Intern Aboard HQ

Intern in South Africa with Intern Abroad HQ, the global leader in impactful short-term internships. Environmental programs relate to conservation, predator research, animal behaviour, and are available from two weeks in the areas of Reserve Management, GIS Specialization for Environmental Conservation, Marine Biology and Reef Conservation.

Environmental internships in South Africa begin on the 1st and 15th of every month. Our diverse placements are based in several locations around South Africa - the Balule Game Reserve at Kruger National Park, the Dinokeng Game Reserve, near the urban centre of Gauteng, and Sodwana Bay in iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

At a glance...

    • Entry level programs from 2 weeks
    • Two start dates per month
    • Intern fees from US$930
    • Reflective learning course
    • 24/7 in-country support
    • Diverse internship options
    • Guesthouse accommodation

South Africa Environmental Internships

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Reserve Management - Dinokeng Game Reserve
Dinokeng Game Reserve Wildlife Conservation internship

The Dinokeng Game Reserve internship is focused on animal behaviour and solutions to address the conflict between wildlife and humans. Interns assist professional staff with ecological surveys and game management services, for optimal outcomes.

Minimum Duration: 2 weeks
Eligibility Requirement: A love for nature and wildlife is a must, with a desire to make a difference in conservation. Come fit, healthy and prepared to work hard!
Associated career paths: Environmental Scientist (Policy/Planning/Law), Environmental Impact Assessment Specialist, Research Scientist, Ecologist, Biologist, Geologist, Ranger, Education and Outreach Program Coordinator, Soil and Plant Scientist, Climatologist, Eco-Tourism Guide, Marine Oceanographer

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GIS Specialization for Environmental Conservation
GIS Specialization for Environmental Conservation at Dinokeng Game Reserve

Based at the Dinokeng Game Reserve, interns will learn how to use GIS software, how to collect GIS data on the ground, and how to apply their knowledge and skills to solve real-world African conservation issues. Develop essential transferable skills and gain access to leading open-source software QGIS.

Minimum Duration: 4 weeks
Eligibility Requirement: Intermediate level of English, experience with computers, standard software and common functionalities.
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

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Reserve Management - Kruger National Park
Internships at Balule Game Reserve at Kruger National Park

The internship at Balule, Kruger Park is focused on wildlife conservation, predator research and reserve management. The area is considered to be of major ecological significance and ongoing work is related to the Panthera Predator Monitoring Project and Biodiversity Conservation Research Projects.

Minimum Duration: 2 weeks
Eligibility Requirement: A love for nature and wildlife is a must, with a desire to make a difference in conservation. Come fit, healthy and prepared to work hard!
Associated career paths: Environmental Scientist (Policy/Planning/Law), Environmental Impact Assessment Specialist, Research Scientist, Ecologist, Biologist, Geologist, Ranger, Education and Outreach Program Coordinator, Soil and Plant Scientist, Climatologist, Eco-Tourism Guide, Marine Oceanographer

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Marine Biology and Reef Conservation - Sodwana Bay
Internships at Sodwana Bay Marine National Park

If you’re passionate about marine conservation and diving - or if you’ve always to learn - this is the opportunity for you! Learn about Indian Ocean Reef Conservation, gain marine ecology training and scuba experience in one of the world's prime marine habitats.

Minimum Duration: 2 weeks
Eligibility Requirement: Interns must be competent swimmers. Dive training from a certified PADI Dive Instructor is included in the program, however all participants must have a full physical examination by a qualified Dive Medical Practitioner, before departing to intern abroad, to obtain medical approval for diving activities
Associated career paths: Environmental Scientist (Policy/Planning/Law), Environmental Impact Assessment Specialist, Research Scientist, Ecologist, Biologist, Geologist, Ranger, Education and Outreach Program Coordinator, Climatologist, Eco-Tourism Guide, Marine Oceanographer, Diving Instructor

All Intern Abroad HQ programs include a guided reflection course, which combines personal development with professional competency building. Interns receive weekly reflection modules to complete during their program, which foster the acquisition of essential soft skills for employability and a resilient career. Each reflective journaling task introduces a new topic, presents learning objectives, and provides specific prompts that inspire and guide the learning process.

