The Ultimate Wildlife Conservation Project: South Africa

From £1,299.99
Deposit: 10%

Here you will get the opportunity to preserve wildlife and enjoy living on a 240,000-acre Big-5 and Malaria Free private game reserve in South Africa’s Kalahari Desert.

Start: O.R Tambo International Airport

Finish: O.R Tambo International Airport

Here you will get the opportunity to preserve wildlife and enjoy living on a 240,000-acre Big-5 and Malaria Free private game reserve in South Africa’s Kalahari Desert. The project offers a true perspective of the problems facing African Wildlife and allows guests to give something back to the continent’s conservation efforts.

Break free from tourists and time limits as you follow animals in their natural habitat in this once in a lifetime conservation experience!

With habitat loss being the biggest threat facing Africa's wildlife today, numerous wildlife species face mass extinction! Urbanisation, agriculture, mining, and other human activities have plagued local wildlife habitats for decades and many animals are simply unable to adapt to such radical environmental changes fast enough. What's more, the ensuing decline in suitable habitats has led to widespread inbreeding throughout local wildlife populations. The resulting lack of genetic variation is a significant contributing factor to the demise of these animals. Growing human settlements continue to encroach on wilderness areas, and this is leading to a dramatic increase in human/wildlife conflicts.

As such, when multiple farms were purchased in the Eastern Kalahari Bushveld of South Africa and combined to form a large 240,000-acre reserve with the objective to return this part of the Kalahari Desert to its former glory by creating one massive free-roaming ecosystem...this was seen as a HUGE WIN!

Now home to the Big 5 (Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino and Buffalo), Wild Dogs (Painted Wolf) and much more, you will get the chance to help return this land into former glory. This adventure and eco-safari project is designed to contribute to the reserve’s ecological needs by assisting with game counts, wildlife research, vegetation surveys, and so much more! Together, these are the tools needed to ensure a balanced ecosystem is maintained, and that the ultimate goal of restoring the Kalahari to its natural state is achieved. 

GoKo travels is extremely proud to be working with the reserve’s exclusive partner in offering such conservation experiences.

Itinerary

Day 1

The Day to Day (No Set Itinerary)

Due to the changing ecosystems, we do NOT work on a set itinerary but rather contribute ecologically based on the day-to-day events.

During your time on the reserve, you will get the chance to be involved with game counts, wildlife research, vegetation surveys, and so much more!

Additionally, you will also:

  1. Learn from qualified and experienced personnel about the reserve’s ecology, biology and interesting animal behaviours, as well as the importance of habitat restoration and nature conservation for future generations.

  2. Learn about the ongoing rhino poaching crisis from experts in the anti-poaching field, the methods that are currently employed to combat poaching, and the importance of saving the species.

  3. Learn how to track animals with radio antenna and GPS as well as conventional methods like spoor, signs of movements, and even the birds that can indicate the presence of a specific animal

  4. Understand the role that certain species have on the ecosystem and the impact that population decline/growth has on the environment.

  5. Learn about the various plants, amphibians, reptiles and bird species that occur in the reserve

  6. Discover the importance of genetic diversity in sustaining healthy wildlife populations

  7. Learn about the hunting behaviour of predators and understand how this differs between the various species

  8. Understand the significance of alien invasive species and the effects these plants have on the ecosystem

  9. Understand the importance of eco-tourism and the role it can play in conservation

  10. Learn about the challenges these animals face when sharing the Kalahari’s limited resources and so much more!

Please see Essential Tour Information for a more detailed breakdown

Accommodation

Conservation Camp:

Guests are accommodated in a tented lodge that offers incredible game viewing and sensational star-gazing opportunities to all who visit! There are four two-sleeper tents each with an en-suite bathroom (rooms are shared between guests). There is a kitchen and dining tent, a shaded outdoor section for guests to relax, and a boma for outdoor dining. There is electricity and hot water at the lodge, and safe drinking water is available. Three home-cooked meals are supplied daily.

