I have been travelling all my life, so I never thought I'd feel as nervous as I did when I was boarding the first flight on my journey to Zimbabwe. What was I thinking, leaving to the other side of the world alone? Turns out these feelings and thoughts couldn't have been more wrong.
I stayed at Antelope Park for three weeks working on the lion rehabilitation project where I got to know all the lions and elephants and their personalities and habits. Our days started early and were physically tiring but also rewarding. It was an amazing feeling to know that you've done something meaningful while also continuously getting opportunities to witness breathtaking things, such as lions hunting for their prey or playing with the toys you made.
In addition to working with the animals, we had the chance to join community projects and work at the park's stables for a day or two a week. On the weekends we had the opportunity to visit the town nearby, watch polocrosse games, check out the 'snake room' or just hang by the pool or coffee shop if we felt like it - so it's guaranteed that you won't get bored or too exhausted.
I am not exaggerating when I say that it's more of a rule than an exception that when people are leaving Antelope Park, they cry because they want to stay (which was also true on my behalf, even if I'm a Finn who never shows emotion). When it was the morning of my departure, I couldn't believe how fast the days had gone by, how many new friends I had gotten from all over the world and how reluctant I was to get on the plane to go back home.
During my stay I stepped out of my comfort zone, got new experiences that I'll remember for the rest of my life, learned new skills and got to witness and live in a completely different culture. If you have the time and will to do volunteer work in Africa, I say do it. Even if it might seem like a scary thought at first, it's going to be an experience like no other. It's safe to say that I left a piece of my heart to Africa - and I'm certain I'll go back someday.
Vinkkejä kuinka aloittaa unelmamatkasi!