Vet Experience Program
Chintsa East, South Africa
Vet Experience volunteers help small animals in disadvantaged communities, large animals in production and community settings, and wildlife through game capture, reptile handling, and zoo projects. Volunteers explore different aspects of veterinary medicine, add a unique experience to their resume, help animals in need, and have a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in South Africa!
Click here for our most frequently asked questions.
|2 weeks||$1,800 USD|
|3 weeks||$2,450 USD|
|4 weeks||$3,200 USD|
|5 weeks||$3,800 USD|
|6 weeks||$4,350 USD|
|8 weeks||$5,750 USD|
|10 weeks||$7,100 USD|
|12 weeks||$8,500 USD|
- Safe and comfortable accommodation
- Meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner 7 days a week)
- Monday airport transfers
- Project-related transportation
- Wi-fi access
- Washing facilities
- Permits & entry fees
- Pre-departure support
- Welcome packet with coupons for local establishments
- Volunteer t-shirt
The program fee also acts as the main support for our non-profit clinic.
- Visa fees (if applicable)
- Travel Insurance
- Weekend activities and trips
GVE volunteers get discounted rates on flights, travel insurance, and weekend activities through our STA Travel partners!
Click here for our fundraising tips & discounts!
Arrival dates every Monday (March – November)
Limited to 8 volunteers / daily activity
Minimum duration: 2 weeks (no max)
- Monday: Arrival
- Tuesday: Pig artificial insemination & iron injections (large animal) + Reptile handling (wildlife)
- Wednesday: Non-profit small animal clinic (small animal)
- Thursday: Dart gun introduction/training + Game capture (wildlife)
- Friday: Cattle pregnancy testing & vitamin injections (large animal)
- Saturday & Sunday: Free time (see Weekend Activities)
- Monday: Non-profit small animal clinic (small animal) + Transfer to Community Outreach site
- Tuesday: Community Outreach: horses, pigs, goats, sheep, cows, dogs (large & small animal)
- Wednesday: Community Outreach: horses, pigs, goats, sheep, cows, dogs (large & small animal)
- Thursday: Community Outreach: horses, pigs, goats, sheep, cows, dogs (large & small animal) + Transfer to Chintsa
- Friday: Game capture (wildlife)
- Saturday & Sunday: Free time (see Weekend Activities)
- Monday: Departure
*This itinerary is an example of a 2-week session. Activities are planned according to the needs of the community. Weekly schedules are released at the start of each week and are updated daily to account for new opportunities, vet emergencies, and weather.
Small Animal: Our non-profit clinic provides critical veterinary care to small animals (mostly dogs) in the Chintsa area. Our Community Project extends this care to small and large animals in disadvantaged communities throughout the Eastern Cape. In the clinic, students help our Program Vets with pre-op, surgery, and recovery. The goal of our spay/neuter campaign is to create a smaller and healthier population of animals in villages with no means or access to veterinary care. Students also spend 2-3 days (1-2 nights) at one of our community sites, during which the group examines and treats several hundred animals. This may be under the direct supervision or on behalf of a Program Vet- training is provided and a Program Coordinator is assigned to each group of students for support and advice. Read more…
Large Animal: Whether you want to be a large animal, small animal, mixed practice, or exotics vet, you’ll need large animal experience to get through vet school! Equine practice and farm animal production are major areas of veterinary medicine and a big part of any veterinary curriculum. We designed the large animal component from recommendations and prerequisites of AVMA accredited vet schools to give our volunteers the most relevant hands-on experience. Volunteers work with a variety of animals in a production setting and through our non-profit community project. Read more…
Wildlife: South Africa has one of the most diverse and exciting populations of wildlife in the world. In Chintsa, we are surrounded by a number of game reserves that frequently capture and release animals. We work with several highly experienced wildlife vets who enjoy teaching students about their profession and the incredible animals they get to work with every day. Students work closely with the wildlife vet and their capture to locate, immobilize, transport, and release wildlife, a process commonly known as “Game Capture”. Students also work with wildlife through our rehabilitation program at the East London Zoo, and the reptile sanctuary. Read more…
Click here for weekend activities in and around Chintsa East.
