Safari in Africa through volunteering
And it was those experiences in Thailand that led me, when I went to Africa, to go on a kind of work holiday. Colchester Zoo were offering opportunities for work-holidays in projects they were affiliated with.
So we signed up, went over there and we met some incredible people. The people that run it, Abby and Neil, are phenomenal. They’re a married couple and they met on another project in Namibia. They manage these places together, and the progress they’ve made is incredible. Every morning, Alex would have a cup of tea ready for me on the veranda. I’d go out and watch the sunrise, and it was just the most humbling and beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced. We were also creating erosion defenses, and once we tried to save an escaped giraffe who had done a 180 over the fence and got himself on the wrong side!
My Africa travel experiences proved to me how mixing work with pleasure makes a more fulfilling travel experience and creates opportunities for local people that are often desperately needed.
The rangers were incredible. The local population are Zulu people, and the local area has a 65-70% unemployment rate, so jobs are hard to come by. Neil and Abby, who run the reserve, were trying to create not just a culture of having a job, especially because of the poaching issues that they have over there, but a culture of looking after your own environment.
I thought we would be a hindrance to the rangers because they’ve got to patrol and make sure that all the animals are safe, and that the fences are upheld and all the rest of it. We were talking to them, and they were saying how, no, we make their job possible because they have interns come over and pay: it’s a working holiday, so you pay to be there and it’s a charity, so you’re contributing to the costs. They had four rangers, now they’ve got eight, and they’re hoping to expand and get more and more and more, because of the opportunities this project is creating.
I got amazing things out of that African trip. We did do a one-day safari in a local game reserve while we were there, but it made me really glad that we had decided to work instead of just do that. We saw lions and other animals, but it was just like a checklist.
For me, it was amazing waking up and walking outside and, having built the watering hole the week before, having a giraffe come and drink from it, or going out at night time onto the veranda and shining the big flashlight with the red light on so it doesn’t scare the animals, and seeing hundreds of pairs of eyes, because the impala have decided to come down for the night.
So my travel experiences have started combining holidays with an element of development work, and it’s a symbiotic relationship.
My travel experiences have started combining holidays with an element of development work, and it’s a symbiotic relationship.
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