Nurturing Future Conservation Champions

Environmental Education for South African Children & Young Adults

We help the children and youth of our nation to discover the true value of the biodiversity of the natural world and our place within it, and to identify and nurture Africa’s future conservation champions.From humble beginnings more than 30 years ago, our school has grown into a beacon of conservation, sustainability, education and hope for the future. We consider it an immense privilege to have the opportunity to instill a passion for nature in the hearts of young people and it is our hope that by doing so, we are playing a part in creating a better future for all South Africans, our country, and the planet.

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Empowers Africa has partnered with Lapalala Wilderness School in order to provide a cost-effective solution to fundraising in the United States by acting as their fiscal sponsor. Any donations made here will be granted to Lapalala Wilderness School.

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Fourty years, 160 000 children, and counting …

Lapalala Wilderness School can trace its roots back to 1981 when it consisted of three small tents and a tiny thatched kitchen area on the banks of the Palala River. More than four decades later, Lapalala Wilderness School stands as a profound reminder of the legacy left by the visionaries who first conceived it. Tens of thousands of students and teachers – from primary and secondary schools right up to universities in Africa and elsewhere – have passed through this centre of environmental learning and been transformed.

A brand-new, eco-built campus was developed in 2022. The sustainable design of the new school building makes efficient use of space and energy, with minimal impact on the natural surrounding landscape. Beautiful, rammed earth walls made with soil from on-site excavations are a feature of the campus.

Lapalala Wilderness School Campaigns

Environmental Education

A three- to five-day formal learning experience for children and young adults from all cultural and economic backgrounds, on average attended by 3 000 learners per year. The programme offers a great variety of activities customised to the grade and age of the learners in each group. Led by experienced staff who believe in the life-changing potential of a true nature experience, the programme delivers on its objectives in a way that makes learning interesting, exciting, and fun.

Youth Development

Our Youth Development Programme has been designed to identify and mentor young, underprivileged or marginalised individuals with a desire to pursue a career in conservation and/or EE. The programme focuses particularly on black children who live in rural areas in close proximity to the school, and who have previously participated in one of our centre-based EE programmes.

Sustainable Schools Programme

A holistic approach to education around sustainable development in cooperation with NATURE CONNECT in a way that is locally relevant for South African schools. This programme combines instruction through an online platform with face-to-face engagements and repeats environmental education sessions to provide ongoing support to participants. The LWS is currently supporting 39 schools, 370 educators and approximately 10,874 learners through this programme.

Teacher Training

Educator workshops on guiding and helping educators from disadvantaged schools in both the rural and urban environments of Limpopo and Gauteng, and on the ways in which to bring environmental education into their classrooms in an engaging and effective way. Each workshop caters for between 20 and 30 educators, and a number of representatives from the Departments of Education in Gauteng and Limpopo have also attended. Our effort in this regard supports the CAPS+ Approach curriculum by demonstrating to educators that many environmental topics can be woven into a variety of subjects and lend themselves to furthering education for sustainable development.

Tertiary & Internships

With support from the Lapalala Wilderness Reserve, we continue to play an important role in the provision of practical components of the tertiary groups who are in the field of conservation. They involve both Diplomas and Certificates in Nature Conservation from Centurion Academy, and BSc (Honours) from UNISA. We outsourced experts to come and assist in lecturing to these groups, particularly top academics such as Professor Lyn Wadley, Dr Philip Calcott, Dr Sandie Sowler, Richard Wadley and Mark Thompson, ably assisted from time to time by our Patron Clive Walker.

General Donations

If you do not have any specific project in mind and wish the organization to use their own discretion, please click here.

Donations can also be made by check or wire transfer:

Checks should be made out to “Empowers Africa” and should be mailed to:

Empowers Africa
2 Beekman Place, Ste. 18B
New York, NY 10022
(917) 328-1611

Kindly note in the memo section of the check that funds are for Lapalala Wilderness School. Or email us at

For wire transfer details or more information, please email us at

Empowers Africa has been approved as a U.S. public charity, contributions to which are tax deductible for U.S. federal income tax purposes under Section 501(c)(3) [EIN: 32-0403737] of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.

Thank you for your support!