Find out what Oyster volunteers in South Africa have said in these reviews of our elephant conservation and research programme:


“The team, (including the elephants) couldn’t have been more welcoming and understanding. I had a fantastic week. Such a wonderful group of people and elephants of course, so attentive in addressing my requirements and nothing was too much trouble. Thank you so much”

Yvonne, 1 week experience October 2023

“If anyone is considering this experience, don’t hesitate, it’s brilliant. I had never done anything like it before, and had never visited Africa, but I enjoyed every second and hated having to leave. (And by the way, I’m 68 and found everything completely do-able). But it was really good to be able share the experience with a group of older people, as well as mixing with the younger, longer-term volunteers. Please organise more trips like this!”

Carole, 1 week experience over 40s March 2023

“This has been an extraordinary trip from start to finish. The staff were thoughtful, kind, intelligent and passionate about their work. They all went above and beyond to make sure we were cared for and integrated into their team. Seeing how elephants interact in a group  and being part of a research project has been such a great privilege that I want to return. So many highlights! Getting up to watch elephants through infrared binoculars under a starry sky. Who would believe that walking with elephants waiting to catch dung samples would be such fun. Dung stalking is a new hobby! New friendships which already feel deep. I don’t believe you have lived until you have heard an elephant rumble and felt it’s breath”

Jen,1 week over 40s trip March 2022

“Sorry for not replying I haven’t really been checking emails and I’m so busy out here! Oh I’m loving every second and have actually extended my trip by two weeks! Everyone here is absolutely lovely and the project is so interesting and fun. The elephants are just beautiful and seeing all their different personalities shine out and getting to observe and interact with them is wonderful. This experience is better than I ever thought it would be. Thanks for all your help with it.  Phoebe 🙂 ”

Phoebe, 6 weeks October 2019

Elephants grazing in South Africa“I am having a brilliant time here. The staff are lovely and the elephants are amazing.  I’ve been on a horseback ride at one of the reserves and was able to get quite close to lots of the animals. Thanks for all your help getting me here.”

Christine, 3 weeks September 2019

“I am having an amazing time- best decision ever. This was my first experience with Oyster, and it was possibly the most rewarding experience of my life! I was able to see South Africa while participating in an amazing research opportunity! I highly, highly, highly recommend Oyster and the park!!! ”

Kristin, 3 weeks July 2019

“I am now into my second week so I am beginning to understand what is going on now! All the initial information was overwhelming but the staff all said it would get better – and I am beginning to believe them!”

Rosemary, 6 weeks March 2019

“This was by far the best thing I have ever done in my life. I made some incredible life-long friends and of course, the elephants were unforgettable. This has completely opened my eyes to some of the career possibilities that are available and has helped me in making some major life decisions that I’m really excited about.”

Cameron, 12 weeks December 2018

A volunteer enjoys meeting and working with the elephants in South Africa“It’s been absolutely wonderful down here so far. It’s a beautiful country with amazing landscapes and very nice people. The project is very fun, I enjoy every minute of it. The elephants are magnificent and the staff and other volunteers are helpful and friendly. It’s a lot of hard work but it is completely worth it and I love it here.”

Vroni, 4 weeks May 2018

An elephant stands in the morning light“It was amazing to get so close to the elephants. The work is amazing and the elephants are well look after which was great to witness. All the staff were so friendly, made you welcome and shared knowledge and stories. The other volunteers were great too. Thank you for all your help.”

Joanne, 4 weeks March 2018

This elephant enjoys her newfound freedom at the elephant park in South Africa“Everything is just fantastic. We had a very warm welcome when we arrived. The next day, we first had an induction tour and then met the elephants – they are so gentle and cute and just amazing. Wednesday was followed by some more training and on Thursday we could already get stuck into properly helping out.”

Ulrike, 3 weeks February 2018

South Africa Elephants“All was great while I was away. Everyone was very helpful and the staff made it easy to slot into life at the park. Thank you for helping me to arrange this amazing experience. You have made it an ‘easy’ process to do something out of the ordinary, by guiding me through and giving advice when needed.”

Claire, 3 weeks April 2017

young-elephant-on-a-game-reserve-in-south-africa“I am having a great time here in South Africa! I have been getting to know the guides and learning where they’re from and what language they speak – they’re desperately trying to teach me some Xhosa which they find hilarious! We are very busy on the weekends as there is so much to do here! Thank you so much for sorting this trip for me, I’m loving it more and more each day!”

