Conservation Explorer

Work with dedicated conservationists who help preserve Earth’s natural habitat and push for conservation initiatives for the future generations.

Home Conservation Conservation Explorer
May – December 2024
South Africa  |  Peru  |  Sri Lanka
8 Months
Volunteer + Internship

$ 20,404




Join our 8-month Conservation Explorer program that will take you around the world helping local communities learn about new and innovative conservation initiatives. In this program, you will have the chance to serve in three remarkable countries: South Africa, Peru and Sri Lanka, all with the objective of making a lasting impact on the lives of vulnerable individuals.

First, you’ll volunteer at the wildlife center (staying at the African savannah) where you will aid in preserving and protecting Africa’s Big 5 including lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, and buffalo. 

Then head on to work in marine conservation in False Bay, South Africa (working at the marine research institute). You’ll next traverse to Peru, helping botanists in their scientific efforts in the midst of the rainforest. The culmination of the program happens in Sri Lanka where you will work on a small island helping turtle conservation efforts. 

Overall, the Conservation Explorer program is ideal for anyone looking for an immersive experience that will improve the lives of others on a personal level. Join our program and combine conservation efforts with cultural immersion for a comprehensive and rewarding gap year experience.

Embark on an exhilarating encounter with Kruger National Park’s majestic Big 5 animals.
Enjoy a range of outdoor activities during your time off, including catching some wave, surfing, hiking, and exploring South Africa’s stunning Wild Coast.
Gain knowledge on marine conservation in the Indian Ocean.
Protect and preserve endangered species in Sri Lanka.
Experience the lush Peruvian rainforest while learning about protecting our ecosystem.



May 12, 2024 - August 2, 2024 | 12 Weeks

Your first stop is in Kruger, known for its stunning wildlife and diverse ecosystem. Here, you’ll contribute to wildlife research and conservation efforts, specifically focusing on the “Big 5” species. Working alongside experienced researchers, your work involves collecting data, monitoring animal behavior, and studying the environment of these majestic animals including lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, and buffaloes. This hands-on experience will deepen your understanding of wildlife conservation and help protect South Africa’s biodiversity.

Project Highlights
  • Contribute to the research and monitoring of these iconic species, collecting valuable data to aid in their protection and conservation.
  • Assist in habitat restoration and management projects to create a sustainable environment for the “Big 5” and other wildlife species.
  • Collaborate with experienced researchers and local communities to raise awareness about the importance of conserving these magnificent animals and their ecosystems.

This project provides comfortable accommodation with seven spacious dorm rooms that offer beautiful views of the Olifants River. Each room is equipped with air conditioning and a private bathroom to ensure your comfort. Additionally, you can enjoy the relaxing swimming pool and outdoor fire pit during your stay.



August 5, 2024 - September 6, 2024 | 5 Weeks

Next, you’ll join a local marine research center on a mission to safeguard the African seas. Based in False Bay, the marine center offers a range of programs measuring and monitoring marine biodiversity and the impact of human imprint on the ocean world. Your work will involve underwater exploration and data analysis as you assist biologists and researchers on dives. Your focus will also be on guiding participants, leading dives and snorkeling excursions, and harmonizing data to support ongoing research initiatives. Additionally, the marine center is committed to training young scientists so as to empower the next generation of ocean conservationists.

Project Highlights
  • Work at the local marine center dedicated to the protection of the marine ecosystem.
  • Develop a strong understanding of marine science and ecology.
  • Engage in conservation initiatives promoting responsible tourism practices.
  • Gain knowledge with boat-based and land-based field research methods.
  • Contribute to community education programs and raise awareness about marine conservation. 

Stay in a nearby lodging that’s conveniently close to the research center. During off-hours, you will have the time to taste the local cuisine at charming restaurants and bars near your place. Explore the picturesque surroundings with hikes, or take a quick journey to the beautiful city of Cape Town, adding an extra layer of excitement to your experience.



September 9, 2024 - October 18, 2024 | 6 Weeks

The next destination is deeply hidden in the lush Peruvian rainforest. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the rich Amazon rainforest and engage in activities focused on environmental sustainability. Contribute to reforestation efforts, learn about sustainable agriculture practices, and assist local communities in preserving their natural resources. This experience will deepen your understanding of the importance of environmental conservation and provide an opportunity to connect with indigenous communities, learning from their wisdom and sustainable practices.

Project Highlights
  • Travel to the lush Peruvian rainforest and immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of the Amazon.
  • Contribute to environmental sustainability efforts, including reforestation projects and sustainable agriculture practices.
  • Engage with indigenous communities, learn about their wisdom and sustainable practices, and contribute to preserving the natural resources of the rainforest.

