Volunteer – Lapolosa Wilderness



Volunteers are an integral part of Lapolosa’s conservation initiative. The work can be unglamorous, challenging and physically demanding at times, but the camaraderie, team spirit and beautiful surroundings make it a rewarding experience and adventure. Volunteering at Lapolosa is best suited to those who don’t mind getting their hands (and more) dirty and are prepared to undertake any task or challenge thrown at them!

Volunteers participating in the program all have a common ambition – to see, feel, and smell the African bush while developing a practical knowledge of wilderness management.  You will leave with a greater knowledge and understanding of Africa, and a feeling that you made a positive contribution to conservation.

Volunteers will get to experience firsthand the early stages of restoring the wilderness area and be involved in various aspects of conservancy management, including some of the following:

• Restoration and rehabilitation of damaged habitat

• Anti-poaching efforts, specifically snare removals

• Alien plant and soil erosion control

• Removal of old cattle fence lines

• Boundary patrols for breaches in perimeter fencing

• Vegetation management with fire breaks and block burning

• Re-introduction of wildlife (releasing and monitoring)

• Building wildlife bomas / ramps for reintroductions

• Animal capacity analysis for habitat size and vegetation

• Construction of facilities, camps, bridges, and roads

• Education / sports outreach with local schools and communities

• Bird, insect, snake, wildlife and tree identification

• Nature conservation, fencing and law requirements

• Horse trail, hiking trail and bush camp establishment

• Development of renewable energy system


Lapolosa offers a 2-week program, starting every Monday.

One-week stays may also be considered, at discount, especially in combination with Makalali / Siyafunda / Ingwe / CARE programs.


From all ages, from all walks of life, and from all over the world, Lapolosa volunteers have the experience of a lifetime while making a lasting impact on the environment.

Lapolosa accepts volunteers of 16+ years of age.  Volunteers under 16 years old are only considered when accompanied by a parent/guardian.  There isn’t a maximum age limit, though a reasonable fitness level is necessary.

No previous experience is required, however all volunteers should have a love of nature, positive attitude, reasonable level of fitness, sensitivity and respect for other cultures, willingness to help and learn, and strong sense of humor. The sanctuary is run in a spirit of co-operation, and all are expected to give their best.  There is no typical day at Lapolosa – each brings its own magical moments, trials and tribulations – all adding to the adventure and spirit of living and working in Africa.

Families and groups are welcome to join!




Volunteers take the Bushveld Link Shuttle on the Sunday before start date, departing directly from the Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport at 2:00pm and arriving into Lydenburg at 6:00pm (discounted rate of 220 ZAR for Enkosini volunteers – www.bushveldlink.co.za). Volunteers must arrive into Johannesburg on Sunday by no later than 12:00pm as it can take some time to go through customs and collect your luggage.

Volunteers spend Sunday night at The Manor Guesthouse (www.lydenburgmanorhouse.co.za) in Lydenburg (discounted rate of 360 ZAR, including dinner, bed and full English breakfast). The shuttle drop off at the guesthouse and Lapolosa staff pick up from the guesthouse at 12pm on Monday to start the experience!

On the Monday departure, volunteers take the Bushveld Link Shuttle, departing Lydenburg at 7:45am, arriving Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport at 12:15pm.

Off-schedule transfers will only be arranged when absolutely necessary and will cost R795 South African rands.


Click HERE to find out up to date costs and requirements for volunteering with LAPOLOSA WILDERNESS.



The volunteer camp is completely eco-friendly and “off the grid.”  We strive to maintain harmony with nature by using solar power and fire-driven water heaters.  Drinking water flows from one of Lapolosa’s many natural springs and there is no permanent electricity, although limited solar power will be provided for charging cell phones, camera batteries, laptops, etc.  A good flashlight / headlamp is strongly recommended. Volunteers may also stay at other camps depending on reserve activities.

Volunteers may bring personal laptops for internet (3G datacard with usage cost).  Cell signal is also available.  Laundry can be done by hand.

Accommodation is simple and rustic.  Volunteers sleep in comfortable dorm style rooms, with shared bathrooms.  Pillows and fitted sheets will be provided, however volunteers must bring their own sleeping bag.  This program will suit people who enjoy natural places, simplicity and practical work.

Meals are included. Vegetarian option available upon request before arrival.

Couples, friends or families volunteering together who wish private accommodation may reserve a lovely private chalet with amazing valley views and outdoor “safari” shower for an additional USD$95  per person per week (1.5x single supplement).


