Exploring the richness of Africa

Aaron Self

Volunteering in Africa is a life-changing experience for anyone willing and able to take themselves away from their familiar surroundings and thrust themselves into an entirely setting with new ideas, beliefs and troubles.

African Impact and African Lion and Environment Research Trust are two sister companies that take people from all over the world and bring them to locations with a real need for volunteers.

One of the biggest destinations is a stone’s throw away from one of the Seven Wonders of the World; Victoria Falls on the border of Zimbabwe.

The Victoria Falls location has a hand in almost every aspect of conservation and community improvement. They participate in game counts, predator surveys, bird surveys, hyena monitoring, elephant identification and park maintenance for the Zambezi National Park.

In the community, volunteers help teach at the local primary schools, preschools and orphanages while working to improve the local gardens and nursing home.

All these projects are held together and partially funded by Lion Encounter and the lion walks they are best known for. Guests from all over the world have the opportunity to walk side by side with lions, learning about their conservations efforts and situation in the wild. These lions, ranging from young cubs to sub-adults, live a remarkably free life.

Every day they are let out of their spacious enclosure to explore the large reserve that surrounds them.

Guests, volunteers and handlers lead and walk with them as they go on patrol of their territory or lay about in the shade, all while the staff are taking pictures and videos to document this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Guests have been so moved by the efforts of African Impact and ALERT that they have come back to volunteer — sometimes more than once — giving back to the organization that inspired them.

African Impact and ALERT use these walks to fund the community improvement projects and keep their research teams functioning within the National Park. Projects like hyena dietary habits, elephant identification, game counts and bird surveys area all through African Impact and ALERT, making them one of the most public faces in the park.