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GIS & Reserve Management Internships in Gondwana Game Reserve

GIS & Reserve Management Internships in Gondwana Game Reserve

Based at the Gondwana Game Reserve, a leading conservation reserve in central South Africa, interns will learn how to use GIS software, collect GIS data on the ground, and apply data and skills to solve real-world African conservation issues. Develop essential transferable skills with leading open-source software QGIS. This internship is also ideally suited for reserve management interns where they can work alongside local field staff and use their data sets to write up a mini topic on some of the very interesting field work that is conducted.

Internship Highlights:
  • Real life experience using mapping techniques
  • Time spent conducting research on an operational game reserve
  • Completing a research project with genuine conservation benefits
  • Learn about real-world reserve management for conservation
Type of host organizations:
  • Gondwana Game Reserve in South Africa
Fully hosted experience from $2909
Includes accommodation & meals
Start dates every Monday
Minimum duration 4 weeks, up to 12 weeks maximum
Go on safari & discover wildlife
Get job-ready with our Experiential Learning Curriculum
Internships align with UN Sustainable Development Goals
Eligibility requirements and Associated career paths
Eligibility requirement

GIS Specialization for Environmental Conservation internships are suitable for students and recent graduates with an interest in developing skills related to surveying, applied science, geography, computer science, environmental conservation, etc. Interns must have an intermediate level of English, experience with computers, and understanding of standard software and common functionalities.

Language requirements

This internship is conducted in English.

Associated career paths

GIS Analyst / Technician/ Coordinator, Cartographer and Photogrammetrist, GIS Programmer and Software Developer, Geographer, Surveying and Mapping Technician, Oceanographer, Geoscientist, Environmental Biologist, Environmental Engineer, Seismologist

Internship details

Based at the Gondwana Game Reserve, a leading conservation reserve in central South Africa, interns will learn how to use GIS software, collect GIS data on the ground, and apply data and skills to solve real-world African conservation issues. Develop essential transferable skills with leading open-source software QGIS.

This is an in-country internship, with accommodation and meals provided. Click here to view remote Environmental & Marine Sciences internships, which you can undertake from home.

The GIS & Reserve Management internship consists of three components:


The GIS internship requires interns to spend time familiarizing themselves with GIS prior to the internship. It’s important to be familiar with GIS mapping before arriving on-site, and you’ll need to know and understand basic concepts such as vector, raster, attribute, and projection. A basic overview of map elements is also expected. An online introduction to GIS will be provided once you have confirmed your participation, which usually takes between 1-5 hours to complete, depending on your existing level of proficiency.


Once you have arrived at the Gondwana Game Reserve, you will assist with field studies to gain data collection experience. Data collection activities may be related to biodiversity surveys, game transects, vegetation surveys, bird-point counts, camera trap servicing, ecological monitoring, alien plant species removal and various other common conservation issues in Africa. There is also an element of data processing involved.

Your primary focus as an intern will be on completing the first ten modules of the official QGIS training manual. This is done at your own pace, in between optional field session activities. The modules within the QGIS training manual are accompanied by follow along lessons using tutorial data. Completing these modules will be at your own pace but you will need to ensure you balance this task with the field work activities. The modules are accompanied by follow-along lessons using tutorial data. The Field Ecologist will be able to provide online support, but the onus is on interns to find their own solutions, as this really is the best way to learn GIS!

Note that some of the field work activities will be optional, should you wish to spend more time on the GIS modules. However, you will need to collect your own spatial attribute data on surveys, such as settlement or fence attributes, or crossing points of rivers and canals). There will be a dedicated Trimble GPS with preloaded software to accurately collect spatial data, which will be your responsibility. This will enable you to learn about ground-truthing spatial data, and the challenges associated with collecting real-world data.

Conservation project

The third component of the GIS internship is related to assisting a real-world GIS conservation project. You’ll combine your own field data with spatial data held at the reserve to answer important conservation questions and complete a project. This provides useful data for the conservation program, while also providing you with real-world field work and bio-monitoring experience. Interns submit solutions to their supervisor at the conclusion of their internship, for review and feedback. This activity also earns you a relevant certificate of completion, outlining the skills you’ve learned, the types of data you’ve manipulated, and the experience you’ve gained.

