I don’t have a lot of animal experience- will I be behind the other Students?
No experience is required for Safari4u’s Pre-Vet Programme or Safari4u’s Game Capture Programme and we accept people from all backgrounds including vet students, pre-vet undergraduates, students on a gap year, high school students, even people simply interested in working with animals! This programme is designed to give students a hands-on veterinary experience that they might not get in their home country, whether it be to build up a resume, to decide if veterinary medicine is the right path, or just to experience the wildlife of Africa while helping animals in need!
If you are in your clinical years of study however, you might consider looking at Safari4u’s Vet Student Programme. Whilst we do know the levels of experience may vary, in terms of Safari4u’s Vet Student Programme, you will be required to have a certain amount of prior knowledge. For this programme we require that you are either beginning, or already in you clinical years of study in veterinary school and minimum 2nd year of study.
If you don’t believe your education levels are up to standard you can feel free to discuss your concerns with us directly or you may feel you are better suited to Safari4u’s Pre-Vet Programme.
Does this programme provide course credit?
If your university offers an internship course, credit may be available. A reference letter is available on request but be aware, however, that we do not currently have SAQA accreditation. Some universities are aligned with SAVC and registering in advance may allow you more advanced work during your stay.
Are there any grants or scholarships available?
Some universities offer scholarship opportunities for international internships or programmes.
What does my programme fee include?
What are the current travel risks for the area?
For current travel risks, refer to the U.S. travel department site:
US Travel Department
The major city in the area is East London.Or as an alternative, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has a concise information page.
Australian Smartraveller Advisory Page
The town of Chintsa East is a small community though and rarely has any safety issues due to an increased community security presence.
Is there a set arrival or departure time?
Monday is our arrival/ departure day for students. You will be collected on arrival to East London Airport by our transfer service or if you are staying elsewhere in East London, we may be able to arrange pick up from there.
All Monday departures are requested to be packed and out of their rooms by 10am in order to clean rooms for new arrivals. You will not be placed onto the programme and as such morning departures are recommended.
If you choose to arrive or depart on a day other than Monday, a transfer fee will be charged.
How do I get to the project?
When you arrive at East London Airport (ELS), look out for our transfer service driver or Safari4u staff member holding a sign with your name. If you don’t see them, wait at the Information Desk.
Chintsa is about an hour drive from the airport where you will meet our staff on your arrival to the house.
There is limited free wifi at all South African airports as well so you can send a message to us via email, facebook or any other method if you’re travelling for the first time, your flight has been delayed or simply want to let us know you’ve arrived safe in South Africa. If you need to call, or use WhatsApp, you can contact Safari4u on +27 (0)81 814 9917.
What airline should I fly?
It’s completely up to you. Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport provides for most international airlines whilst you domestic flight you will need to fly a carrier that services East London Airport. These include
When do I collect my bags during transit to the programme?
You must ensure you collect your bags in either Cape Town International Airport or Johannesburg (OR Tambo) International Airport. East London does not have a customs office and as such you will have to take your bags through customs before the domestic flight to East London. You should check your bags in again at the domestic terminal for this flight.
When is the best time of year to attend this programme?
There is no best time to volunteer on the Pre-Vet Programme as animals require health support all year round and there are always improvements to be made on the farms, game reserves, and in villages.
The Vet Student Programme only operates on set 3-week course dates. We try to match these with holidays of veterinary schools worldwide but if there is a group wishing to book separately, we can discuss the possibility of arranging a special course date.
However due to the heat over Summer, we do not operate in December, January or February as game captures are not run to maintain health of the animals.
I want to make the most of my programme, what length of time is best?
The longer you can stay, the better as you will get to know the different species and procedures more in depth and with time more responsibility will be given to you. We generally recommend a minimum of 3 weeks, but we offer internships of up to 6 months. The 3 week minimum is to allow for fluctuations in availability for different programme activities
What are the accommodations while on the project?
Safari4u is located in Chintsa East (pronounced Sin-sa), a small coastal village located near East London, in Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Each student is provided a bed and personal bed space- we guarantee that all housing is safe and comfortable. This accommodation includes kitchen and bathroom facilities. Whilst the programme is based in the Chintsa, we do tend to travel to where the animals need us so be prepared to drive long distances!
All of our overnight locations have bed and bathroom facilities provided.
How many people sleep in a room?
Bedrooms sleep between 4 and 10 people.
What will the meals be like?
You are provided with the food for 3 meals a day during your stay. Breakfast and Lunch are self-catered with the plentiful food we provide due to the differences in peoples tastes. Dinner is a home-cooked meal made by the staff and ready for when you get back after your day’s work.
Breakfasts can include cereals, toast, eggs, fruit, yoghurt, etc
Lunches can include sandwiches, green salad, pasta salad, leftovers, toasties, soup, etc
We are happy to discuss your needs should you have a dietary requirement. We regularly have vegetarians of all varieties stay on programme. We attempt to provide alternatives for those with a dietary need such as soy milk for those with Lactose intolerance, etc, however, we don’t provide luxury items such as crisps, soda, chocolate, cream cheese but you’re welcome to add these as your own purchase to the nourishing food we do provide.
Will there be a possibility to go shopping (for snacks, toiletries, etc) while on the programme?
Although your meals are included in the programme fee, during the travel in the programme we regularly go past supermarkets and other smaller stores so you’ll have access to almost anything you need. Chintsa East has a small store with basic needs which is in walking distance from your accommodation.
Should I exchange money or are cards accepted?
