Have you always wanted to get hands-on experience working with big cats while having the freedom and time off to relax on your holiday and explore South Africa?
Then come on a Working Holiday at Cheetah Experience!
We understand that sometimes volunteers like to help out at their own pace, and may want to sleep in or have extra time off to relax during the day and explore the amazing sights of South Africa. That is why we developed the Cheetah Experience Working Holiday Program.
As part of our Working Holiday Program, you’ll have the same amazing experiences and opportunities that a regular volunteer has, plus the ability to choose if, and when, you wish to participate in the usual daily volunteer duties and social activities.
You'll be working with a number of endangered and threatened species on a daily basis, including cheetahs, leopards, male non-breeding lions, bat eared foxes, servals, caracals, African wildcats, wolves, meerkats and a Siberian tiger. Our project takes in rescued animals from the local area, so we also have various animals from time to time, including a goat and antelope.
Watch our New Bela Bela Volunteer Video!
Days can be spent helping out at our project, forming special bonds with our animals, or exploring the local area. You’ll get plenty of time off during the day to make a positive impact in our animals lives and contribute to conservation in South Africa.
You do not need any previous experience working with animals, only a big heart and love for animals.
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 can get involved in, 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
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 the Working Holiday 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 Working Holiday team won’t work the usual hours that our staff and volunteers work.
A typical day for a volunteer 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 you may have the opportunity to provide intensive care for our juvenile animals when required.
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.
Looking for some peace and quiet?
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.
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 Working Holiday Program are used to feed our animals, cover 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 for Working Holiday, dependent on the duration of your stay, is listed below. All pricing is in South African Rand.
2022 Working Holiday Cost - Private Accomodation
2022 Working Holiday Cost - Shared Accommodation at Volunteer Village
Please note that our prices are subject to yearly price increase.
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.