Cheetah Experience

I volunteered at Cheetah Experience Bloemfontein in October 2017 for a few weeks and it was one of the best experiences of my life. They offer day tours, day volunteering (for locals) and weekly volunteering for international guests. It is a pay-to-volunteer program but is relatively cheap compared to other programs I’ve seen out there. It includes housing, some food, transport, and a wealth of knowledge and interactions with the animals. The staff at Cheetah Experience are extremely caring, and dedicated towards the well being of the animals which includes cheetahs, leopards, lions, a tiger, caracals, servals, wildcats, meerkats, and wolves. The tours that are given include a ton of education about the animals, conservation, and Cheetah Experience’s efforts to help the endangered species that live there. Volunteering includes training before interacting with any animals. While at Cheetah Experience you get to help feed the animals, give tours, create enrichment projects, and clean the enclosures. There is some hard work involved, but also plenty of downtime for animal interactions. Depending on the animals, you can even have a sleepover with some of them. I had a sleepover with three cheetah cubs and cuddling with the giant cats, and waking up to the African sunrise (and them licking my face) was truly magical. I will 100% go back if I get the chance. They also just opened up another location outside of Cape Town.

To learn more visit their website at


Chimfunshi Chimpanzee Orphanage

This fun little destination is on the edge of Copperbelt Province, between Chingola and Solwezi. Chimfunshi takes in rescued Chimpanzees and cares for them and gives them a place to run around, climb, and just be chimps. Check out the website below for more specific information about what they do, download the booklet for prices and more specifics about the visit. I went for only one night but would recommend staying for about two. We saw everything in one day but it felt a little rushed. If you’re taking the bus from Chingola to Solwezi just tell the driver you’d like to be dropped off at the Chimfunshi turnoff and they should know the place. For about 100 extra Kwacha you can organize to have a ride for your stay. This includes pickup and drop-off from the turnoff, as well as a van to drive you around the park. The enclosures are a distance away so its worth the ride unless you really like walking and have a lot of time to kill. Its totally worth it. When leaving it is really easy to hitch on the road to either Solwezi or Chingola. There is no cell phone service at Chimfunshi, but you can buy internet at reception or just enjoy the company of those around you for a day or so! The group I went with did basic self-catering camping for the night at $15 per person. We brought tents and sleeping bags because, well, camping. When we got there we were surprised to see a large tent set up with multiple beds, mosquito nets, sheets, and pillows inside for us to “camp” inside. So it is not necessary to bring camping gear. We brought our own food and were able to use their kitchen, pots, pans, and cutlery. Just make sure you clean up after yourself as a lot of people share that space. The toilets are drop-toilet style, but have a toilet seat cover and a light inside. A fire is set up everynight so it might be fun to bring some marshmallows and chocolate to share.

We got to see three different enclosures. There are hundreds of chimps and they all seem healthy and happy. The workers are extremely knowledgeable about all the chimps, knowing their names, and any special needs they might have, I suggest picking their brains, they have a ton of good stories! We watched the chimps get fed sugar cane, and brought into the buildings to be fed lunch.

In the afternoon we were brought to the farm to meet the woman who started Chimfunshi. She’s a sweet old woman in a wheelchair that talks about how she started the program. If you have her book I would bring it to get it signed.

They also offer opportunities to do long term volunteering there.  I would definitely recommend visiting Chimfunshi if you are in the Copperbelt or Northwest province visiting.