The chimpanzee (Pan Troglodytes) is considered to be the closest relative to humans and is Endangered under a strict application of the IUCN Red List Criteria (International Union for Conservation of Nature). The species is also listed in Appendix 1 of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Chimpanzees in the wild may be extinct within the next 10 - 20 years if current trends cannot be reversed.
The Chimpanzee Sanctuary is home to chimps that have been misplaced from their natural habitats in Africa, rescued chimpanzees that have survived the bush meat trade; and others that were orphaned or traded in the illegal pet trade to zoos, circuses and medical research facilities.
These chimps are the lucky ones, living out their lives in a risk-free environment and provided with the necessary attention to recover from the trauma that they have experienced. The chimpanzees spend their days in semi-wild enclosures that are similar to their natural forested habitat. The enclosures have viewpoints overlooking the forest and ‘foraging areas’ from which volunteers can observe and study the chimpanzees.
The Chimpanzee Sanctuary is located within a large nature reserve, not far from Nelspruit and the Kruger National Park. The reserve consists of beautiful bush surroundings with free-roaming antelope species. This is the only chimpanzee sanctuary in South Africa, and through it, the Jane Goodall Institute is bringing the world of chimpanzees closer to humanity through education and tourism.
As a volunteer with this project, you will help to build on one of the Jane Goodall Institute’s key mission statements: Improving global understanding and treatment of great apes through research, public education and advocacy.
To join this project, you will need to be in good physical condition and aged 18 years or older by the time you arrive. Good social skills are an advantage and a willingness to help where needed is vital as you will be part of a small team of staff and volunteers. Personal characteristics like commitment and flexibility will also be key. To ensure effective communication between all team members, a good understanding of the English language is also required.
|Arrival Airport||Johannesburg (JNB)|
|Arrival Day||Sunday or Wednesday (you can arrive earlier)|
|Join Project On||Monday or Thursday|
|Minimum Duration||4 nights – includes 1 night in Johannesburg and 3 nights at the sanctuary|
|Maximum Duration||12 nights – includes 1 night in Johannesburg and 11 nights at the sanctuary|
|Volunteering Hours||Variable - approx. 6 hours per day|
|Main Activities||Behavioural enrichment activities for the chimpanzees, maintenance tasks, chimpanzee observation, sorting donated food, assisting with educational tours and other tasks as required|
|Fly Home On||Depends on how many nights you spend at the sanctuary|
|Minimum Age||You must be aged 18 years or older when you arrive|
|Availability||Available dates for each duration are shown on the top-right of this page with the option to select from several currencies.|
|Pre-arrival Support||Our experienced Cape Town team is on hand to ensure you are fully prepared for your trip to South Africa|
|Airport Transfer||We provide an escorted transfer from Johannesburg Airport to your pre-project accommodation|
|Pre-Project Accommodation||An overnight stay at Brown Sugar Backpackers incuding breakfast|
|Project Transfers||We will arrange your minibus transfers between Johannesburg and the sanctuary|
|Project Accommodation||At the sanctuary you will stay in a basic cabin with a maximum of 2 sharing|
|Food||Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included during your stay at the sanctuary|
|Orientation||On your first day at the sanctuary you will have a full orientation|
|In-country Support||Our volunteer coordinators are available 24/7 for emergencies, and are on hand to help you make the most of your stay|
|Certificate||On completion of your placement we will send you a special thank you certificate to accompany your CV or resume.|
|Visas||Citizens from most countries can arrive in South Africa and stay for up to 90 days without a Visa. Please refer to our FAQ section for more details if you are unsure|
|Flights||Please refer to our FAQ section for recommendations about keeping your flight costs to a minimum|
|Insurance||Download our Chimpanzee Sanctuary volunteer guide for project specific insurance requirements.|
There are rarely two days alike at the sanctuary, so your hours and duties may vary at short-notice depending on the needs at the time. As a general guide, you will volunteer for 6 hours each day, normally between 07:15 and 16:00.
A light breakfast is served at 09:30 (fruit, cereal or granola bars). Lunch is served from 12:30-13:30, and dinner sometime from 17:00. Most dietary needs can be catered for – please make sure you specify any dietary requirements on the Personal Information form that we send to you.
Additional snacks/drinks can be purchased at the sanctuary shop. You can also buy extra meals at the sanctuary restaurant if you have an especially large appetite! Please note that meals are not provided if you are taking part in local activities or tours on your days off.
If you are staying for 8 nights, you will have one day off scheduled during your stay. If you are staying for 11 or 12 nights, you will have two days off scheduled.
There are lots of options for things to do if you have a day or two free – your onsite volunteer coordinator can assist you with arranging these, including visits to Kruger National Park (highly recommended!).
During your stay, you could be involved with some or all of the following activities. These can be affected by the needs of the sanctuary during your placement, your own skills and experience, and the duration of your stay:
Please Note: This is an ethical project. For the safety, health and wellbeing of the chimpanzees and volunteers, there will be no direct physical contact with any chimpanzee. You will be briefed on safety rules and must adhere to these at all times.
Pre-Project accommodation (For your overnight stay on arrival in Johannesburg):
As one of Johannesburg's best backpackers, Brown Sugar has a great range of facilities and is well positioned in the Observatory suburb of Johannesburg to provide the perfect place for you to relax when you arrive in South Africa.
While you’re at Brown Sugar you can enjoy all of the facilities below. Whether you’re having a dip in the pool, or booking an adventurous activity at the Travel Desk, you will find that Brown Sugar have plenty to keep you busy:
At the Jane Goodall Chimpanzee Sanctuary:
During your placement, you will stay in the sanctuary’s volunteer area with basic facilities that include:
The Chimpanzee Sanctuary is located within a large nature reserve, not far from Nelspruit and the Kruger National Park.
We have arrival dates for this project most Sundays and Wednesdays throughout the year.
It’s easy to add extra nights to your stay, so if you find a cheaper flight that arrives earlier than the normal Sunday or Wednesday arrival dates just let us know. You can also add extra nights after your placement for the same reason.