Hanging out with the kings of the jungle
When I was there, there were volunteers there from the UK, Norway, Holland, Germany, Australia, and the USA. Several of the volunteers had been before, which for me, is always a sign of a good project.
Your activities are scheduled from wake up to till sun down, with meal breaks and rests throughout the day. Some of the activities include amazing lion walks, which can occasionally break into a jog if the lions chase prey. Sometimes we were asked to shovel up elephant poo and bedding, and elephant herding. Also another really interested activity we helped out with was the boundary patrols. Our responsibilities were to look for holes in perimeter fences and then use branches or bits of wire to repair the fences. You also get the chance to learn some tracking skills, get a riding lesson, and go kayaking in your spare time. When I was there I also got the great experience to bottle feed 6 weeks old cubs and be on their first walks in the bush. It was such an amazing experience to see them waddling on their little legs and roar!
Practical things to make a note of before you travel out:
- Before I left for Zimbabwe I set up my phone to work under international roaming, unfortunately, as soon as I arrived at the airport my phone lost all known networks. It did not come back to life until I crossed the border and left Zimbabwe. It could have been a bit of a problem when my bus was late and I needed to inform someone. Luckily I had some US $1 bills, to which I asked a local to borrow their cell phone to use, and gave the a dollar as thanks. So I would highly reccommend always carrying around some cash, just in case you find yourself without any service.
- Don’t waste your time packing any red clothes that you would want to wear while volunteering. You can’t wear them as the lions may think you are their next meal!
- Bring a torch or a headlamp, the site gets pretty dark, so it is very handy to shed some light at night.
- You can access the internet by purchasing vouchers for every 30 minutes, which is pretty cheap. Do be aware though, the internet isn’t the fastest. But you are there to be with the lions and other animals and not to Facebook stalk, if you want to send an email or two, it is fine for that!
- Make sure you bring some lightweight gardening type gloves, maybe even two for safe measure. When you are working with outdoor work or food prep it is nice not to bring the smell back to your room.
This trip was way more than I could have ever expected, it was life changing, you get to take care of actual lions. How many people can say they have done that? I would go back in a heartbeat.