Intern Abroad HQ does not award grades for the completion of our internship programs, but interns can be supported to independently arrange academic credit through their home educational provider. Upon completion of the internship duration and reflection course, interns receive a portfolio as documentation of their experience. This includes a certificate of internship completion, alongside a summary of the internship goals, skill development, highlights, and a compilation of the reflection work.

Internships in Dinokeng and Balule Game Reserves begin the 1st and 15th of every month. Sodwana Bay Marine internships begin on the 1st of every month only. Interns can choose to spend a minimum of 2 weeks, up to a maximum of 12 weeks. Once interns have arrived to their accommodation, after having received the airport pick up, orientation is provided. Orientation covers important details concerning introductions, support, safety, program rules and expectations, and more.

  • Dinokeng Game Reserve: O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg (JNB) is the international gateway, from where interns are collected and transported by vehicle on a 100km journey to the camp (about 90 minutes driving time). Dinokeng Game Reserve is located approximately 45 kilometers north of the urban center of Pretoria, Gauteng. Airport pick-ups are coordinated to occur on the 1st and 15th of each month only, departing at 1:00 p.m.

  • Balule Game Reserve at Kruger National Park: O.R. Tambo Airport in Johannesburg (JNB) is the typical international gateway, from where interns connect onto a further domestic flight to Hoedspruit Airport (HDS), which is located adjacent to the Kruger National Park and just outside the town of Hoedspruit. Interns are met on arrival at Hoedspruit Airport and transferred to the reserve, departing at 3:00 p.m. on the 1st and 15th of each month.

  • Sodwana Bay Marine National Park: O.R. Tambo Airport in Johannesburg (JNB) is the typical international gateway, from where a domestic connection to the nearest airport in Richards Bay is required. Interns are met on arrival at Richards Bay Domestic Airport (RCB) in KwaZulu-Natal. The local connecting flight from JNB is serviced by SA Express Airways and airport pick-ups are coordinated to occur on the 1st of each month only. There are multiple daily connecting flights between JNB and RCB, however all newly arriving interns are transferred to the marine camp as one group, departing at 3:00 p.m.

Return transportation is provided for all interns on the 1st and 15th of each month.

Please note that all participants are advised not to book their flights until they have registered for the internship program first, in order to confirm their placement and receive further instructions.

On all of the Environmental Internships, the local team stay on-site in order to provide 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. Interns are required to share accommodation (same sex sharing cannot be guaranteed) and private rooms are not available. Interns are also 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.

Accommodation camps have a desktop computer onsite (used for data entry), that can be used by arrangement with the Camp Manager to send basic emails. However, is highly recommended that interns bring their own mobile phones and then purchase a “pay as you go” SIM card and airtime vouchers (available from local stores and airports) as a means to stay in touch with family and friends. Data charges are very reasonable and MTN and Vodacom are preferred network suppliers. Cell phone signal is typically good but can sometimes be intermittent. There is electricity available at all of the program accommodation camps, so mobile phones, cameras, iPods and laptops can be easily charged.

Dinokeng Game Reserve:

Interns are accommodated in a comfortable and spacious research house, which is located inside the reserve and it is not uncommon to see African wildlife grazing throughout the day. The accommodation provides four shared bathrooms and seven large bedrooms. The bedrooms are fitted with 2-3 double bunks in each and there is ample storage space. The bathrooms provide warm and cold running water and standard flush toilets. Comfortable beds, bed sheets, pillows and pillow cases are provided but interns must bring their own sleeping bags and/or duvets. Common spaces include a large dining area, lounge, kitchen, outside verandah, swimming pool, and ‘braai pit’ for barbecues. The fully-equipped kitchen has a stove, oven, microwave, fridge and freezer.

Balule Game Reserve at Kruger National Park:

Interns are housed within the Rusermi Camp in Balule Game Reserve and it is not uncommon to see African wildlife grazing throughout the day. This riverside camp has awesome sweeping views over the Olifants River and distant Drakensberg mountains, with huge Jackalberry and Maroela trees providing ample shade from the afternoon heat. The camp has a true safari feel with abundant game and bird life all around. A number of sleeping quarters provide dormitory style accommodation with bunk beds, mattresses and sheets. Bed sheets are provided but interns must also bring their own towels, sleeping bags or duvets. Bathrooms are separate and have warm and cold running water, as well as standard toilet facilities. There is an outside dining area and braai (barbeque) area (known as a ‘lapa’) where interns enjoy their meals and socialize in the evenings, as well as an outside swimming pool and open-air lounge.

