Volunteering in Zambia

"Game Ranger International Holistic Volunteering Project"

Spend three weeks in three of our camps to gain insight into our distinct programmes: Wildlife Rescue, Community Outreach & Resource Protection

Holistic Volunteers

The placement has duration of 22 days and costs $2600 US, beginning in Lusaka and ending in Livingstone. A dedicated vehicle and driver as well as a Volunteer Supervisor/Hostess will be on the ground with you.

Up to 5 volunteers join per month and spend one week at each of the camps and 1 night in Livingstone.

LOCATIONS:​

  • Lusaka based Elephant Nursery
  • Musa Camp
  • Kafue Release Facility
  • Victoria Falls Waterfront

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Game Rangers International

Game Rangers International (GRI) is a non-profit Zambian NGO which was established in 2008. Their focus is currently within Zambia with the aim of directly supporting conservation of the National Parks: their animals, ecosystems and surrounding communities. GRI tackles conservation support in Zambia holistically and the organisation is divided into three programmes: Resource Protection, Community Outreach, and Wildlife Rescue.

GRI Locations:

  • GRI Country Headquarters, based in centre of Lusaka
  • GRI Field Headquarters, based close to Musa Gate in Kafue National Park
  • The Lilayi Elephant Nursery, just outside Lusaka, where our youngest, milk-dependent orphans receive round-the-clock care
  • The Kafue Release Facility, in South Kafue, where the older orphans are rehabilitated and eventually released
  • The Wildlife Discovery Center is based at Lusaka National Park

Resource Protection:

Providing welfare, training and operational support to wildlife personnel on the front line of endangered species protection. Includes Law Enforcement, AntiPoaching Units, and Firefighting Units located in Kafue National Park (KNP).

Community Outreach

Inspiring greater environmental awareness and understanding through education and wildlife sensitisation at local and regional levels. Supporting the eradication of poverty and human wildlife conflict within the communities living contiguous to KNP through a sustainable and harmonious community development programme, which embraces sound environmental practices.

Wildlife Rescue

Rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing orphaned elephants back into the wild. Our specialty is elephants via our Elephant Orphanage Project (EOP).

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Your Impact as a Volunteer

GRI’s Volunteer Programme was established in 2010. Since then, volunteers of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities have been sharing their skills, experiences and enthusiasm. Volunteers are a huge asset to GRI – they really couldn’t function without them.

Volunteers help us by:

  • Raising awareness and valuable funds
  • Becoming global advocates for GRI
  • Assisting GRI with the many duties and activities necessary to run a successful conservation project
  • Bringing fresh ideas, skills and enthusiasm to our projects

Volunteer fees:

  • 2022 ~ US$2600
  • 2023 ~ US$2750

Minimum age is 18.

Inclusive of:

  • Road transportation from Airport in Lusaka if you arrive on the first day of your placement.
  • Lunch, Dinner and Breakfast in Livingstone at Waterfront.
  • Transportation to and from the Victoria Falls.
  • Entry to Victoria Falls (Visit to the Victoria Falls).
  • Transfer from Livingstone to Lusaka on day 22, if required.
  • Emergency evacuation cover through SES to Lusaka for the exact days of your placement.

Exclusive of:

  • COVID-19 testing fees.
  • Other Restaurant meals in Livingstone.
  • Bar/drinks are to Volunteer’s own expense.
  • Activities in Livingstone.
  • Airport transfers after the placement ends after day 22 unless you are willing to be dropped early en-route to Lusaka. A taxi service can be arranged to volunteers own expense.
  • Spending money (for off-days at nearby Lodges or curios etc.…) – You will be taken to a Bureau de change at the start of the trip. Please ensure you change enough money for the duration of the trip as banks are hard to come by. The exchange rate varies depending on size of the notes: larger notes ($100) fetch a better rate.
  • Health Insurance.
  • Emergency Evacuation Cover through SES to Lusaka for the days outside of your placement.

