Volunteer Programmes for
Volunteer work abroad for over 50s
Volunteering in Africa is definitely something we recommend for senior volunteers, and we have a wide range of programmes for mature travellers and volunteers over 50. No longer is volunteering the preserve of students on a gap year, it is a structured and exciting way for anyone to experience Africa in a more immersive way than a traditional safari holiday.
The vast majority of our programmes are very suited to senior volunteers, and welcome people of diverse ages, backgrounds and nationalities – we find it is often the older volunteers who have the greatest impact and get more satisfaction and fulfilment out of their work. We’ve sent volunteers in their 80s to work with rhinos and elephants in Zimbabwe; people in their 70s to work with primates in Malawi and so many volunteers over 60 to learn about anti-poaching in South Africa.
Whether you are a recent empty-nester, taking a career break, or have just retired but aren’t ready to slow down, there are definitely places where you can do amazing, bucket-list things you’ve previously only dreamed about, with opportunities to share your time, knowledge and experience with others.
Our best volunteer programs for seniors
Join a unique conservation programme, dedicated to the protection of the black rhino. Play a vital role in securing the future of these iconic animals.
1 - 12 weeks
Support conservation work to protect endangered species in South Africa. Monitor priority species including lion, leopard, cheetah, rhino and wild dog.
2 - 12 weeks
Combine horse riding safaris, anti-poaching patrols and horseback game counts, with hands-on volunteer work with black rhinos and elephants.
1 - 2 weeks
Volunteer as a Field Assistant in two of Zimbabwe’s most magnificent National Parks. A unique volunteer opportunity on a true wilderness experience.
Our 6-week nature enthusiast course is for those who want a more in-depth wildlife experience, gaining a deep understanding and appreciation for Africa’s natural environment.
Gain practical experience in advanced anti-poaching techniques, learning from South Africa’s most experienced conservation professionals.
7 - 14 days
Combine rhino conservation with primate rehabilitation in Zimbabwe. Experience life on a private conservancy and work in a sanctuary focused on small animal care.
2 - 16 weeks
Volunteer with horses and experience beach life in Mozambique. Join the project team and take clients on beach and coastal trail rides in a spectacular location.
2 - 12 weeks
Participate in delivering solutions to the human-elephant conflict in Namibia. Monitor populations of the rare desert elephant and support rural communities.
2 - 12 weeks
Volunteer at Zimbabwe’s only dedicated primate rehabilitation centre. Gain animal care experience and assist in wildlife rehabilitation and release.
1 - 12 weeks
Witness an incredible ocean migration in a stunning location. Assist researchers with data collection to support international whale conservation.
2 - 12 weeks
Volunteer in Victoria Falls and support grass-roots community action. Build strong communities through livelihood development and education projects.
1 - 12 weeks
Combine work experience with rhinos and elephants on a private conservancy, with community outreach work in rural communities outside Victoria Falls.
2 - 10 weeks
Senior volunteers - how to volunteer abroad
There are hundreds of wildlife volunteer projects in Africa, but unfortunately not all of them are completely ethical. When choosing a responsible wildlife volunteer project, the welfare of the animals must be the project’s number one priority, and their volunteers must make a tangible, positive impact on the environment, wildlife and local communities.
We have strict policies in place regarding the wildlife conservation projects we support, and our volunteers can be sure their contribution is supporting genuine conservation work, being done for the good of Africa’s wildlife.
We are the ethical travel Africa specialists
FAQs for senior volunteering
Volunteering abroad is definitely not just for school and university leavers any more! More than 30% of our volunteers are over 40 and with people staying fitter into middle age nowadays, age should not be a barrier to volunteering. We offer a wide selection of volunteer opportunities for seniors and they are a great opportunity to expand your horizons and meet new people, regardless of age.
Volunteering abroad when you’re retired is a great opportunity to expand your learning opportunities, meet new people of all ages and backgrounds and have new experiences. For mature volunteers there are a multitude of health benefits to volunteering overseas, both physical and mental. Volunteering, especially in Africa, tends to be more active than a safari or beach holiday, and you will be living outdoors surrounded by nature – perfect for a restorative break from the pressures of daily life. There are so many well-published mental health benefits to being outside, in the sunshine, surrounded by animals, birds and plants. Take a look at our blog post Volunteering Abroad for the Over 50s to read about all the benefits of volunteering!