Typical Schedule

  • Mostly full-time Monday to Friday, depending on weather, season and research requirements. Interns may be required to assist research outside normal work hours or on weekends on arrangement.

Career Benefits

GIS & Reserve Management interns learn from a qualified and experienced supervisor, and can be involved in:
  • Using and learning GIS mapping techniques

  • Data collection for field research

  • Assisting surveys, transects, camera trapping, and conservation issues

  • Completing training in QGIS

  • Collecting spatial attribute data

  • Carrying out your own research project in conservation or other issues

Professional development opportunities:
  • Practical application of a range of GIS mapping techniques

  • Experience gathering and interpreting data on a South African game reserve

  • Undertaking a research project based on collected and supplied data

  • Gain practical skills and boost your employability, with guidance from Intern Abroad HQ’s Experiential Learning Curriculum to support your learning and cultural intelligence

South Africa photo gallery

What recent interns said about their experience

Jack Jenkins
November 2023

This internship is a remarkable opportunity for those dedicated to wildlife conservation, offering an unforgettable experience with Africa's iconic animals that will leave you with memories to cherish forever. Seeing much of the wildlife here and working on a project I was passionate about was the most rewarding thing. Along with making some good friendships, but also with the camp managers themselves. They’ve been awesome during my stay here. Without a doubt my highlight was each and every time we saw the lions. As a kid growing up in Australia who is passionate about wildlife, seeing lions was something I only dreamt of and it was amazing to witness these incredible apex predators in the flesh. And to then be able to do my GIS project on the lions here was amazing!

Luisa Schenk
September 2023

My knowledge in QGIS grew as I progressed in my internship as I gained a better understanding of the structure of all its systems. I also learned a lot about vegetation, soil and other geographical facts in this program as I got to work on a project.

Will Plomer
June 2023

I was a GIS Specialization Intern at the world renowned Gondwana Game Reserve. My responsibilities included utilizing QGIS to project African wildlife distributions in the Western Cape, collecting diverse data. This internship provided me with useful field experience and a great entry on my resume. The field data collection methods and skills that I learned will be practical for my career development and invaluable for scientific jobs that I want to apply for in the future. It was awesome to see amazing landscapes and animals unique to Africa and to meet new people from around the world. I gained soft skills in adaptability, confidence and cultural competence, and the internship showed me that I can be successful living in a camp and working outdoors in nature. My favorite memory was seeing a battle between two male rhinos while out in the field. It felt like I was watching a National Geographic wildlife documentary in real life and it was something I will never forget. Hearing the lions roar up close was also a priceless once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Ty Laughlin
June 2023

This internship has been extremely helpful in preparing for my future career. I want to go into the field of conservation, so having experience in a game reserve, working with a conservation team has provided me with invaluable experience. It has also confirmed that this is the field I want to go into. Additionally, growing my skills in GIS, learning more in ecology and having a project to bring with me to show my work will be super helpful while searching for a job. I also intend to look for a work study opportunity at college, where I can use GIS software or another abroad internship next year to expand my horizons. The wildlife and scenery is even better than what I had expected and the most memorable moment was when we found the lions and heard them roaring.

Georgi Jovner
November 2022

My internship at the Gondwana Game Reserve was by far the most memorable experience in my life, to date. Spending two months in the South African bush was a massive step out of my comfort zone, which I'm glad I got to experience. Seeing all the different South African animals up close was an unforgettable experience. I was able to apply the GIS skills that I learnt through university and increase my skills through my individual GIS project. The staff were all very friendly and helpful. They provided me with a lot of knowledge about the flora and fauna in the reserve through the lectures and their answers to my many questions. My sense of resilience and adaptability, both personally and professionally, significantly improved through every hour of my internship. This program also provided me with the opportunity to learn about various other cultures and therefore helped to expand my worldview. I was able to meet a lot of new people and gained many lifelong friendships. Having this opportunity of learning surrounded by nature far exceeded the office-based internships I have done previously. I would go back in a heartbeat!