Basic Itinerary:

The placement has duration of 22-days/21-nights beginning in Lusaka and ending in Livingstone. A dedicated vehicle and Driver as well as a Volunteer Supervisor/Hostess will be on the ground with you. Up to 5 volunteers join per month and spend one week at each of our camps and 1 night in Livingstone:

  • Lusaka Elephant Nursery.(7 nights)
  • Musa Camp on Lake Itezhi Tezhi. (7 nights)
  • Kafue Release Facility (aka. Camp Phoenix), in Kafue National Park. (6 nights)
  • Victoria Falls Waterfront (TBA), in Livingstone. (1 night)

Day 1 – Day 7: is spent at Lilayi Elephant Nursery (relocating to the Wildlife Discovery Centre in Lusaka National Park from April 2022) where volunteers will complete biodiversity surveys in Lusaka National Park to gain a better understanding of the species presence and abundance within the area. Volunteers will learn and practice valuable infield research skills, which may include: transect surveys; vegetation surveys; and identifying and tracking wildlife through spoor and scat observations. Volunteers will support a range of our Community Outreach Projects including supporting teachers in the delivery of conservation education in local schools and empowering women’s groups.

Day 8 -14: is spent in Musa (GRI’s Field Headquarters), in Kafue National Park. Volunteers will meet the rangers we support and discover how our Anti-Poaching units operate. They will complete biodiversity surveys within Kafue National Park, utilising the skills learnt in the first week of the placement. Additionally, volunteers will have the opportunity to get involved with a number of our Community Outreach Projects including supporting local schools, women’s groups and clinics where they may work with expectant mothers.

Day 15 -20: is spent at Kafue Release Facility where volunteers will complete biodiversity surveys within the National Park. Volunteers will be given training and insight into the elephant behavioural observation studies that we conduct at our release facility and elephant nursery. Volunteers will have the opportunity to get involved with a number of our Community Outreach Projects including visits to local schools, women’s groups and clinics. Volunteers will also learn about our elephant rehabilitation and release programme. Volunteers may also be involved with staff capacity building where they teach a variety of lessons and skills to the camp staff members and rangers (keepers).

Day 21: Volunteers will be driven to Livingstone where you can experience the wonders of the Victoria Falls – this cost is included in the placement fee; accommodation is provided and is tented, at Waterfront ** Subject to change due to availability at third party sites. Lunch and dinner are included (at Waterfront only), as well as Breakfast on departure. There are a few restaurants you can experience in Livingstone, but this will be to your own account. Day 22: If volunteers wish to return to Lusaka, a transfer will be included, departing early on this day from Livingstone.

Requirements

There is no experience necessary other than a keen interest in wildlife conservation. A Volunteer Supervisor will give each volunteer the appropriate training to succeed in this role. Volunteers with relevant experience is a plus, but it not required. Have a unique skill set that might be relevant? We’d love to hear about it!

Things to Consider

  • Lusaka is a 7 hour drive from Livingstone. You may choose to fly out from Livingstone to avoid a long road trip back to Lusaka and also maximize your time at Victoria Falls.
  • Time enough to get COVID testing done and receive certificate for travel.
  • Please note that each volunteer will enter the country on a business visa which grants them entry to the country for 30 days. As our placement length is 22 days, this means all volunteers have the opportunity to explore Zambia for an additional week after their placement ends.
  • Vegan food is not readily available in Zambia. We endevour to cater to this effect as best we can if we can, but please understand that it may be difficult at times. The Waterfront does offer a selection of Vegan options if we request them, subject to availability of ingredients.
  • To avoid any disappointment about working with the elephants as a volunteer, Game Rangers International implements a “hands off” policy. Due to the nature of our work, whereby we aim to release the elephants back into the wild, we try to minimise the contact between the orphaned elephants and humans, with the exception of their rangers (keepers), who care for the elephants around the clock and form close family-like bonds. You may join the elephants in the bush to assist in research; however volunteers must keep a minimum distance of 10-meters between themselves and the elephants.