If you’re ready to join a volunteer project but not quite sure where to start, then we are here to help! Take a look at our selection of projects on this page suitable for older volunteers and select any that appeal. As a CTA volunteer, you’ll have a dedicated volunteer coordinator to support you every step of the way. You can volunteer from 1 week up to 12 weeks or even longer, and our programme fees start from just $600 per week including all meals and accommodation. All our programmes are fully hosted, where accommodation, meals, airport transfers, activities and in-country support are covered and organised for you. Click above on any of our top volunteer projects for seniors to see all the best volunteer opportunities for adults aged 40 and over.
All our project sites have different accommodation options. These could:
- Shared twin room in a volunteer house or tented safari camp
- Accommodation upgrades to private rooms
- Lodge accommodation
- Camp-style accommodation (single and shared).
Most of our projects can accommodate single-person requests – in some cases, there is a supplement to be paid but some will accommodate senior volunteers in private rooms as standard. Please enquire if you have specific requirements and we can recommend suitable projects for you!
Where rooms are shared, they are always with another person of the same gender and similar age.
It’s definitely safe to volunteer abroad. All our projects have risk management and health and safety measures in place and take the health and safety of volunteers very seriously. Travel insurance is compulsory for all volunteers. Our projects have emergency medical and evacuation plans in place should volunteers become ill or need medical attention while at the programme. Please ask for specific details for any of our programmes.
Around 30% of our volunteers are over the age of 40, and across all our projects the average volunteer age is 35 – so volunteering abroad is definitely not just for youngsters. An increasing number of mature volunteers are choosing to volunteer with us, and each of them brings significant value to the communities and wildlife areas in which we work. We also specialise in volunteer projects for families and have organised trips for parents who want to volunteer abroad with their children and also multi-generational trips across three generations of families. See our Family Volunteering page for more details of our family volunteer programmes.
Conservation Travel Africa programmes allow for volunteer trips of up to 6 months.
Wondering what the best volunteer projects for over 50s are? All of our projects are open to volunteers aged over 18, which means you can join any programme you like! We’ve put together our pick of the best volunteer programmes for seniors on this page.
To volunteer abroad with us as a senior volunteer, it’s an easy process.
1/ Take a look at our volunteer programmes for mature volunteers and choose a project that you’re interested in (or more than one!).
2/ Send us an email or fill out the online form with details of your programme and preferred dates. Your personal volunteer travel consultant get in touch with you directly with a full project brochure and details of availability. In this email we will go through how to pay your deposit and secure your place.
3/ As soon as your deposit is received by Conservation Travel Africa, you will get a pre-departure pack and packing list, and all the individual support you need to prepare for your volunteer programme. Your volunteer travel consultant will be your point of contact throughout your preparations until you have safely arrived at your project.
Ethical volunteering in Africa
Africa’s iconic wildlife is in serious decline, and the continent is home to several key species facing imminent extinction. Rhino populations are down 85% and even the once-prolific African elephant is now considered to be a vulnerable species. Wildlife volunteers joining our projects will contribute to important conservation work being done to secure the future of threatened animals, and can be sure that the projects we support are doing genuine conservation work.
A unique travel experience
Volunteering is a safe way to experience Africa in much more depth than taking a traditional holiday. The experience enables volunteers to understand and appreciate the work being done to protect the planet’s wildlife; to meet and join the communities working alongside conservationists, and encourage the exchange of life experiences and skills between different cultures. You will have unforgettable animal encounters, knowing that you are making an important contribution to their future.
Our vision for senior volunteers in Africa
Our vision is for an Africa where humans and wildlife can thrive peacefully side by side. The inputs to achieving this vision are threefold: the long term protection and wellbeing of animals, the conservation of ecosystems, and the education and upliftment of communities. Volunteer tourism, when used in a responsible way, has a critical role to play in achieving these goals.