Work hands-on with Lion Cubs on a Game Reserve near Gweru. There are no predators in the Game Reserve, making it an idyllic location in which to take the lion cubs for a walk in order to monitor their behaviour. Alongside the walks, you'll be involved in the care of the animals which overnight in enclosures. They need feeding, cleaning, and occasionally will need veterinary care to ensure that they are kept in the best of health.

The Reserve is 3,000 acres and a tourist spot. The main camp facility - made up of thatched African rondavels and buildings - rests on the shores of a beautiful lake and is a Game Reserve with many species of wildlife and bird-life. If you can ride a horse, it's also delightful to explore the Reserve on horseback. It's amazing to ride up to some Giraffes and find yourself close to their head height, with their disconcerting brown eyes gazing at you in curiosity!


Price: £1,595 (approx. US$2,075) for 2 weeks
approximately £400 (approx. US$520) for each additional week.
Excludes flights. Please see Full Price List & Other Currencies
Duration: From 2 weeks to 4 weeks, subject to visa requirements.
Start Dates and Availability: All year round - you choose your start and finish dates. Projects start every other Monday. See list of start dates under "Work Content" below.
Requirements: Minimum age 17. No qualifications needed. You should be willing to muck in with anything.
NOTE: You must be a minimum of 1.55 metres (5 feet 1 inch) tall to participate on this project.
What's included: Arranging your Programme
Full pre-departure support and assistance
Payment Protection insurance
Meeting you at the nearest Airport
Transfer to and from your Project
Local in-country team support and backup
24-hr emergency support
Certificate of Completion
What's not included: Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visas.
Who can do this Project? All projects are open to all nationalities.
Suitable for gap years or those taking a year out, grown-up gappers, career breakers, anyone interested in animal care and animal conservation and lion rehabilitation. Also suitable for anyone wanting to study abroad and learn about the practice of conservation and animal care overseas.
Also available as a summer placement in Zimbabwe or Africa or for someone who can only afford the time to take a short break.


  • An exciting opportunity to travel, see the world and experience a foreign culture first-hand.
  • New skills, more confidence and invaluable personal and professional development.
  • The enormous satisfaction of knowing that your work is contributing to wildlife conservation and that you made a difference.
  • An opportunity to take a break from the traditional academic track or your current career path in order to gain life experience and global cultural awareness
  • An entry on your CV or Résumé that will enhance your career opportunities and make you stand out from the crowd.
  • Make friends, form relationships and build memories that will last a lifetime.
  • Opportunities to enjoy some exciting adventure and cultural activities while on your programme.
  • And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!
BOOK NOW! SEE ALL PROJECTS IN ZIMBABWE info@travellersworldwide.com


Please fill in the form below. If you haven't heard from us within one working day, please check your Junk Mail / Spam folder.

Please tick the 'I'm not a robot' box below. It helps to stop spam. Then don't forget to click the SUBMIT button afterwards. Thank you :-)
A tiny baby lion cub curled up in his mother's arms. Both are fast asleep.
If you look carefully you'll see a tiny baby lion cub curled up in his mother's arms. Both are fast asleep. Aaaah!



  • Experience the African bush in a very special way on this private reserve. Explore the savannah grasslands on horseback.
  • Help take care of younger lion cubs, should there be any in camp at the time
  • Undertake important research on the behaviour of the African Lion
  • Assist with numerous activities related to the care of these majestic beasts
  • Assist staff at our local orphanage to care for the many children in their care.

Some of the work on this project is quite unusual, to say the least. (Where else would you take lions for a walk every day to exercise them and to familiarise them with a Wildlife Reserve environment!). On the walks, the lions are 'free roaming' - no leashes - they romp, they play and they stalk, and and get used to the natural environment.

Duties are fairly varied and you will be expected to turn your hands to whatever is required at the time you're there. Generally, your work would include some or all of the following:

LION WALKS: Spending time with the lions in the wild each day is an essential part of the cubs upbringing. If the cubs are to be successfully released it is important that they spend time out in a natural environment. They need to adapt to it, learn from it, understand, observe, feel and smell the wild.

Since the start of this intensive lion walking programme, they have noted a marked increase in the lions’ awareness of their natural surroundings, as well as an improvement in their hunting skills. The larger cubs are now able to take down smaller game species whilst out on walks, and these abilities are being enhanced each day whilst under the supervision of volunteers. These are invaluable discoveries, which have earned us further support for our world first endeavours.

