You will first need to fly to Johannesburg’s OR Tambo international airport. We then ask you to make your way to our local town called HOEDSPRUIT in the Limpopo province, an hour away from Askari.
The journey can be made by either taking an internal flight from Johannesburg or a shuttle by road using a private transfer company. A discount is available for all Askari volunteers using the road transfer. Volunteers joining the programme should arrive in Hoedspruit on the start date (Monday) of their project. South African Airways operate the domestic flight to Hoedspruit which takes just over an hour.
The road transfer takes approximately 6 hours and leaves OR Tambo airport before 7am. Therefore if your flight does not arrive early enough you will need to spend the Sunday night near the airport and the shuttle will collect you from your accommodation first thing Monday morning. Comprehensive information will be provided during the booking process to assist you with internal flight timings or details of the company to contact for the shuttle transfer.
Most nationalities are granted a free 90 day tourist visa on arrival in Johannesburg. Please make sure you check the current requirements for the passport you hold with South African Home Affairs.
South Africa is 2 hours ahead of GMT.
The currency of South Africa is the Rand (ZAR). A combination of cash in local rand and a DEBIT card should cover all your needs. Credit cards are accepted in shops and restaurants but NOT at the ATM to draw cash. Be sure to notify your bank that you will be travelling abroad and using your card to avoid it being flagged and blocked. We do not recommend you to bring Travellers cheques or foreign currency, changing these is a lengthy and complicated process. There is a small curio shop at the Askari house where you can buy souvenirs, branded clothing and bush reference books. You will also have the opportunity to join town trip once a week where you can shop and we will have a weekly lunch at a local restaurant. You may also like to budget for local sightseeing or tours during your time off.
Your laundry will be done for you twice a week. If possible bring clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty; a lot of trees have thorns which can rip clothing and work may involve painting etc so don’t bring your best gear!
Note: You will be given a complimentary t-shirt, day pack and baseball cap on arrival. Askari fleeces are available to buy.
The seasons in South Africa are opposite to those of the northern hemisphere. Summer is from October to April with temperatures peaking in December, January and February. But summer is also our rainy season and we get some BIG rains so remember your waterproofs. Winter is from May to September and is generally the dry season. We still recommend you to bring your waterproofs as it can rain occasionally in winter as well; the bush can be unpredictable. Do not underestimate how cold Africa can be! Mornings and evenings can be extremely cold (as low as 2°c) and remember you will be on an open game viewer. For winter please bring a coat and plenty of warm layers, hat, gloves and scarf. Daytime winter temperatures are still extremely warm so t shirts, shorts and sun protection are still required.
There is a weather station on the reserve and fairly reliable forecasts can be found here
Phone: +27 (0)71 400 8564
Emergency: +27 (0)71 400 8564
Askari, Pidwa Wilderness,
PO Box 71,
Limpopo, South Africa,
(Mail takes around 3 weeks to be delivered to/from our post box)
Unfortunately cell phone signal is poor but there are some spots where you can send and receive an SMS or attempt to make a call. There is good coverage in town when you visit during the weekly town trip. If you would like to purchase a local sim card, ensure your phone is unblocked for use abroad or with a different network. You MUST then buy your sim card at Johannesburg airport and not wait until you reach our local town. At the airport it is easy and you simply show your passport, in our local town you require proof of address paperwork which you will not have. The network provider ‘MTN’ has the best coverage here on the reserve. Alternatively you can use a tri-band phone with an international roaming sim to stay in touch.
Internet access is available at the house and is included in your stay; Skype facilities are available too. Please bear in mind that summer storms can damage our tower which may put it out of action for a number of days. High speed internet cafes are also available in town.
During your time volunteering, Askari will provide transport to:
Should you wish to do some local sightseeing this can be done on a Saturday afternoon or Sunday when all volunteers have time off. Many volunteers join together to hire a car or use a local tour company. The 2 most popular trips are a visit to the ‘Kruger National Park’ or down the Panorama route of the ‘Blyde River Canyon’. For car hire you must be over 21 with a valid licence and credit card in your name. If using the local tour company they will pick you up from Askari, drive and guide you for your days activity and return you home later on. Costs for weekend trips must be covered by you; some options for activities include…..
Should you wish to stay at Askari over the weekend, all food will be provided. No activities are organised but you can use your time to relax, play sports, use the pool etc.
Here at Askari we pride ourselves on not just chasing the ‘Big 5’ but enjoying every aspect of what the African bush has to offer. While we hope to show you lions and elephants there is so much more to enjoy as well; so prepare to be introduced to a whole new world as we discover the mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects that call Pidwa home. We boast 50 species on our mammal list including the weird and wonderful nocturnal species and more than 200 species of bird.