Stephanie Reining - Conservation & Environment, Shark Conservation in South Africa
The first day I arrived in South Africa the Projects Abroad staff had a surprise for us. It turns out I got there on the weekend they were planning to take a trip to Victoria Falls. I had no expectations, knowing almost nothing about anything outside of the information I read about my placement camp. We spent a week driving through Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. It was a great way to instantly bond with everyone else in the group.
Travels in Southern Africa
The experiences on that week’s trip are some of the most amazing of my life. We went on a safari through the Okavango Delta and got to camp among the very wild animals every night. We heard hippos every night and had some encounters with hyenas stealing our food whilst we slept and even had a honey badger wander into our camp one night. The most exciting experience of the trip happened when we got to our final destination - Victoria Falls, it was truly amazing and breath-taking, however my friend and I wanted to make it even more memorable by bungee jumping off a bridge between Zimbabwe and Zambia over the Falls. All the other volunteers watched from the bridge while we jumped into a rainbow. It was one of the most fun times of my life.
The great experiences didn’t stop when we got back to our regular routine at our camp in the Botswana bush. We got to use machetes to clear paths and do some grueling cactus removal between days of fixing up elephant’s watering holes and fence mending. It was incredible to be able to help the animals and experience a whole different culture at the same time.
One of my favorite things about the camp atmosphere was the diverse group of people we had working there. I was the only American sharing the fun with people from Japan, France, Belgium, Ireland, Switzerland, England, South Africa and elsewhere - we taught each other so much about where we were from. My friends and family back home were very confused when I came back speaking Japanese and German as well as some local Tswana phrases.
My Projects Abroad Experience
I have traveled a lot in my life but my experience with Projects Abroad was by far my favorite. I got to spend an extended amount of time being fully cultured while at the same time really making a difference for the indigenous animals of Botswana. I would absolutely recommend anyone to take the leap of faith and volunteer with Projects Abroad - you won’t regret it.