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Volunteer in South Africa

Volunteer in South Africa

South Africa Overview

Volunteer work in South Africa offers anyone with a passion for animals a really rewarding hands-on experience on the southern most point of the African continent. The monkey sanctuary needs your help urgently as they have too many monkeys and not enough hands!

How can I help?

  • Take care of new admissions from newborns to injured animals and nursing them back to health
  • Prepare food and monitor behaviour
  • Assist with stimulation activities for those which are struggling to cope with having been affected by human contact

This is a fantastic opportunity for both animal lovers, and people who wish to take up a career in animal care, to spend time nursing sick animals back to health, and to be a real benefit as a South African Volunteer.

Placement at a Glance

18yrs+ on arrival
Volunteer options
Animal care and general site maintenance
Pre-departure helpdesk, in-country coordinating team and 24hr emergency support
Shared dormitory on project site
Working hours
5 days out of 7
Minimum stay
2 weeks.
Project operates
All year round.
When to apply
As early as possible as places limited
£175 per week, includes on site accommodation and local support.
Airport Pick-up Service
From Johannesburg airport approx. £35 payable on arrival.

Images from South Africa

For an amazing experience call us on 01603 280702

For an amazing experience call us on 01603 280702

For an amazing experience call us on 01603 280702For an amazing experience call us on 01603 280702For an amazing experience call us on 01603 280702For an amazing experience call us on 01603 280702For an amazing experience call us on 01603 280702For an amazing experience call us on 01603 280702

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South Africa placement map

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Call us today on 01603 280702

Book now on 01603 280702 and contact people travelling to the same project!

Trip info for South Africa

Country: South Africa

Book your placement with £145. then pay £175 per week volunteering.


Help a busy sanctuary and volunteer in South Africa 2014 - 2015

Volunteer in South Africa

South Africa Placement Details

Here's what you need to know to plan your trip to the sanctuary.

About the Project

Come and join this peaceful project, caring for South African monkeys. Situated close to Pretoria, this monkey sanctuary is a rare opportunity to interact closely with cute, lovable monkeys. There are all sorts of different species of monkeys living in the sanctuary from the Marmosets and Tamarins to the squirrel monkey. At this small and friendly sanctuary, all volunteers will get an exciting opportunity to be involved with all aspects of the daily routine, from bottle feeding, medical care to monitoring their behaviour. The project provides a great experience that allows you to be really hands on with the overall care of the monkeys and the overall organisation of a busy animal sanctuary. Many of the monkeys are brought here after having been kept as pets and sadly can not be returned to the wild. Volunteers will fill a much needed role as there never seem to be enough hours in the day and there are always new arrivals.

Volunteer in South Africa

One of the newest arrivals at the sanctuary, a baby marmoset

Health, safety and support

How safe will I be at the sanctuary?

You will be very safe at the project, all volunteers and the sanctuary management team live together on-site. The area is a quieter rural area just outside of Pretoria, with none of the problems encountered in some of the larger South African cities.

How can I look after my health?

Unlike much of Africa, South Africa does not require malaria tablets and many of the jabs usually needed. The most common health annoyances are between November and March when the sun can be at its strongest, so take sensible precautions by covering up as you will be outside at the project more than you would on a community teaching project. Long sleeved shirts are a good idea to protect your arms when the monkeys are crawling around on you!

We consider this project ideal if you...

  • Love animals and want to learn more about monkeys.
  • Love the outdoors and practical hands on work.
  • Want to be busy and involved.
  • Want to experience jaw dropping scenery and endless attractions in this amazingly diverse country.

What level of support is provided?

An English-speaking management team live on-site and are there at all times to introduce you to the daily routine and assist you should you need it anytime. They organise the week's rota and will assist you with any support from volunteering to arranging a doctors appointment. The local team are passionate about their work and helping you to be the same too, what they do not know about the animals in their care is not worth knowing.

Getting there

Do I need a visa?