Sodwana Bay Marine National Park:

Interns are accommodated in a camp, in Sodwana Bay village. This is within walking distance to the local restaurants and shops. The beach in iSimangaliso Wetlands Park is about a 10 minute drive away. Shared rooms are provided, either in the main house or smaller wooden cabins. The main house is fully furnished with all modern conveniences, including large outside gardens with ample shady trees and a swimming pool. There are four bathrooms in the house with flush toilets, shower or bath, hot and cold water; an indoor lounge area (with TV and DVD player) and an outdoor relaxation area where interns can spend their time in the evenings. There are also laundry facilities, a fully equipped kitchen and dining unit outside the main house with gas stoves, microwave ovens and fridge/freezers. All interns share communal living areas in the main house at the camp. It’s important to be aware that the facilities expected are more rustic than luxury. However, there is a camp cleaner on-staff for maintenance and servicing of communal areas. All of the bedrooms can accommodate two to four interns in bunk or single beds. WiFi for personal use is available in the main house at a charge of R100/month (approx. US$7 per month). Satellite television is also available in the main house at a cost of R50 per month for each intern (approx. US$4 per month).

On the Environmental Internships, all meals are prepared by interns themselves from the groceries and food provided by our local team (the program fee covers the cost of the food). Interns will be scheduled to assist with cooking and cleaning duties as a group effort during their stay and this schedule, along with any other important camp duties, are typically coordinated at the program orientation. For interns participating on the Sodwana Bay Marine National Park internship program, packed lunches may sometimes be made in advance and brought down to the beach.

Vegetarian and other dietary requirements must be communicated in advance, so that we can cater for any special meals. Note that there is an additional weekly surcharge if a gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian or vegan diet is requested. This is in order to provide speciality grocery items, which are often more expensive in South Africa (i.e. soy milk, gluten free bread/pasta, protein supplements, etc). 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. This amount will be included in the internship Program Fee quoted to you by Intern Abroad HQ when you apply.

Once winter break commenced, I happily packed my backpack (binoculars included) after my last final exam of fall semester, headed to the airport, and thirty-some hours later (San Diego to Johannesburg) landed in South Africa. There I interned at Dinokeng Game Reserve focusing on a comprehensive understanding of wildlife conservation. I chose this specific internship provided by IAHQ because it aligned perfectly with my particular career goal and path. I am extremely passionate about wildlife and consequently the conservation of wildlife. While there, I learned so much about strategies and practices, and so many valuable skills to address and improve the dilemma of the rise of endangered species and extinction epidemic. The skills I was so grateful to learn and improve on consisted of learning all about savannah ecology, animal behavior, GPS, GIS, and other navigational skills, biodiversity survey techniques, habitat assessments, bird point counts, monitoring the range and activity of wildlife species, and ways in which to mitigate human to wildlife conflict. Everyday started in the early morning just before the sun came up as many of the bird species started to come out and ended just after the sun would set as many of the other native species are crepuscular, mostly active in the cooler temperatures of dawn and dusk. It was truly a beautiful, wild, and wonderful time that I will forever cherish.
Sarah Leaman
Nationality: San Diego, USA
Age: 31
Destination: Dinokeng Game Reserve, South Africa

Reserve Management - Dinokeng Game Reserve and Kruger National Park

Internship Period Program Fee (USD)
2 weeks $930
4 weeks $1420
6 weeks $1860
8 weeks $2300
10 weeks $2740
12 weeks $3180

GIS Specialization for Environmental Conservation

Internship Period Program Fee (USD)
4 weeks $2020
6 weeks $2760
8 weeks $3500
10 weeks $4240
12 weeks $4980

Sodwana Bay Marine National Park

Internship Period Program Fee (USD)
2 weeks $1360
4 weeks $1990
6 weeks $2790
8 weeks $3590
10 weeks $4390
12 weeks $5190

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.

  • To convert these prices to your local currency visit the XE currency converter.
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$299 on top of the Program Fee (partially refundable until 60 days before your start date*). A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • * Terms and Conditions do apply

What extra costs will I have?

  • Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Souvenirs + tourism/leisure activities during free time.
  • Personal spending money to cover basic expenses such as drinks, snacks, laundry, and public transportation. Interns generally find US$50 per week to be sufficient.