Included

  • All Accommodation
  • 8 Breakfast, 7 Lunch, 8 Dinner (plus snacks) 
  • Airport Transfers (7hours each way)
  • Vehicle on reserve
  • All guided activities including game counts, wildlife research, vegetation surveys, and so much more!

Excluded

  • Flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visas
  • Vaccinations
  • Alcohol and soft drinks

Essential Information

IMPORTANT TRIP INFO:

The biggest threat facing Africa’s wildlife today is habitat loss!

Throughout Africa, you can see first hand how urbanisation, agriculture, mining, and other human activities have plagued local wildlife habitats for decades. As a result, numerous wildlife species face extinction. Many animals are simply unable to adapt to such radical environmental changes fast enough, and the ensuing decline in suitable habitats has led to widespread inbreeding throughout local wildlife populations. The resulting lack of genetic variation is a significant contributing factor to the demise of these animals. Growing human settlements continue to encroach on wilderness areas, and this is leading to a dramatic increase in human/wildlife conflicts.

Any land given back to nature should always be viewed as a significant win for conservation efforts!

When multiple farms were purchased in the Eastern Kalahari Bushveld of South Africa and combined to form a large 240 000-acre reserve with the objective to return this part of the Kalahari Desert to its former glory by creating one massive free-roaming ecosystem.

This meant that all previous signs and impact of farming activities left behind by the former occupants (cattle farmers and even canned lion hunters!) needed to be removed, the length of the perimeter (237km) had to be fenced with electrified fencing, and animal species that occurred naturally in this part of the Kalahari in the past were reintroduced. This would later become the largest introduction of wildlife ever recorded in South Africa!

Home to the Big 5 (Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino and Buffalo), the reserve currently accommodates a significant part of South Africa’s Wild Dog (Painted Wolf) population and a breeding ground for two vulture species! Furthermore, the reserve has given refuge to a group of elephants formerly used for “elephant rides” on a different reserve. These elephants could become wild elephants again and have since thrived with two “born free” calves already amongst the herd!

As the reserve is situated in one of the most remote parts of the country, it offers guests some of the most incredible star-gazing opportunities imaginable due to the absence of light pollution from nearby cities and towns. In fact, the area was chosen by a group of astronomers as their ideal location to study stars. Beyond their large and highly specialised anti-poaching team, the reserve is run by a small team of professionals. The reserve simply does not have the necessary hands required to conduct their much-needed fieldwork. This adventure and eco-safari project is designed to contribute to the reserve’s ecological needs by assisting with game counts, wildlife research, vegetation surveys, and so much more! Together, these are the tools needed to ensure a balanced ecosystem is maintained, and that the ultimate goal of restoring the Kalahari to its natural state is achieved. 

Projects While on the Reserve:

1. Wildlife Research - Activities

Based on the ecological needs of the reserve, we are participating in continuous monitoring of the population dynamics and predator/prey relations of African Wild Dogs and Lions. From time to time it might also include other wildlife including (but not limited to); Cheetah, Leopard, Brown and Spotted Hyena, Elephant, Rhino, Vultures, and Buffalo. *This may require following predators late at night when they are most active.

2. Nocturnal Species

The reserve is home to some incredible nocturnal species such as; Aardvark, Aardwolf, Bat-Eared and Cape Foxes, Brown and Spotted Hyenas, Caracals, Genets, Honey Badgers, Leopard, and Porcupines. Current nocturnal monitoring focuses on lions and camera traps, but it is our goal to include additional species in our monitoring project soon. It is also our goal to begin researching the reserve’s Pangolin population due to the current global pangolin poaching crisis.

3. Camera Traps

Placing and monitoring camera traps to conduct scientific research, nocturnal monitoring, and animal identification (e.g. a wild dog’s unique coat or a leopard’s unique pattern). Due to the sheer size of this magnificent reserve, placing and/or collecting these camera traps from different parts of the reserve, before even analysing the data, is no small task! These camera trap sites have been carefully selected, and camera trap sites can be located hours apart.

