Wildlife Photography & Conservation Volunteer Project
Enjoy incredible wildlife photography and give back at the same time
Photograph African wildlife while contributing to conservation efforts – it’s possible during this exciting photography volunteer project. Set in South Africa’s Greater Kruger area, you’ll be able to photograph wildlife such as lions, elephants, and leopards, and contribute your pictures to an online database that helps conservation organisations raise funds. You’ll be supported by a professional photographer, who will help you on your way with expert tutorials. This 4-week photography volunteer project is a unique opportunity to develop your photography skills, enjoy incredible photographic opportunities, and give back at the same time.
“A fantastic experience and a great way to meet other volunteers from all walks of life.”
Jan McIntyre, Australia
“I have learned so much about photography and the wildlife here. I have never met so many amazing people. I think I have grown a lot in these four weeks.”
Kendal Hanson, USA
“I thoroughly enjoyed improving my photography, meeting the other volunteers, experiencing life at the lodge, seeing so many animals, including baby animals after the rains, going to Klaserie, seeing elephants up-close… I could go on and on and on.”
Allana Skeels, Australia
- Enjoy amazing wildlife photography of in one of Africa's most famous safari spots
- Contribute to wildlife conservation by having your images added to charity databases
- Develop your photography skills during a 3-day photography course
- Contribute to wildlife conservation by doing monitoring and research work, as well as reserve-focused conservation activities
- Share your photos and newfound knowledge of conservation with local community groups
- Stay the heart of the African bushveld on an exclusive private game reserve near Kruger National Park
- Where Greater Kruger, South Africa
- Focus Wildlife photography, landscape photography, and wildlife conservation
- Length 4 weeks
- Price $3295
- Photography Level Required Suitable for all levels
- Group Size Max. 12
This photography volunteer project is based in the world-renowned Greater Kruger Area – famous for the Big 5 and amazing scenery. The region is also home to a local people celebrated for their rich and vibrant culture. In this impressive setting, you’ll have the opportunity to enhance your photographic skills while raising conservation awareness. If you have always wanted to take amazing wildlife pictures, there is no better place in the world!
During your placement you will stay in comfortable shared accommodation within the Greater Kruger Area. Volunteers and project staff meet and carry out inductions and research updates in the main lodge – a spacious thatched area boasting a large swimming pool and situated on 18 hectares of land. This beautiful landscape serves as home to impala, warthog, bush pig, nyala and a great diversity of birdlife. Here, you’ll dine, relax and socialise. The lodge is staffed with cooks and cleaners and all bed linen and towels are provided.
All meals are included in the price. Breakfast is on a help-yourself basis and usually consists of cereals, toast, tea and coffee. Lunch and dinner are full meals, and will be prepared for you.
You’ll share the lodge with other volunteers on the photography project, as well as volunteers on general conservation and education projects. It’s a great social setting, and an opportunity to meet people from many different cultures. Rooms are shared with up to three other volunteers. Single rooms are available at an additional fee.
The accommodation is basic, but very comfortable, and full of charm. Spend evenings around a fire under the stunning African night sky; enjoy relaxing on your room balcony or by the pool bar; hang out in the lounge with other volunteers; enjoy the delicious food produced by our excellent catering team; or not take a stroll around the property enjoying our own slice of Africa.
- Day 1 You'll fly into Hoedspruit, South Africa. You'll be met by one of our team members and driven to the lodge, where you'll have a chance to settle in, meet the other volunteers, and relax.
- Day 2 - 7 We'll start the project with a 3-day orientation program, which will give you a comprehensive photography workshop that covers everything from technical use of your camera to composition and post-production. It's a great opportunity to improve your photography skills, before going out and putting all this into practise. The introduction will also introduce you to the area, the aims and methods of the project, and the local cultures.
- Day 7 - 27 Most of your weekdays will be spent going out on photography drives, participating in conservation and conservation education work, and editing your images. Your schedule will be varied and exciting, and the photography opportunities will be bountiful. Weekends are off, and a chance to relax at the lodge, or explore the area on some of the many excursions you can join.
- Day 28 After saying goodbye to the lodge and the team, you'll be driven back to Hoedspruit airport.