Chintsa East is the “home base” of the program- Vet Student and Vet Experience volunteers share the volunteer house. The house has 2 bathrooms, 6 bedrooms (2-8 volunteers per room), kitchen, living room, front yard and deck/braai area. Chintsa East is a beach town near many villages, farms and game reserves, which provide access to a wide range of animals and activities. Volunteers stay at one of our Community Project sites 1-2 nights per session. Bedding is provided (sheets, pillows, blankets) and we guarantee safe and comfortable accommodation at all sites.
Meals are simple and nutritious. Breakfast consists of cereal, fruit, eggs, toast, tea, and coffee. Volunteers pack a sandwich lunch at the beginning of each day- options include meat & cheese, peanut butter & jelly, or tuna mayo, along with fruit and juice. Dinner includes a protein, a starch, and at least 1 vegetable. We try to accommodate all dietary preferences- our vegetarian menu has gotten rave reviews!
“Traveling to Cintsa, South Africa to stay with the […] program was one of the best decisions and most amazing experiences of my life. I bonded with so many vet/pre-vet students who share my passion for veterinary medicine from all over the world. I had the opportunity to work with not only african wildlife, such as lions, zebras, giraffes, impalas, and much more, but also with large animal/farm livestock, such as cows, goats, sheep, horses, and chickens. In addition, I also worked with small animals in the local clinic, Wild Coast Vets. I had the opportunity to observe my first spay and a neuter of two stray dogs. There are so many more amazing details I could share! I would recommend this program right away to any pre-vet students.
– Quin Y. (September 2017)
“Though golly I was really sad to leave, the program was so great. I don’t think I knew what to expect when I arrived but certainly the diversity of tasks, the dedicated staff and meeting an assemblage of similar-minded and such cool people wasn’t quite expected.There wasn’t a single humdrum moment since we were always on the move. The instructing vets were wonderful – the practical lessons were quite valuable – and I loved how hands-on the project was.We even got a chance to travel north up the coast to Coffee Bay and sample the villages there for some cultural education and meet children of a preschool; to learn about the difficulties and hardships they endure every day, which broke my heart but broadened my perspective. This rustic kind of camping up in Coffee Bay was probably the highlight of my trip and certainly an unexpected but wonderful surprise. I didn’t think we’d be moving to another region during our stay, let alone such a beautiful one. The fact that we were allowed to indulge in more touristy activities such as swimming in the ocean at ‘Hole in the Wall’ and cliff diving was just a huge bonus.I had an amazing time and no regrets at all.”
– Rachel (July 2016)
“The best 3 weeks of my life!! I formed incredibly strong bonds with people in such a short amount of time while gaining experience in the veterinary field. From performing pregnancy tests on cows through rectal palpation to cuddling with a lion cub to watching the sunrise on the beach, those 3 weeks in the green house were unforgettable!! The memories made, experience gained, and friendships formed will last a lifetime. So thankful for this program and all the people that were a part of it!!”
– Anonymous (May 2016)
“This was truly one of the best experiences I have ever had. Every single day, I learned something new or performed a task that I had never done before. The people that I met through this program are amazing, and we all plan on continuing to have a relationship with one another, even though we all live far away from each other. I would absolutely recommend this program to anyone who has a passion for not only helping animals, but for anyone interested in other cultures and other ways of living than his or her own.”
– Anonymous (May 2016)
“Awesome experience! I didn’t know what to expect before the programme started but it certainly hit pretty high standards. Would definitely recommend it to anyone who is either thinking about joining the veterinary profession or is a current vet student. The volume of information I learned and applied was phenomenal for the time frame I was on the programme. Safari4u certainly provided so many experiences that I wouldn’t have a chance of getting at university!”
– Lucy W. (July 2015)
“Right from the beginning of the program I hit the ground running, literally! Capturing a giraffe showed just how demanding a career as a wildlife vet is both physically and mentally. The experience gained here with the wildlife is something that I never would have imagined, and it would have taken years of grunt work at home to get involved with these animals as much as we did. Working and learning with the other students and vets developed some unforgettable friendships, too. You are always learning something new with this program no matter what your animal background is! I hope one day I can return to see how much the program has grown as well as contribute in any way possible, whether it’s as a veterinarian or other animal specialist!”
– Brad H. (July 2015)
“One of the best things I have done! Not only solidified my knowledge that vet school has given me but has taught me so much about conservation and wildlife, as well as new insight into farming and small animal work overseas. We had a blast hanging out with other volunteers in our free time and I would be back in a heartbeat!”