Accommodation is provided in a shared ecolodge nestled in the forest. Your stay in this serene lodge offers all the essential amenities, including showers, baths, and a fully equipped kitchen. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of the forest while enjoying the comfort and convenience of this eco-friendly and communal living space.



October 2, 2024 - December 20, 2024 | 9 Weeks

Sri Lanka is home to the Hawksbill, Green, Loggerhead, Olive Ridley and Leatherback varieties of turtles that are now considered endangered. The aim of this project is to help preserve the nesting sites and oversee the activities of turtles along the picturesque shoreline of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean. The initiative centers on three primary components: conducting patrols to clean and safeguard habitats, tending to the well-being of turtles, and educating the local community to enhance their awareness of the consequences associated with fishing and farming practices affecting turtles.

Project Highlights
  • Work with local researchers on pushing for turtle conservation efforts. 
  • Teach local communities on how practices can affect the marine ecosystem such as poaching, illegal fishing, etc. 
  • Promote responsible tourism practices. 
  • Spend your days on the picturesque Sri Lanka shoreline.
  • Create memories with other volunteers who share the same passion as you.

Your project is located in Kosgoda, where you’ll stay with a host family in a homestay offering essential amenities such as running water, toilets, and home-cooked meals. The accommodation is either in close proximity to the project or directly at the project site. Typically, up to three individuals share a room, and most host families have a basic understanding of English. The bedrooms come furnished with necessary facilities, and you’ll be supplied with bed sheets, a mosquito net, and toilet paper.

What You Pay For:

  • Airport welcome and transfers
  • Meals
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 emergency travel assistance
  • Safety expertise
  • Extensive pre-departure information and support
  • Pre and post arrival orientation
  • Local onsite coordinator with 24/7 availability
  • Local orientation, project training & equipment
  • Supervision and support during your internship


  • Flights
  • Visa expenses
  • Vaccinations
  • Personal expenses
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Costs for additional excursions or activities
  • Police/government background check
  • Any costs for COVID-19 PCR tests (if required by the country)
  • Mandatory contribution of $25 that is donated to the African Impact Sustainability Fund

Program Reviews

What our past alumni say

“I learned so much about rainforest wildlife – I’ve come away with knowledge of latin names of butterflies and frogs, understanding about plants and trees in the forest, and being able to recognise a number of tropical birds from their calls… I had the most amazing trip of a lifetime and would immediately recommend this experience to anyone. It was a challenge, mentally and physically, but so rewarding and I really did feel as though I was learning a lot about the rainforest as well as truly contributing to the conservation work there.

Daria KEnvironmental Conservation Volunteer Program in the Peruvian Rainforest

Frequently asked questions

Where is the Big 5 conservation project located?

The Greater Kruger Area consists of over 20 private wildlife reserves adjacent to the Kruger National Park in South Africa, forming one large reserve. Covering almost 5.5 million acres of unfenced land, it serves as a crucial wildlife conservation effort, protecting one of the world’s last remaining wildlife strongholds. This area is a significant hotspot for conservation, providing abundant opportunities to observe endangered or vulnerable animals like elephants, lions, rhinos, and wild dogs roaming freely in the wild savannah.

What will I be doing in a wildlife conservation project in South Africa?

Participants get to be part of valuable research on the iconic African Big 5 and other wildlife in the stunning Greater Kruger Area. Through regular game drives and research, volunteers contribute to understanding the health, behavior, and populations of these creatures, ultimately aiding in conservation strategies to protect South Africa’s wildlife effectively.

What animals are in Africa’s Big 5?

You will be working with other volunteers on the conservation of lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, and buffaloes.

Do I need a professional background in diving for the marine conservation project?

No, just a passion and willingness to learn about marine science research.

What are the tasks of a volunteer in Sri Lanka?

Some of your tasks may include collecting turtle eggs, protecting turtle nests, feeding and releasing turtles.

What’s a typical day as a volunteer in the Peruvian rainforest?

You will work alongside researchers carrying out conservation work. Some of the tasks you might do will include pit falling, mist netting, mammal transects, bio-gardens, agroforestry, etc. Your accommodation will be in a camp within the rainforest. 

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Need more information?

Find out all about Impact Gap Year and your gap year experiences in out information guide.



At Impact Gap Year, we are committed to creating a world where individuals are empowered to lead. where ethical practices prevail, and where young people are equipped to create positive change. Join us on this journey of growth, collaboration, and impact.

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