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Volunteering Horse Safari Travel Experience

  • Mind

Volunteering Adventure Holiday

South Africa, Africa
6 to 10 Weeks
€ 2,803 combadi price


Save €20 to €50 when booking via Combadi

Holiday Type
Fixed date/Solo friendly
Running Period
2014: 1st Sep; 2015: 5th Jan, 1st Apr, 1st Jul, 1st Sep

The Combadi Insight:

A unique volunteering travel expedition where you will be given the chance to work & train with the horses while staying in a safari lodge game reserve of pristine beauty. A variety of other adventure experiences will be at your doorstep making this a true African treasure.

Holiday Code: AG5

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Galloping amongst wild game Teaching in an orphanage Elephant back safaris

You’ll be based at Kwa Madwala, a private ‘Big 4’ (leopard, lion, elephant and rhino) 4000 hectare game reserve, situated just South of the Kruger National Park between Swaziland and Mozambique, home to a renowned safari lodge called Manyatta, beautifully built into the sides of local kopjes.

Over the years we have sent teams of volunteers to this fantastic location who work in the lodge and on their conservation and community projects while experiencing the adventure of animal safaris, elephant rides, micro-lighting, rifle shooting, 4x4 driving and much, much more.

Kwa have now taken on a selection of hardy bush horses to offer the unique opportunity to explore, track and conserve wildlife on horseback through this stunning African bush environment. As a result we can now offer our leapers the chance to help and work with their horse related activities (approximately 50% of the time) and contribute to their conservation and community projects (approximately 25% of the remaining time respectively), while enjoying all the adventure that this location has to offer.

What type of horses?

They are commonly known as “Boereperde”, a word derived from the Dutch/Afrikaans word “Boer” meaning “farmer” and “Perd” meaning horse – directly translated 'farmers horse'. They are now officially recognized as a breed and known to be strong, lively, yet even tempered, hardy and sickness resistant who can happily cope with living in the African bush.

Type of saddle?

English and western trail saddles.

Experienced rider? The basic rule is: Could you gallop confidently out of trouble? Can you confidently tack up and look after a horse? If unsure...please enquire

Enjoy these extra benefits only available if you stay 10 weeks (Jan, Apr, Sept)

We appreciate that many choose the six week option for financial or other reasons but would highly encourage volunteers, if they can, to stay for the full ten weeks – most do.

We are also very flexible and allow people the choice to extend from six weeks to ten weeks either pre departure, when you know how your fundraising is going or once overseas. The flights booked through STA travel are deliberately flexible to allow you to change your plans.

  • more time in the saddle, and a further 8 game rides.
  • improve your chances of incredible safari experiences, such as seeing animal births, hunts and kills with many more game drives and rides.
  • a higher possibility of seeing vets treating wildlife.
  • hone your essential ranger skills with shooting practice and 4X4 driving.
  • longer time to experience the culture and have fun overseas.
  • maximise the value of the international flight, especially if you tag on some independent travel to nearby countries.

Time In

You will fly out as a team and be met at Nelspruit (KMIA) airport and driven to the reserve. There is an induction and orientation course on arrival. - 6 week or 10 week programmes: approximately 50% with the horse related activities, 25% on community projects and 25% on conservation projects. - Activities will take place Monday to Friday for 6 - 8 hours per day, but please remain flexible as every day is different on the reserve.

Daily Routine

A general Guide: NB may change due to weather or project tasks – please be flexible.

Alarm 6.00. 3 days a week on a morning daily ride of 1.5 hours OR an evening ride of 1.5 hours (1.5 hours total), followed by 1.5 hours carrying out the stable activities described above. These tasks are usually completed at different times during the day (i.e. 3 hours approximately of horse related tasks).

2 days a week on a longer morning game ride of 3 hours OR an evening ride of 3 hours, followed by 1-1.5 hours carrying out the stable activities (i.e. 4-4.5 hours approximately of horse related tasks).

Time Out

The weekends are yours to explore and have fun (although you may be required to ride at weekends if you have been unable to ride as much as planned in the week (weather, horse fitness etc)! The project team will happily help arrange transport to visit local areas of interest.

