Before departure to Zambia
To become involved as a conservation volunteer in Zambia, you must at least 18 years old and have solid English skills. We are looking for flexible and open-minded participants who have a keen interest in species conservation and are eager to acquire new knowledge as part of an international team. It is also important that you are physically fit due to the physical work and sometimes unusual climatic conditions. Therefore, we ask you to submit a medical certificate filled out by your doctor. It is obligatory for all participants to get international health insurance for the duration of their stay in the project. Last but not least, you will need to obtain a visa and submit various documents, including your passport and curriculum vitae.
In order to volunteer in Zambia, you need a 30-day business visa as a simple tourist won’t be sufficient. For a fee of $US50, you can apply for such a business visa at a Zambian embassy prior to your trip. Another option is to obtain a business visa upon arrival at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka and upon presentation of a letter of introduction from our partner organisation. Once you are accepted as a volunteer, our partner will create the necessary documents for you which you must present at the embassy or at the airport.
Please keep in mind that your 30-day business visa cannot be extended. If you're planning to travel either side of your volunteer placement, you will need to do so within this time frame, or else contact our team to discuss tourist visa options. Please contact the Zambian Embassy in your home country for more information.
The Natucate team will secure you a spot in the project, provide you with comprehensive support during your travel preparations and are always available to answer any questions you may have. In addition, you will receive sufficient information material before your departure and can reach us 24/7 during your time as volunteer.
On site, the programme fee covers all transfers that are related to the project (incl. airport transfer), meals plus water, tea and coffee as well as accommodation for the duration of the project. You will be provided with project-related equipment and two work shirts. Furthermore, experienced staff will instruct and supervise you. Entrance to Lusaka and Kafue National Park is also included.
Excluded from the price are your flights, visa fees, costs for travel insurance, lunch on off-days, additional drinks and snacks, restaurant meals in Lusaka, entry fees to Victoria Falls National Park as well as further personal expenses (e.g. souvenirs, personal travel etc.).
Depending on which country you come from, you do not need any special vaccinations to enter Zambia. However, certain standard vaccinations should always be considered, including measles-mumps-rubella, diphtheria, polio, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis A and B, typhoid fever, rabies and perhaps even Yellow Fever.
We advise each participant to bring along their own small first-aid kit which includes plasters, electrolytes, antihistamines as well as medication against diarrhoea, (head) pain and travel sickness. If required, you should also pack a sufficient amount of medication that you have to take daily. Please keep in mind that Zambia is a malaria country, so (prophylactic) measures should to be taken to prevent an infection.
Before starting your journey, be sure to seek advice from your doctor about possible dangers, vaccinations and (malaria) protection options for Zambia. Institutions such as your country’s foreign office or the CDC can also provide you with comprehensive travel and safety information. In case you are chronically affected (e.g. diabetes, asthma, epilepsy), we ask you to inform us and our partner in advance. Please keep in mind that it is mandatory to obtain travel health insurance before departing to Zambia.
For your time in Zambia, you should pack sturdy shoes, clothing in layers and light (long) trousers for the day. For colder seasons, we recommend bringing warm clothing, a hat/cap and gloves as well as a raincoat (especially in April/May and October/November). Your clothes should be in neutral colours like brown, beige, khaki etc. Don’t forget a daypack, a large refillable water bottle, a headlamp, mosquito repellent, lots of sunscreen and a small first aid kit including personal medication. Other items that your travel bag should contain include towels, toiletries, binoculars, a torch, an alarm clock, ziplock bags, sunglasses, an adapter and – for your leisure time – a laptop, books, a camera as well as pen and paper.
Out of respect for the Zambian culture, we ask you to make sure that your clothing is not too revealing. Knees (and shoulders) should always be covered.
Before your departure you will receive a detailed packing list from us.
Duration of the project is always three weeks (22 days).
Arrival in Zambia
On the day the project starts you should arrive at Lusaka International Airport (Kenneth Kaunda International Airport) between 09:00 AM and 03:30 PM. You will be picked up by a representative of our partner and taken to the Elephant Nursery, approx. an hour out of town. If you arrive some time in advance, you must book a guest accommodation in the city which you need to reach independently from the airport and where you need to stay until the official start day of the project. Our partner’s transfer service will pick you up from your accommodation on the day the project starts.
After your arrival at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka, you will be picked up and taken to the Elephant Nursery near the capital. Here, you will have time to get settled, get to know your team, learn more about the programme and become familiar with important safety and camp rules. On the following day, the actual project work begins for you.
During the project in Zambia
During your three-week volunteer adventure, you will be based in the Lilayi Elephant Nursery in Lusaka as well as in Musa Camp and the programme’s release facility, both located in Kafue National Park. Your tasks will be as follows:
Lilayi Elephant Nursery (Lusaka)
- Biodiversity surveys in Lusaka National Park (transect surveys, vegetation surveys, spoor and scat observations to identify and track wildlife)
- Assistance in community outreach projects: supporting teachers in the delivery of conservation education in local schools, empowering women’s groups
Musa Camp (Kafue National Park)
- Learn about anti-poaching units
- Biodiversity surveys in Kafue National Park
- Assistance in community outreach projects: supporting local schools, women’s groups and clinics to work with expectant mothers
Kafue Release Facility (Kafue National Park)
- Biodiversity surveys in Kafue National Park
- Elephant behavioural observation
- Assistance in community outreach projects: visiting local schools, women’s groups and clinics
- Learn about our elephant rehabilitation and release programme
- Assistance in staff capacity building
Important: As an ethical species protection project, volunteers are not allowed to have direct contact to the elephants and other wild animals. Only veterinarians and professional animal keepers may touch the animals.
