South Africa Wildlife Sanctuary Volunteers
2-8 weeks from $734
- Feed and care for injured and orphaned animals & birds
- Stay in the grounds of an amazing wildlife sanctuary
- Build on practical skills and knowledge of maintenance and landscape preservation
- Work with a brilliant team of conservationists and make a real difference as a project volunteer
- Discover South Africa’s amazing Eastern Cape during weekend travels and your own excursions
- Explore the coast and learn to surf at laidback Jeffreys Bay or vibrant Port Elizabeth
Do something amazing and become a wildlife volunteer at a beautiful animal & bird sanctuary in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. Staying on site at the sanctuary, located close to Port Elizabeth and Jeffreys Bay, you’ll get to work with a dedicated team of animal carers and conservation staff to help feed, care for, and rehabilitate young and injured animals and birds. You’ll also help the team maintain and preserve the landscape, ensuring the animals’ enclosures are safe and primed to aid their recovery, as well as best suit their needs and resemble their natural habitat.
You'll also be able to explore stunning South Africa in your time away from volunteering! Head out to the stunning nearby beach towns of Port Elizabeth and Jeffrye's Bay, where you can learn to surf, kayak, bungee jump, zip line, sandboard and even safari in Addo National Park with other volunteers!
This is a fantastic trip to combine your travels whilst giving your time and support to a really deserving cause and making a whole bunch of new friends.
Want to find out more?
Download more trip information and detailed itinerary
What to expect at the project
The animal sanctuary homes and nurses young and injured animals, and aims to educate its visitors on the amazing biodiversity of Africa’s wildlife and the importance of preserving natural habitats. As a volunteer you’ll be playing a vital role in the daily running and general upkeep of the sanctuary, helping to feed and monitor the animals, observing veterinary procedures, cleaning animal enclosures, and helping to take care of and maintain the land.
You’ll be met at Port Elizabeth Airport on the first day of your programme start date and taken to the sanctuary to get settled in and meet the rest of the team. On day two you’ll be given a full orientation to help you find your feet, learn more about African culture, find out what sorts of activities you’ll be involved with on the project, and get to ask any questions you might have. Once you’re settled, you’ll get to undertake the tasks the team have set for you with your fellow volunteers.
Day in the life
Time to get your hands dirty! You’ll work five days a week (not necessarily Monday to Friday), starting early to get the morning feeds in at around 7:30am before heading back to base for your breakfast at 8am.
Between 8:30am and 1pm, you’ll go through the sanctuary’s to-do list, whether that’s washing the animals’ dishes, checking fence perimeters, cleaning, raking and maintaining enclosures, or more feeding. All jobs are allocated on a rota, so each day will be different.
At 1pm everyone breaks for lunch for an hour, which is a great opportunity to catch up with your fellow volunteers to discuss the morning’s events and make plans for the evening.
Between 2pm and 4pm it’s round two for animal feeding and then final clean ups, sanctuary checks, clinical duties, and rounding up farm animals between 4pm and 5pm.
You’ll down tools between 4:30pm-5pm, so take the chance to go and get freshened up before dinner at 6pm. You can spend the evenings however you like, enjoy a bit of chill out time in front of the telly, go for a scenic evening walk, or sit round the fire with the team.
The weekends are yours to do exactly what you like with. Take the opportunity to get out and explore nearby Port Elizabeth or Jeffreys Bay – there are loads of surf schools, diving centres, shops, museums, cafes, restaurants and bars, as well as parks and beaches in both, so discuss plans with the rest of your team and see what you fancy doing.
Please note that all activities, inclusions and itineraries are subject to change.
Purpose and aim of the programme and how do you benefit the programme
The aims of the animal sanctuary are to rescue and treat injured and orphaned wildlife, rehabilitate, provide a safe and suitable environment for birds and animals unable to survive in their natural habitat, cultivate an awareness amongst the public to ensure the protection and conservation of African wildlife, and to work closely with nature conservation organisations and other wildlife rescue centres. With a growing number of cheetahs, servals, caracols, monkeys, meerkats, crocs, mongoose, squirrels, bucks, and over 250 species of birds, your role as a volunteer at the sanctuary will provide much needed support and relief to the small team at the project. Working closely with the Department of Nature Conservation, a lot of hard work goes into ensuring the survival of the incredible animals at the sanctuary, and the team’s efforts involve reintroducing animals back into the wild where possible, but the project can only exist with the aid of donations, entrance fees, and fantastic volunteers like you!
You’ll receive hands-on experience as a conservationist, working with the beautiful animals in an incredible setting in South Africa. You’ll be providing assistance to the team at the sanctuary that simply wouldn’t exist without people like you offering your time and support. You’ll be working closely with some of Africa’s most amazing wildlife and get to observe medical procedures, and make some fantastic new friends as you discover the magic of South Africa together.
