I was volunteering at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge during the Easter holidays while the great Art Festival KKNK was taking place in Oudtshoorn. On the one hand it was more exciting for me, because the Lodge offered some special activities for that event. On the other hand it was more stressful for the whole staff; there was always a lot to do and maybe less time for the volunteer. Also the vibe was a bit difficult from time to time, which is just normal in such a stressful week. But I knew that from the beginning and it was my choice to come at this time.
There was no special volunteer program and I was supposed to join either the elephant trainers or the guides for the safari tours. But there were also no fixed schedules for me, so I was free to choose my activities, which I really enjoyed. Being with the elephants was very impressing. As a European I knew elephants only from zoos and it was a pleasure seeing them in their natural environment. In the beginning I had mixed feelings about the encounters but the trainers and the elephants have a very close relationship and they treat them very well. I never had the feeling that the elephants were forced to do something or that they were bored. Also the elephant trainers were very nice to me and integrated me from the beginning.
I also enjoyed the game drives or safari very much. Buffelsdrift has a wide range of animals and I jumped on the Land rover as much as I could. I got along with most of the guides very well and now I´m almost able to speak Afrikaans 😉 The staffs in the restaurant and housekeeping were also very friendly and nice to me.
The guides know what they are talking about and I learned a lot from them. They were also very welcoming and I stayed in their house, with some lovely cats and the elephants as neighbours.
I also had the chance to go join some tours from cooperating facilities. So I went, together with a ranger, to the Cango Wildlife Ranch and the Cango Ostrich Farm. The Wildlife Ranch was some kind of zoo but I enjoyed the lemurs encounter and the bird house very much. But anyway it´s very different from Buffelsdrift where the animals can roam in a huge area. The ostrich farm was also very nice.
My whole week was a wonderful experience and I would definitely do it again.
Thank you Buffelsdrift!