I didn't know if the people I was going to live and work with for the next weeks were going to be nice. Or even like me at all. I was terrified and, as it turned out, I was completely wrong in being so. I had the best time of my life, met some incredible people and had the most amazing experience.
During the week we would work at the reserve, fixing roads or making new ones, tracking animals both by car and on foot, watering trees, and going on game drives. However, Wednesday mornings were special. Every Wednesday we would go to the local school and help them; and even though the children were on school holidays and had no reason to be there they would still show up just because they knew we would be there!
We had the weekends to ourselves. There are so many activities available for every kind of traveller. From horse riding safaris, to crocodile diving and bungee jumping. I specially recommend doing Devil's pool - nothing compares with swimming at the very edge of the falls, - and if your budget allows it, Microlight in Zambia is a must do, the view form up there is breathtaking. Of course we can't forget the falls themselves, although it feels needless to say how beautiful they are.
About the accommodation and centre in general there isn't much to say more than it exceeded all my expectations. The food was delicious, the staff incredibly nice, the showers were really good and the beds really comfy. You seriously couldn't ask for a better place to go to.
Time goes by so quickly when you are enjoying yourself. Nakavango will always have a special place in my heart.

PS: for those of you going in winter... TAKE LAYERS. As many as you can. It actually does get extremely cold at night and morning drives become a nightmare with hellish wind. You have been warned!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Development

IVHQ provided me with a learning experience; a breath of fresh air; a growth. As it was my first time ever to travel alone, It was exactly what I needed in terms of stepping outside of my comfort zone. In fact, I was so worried about the idea that because i'm alone, I may therefore feel alone. No, I was never lonely. It was a remarkable opportunity to learn about the things that intrigued me: wildlife, nature, the circle of life and most importantly myself. It was an opportunity to get outside of the tiny feeling you encounter while wandering around the enormous social media world that to easily consumes my everyday life. It was a constant change in perspective on everything I'd ever thought to be true. Most importantly, it was a glimpse at what true friends are, what home is to me and a step forward in understanding who I am and who I'd like to one day be. We all had each others back- no matter who it was or how recently we'd met- we were family. Above all things , Victoria Falls was an endless feeling of being present as there were no distractions but that of joy. Visiting the falls Herself was a shattering experience to live, standing in front of Her beauty (or in my case, hanging from the edge at Devils Pool.) The staff was polite, and if there was an unpleasant moment with any of them by what they said or anything not equipped to my normal understanding of people, I was able to engage in an open mind. It's a different country with people who've lived here, in no culture but their own, their whole lives! Is that not what travelling should be about, embracing new ways of life? The staff, accommodation and adventures were endless amounts of great moments/memories for me. It's one of those places that you can't shut up about once you're back "home."

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    9

No words can describe <3

I spent 3 weeks at IVHQ's local organization in Vicfalls, Nakavango Conservation Programme, assisting with their ongoing wildlife conservation projects like game count/monitoring, bird/rhino/elephant ID, alien vegetation removal, soil erosion controls, tree protection, composting & gardening in the private game reserve, which also houses our accommodation - it was safe, clean and staff was all-around helpful and friendly. Couldn't ask for more! Apart from the manual work, we were also given a lovely tour of the Victoria Falls, hiking the Zambezi gorge, and talks about Vultures, Birds identification, and the history of the private game reserve. Thursdays are camp nights out in the reserve, definitely a thrilling experience surviving the night while wild animals are lurking about! Our guides were the BEST, without a doubt. We also visited Jabulani School every Tues to spend time with the students - that was my favourite part for sure. Weekends are free so there's plenty of time for adventure sports and visits to neighboring national parks. The hardest part was saying goodbye to all my lovely new friends - but I'll definitely be back very soon!

  • International Volunteer HQ responded to this review September 30, 2014 at 5:35 PM

    Hi Jingying, Thank you for sharing such a detailed first hand account of your experience volunteering with IVHQ in Victoria Falls. We can’t wait to have you back!!