Alongside the walks you will be involved in the care of the animals which overnight in enclosures. They need feeding, cleaning, and occasionally will need veterinary care to ensure that they are kept in the best of health. NB. With the lion breeding programmes, you'll also take part in meat preparation, stuffing the raw meat with vitamins and minerals to feed to the lions; this is a compulsory activity.

Join the team of professional guides and other dedicated volunteers, gain a deeper understanding of the King of Beasts and assist us in gathering vital information that will facilitate their eventual release back into the wild.

RESEARCH: As part of the program they conduct a number of research activities to better understand lion behaviour and ecology. The lion walks offer unique opportunities to observe lions close up in their natural environment with the data collected assisting us to make the best decisions for the animal’s welfare and eventual release.

Volunteers will assist the research technician in gathering and analyzing this vital data.

ELEPHANT: You will also have the opportunity to spend time with our orphaned African Elephants and their trainers. The elephants at the Park were saved from certain death during a severe drought that ravaged Zimbabwe’s South Eastern Lowveld in 1991 and 1992.

FREE ROAMING WILDLIFE: The few remaining areas of wildlife sanctuary in Zimbabwe are extremely precious and must at all costs be protected. Part of your project will involve assistance with the wildlife management scheme such as finding and removing snares (‘snare sweeps’) within the game park and checking for holes or fence cuttings on the boundary fence (‘Boundary Patrols’) and repairing them. These activities are usually conducted on foot, within the Park and accompanied by one of our trained guides.

OTHER DUTIES: You may also be asked to assist in any other duties at the game park such as:
cleaning the lion enclosures;
preparing meat for the lions;
building and painting new lion enclosures;
cutting and collecting firewood;
basic repairs and maintenance;
fire brakes;
any other wildlife or camp related activities that involve the assistance and development of the lion programme.

There is also an opportunity to visit children at a local orphanage and interact with them. They love to have the care and attention shown to them that they so richly deserve.

Every day is different as animals rarely operate to our schedule. We ask that you remain flexible, but here is an example of a typical day on the project, as a guideline only:

• Morning - Lion walk & Cleaning lion enclosures
• Afternoon - Cub sitting (when available) & Elephant walk
• Morning - Lion walk & Snare sweep
• Afternoon - Behaviour enrichment & research on release pride
• Morning - Boundary patrol & Alien plant removal
• Afternoon - Snake induction & lion walk
• Morning - Elephant walk & erosion control/Fire breaks (seasonal)
• Afternoon - Cub sitting (when available) & Elephant walk
• Morning - Lion walk & Meat preparation
• Afternoon - Lion enclosure maintenance & Lion/Elephant walk
• Morning - Elephant walk or optional sleep-in & Trip to the local children’s orphanage
• Afternoon - Optional polo crosse & Research on the release pride
Day off - Optional excursions such as: Matobo Rhino trekking safari, The Great Zimbabwe ruins or Wildlife Sanctuary in Bulawayo.


The start dates for 2018 are:
Jan: 8th, 15th and 29th
Feb: 12th and 26th
March: 12th and 26th
April: 9th and 23rd
May: 7th and 21st
June: 4th and 18th
July:2nd, 16th and 30th
August: 13th and 27th
September: 10th and 24th
October: 8th and 22nd
November: 5th and 19th
December: 3rd, 17th and 31st

The start dates for 2019 are:
7, 14 & 28 January
11 & 25 February
11 & 25 March
8 & 22 April
6 & 20 May
3 & 17 June
1, 15 & 29 July
12 & 26 August
9 & 23 September
7 & 21 October
4 & 18 November
2, 16 & 30 December

BOOK NOW! SEE ALL PROJECTS IN ZIMBABWE info@travellersworldwide.com
Two volunteers taking measurements and collecting data on the Lion Rehabilitation Project
Two volunteers taking measurements and collecting data while at the same time walking some lions around the Game Reserve.
Volunteer Rachel Mcaffery accompanying a small pride of lions as they're walked around the Game Reserve
Volunteer Rachel Mcaffery accompanying a small pride of lions as they're walked around the Game Reserve to get used to natural surroundings.
Mother Lion grooming her cub
Mother is grooming her cub - just like all mothers :-)
Volunteer Neil Munro at 70-something was one of our most effective volunteers
Volunteer Neil Munro at 70-something was one of our most helpful and effective volunteers.


