Gap Years, Conservation Volunteering

Living with Lions, North West Province

Volunteer with Africa's top predators in the beautiful North West Province of South Africa. Assist in the conservation of lions, cheetahs and leopards.

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£500.00 ⁄ wk

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Located on the same lodge that the ITV drama "Wild at Heart" was filmed, the Living with Lions project is an animal sanctuary that aims to look after sick, injured, and orphaned animals that are brought to the project by local authorities and wildlife protection groups.

This programme gives our volunteers the chance to have hands-on experience with some of the world's top predators: lions (including white lions), leopards, and cheetahs. You also have the chance to work with elephants, zebras, ostriches and wildebeest as well as an incredible plethora of other animals.

All volunteers should be ready and prepared to get "stuck in" at this programme, as you are needed to assist our professional Game Rangers in the day-to-day tasks involved in running a sanctuary and wildlife conservation centre.

We receive volunteers from all around the world, so this project not only provides you with the opportunity to have a once in a lifetime experience working with Africa's top predators; you will also get to meet new people and form new friendships.



Project details

  • What's included?
  • Dates & duration
  • Eligibility
  • Location
  • Project life
  • Accommodation
  • Flights & Visas
  • Insurance

What's included?

  • Pre-departure information and advice
  • In-country assistance and support
  • Airport collection and drop off
  • 24 hour emergency contacts
  • Accommodation: comfortable beds in cabins, provided with electricity
  • Food: breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided by the staff during the entire week
  • Welcome pack, including an international plug, work gloves and some other gifts

What's not included:

  • Flights
  • Insurance
  • Visa (if required)
  • Optional excursions, see "project life" for further details
  • Monthly stipend

Dates and duration

  • This program is open all year round
  • Volunteers can choose to stay between 1 to 12 weeks (for quotes on longer durations contact us)
  • Departure day is on a Sunday, with arrival on a Monday


  • Minimum age 18 yrs
  • For those travelling between the ages of 16-17, you must abide by the new South African immigration regulations that you can find information on here:
  • Genuine care and consideration for the wellbeing of the animals at the project
  • You are a citizen of a country that is eligible for a visa to enter South Africa



Project life

A volunteer’s typical day would start at 7am. Professional volunteer team leaders will guide you through your tasks and activities to ensure the safety of all of the volunteers at the programme as well as to help educate our volunteers in animal behaviour and conservation techniques. On a daily basis, tasks would range from:

  • Cleaning out the animals’ water bowls and refilling with fresh water
  • Preparing food for the big cats, and getting involved in hand feeding them by throwing meat over the enclosure fences
  • Feeding all the livestock on the farm
  • Testing electric fences and repairing where needed
  • Taking care of young and sick animals that have arrived at the programme
  • Cleaning animal enclosures
  • Gardening; including weeding, raking, watering and planting new trees


Each Thursday we organise a break from the hands on volunteer work, in order to give our volunteers an opportunity to rest up or alterntively attend some of our optional excursions. These range from going on the Hartbeespoort mountain cable car ride to see one of the most breathtaking views in the area, to a visiting the Lesedi Cultural Village which celebrates the cultural traditions of several different peoples of Southern Africa. These can be booked at the project if you choose to add them to the programme!

For those who like outdoor activities, we also have zip-lining and for those that want to check out some of the meanest reptiles in South Africa, we also offer visits to a local crocodile sanctuary. We are also adding more options to this list so that when you travel to the programme, there may be more choices available to you!


Accommodation and Food

You will be staying in dormitory style cabins with access to electricity, comfortable western style beds and western style bathroom facilities. This is a great aspect about the programme, as you get to experience a real authentic volunteering programme in rural South Africa, whilst having some of the home comforts of a warm bed at the end of the working day.

Meals are fully catered for, and this usually involves "Braii" (South African Barbeque), other South African cuisine as well as Western style cuisine so that all tastes are accommodated to.

All clothes washing is included, and you have full access to the washrooms throughout your stay. 

If you have specific dietary requirements, in most cases we are able to accommodate you, but please enquire with one of our team to ensure that we can meet your requirements.

Upgrade your Accommodation:

You are able to upgrade your accommodation arrangement to a double room en-suite (minimum two people) upon request. This will come at an increase in price for the experience so please keep this in mind. Please forward an enquiry to one of our team to find out pricing for this option.


Flights, Transportation & Visas

  • Flights are not included
  • Transfers are conducted to and from Johannesburg’s International Airport: O.R. Tambo (code: JNB)
  • The transfers are provided for arrivals up to 11am on the Monday.
  • You will be collected from the airport
  • A tourist visa is required for Commonwealth, US and European citizens. In this case, you are able to get a tourist visa upon entry.
  • 90 day tourist visas are available upon arrival if you are from an eligible country.


CIBT Visa advice...

For expert visa advice we advise our volunteer, work placement, and internship participants to get in touch with CIBT - a company that we work in partnership with. Our UK, Canadian, and US travellers can use CIBT for visa advice and to get their visa applications processed - with visas returned within a week.

Canadian citizens should state account number: 57497
US citizens should state account number: 57496

Safety & Insurance

  • All of Twin Work & Volunteer's placements are in partnership with recognised and established local organisations, run by or employing local people. These organisations, depending on the nature of what they do, might be small-scale NGOs, family projects, schools or orphanages, or local initiatives with environmental or social goals.
  • We often use local businesses to provide logistical and support services to volunteers such as transfers, pick-ups, accommodation and so on. In this way, we support the local economy through helping independent local businesses to thrive. We take our partnerships very seriously and work extremely closely with all our partners.
  • We provide 24-hour emergency support from the UK and our partners provide support locally.
  • We have an agreement with the crisis management service Tranquillico, should the very worst situations arise.
  • If any wider safety concerns arise in the destination, such as civil disturbances or natural disasters, we seek advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and implement their recommendations where appropriate.


Insurance options...

Comprehensive insurance is available for all programmes. You have no obligation to take up insurance with any of these companies, but insurance of a suitable sort is mandatory on all our programmes.

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The Living with Lions programme is located an hour from Sandton/Johannesburg in the North West Province, on 750 hectares of sub-tropical woodland. It falls into the World Heritage Site of the ‘Cradle of Humankind’. Over 340 species of birds have been identified in this area; other wildlife includes elephants, spotted hyenas, and hippos.

The sanctuary's location is well known throughout the world due to its many film, documentary, and television productions, including Wild at Heart.

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