DAKTARI Bush School

This highly dynamic project has developed a comprehensive programme to educate and inspire local children to value their environment, stimulate community development, and contribute to future job opportunities. They also run a wildlife sanctuary to care for wildlife that cannot be released back into nature. These animals fulfill an important role in the education of the children. 

Volunteer teaching African children

While supporting the project with these goals, you will in return receive a hugely valuable experience in the African bush, be immersed into African culture, work with children and get hands on experience with animals. A mutually life changing opportunity!


DAKTARI Bush School is an NPO founded in 2006 with the goal of enabling local children to have a better quality of life. They have reached more than 4.000 children in 10 years, cared for hundreds of animals and helped dozens of youth get employed. The project is set in a beautiful nature reserve with granite hills and the most stunning views. Leopard, hyena, impala, kudu, wildebeest, zebra, and giraffe roam freely. The camp itself is located in the heart of the reserve and it is here that you will mostly work with the children and resident animals. However, you will be going into the reserve and into the villages as well!

 Prepare food for animals

There are 3 key problems in rural communities which hinder development:


Poor Education: With classes ranging from 67 to 132 students, and minimal facilities often in bad conditions, it is very difficult for the children in the villages to attain a good level of education. It further hinders their ability to get jobs in a province with an employment rate of 49%.


Pollution: No basic sanitation systems, poor access to water, and, most importantly, a lack of awareness and education about recycling and waste management leads to many villages in the area to be full of waste. This is not only a problem because of the 'aesthetics' of the villages, but creates health issues too.


Poaching: This causes the villages to have no local wildlife anymore and the children have no exposure to these animals. The community views animals as tools for work or food. Wild animals are generally considered dangerous and treated as such. Care for animals, be they domestic or wild, is something which is hardly ever seen as a priority, or people just don’t know about proper husbandry.

Volunteers teach art lessons
Cleaning up and water fun

The project has three main areas of focus:


The Teaching programme: 

Every Monday through Friday a new group of eight children, ages 13-16, are welcomed to the project. These Grade 8 students are from the local secondary schools in the surrounding villages.


DAKTARI offers them a comprehensive learning programme which consists of lessons, fun activities and interaction, and practical experience. The subjects covered are the environment and the importance of conservation, including anti-poaching, pollution and identifying animal tracks, care for animals and the possible job opportunities in wildlife and the tourism industry. The children also receive supplemental lessons to their regular schooling with Math games, English, life skills and social talks about  respect, substance abuse, and safe sex. International and local volunteers teach all of the lessons. Class sizes are kept small and each child is given individual attention during the week.


During the times that the Grade 8 students write their exams (usually around March, June, September and November), the project welcomes local unemployed youth to the camp for career guidance. During the week, they learn the skills they need to find a job.

Face painting with African children
Teach African children using cell phone

The Wildlife Sanctuary: 

The wildlife sanctuary houses more than twenty-five species of indigenous wildlife; from cheetah to crocodiles to meerkats, and a variety of raptors and much more. Some of them were brought to the project after being found abandoned nearby and some were given to the project after being rehabilitated but cannot be released back into the wild due to permanent injuries. At the project they have a second chance at life while fulfilling an important role in educating the children, as most of them have never had an opportunity to see these animals in the wild.


Some domestic animals such as donkeys, chickens, dogs and goats reside in the camp as well. By having these animals in and around camp, the project provides a way to educate the children on proper care and husbandry for these domestic animals which are common in the villages.


Another positive outcome of this programme is that children will phone the project if they find an injured animal or when a predator forms a threat to live stock, rather than killing the animal. 

Feeding a baby warthog in South Africa

The Outreach Program: 

The work doesn’t just end at the project’s gate. They go into the local villages weekly to provide further environmental education opportunities to children at the high schools and crèches. The Outreach Program consists of three parts: Eco Clubs at the secondary schools, community development projects, and career guidance.


