Have you always wanted to get hands on experience working with big cats, but only have a short time left on your holiday?
Then come and volunteer with us!
We understand that sometimes you don’t have enough time during your holiday to volunteer for extended periods of time, but you still want to make a difference.
That’s why Cheetah Experience offers the Volunteer for a Day program, which give short-stay travellers the unique opportunity to get hands on experience working with amazing endangered and threatened species, make a positive impact in our animals lives, and contribute to conservation in 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, male lions, a Siberian tiger, bat eared foxes, caracals and servals. 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 time with us.
You do not need any previous experience working with animals, only a big heart and love for animals. There are a number of special Volunteer for a Day packages we offer, depending on how much time you have to volunteer with us, and whether you require accommodation.
What you will do
We have a number of areas you can get involved with during your stay, 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!
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 (walks, treats, toys etc.)
Depending on your ability level, there are plenty of ways to help during a typical day, including assisting with the care of our animals and preparing enrichment for our animals.
What are the working hours?
Being a part of this program, we give you the freedom and flexibility to volunteer with us when you can.
We understand that many travellers have limited time to volunteer, so our Volunteer for a Day team often won’t work the usual hours that our staff and volunteers work.
A typical day usually starts early in the mornings, between 7am – 8am (depending on the time of year), and finishes 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 get to know their individual personalities.
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 food 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.
There are a number of Volunteer for a Day packages we offer, depending on how much time you have to volunteer with us, and whether you require accommodation. The cost to volunteer, dependant on the duration of you stay, is listed below. All pricing is in South African Rand
Volunteer for a day! R950 a day (18+ years old)
* A home-cooked lunch is included
Two Day Volunteer Experience R1,800 (excluding accommodation)
*A home-cooked lunch is included on both days (except Sunday - volunteers buy lunch on Sunday)
Two Day Volunteer Experience R2,300 (including 1 night accommodation)
* the cost includes all accommodation, bedding, breakfast and a home-cooked lunch (except Sunday - volunteers buy lunch on Sunday).
If you wish to stay for extra days and/or nights, we can accommodate you at an additional fee. We also have the option to upgrade your accommodation to a private unit so you can enjoy the volunteer experience and have the option to retire to the privacy of your own accommodation at night.
Cheetah Experience relies on conservation travellers like you to support our project in its continual development through your hard work, dedication and donations. 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.
Note: the ‘Volunteer for a Day’ program is only available to people 18 years or older, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Accommodation (if required)
Looking to meet people from all over the world?
As a volunteer, you’ll be staying in our Volunteer House nearby Cheetah Experience, which can accommodate up to 21 volunteers. You’ll share this house with volunteers and interns from all corners of the globe, so there’ll be plenty of time to get to know one another over a braai (which is Afrikaans for ‘barbeque’), or relax in peace with a coffee in the mornings, overlooking the Emoya Game Reserve.
The Volunteer House has nine bedrooms, a large living area with a TV/DVD, four bathrooms, WiFi throughout the house, fully self-contained kitchen, laundry facilities and entertaining area with a pool for the hot days. We have one six-bed room with its own bathroom, six rooms with two or three beds which share the other bathrooms. Rooms will be allocated on same gender sharing unless you book as a couple. We have a double room for couples, however we cannot guarantee this room will be free. If you have any accommodation requests, please send that in an email well in advance and we will try our best to accommodate you.
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.