Askari WCP

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10 / 10 after 72 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings
Program website: http://www.askariwcp.com

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The lions will keep you up all night! No, really. I actually slept through them the first few nights, and everyone made fun of me. But what a sound. Certainly not something you will hear in most bedrooms in the world. Although all the big name animals are there, my favorites were the spectacular animals that I didn't know would be there. They were complete surprises and gave me the experience of seeing something I had never heard of before, compared to seeing animals you have seen pictures and videos of since being a kid. This ranged from stick insects to bee eaters to genets to Gymnogenes brown hyenas to "how many kinds of antelopes are there?". And to see them in their own habitat, with on their terms, and to see how they interacted with their environment, and other animals was precious. There is also some structured learning so you get the big picture on what the reserve is trying to accomplish, and the people runing it and guiding you are top notch. Very passionate, and as excited about what each new day will bring as you are. And to contribute in my small way to the conservation efforts there creates a connection with that place that I would never have with a place I simply drove through on a safari. If you want to experience a place, spend some time, experience the environment, meet the people, work together, laugh, contribute to it and it will become a part of you.
My only problem now is figuring out how to get back there!

Regrettably, I only had time for the two-week program; but even that short duration was an awesome experience. The passionate, knowledgeable, and entertaining Katie and Joe are your guides as you learn and experience first hand, the workings of a wilderness reserve and all the management issues and activities involved in creating and maintaining a natural ecosystem in a modern world.

You work hard on some projects, not so hard on others, and the physical work is well balanced with informative seminars by reserve staff, braai, and plenty of free time, which is desperately needed to organise the hundreds of photos you will take and share with other volunteers.

I especially liked the focus on creating a wilderness area, as large as possible, to house endangered animals while developing the native habitats those animals need, rather than creating a maximally stocked reserve built for taking tourists on safari. As the saying goes, “If you build it, they will come”, and I mean the animals will come. The excellent habitat there provides the cover, the food, and diversity needed by a huge range of animals, and you will enjoy seeing all of them.

The accommodation is clean, comfortable and homey, but not posh and impersonal. You chip in to keep the place clean and each other fed, but also have your laundry done for you, computer access and TV entertainment – but you won’t need the TV. As with any great experience, it rests firmly with the people. Katie and Joe are great, and they are supported by a very expert and dedicated reserve staff, and an owner that has a great conservation ethic and love of the bush. The other volunteers are great to get to know and the program is small, so you are not lost in a crowd, and therefore get lots of personal attention.

I thoroughly enjoyed my short stay there, and hope to return. If at all possible, spend a month - and Katie will get you your very own bee-eater

Program:
Location:
Posted: December 6, 2010
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: Chuck
Age:
New User

Breathtaking scenery, stunning wildlife sightings and some amazing hands on activities are just a few things that make Askari so special. The staff are incredibly knowledgeable and so welcoming you immediately feel part of a team that is truly making a difference for conservation in Africa. Although the days are well planned with a mix of activities, sometimes you never know what the day will bring. We had some days where plans changed due to new animal arrivals or unexpected maintenance or just such an amazing animal sighting that you lose track of time. I have been lucky enough to go to Askari twice for a total of 7 months and would go back again. I have 1000’s of photos of the amazing experiences I have had there-staring into a lion’s eyes, tracking and walking in on a cheetah coalition, being surrounded by elephants and seeing brown hyena. At the end of each day you head back to the fantastic house you stay in and share a home cooked meal with new friends. I can not recommend Askari enough. The experience will change your life and leave you wanting to return again and again.

Program:
Location:
Posted: December 2, 2010
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
New User

Unforgettable experience! You would definitely come out with knowledge that you can share with others. Every day here is exciting because you would never know what might be around every corner. Volunteers would get themselves involved with all sorts of wilderness conservation; road clearing, injecting alien plant life, data capture around the reserve etc. Everyday is guaranteed to bring plenty of laughs and you will learn new and exciting experiences while working with professionals.
Unforgettable! Unmissable! Sensational!

Program:
Location:
Posted: December 1, 2010
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: ab2410
Age:
New User

My time at Askari has been nothing short of magical. I have seen and done things I could never have dreamed of and all under the supervision of friendly, helpful and knowledgeable staff. The program is perfect for anyone with a conservation background and anyone with just a keen interest in the area. No prior knowledge is assumed so everyone starts in the same boat.