Lapolosa is currently home to the following wildlife species, though some are quite elusive – leopard, hippo, brown hyena, jackal, serval, genet, caracal, civit, honey badger, African wildcat, mongoose, porcupine, pangolin, aardwolf, aardvark, baboon, vervet monkey, bushbaby, ostrich, zebra, giraffe, red harteebest, kudu, waterbuck, duiker, bushbuck, impala, black wildebeest, mountain reedbuck, steenbok, klipspringer, bushpig, warthog, otter, crocodile and an amazing variety of birdlife (approximately 250 species), reptiles and smaller creatures.

The upcoming years are going to be a fantastic time at Lapolosa. Werecently began wildlife reintroductions, and releases are planned each year. Reintroductions have been scheduled in three phases: 1) plains game (giraffe, zebra, eland, nyala, wildebeest, blesbok, impala); 2) large herbivores (rhino, buffalo, hippo); and 3) large predators (cheetah, spotted hyena, leopard, wild dog).  We are targeting for releases of rhinoceros, eland and nyala in 2013.  Volunteers will be actively involved in the preparations for these reintroductions.


Relaxation is an important part of the Lapolosa experience, and there will be time on weekends to explore the beautiful wilderness. Lapolosa is a hiker’s paradise. Rockpools and waterfalls provide for great swimming, the Buffelskloof Dam offers fishing, and horseback riding is available for experienced riders.  The horses live wild at Lapolosa, though they do often come into camp on their own for treats. Volunteers may also have opportunities to enjoy sleep-outs in the bush and excursions to Kruger National Park and surrounding communities / schools, providing a wonderful mix of wildlife and cultural experiences.  The nearest town, Lydenburg, is an hour drive away and visited once a week by the Lapolosa staff for supplies.

Volunteers do not join these supply trips, but will have an opportunity to visit town before/after the excursion to Kruger National Park.


Lapolosa (la-puh-lo-sah)

The word wilderness derives from the notion of “wildness” — in other words, that which is not controllable by humans. Wilderness areas are the most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet — those last truly wild places that have not been developed or significantly modified by human activity.

Wilderness areas are important for biodiversity, species survival, ecological studies, conservation, solitude, and recreation. Wilderness is deeply valued for cultural, spiritual, moral and aesthetic reasons. We at Lapolosa believe wilderness areas are also vital for the human spirit and creativity.  Simply, being a wilderness area is the primary goal of Lapolosa.  When the land is protected, then the wildlife, the flora, the entire ecosystem flow naturally from there.  Lapolosa Wilderness is a bushveld haven, offering a unique malaria-free bush experience for nature lovers.  Steeped in history and beauty, Lapolosa is a spectacular 20,000 acre preserve located on a magnificent escarpment of rolling mountains and plains in South Africa.  It is home to a myriad of indigenous wildlife, birdlife and flora, and the atmosphere provides an antidote to the stresses of everyday living.  Coming away from Lapolosa, one is left with a feeling of true intimacy with Africa.

Lapolosa Wilderness was formed in 2001 to protect and preserve Africa’s wildlife and habitat.  Lapolosa (derived from the Sepedi word meaning “place of rest”) was established as a conservancy, by joining together large South African farms with the aim of restoring the environment back to its natural state and establishing a larger preserve for the benefit of African wildlife.  The area Lapolosa encompasses was hunted clean in the late 1800s to feed the inrush of miners when gold was discovered.  South Africa has the highest gold producing ore-reserves in the world, and the first discovery occurred in the Lydenburg area. Later Lapolosa was home to as many as 11 cattle ranches.  Lapolosa is a unique conservation initiative to restore the land to its original state as wilderness.  Lapolosa is re-introducing indigenous wildlife onto the land they once naturally roamed, ultimately re-establishing all of the original flora and fauna to the area. Lapolosa will also continue to acquire habitat to expand the wilderness as funds allow.

Lapolosa strives to create a self-sustaining model of responsible conservation that preserves Africa’s natural heritage (habitat and wildlife); enhances the South African economy through overseas capital infusion, voluntourism, and job creation; and promotes education and awareness of conservation issues.

For more information on ENKOSINI or LAPOLOSA WILDERNESS, please visit www.enkosini.org

For important information on travelling overseas, please read ‘KNOW BEFORE YOU GO WILD!‘