The setting of your accommodation is not only very beautiful (with almost all the buildings thatched and very African), it's also very conveniently located just yards away from where you work, eat, swim and play. Nothing quite like waking up to the sounds of lions roaring or falling asleep to the sounds of the African wildlife.

Accommodations are a mixture of comfortable twin or quad thatched rooms at the main reserve camp with clean shower and toilet facilities located adjacent to the sleeping area. You will be sharing room with your fellow volunteers. Your room will be cleaned daily by the housekeeping staff and you will have weekly laundry services provided.

The dining area is beautiful - there's no other word for it. Again it is set under an open-sided thatched roof and overlooks the lake and the sweeping plains of the Wildlife Reserve, as well as the beautifully kept grounds of the main camp.

There is also a lovely swimming pool on the lake shore that looks out over the lake and the Wildlife Reserve.

Wi-Fi / Internet: There is Internet access available on site, but it is sporadic owing to its remote location.

Accommodation upgrades are available, please speak to us for details and prices.

All your meals, unless you happen to take a packed breakfast into the park on a long lion walk, will be served at the main camp and are guaranteed to leave you feeling nourished and happy! 3 meals a day will be provided. Coffee shop and bar is available for snacks and drinks

You'll eat the same food as is prepared for the tourists, and the quality and standard is very good. At Gweru there is an almost constant stream of overlanders camping on site and they have the choice of either barbecuing for themselves or having meals in the dining area. There are lots of socialising opportunities with the overlanders, which is great fun because they come from all over the world.

BOOK NOW! SEE ALL PROJECTS IN ZIMBABWE info@travellersworldwide.com
The setting of the project and the location is stunning! There's no other word for it.
One of the bedrooms in the accommodation.
Amongst the many facilities is a very welcoming swimming pool to cool down in on a hot day.


Read important information about the Support & Backup you receive before you leave and during your programme.

Read about the Safety and Security measures we take to ensure your safety and wellbeing while on our programme.

The Gweru location is a 3,000 acre Game Reserve and tourist spot about 10 kilometres from Gweru. The main camp facility - made up of thatched African rondavels and buildings rests on the shores of a beautiful lake and is a Game Reserve with many species of wildlife and bird-life.

The species in the reserve include non-predatory animals like Giraffe, Zebra, Wildebeest, Impala, Kudu, Warthog, Jackal, Duiker (and many other species of buck and antelope), as well as 150 species of birds. The 3 Km lake in front of the camp is also host to an abundance of bird life, including the great African Fish Eagle.

Because the animals in the Reserve are all non-predatory, this makes it a safe place to explore and view game either on foot or on horseback, or even riding on an elephant or in a mule-drawn buggy. If you like jogging every day, what better place to run around than a reserve where you jog past zebra, wave to a curious giraffe, or watch a group of warthogs cavorting in the grass.

And you're not short on modern facilities either. This is one of the only places where you have nearly all the modern facilities you could require and yet you still feel as though you're camping in the middle of the African bush.....

One minute you could be in the office surfing the Internet, the next you could walk outside, pour yourself a cup of coffee in an open-sided, thatched roof dining area and go and sit on the grass with a spectacular view of the lake in the forefront with swooping vultures, and the rolling expanse of the Wildlife Reserve in the background.

To make sure that you're totally spoilt(!), there's also a lovely swimming pool on the lake shore where you can cool down and do some serious sunbathing while looking out at the magnificent view of the lake and the Wildlife Reserve. This is paradise at its tranquil best.

Once you have applied for a placement, we'll contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have access to all the documentation and information which we've put together to facilitate preparations for your adventure! Your Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on your placement and on your return home.

The documents you'll have access to also include a Country Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on your particular programme (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.

On Your Arrival: When you arrive you will be welcomed by a member of staff who will take you to your accommodation and introduce you to everyone. During your first few days you'll be given an induction so that you can learn about the country and its culture, as well as other useful information.

BOOK NOW! SEE ALL PROJECTS IN ZIMBABWE info@travellersworldwide.com DOWNLOAD THIS INFORMATION in .pdf How to Fundraise for your Program


Please with any questions and include your phone number, if possible, to help us give you the best possible response.

