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South Africa - Ultimate Wildlife and Social Volunteer Experience

Come to South Africa and get an all around experience volunteering with both the stunning variety of wildlife found in the African bush, as well as contributing to local community initiatives in a safe house for at-risk youth.



Fast Facts

Location of ProjectHartebeespoort, Close to Johannesburg
Project LengthMin 4 weeks - Max 12 weeks
Arrival AirportJohannesburg Airport (JNB airport)
Volunteer WorkWildlife Care, Research, Maintenance, and Children and Community Outreach
Age18 - 80
Age Exceptions This project accepts volunteers who are younger than 18 years old with a letter of consent from a parent or guardian.
Project Length Minimum stay is 30 days - 2 day orientation + 4 weeks volunteering
Program Schedule 2-day orientation is Fri-Sun; Volunteer work begins on Mon.

What's Included

AccommodationShared rooms in a volunteer house
Food3 meals a day provided
SupportLocal in-country team and 24hr emergency support
Airport TransfersIncluded on arrival and departure
Orientation All necessary training and introductions provided upon arrival
Pre-Departure Kit Full project details will be sent following registration
Insurance Comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage
Extras Activities and weekly social events coordinated for the project

What's Not Included

Flights, personal expenses, extra excursions


The town of Hartebeespoort is nestled between the infamous Hartebeespoort Dam and the Magaliesberg Mountains. This gorgeous mountainous landscape stretches from the northern province of Pretoria through to the south of Pilanesberg in the North West Province. Hartes, as it is often referred to, is conveniently just a few hours’ drive from the city of Johannesburg, the cultural and economic hub of South Africa. The area provides a rich selection of animal sanctuaries, reserves, and conservation initiatives; while visitors can also enjoy the Aerial Cableway that allows for a birds-eye perspective of the stunning landscape. 


About the Project

This dynamic project works over a variety of sanctuaries in the Hartebeespoort area while also contributing to a local community initiative. The first and foremost aim is to identify the immediate needs while supporting a high level of living conditions for the animals living in the surrounding reserves and sanctuaries, while also providing emotional and developmental assistance to traumatized youth at the local Safe House.

Project participants will be required to partake in a variety of tasks in different locations, all within a 25km radius of the volunteer accommodation. While working with wild, rescued, and rehabilitated animals, volunteers will work alongside the professional staffs in order to ensure the continued high quality of life and living conditions for the wildlife in the area. Volunteers will be guided so as to have interaction with the animals in a respectful manner, as they work alongside elephants, eagles, vultures, and monkeys, just to name a few.

This dynamic role is perfect for a volunteer that is looking for a hands-on experience that will broaden their understanding about the diversity and complexity of African wildlife, while also providing an opportunity to not just give selflessly, but also learn from the young community members that have suffered violence and abuse.

Volunteers in this unique and diverse project will really have the opportunity to delve into a conservationist lifestyle.


Arrival and Orientation 

Prior to your volunteering, you'll participate in a two-day orientation in Johannesburg. This orientation is a time for volunteers to meet and get acquainted with each other and the project staff prior to going to their projects. You'll also be taken on a tour of the city that includes Nelson Mandela Bridge, Telkum Tower, Constitutional Hill and various other attractions. 

Note: The orientation is required and is not a part of the 4 weeks designated for volunteer work. Therefore, the minimum stay is 30 days for the 4 week option, 37 days for the 5 week option, and so on. All prices include orientation.


Volunteer Work and Contribution

Volunteers will work in a variety of locations within a 25 km radius of the accommodation. The project is split into two main components, the first focusing on increasing the welfare and quality of life for wildlife in the area, while the second will see volunteers contributing to a community safe house that acts as a haven for children of domestic abuse and violence. The combination of both wildlife and humanitarian outreach makes this enriching volunteer program exceptionally dynamic.  

Volunteers will be required to work 5-6 hours a day, and rotate between the following projects: 

Elephant Program:

The Elephants Reserve works as a temporary safe house for rescued baby African elephants. The reserve’s full time resident is an adult bull named Amarula, whom was infamously rescued from a Zoo in 2006.  Volunteers will be involved in general maintenance as well as assisting staff in caring, feeding, and observing the elephants, all the while learning about their unique behavioral traits and characteristics. Daily tasks may include brushing, cleaning, feeding, maintenance, painting, as well as completing projects aimed at enriching the day to day life of the elephants.  

Monkey Sanctuary:

Primates are under constant threat as they are hunted for body parts and meat, or are captured illegally and sold as pets. The sanctuary serves an important role in not just conservation and rehabilitation of the monkeys, but also in increasing the public education and awareness of the cause. Many of the residents are illegal pets that are now unwanted and so have found a safe haven in the monkey sanctuary. Volunteers will be involved in daily care of the animals, focusing on their daily dietary requirements, behavioral observations, and general maintenance. 

Wild Birds Project:

Work with vultures, eagles, owls, and other African wild birds in this project. Through this particular aspect of the project, volunteers will become aware of the impending plight of the vultures as they face a constant onslaught of threats from humans. Suffering from poisoning, electrocution, and collisions, there is much still to be done about educating the public and implementing initiatives that can lower the risks that vultures face on a daily basis. There is the chance for volunteers to observe and learn how to capture, tag, and release wild vultures. Volunteers will assist staffs in day to day dietary management; there is also the opportunity to handle vultures and eagles under supervision. 

Game Reserve Project:

Public awareness is one of the key components of conservation. The development of a game reserve will allow for the pubic to not only come and further their understanding about African wildlife but also create a basis for educating the general public on how to continue contributing to local and global conservation initiatives. Volunteers will assist full time staffs in clean up and the removal of alien vegetation, constructing habitats for the wildlife, establishing regular feeding areas - especially for the winter months when food can be scarce, as well as creating eco-friendly visitor's paths. During this time volunteers will be working on the game reserve surrounded by an array of fantastic African wildlife. 

Community Project:

The support safe house exists as a haven for children that have suffered from domestic violence, sexual assault, or any other form of abuse. The safe haven provides a stable environment where the children can gain access to emotional and physical support in order to gain better opportunities in life. Daily tasks will include assisting staffs in the bathing, feeding, taking care of the babies, helping with meal times, assisting with the disabled children, as well as helping out with homework. Volunteers will also contribute to the general maintenance such as painting and tending to the vegetable garden, and any other projects that could better the lives of the children. The main aim of the volunteer is to promote a healthy, loving, and educational environment for the children that enter the safe house. 


Living Arrangements

Accommodations: Volunteers will live in a multi-room house in Hartebeespoort. The house has a variety of facilities available to volunteers, among which is a fully equipped kitchen. 

Food: Three meals a day are provided. This will include a continental breakfast with fresh fruit, sandwiches and fruit for lunch, as well as a hearty South African meal for dinner. Volunteers will also have the chance to go to a supermarket to purchase any groceries they would like.

Internet: Yes, there is internet access available as well as Wi-Fi at the houses for a small fee.

Laundry: Washing machine (but no dryer) available. Volunteers must provide their own laundry detergent. Alternatively, laundry can be sent out and done for about $5 per load.


Travel Highlights

Besides the fantastic array of wildlife sanctuaries and reserves in the area, there is still much to do and see in the Hartebeespoort area. Take a balloon ride safari or enjoy the stunning aerial view of the landscape with the cable cars above the mountains.  Visitors can also visit the famous windmill restaurant or go tubing on the dam, whatever your adventure there is much to explore in this unique area. 


Minimum Requirements

  • Resume/CV
  • Good level of physical fitness
  • Flexible attitude
  • Basic English skills
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