conservation safaris

Do you feel the call of the wild? Are you drawn to rugged landscapes and places where exotic animals roam?

If you love encountering wildlife in their natural habitats and want to preserve similar experiences for future generations, consider these conservation safaris around the world.

These educational trips allow you to visit incredible places while assisting with conservation research.

While the name “safari” might bring to mind searching for the Big Five, these trips aren’t limited to the African savanna.

conservation safaris, snow leopard
Snow Leopard. Photo courtesy of Tashi Ghale.

1) Assist With Photographing The Elusive Annapurna Snow Leopard – Nepal

Legends of the Wild offers expeditions that put travelers right in the heart of conservation, guided by professional biologists.

In December 2017, you — and a maximum of seven other travelers — can head to the Himalayas to help field biologist Tashi Ghale photograph the endangered snow leopard. These animals are often called the “mountain ghost” due to their elusive nature. You can help collect and download data from various strategically placed cameras to count the number of snow leopards in the area, and track the cats’ movement and behavior patterns. In addition to spending five days with the biologist, you’ll also be able to do some mountain trekking — something no trip to Nepal is complete without!

Conservation safaris Namibia Sand Dunes
Namibia Sand Dunes. Photo courtesy of © G Adventures

2) See Cheetahs Up Close And Experience The Wonders Of Namibia – Namibia

G Adventures has partnered with National Geographic Journeys to present an unforgettable adventure.

Like all of G Adventures’ trips and conservation safaris, Wonders of Namibia adheres to an Animal Welfare Policy that encourages positive interactions between humans and wildlife, while ensuring animals are treated humanely.

You will visit the global field research and education facility at the Cheetah Conservation Fund, an organization supported by the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative. After learning about cheetahs and conservation from a researcher, you will go on a wildlife viewing drive to see cheetahs up close in their natural habitat.

This trip also includes a safari in Etosha National Park and a tour of Mondesa Township with a resident guide, followed by dinner and local entertainment in a family home.

conservation safaris, painted dog
Painted Dog. Photo couresy of Dirk Brunner and Global Family Travels.

3) Learn About The Rare Painted Dog – Zimbabwe

Join Global Family Travels on a trip to Zimbabwe, where you’ll experience natural wonders like Victoria Falls and learn about the painted dog, one of the rarest species in Africa. On this trip, you can serve on a conservation project with their NGO partner, the Painted Dog Research Trust USA, led by biologist and conservationist Dr. Greg Rasmussen. You’ll spend a day assisting a guide doing “Pump Runs,” day-to-day maintenance at the borehole pumps — the heartbeat of Hwange National Park — and its wildlife.

In addition to connecting with wildlife, you will learn firsthand about the rich cultural heritage of the friendly Zimbabwean people by meeting the locals from the Ngunyana village and visiting the Ngamo School, just outside of the park.

Conservation safaris, tagging a giraffe
Tagging a Giraffe. Photo courtesy of Wilderness Travel

4) Help Scientists Tag And Track Giraffes – Namibia

The giraffe stands as an iconic symbol of Africa, but researchers still have a lot to learn about the gentle giant. Join an intimate group of six travelers on Wilderness Travel’s 13-day Namibia: Giraffe Conservation Safari.

You’ll work with field biologists at the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, which operates the continent’s first ever long-term monitoring of the giraffe.

Led by Dr. Julian Fennessy, Africa’s pre-eminent authority on giraffe conservation, you will help put GPS radio collars on two giraffes after they are tranquilized.

In addition to helping with the giraffe project, you will also enjoy traditional safari experiences, including tracking cheetahs on foot at AfriCat, the world’s largest big cat rehabilitation project, and searching for leopards in Etosha National Park.

You will also support efforts to stop poachers by meeting with field staff at the Save the Rhino Trust, to which Wilderness Travel has contributed a full mobile camp.

In addition, a separate tax-deductible fee is added to the cost of the trip, 100 percent of which goes directly to support giraffe conservation efforts in the country.

conservation safaris, sperm whale
Sperm Whale.

5) Study Sperm Whales And Swim With Blue Sharks- Azores

If you’re interested in exploring eco-tourism in Portugal, this one is for you. Assist a team of researchers and scientists with an ongoing study of sperm whales and bottlenose dolphins in the Azores, an archipelago off Portugal.

You’ll help with tasks like photo identification and behavioral observations such as monitoring group size and looking for calves. Scientists, led by Dr Lisa Steiner, are interested in comparing current behavior to historical data trends to track the Northern Migration.