Top Trips

Take a flight in a microlight over the reserve (insurance permitting), safari in search of the ‘Big 5’ in Kruger National Park, meet 'Jessica' the famously friendly hippo, head out on porcupine watching camp-outs in the reserve, try your hand at 4x4 driving, rifle shooting, adrenaline sports in Sabi outdoor centre (paintballing, rafting, canoeing, rock climbing, canyon swings etc), visits to neighbouring Swaziland and the beautiful palm fringed beaches of Kosi Bay, dolphin watching, hiking, snorkelling and more.

NB One free microlight flight is included (insurance permitting). If for some reason the micro-light is unavailable (servicing) or it is unsafe to fly (weather etc) and you are not able to fly, then you will not be offered a refund for the flight but offered instead some compensatory game drives and or bush walks of an equivalent value.

  • All horse riding/safaris.
  • Donation to sustainability of the reserve £80 per person.
  • Selection and briefing on all aspects of the scheme.
  • 24 hour emergency back-up, management and support by UK team and in-country Placement Manager, with reliable communications and infrastructure.
  • Safety and induction course on arrival.
  • Elephant interaction and ride. Game drives on reserve.
  • 1 escorted microlight flight above the reserve (Insurance permitting - Both Kwa Madwala and Global Travel Insurance have appropriate insurance to cover this activity).
  • KMIA Airport pick up and transfer to and from the placement.
  • Food and accommodation throughout.

Not included

International flights, internal flights to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) Nelspruit, visas, travel insurance, entry to Kruger National Park (120 Rand approx £12), bush uniforms:1 pr of trousers, 1 fleece and two shirts (500 Rand approx £35), travel insurance, medical expenses (reclaimable through travel insurance), soft drinks/beers etc.

How you help

If you love riding, then galloping alongside Africa's great game amongst stunning scenery is going to be one of lives great moments...

Helping Who

Kwa's park Rangers, reserve grooms, local Swazi community.

Horse Related Activities

Your time will be split between riding out around the private game reserve in search of game and assisting with the horse's welfare.

Horse welfare could (depending on requirement at the time of your stay) cover: lunge work, in hand training, watering down horses, cleaning tack and exercise rides (this would only be done with supervision) as well as cleaning and mucking out stables with help from staff. So be prepared to get dirty!

During your daily stable activities the host may rotate volunteers through the various tasks i.e. one group of Leapers riding out whilst others assist with stable maintenance. You may also join an early morning vehicle game drive with the other Leap team before you start working with the horses.

Kwa are currently promoting horse back safaris and overnight camps ("fly camps"). Setting up fly camps would include helping set up camp high lines for horses, building fires, setting up portable electric fences to protect the horses, setting up tents for clients and bucket showers etc. Depending on demand from guests you could be asked to assist with hosting and setting up these activities. Conservation and Community Projects Join up with the other Leapers who are on the South Africa Team placement. Your time will be split between working on conservation and community projects:


If not on horseback then join the morning or evening vehicle or walking game drives (helping with the spotlight at night).Reserve management fencing and bush clearing.Possible construction and/or repair of hides and viewing decks to help monitor animal movements.Interaction and assistance at the elephant back safari programme. Ride the elephants and help look after their diet, enclosures and general welfare.Try out rifle target shooting.Be introduced to 4 x 4 driving - a course will be conducted to cover the basic skills required.Microlight aerial perspective/game viewing (insurance permitting).


Help in the nearby children's orphanage. This is an amazing place where you can teach and play with the kids, who are very energetic and fun. Previous volunteers have helped to construct extra accommodation and classrooms, painted murals and carried out general maintenance of the building. Community leaders and project hosts will decide what projects are relevant during your stay. Various township community visits with possible activities including: teaching English and playing football matches in the local Swazi secondary school, a witch doctor visit and a visit to a community clinic and improving facilities in an orphanage.


There is an abundance of plains game like impala, zebra and so on, which you will see on a daily basis. You'll also have the chance to see the big 4: leopard, lion, elephant (both wild and tame) and rhino, as well as hippos, crocodiles and lots of beautiful birdlife.