We'll get back to you very shortly, but if you haven't heard from us within one working day, please check your Junk Mail / Spam folder. Thank you.



Make the most of your time there! To help you do that, we've put together some exciting activities, courses and tours that you can add to your itinerary. These are designed to be fun, but also to enable you to learn, and expand your personal and professional development enjoyment ... but mostly for your enjoyment! :-)

Coming Soon!

Terms and Conditions apply for Add-Ons, please see here.

SEE ALL PROJECTS IN ZIMBABWE info@travellersworldwide.com



During your stay at the Park, you'll be able to enjoy an excursion to some of the other spectacular spots that Zimbabwe has to offer. Day trips are offered to the Great Zimbabwe Ruins as well as Granite Ridge in the beautiful Matobo National Park, and once a month a trip to the Victoria Falls is organised for those volunteers who are interested. These trips are also a great time for volunteers to interact and get to know each other better.

The expedition such as the example trip outlined below (to Victoria Falls) will cost you approximately US$400 (at time of writing). This includes National Parks fees, transport, meals (excluding meals in Victoria Falls), and accommodation.

Join the 3 night/4 day trip to the majestic Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World! Your 4 days spent in this adrenalin fuelled town gives you adequate time to partake in activities, ranging from white water rafting down the Zambezi River to bungee jumping into it! A highlight is always the group dinner at the Boma, and African Themed restaurant where you’ll have opportunity to try anything from Crocodile to Warthog!

This includes: Private vehicle transfer from the park to and from Victoria Falls, a personal guide, accommodation, breakfast and lunch (on the first day) and dinner at the Boma restaurant.

This particular trip only operates with sufficient volunteer interest.

There is also the option of a day trip to Great Zimbabwe – the ancient founding city of modern day Zimbabwe or to Matopos – a National Park to go on a wild Rhino tracking safari. The costs of these trips are dependent on the number of people going.

BOOK NOW! SEE ALL PROJECTS IN ZIMBABWE info@travellersworldwide.com
Kate & Liz from Travellers UK Head Office on an inspection trip to the Project
Kate & Liz from Travellers UK Head Office on an inspection trip to the Project.
Graceful Impala at Hwange Game Reserve
Graceful Impala at Hwange Game Reserve. Hwange is famous worldwide and should definitely be on your sightseeing bucket list.

Lion Research, Rehabilitation and Release Project in Gweru

My Most Memorable Moment: I celebrated my 25th birthday at the Park. I started the day with a lion walk, taking three 9 month old cubs out in the bush for a 2 hour walk before breakfast. After 2 weeks I had started to form a bond with the cubs and was getting morning cuddles from the male cub, Tonga. After breakfast, a group of us went to the boys Orphanage, which is supported by the Project, and spent the rest of the morning playing games with the inspiring kids there. When I retuned to the Park, I was presented with a birthday cake from the amazing group of friends I had made and was later thrown in to the swimming pool (a birthday tradition). This was the best birthday I have ever had and meant so much to me, especially since I had travelled to [the Project] alone.

My Biggest Achievement: I was worried about making friends since I was travelling out to Zim on my own. I was worried that all the volunteers would be 18 year olds on their gap year, which did not appeal to me as a 25 year old career breaker. However, I was pleasantly surprised that there was a big range in ages (from 18 to 50) of the volunteers and I made an amazing group of friends. I read a lot of cliches before going to Zim about "making friends for life" and did not buy in to it. But I have actually returned home with some of those.

What was your biggest Positive Impact on the Project? On the lion project, everything you do directly impacts on the lions. From cleaning their enclosures, to feeding them, to making toys for them, to sweeping the park for snares: everything you do betters their captive life. I was also lucky enough to visit AP after they had released their lions in to stage 2 (releasing a pride of lions in to a semi-wild environment with no human interference) and whilst they were putting plans in place for Stage 3 (releasing the female cubs born in Stage 2 in to a national park). Therefore, I spent a lot of time on research, observing the pride in the release site and taking data. I loved being able to observe the lions in their natural habitat and felt like I was really helping the conversation project.

The staff at [the Project] are fantastic and always explain why you are doing the tasks you've been asked to do and how it benefits the animals/park/community.