You will learn about current issues and even have the opportunity to dive with blue sharks with Dive Worldwide during your shore days.

conservation safaris, Soneva Fushi
Soneva Fushi By The Beach. Photo courtesy of Richard Waite

6) Snorkel With Scientists And Support Marine Conservation – Maldives Or Thailand

Soneva has launched an eco-campaign inviting guests to “Stay for Good” and support environment preservation efforts in exchange for complimentary bonus nights at its luxury properties in Thailand and the Maldives.

You can work alongside Soneva’s marine biologists, horticulturalists, mycologists, tropical ecologists, and community engagement managers to support local sustainability initiatives.

Possibilities include snorkeling with Soneva’s marine biologists to help with turtle identification and coral rehabilitation, participating in beach, mangrove or reef clean-ups, maintaining the vegetable garden, assisting with education initiatives and more.

In return, you will be rewarded with an additional five nights at the brand’s flagship resort Soneva Fushi in the Maldives, or an additional three nights at Soneva Kiri on the remote island of Koh Kood in Thailand.

A minimum stay of five nights at Soneva Fushi and three nights at Soneva Kiri is required, and at least one paying guest per villa needs to participate.

conservation safaris, elephants in Tanzania
Elephants as part of the Conservation Safari in Tanzania. Photo courtesy of Elevate Safaris.

7) Service And Safari Through Tanzania – Tanzania

Update: While this safari is no longer offered, Elevate Destinations offers a similar experience combining volunteering and safari here.

Join Elevate Safaris and Wildlife Connection for an amazing safari experience that begins with a few days of volunteering.

You will stay at Tandala Tented Camp, in close proximity to local villages and the home of a watering hole where wildlife and elephants gather.

You can help build and maintain beehives, teach in the local schools, train staff to use computers or improve their English, or help identify elephants.

After volunteering, you’ll be rewarded with game drives, including stays in bush camps around the country.

You can also feel good knowing that all of Elevate’s tours are part of the Buy a Trip, Give a Trip program.

They partner with local NGOs and in-country travel suppliers to create outings for underserved local youth groups to see sights that draw thousands of tourists to their country every year.

conservation safaris, Deeper Africa
Wild CRU: Long Shield Lion Guardians. Photo courtesy of Deeper Africa.

8) Meet The Long Shield Guards And Help Anti-Poaching Units – Zimbabwe

Deeper Africa’s Zimbabwe Rediscovered itinerary combines the beauty of Zimbabwe’s wild places with the warmth of the people and cultures that inhabit them.

You’ll meet locals who live side-by-side with wildlife every day. Think children who walk to school in lion country, hunter-gatherers who are now photo-safari guides, and villagers who contend with elephants raiding their gardens.

You can even meet the Long Shield Guardians, who use radio tracking to create alerts when lions leave the park’s protected area and move into communities where villagers and children might be in danger.

They bike as quickly as possible to the area and use vuvuzela horns to scare the lions away from the community and the livestock. These Guardians are conservation heroes, protecting the villagers, their belongings, and the wildlife.

In the Bumi Hills you join the Anti-Poaching Unit and learn how to catch poachers. In the remote Gonarezhou National Park, expert trackers guide in poaching hot spots.

Guests meet the Shangaan people, heirs to a hunter-gatherer culture who have found wildlife conservation to be a pathway toward prosperity and development.

If you’re looking for a trip that gives back, each of these incredible conservation safaris offers an experience you will never forget.

The best conservation safaris around the world

Katie Foote

Katie Foote may be a physicist by trade but she spent several years travelling the world as much as possible. After four years of semi-nomadic life, she spent a couple years in Auckland, New Zealand and recently moved to Vancouver, Canada. Despite living more traditionally, she has insight on how to travel the world on a graduate student budget (cheap!), explore off-the-beaten-path destinations and authentically experiencing new places by connecting to locals. When she's not doing physics or globe-trotting, she likes kickboxing, yoga and exploring her extraordinary new backyard of British Columbia.

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  1. Very well written, Superb post, Beautiful pictures. Thanks for great share.

  2. There are plenty of great reasons to go on an African safari. Thanks for your fascinating site. I have learned here new thinks. The best meals of your life. The incredible guide and ranger personalities. You can bring the kids! The bush and the beach. The romance factor – honeymoon safari. Being outdoors is good for the soul.

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