- Airport transfer on arrival
- All accommodation
- Use of communal areas, including TV lounge, picnic areas, and braais (African BBQs)
- All meals
- In-country orientation
- Support from experienced animal handlers
- 24/7 emergency support
- Return airport transfer (we can help arrange this)
- Local transport and optional activities
Your accommodation will be in the form of our onsite backpackers’ wooden cabins, set within the beautiful grounds of the sanctuary. These are very basic, dorm-style rooms that you will be sharing with members of the same sex from your volunteer group. Please note that due to the remote location of the sanctuary, there isn’t access to a mains water supply, and although hot and cold water is available, we ask that you’re mindful of the water you use and make sure you turn taps off. The cabins have electricity, but you will need to bring a sleeping bag with you in the colder months (March-September), and possibly during the rest of the year, too. There is also a TV lounge with African satellite, a number of different DVDs and chill out areas – feel free to bring a handful of your own films with you if you like. Please note there is no wifi at the project, but local sim cards with internet data are easy to purchase locally.
You’ll receive three meals a day at the sanctuary, but you are welcome to bring any of your own food, or buy food from the local town to take on a picnic in the park, or to cook on one of the park’s braais (African BBQ). There is also a restaurant onsite as well as a small curio shop that you can buy food and snacks from. Please note alcohol consumption is not allowed at the sanctuary.
Your flight to South Africa should arrive at Port Elizabeth airport (PLZ) between 9am and 5pm on your programme start date.We will arrange a transfer for you from the airport, where you’ll be taken to the sanctuary to meet the team and other volunteers. Depending on your arrival time, you may have to wait in the airport for other volunteers to arrive, and travel to the sanctuary as a group.
You will need to make your own arrangements for transport back to the airport, which our team can help you with.
Minimum age for this trip is 18.
UK nationals don’t require a visa to enter South Africa for stays of up to 3 months. You should ensure that your passport will still be in date for six months after your return. All visa information is subject to change and you should consult the nearest High Commission or Embassy for the most up to date information.
What Types Of Animal Can I Expect To Be Working With?
The wildlife sanctuary is home to a huge range of animals, both indigenous to Africa as well as foreign species. You can expect to be working with meerkats, monkeys, squirrels, bucks, marmosets, caracals, servals, wallabies, crocodiles, cheetahs, and over 250 different species of bird in the sanctuary’s huge aviary – the largest in the Eastern Cape.
How Many Hours Will I Be Working For Each Day?
You’ll work five days a week, although not necessarily Monday to Friday, so work out with the team which days suit you best. Your days will be broken down into four time slots: 7:30am-8am, then break for breakfast, 8:30am-1pm, then break for lunch, 2pm-4pm for the animals’ final feeds, and then 4pm-5pm before downing tools for the day.
What Can I Do In My Free Time?
On the reserve you'll have the opportunity to use any of the site's fantastic facilities, including swimming pool, tennis courts, communal lounge, TV area, and pool table. At weekends transport and accommodation to the beach city of Port Elizabeth is included, where there's lots to see and do: take a sand boarding lesson on the dunes of the Sundays River, experience the longest dual zipline in Africa and take in your surroundings 70 metres above ground, play volleyball or go windsurfing on Hobie Beach, visit the South End Museum or Volkswagen Auto Pavilion, peruse the market stalls in New Brighton, or go horse riding through the Sardinia Bay Nature Reserve.
Will I Need Inoculations Before I Travel?
As we aren’t qualified to give you medical advice, it’s best for you to visit your GP or travel clinic at least six to eight weeks before travelling to discuss any medication or injections you might need before and during your trip.
Do I Need To Pack A Sleeping Bag?
Yes! You’ll need to bring a sleeping bag with you if you’re travelling during winter months (March to September) as it gets quite cold at night, but it’s also worth bringing one with you during other times of the year for extra comfort.
Due to Covid-19, many of our partners and suppliers across the globe are putting in place new procedures and policies regarding health and safety in response to the outbreak. These new measures will adapt and change as the state of travel evolves, and the policies and procedures will vary depending on each trip. Some changes that you may experience on our trips are:
Updated safety & hygiene procedures
Health and safety measures will be adapted by our partners and suppliers, dependent on local laws and restrictions.
Different transport & accommodation
You may find yourself on transport or in accommodation that would not typically be used, such as hostels that are more secluded, or on more private transport. This may vary by trip, or even by individual departure dates.
Most trips include a meeting on arrival with the guide or local team to discuss the trip, and this is an opportunity for you to ask any questions. You should arrive in time to attend these briefings.
Emergency support 24/7
We have a UK based 24/7 emergency phone line if you have a genuine urgent matter that you need attending.
Knowledgeable & Trained Staff
We can help answer any questions or concerns you may have before you depart. Whilst travelling the guide or local team on our trips are there to help, and to ensure the smooth running of our trips.
Should you require medical assistance whilst travelling, the local team or guide will be able to help you get to a point of care. Medical facilities and standards can vary across the glove, so you should ensure you have adequate travel insurance in place.
Varying group sizes
To begin with, many trips will run with amended group sizes, so you may find smaller groups than would be typical. This may vary by trip, or even by individual departure dates.
Whilst there may be changes on our trips, it is vital that you make travelling safer for yourself, your travel companions, the local staff and guides, and the people of the country you are visiting. You should follow all local laws and restrictions, and follow the guidance of the local team. In addition, you can help make travel safer by bringing and using your own face coverings/masks and hand sanitiser, social distance where appropriate, wash your hands frequently, and cover your face when coughing or sneezing.