James Spooner
October 2021

Being afforded the opportunity to acquire a new skill whilst living in the bush, surrounded by stunning flora and fauna, is something I would fully recommend - it certainly beats the office! Having had previous experience using GIS at university, this trip served as a great way to relearn all that had been previously learnt but since forgotten. To be able to acquire a new skill whilst immersed in the outdoors has been a fantastic experience - one that I would recommend thoroughly to anyone wishing to learn GIS. The only advice I would give would be to ensure you pack warm clothes (Africa isn't always as hot as they'd have you believe) and make sure you bring enough tick spray! I think the most rewarding part of my stay is knowing that I helped contribute to the creation of useful content for the reserve. It is nice to leave knowing your work will assist them in the future. The highlight for me personally - outside of enhancing my GIS skills - is seeing the animals first-hand. As someone who does not frequent zoos or other such establishments, it has been incredible to see these animals in the flesh.


To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

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Program fees

It’s free to apply for this internship. Once we have reviewed your suitability and accepted you onto this program, you’ll need to pay a deposit of US$499 to confirm your place. The remaining balance of your Program Fee (less your initial US$499 deposit payment) will be due no less than 60 days before your internship start date.

Program Fee (USD)
4 weeks $2,909 Equivalent to $103 /day
6 weeks $3,834 Equivalent to $91 /day
8 weeks $4,734 Equivalent to $84 /day
10 weeks $5,689 Equivalent to $81 /day
12 weeks $6,589 Equivalent to $78 /day
  • Airport pick-up
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • Program orientation
  • Dedicated support before, during, and after your internship
  • In-country guidance for social and tourist activities
  • Sourcing and securing your internship placement
  • Personalization of your internship plan
  • Coaching from your supervisor
  • Documented portfolio of your experiential learnings
  • Academic credit facilitation
  • International reference letter
  • Certificate of Internship Completion
  • Return transportation to the airport at program conclusion
  • Visa (if required), flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check
  • Transfer back to the airport at the end of your internship program
  • Personal spending money for snacks, drinks, public transport, laundry, and leisure activities during your free time.
  • A deposit of $499 (approximately 499) is required to secure your internship
  • Please note that program fees for all South Africa Environmental internships include return transportation to the airport. This transportation service is scheduled on specific dates and times. To ensure the schedule works for you, check with your Internships Manager for details before booking your departure flights.
  • Balance of your Program Fee is due 60 days before your internship start date.
  • All payments attract a 5% transaction fee to cover international banking fees and currency charges.
  • Terms and Conditions apply.

Activities and tourism

The Gondwana Game Reserve is located on the Western Cape, so you have the opportunity to explore the region during your free time. The internship schedule is full-time, Monday through Friday. During weekends, the local staff can provide you with guidance and support in regard to arranging excursions to local cultural and historical sites. For example, you could visit ostrich farms, dare to go shark-cage diving, visit Mossel Bay beach, and visit the Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex. If you’re interested in booking a safari tour (either before or after your internship) please let us know. Our team in South Africa can assist you to plan a safe, affordable and ethical excursion.

Arrival and Orientation

Airport pick up, drop off and accommodation are included in the Program Fee. The accommodation is covered from the Monday night of your start date - interns are required to arrive on their start date and are asked not to book flights until your placement has first been confirmed. Specific instructions will then be provided for arrival and departure logistics.

The main port of entry is George Airport - GRJ. Airport pick up is included in the program fee. George Airport provides domestic flights to Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Bloemfontein through a number of airlines. If you arrive in South Africa at an international gateway (such as Johannesburg, OR Tambo International Airport or Cape Town, Cape Town International Airport) then you will need to arrange a connecting flight into George Airport.