– Anonymous (July 2015)
“It took no time at all to realize that I absolutely needed to extend my time in this program. This trip was a powerful confirmation for my desire to work with animals and medicine, particularly in areas of true need. There was so much to take away from the work we did and every moment made me want to learn more and more about it. Simply can’t get an experience like this from a clinic at home! Not to mention so many unforgettable memories of working hard and playing harder with some amazing new friends!”
– Lindsay T. (August 2014)
“I learned more about veterinary medicine in 3 weeks here than I have in 3 years working at an animal clinic. I didn’t think it was possible to love animals any more than I already did, but this program proved me wrong. I had the time of my life with the most amazing people. My only regret is not staying longer because 3 weeks is not nearly enough to experience all that South Africa has to offer!”
– Jessica H. (July 2014)
“The Safari4u veterinary program is by far the best summer program I’ve been to. I learned so much and got to experience everything from pregnancy testing cows to capturing wild impalas and giraffes. If I ever had any doubts that I wanted to be a veterinarian they are long gone. I met the most amazing friends and made memories to last a lifetime. Everyone who even remotely has an interest in animals should definitely come to this program!”
– Elizabeth B. (July 2014)
“I am a 3rd-year vet student in Canada and I spent 2 weeks in Chintsa and the East London area with the Safari4uVet program. This program is truly an AMAZING experience for any animal lover!! There are a lot of programs out there and from the feedback I have heard from others and my personal experience this one is the best! You get the kind of hands-on experience you cannot get in clinics or zoos in Canada or USA. I have made friends for life and I will never forget how I got to treat a wound on a zebra, or how to pull a male nyala out of a river down a hill in the bush… But in all seriousness, this a life changing opportunity and I highly recommend it!”
– Emily M. (June 2014)
“One of my favorite parts of the program was when we transported a 6-month old giraffe. Everyone got a job, from putting the head cover over its eyes, to spraying for ticks, and even carrying the giraffe (which is a lot heavier than you’d think) onto the trailer. I got to inject the giraffe with antibiotics- the whole operation was amazing! I also loved working with the dogs in the village and teaching the children how to properly handle the animals. Eventually, we got a pretty good gathering of little helpers that followed us everywhere.
I stayed on the program for fifteen weeks. Since I stayed longer than most volunteers, I was able to learn, practice, and feel more comfortable with the different activities. This program wasn’t just amazing for the veterinary experiences, but also for the friends I made there- everyone on the program was from a different state, country, or background. I’m privileged to say that I now have incredible friends from all over the world! It’s completely worth it and I can’t wait to go back!”
– Maggie S. (November 2013)
“I never knew that a volunteer program in South Africa would help to solidify my dream of becoming a veterinarian. My animal experiences before the program included observing at small animal clinics and researching birds; none of which allowed me the hands-on experience I craved. The Safari4u Veterinary Program did not just let me interact with animals (something you can get at a petting zoo)- I actually got to treat wildlife in their natural habitats and learn about them in an informal setting with veterinarians and specialists from around the world.
This program is truly the most amazing experience of my life. I volunteered with Safari4u in August 2013 for a total of two weeks, but I would have loved to stay for longer and I definitely recommend staying for as long as you can! My favorite part about the program was the diversity it offered in terms of veterinary medicine. It uniquely combines wildlife medicine and management, along with agricultural and domestic animal medicine together for an internship that is unlike any other. I strongly recommend this internship to anyone who is interested in gaining a deeper understanding of wildlife medicine and animal health in general. Not only is the program itself amazing, but the staff is awesome as well- it’s as though they became a part of my family!”
– Kira H. (August 2013)
“This was my first time traveling alone and I do not regret it for one second. During the program I handled dogs in the village for various treatments, I watched the dart capture and transport of several game animals, I volunteered t the East London SPCA and injected vaccines, I handled and dosed sheep for worms and parasites and assisted in numerous other veterinary related activities. One of my favorite activities was observing surgeries in the SPCA, and I also really loved helping the dogs in the village. I recommend staying for longer than two weeks, because different things happen every day and you WILL want to stay longer than you plan!
Not only did this trip give me an amazing experience that made me sure that I wanted to be a vet, but it also helped me get into vet school. Besides the experience itself, I also got a letter of recommendation from the program, which I know helped me with my acceptance into the Faculty of Veterinary Science at Szent István University, one of the oldest veterinary schools in the world. I would absolutely love to return to this program, maybe even as a qualified vet after I graduate!”
– Kristine K. (August 2013)