18 Apr David Hale – Canada
I can’t say enough good things about Askari. I spent three months there, from January to April 2018 and had a fantastic experience. As someone that is passionate about ecology and restoration, this was the perfect volunteering experience for me. The program focuses on the broader ecosystem and the Pidwa/ Askari team know that to sustain the characteristic mega-fauna you must focus on soils and vegetation, as well as wildlife management.
As a volunteer be prepared to work hard, as volunteers here truly play a huge role in ensuring that this restored ecosystem is functioning as it should. You can be involved in anything from building fences, to eliminating invasive plant species, to the translocation of wildlife. The work is incredibly satisfying as you can see the results and the positive impact that they have on the ecosystem as a whole. Equally satisfying is the fact that you never know what kind of amazing wildlife you may see at any moment. You could be on the way to a project and end up stopped to watch a pride of lions for hours.
The staff are all amazing. Katie is a legend and you will learn so much from her and Robbie (and the rest of the staff -Gen, Phil, Andrew, etc.). Their work ethic and passion for what they do is contagious and they are all genuinely good, fun people. It was an absolute pleasure to get the chance to work with them for 3 months.
I’ll also mention that, in terms of accommodation, I was blown away at the cleanliness and the size of the volunteer house. The staff around the house are very friendly and do a great job keeping the house and the grounds tidy. The volleyball court and swimming pool are huge bonuses. The best part is that the accommodations are in the middle of the bush. You often have visitors right outside the main gate and we regularly fell asleep and woke up to the sound of lions.
If you are looking to volunteer in conservation/restoration in South Africa, I can’t imagine that there is a better place to do it than Askari. I honestly can’t recommend it highly enough and I hope to be back soon.