There is nowhere nearby to exchange foreign currency or travellers cheques that we can easily visit (although we can in emergency situations). If you prefer this method of finance you will need to exchange any foreign currency at Johannesburg International Airport as there is not a foreign exchange at East London Airport.
ATMs, however, are frequently found through South Africa and accept most foreign bank cards. You will find most places also accept cards as payment, however, you should always have some cash with you in case, especially during of our community outreach visits. In saying that however we do not recommend carrying large amounts of cash everywhere either.
What animals might I see or work with on the programme?
A huge variety of wildlife is right on our doorstep, including general game – zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, nyala, impala and blesbok to name a few. Local game reserves in the area also hold larger game such as elephants, rhino, lions, cheetah and buffalo.
You will regularly work with dogs, cows, goats, sheep, pigs as well as gaining experience with wildlife where you will most frequently work with antelope species.
Is there a danger of snakes or other venomous animals?
Potentially dangerous snakes in the area include the Puff adder and the Boomslang. These are seldom seen by students and additionally, most venomous snakes prefer to conserve their venom, so bites are rare. In the rare case of an emergency, our staff are fully trained and equipped to help you. There are few spiders dangerous to humans in this area and most are also rarely seen.
What do I do on the weekends?
Weekends are free time and activity fees over weekends are not included in your package. We are happy to help you plan and book any activities or tours for this time. Local activities available to you include horseback riding on the beach, a stay at a Big5 reserve, spa massages, and ATV riding, surf boat trips, a visit to the local brewery, or you can simply relax on the beach which is just 2 blocks away from the house!
All of the staff have travelled around the area so if there is a particular activity you’re interested in, chat to us and we can recommend more. If you are continuing your travels, we can also recommend things further afield as well.
When do we start working, for how long, and for how many days a week?
Students work Monday to Friday for 8 hours a day, however if there is an emergency we may be called to work outside of these times. The start times will vary depending on your daily activity but 8.30am is the usual time for most days.
Your work day will vary depending on transport times, the activity in question, and also how successful the work is conducted. We average 50 hours a week but we calculate this to reflect what a vet would charge as their hours for clients.
What will I be doing?
This programme offers hands-on experience with small animals, farm animals, and wildlife. The goal of the program is to provide veterinary care to animals that would otherwise have none, as well as to provide students with hands-on field experience. All components (small animals, farm animals, and wildlife) are covered every week.
The wildlife element is mainly game capture- the tranquilization and transportation of wild game, usually to serve a conservation purpose. Occasionally, we will dart an animal to check or treat an injury, take blood samples, or ear tag. Interns help to monitor vitals, inject medication, and physically transport the animal.
Our work with farm animals is focused on showing interns exactly what it means to be a vet. Interns shadow our Programme Vet and assist in procedures that are specialised to maximize their experience; these procedures go above and beyond the experience that AVMA accredited vet schools expect to see on applications. We strive to make our students exceptionally skilled in all aspects of veterinary medicine.
Our small animal component is run out of Wild Coast Veterinary Clinic- our goal is to create a smaller and healthier population of animals in the local villages by performing spays and neuters. We also focus on preventative measures against fleas and ticks, and administer mange injections and deworming tablets, as these are big problems in this area.
Will there be internet?
Wifi is available in Chintsa, however it is not advisable to bring laptops or notebooks as travelling with these can be risky. Smart phones and tablets are recommended, however Safari4u is not liable for damage or loss. Students should be aware that wifi can go in and out for a variety of reason in South Africa but other internet facilities are available in and around Chintsa.
If you do decide to bring personal electronic devices such as laptops, we also recommend not taking them during your work activities but rather leaving them at home for increased security.
Should I take my cellphone?
Students can register for an South African SIM card (Vodacom or MTN are the preferable brands) and buy airtime for local and international calls- this card can be used in a smart phone or in a cheap disposable cell phone that can be purchased on arrival. It is advisable to purchase your sim card at any of the international airports you arrive into as you will require your passport to register the SIM card.
It is also advisable to download and activate the free app “Whatsapp” as we have a student group to share information on regarding programme times and activities. Students also enjoy sharing photos through this method too.
What is the weather like in South Africa?
South Africa has a wide range of climates and the Eastern Cape is actually the meeting point of 5 out of the 9 biomes officially recognised in the country! Chintsa normally receives about 626mm of rain per year, with most rainfall occurring during summer (Dec-Mar). The average midday temperatures for Chintsa ranges from 20.2°C in July to 25.9°C in February and in winter (Jun-Aug) nighttime temperatures average to 9.4°C.
We also travel to a number of other locations such as Kei Mouth, Hogsback and Cathcart which have quite different climates to the coastal town of Chintsa. Hogsback, for example, receives slightly more rain but, significantly, the average midday temperatures for Hogsback range from 16.7°C (June) to 25.5°C (February) with 2.6°C being the average July nighttime temperature. It also snows there once or twice a year as well!
What should I pack?
We include a packing list for you but keep in mind that you will often be working on farms and game reserves and will have direct contact with a variety of animals. You should be prepared to get your clothes dirty and they should be comfortable and easy to move in.
It is important to take extra of any personal medications & prescriptions you may have as specific brands may not be available here, or may require prescription.
Bedding and washing facilities are provided.
Additional items such as toiletries may be purchased on arrival for those staying longer but you should inform us as soon as possible so that we can arrange transport.
Specific to the Vet Student Programme, you may bring your own stethoscope, thermometer, binoculars, and any other personalised equipment you feel could be necessary to daily veterinary work. These will all be provided for the course but you will be required to share them with the other students.
*Note: As a general rule, all travellers should only pack as much as they can carry.
SUGGESTED PACKING LIST