As a lion project volunteer, you also have the option to spend some days with the community volunteers in the community. One of my friends loved it so much he swapped on to the community project and extended for an extra 2 weeks. The staff at [the Project] are very flexible and this was not a problem at all. (Likewise, community vols get to spend time with the lions or at the stables at the weekends).

Every Saturday we went to the boys Orphanage, which was supported by [the Project]. We took games and food to the orphanage and spent quality time with the boys. They were always so excited to see what games we had for them and to play with us and show off their dance moves. One Saturday, we spent the whole morning dancing with the kids, it was incredible. I also spent one day at Julena school teaching a class English grammar and how to tell the time. The community project is very special, as you get to experience real life in Zimbabwe and see the direct impact of the work the park does on the communities.

Charlotte Whitehead, who was my point of contact at Travellers Worldwide, was fantastic. All of the information she gave me was great, she was extremely friendly and she was very supportive before heading off. I booked my placement very late and she helped to get everything organised in time and responded to my emails very quickly. I also spoke to one of your reps on online chat before I booked the placement, as I was unsure whether to go to Gweru or to Vic Falls. The lady who I spoke to online was also really helpful, answering all of my many questions in full. She gave me the confidence to book the experience then and there.

I did find that the information in the brochures was a little outdated. For example, you do not have to pay for laundry and they will wash all clothes (including underwear). However, we did not get towels at the accommodation. This is all very minor and did not deter from the amazing experience ...

Now turning to the project itself.
The Lion Conservation Project focuses on breeding lions that can be released in to the wild, as the number of lions in Africa is dwindling.

Phase 1: Lion cubs are born and, after a few weeks with their mum, they are raised by handlers. This is controversial, however the cubs cannot learn the skills they need from their captive mothers. Therefore, when they are old enough, they are walked 2-3 times a day in the African bush with experienced handlers and eager volunteers. Walking through the bush allows them to familiarise themselves with their natural environment and to develop their natural instincts. There is free-roaming game on the reserve and this enables the cubs to learn to hunt and, eventually, feed themselves.

The cubs are walked daily until they are around 18 months old, at which point they are too unpredictable to walk alongside a human. Therefore, handlers will take them out at night to hunt (the handlers will drive in a truck around the reserve instead of being on foot). Volunteers can also go along for the ride, which is very exciting!

Phase 2: A pride of lions are released in to the release site: a semi-wild environment. Here, the lions act as a normal pride would. Living in the African bush and hunting for themselves, with little human interference. The lions live within a large fenced area (fenced to keep them safe from poachers and local communities safe from lions). Researchers come in to the site daily to observe the pride and take essential research data. The pride has cubs in the release site, who have never had any human interaction.

Phase 3: Once these cubs have fully matured, around 5 years, they are released in to the wild, such as a national park.

[The Project] is currently at Phase 2, and are looking to complete Phase 3 early next year. Once the lions in Phase 3 have cubs of their own, the project is deemed to be a success. This is a model, which, if successful, can be applied to other endangered species.

They also do a lot of work with the community. Unemployment is at a staggering 95% in Zimbabwe, which is one of the word’s poorest countries. As a result, poaching is a huge issue. AP invest some of the money generated through the safari lodge and volunteer programme in the community: building and supporting schools, clinics, orphanages, drop in centres etc. This gives the community a tangible benefit to keeping the animals around and gets them on board with the work the park are doing.

Volunteers play a huge role at the Park, funding the Conversation project and providing the manpower to keep the projects running. At AP there are lion volunteers, stable volunteers, medical volunteers and community volunteers. The great thing about this Park is the flexibility. I was a lion volunteer, but was still able to spend days out in the community.

I will start with my experience in the community. The community volunteers spend time teaching classes at local schools, preparing meals at the drop-in centre for homeless children, playing games at the local orphanage etc. Every Saturday, volunteers from the Park visit the local boys orphanage, taking games to play with the kids. It is truly rewarding seeing how excited the boys are when you arrive to see what games you have brought them. I spent a couple of very happy Saturdays getting to know these amazing children. One Saturday we spent the entire morning dancing, which is something I will remember forever! I also spent one day teaching children at Julena School English grammar and how to tell the time.