4. Game Counts

Conduct regular game surveys to monitor the distribution and sex and age ratios in all the reserve’s wildlife populations. Accurate game surveys are one of the most important tools for reserve management as changes in wildlife populations or sex ratios can be an early indication of specific ecological problems (e.g. too many/few predators). Management can isolate different variables and use these surveys to correctly identify the habitat that different species choose, and keep up to speed with changes happening in wildlife populations as these changes occur.

5. Vegetation Surveys

The reserve’s ecologist has set a programme in motion to monitor changes in fauna and flora. Over sixty randomly selected sites have been identified, and vegetation surveys are used to identify gradual and/or sudden changes in vegetation across the reserve, recognise changes in species composition, the health of the grass layer, bush encroachment and whether the reserve is overstocked. This data is captured and analysed and used to determine the impact that environmental factors, including herbivores, are having on the vegetation of the reserve.

6. Reserve Work

Bush encroachment is a problem throughout African savannas. Not only does it impact on the habitats available to animals, it also impacts the infrastructure that we need to use in conservation areas. As this is a large reserve that is not open to the general public, many of the roads are hardly used. In fact, you’re unlikely to encounter another vehicle during your entire stay at the reserve! This also means that many of these roads get overgrown with encroaching bush, and trimming of bushes on the road verges provides access to the road across the reserve. Other reserve work may include removing invasive plant species, and removal of old fencing wires from left over from earlier farming days that may entangle animals

7. Anti-Poaching

Due to the ongoing poaching crisis plaguing South Africa, we offer guests the chance to help the anti-poaching team for a day! You will assist experienced rangers with their daily patrols to identify signs of poaching and collect valuable data. Keeping eyes on a vulnerable animal offers it the best form of protection. Record activities of animals at water points and other key areas as such data is used to identify poaching “hotspots” and potential vulnerabilities. This data ensures that rangers are deployed in the right areas both day and night. These activities play a huge part in keeping animals safe and your eyes and ears do make a difference!

Wildlife Research Education:

Learn from qualified and experienced personnel about the reserve’s ecology, biology and interesting animal behaviours, as well as the importance of habitat restoration and nature conservation for future generations. Learn about the ongoing rhino poaching crisis from experts in the anti-poaching field, the methods that are currently employed to combat poaching, and the importance of saving the species Learn how to track animals with radio antenna and GPS as well as conventional methods like spoor, signs of movements, and even the birds that can indicate the presence of a specific animal Understand the role that certain species have on the ecosystem and the impact that population decline/growth has on the environment Learn about the various plants, amphibians, reptiles and bird species that occur in the reserve Discover the importance of genetic diversity in sustaining healthy wildlife populations Learn about the hunting behaviour of predators and understand how this differs between the various species Understand the significance of alien invasive species and the effects these plants have on the ecosystem Understand the importance of eco-tourism and the role it can play in conservation Learn about the challenges these animals face when sharing the Kalahari’s limited resources and so much more!

Trip Essentails:

  • Malaria-free
  • Small groups and in one of the most remote and isolated parts of the country
  • Not open to the public
  • No other vehicles to share sightings with
  • Full traversing rights (including off-road) and no TIME LIMITS!
  • Eastern Kalahari Bushveld on the SA/Botswana border
  • Some of the most remarkable stargazing and wildlife photographic opportunities in the world!
  • Home to significant African Wild Dog, Lion, Black Rhino and Cheetah populations
  • Typical Kalahari species (Aardwolf, Aardvark, Pangolin, etc.)

Visa:

Visas are not issued at South African ports of entry, and airline officials are obliged to insist on visas before allowing passengers to board. If you arrive without a visa, immigration officials are obliged to put you onto a flight back to your home country.

If you are a passport holder of the following countries/areas you do not need a visa for stays of LESS than 90 days:

  • African Union / Unity Laissez Passes, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Spain, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela, United States of America, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica

If you are not a passport holder of the above countries, you may not need a visa for stays of LESS than 30 days. Please visit this link for more: information: http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/applying-for-sa-visa

Visa costs - The visa fee is different for every nationality, so please check this with your agent or closest embassy.

