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South Africa - Wildlife Sanctuary

Live among some of Africa's spectacular wildlife while working on a team expedition to complete projects that better life on the sanctuary. See the immediate benefits of your volunteer work while getting up close and personal with the zebras, cheetahs, elephants, and many more animals that have found a safe haven at the sanctuary.



Fast Facts

Location of ProjectHartebeespoort
Project CostsThe price for all start dates from the 1st of Oct 2015 will be $1,550 for 2 weeks and $500 for each extra week
Project LengthMin 2 weeks - Max 12 weeks (Minimum stay is technically 16 days - 2 day orientation + 2 weeks volunteering)
Arrival AirportJohannesburg Airport (JNB airport)
Volunteer WorkConstruction, wildlife care, maintenance
Number of ParticipantsUp to 30 international volunteers
Age18 - 40
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 Wed-Fri; Volunteer work begins on Mon.

What's Included

AccommodationVolunteer house on the sanctuary
Food3 meals a day
SupportLocal in-country team and 24hr emergency support
Airport TransfersIncluded
Activities Tours, game drives, elephant walks
Pre-Departure Kit Full project details are sent following registration
Orientation All necessary training and introductions provided upon arrival
Insurance Comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage

What's Not Included

Flights, personal expenses, and visa


The Wildlife Sanctuary is located around 40 min from Johannesburg in the Hartebeespoort area. The small town is situated between the Magaliesberg Mountains and Hartebeespoort Dam, providing a breathtaking mountainous landscape. The town is situated close to the sanctuary and is a great place to explore with a fantastic selection of adventure and activities. Johannesburg itself is a vibrant metropolis, known for its unique street entrepreneurial culture.


About the Project

The sanctuary serves to provide a safe haven for orphaned or injured animals that would otherwise not face a future of survival. Most of the animals in the park have been tamed and because of this cannot be part of a reintroduction program. This allows volunteers to get up close and personal with the animals, providing a unique hands-on experience. The park uses its film department to raise money to further improve the quality of life for the animals as well as increase future possible conservation efforts. The sanctuary is host to numerous characters to spend your time getting acquainted with from Roxy the Hyena or Jack the Zebra to one of the fantastic elephant trainers; participants in this project will live and learn amongst some of Africa’s most spectacular wildlife. 


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 2 weeks designated for volunteer work. Therefore, the minimum stay is 16 days for the 2 week option, 24 days for 3 weeks, and so on. All prices include orientation.


Volunteer Work and Contribution

The project requires an all-around commitment from volunteers. You will split your time between working to complete ongoing construction and maintenance projects, and hands-on caring for the animals at the sanctuary. There is the option for you to focus on a particular species or move around between the spectacular wildlife that inhabits the refuge. You will work alongside staff to gain experience with the animals, including elephant walks or bonding sessions with the cheetah. This is a rewarding experience as you will get the opportunity to challenge yourself physically while also being innovative with new ways to contribute to the sanctuary. Ongoing projects may include the following: 

Vulture Kitchen: vultures are becoming extinct due the poisonous meat being left out by farmers and game reserves trying to deter other animals. Providing a vulture feeding area with safe meat will dramatically decrease the growing number of vulture deaths. This is a construction project in which you will build a viewing point so that visitors may view the feeding area while being educated on these amazing creatures; it will also create a fantastic vantage point for research and data collection. 

Fire Breaks: many species such as the tortoise, dung beetle, and chameleon are eliminated during fires that can tear across the acres of land at the sanctuary. Firebreaks are put in place to protect the sanctuary and control fire spread.

Enclosure Construction:  help renovate, maintain, or construct new enclosures. Past volunteer expeditions have built a new hyena bath, a swimming pool for the cheetahs, and so on. This allows you to contribute something special to the animals’ habitat. 

General Maintenance: anti-poaching fence patrols that involve guided walks along the perimeter of the park to ensure that the fencing in intact, alien plant control and bush clearing, anti-erosion control, and general projects aimed at improving the wellbeing of the animals and the sanctuary grounds. 


Living Arrangements

Accommodations: You will stay at the volunteer house which is located on the sanctuary grounds where you will share a room with 2 to 4 other volunteers.  There is a common kitchen, lounge, and great patio for relaxing and viewing the wildlife that roams right outside the front door. 

Upgrade to a single room is available for an additional fee.

Food: You will receive three meals a day. Self-catered breakfast is provided as well as a staff lunch and a daily budget for the lodge restaurant. 

Laundry: You can use the onsite laundry facilities for a small fee (about $2.50 per load).

Internet: WiFi is available for a small fee.


Travel Highlights

South Africa is a beautiful country with plenty to offer tourists.  The country usually conjures up images of wild animals roaming about in Kruger National Park, and while this is a must see for every visitor, there is so much more to discover and explore.   You can enjoy the peace and seclusion offered by the beaches of the Wild Coast or take in the busy beaches of Cape Town, its townships and lively nightlife.  Elephant lovers shouldn’t miss a trip to Addo Elephant National Park and wine enthusiasts should consider driving along the wine route to experience some amazing wineries.


Minimum Requirements

  • Basic English
  • Good physical fitness
  • Motivation to work with animals



Here's an excerpt of Jessie's experience:

  "The Wildlife Sanctuary really opened my eyes, I was able to meet so many different people and learn about their different cultures as well. I want to thank GoEco one more time for allowing me to have this amazing opportunity. I will definitely remember volunteering in South Africa for the rest of my life!"  
Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Jens' experience:

  "How should I begin telling my story? Well, when I arrived I didn’t even know the name of the place where I was going to stay for the next 16 days, so I was pretty excited and curious. The first two pictures I took where from a gorgeous area in the sanctuary and a stunning sunset, which was not a bad way to start! The following days where full of once in a lifetime experiences, great people and unique animals. I worked (or played?) with lion cubs, fed a lot of different animals, walked with lions and elephants..."
Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Reanna's experience:

  "At this project you will get up close and personal with most of the African mega-fauna. These are beautiful, enchanting animals. I remember blowing into the mother elephant’s trunk so that she would remember me – they say that an elephant will never forget your scent... I remember being in awe of the might of the grown lions as they growled over haunches of meat!"

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!

Check out our Volunteer Blog at blog.goeco.org to read experiences written by GoEco volunteers from all over the world!

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