The Eco Clubs are an extension of the teaching program at DAKTARI. The voluntary, activity-based clubs teach students more about the environment and wildlife. The students also plan and implement projects to improve their community, such as planting trees or cleaning the village and setting up dustbins.


You can also sign up for a home stay in which you and up to one other person can spend the night with one of our local families to see what it's like to live in an African village. Be prepared to get up early to help out! This is an additional option and costs are not included in the programme.

Live with local people
Home with local people in Africa
Learn to cook from locals in South Africa

Stay home with local people

The main activities that form part of the programme: 

  • Teaching the children. All classes are taught in English. You do not need any specific skills or experience to educate the children. The subjects taught are basic and material is provided by the project
  • Setting up and supervise games and activities
  • Animal care; cleaning enclosures, feeding, bottle-feeding babies and young animals (when present), and medical care
  • Guiding the children with regards to animal care
  • Maintenance and/or building new enclosures
  • Walks and drives within the reserve
  • Visits to the villages to help with the Outreach Programme, the Eco-clubs and community development projects

Leisure time and additional excursions:

On Saturdays you can take a trip into town to purchase personal items. There are plenty of great restaurants in town to have lunch at too!


Sundays are your day off. You can plan a day excursion if you like or just relax at the camp. The staff is happy to help you plan a trip or put you in touch with a local guide. If you are interested in taking a longer break over the weekend (Friday to Sunday), you are welcome to arrange that with the staff.


Excursions are optional and costs are not included in the programme costs. There is a wide variety of amazing things to do and see in the area, so we do recommend setting some money aside for these. 

Volunteers in the bush in South Africa

Accomodation at Daktari in South Africa


  • As the project is located in the middle of the bush, the camp is rustic. Volunteers are housed in rondavels (traditional round chalets with thatched roof). You may be sharing your rondavel with up to 3 other volunteers.  Bed linens, a mosquito net and towels are provided. Each rondavel has an en suite bathroom with a toilet, shower and hot and cold running water
  • As the entire camp runs on solar power, the communal area is the place to charge your devices. Each rondavel has a solar powered light. It is recommended to bring a torch or head light with you
  • On a daily basis (except on Sundays), rooms are cleaned and laundry is done by staff in the camp
  • Each day three delicious meals are prepared for you, and special diets are catered for
  • Living and working at the project is very safe. The camp is fenced in and the reserve is in a protected area. You won't need to worry while staying at this project, they take precautions to make sure that everyone is safe from the predatory animals around the camp
  • Other facilities in the camp are a swimming pool, a communal lounge and dinner area (inside and outside) and a boma/braai area

Taking care of baby mongoose
Feeding baby nyala in South Africa
Baby Nyala after dinner

Please contact us for information regarding programme costs.

Price includes:

  • Accommodation
  • 3 Meals a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner. Special diets are catered for
  • Transfers between the local airport/ shuttle stop and the project on Saturdays
  • The programme at the project
  • Hands on experience with regards to the care of animals and educational programme
  • All project related field and community trips
  • Weekly town trips
  • Daily laundry
  • A donation towards equipment, upgrading of facilities and initiatives to support the project’s objectives

Not included:

  • International and domestic flights / transport (we're happy to assist you)
  • International bank costs 
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Visa costs if your stay in South Africa is going to exceed 90 days (we're happy to offer advice and assistance)
  • Personal expenses such as toiletries, extra optional excursions, WIFI, drinks and snacks between meals


  • Minimum age is 18 years, no upper age restriction
  • Fair to excellent knowledge of the English language is recommended
  • Fair to excellent level of physical fitness
  • No specific experience or knowledge is needed to join the project, just a passion for teaching, working with children and animals
  • An open mind to explore different cultures, values and ways of working

Group size: 1-10 Volunteers


Duration: Minimum stay is 2 weeks, however, we recommend a stay of 4 weeks or longer, to be exposed to as much opportunities and activities as possible.


Dates: All arrivals and departures are on Saturdays when you will be given a tour and introduction to the project.


Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any further questions regarding this project!