Volunteer vet students participating in game capture for international veterinary experience in South Africa

What exotic animals can I expect to work with?

Our students have handled rhinos, lions, giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, buffalo, hyenas, and many other species. Types of capture include helicopter capture, net capture, and capture from an open safari vehicle. Wildlife days are often planned less than a week ahead of time so we cannot guarantee which species or activities will be scheduled for a given week.

What is required to apply for this program?

No prior experience is required to participate in this program, however most of our volunteers are interested in veterinary medicine, conservation biology, animal behavior, or zoology. Since this program is often included on applications for vet schools, jobs, and other internships, most Safari4u volunteers are students with a pre-vet or biological sciences focus.

What are the group sizes?

Each group has 6-8 students and 1 Program Coordinator.

How long should I stay?

Many students choose a 2-week program due to schedule or budget limitations, however we recommend a minimum of 4 weeks based on feedback. All program components (small animal, large animal, and wildlife) are covered within a 2-week period, and each student gains approximately 50 hours of veterinary experience per week. Each year, Safari4u accepts several students to complete a 4-6 month internship.

Volunteer vet students treating dogs in the local village for international veterinary experience in South Africa

How much spending money do I need?

Each student has their own personal budget for souvenirs, weekend activities/trips, and eating/drinking at the local cafe. Local activities range from $10-30 while weekend trips can range from $50-100 (See Life in Chintsa). All activities can be booked on arrival.

Vet students enjoy surfing during their free time after a long week of veterinary experience in South Africa

How much money should I exchange before I arrive and how should I pay for souvenirs and activities?

We recommend exchanging at least $50 USD to South African Rands before departing, as a general rule of international travel. Both Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in our area, including most local activities and weekend destinations. Some activities are cash only, but ATMs are regularly accessible. We recommend calling your bank to find out about international ATM withdrawal, debit card, and credit card fees. Most banks have a withdrawal fee plus a conversion fee for ATM withdrawals but only a conversion fee for debit card purchases. Some credit cards even offer no international fees- these are usually “travel rewards” credit cards. If you decide to use a credit card for most purchases, you should also have access to an ATM card (this is easier than exchanging money and safer than traveling with a lot of cash).

Can I request a recommendation letter?

Many students use this program to add a unique experience to applications for vet schools, jobs, and other internships. Students work under our Program Vet throughout the week and recommendation letters with the following details may be requested: amount of hours worked (approximately 50 per week), number and species of animals handled, and practical skills learned (game capture, cattle pregnancy testing, administering vaccines, etc.)

What is the airport pickup procedure?

Your airport transfer is scheduled using the flight itinerary provided by STA Travel. Our Program Coordinator meets all incoming students in the Arrivals area near baggage collection. On the way to the Volunteer House, you’ll have an opportunity to buy snacks, drinks, adapters, and any items you might have forgotten to pack.

What is the process for booking flights?

We now have a partnership with STA Travel to help our volunteers plan and book flights at reduced student rates. Once your booking is confirmed with Safari4u, our dedicated STA representative will contact you to start planning your personal itinerary. As a travel expert, our STA rep can also help with travel insurance and local excursions before, during (weekends are free time!) or after your session.

Volunteer vet students learn about giraffe in South Africa for international veterinary experience
Volunteer vet students participating in game capture for international veterinary experience in South Africa

What is the weather like?

Seasons in the Northern Hemisphere are opposite to those in the Southern Hemisphere. The warmest month is March (summer), while the coolest month is July (winter). October and November are the wettest months, and June is the driest month. Winter days can still be warm (it is Africa!) but winter nights can get chilly- see here for current weather information.

Are there any required vaccinations?

The typhoid vaccine is highly recommended for all developing countries. The Eastern Cape is a malaria-free and yellow fever-free area, however, there may be flight stopovers that require special vaccinations (i.e. West Africa). We recommend visiting your physician at least one week before departure to check your overall health, and to verify that the following immunizations are up-to-date: tetanus, hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Although not a requirement, the rabies vaccine is recommended for anyone who works with animals regularly.

Should I take a cell phone?

Students have an opportunity to register for a sim card upon arrival. This card can be used in a smartphone or in a disposable cell phone for local or international calls.

Will I have access to the internet?

Wifi is available in both Volunteer Houses. We recommend bringing a smartphone or tablet rather than a laptop.

Do I need a visa to enter the country?

Citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and many other countries can obtain a 90-day visitor permit for free upon arrival in South Africa.

Students are responsible for checking their visa requirements before departure- please visit this page to find out if you need to apply for a visa prior to entry.

Vet students enjoy their free time after a long week of veterinary experience in South Africa


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Safari4u Veterinary Program

106 Barracuda Street, Chintsa East, South Africa 5275

PO Box 422 Kwelera, Eastern Cape, South Africa 5259

+27 (0)81 814 9917