Samantha, 4 weeks February 2017

South Africa Elephants“The experience of being in the park will be unique to everyone, and it’s difficult to set expectations about how it will make you feel. For me, it was a chance to escape everyday life, be out in the open and be part of something I feel passionate about. I learnt so much and also felt that I contributed to their work and research.”

Debbie, 4 weeks December 2016

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“It was the most amazing experience. I loved meeting new people from all over the world and of course the elephants. Researching the elephants and getting to know them was amazing because they are such incredible animals! Doing this project gave me so much more independence and confidence! Also, knowing you are contributing to such a big project is very rewarding!”

Hannah, 4 weeks August 2016

Thandi“Working so closely with elephants, as well as gaining insight into each one of their personalities, was a highlight. It is such an unbelievable experience. This is a perfect experience for anyone who loves elephants, as you work so closely with them during your research.”

Alex, 4 weeks July 2016

“I’ll newebver forget the feeling of touching an elephant for the first time. Time spent with the guides on the field was another huge highlight. Being able to watch the reunion between Harry’s herd and Sally’s herd under an incredible sunrise was also so special. Finally, jumping out of a plane at 10,000 ft over Plettenberg Bay was unforgettable.”

Janie, 5 weeks June 2016

web“The fact that we get to interact with the ellies on a daily basis is extraordinary, and I would definitely place this as one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. The park is fantastic and highly esteemed in the elephant and animal conservation research community, making the roles and responsibilities of the volunteers very important. The work we do actually makes a difference.”

Priyesh, 4 weeks July 2016

elephant new 2“I had a fantastic time with the elephants. The group of volunteers here have been great. We have all been doing some fun stuff on our weekends. Some of us just got back from swimming with the seals, which was totally awesome, and some went diving to see the Great White sharks. I am so happy to spend some time with these magnificent animals and their caring and informative guides.”

James, 6 weeks April 2016

Linda Sacklyn“I just can’t describe how wonderful it all is. It’s true that it’s hard work, sometimes physical and long days, but so worthwhile. We are lucky enough that our group of volunteers are like a family and we cook together, go down to the beach and we all went on the most fantastic safari. The co-ordinators are extremely friendly, as are all the guides. My memories will last for a lifetime.”

Linda, 4 weeks April 2016

Christina Tholander

“I absolutely love it here! It’s such a magical place and it feels like HOME! The team of volunteers are just lovely! We are hitting it off like we have been friends forever.”

Christina, 12 weeks April 2016

pic for review“I honestly had the best month of my life. I settled so quickly and became very close to the other volunteers. Getting so close to the ellies and spending so much time with them every day was priceless. I can’t thank you enough for all of your help with this project; you made the planning so easy and I definitely wouldn’t have gone if I didn’t have you to talk me through it.”

Elin, 4 weeks March 2016

web review“Being able to observe the elephants every day and learn about their relationships was amazing. They’re beautiful, intelligent creatures which we can learn from. It is an amazing experience that will stay with you for a lifetime. The park is very concentrated on research and welfare management of the elephants, and it’s fulfilling to know that you have contributed to this.”

Kirsty, 3 weeks February 2016

review“The friends I made really stand out as a highlight for me. The independence it gave me was also brilliant – before, I hated the idea of staying away from home. The elephants too, of course. That’s what I went there for!”

Robyn, 3 weeks February 2016

12371031_10204960021713277_3079829080427221096_o“I have loved every minute out there and would go back without hesitation. Thank you for all your guidance throughout the time of me booking my trip. My only regret is that I couldn’t do it for much longer. I have had the best experience of my life and only wished I’d done it years ago. Thank you so much for all of your help Anne.”

Sharon, 6 weeks December 2015

12377942_10204959940711252_7184494197250825351_o“I had an incredible time, and really really enjoyed myself. I loved the elephants and all the amazing people I met, so it really was a great trip. Thanks a lot for helping me to organise it all!”

Miche, 4 weeks November 2015

Elephant convervation“I had an amazing time. I absolutely loved it and am really missing South Africa and the ellies. I’m looking at hopefully going back next year!! Just want to say a big thank you to you and everyone else at Oyster for helping me with everything, you’ve been a great help 🙂 I’ll hopefully be in touch soon to arrange my next trip!!!”

