South Africa – Wildlife Sanctuary

Important Note: this program is not accepting new applications at the moment. In line with GoEco’s ongoing effort to improve and evaluate the conservation effects and goals of our programs, we suggest volunteers interested in helping at a Wildlife Sanctuary in South Africa join the options below to enhance both their experience and impact:




Join GoEco on a volunteer expedition in South Africa to help wildlife at an outstanding sanctuary!


Program Highlights:

  • Get up-close with various orphaned and injured African wildlife species, including big cats
  • Contribute to “Animal Life Improvement” projects and provide care for the animals of the sanctuary
  • Ethical wildlife volunteering and interactions
  • Upon arrival, partake in a cultural orientation in Johannesburg and mingle with fellow volunteers
  • Tours, game drives, elephant walks and hiking excursions are available as add-ons


Your Schedule at a Glance (Minimum one-week commitment, plus two-day orientation):

Arrival Day, Wednesday: Arrive at Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB). You will be picked up from the airport and begin your experience by meeting your fellow volunteers.
Day 1, Thursday: take part in a city and cultural tour of Johannesburg.
Day 2, Friday: Volunteers will transfer to the Wildlife Sanctuary and get settled in to their new home.
Day 3, Saturday: Rewarding volunteer work at the wildlife sanctuary.
Day 4, Sunday: Free day for volunteers to relax or explore the area.
Days 5-8, Monday-Thursday: Rewarding volunteer work at the wildlife sanctuary.
Day 9, Friday: Departure day for volunteers only staying one week. Bus will take departing volunteers either to the Johannesburg airport or to the city center of Johannesburg. Free day for volunteers extending.
Weeks 2-12: Additional weeks allow for exciting volunteer work six days a week, with Sundays free for you to spend how you wish (check out travel Highlights below for suggestions!) Departures are on Fridays.


Location icon Location of the Project: Hartbeespoort, South Africa

Project length Project length: Min 1 week – Max 12 weeks (Minimum stay is technically 9 days – 2 day orientation + 1 week volunteering)

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB)

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work: Construction, wildlife care, maintenance

Age Age:  18-30

Important Note Important Note: Animal interactions are based on the availability, safety and well-being of the ambassador animals, and therefore cannot be guaranteed.


What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: shared rooms in a volunteer house

Food Food: Three meals per day are included

Airport Transfers Airport Transfers: Airport transfers are provided on both arrival and departure days

Orientation Orientation: Two-day orientation in Johannesburg upon arrival that includes a tour of the area and encourages volunteers to get to know one another before the project begins.

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

The Wildlife Sanctuary is approximately 45 minutes from Johannesburg in the Hartbeespoort area. The small town is between the Magaliesburg Mountains and Hartbeespoort Dam, providing a breathtaking mountainous landscape. Hartebeespoort 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.


This sanctuary serves as a haven for orphaned or injured animals that otherwise can not survive on their own. They take in a variety of animals, including elephants, lions, tigers, cheetahs, spotted hyenas, white lions, and hippos, as well as free-range game, such as giraffes, wildebeest, zebras, warthogs, impalas, waterbucks, and the red hartebeest. The sanctuary’s goal is to ensure the health and safety of all the animals at the sanctuary and the most important aspect of all is to provide enrichment to both the volunteer and the animals.

As a volunteer on this project, you will split your time between ongoing construction and maintenance projects and care for the animals at the sanctuary.

Some of the ongoing projects you may be involved in include:

  • Fire Breaks: Many species, such as the tortoises, dung beetles, and chameleons, become victims of fires that break out on the sanctuary’s land. They put firebreaks in place to protect the sanctuary and control the fire spread.
  • Enclosure Construction: Help renovate, maintain, or construct new enclosures.
  • General Maintenance: You’ll be assisting with anti-poaching fence patrols that involve guided walks along the perimeter of the park to ensure that the fencing in intact. You’ll also have time to help clear alien vegetation, assist with anti-erosion control, and other maintenance projects on the sanctuary grounds.
  • Animal Life Improvement Project: Volunteers can help improve the lives of the sanctuary’s inhabitants by doing day-to-day cleaning, feeding and walking, painting the sanctuary’s facilities, and building new enclosures and swimming pools for some animals.


A typical day: You’ll begin your day early with breakfast, followed by your morning project, which could assist with alien vegetation, cleaning out animal enclosures, or going on an elephant walk. After lunch, you’ll start your afternoon project, such as the Animal Life Improvement Project or going on a game drive. After dinner, you’ll have time to relax and hang out with the other volunteers.

Program Schedule: Two-day orientation is Wed-Thursday; Volunteer work begins on Monday.

Please Note: Due to the dynamic nature of working with animals, GoEco cannot guarantee that you will interact hands-on with the animal residents at the sanctuary. Interactions are based on the availability, safety and well-being of the ambassador animals, and will be at the sole discretion of the local team.

Internet icon Internet: Volunteers will receive a voucher for 50 MB of data for their personal phones. Additional Wi-Fi is available for a small fee.

Laundry icon Laundry: All volunteers will receive one laundry load voucher. Additional laundry services are available for a small fee.

Accommodations icon Accommodations: You will stay at the volunteer house on the sanctuary grounds where you will share a single gender room with up to 6 volunteers. Volunteers will share the bathrooms. There is a common kitchen, lounge, and a great patio to relax and watching the wildlife roam right outside the front door.

Food icon Food: You will receive three meals a day. Breakfast and lunch are self-serve and include cereals, fruit, yogurts, toast, spreads, breads, and deli meat. They serve a hot meal every night and is often a traditional South African BBQ (braai), a stew, or a casserole, along with fresh vegetables and meat.


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

South Africa is a beautiful country with plenty to offer tourists. Kruger National Park is a must-see for every visitor, while the beaches of the Wild Coast offer plenty of peace and serenity. You’re also free to explore 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 drive along the wine route to experience some amazing wineries.

The sanctuary also offers an array of tours, game drives, elephant walks and hiking excursions at an additional cost.

Arrival and Orientation (Included):
Prior to your volunteering, you’ll take part 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. The project staff will take you on a tour of the city that includes sites like the Nelson Mandela Bridge, Telkum Tower, and Constitutional Hill. The tour is flexible and may change according to the group’s interests for the day.

Volunteer Experiences

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