I only spent a week with Daktari in 2009, yet my experience there still resonates strongly with me. The concept of the camp is very strong, and all of the staff and volunteers are extremely passionate about its cause and progressing the wellbeing of the animals and children. As there are different groups of children staying each week, you still gain a lot even if you only stay a short time, and I highly recommend the experience.
When I chose Daktari it wasn't my first volunteering experience. I had already volunteered as a special ed teacher and also assisting ecological research in other parts of the world. Daktari offered both in the same place. It looked intriguing and I wanted to know more. From the minute I arrive I am welcomed into the Daktari family - and what an exceptional family this is! Into this family is built a unique and incredibly genuine philosophy of caring for the environment, for the animals, for the children, for our earth and all of us who share it. you will become part of it - you will share your skill and your caring - and you will know your contribution is doing REAL good. For me, Daktari has indeed set itself apart from other volunteer experiences. I think often of my short but memorable time there and know I'll be back some day. Ian and Michele - your passion is contagious - you are indeed living what you believe. Thank you!
It has been two years almost since I came back from Daktari... And I cannot wait to go back!! The 5 weeks I spent there in 2010 were amazing and have had a major impact on me. There is seldom one week when I don't think of my time there and the people I met. Not only are Michèle and Ian wonderful people, they have also created a special place where everyone makes a difference to the others' lives, whether children, volunteers, animals or staff. Before I decided to join Daktari, I browsed through 'hundreds' of different volunteering programs. Daktari was the only one (I found) combining environment and education. And what a program! Intense but so rewarding, and life-changing for the children... The children don't want to leave, the volunteers just want to come back! If you ever have the opportunity to visit South Africa, make sure Daktari is on your priority list, you won't regret it. Michele, Ian, I'll see you soon... :-)!
Daktari was the most wonderful place I've ever been. You learn so much about the animals and get to experience them in an amazing way. You also get to experience teaching children about the wonders of their country. They are so grateful for that and they'll surprise you by their efforts and the amount of thank you's you'll get. Your only regret will be that your trip is too short.
I had a dream..... I gues that is how everything that becomes great begins! Michele and my father had such a dream and have built a truly amazing place. Not only do they look after a range of animals varying from Donkeys to Leopards, but they also help their local communities by teaching the kids life skills. They are truly an inspiration not only to me (their daughter), but to everyone. Daktari is a little oasis in the middle of nowhere, and the world would never be the same with out it! If you are looking for an amazing volunteering postition, this truly is the best place in the world. You will learn a lot, but more importantly, you will have friends (and memories) for life!
I spent two months at daktari in 2010 and the only bad thing about it was leaving. Daktari added to me and gave me a new understanding of life. I was able to learn about myself but I could also see the effect it had on the children. By the end of the week you can can see how much of a positive impact Daktari has on their lives. Michele and Ian are incredibly warm inspiring people who have devoted themselves entirely to the project, I feel privileged to have been able to spend time with them and learn from them.
I only have wonderful things to say about my 2 months stay at Daktari. The the kind and loving people at Daktari provide a good atmosphere for the volunteers. Interacting with the children, animals and nature guarantee you an unforgettable experience for a life time.
An wonderful experience i would recommend to anyone in love with the wildlife...
Michele and Ian would humbly like to say thank you for this very positive review. We are touched.
Roberta and John from Detroit, Michigan, USA. My husband and I spent a week at Daktari in May 2010. A trip to Africa was a life-long dream, and while we were eager to go on safari and see the sights, we also wanted to do something that would be more meaningful than just being tourists. We do a lot of volunteer work to restore wildlife habitat in Michigan, so we searched on the internet for volunteer opportunities with animals in South Africa, and Daktari came up. We investigated and determined it was legitimate. We worked with Michelle on-line and she made it very easy for us to work Daktari into our travel plans.
We spent a great week at Daktari, getting to know Ian and Michelle, the other international volunteers, the staff, the animals, and, of course, the children. Ian and Michelle have developed an amazing educational program to supplement the children’s school lessons, and have carefully and successfully integrated learning about and caring for the animals into the educational program. Hands-on experiences have a much more profound and lasting impact than book lessons. It was evident that the children’s understanding of and appreciation for their country’s natural resources increased tremendously during the course of their week at Daktari.
We see a similar disconnect between children and nature here at home. Affluent children spend more time on their computers and video games than outdoors in nature, while under-privileged children in Detroit and other urban centers frequently do not have the opportunity to visit safe and healthy open spaces with wildlife. It is critically important to expose youth to the natural world and educate them to be the next generation of environmental stewards. They have a big job ahead of them.
We will never forget our friends from Daktari – Ian and Michelle, the other volunteers, Eeyore the blind donkey, the incredible porcupine, and the young, friendly mongooses (mongeese?) who climbed all over us like crazed kittens.
Wow, what a positive response! Thank you both very much. Actually we were discussing the impact we make on the children, but had forgotten we also make an impact on the volunteers. It is wonderful to have this feedback. Regards from Ian and Michele
My husband, daughter and I spent a week at Daktari in August 2010. For us all it was a life changing experience that surpassed expectations. We certainly hope to return. Ian and Michelle have devoted their lives to this outstanding project. The aims are simple yet so important - education for the young people - not just in the basics of maths and english but also conservation of their environment and the chance for these children to make a difference not only to their own futures but that of this great country, South Africa. Hands on care of the orphaned animals was also a privilage - playing with the meerkats, cleaning and feeding all the animals, not to mention meeting like minded people from other parts of the world. A sundowner at Leopard Rock was memorable and the sound of the children singing while dancing round the camp fire on their last night was magical. Ian and Michelle's vision in setting up this project and the hard work they put into it deserves full support - they make a really valuable difference to the community around them and their energy and enthusiasm is fantastic. Thank you, Ian and Michelle, for what you are doing.
Thank you so much for the positive review. It warms the heart to know we also make a positive impact on the volunteers.I hope you realise this project would not be possible without the input of the volunteers. Regards from Ian and Michele.