Louisa, 2 weeks October 2015

Volunteering with elephants“To anyone who is volunteering with elephants, you will have a fantastic time. It’s such a beautiful place and the people out there are so lovely! For me it was a life changer and I’m planning on returning. This time for a lot longer as two weeks wasn’t enough for me. Enjoy people! Thank you Oyster for helping me with this amazing experience!”

Sarah, 2 weeks October 2015

Clara Harvey Hunt“I knew that the project would be an excellent experience, but as I had never done anything similar before, I approached it with an open mind with few expectations. I was not disappointed!”

Clara, 2 weeks August 2015

“My highlight wAnna Farrellas spending so much time with the elephants and learning about them. Seeing the bond between the elephants and their guides was so special, and I was so pleased that the elephants are treated so ethically. It was fantastic to know that I was contributing to the research of the welfare of captive elephants and helping to make a real difference.”

Anna, 4 weeks August 2015

Vicki Richards“My time overseas was absolutely amazing – genuinely the best month of my life and I’m so glad I was able to do it! I miss waking up to the sound of elephants trumpeting and having them just there all the time. All of the guides and staff treat the elephants so well, I’m really glad I could help out. This place is absolutely beautiful – thank you very much for organising my trip! :)”

Vicki, 4 weeks August 2015

Elephant volunteering“The elephants are amazing. It’s been so rewarding to learn about their different personalities and places within the herd. The volunteer staff, including the park management such as the elephant guides, are so friendly and helpful with day to day activities. It is also nice to know that the daily data concerning elephant behavior, which we take, is put towards the elephants’ welfare at the reserve.”

Olivia, 4 weeks August 2015

Elephant volunteerBefore coming out I thought 5 weeks was a long time, but half way through my stay I realised that it certainly isn’t. I made some amazing friends from all across the globe. The ellies are phenomenal – I will always remember the first time I saw them. It was amazing to understand their individual personalities the longer I stayed. Definitely a trip I will never ever forget.”

Kai, 5 weeks July 2015

Elephant conservation“It is very strange being home – I can’t believe how much I adapted to South Africa in a short space of time. I had an awesome time with the Ellies. My only regret is not staying longer. Anne, thanks again for arranging my placement, I feel so lucky to have been so close to the elephants, and fulfilled one of my bucket list wishes.”

Tracey, 2 weeks June 2015

Volunteer with elephants“I really did have a wonderful time. I miss the ellies so much!! It is hard for me to understand that I am now back to reality, sigh! If people want to have a good time, be constantly surrounded by animals and animal lovers, they should do it for sure.”

Alexandra, 4 weeks June 2015

Elephant conservation“My time was fantastic, although definitely far too short! It was lovely getting to meet all the ellies, and see the work that was being done with them. I learnt so much about elephants in my short time there. It is also a great opportunity to experience a different culture.”

Gemma, 2 weeks June 2015

Elephant volunteering“I have had the most amazing two months in South Africa, I enjoyed every single second! I miss all the elephants more than anything, and I miss all the staff, the guides, the volunteers and the country as a whole. It was just amazing. Can’t wait to go back!! Thank you so much for all your help, I couldn’t have done it without you!”

Amy, 8 weeks May 2015

Volunteer with elephants in South Africa“My time in South Africa was just amazing, I can’t really put it into words and I already miss all of it so much. I’m now thinking about studying Animal Behaviour – Africa has made me want to have a career change! Thanks for all your help.”

Faye, 4 weeks May 2015

Ayla Ramadan - volunteer with elephants“I had a great time in South Africa. The people I met and the country was beautiful. The elephants were breathtaking. It’s a huge shame I could only go for 2 weeks as I had to come back to work.”

Ayla, 2 weeks April 2015

Sophie Rainbow- volunteer with elephants“It’s a very rewarding experience to feel like you’re contributing to such a worthwhile project, and the park feels like home after a few days. Spending time with the elephants every day was great, as well as meeting new people and forging new friendships.”

Sophie, 4 weeks March 2015

Elephant research South Africa“My time is South Africa was incredible. I had no idea I would fall in love with the country, the ellies, the people. I’m missing the ellies so much – they were so amazing to observe and hang out with. It’s made me realize that I really enjoyed researching animals and I’m going to start looking into something similar as a career.”