This is not a safari.

GRI has many projects operating apart from Wildlife Rescue (elephants). GRI’s work is continuous work with Volunteers coming in and out of that framework. GRI cannot conduct Wildlife Rescue without conducting Community Outreach or Resource Protection, so please be prepared to have days where you are working with local communities, entering historical data and quiet time. We cannot guarantee sightings of any wildlife, despite being in a wild space (Kafue National Park). During biodiversity studies, you may get lucky and one could see lion, leopard, wild dogs, cheetah and more! Such is life in the wild! Please also note that there are no dangerous game in Lusaka, apart from the orphaned elephants i.e. no lion in the Lilayi Reserve or Lusaka National Park.

We hope by participating in ALL the activities set in this Holistic Programme, you’ll get a first-hand experience into what it takes to truly Empower Rangers and Local Communities to Conserve Nature.

Medically Sound

You will need to provide evidence that you are medically fit to enter onto the GRI Volunteer Programme. Your doctor/GP must provide you with a letter confirming that you have sufficient physical and mental fitness to take part in the activities described and to live within the African bush for at least 25 days.

Medical Insurance

You must ensure that you have purchased a fully comprehensive medical insurance policy before you arrive in Zambia and that this includes cover for emergency air evacuation and repatriation.

Please ensure that your insurance package covers at least USD $50,000 medical evacuation cover and USD $100,000 hospitalisation cover. Please make sure to bring a copy of your health insurance policy and carry it with you in case you need medical assistance.

2022 Start Dates:

4-25 April

11 April – 2 May

2 – 23 May

9 – 30 May

30 May – 20 June

6 – 27 June

27 June – 18 July

4 -25 July

25 July – 15 August

1 – 22 August

22 August – 12 September

29 August – 19 September

19 September – 10 October

26 September – 17 October

17 October – 7 November

24 October – 14 November

14 November – 5 December

21 November – 10 December

Zambia

Weather and Climate

The weather in Zambia is variable… There are four main seasons: wet-hot (Oct-Dec), wet-cool (Jan-Apr), dry-cool (Apr-July) and dry-hot (Aug-Oct). October is the hottest month with temperatures often reaching 40°C or 104°F! Moving into November we see the start of the rainy season where occasional showers become much more frequent by December. January and February are usually the wettest months with rain lessening and ending by March/April. When it rains, it really rains – downpours can last for a couple of hours, halting all activity… Humidity mostly remains low, even in the wet season, so the climate is comfortable. During the rains, it can get chilly but it warms up as soon as the sun comes out. You should therefore be prepared and equipped for all temperatures! In the winter (June-August) nighttime temperatures can fall to 0°C or 32°F so a warm set of clothes/nightwear such as thermal underwear is essential.

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Cultural Considerations

Zambian culture is very traditional and in the rural areas you will see nearly all the women wearing the customary chitenge (long wrap-around skirt). As with most traditional cultures, it is not a good idea for women to walk around in revealing clothing – especially showing your legs (above the knee) – and you will earn more respect the more formally you dress. As part of GRI’s Volunteer Programme, you may be visiting the surrounding chiefdoms, interacting with community members and potentially meeting Honourable Chiefs. You will be briefed on how to behave in such situations but you should be aware of, and respect, the local customs. Zambians will really appreciate your effort at learning the local language. Just a few simple greetings or words of thanks go a long way. Our team are very friendly and helpful and would be delighted to teach you some of their language, should you show an interest. Zambia is composed of many different tribes, rich with differing traditions and ceremonies. If you have the opportunity at the end of your volunteer programme, it’s worth taking some time to explore the region and see what treasures Zambia has to offer!

Arrival in Country

At the Airport: When you land in Zambia, keep hold of your luggage tags and boarding card as you need to present them as you leave the airport.

