Wildlife Sanctuary Volunteer in South Africa
Hands-on experience with exotic furry friends
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Group Size: Max. 30
Trip code: SAWS
Duration: 2 - 8 weeks
Animal lovers will be in their element on this amazing South African wildlife volunteering adventure! Volunteer with amazing animals and help to rescue, rehabilitate and release animals at a stunning wildlife sanctuary. Meet big cats, servals, caracels, squirrel monkeys and marmosets and help to feed the animals and support the sanctuary in a volunteer role. In your spare time you can enjoy the nearby surfing hotspot of Jeffrey's Bay. You won't want to miss a moment of this South African wildlife adventure!
- Get incredible experience with animals such as squirrel monkeys and caracels!
- Help to rescue and rehabilitate wildlife in need and make a difference as a volunteer
- Encounter a huge variety of both indigenous and foreign species of animals and birds and send your inner naturalist nuts!
- Get practical as you help construct new enclosures and observe veterinary procedures
- Surf your way around the surf paradise of Jeffreys Bay, try surf lessons or horse ride along the beach
Expect an itinerary full of plenty of hard work, incredible South African sights, amazing animals, beautiful birds, and unforgettable moments. A day at the sanctuary can be tough but unbelievably rewarding! You'll spend some 'feeding' days caring for the animals and some 'project' days helping out with maintenance and repair duties at the project. A typical day may involve the following:
7:30am - After a quick cup of tea it is time for the animal's breakfast. Volunteers are given a food route which takes around 30 minutes.
8:00am - Now it is feeding time for you! Enjoy a delicious breakfast before getting on with the day.
8:30am-1pm – After breakfast you'll start going through the park's to-do list. Jobs include washing the animal’s dishes, more feeding, checking the fence perimeters for any holes, and cleaning, raking, maintaining and repairing enclosures. Jobs are allocated on a rota, so each day will be varied.
1.00pm-2.00pm – Take a break for some well-earned lunch!
2.00pm-3.30/4.00 – Animal feeding time again. The afternoon is dedicated to food preparation and distribution.
4.00-4.30/5.00pm - Late afternoon jobs often include washing dirty dishes, making sure there are no problems around the park, seeing to any clinical duties, and rounding up calves and other farm animals. After this you’re done for the day and can relax until dinner!
6.00pm – Dinnertime! After a day of hard work you'll probably want to take a shower and scrub up before you eat. The rest of the evenings are usually spent enjoying some chill-out time, and you can watch some TV or a film, go for a walk, sit round the fire and chat, or just catch up on some Zzz’s!
You will generally be interacting with animals such as servals, caracels, marmosets, squirrel monkeys, duikers and a wide variety of birds on a daily basis. Your duties and the animals you work with will vary depending on the needs of the sanctuary at the time of your visit.
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You’ll need to fly into either Johannesburg or Cape Town then take a connecting flight to Port Elizabeth Airport. We will arrange a private transfer for you from the airport, and you will be taken to our stunning sanctuary, where you will meet the team and the other volunteers.
Please note that transfers are only available between 9am and 5pm so you must arrive between these times. 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. If you arrive after 5pm you will need to spend a night in Port Elizabeth and the team will pick you up from Port Elizabeth airport the next day.
You can depart at any time on your end date. A return transfer is not included, however the local team can help you arrange this locally.
You will be living within the grounds of the sanctuary in our on-site backpackers wooden lodges, in twin-bedded cabins. Please note that, in line with much backpacking accommodation, the lodge only offers a very basic standard of accommodation and facilities, but it does have hot water and electricity. Due to the remote location of the sanctuary, it is not on a mains water supply which means the water supply may be limited. We ask all volunteers if they will please use the water supply sparingly and always turn off taps.
You will need to bring a sleeping bag with you for visits during the winter months (March - September). You may also wish to bring a sleeping bag at other times in the year to make you feel more comfortable at night.
All your meals will be provided, though you can always bring some of your own food to take on picnics round the park, cook on one of our many braai’s, or buy light meals and snacks from our on-site restaurant and curio shop. With regular trips into the local town you will never be too far from anything you might need. Please note that as you will be working alongside the wildlife, alcohol consumption is not permitted during the evenings on site.
As the project is quite remote, there is no wifi available. However it is easy to purchase a local sim card with internet data which you can use. At the accommodation there is a TV lounge with DSTV (African satellite TV) a DVD player, and various chill out areas to relax in after a hard day’s work! As the DVD selection isn't all that huge, you may like to bring a few of your own films along if you plan to stay for a while!
Facilities for volunteers at the park include:
- Dorm accommodation
- All your meals included
- TV lounge with DVD player and DSTV
- Restaurant serving light meals and a small curio shop selling ice creams, snacks, and drinks
- Several braai (BBQ) areas and picnic locations around the park so you can take in the scenery
The minimum age to come on this really wild experience is 18. Don’t worry if you haven’t had any previous experience working with animals, as all we require is that you are fit, healthy, 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.
Visa rules and regulations are subject to change. Please check the relevant embassy websites for the most up to date visa information.
This trip is designed with your safety and wellbeing in mind. As a result of Covid-19, many of our suppliers and partners around the world are introducing new policies and procedures surrounding health and safety in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. As the state of travel is evolving these new safety measures will adapt over time, and will be different for each trip. Here are some of the changes you may see on your trip:
Arrival safety meetings
Most trips have an arrival meeting on the first day where the guide or local team will run through the trip, the safety protocols, and to answer any questions you may have. Now more than ever it is important you arrive in time for these meetings.
Proof of vaccination or negative covid test
For the safety of all travellers, at the start of some trips you may be required to show evidence that you are fully vaccinated (14 days after your second dose) and/or show evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the tour start date in order to join the programme.
Updated hygiene and safety procedures
Our suppliers and partners have health and safety procedures in place on all of our trips. These protocols will be updated and adapted as a response to the Coronavirus outbreak, dependent on local restrictions and laws.
Transport and accommodation choices
Our suppliers and partners choose the accommodation and transport on our trips very carefully, and you may see a change to what would normally be used as a response to the outbreak. This may involve such changes as enhanced use of private transport or quieter accommodation.
Trained and knowledgeable staff
Our staff in the UK are trained to help you with your trip before you depart and answer any questions you may have. In addition, the local team and guides on our trips are there to help with any health and safety concerns and to ensure our trips run safely and smoothly.
Reduced group sizes
Some trips will run with reduced group sizes to start with. You may find that trips are more intimate and chilled, whilst still being packed with fun and adventure.
Your guide or the local team will be on hand to help you seek medical attention should you require it during your trip. As medical facilities and standards can vary around the world, you should ensure you have adequate travel insurance in place before you depart to cover you for any medical emergencies.
24/7 emergency support
We operate an emergency phone line for our travellers abroad. This is operated by a UK based member of staff 24/7 if you have a genuine emergency or urgent matter that you need attending.
It is important that you take measures to make travelling safer for yourself and others around you. Ensure you frequently wash your hands, cover your face when you sneeze and cough, bring and use your own hand sanitiser and facial coverings/masks, and enable social distancing where necessary. You should also ensure you listen to the instructions and guidance of the local team at all times, and follow all local laws and restrictions.