Holistic Elephant Park Research Programme


Share your time and passion contributing towards the resident herd of African elephants

Join this programme dedicated to the research and study of African elephants to provide data to be used to guide elephant management to better suit the welfare needs of elephants in captive facilities.

Get involved with research, practical conservation activities and advocacy for the resident elephants of a park in the heart of South Africa's Garden Route!


Four unique promises underpin our services to give you total peace of mind.


Ready to yourself and learn?


A nonprofit trust dedicated to the research and study of African elephants. The main goal of the conservation programme is to provide information that can be used to guide elephant management to better suit the welfare needs of elephants in captive facilities. The conservation programme is attached to an elephant park located along South Africa’s Garden Route.The elephant park was started more than 25 years ago to preserve the free roaming elephant population in South Africa. As towns started to develop in the area, the wild elephant population dwindled almost completely. The park is now home to South Africa’s largest free-roaming herd that is cared for in a controlled environment. The herd is free to roam the park as they please, and the team has the unique opportunity to collect research on a semi-wild elephant group. The conservation programme research focuses include behavior monitoring, recording social interactions within the herd, night-time observations, monitoring and observing interaction with elephants and tourists, studies of feeding behaviors, and the collection of dung, urine, and other samples for analysis. The elephant park itself is dedicated to ethical ecotourism as a means of conservation, by educating tourists on elephant conservation needs, acting as ambassadors to the species.

Role & Responsibilities

As a volunteer, you can expect to be involved with the following:

  • Assisting with elephant research: daily and nighttime observations on various behaviors
  • Sample collections for lab work
  • Data entry
  • General park maintenance
  • Assisting with elephant enrichment, designing and creating enrichment toys for elephants
  • Creating crafts to sell for research fundraising in the onsite curios shop

Depending on your interests and the duration of your stay, you also have the opportunity to work on specialized research projects and data analysis. 

Location and Accommodation

The park is located between the popular Garden Route stops of Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. Volunteers and interns live on-site on the beautiful park grounds, surrounded by the resident elephants as well as the few zebras which also live in the park.

The house is a comfortable five-bedroom property. Depending on numbers, you could share a room with up to two other volunteers/interns and each bedroom has it’s own private en-suite bathroom. There’s a fully equipped kitchen and meals will be at your own cost and preparation. There is a library and lounge to relax in with your new friends, complete with TV, DVD and satellite TV, as well as a beautiful outside deck that overlooks the park grounds and a dam.

There are many nearby areas to explore and activities to try including:

  • Jump off the world’s largest bungee jump and explore Tsitsikamma.
  • The quaint seaside town of Knysna, known for its beautiful scenery.
  • Plettenberg Bay, a popular tourist spot home to plenty of beautiful beaches. 
  • The park sits along the famous Garden Route which boasts an endless list of amazing things to do and has become one of the most popular backpacking journeys in the world.

Airport Pickup and Drop Off

Airport collections and drop-offs are included from George Airport between 12 pm and 3 pm on set dates. If arriving after 3 pm, a taxi can be arranged on your behalf but at an extra cost. Departures should be arranged on a Monday for flights from George Airport which leave after 1 pm. Transfers are scheduled on specific dates throughout 2020 and 2021.

Example Schedule
Programme Requirements
  • You must be at least 18 years of age to join this conservation programme.
  • The program is run in English so you need to be able to communicate effectively in English and understand health and safety briefings which are taught in English.
  • You should be relatively physically fit as a large part of the program involves walking.
  • You should have enthusiasm, passion for wildlife conservation and the ability to learn as you go.
  • Any participants must be willing to comply with the organisations code of conduct, health and safety policies and ethical policies.
  • If you would like to get involved with more in-depth research or conduct your own project, you will need to stay for a minimum duration of four weeks.


What's included in your learnership programme?


2020 and 2021 arrival and departure airport transfers from George Airport. Pickups will be arranged on specific dates and times to ensure that you and any other arriving volunteers make it back to the elephant park in time for your first evening orientation. Life on project is made easy with transport provided for you to do a weekly shop for your dinners and any other bits and bobs you need.


Enjoy living with your new friends in a beautiful and comfortable house with fantastic facilities. There’s a fully equipped kitchen, spacious living and dining area, private en-suite bathrooms for each bedroom, fast and reliable Wi-Fi, and an amazing outdoor space with a braai area and stunning views of the dam and elephants. You will also 2 research team T-shirts and a warm knitted fleece to be worn


24/7 on the ground support and guidance. Learn from and work alongside a friendly, dedicated, and experienced team of staff. You’ll become part of a family during the programme and as well as working with the elephants, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to share the highlights and challenges of your day with the staff and volunteers. 

Additional Activities

Some special additional activities including a traditional South African braai experience and a walk with the elephants. 


Become part of the family as you join the small and friendly research team along with other international volunteers. With so much to do in the area, the on-site team will give you the inside scoop on the best local activities and help you take advantage of your free time.

Career Development

Along with he practical field experience, you will receive a reference letter (should you wish to have one) at the conclusion of your time at the elephant park. Your Bridging Gaps mentors will also provide ongoing career and education after leaving the project.


Why Bridging Gaps?

Three ways we stand out from other internship programme providers

Totally customised

Our programmes are tailored to meet your specific interests and goals and we provide a wide range of opportunities in many different inspiring local organisations.


Holistic and immersive

We are committed to providing each of our participants with a personal and holistic experience of the vibrant Mother City, and ensuring that your adventure runs as smoothly as possible.

Suitable for all

Bridging Gaps Programmes are suitable for people looking for Gap Year opportunities abroad, professional placements to supplement their studies, post-graduate international work experience and meaningful career breaks.


Programme Costs

2 Weeks:
R 13,790
3 Weeks:
R 20,685
4 Weeks:
R 27,580
5 Weeks:
R 27,475
6 Weeks:
R 28,770

Custom: All IMMERSE learnerships are customisable. We will design a programme to suit you and work with your host organisation to accommodate your requirements as far as possible. Please follow the normal enquiry process and we will talk you through your options.

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Fees are calculated in South African Rand.
All of our programmes deposits are 100% refundable and backed by industry leading guarantees.