Vet  Experience Program

Volunteers work equally with small animals in disadvantaged communities, large animals in production and community settings, and African wildlife through game capture, reptile handling, and zoo projects. This program is designed for a wide range of backgrounds, interests, and levels of experience, including pre-vet students, vet students, gap year students, vet techs/nurses, and people with an interest in animal science, conservation, or welfare. This hands-on experience is for people who want to explore different aspects of veterinary medicine, help animals in need, and have a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in South Africa!  Sessions are open from March-November.

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 for all levels of experience and a Program Coordinator is assigned to each group of students for support and advice. Read more…

Vet Experience in South Africa

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 students the most relevant hands-on experience. Students work with a variety of animals in a production setting and through our non-profit community project. Read more…

Volunteer vet students treating sheep for international veterinary experience in South Africa

African 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 team 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…

Vet Experience in South Africa
Students enjoy free time after a long week of veterinary experience in South Africa


Upon arrival in East London, volunteers are greeted by one of our Program Coordinators who will then take them to the volunteer house where they can settle in and get in touch with friends and family.

In the evening, students meet for orientation which includes a tour of the house, official introductions, and a review of the plan for the week. A welcome pack is provided with a guide to local culture, a map of the area, a list of weekend activities and trips, and coupons for local establishments.

Sample Itinerary


Week 1

  • 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)

Week 2

  • 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.

Accommodation & Meals

Chintsa East is the “home base” of the program- Vet Student and Vet Experience volunteers share our volunteer house and Game Capture volunteers stay there on the weekends. 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 short distance away from 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 for 1-2 nights each week. 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 accommodate most dietary preferences, including vegetarians.

Rates & Dates

Click here for current program rates & dates.