Project Start dates 2017: 1 & 29 Jan / 26 Feb / 26 March / 23 April / 21 May / 18 Jun / 16 Jul / 13 Aug / 10 Sep / 8 Oct / 5 Nov / 3 Dec / 31 Dec
Price: $3295 per person
Included in the price:
- Accommodation and three meals a day at a lodge
- All game drives/transfers that are project related, during your stay
- Orientation program, including a photography course led by a professional photographer
- Assistance at your projects by volunteer coordinators and our onsite wildlife photographer
- Return transport between Hoedspruit airport and Dumela lodge
- An indirect contribution to the Penda Trust, as part of our proceeds go towards funding the running costs of our charity
- A tree that will be planted on your behalf by Greenpop, as a way to help compensate for your carbon footprint
Not included in the price:
- Flights to and from Hoedspruit
- Personal travel insurance
- Any additional excursions you wish to do during days off
As a photography volunteer, you’ll go out on game drives for wildlife and landscape photography most weekdays. These drives, all set within the stunning Greater Kruger area, will give you an amazing variety of photographic opportunities, as the African bush presents a constantly changing but ever-exciting scene of wildlife. Expect to capture Africa’s big cats (lions, cheetahs, leopards), as well as elephants, rhinos, buffalos, giraffes, zebras, and many other species. There will also be opportunities for photographer the smaller, but no less striking animals, such as chameleons, frogs, and other reptiles and insects. In addition, you’ll be able to capture African scenery during focused landscape photography sessions.
Your images will be added to a photographic database, which is used to support conservation charities, who can use the images for awareness and fundraising efforts. Profit-making organisations can purchase the images, and the money goes directly into wildlife research projects. You will be credited wherever possible. In addition, your pictures will be used for educational purposes, particularly at schools in surrounding communities.
On top of the wildlife photography you’ll be doing, you’ll have a chance to participate in general conservation work in the area. In partnership with local wildlife trusts and foundations, we’ll assist with hands-on field work, such as clearing alien invasive plants and removing snares, and with the collating of data and compiling of animal identy-kits that are part of larger conservation research. You’ll also help raise awareness on conservation issues in surrounding communities.
Please note that these projects evolve constantly, so be prepared to get involved in a wide spectrum of project work as things progress. In the rainy season, game drives are sometimes called off to prevent damage to the terrain. In these cases alternative activities will be arranged.
Your Photography Workshops
The project provides an amazing opportunity for photographers of all levels to improve their skills and put them into practice straight away. During your first week, you’ll be taught a photography workshop that covers a wide range of techniques, including aperture, shutter speed, long exposure techniques, and composition. The workshop will also touch on ethical conduct as a photographer, so that everyone is fully prepared for photography assignments in both the African bush and in local communities.
Though you will be mainly out photographing and volunteering from the second week, you will receive photographic guidance and tutoring throughout your stay, and Tim is available to answer any questions you may have. At least twice a week, all volunteers sit down to evaluate and discuss their own and each other’s photographs, which is a helpful and inspiring way to continually learn and improve. Throughout the project, all photographers are encouraged to develop their own style, to play and experiment.
Enthusiasm for photography and African wildlife is essential, but experience is not a requirement. This project has been established for all levels – from complete beginners to professionals. Please note that you will be taught how to edit your photos in LightRoom and you’ll spend a fair amount of time editing your images – so a basic level of computer literacy is required.
- An SLR digital camera with at least an 18-55 mm lens (but a range of lenses, including a telephoto lens, is recommended)
- Batteries, a battery charger, and memory cards
- Laptop with editing software (ideally Adobe Lightroom, as this is used during workshops)
- External hard drive (at least 100GB)
- A tripod is highly recommended, but not essential
If you’re interested in wildlife photography, but this photography volunteer project isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, check out our Kruger photo safari (a photography workshop hosted by a National Geographic photographer), or our Maasai Mara photography workshop.
Tim was born and raised in Bangor, Northern Ireland, and discovered his love for photography at the ripe old age of 18. Studying in his hometown and graduating with a Visual Communication degree from University of Ulster (Belfast 2001), he first started work as a photographer on cruise ships. For 5 years, also encompassing forays into video production and stage lighting and management, he has travelled through the Caribbean, Mediterranean, the Baltics, East and West coast of America, the Panama canal and Alaska. Since then, he has worked as a freelance photographer with a diverse focus; from portraiture to weddings and commercial work. Since 2014, Tim is based in the Greater Kruger area, and has changed his main photography focus to wildlife and landscape.