Skilderkrantz - Private Nature Reserve and Conservation Initiative
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Skilderkrantz Waterfall
Skilderkrantz Conservation InitiativeSkilderkrantz Conservation Initiative





“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountain is going home; that Wilderness is a necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life”.

John Muir


1. What sort of person makes a good volunteer?

Attitude is more important than strength, skills or experience. Do pack your sense of humour, tolerance and flexibility (leopards do not necessarily read the daily program!)

2. Any age restrictions?

Anyone from 18 to 80 may be accepted at our discretion. Younger volunteers may be accepted if accompanied by a responsible older person.

3. What level of fitness is required?

Skilderkrantz is rugged and rather remote, and we do hard physical work, so to participate fully you will need a certain level of fitness and health. Having said that, not everyone necessarily needs to abseil from a helicopter wielding a huge chainsaw or lug the leopard cage up to the cave! Speak to us if you would like a gentler experience, as there is a lot to do in the Home Valley and around the gardens and guest houses. Maybe we can tailor something to your needs.

4. Why should I Pay for Volunteering?

Our project operates on very limited resources, and we simply do not have funds to subsidise volunteers. As you can imagine, our conservation work is very costly, and any profit made after ensuring you have a wonderful stay gets ploughed back into the project and to pay our permanent staff. So in more ways than one, your contribution ensures the survival of the work we are doing. Volunteers really are the lifeblood of projects such as ours.

5. Can I raise money to sponsor my trip?

By all means! Many volunteers have used creative means to raise the money for their experience. When sponsors realize the money is going towards conservation, they are often happy to contribute.

6. Do I need a Visa?

If you have a USA, Canadian, NZ, Australia or EU passport, you can enter the country for up to three months as a visitor without a visa. You will be granted a 3 months visitors permit on entering the country. If you wish to stay longer, you can apply for an extension (tourist visa, not working visa) at least 4 weeks before you require it. This can be done either at your nearest SA Consulate or from the Department of Home Affairs in SA. We recommend you get it before you come if possible, as Skilderkrantz is far from Port Elizabeth.

Visitors from other countries please enquire at your nearest SA consulate about obtaining a tourist visa.

7. How do I get to Skilderkrantz?

Skilderkrantz is 2.5hrs drive from Port Elizabeth, 3 hours from George, the final 20km on a rough dirt road. We can arrange transport from either of these two centres. If coming from Cape Town, you might also take a bus or coach trip along the Garden Route. We are very conscious of the ecological footprint involved in flying, especially long-haul from Europe. We are currently investigating the possibility of passenger travel on cargo or container ships.

8.Can we volunteer as family groups, couples or friends?

Of course!! Just let us know what your requirements are.

9.What do I bring?

Documents: passport, vaccination certificates; driver’s licence if you have one; credit card; proof of comprehensive travel/medical insurance;

  • bring preferably old or hard-wearing clothes to work in. Clothes do get worn and dirty. We suggest long light pants even in summer, as the vegetation can scratch your legs. Plus casual clothes for town trips.
  • warm clothes (even in summer, nights can be chilly)
  • raincoat
  • small umbrella
  • long-sleeved shirts for sun
  • swimming costume and cool clothes
  • hiking boots, sandals, socks
  • sunglasses and hat, head-torch and batteries
  • sunblock
  • protective gloves
  • sleeping bag , pad and linen inner sheath (for hot weather)
  • tent (if coming for 4 weeks or longer)
  • small daypack
  • water bottle, towelsx2
  • cheap watch/alarm
  • pocket knife
  • camera
  • binoculars
  • notebook and pens
  • Personal medication.

10.What about personal toiletries?

At Skilderkrantz we try to use environmentally friendly, biodegradable toiletries as far as possible. We have delicious olive oil soap, shampoo and conditioner, laundry gel, and natural deodorant which you can buy here or bring your own. If, like me, you have hair that tangles easily, you may need to use small amounts of a “chemical” conditioner. We also still use chemical sunblock, as we have yet to find a good natural one. Citronella based products work well as insect repellants. Please bring your own. Otherwise please leave perfumes, sprays and other nasties etc at home, so as to disturb the aquatic life as little as possible when you swim! Hairdryers use a lot of power and your hair will survive fine without one, promise! OK, bring one if you insist!


Is simple and rustic but clean and comfortable and depends on what is available. You may have your own room, or share with another, either in one of our guest houses or staff quarters. Ensuite or shared bathroom. Some houses have no electricity (we plan to install solar), so you cook on gas stoves and water is heated by gas/solar. Lighting is by means of gas or re-chargeable lamps.

12.What is Skilderkrantz’s smoking policy?

Skilderkrantz has a no smoking policy.

13.What about Food?

No, you will not have to fish and forage for berries, plentiful food is provided. We do try to eat healthy organic food as far as possible, and plan to grow much of our own. Volunteers prepare their own meals, although we do cook for you sometimes. Special dietary requirements by arrangement.

14.What is the weather like?

Generally our weather is very pleasant, not humid, but can get to 40°C in summer although never for days on end, and nights are usually comfortable. Winters can be severe, especially at night, but then we have roaring fires and snug beds. We experience idyllic days year round, so the best is to relax and take what comes.

15.Safety and Security

South Africa has a high crime rate but by virtue of our remote position we are very lucky to enjoy a safe and relaxed existence. We are also aware of the huge divide between rich and poor in the world, so try to live simply without accumulating consumer "things" we don't need. Please leave jewellery and designer clothes at home and bring only essential gadgets. Small amounts of cash can be drawn at the ATMs in town if needed but we ask that you don't bring large amounts to Skilderkrantz. The best advice is to try not to look and behave like a tourist cliché especially when in the cities.
Obviously we do have venomous snakes and wild animals, but they are usually very keen to get away from you. More information will be supplied on arrival.
Further safety instructions will be supplied on arrival.

Kouga River running through Skilderkrantz
Kouga River running through Skilderkrantz