South Africa – Monkey and Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

Please Note: This program is temporarily unavailable. Check out our alternative programs in Africa or schedule a one-on-one call with one of our expert volunteer advisors.


Join us in South Africa and learn about conservation, have hands-on experience with incredible primate species, make new friends, and immerse yourself in a new culture! From vervet monkeys to baboons, this rehabilitation sanctuary will teach you what it really takes to take care of our closest cousins.

Program Highlights:

  • Participate in a rehabilitation program that aims to release all animals back to their natural habitat in as short a time as possible
  • Learn the different stages of rehabilitation and monitor animals during their time in each
  • Experience hand-rearing orphaned monkeys and baboons
  • Have the opportunity to observe surgeries and other clinical procedures
  • Take monkeys and baboons down to the river for swimming and socializing
  • Work together with experienced primatologists


Your Schedule at a Glance (Minimum two-week commitment):

Arrival Day, Monday: Arrive at Phalaborwa Airport (PHW). You will be picked up from the airport and taken to your new home in South Africa. Take the time to settle in and become acquainted with your new housemates, both human and otherwise!

Days 1-4, Tuesday-Friday: Everyday will be jam packed with activities related to animal care and rehabilitation. Activities include preparing food and feeding the animals, cleaning enclosures, assisting with releases, participating in building projects, harvesting food, and so much more. If baby primates are onsite then volunteers will take turns taking care of them during the night, so flexibility of task expectations is a must for this project.

Days 5-6: Saturday-Sunday: As taking care of animals is a 24/7 job, there are no set days off, however the weekend is considered a time of rest and as long as the chores are done, there may be opportunities to join excursions in the area. You will also be treated to traditional feasts on the weekend, including the South African Braai (BBQ) and Potjie.

Remaining Weeks: The remaining weeks will follow a similar schedule of volunteering Monday-Friday and having the weekends slightly less busy. You will also have the opportunity to go into town twice a week (given there are enough volunteers back at the Center), so use the time to soak up South African culture and enjoy your time in Africa. Departures are on a Monday.

Check out what our past volunteers had to say!


Location icon Location of the Project: Near Tzaneen, Limpopo Province

Project length Project length: Min 2 weeks – Max 12 weeks

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: Phalaborwa Airport (PHW)

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work:  Handling of the animals, food preparation, feeding and maintenance work

Age Age:  21 – 80

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: Up to 24 international volunteers

Important Note Important Note: Family Option: this project accepts families with children as young as 6 years old.


What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: Dormitory-style

Food Food: Three meals a day

Airport Transfers Airport Transfers:  Airport transfers are included from Phalaborwa airport on both arrival and departure days

Support Support: Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.


What’s not Included

Flights, visas (if required), travel health insurance, personal expenses

This project is located in the Limpopo province of South Africa. This province borders three of South Africa’s neighboring countries: Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. Limpopo is rich with national parks and wildlife; it is a spectacular part of the country.


This rehabilitation center was established to accommodate and provide a temporary sanctuary for wildlife casualties, rehabilitate them to a point of self-sufficiency, and ultimately reintroduce them into nature. This center has been operating from its current premises since 1992. At first, the rehabilitation center only worked with monkeys and two indigenous species of bushbabies; however, they have expanded to accommodate baboons as well as various other animal and bird species.

Many of these primates have been injured or orphaned and; therefore, must fully mature before they can be released. The center aims to make at least 2 releases each year. This involves quite a bit of organization, research and monitoring, making volunteers a valuable resource in the rehabilitation process.

You will be involved in many tasks at the project, such as maintenance and construction of the center, feeding animals, cleaning their enclosures and handling animals. You will work alongside the full-time staff to rehabilitate the monkeys which can be released and provide ongoing care for those that cannot. You will be able to learn about the behaviors of the monkeys, how the monkeys function as a troop and more. Seasonally, you can expect to take part in the planting or harvesting of food which is used to feed the monkeys.

A typical day: At 7:00 AM, before having breakfast, you will start the day with cleaning out the cages and feeding the animals. After breakfast and lunch, your main tasks will be to care for the animals, repair enclosures or work on special projects. After dinner, you will feed the nocturnal animals.
Weekends are free after the animals have been fed and cleaned, but please be aware that during the week, free time is limited.

Please note that volunteer activities and schedules can change at any time based on the current needs of the project.

Internet icon Internet: There is limited free WiFi available. You will be asked to use the Internet only between 16:00 – 19:00, except in the case of an emergency or upon your arrival (to let family know you have arrived safely). During weekends you will have more time to use the Internet.

Laundry icon Laundry: Laundry services are available for a small, additional fee. Sheets, duvets and pillows are provided.

Accommodations icon Accommodations: You will stay in dormitory-style rooms with shared hot showers and western toilets. Dormitories can sleep between 2-8 people. Couples are able to receive private accommodations. The rooms are on-site and a mere 500 meters away from the animals.

Food icon Food: You will be given three meals a day. You will also have the opportunity to buy snacks and drinks in town (30 km from the center) twice a week. *If you have a specialized diet (i.e. Gluten-Free), please let us know upon registration. Some diets are difficult to keep based on the availability of certain foods.


Please take note of this project’s minimum requirements:

  • Basic level of English
  • Flexibility and open mindedness
  • Suggested minimum stay of one month
  • Prepared to work hard
  • Immunizations (please consult your doctor)
  • Rabies vaccination is strongly recommended due to the nature of the work at the center

There are plenty of activities and attractions in the area including visiting the biggest baobab in the world, visiting a local village and touring the area through tree top canopies. You can also take a trip to the famous Kruger Park or hop on a bus to tour Cape Town or Johannesburg. South Africa has a popular wine route that is great to travel as well as spectacular beaches and water sports all along the coast. There are also some fun games to take part in at the center after work.

Please note: any excursions with the rehabilitation center are subject to availability and a minimum number of participants. Most require an additional fee.

Add on our eight-day Garden Route Road Trip to enhance your South Africa experience!

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