British passport holders do not require a visa before travel to South Africa for short stays. If you hold a different passport and require a visa, we will provide you with supporting letters of introduction to assist your visa application.

Travel with others

How can I meet other volunteers before I go?

We can buddy you up with others going around the same time. You can also take a look at the Travel Buddy List and use the Facebook community:

  • Add yourself to the Buddy List to meet other volunteers, travel together or simply find a familiar face when you arrive.
  • Join the volunteer community on Facebook and like the page to receive recent pictures from projects and other interesting stories and updates.

Volunteer in South Africa

Two rescued adult marmosets. Volunteers help create activities to keep them mentally stimulated. Without extra games they are prone to anxiety and confusion following a life as pets alongside humans.

Project resources and advice

The sanctuary has most of the basic resources that it needs. Interested volunteers may like to help with the purchase of animal food, after arrival.

Local facilities

The nearest city, Pretoria, has all the local facilities of any large modern city that are needed, including banks, doctors, shopping malls, cafes and other amenities.

Health when working with animals

Will I need any jabs for volunteering?

Unlike other more northern African countries the risk of disease is considerably lower. This area is not a region with malaria-carrying mosquitoes which is great news. All the animals arriving at the sanctuary are quarantined so you will not require a rabies shot before travel. For all the usual health complaints that you might have at home or whilst volunteering, there is a doctor close by and a hospital should you need the use of one, the co-ordinators will help you with a transfer. Make sure your travel insurance covers medical bills abroad, because the flu or your appendix will not wait for you to get home!

What to take

What do I need to take with me?

Once you have applied and registered with Original Volunteers, you will receive an Information Pack via email that will have further details on the project; in this email there will be a list of items to take. In the meantime, strong or old dark coloured clothes that the monkeys can dribble or tug at is a good idea. Gardening gloves might be useful together with trainers. Most volunteers will eat out or make a trip to the shopping centre, so do bring your usual smart casual clothes with you too.

Not on your own

Will I be on my own?

Although some volunteers travel with friends, most travel alone. It is possible to get in contact with other volunteers before your travel, and a lot of people tend to do this. Some volunteers meet up on the Buddy List then travel together. But even if there is a gap in volunteers at some point in your stay you will always have the staff and little monkeys with you for company!

Volunteer in South Africa

OV volunteer with a rescued baby monkey. Most can't be released into the wild because they don't have a parent to teach them how to survive, so you can cuddle as much as you want to!

Fast facts - Project information

Project Duration: Min 4 weeks - long stays welcome.
Location of project: Just outside Pretoria.
Arrival Airport: Johannesburg.
Activities: General day-to-day care of monkeys include, cleaning cages, feeding, general love and affection.
Working Hours: Full time – 5 days out of 7 day week.
Getting to the project: Airport pick-up and transfer to the volunteer house is automatically arranged for all volunteers, once flights have been received.
Requirements: Minimum age 18 on arrival.

On arrival

What happens on arrival?

Once we receive your flight details a pick-up will automatically be arranged from Johannesburg, so when you land someone will be waiting at the airport for you. The co-ordinator or the regular driver will pick you up and take you directly to the sanctuary. If you are travelling from elsewhere overland we will put you in touch with the local team to organise a pick up when you get close or directions to make your own way.


Are meals provided?

Meals are self-catered. There is a shopping mall about ten minutes away by taxi, where you can buy food and supplies. Volunteers have recently been using a home delivery service in the evenings for about £2 per hot meal. Also, in the same area there is a café where many volunteers eat.

Volunteer in South Africa

The enclosures at the sanctuary. Practical volunteers can help to maintain and build new as the sanctuary grows.

Free time

Will I have free time?

Volunteers work together on a rota because the animals require care 7 days a week. Two days are allowed per week for time out, but if there is a longer tour you would like to make, simply speak to the volunteer coordinator about taking some extra time out. There are many sights to see and experience in South Africa. These include The Lion Park, The Open Air Museum and Kruger National Park. It is also possible to arrange a horse ride through the game park. Scroll down to the free time section for options and costs.