To receive the airport pick up, you must arrive on your Monday start date, as all interns who arrive on the same start date are picked up together, and transported to the camp as one group. Return transfers are also provided on the first and third Monday of each month.

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Accommodation and WiFi

Accommodation is provided in an established camp within the Gondwana Game Reserve. Interns are accommodated in shared safari tents (2-4 people per tent) on raised platforms. Each tent is equipped with beds, an overhead light, bedside tables and lamps, cupboards and USB charging stations. Bathrooms are equipped with a gas hot-water shower, toilet and basin are located on site. Each bathroom unit will be shared by between two to four people. Please note that accommodation can be limited and interns may be required to share with participants who may not be the same gender.

Common areas of the camp include a fully equipped lecture/lounge area with power, tables and chairs, comfy couches, and a library of guide books, scientific readings, maps and equipment. Interns are responsible for daily cleaning of their own living space. As everyone on reserve camps live together in a group environment, interns are expected to maintain cordial relationships with fellow program participants and reserve staff.

The safari tent accommodation runs solar power with a backup generator. The charging of electronic devices will be organized in rotation. Interns must bring their own towels and toiletries. There are facilities on-site for hand-washing your laundry. However, your laundry can also be sent with the staff member (or volunteer/intern) that does the weekly supplies shopping, as you can pay for laundromat service in town.

Local staff additionally stay onsite at the camp, to provide ongoing supervision and support. This provides an ideal opportunity for interns to gain firsthand knowledge from experienced staff about the challenges and rewards of living and working in Africa reserve areas.

There is electricity available at all of the program accommodation camps, so mobile phones, cameras, iPods and laptops can be easily charged. In South Africa, it’s possible that load shedding can occur. This means that power companies may occasionally reduce electricity consumption by temporarily switching off the power supply to customers. Many parts of South Africa currently experience load shedding. This should not be any cause for concern - just bear it in mind and ensure you keep your devices charged.

Wi-Fi will be available to use in camp. However, access to the Wi-Fi on-site is restricted. Interns may pay approx. US$16 per two weeks with their credit cards. Access is limited to emails and social media only (so no downloading movies, music, etc. These should already be saved onto your device before you arrive). Interns may also arrange their own sim cards and phone data plans, for use on a personal device.


Meals are included in the Program Fee for this internship. All meals are prepared by interns themselves, from the groceries and food provided by our local team. A roster of duties is scheduled, so that interns can assist with cooking and cleaning as a group effort. The schedule (which can include various other important camp duties) is coordinated at the orientation.

Vegetarian and other dietary requirements must be communicated in advance, so that we can cater for any special meals. There is an additional weekly surcharge if a gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian or vegan diet is requested. This is in order to provide specialty grocery items, which are often more expensive in South Africa (i.e. soy milk, gluten free bread/pasta, protein supplements, etc) and may need to be ordered online, in advance, if they’re not available at the local stores. The extra cost is US$30 per week if a gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegan diet is required. For vegetarian diets, the surcharge is US$20 per week.

Interns with special dietary requirements and/or allergies should also come prepared to assist with their own meal preparation. Bear in mind that local restaurants/cafes are limited, so they will also have limited dairy-free / gluten-free / vegan menus.

Essential country information

Capital Pretoria (Executive), Bloemfontein (Judicial), Cape Town (Legislative)
Population 55.91 million
Languages Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Swati, Tswana
Currency South African Rand (ZAR)
Time zone UTC+02:00
Weather and climate:

South Africa is generally temperate, however due to varied topography and oceanic influence, a great variety of climatic zones exist. This ranges from the extreme desert of the Namib (northwest South Africa), to the subtropical climate along the Mozambique border and the Indian Ocean (eastern South Africa).

The Gondwana Game Reserve, located in the Western Cape province has an idyllic climate, second most moderate in the world next to Hawaii. The average temperatures are between 13°C / 55°F in June, and 19°C / 66°F in January. The rainy season, throughout the winter months, is from May through September. During this period, the temperatures can drop to as low as 3°C at night (37.4°F). The most rainfall can be expected from June through August.