The Cheetah Experience Global Volunteer Program offers volunteers a rewarding way to spend a gap year, university break or holiday, contribute to conservation in South Africa and make a positive impact every day in our animals lives.
You’ll have a once in a lifetime opportunity to work closely with many African species you only dreamed of working with, and will be surrounded by a group of likeminded individuals that share your love and passion for animals.
Since our volunteer program started in 2011, Cheetah Experience has seen over 1,000 hard-working, dedicated people from 33 countries come and be a special part of the Cheetah Experience Global Volunteer Family, and contribute to conservation in South Africa.
Watch our NEW Bela Bela Volunteer Video!
On a normal day, you’ll work closely with a number of amazing endangered and threatened species, including the cheetah, leopards, non-breeding male lions, wolves, a Siberian tiger, caracals, servals, African wildcats, bat eared foxes and meerkats. Our experienced team of staff will be there to support you every step of the way, and strive to give you the best possible experience during your stay.
As we have now relocated our volunteer project to our new land in Bela Bela, you will find yourself immersed in bush life!
Our day to day work takes place in nature where antelopes, wild animals and beautiful birds roam free and wild... The peace and serenity will allow you take take a few minutes and just breath and take it in..
There’s plenty of fun activities to reward yourself after a productive day, with local bars and restaurants only a 20-30 minute drive away. For the adventurous volunteers, there are lots of fun activities nearby that you can enjoy, including horse riding, paint balling and ziplines!
The area is surrounded by game farms so there is plenty of opportunity to organise game drives and bush walks.
What you will do
We have a number of areas you can get involved with during your time with us, including Animal Care and Conservation Education.
On a normal day, there’s plenty of hands-on activities you will be involved in, and you’ll work closely with our staff in completing a number of tasks including:
Cleaning enclosures and refilling water bowls
Preparing and feeding food to our animals – they are carnivores, so this involves handling raw meat!
Educating the public that visit our project on the importance of conservation, by assisting with educational tours and taking guided tours (once you are ready)
Working as a team to complete various group activities, including building structures for our animals, maintenance of enclosures and enrichment activities
Planning and helping with animal enrichment
What are the working hours?
Our animals don’t work on a typical 9am - 5pm day, so neither do we! To ensure our animals receive the best care, our days are often long, and will require volunteers to participate in lots of hands-on activities. However, depending on your ability level, there are plenty of ways to help during a typical day, including preparing enrichment for our animals and assisting visitors to our project.
We usually start early in the mornings, between 7am – 8am (depending on the time of year), and finish in the late afternoon, between 5pm – 6pm (depending on the time of year). You will have plenty of time during the day to spend with our animals, and you may have the opportunity to provide intensive care for our juvenile animals when required.
After a busy day, you can spend your afternoons laying by the pool at the Volunteer Accomodation watching the sunset, hanging out with other volunteers in the lounge room, or relaxing in your room watching movies!
You will have time off during your stay to explore the local area, get involved in fun activities nearby our project, and of course, spend time with the animals!!
Cheetah Experience wouldn’t be able to do the conservation work it does without the help of our hard-working, dedicated volunteers. Everything you do as a volunteer has a positive impact on our animals lives, and our animals say thank you by the love and affection they give to you.
We understand that volunteers might have skills and expertise in a number of other areas non-related to Animal Care and Conservation, including Carpentry, Sustainability, Tourism and Business. We like to utilise our volunteer’s natural skills and abilities, so any additional help in these areas helps our project greatly.
Being a non-profit organisation with no government funding, the tireless work our volunteers do helps us keep our animals happy, healthy and enriched. The generosity of our Global Volunteer Family, current volunteers, sponsors and visitors to our project allow Cheetah Experience to source the best possible meat for our animals, purchase enrichment items for our animals, cover veterinary expenses and build and improve our animal’s enclosures to provide them with the best possible care.