Getting around

How will I get around on my days off?

Taxi is a quick and easy way to get around the area. To get a taxi from the Monkey Sanctuary to the nearest town would cost on average about £6 and can be shared.

Getting back to the airport

How will I get back to the airport?

The project manager will help organise this for you with their regular driver.

South Africa Project costs

What are the costs after I have registered and booked my space?

After you have booked your place the weekly costs are £175 which includes accommodation on site at the project. All volunteers purchase return flights to Johannesburg airport (airport name O.R. Tambo, airport code JNB) The airport pick up is organised for you and is payable on arrival. This is currently £35. Insurance is required, most policies for a 2 week stay will cost about £30 but shop around to get the best deal. Make sure the policy covers medical bills and repatriation. You should allow between £40 and £60 per week for meals and a day out.

How and when do I need to pay for my project?

An invoice is sent by email shortly after we receive your flights and can be paid at any time up to 4 weeks before travel.

Free Time in South Africa

Volunteers help at the sanctuary for 5 days out of 7 so there is plenty of time to fit in an activity in your free time. The local team will assist and point you in the right direction for where to go and what to do.

free time in South Africafree time in South Africa

Kruger National Park

Price for package 4 days from £315

Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in the whole of Africa, covering more than
7,000 square miles, with the Big Five and with the
greatest concentration of large mammals, at 147 species. If you can stretch to a visit - it is a
must or you may regret it when you learn later what
you missed out on!

Most visitors are on self-drives around the park staying at pre-booked accommodation at designated campsites and lodges. For visitors without a vehicle, the park offers organised tours from £600 upwards, but an independent operator can offer the same at around £315 for 4 days. Ask your coordinator how to organise.




Left: Kruger National Park. If your budget can stretch to an organised tour, squeeze one in, you won't be disappointed!

Horse trails

Price from just £18

The Pretoria region is horse country so even if you
have never ridden before, why not try a gentle walk
and trot amongst incredible scenery at a nature reserve
close to Pretoria. There are many stables offering
rides for all abilities including moonlit rides.
Wear denims and use sunscreen if riding Oct - April.


free time in South Africa

OV volunteer horse-riding in free time at riding centre close to the sanctuary. Pretoria, the area where volunteers are based is a big area for horse-riding and there are many trails over easy ground.

free time in South Africa


Hatfield shopping centre close to the sanctuary, a popular weekend hang out for volunteers..


Retail therapy

Bus and snack £5

If you are feeling that after your hard work with
the primates you are in need of some retail
therapy take a trip to Hatfield Shopping Centre in
Pretoria for cafes, shops and a film at one of the
Nu Metro cinemas.


What happens after you have booked?

  • As soon as you have booked with the once-only £145 registration fee (this covers one or more projects within a year), you will receive a welcome email confirming your booking and explaining in more detail how to get organised for you trip.
  • We will Buddy you up with another volunteer going to the South Africa volunteer programme arriving around the same time so you should have a good chance to travel together if you wish to
  • You will also receive a Welcome Pack with some useful information which will include project specific advice on what to take, how to prepare and travel health recommendations

Below is an example timeline for a volunteer travelling in July 2014.

  • At anytime : get flights to Johannesburg airport for any day any time. If you are travelling overland from elsewhere in Africa, shortly before you travel we will put you in touch with your South Africa volunteer coordinator to arrange a suitable meeting point/pick up point.
  • Add yourself to the Buddy List to meet other volunteers, travel together or simply find a familiar face when you arrive.
  • Join the volunteer community on Facebook to see recent pictures from projects and other interesting stories and updates
  • May : contact your travel nurse or travel clinic to make appointments for jabs and boosters (for more information on what is typically recommended please refer to the NHS website fitfortravel). Malaria tablets are not required for this region of South Africa.
  • June : Arrange suitable travel insurance – further advice is provided in your emailed welcome pack
  • No visa is required before travel for South Africa for UK passport holders. If you require a visa - contact us if you require letters of introduction which we can prepare for you.
  • As soon as you have flights to Johannesburg: Upload your flight following the link in the Welcome Pack to organise your pick up.
  • At anytime : pay for your volunteer support contribution - we will send you an invoice by email to pay online – don't worry we will send you a reminder if you forget!
  • We will organise your pick up and transfer from Johannesburg airport automatically when we receive your flights

