Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC)

Located in Hoedspruit, South Africa, the HESC is dedicated to the survival of rare, vulnerable, and endangered species. In particular the HESC is focused on the survival of cheetahs in South Africa, and the rehabilitation of orphaned and injured animals. Cheetahs, wild dogs, black footed cats, lions, and sable antelopes are just some of the animals that call the centre their home.

This programme aims to get students involved in conserving South Africa’s wildlife, as well as building awareness of conservation on a global scale not to mention giving them the chance to experience the beauty and diversity of South Africa.

Full Course Details


Project Type: Conservation, Animal Rehabilitation and Big Five Game Reserve

Location: Hoedspruit, Limpopo Province, South Africa

Pick up Point: Hoedspruit Airport

Duration: 2 – 3 Weeks

Price: from £1,299 for 2 Weeks

Accommodation: Volunteers are accommodated at purpose built facility on the game reserve

Meals: Three meals a day included

Age Range: 17 plus


The project itself is divided into three parts: conservation, participation and sight-seeing. While on the course, the cheetahs will be your main focus. You will spend time cleaning, feeding and offering medical care to those cheetahs who need it, as well as the other animals in the centre. As part of the programme there are also daily lectures on the different aspects of conservation, including specialist care, the needs of different animals, flora, fauna and basic biodiversity.

Working alongside the HESC team, volunteers will help with a number of daily activities, feeding the animals and ensuring that their living spaces are clean and safe. If the opportunity arises, and there is a supervisor present, students may be given the opportunity to administer basic medical care to the animals as well. There is also the chance to view surgical procedures and get involved in social programmes with children from the surrounding communities.

Off-site there are plenty of opportunities for fun. Participants will learn basic survival skills in the wild, go hot air ballooning, paintballing, river rafting and horse riding. There are even more projects available at the participants request depending on the time of year, so visitors are encouraged to speak to their project leader upon arrival for a complete list. The Mpumalanga and Limpopo regions, in which the HESC is based, are famous for their natural beauty and you’re guaranteed some incredible views during sightseeing tours. Finally, there is the elephant-back safari at Camp Jabulani, thought of by many as the highlight of the entire project.

Hands on experience:
– Working with cheetahs, wild dogs, small spotted cats, African wildcats and more.
– Preparation of animal feed.
– Feeding the animals.
– Possibility of working with the wildlife vet (darting, capturing and operating on animals).
– Possibility of assisting with the hand-rearing of animals.
– Local community involvement (e.g. visiting schools in rural areas).
– Informal lectures on a variety of topics, such as:

– Animal identification.
– Plants and ecology.
– Astronomy.
– Survival.
– Firearm handling and safety.
– Tracks and signs.
– Reptiles.
– Birds.
– South African history and cultural diversity.
– Anti-poaching.

Lectures are accompanied by practical exercises – for example:
– A trip to the reptile park.
– Identification of plants on supervised excursions.
– Tracking animals in the bush.
– A trip to the local tribal village.
– Stargazing
– A trip to Kruger National Park
– Natural and traditional food preparation.
– Participation in a game drive.

Other highlights may include a ‘Big 5’ walk, a sleep-out in the African bush, or the hugely popular elephant back safari. These sight-seeing opportunities are where participants get to put the theory they’ve learned into practice, either through directed observation in the wild or by participating as part of the team at the centre.

Where You'll Stay


Volunteers are accommodated in thatched huts (each can sleep 2 people) in Nungu Camp – situated within the boundaries of Kapama Private Game Reserve (Big 5). Separate facilities are available for male and female participants.

Three meals per day are prepared in the camp – a valuable team building experience. There is a kitchen with fridges in the camp, as well as barbeque facilities.

The closest town is Hoedspruit, which is approximately 25km from the reserve. Regular town trips can be organised for supplies, banking or internet facilities. Telephone facilities are available (at participants’ own expense). Laundry facilities are available in the camp.


Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre is located in Hoedspruit in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. The area is steeped in history and boasts some of the most amazing scenery the country has to offer with lush green bush and dramatic mountain backdrops from the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains.

HESC is 20 minutes from Hoedspruit airport and is situated on the border of Kapama Game Reserve, a “big 5″ Game Reserve offering luxury safari eco experiences, just outside of the world famous Kruger National Park.

The splendour of the Drakensberg Mountains dominates the horizon which overlooks this rural terrain. The area boasts a number of exciting activities for you to get involved in during the weekends and is arguably one of the best areas in Southern Africa for a real wildlife experience.

Gallery Rates


2 Weeks – £1,299
3 Weeks – £1,950


£200 deposit to secure placement at time of booking, final balance due 8 weeks prior to departure.


– Pre departure support and documentation.
– Programme fee and contribution.
– Return Transfers from Hoedspruit Airport.
– Accommodation for duration of stay.
– Housekeeping costs.
– All meals.
– Reserve activities.
– All transportation on project.
– 24 hour in country support.


– Flights.
– Travel Insurance.
– Any vaccinations as recommended by your GP.
– Internet access.
– Soft drinks and snacks.
– Any visas required.
– Any additional activities outside of project itinerary.


If you have any questions, or if you’d like to find out more about this incredible adventure and create some unforgettable memories, just fill in the form below and one of our team will be in touch as soon as possible.

Click here to recieve regular news and updates from Gap Africa

Book Now


We need a bit more information

Thank you

for your enquiry

One of the team will be in touch soon.


Top tips, news and treats

Sign up to our newsletter and keep up to date with Gap Africa’s Adventures

Thank you for subscribing.