Volunteer Stories and Diary Entries from Chipangali

Volunteer Story: Rebecca Sweet

I visited Chipangali in August 2013 for 2 weeks. I have to say that it was one of the most incredible times of my life. At a mere 17, the prospect of traveling to a foreign country alone was daunting. I was welcomed by a beaming Nicky who made feel welcome from the world ‘hello’.

Everyone was so lovely, after just a short few days I really felt part of the family. Whilst I was there, Chipangali were celebrating their 40th anniversary at Hillside Dams – what a brilliant day! With 10 people in the back, 3 baboons, a python and countless items of furniture, we were set to go and we all had excellent fun showing animals to visitors and dancing with the local children!

The daily routines were anything but tiresome at Chipangali. From digging through mud to find grubs for the birds of prey to bottle feeding young vervet monkeys- it was never a dull day. The staff at Chipangali were so friendly, I made a special bond with Mckay who I’d always help cut down branches for the antelope.

My time at Chipangali was short and sweet and I someday hope to return.

By Rebecca Sweet

My Days at Chipangali

Chipangali wildlife, that’s the place where I’ve been for almost three weeks now. I have never been to Africa before and I was very nervous when I got on the plane in Amsterdam. But luckily that disappeared after more then 24 hours of flying and waiting.

 
Once I arrived at Bulawayo I was picked up by Nicky – the lady who runs it together with her husband- and her two kids Mickayla and Ryan. From the airport we had to drive a half an hour and then I saw how indescribably beautiful this country is. You should have been there yourself to understand it. When we arrived Nicky gave me a big tour by al the animals. To name a few – lots of lions, (also newborn cubs wich they handrear) leopards, jackals, snakes, crocodiles and a number of big birds.
The things I have been doing here in three weeks time are actually too many to write down, but I will describe a few exiting moments.

 
To start with the snakes, the very first night I slept here Kevin (Nicky’s husband) told me that if anything would happen I shouldn’t be shy to knock on their door. I took that advice by hart that night, as I went up to their three times because of spiders and mosquito’s. After that night no one would have thought that only a few day’s later I’d have a real snake in my hands. On the terrace where we always eat at night they have three snakes and this particular night Kevin took one of them out. I, not a big fan of snakes, was terrified but before I knew it I was holding it in my hands. Who knew! But it was actually not that scary.

 
They also have –next to the place were all the caged animals are-a really big area of wild nature and free animals. There are zebra’s and kudu’s in there but we haven’t seen them yet. It is called the game park and we went there riding on quads. (I was on the back with Mickayla or Ryan) But when Robyn (the volunteer coordinator) arrived after a few days they taught us how to ride them. Well and that’s epic! The nature is so wide and beautiful. It’s exactly how you always see it in movies and books, but even better. As you will understand, we do it as often as possible.

 
Feeding the animals is of course very new to me and one day I had to feed the lions and leopards. At first I didn’t like it at all, because the food appeared to be a there and then chopped donkey. But when I got into it and just did it, it was really fun.
The last highlight I want to describe was last night. Meanwhile two other volunteers had arrived, Inge and Lenna, also from the Netherlands and the four of us slept outside last night. But not just outside. In the middle of the lions cages they have this platform so you can oversee almost all the cages, that’s where we slept! It was freezing cold, but when we were all under our five blankets everybody was warm enough and we could see the beautiful stars. The lions however started talking to each other in the middle of the night, and the noise they make!  It’s a really impressive and loud sound and it was absolutely the most beautiful and fun night.
Robyn, Kevin, Nicky and their children were all really nice these past few weeks and made me feel so at home. Thanks to them and the people who work here I had the most amazing weeks.

 
It’s true what they say; once you’ve been to Africa, you never want to leave.

 

Nina Wolff, the Netherlands