South Africa at a glance

The Republic of South Africa (also known by other official names) is a country located at the southern tip of Africa. It borders the Atlantic and Indian oceans and Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Lesotho, an independent enclave surrounded by South African territory. South Africa has experienced a different history from other nations in Africa because of early immigration from Europe and the strategic importance of the Cape Sea Route.

Parks not to missed for jaw dropping scenery and wildlife include: Cango Caves, Kruger National Park, Blyde River canyon Reserve and Kgalagagi Transfrontier Park (semi-desert). In Jo'Burg the popular tourist destinations include: Gold Reef City Theme Park, the Apartheid Museum and Wanderers Cricket Ground. Then in Cape Town Don't miss Robben Island the prison museum and a ride in the Table Top Mountain Cable Car.

Arts festivals: September and October (Jo'burg Jazz festival late Sep)
Climate: Hottest months are between October-February with the driest months between April-September
Time difference from UK: GMT +1hrs


South Africa has a temperate climate. The highest average temperature is 26 Celsius, with the lowest being 7.8 Celsius.

Accommodation in South Africa

Country: South Africa

Book your placement with £145. then pay £175 per week volunteering.


South Africa

Image title goes here

South Africa
Choose a Month

Accommodation Accommodation is on-site in dormitory type rooms with a large, modern communal kitchen, which any volunteer can use.

During your stay you will be trained on the job informally via in-country orientation and the project manager lives on site so you will have 24/7 support.

 Not supported in the rooms so don't forget:

  • Adaptor
  • Bedding and toiletries

Above: Your volunteer accommodation on site
at the project

Main volunteer house: Facilities near by within walking distance

  • Shop
    15 minutes

  • Bars
    15 minutes

  • Chemist
    20 minutes

  • Bus
    5 minutes

  • Taxis
    5 minutes

  • Cash machine
    In town

  • Bank
    In town

  • Phone Booth
    15 minutes

  • Internet
    20 minutes

  • Laundry-  provided with your stay small fee

Media from South Africa

Country: South Africa

Book your placement with £145. then pay £175 per week volunteering.


Images of South Africa

Many of our returning South Africa volunteers send us photos of their positive experiences in Africa. Click on the images below to get an idea of what to expect volunteering at this project.

Volunteering in South AfricaVolunteering in South AfricaVolunteering in South AfricaVolunteering in South AfricaVolunteering in South AfricaVolunteering in South Africasouthafrica-7-image-tab

Meet The Team

Country: South Africa

Book your placement with £145. then pay £175 per week volunteering.


The Team - South Africa

The project’s owner and support staff all live on site so help is never far away!

Frequently asked questions – South Africa

Country: South Africa

Book your placement with £145. then pay £175 per week volunteering.


South Africa Specific Questions

Do I need experience?
No experience is required, just a positive 'can-do' approach to supporting the project's work. Volunteers studying veterinary medicine will be offered every opportunity to make use of their knowledge and skills either on site or with the regular visits to the local vet.

What will I be doing?
There are two main areas of work : everyday care of the primates (food and clearing out) and stimulation activities (the fun part!). In addition volunteers may be involved with repairing of enclosures and building new ones.

Will I be met on arrival?
All volunteers are met at the airport in Johannesburg on arrival.

Will I be on my own?
Very difficult to be on your own as all the volunteers live together with the staff on site and this is a popular project throughout the year.

