The Siyafunda Bush Experience is ideal if you want to truly experience the “wild” side of Africa. Our tracking camp is based in the 60000 hectare Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve, home to the Africa’s “Big Five” – lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. You will live in the heart of Africa in your eco-friendly tented camp which is set amongst trees overlooking a water course in a magical, out-of-the-way spot, providing a real wilderness experience.

Siyafunda Bush Experience is a unique learning experience for people who want to get that little bit extra out of visiting a nature reserve or a game lodge in South Africa. So all those who join this exciting one or two week program will get to experience the African bush and the extremes the environment has to throw at you from elephants walking through camp, to the tropical heat or the surprisingly cold winter nights, all the while learning about all the unique flora and fauna in the region.

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Your days will be spent on foot walking through the reserve, approaching wildlife on foot and learning skills essential for surviving in the bush and you will also take part in game drives to see the fantastic Big five. By night, cooking food and telling stories around an open fire, listening to the melodious sounds of the bush and sleeping under the African sky. You will definitely walk away from the Siyafunda Bush Experience with a feeling of true intimacy with Africa and its wildlife.

Everyone with a love of nature, who enjoys the simple life and who is interested in learning, this experience will appeal to you. Let the bush seep into your soul.


Volunteer Work

The Siyafunda Bush Experience provides practical experience on living in the bush.  The programme is very hands-on with plenty of staff/volunteer interaction.  Daily activities are interesting and varied, including:

•Bush survival skills (how to find food & water, how to stay warm & dry, how to make fires, etc). 

•Bush orientation/navigation skills (finding your way day & night)

•Tracking skills

•Approaching animals on foot and walking amongst dangerous game (theory & practical)  1899907_10153833466895511_1427733944_n

•Field work methods (game census, carrying capacities, game capture, etc).

•Sleep-outs and bush-walks

•Big Five game drives

•Biodiversity conservation and history of the area


•Plant and tree identification, uses and mirths/traditions

•Birding walks

Other Activities

You will get the opportunity to drive a Land rover and we will teach you about 4×4 vehicle skills. We will give you instruction on basic survival techniques and how to navigate through the bush. Your rangers will show you some practical bush skills, how to use a sling shot, build bird traps and set snares.

During your experience here you will also enjoy

1602127_10153884256520511_1178985966_oTypical Bush camp schedule:a one night sleep out under the stars. We will set up a camp in the bush and cook on the open fire. After a delicious Potjie (typical South African dish) we will take turns on night watch to guard the camp while the others are sleeping. Nothing can beat falling asleep under the stars listen to the distant lion roar and whooping calls of hyenas. This is an exciting adventure you shouldn’t miss out on.

Monday: Town Trips

Tuesday: Bush walk in the morning focussing on trees or track identification. Drive in the afternoon, looking for general game animals, such as giraffe, zebra and wildebeest.

Wednesday: Bush walk in the morning with the focus on survival techniques or tracking of big game. Drive in the afternoon buffalo monitoring.

Thursday: Bush walks focussing on big game tracking. Drive in afternoon looking for high profile animals.

Friday: Habitat work in the morning may include erosion control, road maintenance and clearing. The Afternoon will be setting up for sleep out excursion.

Saturday: 4×4 driving techniques and skills in the morning. A drive in the afternoon will focus on bird identification.

Sunday: Either an outing will be planned or it will be a free day for volunteers to relax or head out on their own tour.

The above is an example week and may vary slightly during your stay.

Sundays are generally off-days to just relax in the bush!

Habitat Rehabilitation: Volunteers will have the opportunity to assist in ongoing habitat rehabilitation initiatives in the reserve, including erosion control, the construction of rock gabions, brush-packing and re-seeding.

Reserve Management: We are lucky enough to be situated on a large reserve but this also means that it needs to be constantly managed. Volunteers will have the opportunity to take part in assisting with reserve duties such as road maintenance to prevent erosion problems, encroachment of vegetation over the roads and fence clearing when needed.

The Siyafunda tented Bush-Camp consist of four double, comfortable and spacious walk-in tents with twin beds. They are all built on wooden decks in the heart of the bush where you enjoy a beautiful view. Each tent has its own ablution facility with flushing toilet and a bush shower. To heat your shower you will find large kettles to heat over the fire, making even a shower an adventure on its own.

The communal area next to the fireplace is made up of wooden decks one which has the kitchen, the other with a tented-roof where you can sit to enjoy your meal in a open air-dining-area, playing cards or just reading your book while you are listen to the African wild life and a raised platform to relax on during the day or to sleep out under the stars at night.

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The kitchen offers cooking facilities for volunteers to prepare their breakfast, lunch and dinner. The gas fridge is always filled up with fresh veggies and fruit, cheese and a variety of meat. Volunteers help themselves with tea or coffee, cereal and toast in the morning. For a late brunch you can do sandwiches or salads or have a tasty fry up, and in the evening, after game drive, the volunteers cook a delicious meal together or just braai (South African BBQ) over the fire.

bush 2Bush Camp - 2005

What is included?

Transfers for collection and drop off on Mondays from Hoedspruit (fly-in) or Tzaneen for bus arrivals only. For bus departures please book from Hoedspruit.

All food (except snacks, soft-drinks, alcohol) - Accommodation - All linen (except towels) - Monday to Friday housekeeping service - All training for assistance with our research - All travel within the reserve - Assistance to organise travel in the local area

An outing every two weeks to interesting local attractions outside of the reserve (entrance fees to be paid by volunteers)

What is excluded?

Flights to South Africa - Transfers to town Tuesday to Sunday if required - Personal Insurance - Internet (small fee payable for access at camp) - Towels - Entrance fees to local attractions - Other personal items such as alcoholic drinks, soft drinks, snack food

Arrival and Departure:

•By bus: Translux Express has a bus service between Johannesburg and Tzaneen for ARRIVING at Siyafunda. For DEPARTURES from Siyafunda you book on to the City to City bus. They can be contacted on Johannesburg (+2711) 774-3333 or make your bookings through

•By air: You can fly direct to Hoedspruit’s Eastgate Airport on South African Airways Airlink. Make your bookings through or or enquire at Johannesburg International Airport.

Start dates:

All collections and drop off of volunteers are done on Mondays throughout the year. Please arrange your travel to coincide with a Monday collection or drop off. If you are unable to do so, please advise us promptly and alternative transport can be arranged for you at your own expense.

RATE:  R 9100 / 850$ USD per week

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