I can’t believe my 4-week stay in Victoria Falls is over. I have learnt so much and had the best time of my life, meeting some amazing new friends, challenging myself to new activities, visiting the local communities, walking with lions in the most beautiful location while working alongside an incredible team of staff.
Walking in the bush every day with Pendo and Phezulu was unforgettable. Every moment spent with the lions was enjoyable and entertaining – being able to interact, watch and get to know the personalities of the lions. As a volunteer I also took part in meat preparation, enclosure maintenance, data collection of the lions activity, play and hunting and behavior enrichment which involved making natural toys to stimulate and develop natural instincts.
Picking a favorite moment would be impossible as there were too many. The staff at Masuwe enabled me to have the experience of a lifetime. I gained such huge respect for the handlers and guides, the knowledge they have and passion they show is the reason lion conservation at the porject will continue to be a success, they made my experience better than I would of ever imagined, always having a laugh, but I never once felt unsafe.
The flexibility of the program gave me the opportunity to spend time on both the research and community projects. Visiting different parts of the community and the projects in Victoria Falls. Learning the stories and backgrounds of the children at the orphanage was awful, but then to experience and see how happy they are always brought a smile to my face. I also enjoyed teaching children to read at reading club, and visiting Chinotimba preschool, seeing how teaching differs to at home. The visit to Chikamba a rural community was very special. We finished painting the store room/library that African Impact built in partnership with Lion Encounter and ALERT for the school to provide a safe and dry room for school equipment. Then there was a 3-hour ceremony, where the keys were officially handed over, there was singing, dancing and everyone enjoyed goat for lunch!
This was my first time traveling alone, and I didn’t know what to expect, but my first time in Africa exceeded all expectations. As well as the projects, I rafted down the Zambezi River, jumped off a gorge and sat at the top of Victoria Falls. What I experienced in Victoria Falls with African Impact will stay with me forever. I loved every minute!