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From the city and seas, to the wetlands and savannahs, KwaZulu-Natal is famous for being home to some of the most diverse and biologically rich regions of South Africa. Here, school groups can experience incredible safaris, enjoy beautiful scenery and take part in essential conservation work.

Starting in the city of Durban, your trip will include visits to the CROW Wildlife Centre, uShaka Marine World and the Natal Shark Board, all of which will allow students to learn about and discover a huge range of wildlife and conservation efforts. You will get the chance to enjoy close encounters with many different species and benefit from expert education from leading biologists.

After your time in Durban, head north to the incredible Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park to take part in safari excursions, conservation projects, wildlife research, and participate in gathering data for local rangers and biologists. You will be given guidance on creatures ranging from scorpions and dung beetles, to elephants and cheetah, with the chance to take part in some incredibly exciting conservation tasks.

On the coast, you will head to the stunning Kosi Bay and iSimangaliso Wetland Park where pupils will be educated on the wetland ecosystems, the wildlife of the shore, cruise St Lucia Lake and meet local coastal communities. The landscape here is quite different from that of Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, and so is the wildlife, furthering groups' chances to discover and encounter a myriad of species.

In addition to all this, an itinerary across KwaZulu-Natal can be altered to include a community project, such as teaching, renovating schools or developing infrastructure for rural communities.  

Typical itinerary

  1. Day 1: Depart the UK

    Today, you will depart the UK for Durban, South Africa. This is an indirect overnight flight and you will arrive in South Africa the following day.

  2. Day 2: Arrive Durban

    Upon arrival in Durban, you will be transferred to your accommodation. The evening is at leisure to relax from the flight and you will have an orientation meeting.

  3. Day 3: CROW Wildlife Centre

    Today, students will spend the morning helping with routines at the CROW Centre, a wildlife hospital that cares for the injured and orphaned wild animals and birds in KwaZulu-Natal. This will include tasks such as feeding animals, cleaning enclosures and working on specific projects.

  4. Day 4: Visit uShaka Marine World

    Today, students will visit uShaka Marine World - the world’s fifth largest Marine World and the largest with emphasis on Indian Ocean marine life. You will attend lectures by resident specialists (the topics of the lectures can be customised to compliment your curriculum and studies) to discover more about the aquatic world. You will also get a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the facility to see how the centre is run and how the resident scientists operate.  During the day, you will also get to visit the ‘dangerous creatures’ exhibit and get a close-up encounter with some of the most incredible creatures of the oceans.

    At the end of the day you will be returned to your accommodation in Durban for an evening at leisure. 

  5. Day 5: Visit the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board

    This morning, you will be given a presentation, followed by shark dissection with members of the Natal Sharks Board. The KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board maintains shark safety gear at 38 localities and is the only institute of its kind in the world. The Board focuses on providing safe bathing to tourists and locals while also conducting research into shark life history and offering a public education programme. During the dissection, you will have the opportunity to touch the skin, see the internal structures, discover the life cycle of a shark, and learn about the world of these aquatic creatures with expert guidance from the Board.

    After lunch, you will be transferred north to Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park where you will set up camp at Albizia. The journey will take you through the changing landscapes of KwaZulu-Natal and provide some incredible views. You may also encounter wildlife on the way! The evening will be yours at leisure to enjoy the sounds of the South African safari as you settle in to your camp.

  6. Day 6: Introduction to the Environmental Awareness Programme

    After breakfast, your morning will include a brief overview of what you will be doing over the next few days. The guides, rangers, and biologists of Hluhluwe will cover topics such as basic ecology and conservation principles, and you will take part in a talk on the snakes, scorpions and spiders of Southern Africa. This will include an informal look at the venomous species that may be encountered in South Africa, whilst also learning about their lifecycles and habits.

    Once you have been briefed, you will take part in a stunning nature walk through the park and beginning your safari excursions.

  7. Day 7: Elephant Education

    Today you will visit a facility known for their work with the magnificent African elephants. You will be given an educational talk about the plight of elephants and the various conservation strategies that help conserve not only these giants, but also the ecosystems they inhabit. You may also get the chance for an up-close interaction with African elephants – but as these are wild animals, it might not be possible.

    After this, you will engage in some of the research and animal rehabilitation work that takes place throughout Hluhluwe, with a visit to the cheetah rehabilitation centre. 

  8. Days 8-9 : Conservation Work

    The conservation work in the park can vary from assisting in camera trap surveys, pitfall traps or any of the many projects that are perpetually going on in the park. Today, you will take part in the tireless efforts of the park rangers and biologists that work across the park. It is possible to take part in larger conservation projects such as rhino dehorning, collaring lions, hyena or cheetah, and relocation tasks.