By assisting us in educating visitors and the local community about the importance of conservation, you are aiding in the future preservation of our endangered and threatened species, and empowering others to join the fight.
Visit our Conservation page to learn more.
Looking to meet people from all over the world?
Our Volunteer Village is still under development but once completed, there will be 14 apartments which will house 2-4 people. A communal lounge/kitchen area and fire pit will be available in the center. Each apartment has its own bathroom facilities.
For now, Volunteers will share accommodation in one of our 2- or 3-bedroom chalets. Chalets will be allocated on same gender sharing bases.
We have 18 chalets and those on the Working Holiday option, will be accommodated in a 1-, 2- or 3-bedroom chalet. Each chalet has a self-contained kitchenette, small lounge, bathroom, a small patio and barbeque facility. Although you will be staying on your own, you will still be able to socialize with the volunteers and make use of the entertainment area.
The entertainment area is located in between the chalets and volunteer village and include a swimming pool and large entertainment hall with a pool table, TV and DVD player.
Whichever option you choose, your clothes will be washed on most weekdays (Tues – Fri) by the caretakers. Towels and all linen are supplied and are washed on a weekly basis. Apartments/Chalets will be cleaned by our staff on a regular basis.
The overall cost includes all accommodation, bedding, laundry, breakfast and a home-cooked lunch each day.
For pick up and drop off information and costs, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
You will receive training material and a Cheetah Experience t-shirt. Internet is also available at both the Volunteer House and the farm at a cost of R100 per week (South African Rand).
Cheetah Experience relies on conservation travellers like you to support our project in its continual development through your hard work, dedication and funding. All funds from our volunteer program are used to feed our animals, veterinary expenses, maintenance and improvements on our animal’s homes, and purchasing of equipment used for enrichment activities.
We recommend you stay for at least 2 weeks to get the most out of your time at our project, and make this a once-in-a-lifetime experience for you!
The cost to volunteer, dependent on the duration of you stay, is listed below. All pricing is in South African Rand.
2022 Volunteering Cost
The prices above are only for our Volunteer House accommodation. If you'd like to stay in our private self-contained units, please check out our Working Holiday Program or email email@example.com
Please note that our prices are subject to yearly price increases.
A 50% deposit is required to confirm your booking once your application form has been accepted. The remaining 50% of your payment is due 1 month prior to your arrival. Banking details will be provided upon confirmation of your application.
Your 50% deposit will not be refunded should you cancel your participation in the project at any time. If you cancel your booking less than 30 days before your start date, you will not be eligible for a refund of any kind. We can put all money paid towards a different date if you wish to reschedule your volunteer experience. Fees are to cover administration work and the opportunity cost of being unable to fill your position at last minute. Once you arrive, if you decide to leave the project early for any reason, Cheetah Experience will be unable to refund you in any way.
Cheetah Experience is located in central South Africa, on the outskirts of a town called Bela Bela. Our project is surrounded by mostly farmland and a game reserve. We are about 10-minutes drive from Bela Bela town centre, and are a 10-minute drive from local shopping centres and restaurants.
All international flights into South Africa arrive in Johannesburg or into Cape Town, from where you then transfer to Cheetah Experience.
We would recommend that you fly into OR Tambo in Johannesburg, then you will catch the Gautrain to Hatfield station in Pretoria, where a member of the Cheetah Experience Team will collect you.
March – May forms part of Autumn with average daily temperatures of between 24˚C and 30˚C. It can still rain and it gets warm enough during March and April to enjoy a swim. Do pack some warmer clothes to provide for colder morning and evening temperatures as well as for the odd rainy days.
June – August is our Winter and our average morning temperatures can be around 5˚C with the average midday temperature around 22˚C. It can still get warm during the day so also pack some clothes for warmer weather.
September - February forms part of our Spring and Summer. The average midday temperatures will be around 31˚C and higher. It forms part of our rain season so do pack something warmer for the colder evening temperatures during September and rainy days. Do not forget to pack your bathing costume.