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.
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 at http://www.yr.no/place/South_Africa/Limpopo/Pidwa/
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 can be used for a small fee; 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.
Every day means new tasks, and you will get to participate in and contribute to many of the various challenges and tasks that managing a game reserve is.
Plus, I now have the best stories to tell in the pub about holding scorpions, camping next to rhinos, hearing a wild lion roar, watching cheetahs hunt.
It’s fantastic because we are not only working but enjoying the wildlife of the place and the staff are always able to answer every question and explain you the features of the animals.
I especially liked the focus on creating a wilderness area, as large as possible, to house endangered animals while developing the native habitats those animals need, rather than creating a maximally stocked reserve built for taking tourists on safari.
Well where to start - every aspect of my two week trip on the Askari Wilderness Conservation project was amazing. If you’re looking for a volunteer project with a huge variety of activities, wildlife everywhere, great food, fantastic homely accommodation, no two days the same, great value, friendly and knowledgeable staff, then Askari is for you.
My time at Askari was amazing! I really want to come back and stay longer. The surroundings are beautiful and you really feel like you are doing something useful.
I have been on a few volunteer projects around the world but especially in Africa and I can honestly say Askari is by far the best value and the most amazing project. I highly recommend it anyone and think you are crackers if you don’t consider spend some time there.
This month has been one of the best of my life! I feel like I now have a greater understanding of the ecological balance of life out here.
You leave Askari knowing that the time you spent as a volunteer did make a difference to the running of this benchmark reserve. The experience will change your life and leave you wanting to return again and again.
It isn’t one of those volunteer programs where the project is running and the volunteers are extras. Here the volunteers are vital for the functioning of the program. We were always doing something important and were always aware of the rationale behind every activity.
Unforgettable! Unmissable! Sensational!
The closeness to the animals you get to experience here teaches you an even greater respect for them and their habitat. Definitely an experience I will remember with great joy for the rest of my life.
My four weeks at Askari have been at times exhausting, at other times breathtaking, but always inspiring and rewarding. The dedication and enthusiasm the team here is very contagious.
Having been at Askari 3 years ago I have been following it’s progress on facebook with Katie’s great picture. 3 years later I am back in South Africa and it would have been rude to not pop into Askari for 2 weeks. It was just as much fun as I remembered , if not even better with the additions of the pool, sable station and the bird loving South African bloke. So cheers guys. - December 2015
I very much enjoyed my time here in the African bush and was so happy to return as the intern. It just goes to show that hard work and commitment really pays off. It was almost 5 years ago since I was last here, so I’m really pleased this opportunity came to fruition. I enjoyed every sighting, big or small. Seeing the big 5 was just the icing on the cake. - January / February 2016
This experience has been extremely life-changing. The knowledge and experiences I gained here have helped me learn a lot more about myself. The small group sizes allow for a more intimate experience with the wildlife.
As someone who has been involved in quite a few volunteer projects, I can honestly say Askari is one of the best. Fun, interesting and you leave feeling you have done good with your time. The staff are awesome and make your experience here fun and rewarding.
Best way to learn about wildlife and vegetation, conservation and reserve management. Came here with the idea to learn a lot about the animals, leaving Askari with way more knowledge that only about the animals. Thanks for everything. - February 2016
Having returned for a second time, I was continually blown away by the knowledge and passion shown by the Askari staff. My time at Askari will push on to be the highlight of my year. This programme is highly recommended.
My stay at Askari has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. The amount of things I learned and saw was unique and soul-satisfying. Katie & Ed are amazing people in so many ways and I would love to come back for another stay at Askari
Askari was hands down the greatest experience of my life. The staff are amazing and friendly and the backbone of this reserve is strong. When you're not enjoying the countless wildlife you are partaking in meaningful activities that lead to the longevity of this reserve's ecosystem. I would suggest it for all who want to make a difference in their own and this earth's life.
Askari is a unique project where one can truly get to experience the African wildlife. Do not come here expecting to find lions or cheetahs that you will pet and touch, because this is not that type of project. But what you can find in very friendly staff, extremely knowledgeable guides such as Ed and Katie and memories to last a lifetime. Thank you Ed and Katie. - June 2016
I'm so very happy that I chose Askari for my south Africa volunteer program. The quality and knowledge of the team here is well above average - they are a superb team! I learned more than I expected and most importantly, I felt that I contributed to a highly ethical conservation program. "July 2016"
Askari was more than a satisfying experience for someone looking to see a great part of South Africa. I think you all do an excellent job of maintaining the reserve and properly teaching the importan and current values of wildlife conservation. I recommend Askari to anyone trying to visit South Africa for its wildlife.