Brianna, 3 weeks January 2015

Elephant conservation volunteeringI am truly, truly thankful for this incredible opportunity to volunteer my time and energy towards working with elephants. Working with the ellies was absolutely incredible, it was so hard to leave this morning! I miss them all already!”

Rachael, 4 weeks November 2014

Volunteer with elephants“It’s a great trip for elephant lovers – you learn so much and really get to bond with the animals. The area is beautiful and the staff are all so friendly. It’s just an eye opener to different cultures and ways of living. It was the best time of my life.”

Kirsty, 12 weeks September 2014

Volunteer with elephants“I’m missing South Africa enormously, and the ellies even more. I had the most incredible time and met some wonderful people who I have stayed in touch with since I got back.”

Alice, 5 weeks August 2014

Elephant conservation volunteering“Honestly, it was the most amazing experience of my life, I only regret not staying longer!I miss the ellies so much, it’s so strange waking up and not being able to go and visit them.”

Stephanie, 2 weeks August 2014

“Best month of my life! I’ve learnt so much and done more than I could have imagined, not to mention being with the elephants everyday. I’ve gone out of my comfort zone-I did the world’s highest bungee jump, jumped out of a plane, swam with seals and more! Thank you everyone who’s made this experience so incredible!”

Ellie, 4 weeks July 2014

Volunteer with elephants“I think this experience was in a word: phenomenal. Every day was a new adventure and everyday I fell in love with the elephants again. There are so many reasons for people to do this. You have to look after yourself and become independent, and then you have responsibilities for these great creatures.”

Lily, 4 weeks July 2014

Elephant volunteering“I absolutely loved every minute with the elephants and will definitely be going back.Thank you so so much for all of your help with organising the elephants project, you’ve been fantastic and it was even better than I imagined.”

Samantha, 2 weeks June 2014

Volunteer with elephants“South Africa was amazing and two weeks was definitely not enough! I just wanted to say thank you for your support and answering my million questions! It was my first trip alone so it was very useful that I had someone to help me plan my trip! Working up close with elephants and meeting like minded people was just amazing!”

Sacha, 2 weeks June 2014

Animal welfare project in South Africa“I really, really miss the park. I miss the ellies the most, but I miss the people as well. I was surprised at how naturally and easily I blended in, it just felt so easy. I had a fantastic time with the ellies, other volunteers and the guides as well. It’s just such a great place. Many thanks for all your help organising this trip!”

Darina, 4 weeks May 2014

Elephant conservation in South Africa“Thank you so much for all your help. I had such a great time! I would love to go back to South Africa and the project at some point!”


Catherine, 4 weeks February 2014

Elephant volunteering“Elephants are such amazing animals and I could spend all day long observing them, which I did, even on some of my days off. Taking essential data may well help these elephants and help us to have a better understanding of them. I like to think that I have contributed something, even if only in a small way. I loved it. It was the best thing I have ever done and I can’t wait to plan another trip.”

Kim, 2 weeks December 2013

Elephants in South Africa“I would say a particular highlight is the fact you are so up close with the elephants on a daily basis – there really are not many places in the world at all where you can be so close to elephants. I also loved my night in the elephant lodge, you could hear them all through the night, it really was amazing to sleep next door to elephants.”

Ben, 8 weeks August 2013

“I feel I contVolunteering with elephants in South Africaributed greatly to the research and data of the South African elephant project. It’s an experience that I shall never forget and it gives a better understanding of elephants. I would definitely recommend booking with Oyster. They were extremely helpful and provided me with any information that I needed and required!! Book for 3 weeks at the least!”

Donna, 2 weeks August 2013

Volunteers cleaning out the elephant enclosures in South Africa“This is great if you want to just get away – it’s such a different place, culture and environment from the one at home… The elephants are amazing and you learn so much about their life, their behaviour, and how they interact. I have come back a different person and for this I am most grateful for having had the opportunity to go on this project!”

Giuliana, 4 weeks August 2013

Volunteering with elephants in South Africa“I had an amazing time in South Africa. One of the best experiences! I had lots of highlights. The main one would be walking with the elephants at sunrise and meeting new people. Enjoy yourself and get involved with all the activities, and get the most out of your free time!”

Faith, 2 weeks July 2013, June 2013

Volunteering with elephants in South Africa“I just wanted to say a huge thank you for everything you and Oyster have done for me in helping to organise this trip. I expected I would enjoy the experience, but it surpassed my expectations. Take Oyster’s advice on booking flexible flights back – I wish I had done that! It will be the trip of a lifetime, guaranteed!”