Are meals provided?
This is a self catering project with a communal kitchen for volunteers to use. There is a supermarket within a 20 minute walk (or 5 min by taxi) or meals can be delivered in the evening for approx. £1.50.

What do I need to take?
Rough, old clothes are ideal for working with the primates, they can get a bit dribbly and their little claws can catch on your clothes when you are having a cuddle! A smart outfit for going out in the evening is also a good idea. A visit to the Kruger National Park is a popular excursion so you may want to bring malaria tablets and safari-suitable clothing. (Malaria tablets are not needed if staying at the project and local area).

Where will I be staying?
Volunteers all live on site together.

Is South Africa safe?
The location of the project is in a very safe peaceful area, far enough away from the hustle of Johannesburg.

Do I need a visa for South Africa?
UK/European passport holders do not require visas to enter South Africa for stays up to 90 days.

Are there fixed arrival dates?
Volunteers can arrive on any day at any time. An airport pick up from Johannesburg will be organise for you. For comfort we recommend arriving in the daytime. Flights tend to arrive at either 10 am, 3pm or midnight. Kenya Airways often has the fastest route via Mombasa (12 hours) arriving in the morning search on for more.

Will I be placed with friends?
Everyone stays at the project so friends are all together.

Will I need jabs for South Africa?
You will need less than for other countries in Africa and malaria tablets are only needed if you plan to add on a visit to the Kruger National Park in your free time. Please see the Welcome Pack for more.

Is there mobile/ internet access?
Signal is pretty good, unlock your phone before travel and buy a South African sim card. Internet available locally.
A laundry service is available for approximately £1 per Kilo.

Should I take cash or cards?
We recommend taking a Visa card if possible and cash. Money can be wired to South Africa using an instant money transfer service like Western Union.

How will I get back to the airport?
Your coordinator can help organise your journey back to the airport, simply call them a few days before your flight.

Contact us for specific questions

We are always happy to answer any questions you may have. We pride ourselves in the vast knowledge of our projects and are always willing to share. Give us a call for a quick chat on 01603 280702 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to get the answers you need!


Country: South Africa

Book your placement with £145. then pay £175 per week volunteering.


Skills and Experience, no experience is necessary to help the monkeys in South Africa. As long as you have a love of animals, you will fit right in.

Latest Reviews

Kimberley Blakeley - South Africa volunteer

Kimberley Blakeley

South Africa

Horseback Africa was the best experience for me, getting that close to a giraffe only happens once if even that in a life time

Chin-Soon Sun - South Africa volunteer

Chin-Soon Sun

South Africa

I have made a difference, my mindset has opened up and become more positive

Louise Hawkins - South Africa volunteer

Louise Hawkins

South Africa

The ‘work’ we did was fun, playing with monkeys isn't hard!

Reviews 2011 and older (Archive)


Book Now

Country: South Africa

Book your placement with £145. then pay £175 per week volunteering.


Booking your Place

There are two ways of booking your place at our project in South Africa:

Phone - Call us on 01603 280702 to reserve your place on the project.

Online - Apply online with a Debit or Credit Card using PayPal following the instructions below.

South Africa
Choose a Month

For more information on booking a place, read our guide to how Original Volunteers' applications work.

If you'd like to know a bit more about Original Volunteers before you book, you can read about us and learn more on our FAQ page.

And if you have any questions you can't find the answer to, just get in touch on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Other Volunteer Options

Interested in Africa, but not sure about South Africa? Why not check out another volunteer placement in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya Masai, Kenya Mombasa, Malawi, Morocco, Tanzania or Uganda?

Planning Your Trip

Once you've booked your volunteering experience in South Africa you'll want plan the trip, and Original Volunteers has lots of helpful advice for first-time travellers.

To find someone to travel with on your trip, browse through our Travel Buddy List.

To learn more about raising money for your travels, check out our Fundraising advice.

To discover the the qualifications you could gain from your volunteering experience, visit our Training and Certificates page.

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