Visas & Immigration: To volunteer in Zambia you need to purchase a 30 day business visa. A business visa can be purchased for USD $50 at the airport on entry into Zambia or at the Zambian Embassy in your home country before you depart. We’ll issue you with a Request for Business Visa Letter to show at Immigration.

Transfer to Camp: You’ll be greeted at the airport by a project representative and will travel to the Elephant Nursery to get settled in!

During the first few days you’ll:

  • Change money and visit the supermarket
  • Be given a tour of the Elephant Nursery and meet our youngest orphaned elephants
  • Have a cultural and safety briefings
  • Get to know the GRI team
  • Receive two GRI shirts

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FAQ’s:

Q. What is the accommodation like?

  • You will be staying in basic tented accommodation at each of GRI’s facilities – bedding and a solar lamps are provided.  Each tent is equipped with a bed and chest of drawers. You’ll have a tent to yourself, but will share a communal kitchen and bathroom with other volunteers.

Q. Who will meet me at the airport?

  • You’ll be met at the airport by your Volunteer Supervisor, and taken directly to Lilayi Elephant Nursery to acclimatise.

Q. What will I eat?

  • Volunteers are responsible for cooking for themselves, and usually choose to cook together as a group on gas stoves or campfires.
    You will be provided with basic rations for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Due to limited refrigeration, your diet will be predominately vegetarian during your placement, and will include lots of starch and canned vegetables.
    You may wish to buy some treats and snacks on arrival in Lusaka at your own expense.

Q. Will I have access to the internet?

  • We rely entirely on solar power at our camps, so WIFI access is dependant on the weather and project requirements. Your Volunteer Supervisor will advise you on availability.
    You may wish to purchase a local sim card on arrival so you can stay in touch with friends and family. Phone signal at the Release Facility is limited, but strong elsewhere.

Q. Will I meet other volunteers?

  • There is a max. capacity of 5 volunteers per month per Holistic programme. However, you may also meet volunteers from other programmes during your placement.

Q. What can I do on my days off?

  • Volunteers enjoy one day off each week. You will be taken to a nearby lodge where you can relax by the pool and purchase drinks and lunch at your own expense.

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Onward Travel

Please be aware that your business visa is only valid for 30 days and cannot be extended. If you’re planning to travel either side of your volunteer placement, you will need to do so within this time frame, or else contact our team to discuss tourist visa options. Please contact the Zambian Embassy in your home country for more information. Zambia is full of amazing places, too many to list them all. Here are four of our favourites:

Livingstone

On the 21st day of your Holisitic Volunteer programme, you’ll travel to the highly recommended Livingstone and the spectacular Victoria Falls! You will be provided tented accommodation and meals at The Victoria Falls Waterfront (subject to availability at 3rd party sites). You will visit the Victoria Falls (entry fees are US$20 cash and is included already). If you decide to stay on, why not do so here in Livingstone?

Kafue National Park

Home of several projects of Game Rangers International, as well as being an amazing safari destination.

  • Mukambi Safari Lodge: a three-hour bus ride from Lusaka and offers game drives and boat trips.
  • Kaingu Safari Lodge: halfway between GRI’s two Kafue camps at Mukambi and The EOP Kafue Release Facility.
  • Musekese Camp: luxury tented camp with exceptional guides.

South Luangwa National Park

Another of Zambia’s amazing places and internationally recognised as one of the best safari parks in the world! Home of abundant wildlife, including several packs of painted dogs, many leopard and lions! It is a 10-hour drive from Lusaka so most people fly. There are a wide range of accommodation available in South Luangwa from tents to luxury lodges.

Lower Zambezi National Park

A wonderful National Park at the border with Zimbabwe. Cruise the Zambezi river while watching elephants and crocodiles, go canoeing in between the hippos, and enjoy the spectacular birdlife! It is about a 3-hour drive from Lusaka to the lodges and campsites on the outskirts of the park, or you can fly into the heart of the park and enjoy a truly luxury safari experience.

Please note that the volunteer programme doesn’t cover the cost of any onwards travel.

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