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Volunteer Reviews

Name: Walter Lenger
Country: Austria
Date: October 2015

I'm 74 years old and have been to Africa many times. I have seen many beautiful places and was quite sure nothing could top my experiences until I joined LEO Africa's Volunteer Programme.

From that time on I was hooked for life on Africa. Far from overcrowded tourist locations you experience wildlife and comradeship at its best. You'll always hunger for the bush, for the lions rasping roar and long to see the elephants. LEO Africa is waiting, come!

Many thanks to Koos, Sabrina and their staff for their support and the chance to be part of a team dedicated to protect wildlife and fauna.

Name: Mike Canning
Country: England
Date: April, 2016

When you have passionate and knowledgable people overseeing the well-being of so many of our world's endangered species it is not surprising that the experience one can share at LEO Africa is beyond all expectations. Whether you are a student looking for a challenge during a gap year or, like me, someone in their twilight years who still feels there are things in life to both do and see then this opportunity is one that anyone should grasp with both hands if they can. And I can assure you when you've done your first visit you will start planning your return.

Name: Alessandra Beltrame
Country: Italy
Date: November 2015

It was such an amazing experience! It was wonderful to watch lions, rhinos, giraffes, elephants and many other animals living free in a huge private reserve, a wildlife sanctuary where we were the "caged ones" (had to live in the camp and follow strict rules to observe the game) and the animals were protected yet totally free to wander around. We monitored the pride of lions and the endangered rhinos everyday, working with skilled and passionate guides: Koos Niemann, Sabrina Colombo and Dylan Lupton. The activities (game drives, walks, quad rides, exursions to Kruger Park and Panorama Route) were intese and fullfilling. The camp was big, well organized and I enjoyed a warm hospitality. Thanks to everybody for two wonderful weeks in beautiful surroundings with the company of great volunteers!

Name: Rachael
Country: Northern Ireland
Date: Feburary 2015

My first 4 weeks at Leo have been incomparable to anything else I have done in my life. I just graduated university and wanted an experience of a lifetime, while also being able to cement my data skills and my interests in African wildlife. Seeing animals every day, spending time with great volunteers and some of the funniest, and, nicest staff. Walking into lions sleeping in riverbeds, being charged by two elephants, snake catching in the house, following tracks and being so close to a lion roar that you can feel it in your bones have been just a few of my many highlights. I never expected a volunteer project to change my life, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't! I'm so happy every day even with the 5.00am starts. My favourite sighting has to be just recently when we saw Acacia and Mbhurri by themselves as the sun set Matumi, Mfuti and Dela appeared and the reunion was incredible to watch. Lion hugs and head butting and gentle roaring made the evening incredible.

Name: Stephen
Country: Sweden
Date: November 2014

Getting up at 5.00am daily quickly just becomes a routine. Morning game drives can be cool at first but it normally warms up quickly. You usually return after dusk from the afternoon drive-eat and go to bed exhausted before the electricity cuts off at 10.00pm! There is great variety of what you see and experience from day to day . Lions, Rhinos, Elephants and Leopards are sighted most days. Inevitably there will be times when you do not see much. Most of the reserve is fairly close bush with few open panoramas. Volunteers have daily assigned duties-there is a sensible amount of structure and sound organisation for an African volunteer project. Overall however the atmosphere is quite relaxed. Tracking collared animals with telemetry (lions, leopard and elephants) brings a feeling of certainty-but in practice you will still find your targets can still be highly elusive or evasive! Rhino monitoring on the quad bike can be an unpredictable but always a fascinating day out. You can spend well over eight hours a day on an open 4wd if you do both morning and evening game drive. Not everyone finds climbing in and out of jeeps that easy! Most drives have breaks -for Phuza! (tea/coffee or a smoke etc !) The household duties for volunteers are light and not normally onerous. Evening meals are normally cooked by the staff. The Volunteers are mixed both in terms of ages (20- 68 when I was there) and nationality. English is still the main language used. The atmosphere is quite relaxed and with only about 12 volunteers most mix together really well. Accommodation is very clean if rather basic but absolutely fine for this sort of project. You are living in the bush in a remote location. Sleeping is mainly in bunks in rooms for four or so. Electricity is basically solar powered -so provided you can find a spare power socket you can charge phones. The wi fi works well once you find the right spot! The food is simple and wholesome -lots of pasta. Most volunteers do buy back up supplies from Phalaborwa on the shopping trips. Rusks highly recommended (as eaten by real Afrikaners!) Each LEO drive you will go on will be with a Leo FGASA qualified guide of varying experience. Each one has a different approach and interest-providing a really good variety and opportunities to focus not just on wildlife but on plants trees insects or birds too! You will routinely stop on the game drives to clear trees off the road (elephants routinely push them over), and build "Bolsters" to channel away water in the raining season. You have to be prepared for some bursts of hard labour-so do bring gardening gloves. You also keep a very detailed log of things observed during the drive. On some days you may get the chance to participate in activities needed for the Reserve management -these can be really interesting and all day activities. You may also have to help dig up and remove alien plant species. I have developed a far better understanding and insight of the bush generally and some of the issues related to maintaining a sustainable wild animal population in a wildlife reserve-and a far better insight to the importance of in managing numbers of species. The opportunity to see Lions elephants, rhinos and leopards at really close quarters frequently was a unique experience-particularly when on foot!. Overall -a wonderful experience! I want to go back! Koos, Sabrina and the rest of the staff work hard to make the project both successful and enjoyable for volunteers. A wonderful experience!