In the heart of South Africa’s famous Big Five Greater Kruger Area is a unique chance to develop your photography skills, getting up-close with amazing wildlife while contributing to conservation research and the project’s photographic database. The database is used as an education tool in local schools to teach the importance of environmental conservation and the wonder of nature. Your first week will consist of an extensive workshop with a professional photographer. You’ll learn the basics of photography, get to practise your skills and learn how to edit your pictures in Adobe Lightroom. You will spend the following weeks photographing wildlife, landscapes, waterfalls, sunrises, sunsets and the stars. You’ll also edit your work, participate in conservation presentations and work in the community.
If want to learn how to take National Geographic-quality wildlife photos while assisting with conservation research and getting a thrilling wildlife adventure, then this is the right project for you!
Activities available at additional costs:
During your free time, you can enjoy activities like: seeing the big five game animals, partaking in heart-pounding recreational activities or exploring the stunning landscape. Our weekend tours will give you the opportunity to relax while seeing more of what the area has to offer.
While volunteering you’ll stay at our base in the Greater Kruger area, Dumela Lodge. The thatched lodge is spacious and boasts of a large swimming pool. Impala, bush pigs, nyalas and a great diversity of birdlife make homes in the beautiful landscape surrounding the lodge.
You will dine, relax and socialise at Dumela Lodge – we don’t know of a better place for a person to sit around a campfire and admire the stars.
Dumela means “hello” in the Northern Sotho (pronounced “sootoo”) language. The lodge is in the heart of South Africa’s famous Big Five Greater Kruger Area, on an 18-hectare private reserve surrounded by wilderness and private game reserves. It’s home to vervet monkeys, impala, warthogs, bush bucks, nyalas, the occasional leopard and numerous birds, among other species. The world-renowned Kruger National Park is just 45 minutes from the lodge.
Laundry services are available for R60 per load.
In-house chefs will cook three fresh meals for you each day. We can cater to most types of dietary needs, but please make sure to inform us of any restrictions when you make your reservation. Drinking water and tea or coffee will also be available throughout your stay. Cold drinks can be purchased at the house.
Wi-Fi vouchers are available for purchase at your accommodation. The vouchers cost approximately R600 for four weeks.
Cell phone reception is available. Check with your service provider for costs or purchase a local SIM card at the airport.
The South African currency is the rand. Cash can be withdrawn at the airport. There are also ATMs available in the nearest town, Hoedspruit (Please note: There may be a fee to withdraw from ATMs in Hoedspruit). Most shops and restaurants accept both debit and credit card payments.
When you arrive at the project, we will open a tab for you. All fees for trips and items that you buy from our shop will be added to your tab and you’ll be expected to pay in-full during check out. You can pay using cash or a credit card (Please note: Credit card payments can be made for trips with an additional 6 percent fee).
If you plan on using your bank cards overseas, don’t forget to tell your bank that you will be in South Africa. Otherwise, your bank may freeze your cards.
The nearest town, Hoedspruit, is a 30-minute drive from the lodge. It’s a great place where you can take some relaxing downtime. The project runs an optional weekly trip to town each Friday to give people the chance to visit supermarkets, browse souvenir shops or just relax with a coffee or ice cream.
This page will guide you on how to book your flights, how transportation to and from the project works and which vaccinations are required for your trip.
You will be picked up from and dropped off at the airport by a representative from the project. The cost of transportation to and from the airport is included in your project fee.
We recommend you consult with your doctor to ensure you have the appropriate vaccinations before your trip. Below is an overview of vaccinations that are likely to be recommended:Tetanus: Recommended
People from most countries will automatically get tourist visas valid for up to 90 days upon arrival in South Africa. If you are unsure about whether this applies to your country, please see the government’s list of exempt countries: http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/countries-exempt-from-sa-visas
It is mandatory that you have valid travel insurance for your entire trip. The insurance will cover all costs involved with any kind of an emergency or incident, i.e. an air rescue, hospital or medical costs and flights. Please contact your local travel insurance agent, otherwise we can recommend the travel insurer World Nomads: https://www.worldnomads.com/
Yes. You will need to bring your own DSLR camera and at least two batteries, any necessary chargers, two memory cards with a minimum capacity of 16 gigabytes each, an external hard drive, a laptop with Adobe Lightroom installed, any necessary adapters and, if possible, a tripod.
Lenses: If it’s possible, we recommend you bring multiple lenses. We strongly advise that volunteers bring a zoom lens with a long focal range, for example, 55-200-millimetre or 70-200-millimetre. You would also get good use out of a wide-angle 19-55-millimetre lens. This will allow you to photograph landscapes and the night sky. A third lens that is not necessary, but which might be good to have, would be a macro lens or less costly macro converter rings.
