Bethany: growing and learning – Volunteer in July 2019
Hi my name is Bethany, I’m 18 years old and from Northern Ireland. I stayed at DAKTARI for 6 weeks. I came to DAKTARI as it offered me a chance to work with children and animals, helping me to figure out which I preferred to work with, while also allowing me to experience Africa through excursions and the bush around the camp.
Everyday in DAKTARI is fun and a new experience but we do have our regular activities such as the dog walk and morning/afternoon stabling. There are loads of activities to do around the camp everyday, and the lessons are never the same every day or week too which makes the experience of DAKTARI more enjoyable. All the animals at the camp were amazing to work with but my favourite animal at the camp was either the mongoose or the meerkats. The meerkats were so affectionate and loved to cuddle while the mongoose were playful and hyper.
My favourite part/parts of my stay here has been the camp fire on Thursday nights which always has people laughing and having fun, and the excursions we get to go on at weekends were amazing, seeing parts of South Africa with the friends you make and a great tour guide from DAKTARI makes it an even more fun and amazing experience.
My favourite excursion was the Panorama Tour, where we got to see the Blyde River Canyon from different places, and saw beautiful waterfalls and the Potholes. It was an amazing experience with amazing people, and the sunset we saw on the way back to camp just made everything 100 times better. Another amazing experience was an overnight stay at Tshukudu Game lodge, where we had a great evening game drive, seeing loads of animals such as elephants, lions, and rhinos. And the next morning we went on a cheetah walk and got to pet the cheetah which was so much fun and such an exciting experience to have.
DAKTARI has taught me so much during my stay here and has helped me to grow and learn. I’ve learnt so much about different cultures, not just African, due to the diversity of volunteers, and I have made so many new, amazing friends in various countries that I will never forget and hopefully stay in contact with for a long time. I think DAKTARI is different from other volunteer programs I looked at as it feels like a family. Everyone in camp knows each other, whether it’s the cleaning staff or the office staff, we all know and talk/joke to each other, making us all feel close and comfortable. DAKTARI makes a real impact on the children that come here, which I’ve seen from my stay. There have been children that arrive who are shy/can’t read very well/ not well educated, and they leave feeling confident and have new life skills and a better understanding of the world around them.
For a proper DAKTARI experience I recommend more than 2 or 3 weeks, I was here for 6 weeks and wanted to stay longer, but 6 weeks was enough to do the excursions I wanted, to fully learn the stabling routines and to build a relationship with the people at DAKTARI. Staying more than a couple of weeks allows for a proper bush experience in my opinion, which I enjoyed a lot as the experience of waking up to animal noises during the night, and trying to figure out which animal it is was always fun, even if it was a little scary at the time. The peacefulness of listening to everything happening around you while on a walk or having a rest by the pool is unforgettable, and the drive into town was always great, looking out the window to see the bush and sometimes an animal/ a group of animals.
I would love to return to DAKTARI, it has been life changing and will stay with me forever, all the friends you make and how DAKTARI grows you is an amazing adventure which everyone should experience.