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South Africa - Wildlife and Social Volunteering Combo

Come to South Africa and get an all-around volunteer experience working 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, South Africa
Project LengthMin 2 weeks - Max 12 weeks (Minimum stay is technically 16 days - 2 day orientation + 2 weeks volunteering)
Arrival AirportJohannesburg International Airport
Volunteer WorkWildlife care, research, maintenance, and child 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.
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
SupportLocal in-country team and 24hr emergency support
Airport TransfersIncluded on arrival and departure days
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

What's Not Included

Flights, personal expenses, visa (if required)


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 collaborates with a variety of sanctuaries in the Hartebeespoort area, while also contributing to a local community initiative. The foremost aims are to support high quality living conditions for the animals of the surrounding reserves and sanctuaries, while also providing emotional and developmental assistance to at-risk youth at the local safe house.

This project 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.


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. 

Please note that the tour is flexible and may change according to the group’s interests for the day. This is your personal tour of the city with our local guide and aims to show you the best sites and places for the day.

Note: The orientation is required and is not a part of the 2 weeks designated for volunteer work. Therefore, the minimum stay is 16 days for the 2 week option, 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, and the second, contributing to a community safe house that acts as a haven for children of domestic abuse and violence. 

Elephant Program:

The Elephant Sanctuary serves as a shelter for orphaned and rescued animals, and provides a temporary home for young African elephants. The sanctuary's full-time resident is an adult bull named Amarula, who was 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 to learn about their unique behavioral traits and characteristics. Daily tasks may include brushing, cleaning, feeding, maintenance work, and painting.

Monkey Sanctuary:

Primates are under constant threat as they are hunted for their meat or are captured and illegally sold as pets. The sanctuary works to rescue and rehabilitate the monkeys, as well as increasw the public's awareness of the cause. Volunteers will be involved in the daily care of the monkeys, focusing on their daily dietary requirements, behavioral observations, and general maintenance. 

Vulture Project:

At this project, volunteers will learn about the many threats that vultures face, including poisoning, electrocution, and collisions with electrical structures. Volunteers will have the chance to observe how to capture, tag, and release wild vultures. Volunteers will assist the staff in day-to-day dietary management and maintenance, and will have the opportunity to handle vultures under staff supervision. 

Nature Reserve Project:

Volunteers on this project will help improve and maintain a nature reserve to keep it fully functional, clean, well-managed, and accessible and appealing to visitors. Volunteers will assist the staff in removing alien vegetation, constructing habitats for the wildlife, establishing regular feeding areas, and creating eco-friendly visitor's paths. At this project, volunteers will also assist at an African wild dog sanctuary, preparing and feeding the animals and conducting research tasks. 
Community Project:

The main goal of the volunteer is to promote a healthy, loving, and educational environment for the children that enter the safe house. Daily tasks will include playing with the children, helping them with their homework, teaching them about personal hygiene and cleanliness, and organizing games and group activities. Volunteers will also help with painting, tending to the vegetable garden, and any other projects that could better the lives of the children. 

A typical day:  You'll begin your day early with breakfast, followed by your morning project, which could be assising at any of the wildlife or options. After lunch, you'll start your afternoon project, typically the Community Project. After dinner you'll have time to relax and hang out with the other volunteers. You'll have Saturday and Sunday off to spend as you wish. 


Living Arrangements

Accommodations: Volunteers will live in a house in Hartebeespoort with 2-6 volunteers per room. The house includes air-conditioning, a kitchen, lounge, recreational area, 3 swimming pools, squash courts, tennis courts, and trails for walking or running. 

Food: Three meals a day are provided. Breakfast and lunch are self-serve and include cereals, fruit, yogurts, toast, spreads, breads, and deli meat. A hot meal is served every night and is often a traditional South African BBQ (braai), a stew, or a cassserole, along with fresh vegetables and meat.

Internet: WiFi is available for a small fee. 

Laundry: Laundry services are available for a small fee.


Travel Extras

For an additional fee, volunteers can take part in any of the following activities during their days off: 

  • Tandem paragliding
  • Quad biking and ziplining
  • Exploring the Maropeng and Sterkfontein Caves 
  • Spending a day at the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve
  • Touring Pilanesberg for a day
  • Venturing to Lesedi 
  • Visiting Sun City 


Minimum Requirements

  • Minimum age 18
  • Good level of physical fitness
  • Flexible attitude
  • Basic English
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