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Monkey Sanctuary Volunteers

Hands-on rehab project with cheeky primates!

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Group Size: Avg. 15, max. 40

Trip code: SAMV

Duration: 2-12 weeks

Volunteer with monkeys in South Africa
Help with hands on rehabilitation
Stay with volunteers on the reserve

At our monkey and ape rehabilitation sanctuary in South Africa you can help to rehabilitate and release injured, orphaned and abandoned monkeys, bush babies, baboons and other animals until they can be returned into the wild. Helping to feed your new monkey mates as a volunteer, during this special South African sanctuary trip, typical tasks will include constructing new enclosures, planting vegetables and for a truly special and worthwhile experience! Experience other South African attractions such as seeing a 6000 year-old baobab tree, visiting local villages and soaking up the scenery. It’s not all about sanctuary work, but a chance for you to make a real difference and help out some real cheeky monkeys!

Trip highlights

  • Experience the satisfaction of nursing monkeys back to health during their stay in monkey rehab
  • Become a part of a dedicated team and meet new monkey-minded mates, as you work to look after and release orphaned and injured monkeys
  • Help staff with the ever growing sanctuary intake, receiving other bird and animal species (aside from monkeys) in between caring for monkeys
  • Have an amazing time in South Africa, see stunning sights, explore and go on safari in your spare time!
What's included
  • Volunteering experience caring for monkeys at a South African sanctuary
  • Chance to interact with other primates and animals at the sanctuary
  • Feeding the monkeys and other animals
  • General support and maintenance duties at the sanctuary
  • All accommodation, set in the unspoilt South African bush
  • 3 meals per day
  • Opportunity to take part in optional activities and excursions (extra cost)
  • Transfers to and from Phalaborwa Airport to the sanctuary
  • 24 hour emergency support
What's not included
  • Flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Alcoholic beverages, drinks and snacks
  • Optional excursions in free time
  • Padlock for locker
Further trip information

About the Monkey Sanctuary

Established in 1995, this monkey sanctuary and rehabilitation centre provides temporary sanctuary for vervet monkeys and other orphaned or abandoned animals. Many of the animals have previously been kept in captivity, and sadly many are unwanted pets. The sanctuary staff rehabilitate the animals with the aim of ultimately releasing them back into the wild, if possible.

Your Volunteer Role

As a volunteer you’ll help out with feeding, cleaning and handling the animals, as well as helping with the daily maintenance and construction of the centre, and in planting and harvesting vegetables to feed the animals. A typical daily routine may look like this:

6:45-7:00am - An early start - monkeys don’t do lie-ins! Your mornings will be dedicated to jobs around the Monkey Sancturary. You'll get stuck in with cleaning their cages, preparing their breakfast and feeding the animals. You’ll also spend the rest of the morning working on various projects specified by the staff.

13:00 – 14:00 (approx.) - Lunchtime!

14:00 - Activities in the afternoon vary depending upon the needs of the centre, though tasks often include monitoring or doing enrichment tasks with the animals. Sometimes there will be free time here, so volunteers can relax or go on excursions with other members of the group.

18:00 (approx.) - Dinner

19:30 – After dinner you will have the rest of the evening as free time to relax.

Please note that due to the nature of this project anything can happen and due to the animals, sometimes an entire day’s plan can change!

When not out playing doctor and doing your rounds, there are other activities you can get involved with, such as researching the habits of the vervet monkey. We will only be able to offer these projects to those who will be at the centre for a minimum of 6, or 8 weeks (sometimes even longer). This is to enable you to fully understand what is required from the project, and more importantly give you time to be accepted by the monkeys!

Free Time and Optional Activities

Once chores have been completed for the day and time/weather permitting, there will be a chance to have some fun and explore the surrounding area. The project staff can often help you book trips and excursions locally at an extra cost. These excursions can include:

  • Tree Canopy and Waterfalls Tour - R700
  • See the majestic Modjadji Cycad Reserve: R400
  • Overnight safari in Kruger National Park: R3200
  • Gorge swing: R285
  • Panorama tour of Graskop and Three Rondawels R400
  • Visit a cheetah project: R400 

All prices are approximate and subject to change.

Booking options

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If you'd like to discuss availability or would like us to help you find a similar trip please contact us...
Call us on: +44 1892 527392
Email us at: [email protected]
Arrival information

To get to the project you will need to book a flight to Phalaborwa Airport in South Africa. Most flights will have a connection via Johannesburg. When you land into Phalaborwa on your start date we will meet you and drive you to the project. We can help you book flights so please give us a call!

Accommodation & meals

Staying in rustic style dormitories enveloped in unspoilt South African bush, you can wake up in the morning to native birdsong and drift off to sleep to the calming sounds of the African bush at night. If you want a full outdoors experience to really make the most of your time under the African sun, then sleeping outside can be arranged.

Rooms are based on 3-9 people sharing. Sexes are normally split, but within small groups volunteers often choose “mixed” dorms. Couples can also be accommodated (subject to availability). With flush toilets, hot showers and electricity points available in the dorms, you’ll be living comfortably and will be able to charge mobiles/cameras (as long as you remember to bring a South African adaptor plug).

If you want to bring a laptop or notebook, you can access free Wi-Fi between 4 and 7 or 8pm. There are lockers for valuables available for you to use but you will need to bring your own padlock (number combination types are suggested rather than padlocks with keys)

Sheets, duvets and pillows will be provided, though you many want to bring a sleeping bag if you are at the project during the winter (June & July) as it can get very cold at night.

The staff will also do your laundry (for a small fee), if you don’t want to hand wash your own clothes. Each dorm will have a set day for laundry, which the staff will inform you of when you arrive.

When you have completed your jobs for the day, you can cool off with a swim in the pool or relax at the river; bird watching and enjoying the colours of a true South African sunset. During the summer this picturesque scene truly comes alive at night, as the banks of the river are transformed by hundreds of fireflies.

Mosquito nets are not really a necessity but you are welcome to bring your own if you wish. They are cheaper to buy in South Africa than the UK.

Three meals a day, teas and coffees are included in the price of your monkey sanctuary experience. A semi-continental breakfast is served at 9am, with lunch at around 1pm normally consisting of sandwiches or hot dogs. Dinner is at 6pm and during weekends you’ll get the opportunity to experience South African braais (BBQ’s) and help prepare your own traditional potjie (stew). Vegetarians and vegans can be catered for on request.

Minimum age & eligibility

The minimum age to come on this monkey experience is 18.

Don’t worry if you haven’t had any previous experience working with animals, you will receive all the necessary training at the centre. You do however need to be healthy, fit and of course have a passion and love for animals!

Nationals of the EU, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand don’t require a visa to enter South Africa, though South African Immigration does ask that you have two completely blank consecutive pages in your passport. As long as you hold a valid passport (and a valid return ticket) you will be granted a temporary visitor’s permit on arrival, allowing visitors to stay in South Africa for up to three months. You should also ensure that your passport will still be in date for six months after you return.

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