Now, turning to the lions.
The reason I ventured out to Zim in the first place. Most days started with a 2 hour lion walk before breakfast, starting at 6am. It was bitterly cold in the mornings during dry season but so worth it to go out in the bush with three 9 month old cubs. I was slightly nervous around them at first, but soon began to read their every facial expression. Over the few weeks I was there, I also got to witness them developing their hunting skills, starting to flank and stalk their prey. As they were young, they were very playful and loving too. Ruva would often push her luck, giving you an ankle tap or stalking you. And Tonga was very needy, often making lots of noise and falling at your feet for cuddles. It was incredible getting to know their very distinct personalities and watching them develop, even over that short time. There isn't anywhere else in the world where you can get so close to these creatures.

After breakfast comes the hard work. Either cleaning the enclosures (lots of bones and nasty smelling meats), feeding the lions, fixing enclosures, doing manual labour on the park, sweeping the park for snares etc. This is definitely not for the work shy or extremely squeamish. However, it is all worth it in the afternoon as you get to walk with the lions again, make toys for the lions and observe how they react, or head out in to the release site to observe the Ngamo pride.

Volunteer life at the park is very sociable. The accommodation blocks are built around a fire pit in the "volunteer village" so there are always people around and you make friends easily. The park has a lot of volunteers so there is normally a good range of ages and people. The staff are extremely friendly and the facilities on site are good. Every night is spent sat in the bar or around one of the camp fires.

There are also a range of other activities you can take part in. The Park has 4 orphaned African elephants they took in, so you can spend the day with the elephants if you want to. You can also go on horse safaris, bare back riding, overnight camping, play Polocrosse, go on trips such as Rhino treks, to the great ruins, or to Victoria Falls.

On the whole, this is a once in a lifetime experience (although I am already planning to go back next year!). If you are thinking about volunteering, I really recommend both Travellers Worldwide and this Project!

Lion Research, Rehabilitation and Release Project in Gweru

I always knew I had a passion for animals and wildlife conservation, and this trip only further served to build this passion within me. What I did not know and what I discovered on this trip was my passion for building relationships with fellow humans from various cultures.

The local Zimbabweans blew me away with their intelligence, positivity, determination and devotion to the conservation cause. These people deal with civil unrest, poverty and famine in their lives and yet they betray no sign of bitterness - quite the opposite in fact, as they work with a vigor that betrays their dedication to saving the animals that represent their beautiful country.

I derived so much pleasure from watching these people work, from working beside them and most of all from getting to know each and every one of them personally. It was difficult to tear myself away from the community when it was time to go home.

Furthermore, on my placement I developed a real knowledge and understanding of the program's larger goals of increasing the African lions populations and numbers throughout the continent.

It is amazing to see and be a part of a project with such lofty goals and actually get to witness all the prerequisites and baby steps needed to actually achieve this larger goal. It puts things into perspective and really made me realize that the success of a program such as "lion rehabilitation and release into the wild" rests not only on a good plan for a long-term goal, but also the daily carrying-out of the smallest details that lay the foundation for success.

Lion Research, Rehabilitation and Release Project in Gweru

The information for me was spot on, it painted a perfect picture of what we were going to be doing. A little bit more information on the actually project itself and what they are trying to achieve would make it even better.

All the staff were so friendly and welcoming. They provided us with such good information and knowledge of the programme and the wildlife around us. I couldn’t have asked for better staff.

I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I knew I was going to be out of my comfort zone but I didn’t realise how much enjoyment I would get out of it. From walking lion cubs every day, to working with the highly intelligent elephant, to working surrounded by fully grown lions.

Nothing could have ever prepared me for the experiences I had in Zimbabwe. I met some of the most interesting and genuine people, both the staff and fellow volunteers. To see what the project is trying to accomplish and to know I have done my bit to help them achieve their goals is something I am very proud of. To witness a female lion hunting a herd of Zebra on a day encounter and realising how their hunting skills are so instinctive to them, really proved to me that even lions not in the wild are perfectly capable of hunting.

This was one of my greatest memories, as well as watching the 4 lions grow and learn to stalk, hunt and play in their natural habitat.

Lion Research, Rehabilitation and Release Project in Victoria Falls

I was privileged at my age to participate in the program Walking with Lions. I learned so much about lions and other wild animals as well as Zimbabwe. I was unsure about travelling to Africa. Now I cannot wait to return. I was able to...