The project can accommodate three volunteers each month. Together with all employees, a maximum of 15 to 20 people will be in the camps during the day.
Life on site in Zambia
During your time in the project, you will live on the campgrounds in your own tent which includes a bed/mattress, a pillow and bedding. There are communal sanitary facilities, a communal kitchen and a lounge area. Camps are powered by solar energy, so charging options (in central camp area) may be limited. All clothes must be hand-washed. Washing powder, a bucket and pegs are provided. However, some volunteers choose to pay the local staff ZMW 10 (approx. US$1) to do their laundry for them.
It’s possible that lions, hyenas and elephants may wander around the camps at night (and day), so make sure that you check the area with your torch before leaving your tent when it’s dark.
Your volunteer supervisor goes on weekly grocery runs to purchase food items that you and your team can use to prepare your daily meals together. You will either accompany the supervisor’s ration run, or you can let your team leader know about your food requests. Water, coffee, tea and selected fruit juices will be provided for you in camp.
Yes, considering a vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free diet is possible. As refrigeration possibilities are quite limited, the daily diet will be mainly vegetarian anyway. Please let us know about any dietary requests as soon as possible in order for our partner to have enough time for appropriate arrangements.
The project duration is 22 days and you’ll have one off-day per week. You can also use the evening hours of each working day for your own activities.
Leisure activities mainly depend on the project site. When being at the Lilayi Elephant Nursery, volunteers can go to the nearby lodge down the road within the Lilayi Game Reserve to have a swim in the pool, enjoy a meal in the restaurant or take a walk within the reserve to spot some animals. Depending on the transportation, you may also have the opportunity to go into Lusaka to watch a movie, go to the cultural village, or do some sightseeing. It typically works out on the day the ration run is done or when taking a taxi into town.
In Kafue National Park, you and the other volunteers will be transferred to a safari lodge on your weekly off-day. Here you can have a swim the pool or just relax on the lodge grounds. You may also accompany your supervisor on the grocery run and take the chance to purchase some additional snacks.
In the camps themselves you can spend your evenings playing card/board games, doing handicrafts or reading a book. That’s why you should not forget to take some leisure items with you.
Yes, there are always staff members on site who can help you with questions or problems. You can also get in touch with the Natucate team 24/7.
The programme fee covers accommodation and board during the project time, programme-related transfers and park fees. Those who arrive in Lusaka some days before the project starts, who would like to have additional snacks or who are planning further personal expenses (for souvenirs, travel, etc.) should plan their costs accordingly. We recommend carrying a larger amount of US dollars (not older than from 2000), British pounds or euros which can be exchanged into the local currency Kwacha (ZMW) at the airport or in the city of Lusaka. A credit card to withdraw money in Kwacha from an ATM or to pay in most larger shops in the city is also highly recommended. Furthermore, you should carry an extra sum of about $US100 with you for emergencies.
The best way to stay in touch with home is getting a Zambian SIM card upon arrival. You can purchase one at the airport or in Lusaka. You will need to purchase a data bundle and can then contact friends and family via WhatsApp, Facebook, e-mail etc. The volunteer supervisor may assist you in setting up your phones. In Kafue National Park, however, internet and phone connection may be limited. Make sure that your phone is unlocked before coming to Zambia so it can work with a different SIM card.
The weather in Zambia is variable but usually quite pleasant. In general, there are four main seasons: a humid-hot season (Oct-Dec), a humid-cool season (Jan-Apr), a dry-cool season (Apr-Jul) and a dry-hot season (Aug-Sep). October is the hottest month of the year and often goes with temperatures of up to 40°C. The closer you get to November, the more rain showers occur. January and February are usually the wettest months, but by March/April it is steadily decreasing. During a rainfall it can noticeably cool down, but quickly warm up again later on. If you are in Zambia during this time you should be prepared for all temperatures.
June to August mark the Zambian winter months. During this time, temperatures can drop to 0°C at night, but climb back up to around 30°C during the day. To be prepared for these fluctuations, you should pack clothes in layers including warmer clothes for the evening/night.
The consumption of alcohol and other addictive substances is strictly prohibited. Non-compliance with this rule will result in immediate termination of programme participation, with no refund of costs.
At all times there is at least one trained first aider in camp. A first-aid and trauma kit is also available on site. Emergency numbers are clearly displayed in the camp for all to see.
In case of an emergency, our partner will contact the local emergency evacuation specialist (SES) who will respond to a call for emergency evacuation. There is an all-weather airstrip close to Musa Camp and the Kafue Release Facility. Flight time to Lusaka is approximately 90 minutes. A VHF Radio unit is used to contact the National Park Headquarters and local lodges. You will be briefed regarding our partner’s emergency procedures protocol upon your arrival.
In case that friends or family need to reach you due to an emergency situation, Natucate should be contacted first. We will then contact our partner in Zambia immediately.