Registration fee

What it covers
  • Dedicated intern support
  • Comprehensive internship guide
  • Reflection learning course
  • Pre-departure interview
  • Flight and travel insurance deals

Program fee

What it covers
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • Airport pick-up and return
  • Program orientation
  • Internship placement
  • Learning support service
  • Accommodation & meals

It is important to know that South African Environmental internship programs are located in rural areas, where there are limited social activities and attractions. Distances between towns are great and public transport is very limited. The typical work schedules on these programs keep interns pretty busy throughout the week - and sometimes over the weekends too - but shorter work days can sometimes occur if weather conditions are not suitable for various activities. We recommend that interns bring ample reading material, card / board games, iPods, and similar personal entertainment items, for periods when there is “downtime”. If you feel the need to be in or near a big city, then these programs might not be for you. But if you have a passion for the great outdoors, you’ll have the experience of a lifetime!

Dinokeng Game Reserve:

The nearby town of Pretoria has many restaurants, pubs, shops and supermarkets. Interns will be allowed the opportunity over weekends, and by arrangement with the Camp Manager, to spend 1-2 nights at a back packers lodge in the city. There are a number of adventure activities offered by tourist suppliers on the reserve which may interest interns. The Camp Manager can assist with such accommodation, tour arrangements or adventure activities, but interns will sign off the project and have to pay for such tour services at an additional cost. For example, our local team recommends a budget of approximately R1500 – R2500 (US$100 - US$200) for a 2-night stay at a Backpacker Lodge and weekend activities, such as restaurant meals, evening entertainment, etc.

Balule Game Reserve at Kruger National Park:

The nearby town of Hoedspruit (50 kilometers via mostly unpaved road) is a very popular tourist stop and has many restaurants, pubs, shops and supermarkets. Camp supplies and groceries are bought in town every 2 weeks and interns are welcome to join these shopping trips, by arrangement with the Volunteer Coordinator. (These trips also provide a good opportunity to topup your prepaid phone data).

Sodwana Bay Marine National Park:

Sodwana Bay is a world class dive destination and small holiday village, mostly frequented by divers, snorkelers, deep sea anglers and beach lovers. The nearest largest town, Richards Bay, is approximately 200km away, so interns should be prepared for a rural setting. However, there is enough development to provide more than adequate comfort and activities. The small and close-knit local community provides a warm welcome and interns have the opportunity to feel like a local. Should interns wish (and time-permitting) they can join extra shark ecology and biology courses (this is not covered in the program fee and only available on request in-country). The northern region of KwaZulu-Natal offers many pristine beaches, as well as natural and scenic wonders such as Lake Sibaya (the largest freshwater lake in southern Africa), nearby Big Game Wildlife Reserves (Mkhuze, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, Tembe Elephant Park), local community and craft villages, and access to some of the world’s southernmost coral reefs.

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 Dinokeng Game Reserve, located in the Gauteng province, falls within the savanna biome, where the climate is humid and subtropical. The warm season, from September through March, is hot and rainy (most rainfall occurs during the afternoon). The colder months, May through July, are dry and cool. The average lows during winter are mild, but it can get cold due to the clear skies, bringing temperatures in the range of 36 °F to 23°F (2°C to -5 °C). The average annual temperature in the region is 65.7°F (18.7 °C). The Dinokeng Game Reserve and Gauteng region is a malaria free area.

The Kruger Park region also experiences wet summer months, from October through April. Hot and humid weather can be expected at this time, with average daytime temperatures reaching 90°F (32°C). It seldom rains all day, but the pattern is afternoon storms. The dry season is from May through September. During this time of year, it can cool off considerably at night and it’s advisable to bring warm clothing for early morning and evening activities. During June, July and August (“winter”) the average morning temperature is 48°F (9°C) but afternoons temperatures are pleasant - typically 79°F (26°C). Traditionally, the best game viewing is in winter when vegetation becomes sparse and water is restricted to rivers and water holes.

Sodwana Bay has a tropical climate. The temperature average is 72°F (22°C) and the warmest month of the year is January, with an average temperature of 79°F (26°C). In June, the average temperature is 64°F (18°C) and it is the lowest average temperature of the whole year. The driest month is June and most precipitation falls during February. The Sodwana Bay marine camp is located in a low risk malaria area.