What they had to say about
Donna De Weil
I was very fortunate to be on an Earthwatch expedition studying rhinos at Mankwe Reserve in South Africa. Lynne MacTavish and her staff were very informative on rhinos and other wildlife. I have been volunteering in Africa for decades and this expedition was one of my favorites. Not only did the Earthwatch team learn a great deal about white and black rhinos but what the rangers and Mankwe staff go through to protect these animals. We took lots of data during the expedition and on our last evening we were presented with fabulous charts to show how meaningful our data collection was.
Mankwe is a fantastic place in so many ways. Lynne and staff are kind, caring and knowledgeable. The reserve is small so when you see wildlife you can enjoy them because there aren’t 10 SUVs jockeying to view the wildlife like at many Africa national parks. The accommodations are quite cozy and comfortable. The food is amazing and the braai is special. My stay at Mankwe was like visiting family.
The experience at Mankwe is life changing. It holds a special place in my heart. I hope to visit again in the near future.
I was a bit nervous about travelling to South Africa with Earthwatch but I needn't have worried. All the staff - both project and Mankwe Reserve staff - were absolutely fantastic. They have huge passion for wildlife and conservation, and I learned a lot about how conservation actually works in practice. Staff made sure not only that the research went smoothly, but also that we all gained as much from our experience as possible, even arranging additional activities for things we had shown a particular interest in (my encounter with a pack of Painted Dogs remains one of my favourite wildlife encounters ever!).
The camp was very comfortable, with running water, showers and flush toilets. It's also located directly within the reserve, with no dividing fences, so you can sit outside your tent and watch the wildlife from your doorstep! The food - freshly prepared by reserve staff -
was gorgeous. The research activities were very varied, which kept things interesting, and in addition to that we were offered some great leisure activities such as a visit to nearby Pilanesberg National Park, a sundowner and an African drumming session.
Overall, I feel that I have had an insight into conservation and wildlife in South Africa that is way beyond what a tourist would get. I had the most amazing time of my life at Mankwe and have kept in touch with the reserve ever since. I have had the opportunity to go back and visit, have been inspired to fundraise for rhino conservation and have given talks about my experience at the school where I work. Mankwe truly is a magical place and I can't recommend it highly enough!