Internship FAQ's

Is this a paid position? No, this is a voluntary work placement for which you need to make a paid contribution.

Can I pay in instalments? Yes, you may pay your contribution over a period of time providing that the full amount has been paid four weeks prior to the start of your placement.

What is the minimum length of time I can volunteer for? The minimum placement length is currently one month (4 weeks).

Do we have to work every day? No, work days are Monday to Friday and you may have light duties on Saturday mornings. At other times, you may relax on the reserve or take part in excursions on weekends.

How much spending money will I need? The amount you take and spend is of course up to you, the main costs will be for optional social occasions and excursions outside the UmPhafa reserve. There is also limited opportunity to buy souvenirs in the local area. £200 is a guideline recommended amount for a one month placement.

How far in advance should I apply for a placement? All placements must be fully organised and paid for one month prior to travel. However, it is recommended that you apply well in advance as positions are limited and flights may become more expensive when closer to the date.

Can I volunteer at the same time as my friend(s)? Yes, it is possible for you to organise your placement at the same time as your friend(s). However, it is important to note that this is a voluntary work position rather than a holiday.

Do I need relevant qualifications to get a placement? No, our volunteer placements are open to anyone with a genuine interest in wildlife and conservation. However, we do aim to equip volunteers with knowledge and experience relevant to a career in conservation.

What is the best time of year to go? South Africa is seasonal and experiences ‘winter’ during our summer months. However weather is pleasant throughout the year and there is always conservation work to be done! Please see our volunteer booklet for recommended clothing and equipment.

Do tourists visit the reserve? No, UmPhafa is a private nature reserve, managed solely for conservation and not open to tourists.

Can I travel in South Africa afterwards? When your UmPhafa placement comes to an end, your transfer to Durban airport is provided. Any further travel is up to you. Remember that you will require a visa if staying in South Africa for more than 90 days.

Research Placement FAQ's

Is this a paid position? No, you need to make a paid contribution to work on the UmPhafa Reserve as a researcher.

Can I conduct research that is not for my degree? Yes, if you have already completed your degree and wish to conduct independent scientific research, you may do this under the supervision of the UmPhafa Reserve Co-ordinator. It is still expected that you work on your research project full-time and produce a scientific report of your findings.

Does the project need to be chosen from the research priority list? No, if you have an interest in a particular project outside the suggested list please contact us and we will assist you in developing the project in line with the species and resources available on UmPhafa.

Will the reserve keep and use my data? Yes, the UmPhafa Reserve will ask for a copy of your hard data and report, this information will be used in the conservation management of the reserve.

Is there any additional insurance cost for researchers? Our research is non invasive and therefore will not incur any additional costs compared to an internship placement. However, we will require that you complete a risk assessment as part of your project proposal.

Will the research priorities change next year? UmPhafa is a conservation project and new species are being introduced and monitored over time. Therefore new research areas may be prioritised in the future.

Will placements be run in the future? Yes, UmPhafa is a long-term project and our internship and research placements will run for years to come. We are happy to hear from you well in advance to confirm your placement.

If you have any further questions not answered on this page please email:


UmPhafa is located in the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountain Range, a world heritage site

Number of species offically recorded on Umphafa

Mammals 49
Birds 186
Reptiles 24
Amphibians 10
Trees 62