  • interact closely with the lions,
  • pet a cheetah,
  • went to an orphanage twice,
  • visited a village and made sudsa with them,
  • had language, culture and herb lessons and
  • got to know a wonderful group of people, the handlers and the volunteers.

I never imagined what a wonderful adventure this would be for me.

I have gained a great respect for the wildlife of the planet and for the strength of the Zimbabwe people. I also have learned a lot about Sweden and Ireland and made a great friend in England.

I can say without reservation that everyone should experience Africa like this!!

Lion Research, Rehabilitation and Release Project in Gweru

I gained a greater confidence when working with animals and also a greater respect for them. The best thing was meeting new people, comparing and sharing experiences and being able to work so closely with the lion cubs.

I would definitely recommend this placement. The staff here are very supportive and helpful. Volunteers worked well as a team and made new volunteers feel very welcome. Facilities are excellent and extra spending money is very minimal.

Can you describe a typical day?
►6.30 feeding bottles to cubs.
►7.00 activity - often lion walk with or without clients, grooming horses, assisting elephant training etc.
►8.30 breakfast.
►9.30 / 10.00 walking / horse riding / drive / elephant ride - boundary patrol, checking fences, snare sweep, game count, cleaning enclosures. rotated duties depending on what needed doing. feeding small cubs and playing with them. Also canoes available to check around the edges of the lake.
►13.00 lunch
►14.00 similar to morning activities.
►16.00 walking cubs +/- clients.
►17.00 dinner
►18.00 feeding older cubs bottles, meat alternate days
► Evenings usually free - could attend on night drives if room or if someone was needed to hold spot light. TV lounge.

Although we were busy all the time the work was relaxed and fun. Mostly there was someone else to work with rather than alone. It was not a problem taking time off if wanted but most people joined in every day!

Lion Research, Rehabilitation and Release Project in Gweru

My flight to Jo'burg and Bulawayo were interesting as we flew lower than usual so could see the ground the whole way. There was a 'to do' at Jo'burg when my pliers/Swiss army knife showed up on the x-ray of my hand baggage! I spent a night in Bulawayo so arrived here last Wednesday after an 8-10am bus ride to Gweru where I was picked up.

After lunch I spoke to the elephants then watched them swimming with guests and finally chasing a crocodile from the lake. Amazing stuff! I have done a boundary fence check on horse back and the next day had a riding lesson. Now my nights are set on the Grand National in April!

Had a day trip to Great Zimbabwe Ruins with 3 girls and a guide driving. They are fascinating structures - a fortress on huge rocks reminiscent of Edinburgh Castle and massive stone structures. One of the girls, Suzanne, is from Edinburgh so we are becoming good friends ...

I am by far the oldest volunteer [70-something], the next one, AP (for Accident Prone), is 35. They are all good fun and we get along well. The guides, administrators and staff are all super and easy to get on with. Bobbie (male) the head guide is amazing with the lions and was teaching me today to bond with 4 lions about 1 year old - 2M, 2F & about the height of big Alsatian dogs, but with much bigger heads, legs and paws.

I am losing my apprehension as I am working with them and indeed have some confidence now.

I spend most time with 6 week old quads who don't see properly yet nor co-ordinate too well. They are very sweet. Also Casper and Cleo, who are 3 months & also still bottle fed. These two are devoted to each other, having lost 3 siblings. This devotion is touching but is making it difficult to bond with them. I hope I am making progress, though.

So it's all go and most of the nights I am in bed early then up at 5:30 or 6am. I am beginning to adjust to the heat and altitude (3000 feet) so the daily exhaustion is easing off.

Everything is great, food, accommodation, laundry, with mostly comfortable temperatures. It is hot for a couple of hours a day but that is easy to bear. Everyone is waiting for rain so that will be interesting. I will try to get to Gweru soon to see what is on the go there.

Never has so much been crammed into my first 7 days. It is certainly hard to believe. I will try to report again soon.

Lion Research, Rehabilitation and Release Project in Gweru

I had an amazing time on my project and met some really great people who made my stay so much more special. Thanks for getting me out there and giving me an experience I'll never forget!

