Of all the things that you can gift your children, we believe that some of the most valuable are travel experiences, giving them an understanding of their role in the world.
We believe that one of the best and most unique family adventures is a family volunteering holiday at Imire: Rhino and Wildlife Conservation.
Located in Zimbabwe, in Southern Africa, this incredible volunteer programme has been running for over 10 years, based in a family-run conservancy. Dozens of families, with children as young as five, have got their hands and clothes dirty, and had an unforgettable family holiday – with a difference!
One such family is the Rogers’ – mum, dad and two wide-eyed children, Sam (10 years) and Evie (6 years). Instead of a typical family holiday back home in the UK, Emma and Ian decided that their children needed a little adventure, and signed up to a life-changing week at Imire. And what a wonderful time it was!
First of all, the family got to see a little bit of Zimbabwe through the eyes of their local guide. Imire ensures that each family is in the best possible hands, and uses a friendly and trustworthy local driver, Dairai Manyati, to transport volunteers to and from the airport, and accompany them on off-site excursions. Life in a country like Zimbabwe could not be more different to the UK – the state of the towns and roads is an eye-opener, and the Bentley family enjoyed every raw, dusty and colourful moment.
At Imire, the children were able to witness first-hand how differently people live in rural Africa. They learnt to value their own lives back in England more, after seeing the poverty that is rife in Zimbabwe. The children also learnt that children are the same everywhere, regardless of background, culture and race – at the end of the day, kids will be kids, and can share connections that transcend cultural differences. Some of Evie and Sam’s favourite outings (and most shared stories) were trips to local schools. Here they got to experience life as local kids. Thanks to Imire’s matriarch, Judy Travers, and her special relationship with the local communities, family volunteers at Imire get a unique and privileged insight into rural village life.
Her favourite memory? ‘The early morning rhino walk followed by breakfast out in the bush,’ she says. ‘We were even joined by elephants, which Evie happily fed.’ All the activities were done as a family and there was never a dull moment.
Another highlight which the family thoroughly enjoyed, was a hike up Domboshawa, a large rocky granite outcrop about 30 minutes from the capital city, Harare. The views of the vast African landscape from the top are simply amazing, and you are able to see the rural villages clearly. It is also home to extremely well-preserved cave paintings, clearly depicting antelope and tribal people. It’s an incredible place to enjoy a different landscape, and ponder the time spent in Zimbabwe.
And finally, the lessons about conservation and respect for the animal kingdom, particularly the humble rhinoceros, are priceless. ‘Being so close to the animals was truly amazing – rhinos and elephants are HUGE,’ says Ian about the larger-than-life beauties that are housed at Imire.
The family’s biggest take home? An appreciation and understanding of the challenges faced by the rhinos through poaching – and a will to help where possible. They also departed with a large respect for the work done at Imire.
‘We enjoyed every moment of our time at Imire and have a great admiration for the people who work there,’ says Emma. ‘We highly recommend it to any family wanting to grow closer and go on new adventures together.’
Please get in touch if you would like to visit Zimbabwe as a family and volunteer with rhinos and elephants – we’d love the opportunity to plan your African adventure!
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For more information, to ask any questions, or to reserve your place on any of our family volunteer projects, please get in touch!
Children under 12 should be be prepared to work closely with their families on projects and all children under 18 must be accompanied by at least one parent. We absolutely welcome non-traditional families on all our family volunteer programmes.