Academic Field Trips
We are the leading provider of educational, inspirational and empowering conservation programs for the next generation. Using hand-picked destinations and mentors which facilitate a holistic and authentic conservation journey, capitalizing on the diversity of ecosystems found in South Africa.
African Insight has been providing academic field trips to South Africa since 1999, and many of our partner academic institutions report that these field trips have played a significant role in increasing recruitment onto courses as well as substantially improving student retention on courses.
South Africa’s third world status yet modern and well-maintained communication and travel infrastructure as well as first world medical facilities provide unique opportunities for wildlife, conservation and environmental and socio-political and rural community development field trips.
Academic field trips are designed at any level to include experiences that meet specific learning outcomes of each group thereby reinforcing (or preparing for) lessons learned in the formal lecture situation. Depending on the aims and objectives of the institution field trips can form part of a formal academic module or a supplementary experiential learning nature.
African Insight provides a complete service with every step of planning your academic field trip. We offer both tailor-made trips for groups exceeding 10 travelers as well as predetermined modules which are all determined by different learning outcomes. Our experienced academic programme coordinator works closely with trip organizers to ensure that the desired outcomes are planned for and achieved.
Wildlife Rehabilitation:Our base during this module of the academic field trip is FreeMe KZN Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, home to arguably the most ethical wildlife rehabilitation centre in South Africa. Here we will have our first opportunity to learn about aspects of ecology and animal behaviour as well as rehabilitation processes and practices. From this base, we have easy access to a variety of optional experiences that will add value to your field trip.
A Study of ecology and conservation management interventions:This is a 3 or 4-night module. Proclaimed a National Park in 1926, Kruger is nearly 2 million hectares; roughly the size of Wales. From north to south it is 320km, and east to west a mean width of about 65 kilometres. Most of the Park’s western boundary borders onto private areas under conservation and therefore unfenced, allowing the free movement of the game over an even greater area. The eastern boundary is the international border with Mozambique.
Tribal communities and conservation in Zululand:Zululand is home to the oldest conservation areas in Africa with the proclamation of Hluhluwe, iMfolozi and St. Lucia Game Reserves in 1895. However, the conservation road has not been an easy one. In the first 50 years wildlife (and cattle) populations were ravaged by rinderpest and numerous attempts of orchestrated mass annihilation. Due to the ever-present threat of Nagana that wildlife posed to domestic stock, reserves were constantly under threat from agriculture and veterinary authorities, as a result of the widespread use of DDT which was indiscriminately applied by aerial spraying.
Maputaland Coastal Conservation and Eco-TourismL:This 2-night module takes place in the Maputaland region of KwaZulu-Natal province which is home to the Maputaland Coastal Forest and Marine Reserves. These make up the northernmost section of iSimangaliso Wetland Park which links protected ecosystems as a continuous World Heritage Park stretching 220 km from the Mozambique border southwards to St. Lucia and 5 Kilometres out to sea.
Zululand Wildlife Research Fieldtrip:This 11 night / 12-day module covers three unique conservation areas located in the Zululand and Maputaland regions of the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. Incorporating a unique opportunity for students to engage in practical fieldwork, explore one of South Africa’s true wild ‘Big 5’ reserves and experience the most pristine marine wilderness in the world.
Day 1 - Arrive at OR Tambo International Airport JHB
The group will arrive at King Shaka International Airport, Durban where they will be met by African Insight guides and transferred 4.5 hours to Somkhanda Game Reserve, stopping for lunch (own account) along the way.
As the sun slips down we will be surrounded by the Zululand bush whilst receiving a briefing on aspects of the camp and the activities lined up for the coming days.
Days 2 & 3 - Practical Biological Data Collection & Conservation Management
The groups will be divided into groups of 10 max to undertake the practical research monitoring activities. In the late afternoon we will be introduced to members of the Zonyama Community where we will be spending the next 2 days.
Rhino Monitoring - Due to the significance of the species rhino monitoring is an ongoing project on Somkhanda with many of the animals having been fitted with radio tracking devices. Students will accompany the reserve’s rhino monitors into the field on their daily routine. Information gathered from rhinos includes: general health, associations with other animals and off spring, movement, home range plotting, feeding preferences etc.
Camera Trap Surveying- Students will accompany experienced monitors as they check cam era traps, changing batteries, downloading data and sorting through photographs. The objective of the camera trap survey method is to monitor rhino individuals to assess their physical condition, the presence of calves and associations between individuals, with a focus on the more elusive black rhino.
Day 4 - Zonyama Community Programme
Day 4 - Zonyama Community Programme
After an early morning bushwalk we return to camp for brunch before packing up and driving to the nearby Zonyama Community where we will meet our the local Headman as well as our host families and community facilitators.
Day 5 - Zonyama Community Programme
A full day community programme.
Day 6 - Early Childhood Development
After breakfast return to Somkhanda, via Cottlands school where we will get a better understanding of the Early childhood development programme that was introduced last year. Lunch back at the lodge and time to relax before a late afternoon game drive.
Day 7 - Belvedere Game Reserve & Abattoir visit
Today we travel to a neighbouring game farm where there will be a talk on the sustainable use of wildlife, a tour of the Abattoir and a lunch. Return to Somkhanda for an afternoon Game Drive
Days 8 & 9 - Elephant Park
Today we enjoy a boat trip on Jozini Dam which allows the opportunity of viewing herds of elephant, hippo pods and other wildlife from the deck. This will be followed by scenic 2 hour drive over the Lebombo Mountains (once home to the well known author of King Solomon’s Mines – Ryder Haggard) and into Maputaland, home of the Tembe Elephant Park and other unique wildlife adventure destinations.
From our lodging at Royal Thonga, we explore this truly wild park which is only accessible by 4x4 and offers the greatest diversity of wildlife in KwaZulu Natal including the Big 5, lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo as well as Africa’s smallest antelope the Suni.
Days 10 to 12 - Kosi Bay
Day 10 - We leave Tembe after a morning game drive. It is a short drive to Kosi Bay which forms the northern most part of the Isimangaliso World Heritage Site. After setting up camp and a briefing there will be an optional hike to the lookout point for Sundowners.
Day 11 - Group 1: Hike down to the estuary through the dunes to enjoy a morning exploring this unique eco-system. Time will be spent on the beach, snorkeling and visiting the traditional fish traps where the local Tonga people have practiced a unique form of fish trapping for over 700 years. Please note that African Insight guides will accompany the group to the beach however swimming and snorkeling are at own risk
Group 2: Transfer to Lake 3 where we will be collected by boat, cruise through the channels between Lake 1,2 and 3, home of flamingoes, hippos and the rare Palm Nut vulture, optional snorkeling available.
Day 12 - After Breakfast Group 1 & 2 will swop the previous day’s activities and enjoy a second day out in this pristine wilderness area.
Day 13 - End of Module
After breakfast we will pack up camp and depart for our trip back to Durban in time to check in for our return flight. Lunch en-route is for own account.