    The following day, continue with the conservation work. Depending on what projects are currently running in the park, it may be possible for you to take part in a range of different conservation and scientific works.

  9. Day 10: Transfer to Kosi Bay

    After breakfast you will be transferred north to the stunning Kosi Bay located on the Indian Ocean, a few kilometres from the border with Mozambique. The camp you will be staying at is a joint venture with the local community and after settling in you will be given an introduction to the area. This part of South Africa is quite different to the landscape of Hluhluwe-iMfolozi that you have experienced for the last few days. The forests here are teeming with around 250 species of birds, bushbuck, duiker, and monkey species, whilst hippos and crocodiles dominate the waters.

  10. Day 11: Visit a Local School

    After breakfast, you will have a day visit to a local school where you can see how the children in this rural area spend their day. Their day-to-day lives will be quite different to what you are used to. This will be a great opportunity for you to have a cultural exchange with the locals and visit their homesteads once school finishes. 

  11. Day 12: Sustainable Resource Usage & Coastal Ecology

    In Kosi Bay, the local Thonga people have been using a traditional and sustainable method of catching fish for generations. Today you will get to learn about the traditional way in which they build fish traps and how the community works to minimise the impact on the fish levels within the Kosi Bay lakes. A local fisherman will explain the cultural importance and structure that make this form of sustainable marine resource harvesting so important to the communities around Kosi Bay. You will also be given a demonstration before dinner.

    After your time with the Thonga people, you will have some time to relax at the beach before transferring back to Hluhluwe-iMfolozi. 

  12. Day 13: Full day Safari in Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park

    World renowned for rhino conservation and pioneering capture techniques Hluhluwe-iMfolozi is one of the oldest reserves in the world. After acquiring the knowledge of the capture techniques and the conservation projects, the safari experience will be even more enjoyable. Your guide will assist you in developing a greater level of understanding of what you see out in the reserve.

    In addition to viewing wildlife from a vehicle, you will also go on short walks at the various view points and visit the Centenary Centre to learn more about game capture and anti-poaching efforts in the wildlife areas.

  13. Day 14: Transfer to St Lucia; boat trip & Crocodile Centre

    Today, you will depart Hluhluwe-iMfolozi and be transferred to St Lucia, which is the hub of the UNESCO World Heritage Site iSimangaliso Wetland Park.  You will get to enjoy a two hour boat trip on St Lucia Estuary. This will give you the opportunity to have an intimate meeting with hippos and crocodiles as well as other wildlife of the estuarine system – particularly their diverse bird life.  

    After the cruise, your next stop is the St Lucia Crocodile Centre where a local wildlife official will give a talk on crocodile conservation so you can learn how to preserve these ancient beasts.

    Once you have finished at St Lucia, you will return to Hluhluwe-iMfolozi for a final night at the Albizia Camp before departing South Africa.

  14. Day 15: Depart South Africa

    After a leisurely breakfast you will pack up, say your goodbyes, and return to Durban airport in time for your return flights to the UK. This is an overnight flight and you will arrive back in the UK the following day.

  15. Day 16: Arrive UK

Key info

This suggested itinerary is based on personal recommendation and can be tailored to suit your requirements.
  • Destination: South Africa
  • When to go: Mar to Oct
  • Duration: 16 days
  • Trip type: Explorer
  • Itinerary highlights:
    • Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park
    • iSimangaliso Wetland Park
    • Wildlife safari
    • St Lucia
    • Wildlife Conservation Work
  • Activities:
    • Boat trip

    • City tour

    • Nature walk

    • Safari

  • Accommodation: Camping & hotels
  • Ideal for: Ages 15 to 16
  • Travellers will need:
    • High level of fitness
    • Appreciation for outdoor adventure
    • Interest in encountering new cultures

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Locations

Featured locations:

Kosi Bay

Tranquil sea and island of Kosi Bay

Blessed with immaculate coastlines and a huge array of wildlife, Kosi Bay is one of the most stunning and biodiverse areas of KwaZulu-Natal and provides plenty of adventure.

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park

Family of rhino in Hluhluwe-imfolozi Park in South Africa

An ancient home of Zulu culture and a prominent leader in rhino and elephant conservation, Hluhlue-iMfolozi is home to some of the finest safari encounters to be found in South Africa.

iSimangaliso Wetland Park

Hippos relaxing on the river banks in isimangaliso wetland park in south africa

One of the finest wetland ecosystems in sub-Saharan Africa, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park boasts incredible views, wildlife and activities, as well as a beautiful environment to explore.