What experience do you feel you gained?
A lot! I learnt about working outside and helping to maintain the park. I gained experience of cutting up dead animals to feed to the lions, something you really need to give a try as it's not something you may ever have to do again. I learnt a huge amount about lions, especially about cubs, and I was able to pass this information on to members of the public when they came to handle the cubs.

I gained a lot of experience of caring for young animals and about having to be on hand ready to feed them as they do need a lot of attention when they are very young, something they have in common with children!

Overall I got to do such a wide variety of different things that I gained a whole host of different experiences, even just living in Africa for 5 weeks was very special for me.

What was the best thing about your placement?
Playing with lion cubs everyday or the atmosphere within the volunteers house and the friends I made.

Would you recommend this placement to anyone else?
Absolutely, no doubt!

What type of person do you think this placement would suit?
Anyone who is adventurous enough to give everything a go. Friendly people who are able to contribute to the team and make the experience as amazing as possible for everyone involved. Even for people who don't have a huge interest in 'mothering' the cubs, there's still plenty of work around the park that they can go off and do during the days. You get a lot of input as to what you will be doing each day.

Can you think of any improvements that could be made to the placement?
As long as you are prepared to go and give everything you have then you will get a huge amount back and will enjoy yourself greatly.

Was there anything that you weren't told by Travellers before you went away that you think future volunteers should know?
No, nothing.

Can you describe a typical day?
Most people get up at 7.00 to go up to the restaurant for breakfast at 7.30. Everyone makes their own breakfast, usually just cereal and toast during the week. At breakfast you decide who is doing what in the morning and then afternoon.

If you stay up at the top in the morning then you will have to make up cub milk and porridge to feed to the cubs.

You will then need to feed and possibly pee/poo any cubs depending on how old they are. After this you will be around the tea room doing handlings for the public and doing the cub feedings which can be up to every 2 hours, as well as any other jobs which may need doing.

On busy days you may be asked to help clear up in the restaurant. Lunch is from 1-2pm, and everyone makes their own on most days.

After lunch, if you spent the morning up top then you will go out in the afternoon. You will help the staff do any maintenance around the park such as fixing fences or removing thorns from enclosures. You may well get the opportunity to go in with some older lions when you do this, up to the age of around 10-11 months.

Work finishes at 5.00 and you decide what you are going to do for dinner. Most nights everyone cooks together unless some people want an early night.

After dinner you clean up, lock up and take the cubs down to the owners house, then head on down to the volunteers house where you can stay up and chat/watch TV or go to bed, as you please.

Zululand Wildlife & Wildlife Reserve Conservation Expedition
Plus Lion Breeding and Release in Zimbabwe

It was brilliant. I want to go back in the future. I enjoyed both South Africa and Zimbabwe working with the lions. The lion project was perfect.

In South Africa, monitoring the wild dogs and rhinos was a fantastic experience. By monitoring for 2 weeks, I got to know the personalities of the dogs. It was fun to see which one would come out to greet us.

I learnt to use the monitoring and GPS equipment. We did cook for ourselves, so some idea of cooking meals is a bonus. My manager taught us about the various types of birds in the area as well as the vegetation. When I am home and viewing various TV series about Africa, I can tell others about the birds that are singing and vegetation throughout the country.

In Zimbabwe I worked with the Lions out of Gweru. The people were excellent. The food was cooked for us and very yummy. It was good to take an early morning walk with the cubs. We baby-sat them during the day and went on another walk at the end of the day. Other times of the day we would clean the pens out and prepare the food for all the lions. The volunteers were given various tasks during their placement. This enabled us to examine all aspects of the lion breeding program. The staff were friendly and fun to work with.

Lion Research, Rehabilitation and Release Project in Victoria Falls

Just a quick note to say that I am having a wonderful time here. The volunteer programme here is just what I was after – plenty of hands-on activities, working closely with animals and helping in the conservation of a species.

There are 5 volunteers here at present (there were 7 until this morning) but there is plenty of work for everyone. The work is varied and enjoyable, and the staff here are very friendly.

The owner of the Park makes an effort to speak to the volunteers and to thank them for the work they are doing, which is really nice to hear. He also listens to volunteers’ views and suggestions and encourages feedback on every aspect, from the work to the food to our accommodation.

I have only taken half a day off, to do some shopping, in the 3 weeks I have been here because I enjoy the work so much and want to make the most of my time here.