Seasons and Weather

Sept – April
Summer: hot (30 – 40 degrees) and fairly wet – you are likely to get the traditional African thunder storm lasting about an hour which clears the air and then you may not get rain again for a few days. It is lush, green and verdant at this time of year.

May – Aug
Winter: warm, dry and mild like a summer’s day in UK but can get very cold at night. You will want to take a woolly hat, gloves and a thick fleece jacket for the nights/morning.


Accommodation and Meals at Bush House

Accommodation is at Bush house, which is comfortable and simple but for added comfort there is a table tennis table and DVD player. It also has a plunge pool for cooling off. You will share an en-suite room with up to seven other volunteers. There are indoor and outdoor showers, baths, basins with hot and cold water and loos. You will need a sleeping bag for sleeping out on the reserve and optional excursions.

Meals will be cooked at the house and volunteers will be required to assist with meal preparation on a rotation basis both in the kitchen and when cooked on an open fire. Vegetarians will be accommodated. A fridge is available and volunteers will have to buy their own beers, soft drinks etc. Fruit juice is available at meals, and tea/coffee is available at all times and will not be charged for. The water is safe to drink but has a mineral taste to it so volunteers often prefer to buy bottled water. Breakfast is usually fruit (bananas and oranges), cereals and toast, with a cooked breakfast usually once a week. Lunch is salads or sandwiches, and dinner, the main meal, is usually meat, pasta, salads etc. Bush House is exclusively for ‘Leapers’ but all vacant accommodation not utilized by Leapers at Bush House is made available for other clients where necessary.

I received my first phone call from Enzo this morning, he sounds so happy and said he is having an amazing time – camping out, eating well and hearing the lions roar at night etc! Today I thought back to the day I phoned Alice and had a long chat about what the holiday is all about. She was so enthusiastic about what she experienced and now my son is having a life time experience - a dream come true!! Tracy Ciucci

It was very comforting to know that the they care about how things were going and would do everything in their power to help if ever there was a problem. Mrs Lyndon-Stanford

We felt and you proved that our son was in safe hands. Mrs Badenoch

Just a quick note to say that we have Louisa back in one wonderful piece! She thoroughly enjoyed herself in Ecuador - both in Otovalo and the Galapagos and had a great fun in all areas. She has come back with some brilliant stories of spiders, biting sea lions, stormy sea crossings and organised germans in the kitchen! I'm sure she will reap the benefits of this trip for years to come. Thank you so much for helping her to arrange this fantastic holiday. I am so jealous! I've forwarded your details to a friend of ours that might go on a gap year after his A Levels next year. Janie Sadler.

I think the best line I got by telephone last weekend was "Mum, I can't imagine it could be any better-thanks to you and Dad for organizing this". His group sound just lovely kids and the experiences they are having is amazing. Cathy Burns

Anne has finally returned from South Africa, safely and excited, and is finding everything here so boring, because life down there was so much more interesting than the little Scottish town of Forres! We think she appreciated her experiences with you very much and would not want to miss them. We think it is a great chance for youngsters to experience a different culture whilst being in a safe environment. We also acknowledge that you kept us informed and updated about their placement and how things were going. Thanks again for all your efforts and your care for Anne. Manfred and Barbara Hafner

I thought you would like to know that Jess had a super time in SA and I am pleased to say all my concerns were laid to rest by the support she received from the local project leaders. Jess has describes them as fun, patient, helpful, kind and supportive and just really, really nice people.

She has been home just under a week and as she remembers the events so more of the stories unravel. The Micro light flight, driving the 4 x 4, quad bikes, horse riding in the bush, the bush drives and walks, meeting and feeding a tame hippo, music festival in Swaziland, Mozambique and of course the children etc etc. I understand Jess accepted the tasks set and got on with what was asked.

Jess said of the children, there was a particular little girl she would loved to have brought home with her but they all seemed to have such big smiles. The pictures I have seen speak volumes. I know at times she was taken out of her comfort zone, but has coped and will have learnt so much. She feels she has changed but does not know how. I believe this sort of experience usually changes people for the better. Looking at their photos on face book they all look the best of friends. Thank you very much for all the support you gave, the trip was worth it. Mrs Munden

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