It is an incredible place to come to and the perfect opportunity to volunteer. It’s the first program I’ve done that I can wholeheartedly endorse to the extent that I have now visited twice. In total, I have spent 4.5 months there, and running the risk of sounding too cliché, they were the best months of my life. Bar none.

The setting is beautiful and peaceful, the accommodation immense, the food fantastic and the leaders superb. I’m not given to hyperbole, but no words can do this experience justice.

I won’t be able to list all of the activities here, but I will share a few of my favorites.

Cheetah tracking: A couple of the cheetahs have radio collars that can be picked up using telemetry equipment that each volunteer is taught to use. They live in a separate section of the reserve without lions, so once we got as far as we could in the vehicle, we were able to go in and track them on foot and get extraordinarily close to such incredible creatures.

Camp out: I was nervous at first, but this turned into one of my favorites the second time around. Once a month, you take a sleeping bag and various other supplies, set up camp somewhere in the bush and light a fire for warmth and light during the night. Volunteers take shifts through the night to watch out for any nearby game. It was an incredible experience to just be there with no electric fence between you and whatever happened to be walking by.

Research drives: About twice a week we would drive one of four set routes to count and determine the age and sex of all the herbivores we could see. We collected data on it all, which was then inputted and relayed to the reserve manager.

Alien plant eradication: Plants that were not native to the area were the target of poisoning and physical removal. We injected the succulents with a poison and sprayed another alien plant – lantana. We also tried a biological measure in the form of a microscopic beetle (it looks like a white paste).

Road clearing: We took pangas (a little like machetes) and hacked away at the vegetation that was overgrowing the roads. We had saws and clippers, too, but I found they were not nearly as satisfying!

Random sightings: We would never pass by a lion or a rhino just because we were on the way somewhere. We would stop and record data as well as sit and admire the beauty, grace and power before us. Most of the larger animals have identification kits, so we would know exactly who we were looking at. There were also plenty of opportunities for pictures – I came home with well over 1000! Because we were out an about so much, these sightings were quite frequent and sometimes we got some relatively rare sightings. We saw lions, rhinos, cheetahs and more rarely, leopards, servals and other small cats.

There are many other things that I have neglected to
mention, but just listing the activities does very little justice to
the overall experience of volunteering at Askari. I loved being an
hour away from a major town and living in a house that was surrounded
by a game reserve so we could hear the lions roaring and the elephants
cracking trees at night. The light pollution was so low that the stars
were the most incredible I’ve ever seen. I learned to find true south
from the Southern Cross, and we were also able to see the Milky Way
due to clearness of the sky.



The whole place was so well organized – the days were planned out with
everyone having different duties each day (nothing too demanding) and
usually three major activities per day. All the people were great and
I never felt looked down upon for being a volunteer. From Katie and
Joe who ran Askari to Pierre and Sue who ran Pidwa to the students, we
were made to feel welcome and valued by everyone. I would recommend
going for at least two months because the one month goes by before you
even realized you started.


It isn’t one of those volunteer programs where the project is running and the volunteers are extras. Here the volunteers are vital for the functioning of the program. We were always doing something important and were always aware of the rationale behind every activity. I felt like I was somewhere I was needed;
I was making a noticeable contribution and was respected at the same
time. I have participated in other volunteer opportunities in the past and
only realized when I got there that they were more interested in the
money than the cause or the experience. Askari is vastly different
from that. They have an entire orientation series to make sure that
you know why you are doing each and every activity you do. No two days
are the same, so no matter how long you choose to stay, there’s no
risk of getting bored or feeling undervalued.


Everyone there believes in the cause and is dedicated to imparting
that belief upon each volunteer. The volunteers are embraced as an essential asset to the ongoing work at Pidwa and to keeping the dream
alive.
There’s no need to exaggerate what Askari has to offer, because I’m
not sure there’s anything else they could do. If you want to make a
valuable contribution to South Africa’s wildlife preservation, Pidwa 
is the perfect opportunity.

Program:
Location:
Posted: December 1, 2010
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
New User

Hands on Safari. Nothing beats Askari!!!!
Katie and Joe tell you all they know.
You wil...
Hang with cheetah Boys and live out all your joys.
Great food,saftey and fun. You even shoot a gun.
If I can return, I will try to avoid the sun burn... Ahhhhhh.....

Program:
Location:
Posted: April 20, 2010
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
9
By: Anonymous
Age:

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