The Research Internship programme has been designed for university students, who are required to do a research project as part of their studies, as well as get to experience Africa’s wildlife.
African Dream Horse Safaris is a totally unique project with opportunities and features that differ greatly from other horse safari, volunteer projects and internship venues that you’ll find in South Africa, with an emphasis being placed on living and learning in a relaxed and fun filled environment, and is available to both experienced riders and novices alike, so if you have never ridden a horse before but would like to learn, African Dream Horse Safaris is the place to visit.
The owner of African Dream Horse Safari is Traci Thomson who is a devoted guide, accomplished competitive rider and dedicated conservationist. She is also qualified in both FGASA Level 1 and Level 2 as well as Advanced Trails guide and facilitator. Her team is made up of Shannon, who manages the stable yard and works with the horses; Ryan, who is the administrator and conducts game drives on the Big 5 reserve, which is part of the Greater Kruger & Christelle who also takes out game drives and horse trails and as many past volunteers will agree, the entertainer.
African Dream Horse Safari is situated in the Lowveld of the Limpopo Province of South Africa on the outskirts of the tourist town, Hoedspruit (430km north east of Pretoria and in close proximity to the Kruger National Park). The climate is sub-tropical with a mean summer rainfall of 475 mm and dry winters. Temperatures range between 8ºC – 26ºC in winter and 18ºC – 40ºC in summer. The area is considered a low risk malaria area, but you should please consult your doctor in connection with malaria medication.
Interns can either catch a shuttle or a flight from Johannesburg’s international airport, O.R Tambo, to Hoedspruit (Eastgate Airport) and then ferried to their new home in the bush. The Equestrian centre is situated within the Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate, which is a 700 hectare developed nature reserve. The estate has Leopard, Hyena and most of the herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, reptiles, snakes, primates, smaller cats, eagles, vultures, birds, insects and their relatives that you find in the Savanna biome. During the walks, drives and outrides we offer, you’ll almost always see a variety of animals.
Besides the day to day activities which make up the program, you will be given enough free time to explore the many beautiful spots in the area, including the Blyde River Canyon (the largest green canyon in the world), the world famous Kruger National Park, God’s Window in Graskop and many more. Other excursions include hiking along courses of waterfalls and visiting one of the many animal rehabilitation centres in the area. We are also situated close enough to the town of Hoedspruit for those who like to get out and enjoy an evening at one of the local restaurants.
There are no specific dates. A minimum stay of 2 weeks is required.
Although completely flexible and depending on your internship project, the weekly schedule combines equestrian with conservation. The day starts early with self-service breakfast at the accommodation, after which you will make your way to the equestrian centre or, depending on the day, to a neighbouring nature reserve to view some of Africa’s incredible wildlife. A fair amount of free time is also made available, where one can use either to catch up on their personal requirements such as emails etc, or simply to take in the beautiful sights and sounds of their surroundings. Weekend schedules are less rigid, giving one the opportunity to do sightseeing, some shopping, to go on an excursion or simply to relax. A more detailed schedule will be drawn up upon their arrival, as it all depends on the internship they are doing and what is required of them during their internship/research project.
Here at African Dream, we conduct trails, jumping lessons, dressage lessons, horse shows, games days and outrides, as well as education on horse care, natural horsemanship, stable management, tack care and trail guiding.
We are both flexible and open to other suggestions and will do our best to accommodate you with the research project that you wish to do.
If you choose that you would like to do your research internship on the horses/stables, as part of your university studies, then there are a variety of options to choose from, such as:
Interns will have an opportunity to go on excursions, which will allow one to see more of the Lowveld and its surrounding area:
Every Thursday, there is an opportunity to join in on our outreach work in the Sigagule village, assisting the dogs and giving them medical care in partnership with HALO (Hoedspruit AnimaL Outreach). An opportunity may come up to lend a helping hand to other non-profit charities in the Hoedspruit area, such as Nourish and Hoedspruit Paws.
Accommodation is provided on the Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate, overlooking the African Dream Horse Safari stables. Each room can accommodate up to 4 interns and have a bathroom en suite. There is a common living area with an open plan kitchen, which will have a fully stocked fridge and all the necessary equipment that the students may require.
Breakfasts and suppers are self-service and lunches are prepared for everyone at the stables. A boma/fireplace and swimming pool in front of the lodge give students an option to cool off on a hot day and relax around a nice African fire after a long day.
The interns will have access to unlimited wifi and will be within walking distance from the town of Hoedspruit, where they can do shopping, eat out or go to gym. Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate, where the accommodation is situated, has cycling and walking paths, a dam with a hide and various plains game for students that wish to do some exploring.