Cash can be withdrawn at the airport. There are also ATMs available in the nearest town, Hoedspruit (Please note: There may be a fee to withdraw from ATMs in Hoedspruit). We strongly advise against bringing travellers’ cheques.
Yes. The cost of daily transfers between projects sites is included in your project fee.
We recommend you consult with your doctor to ensure you have the appropriate vaccinations before you trip. Below is an overview of vaccinations that are likely to be recommended:Tetanus: Recommended
Yes! People from most countries will automatically get tourist visas valid for up to 90 days upon arrival in South Africa. If you are unsure about whether this applies to your country, please see the government’s list of exempt countries: http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/countries-exempt-from-sa-visas
”One of the best time of my life. People are amazing. All of the staff are so so so friendly that makes you feel absolutely welcome from the first minute you enter SA. All the volunteers are great and friendly. Couldn't ask for a better first experience in here.”
– Leonard, Australia
“I have had an amazing experience. I have learned so much more than anticipated outside of wildlife photography. My workflow and editing skills have increased as well as learning macro and portrait photography. This is an experience I will never forget.”
– Stacey, USA
”This is nothing like paying a lot of money and doing a week long African Safari where you are essentially a tourist looking in from the outside and taking photographs. Here we are involved, we are part of it; with the guides, getting to know them, tracking, learning, sitting around the camp fire, listening to stories and of course taking photographs.
It’s not a holiday because we work long hours, some of it quite tiring work, and we have deadlines to meet. It’s certainly not work either. It’s a lifetime experience where you become involved, contribute, hopefully do some good, end up with thousands of amazing pictures and memories that will last forever.”
– Kevin, UK
“I was preparing to have an amazing time. However, it didn't prepare me for how truly inspiring and incredible it was going to be. No day is the same, in fact wildly different, one day you are focusing on a tiny insect, the next a huge elephant. I have learnt so much about photography in general that I can use in all kinds of situations from Tim and Sam. I have also gained so much knowledge about the wildlife in Africa from all the guides, the amount of information they hold in their brains really is mind boggling.
– Harriet Scragg, UK
”The whole experience has been way more than I expected. The areas we've explored have been beautiful, the wildlife we have seen have been breath-taking and the people working to give us this opportunity have been fantastic.”
– Megan, UK
”The photography course offered here was so good and comparing my images from week one to week four is crazy. My photography skills have excelled my own expectations and i can wait to see how they will improve even more when I'm back home with the knowledge I've learnt whilst here.”
– Lizza Doogan, Australia
”Travelling to Africa alone and spending a month working as a volunteer is definitely a daunting prospect, but I was amazed at how quickly I felt at home here. Every single member of staff was incredibly nice, outgoing and passionate about what they're doing, the lodge is situated in a perfect location and is far and away more luxurious than other volunteer projects I've been to and the organisation of every week is fantastic. I found the photography course perfectly in line with what I wanted and expected, it was fantastic to be reminded of the basic guides to photography and also to be pushed to experiment and adapt new styles to experiment with. As amazing as it is being able to photograph wildlife several times a week, it was also a breath of fresh air to be able to venture out to other locations (such as Blyde River Canyon, the trash dump and the local school and community projects) that not only gives you a more well-rounded and truthful representation of Africa but also reminds you of how everything is connected; community, wildlife and environment, and how they must all be equally focused upon if any impact is to be made. Not only do I feel as if I'm leaving as a better photographer, but above all that I feel as if I made a difference (or rather, an impact) and it's that feeling that makes me want to come back asap for longer.”
– Samuel, UK
Dates (2020): 26th of January, 23rd of February, 22nd of March, 19th of April, 17th of May, 14th of June, 12th of July, 9th of August, 6th of September, 4th of October, 1st & 29th of November, 27th of December.
Number of participants: Max 20
4 weeks - 25.795 DKK / 4,030 USD
5 weeks - 29.295 DKK / 4,575 USD
6 weeks - 32.795 DKK / 5,120 USD
7 weeks - 36.295 DKK / 5,665 USD
8 weeks - 39.795 DKK / 6,210 USD
9 weeks - 43.295 DKK / 6,755 USD
10 weeks - 46.795 DKK / 7,300 USD
11 weeks - 50.295 DKK / 7,845 USD
12 weeks - 53.795 DKK / 8,390 USD
You will get an amazing experience around the beautiful and world-renowned Greater Kruger next to Kruger National Park
You will learn how to take amazing wildlife photos and how to edit them afterwards
You will get participate in conservation presentations in the local community
There are lots of extra activities (outside the programme) such as horse-riding or hiking.
The project has great facilities and the helpful staff will take great care of you
You will get to experience real bush camping, sitting around the fire and learn about the stars
You will enjoy this experience with like-minded people from all over the world
This place also offers a different programme with a focus on Big Five & Wildlife Research.
You will get the opportunity of a sleep-outs in the bush at the research camp