Travel Insurance:

Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate in any of our trips. When travelling on a group trip, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance has been sighted by your Tour leader/ local representative, who will take note of your insurance details and emergency contact number. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability of luggage, cancellation, curtailment and loss and personal effects, alongside covid-19 cover. If you have credit card insurance we require proof of purchase of the trip (a receipt of credit card statement) with a credit card in your name. Contact your bank for details of their participating insurer, the level of coverage and emergency contact telephone number.

Covid-19:

Please click here to learn more about what we do to keep you safe while on a GoKo run tour.

For more up to date information regarding the current travel restrictions within South Africa, please click here

Addtionally, you can email: info@gokotravels.com and a GoKo Travel Manager will get back to you as soon possible with all the relevant information.

Travel With Confidence:

Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, the safety and wellbeing of all of our travellers, leaders, suppliers and staff remains our top priority. Not only have we updated our booking policies so you can flexibly amend booking arrangements before departure and get the most out of your holidays while away, we have also introduced new measures and safety guidelines so you can travel with GoKo Travels safely and securely.

What does this new booking policy mean for me?:

Fully Flexible bookings for peace of mind - We understand that sometimes plans change. That’s why GoKo Travels have updated our booking policies, so you now have full flexibility to change your travel plans if needed.

Our flexible booking policy includes:

(a) Free date changes up to 45days prior to departure - with no interest or added fees

(b) Full refund giving if you have to cancel the trip due to any COVID-19 related issues or international restrictions.

(c) You can now lock in your trip with a small refundable deposit and then pay the rest in instalments whenever you like, with no interest or fees.

Booking Terms:

Please note: This trip must receive a minimum of three reservations forty-five days prior to the departure date. In the unlikely event that we do not receive three or more bookings for each departure, you will have two options:

  • You will be able to change dates at no additional cost to you (flexibility up to 3 years

  • Full refund will be given.

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Join a Group Tailor a Tour
Group Tours

Choose Your Preferred Tour Date

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Create the unique tour you've always dreamed of. A personal travel consultant will contact you directly to help you every step of the way.

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Book with Confidence

  • Full Flexibility

    Free date changes and cancellations up to 45 days before departure on the majority of our holidays.

  • Your Money is Safe

    Full financial Protection on all of our bookings so you can travel with piece of mind.

  • COVID-19 Commitment

    Full refund given if you have to cancel the trip due to any COVID-19 related issues or international restrictions.

  • Travelling Safely

    When you travel with us you can be confident that all of our holidays meet COVID-19 safety regulations.

Giving Back

As part of our commitment to preserving planet earth, we donate 3% of our profits to GoKo Travel's registered non-for-profit, "The GoKo Earth Preservation".

The GoKo Earth Preservation has been set up to protect and preserve the natural habitats of our planet and to conserve and enhance the biodiversity of threatened environments and endangered species around the globe. This is achieved through rewilding, reforestation and marine conservation projects, alongside local community support.

Rainforest canopy viewed from above with river in the centre

Securing A Rainforest Reserve

Support the purchase of our very own GoKo Rainforest reserve - preserving biodiversity and protecting endangered species in the world's most important habitat.

Giant sea turtle swimming under water

Assisting Marine Conservation

With your help, we can buy boats to support marine conservation; securing the future for our fragile oceans and the wonderful beings that inhabit them.

Jaguar big cat looking at the camera

Creating New National Parks

By helping with the creation of new parks, we can support local economies, empower native communities and put healthy landscapes into permanent protection.

Carbon Balanced as Standard

Although all of our GoKo holidays promise to warm your hearts, we don’t want it to contribute to warming the planet.

For every trip booked with us, we set up a 3-step carbon offset scheme to calculate and neutralise your holiday footprint, allowing you to travel conscious free, for no added cost. This covers every step of the journey where you travel with us, from international flights to hotel heating, transport, food and more.

The GoKo Carbon Balanced scheme does not focus on just planting trees, but rather the purchasing, persevering and protecting standing forests from deforestation and degradation - helping revive forests back to full health and avoiding the release of stored carbon. This also enables the regeneration of degraded habitats, which gradually re-absorb atmospheric CO2.

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