Elle, 2 weeks July 2013

Oyster elephant reviews “It was an absolutely incredible trip and one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences of my life. I loved the other volunteers and the lifestyle out in South Africa, everyone is so much more laid-back and friendly. You get to see a whole different culture and different way of life and it’s fantastic. Do it for one extra week than you think you want to. Gutted I only did it for 2!”

Saranna, 2 weeks July 2013

ant volunteer in South Africa“I have one more week of my three week stay here, and I am making the most of every moment.  What a fantastic and memorable opportunity.”

Della, 3 weeks May 2013


Volunteer with elephants in South Africa“It was amazing being around elephants all day, being part of the research team, watching the elephants at night and the people I met were great. It was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING and would recommend that people book for longer – I wish I did!!!”

Maxine, 4 weeks February 2013

“Other people sVolunteer with elephants in South Africahould do this placement because the elephant park provides the experience of a lifetime. It is an experience that gives you a chance to work closely with these majestic creatures. It also offers you a look into a different culture. This placement was the greatest experience I have ever had, and it is my proudest accomplishment. This placement is a huge part of who I’ve become.”

Lauren, 4 weeks February 2013

Oyster volunteer with elephant in South Africa“I loved the whole adventure and was very excited by the trip. Just sitting out in a field monitoring the elephants was such a highlight. The people I met from around the world were amazing. I also think that I got to meet people who were like myself, and at the weekend I got to do other things in the area with others who shared my likes. This was by far the best thing I have done in my life.”

Mandy, 2 weeks September 2012

Volunteer with elephants in South Africa“I had an amazing time. It was incredible to be able to spend time with the elephants and work so closely with them. I also thought the team at the park were great and I made some great friends with the other volunteers. There was also so much to do in the area, which we took advantage of at weekends. One particular highlight for me was going skydiving.”

Hannah, 3 weeks August 2012

“Obviously voluOyster volunteer with elephant Sallynteering at the Elephant Park was a huge highlight. Learning the elephants by name and getting to know their personalities was something special. This was the first solo trip I’ve ever taken…and it was the best thing I could’ve done for myself. I challenged myself every day. Best experience of my life thus far.”

Marissa, 5 weeks July 2012

Volunteer feeding an elephant milk in South Africa“Being able to get so close up to the elephants at the park was awesome! The guides acted like brothers to me which was amazing. If I could, I would take all my friends and family out there just to experience it!”

Andrew, 6 weeks June 2012

“I’m so sad to beOyster volunteer with elephant Harry leaving South Africa and the elephants. It took me a little while to settle in, but everyone was so fantastic- thank you for all your help and support, I really appreciate it! I love it here with the elephants!”

Cassandra, 4 weeks November 2011

“The programvolunteer with elephantsme as a whole was very good. All questions in the UK were answered very promptly. Highlights included spending most of the day around the elephants and observing them for research purposes, which helped gain a real insight into each elephants’ characteristics. It was very hands on.”

Karen, 4 weeks November 2011

“I really loved tOyster volunteer with elephanthe elephants and working closely with them. I met some amazing people and did things that I never thought I would do, such as going paragliding!”

Tom, 12 weeks September 2011

“I stayed wiVolunteer with elephants in South Africath the ellies for 8 weeks, which felt more like 8 days as time flies by. My best thing about the park was meeting new people, co-volunteers and the guides alike. My time here exceeded my expectations and I would recommend volunteering here to anyone.”

Gethin, 8 weeks September 2011

“The past 3 weeksOyster volunteer with elephants South Africa that I have spent with the elephants have been among the best I’ve ever had! I decided to go as I have always loved elephants 🙂 and wanted to do a small bit of traveling before starting university in October. I wish I had been able to spend more time there, but the time I did have was amazing. I will 100% be coming back in the future!!”

Hannah, 3 weeks September 2011

Oyster volunteer with elephants“Everybody here; volunteers and staff alike have been so friendly and I’m going to miss them. There are far too many memories for me to write down, but I am proud to have helped with the research– particularly involving the GnRH vaccine. My only regret is that I only spent 4 weeks here – it’s really not long enough!”

Katie, 4 weeks July 2011

For more information on this project, check out the elephant conservation and volunteering page of the Oyster Worldwide website

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