Jane Goodall Chimpanzee Sanctuary Photos  |   Download Volunteer Guide

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 AirportJohannesburg (JNB)
Arrival DaySunday or Wednesday (you can arrive earlier)
Join Project OnMonday or Thursday
Minimum Duration4 nights – includes 1 night in Johannesburg and 3 nights at the sanctuary
Maximum Duration12 nights – includes 1 night in Johannesburg and 11 nights at the sanctuary
Volunteering HoursVariable - approx. 6 hours per day
Main ActivitiesBehavioural enrichment activities for the chimpanzees, maintenance tasks, chimpanzee observation, sorting donated food, assisting with educational tours and other tasks as required
Fly Home OnDepends on how many nights you spend at the sanctuary
Minimum AgeYou must be aged 18 years or older when you arrive
AvailabilityAvailable dates for each duration are shown on the top-right of this page with the option to select from several currencies.
Pre-arrival SupportOur experienced Cape Town team is on hand to ensure you are fully prepared for your trip to South Africa
Airport TransferWe provide an escorted transfer from Johannesburg Airport to your pre-project accommodation
Pre-Project AccommodationAn overnight stay at Brown Sugar Backpackers incuding breakfast
Project TransfersWe will arrange your minibus transfers between Johannesburg and the sanctuary
Project AccommodationAt the sanctuary you will stay in a basic cabin with a maximum of 2 sharing
FoodBreakfast, lunch and dinner are included during your stay at the sanctuary
OrientationOn your first day at the sanctuary you will have a full orientation
In-country SupportOur volunteer coordinators are available 24/7 for emergencies, and are on hand to help you make the most of your stay
CertificateOn completion of your placement we will send you a special thank you certificate to accompany your CV or resume.
VisasCitizens 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
FlightsPlease refer to our FAQ section for recommendations about keeping your flight costs to a minimum
InsuranceDownload our Chimpanzee Sanctuary volunteer guide for project specific insurance requirements.

Jane Goodall Chimpanzee Sanctuary Photos  |  Download Volunteer Guide

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:

  • Work on behavioural enrichment activities for the chimpanzees, especially when they are confined due to weather or other reasons
  • Assisting with maintenance tasks for the volunteer compound and sanctuary, and any other work that the animal keepers and staff need help with
  • Introduction lecture by the ‘Chimp whisper’ aka Primate Manager, Stany
  • Observing the chimpanzees and reporting findings to the sanctuary manager – this is especially important when chimpanzees are sick, injured, or behaving differently to normal
  • Sorting food donations for the chimpanzees and chopping fruit for use during educational tours
  • Assisting with spreading the word about the sanctuary and its aims
  • Helping with crowd control during educational tours.

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.

Jane Goodall Chimpanzee Sanctuary Photos  |  Download Volunteer Guide

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:

  • Dormitory accommodation with all bedding and linen provided
  • Self-service breakfast is included with cereals, egg, cheese, ham, toast, jams, milk, yoghurt, fruit, tea, coffee & juice
  • Free Wi-fi and an internet cafe with laptops for the use of guests
  • A fully equipped shared kitchen with fridge/freezers for storing your groceries
  • All bedding including linen, duvet and pillows (linen is changed every four days)
  • Self service laundry
  • Lots of showers and toilets
  • A travel desk for booking tours and activities
  • A pool area with sunloungers and a BBQ
  • A large bar with Satellite TV, a pool table, and an outdoor balcony area with seating and BBQ facilities
  • Lockable storage for your valuables (please bring your own padlock for this)
  • CCTV Security and controlled gate access
  • A night manager
  • The lodge is cleaned daily and rooms are also serviced daily.

At the Jane Goodall Chimpanzee Sanctuary:

During your placement, you will stay in the sanctuary’s volunteer area with basic facilities that include:

  • Twin share wooden cabins with a chest of drawers, bedside lamp, ceiling fan & electrical outlets
  • Bedding and towels are provided
  • Showers with hot and cold water and a flush toilet
  • Communal kitchen with a sink, kettle, toaster, microwave, a two-ring counter top oven, and fridge. Cutlery, pots, utensils, plates, bowls & mugs are available
  • The communal kitchen also has a washing machine and washing powder for your use
  • Limited free Wi-Fi for about an hour per day (possibility of unlimited free Wi-Fi later this year)
  • Communal coffee and tea making facilities
  • Filtered water
  • An open Braai (BBQ) area used occasionally for cooking and socializing in the evenings.

Jane Goodall Chimpanzee Sanctuary Photos  |  Download Volunteer Guide

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.

  • You can arrive at Johannesburg International Airport at any time of day on or before your chosen arrival date
  • We will provide an escorted transfer from the airport to Brown Sugar Backpackers, your pre-project accommodation in Johannesburg
  • If you arrive before Sunday or Wednesday, you will have time to enjoy some local attractions - perhaps take a tour of Soweto, grab dinner in China Town, and maybe include a visit to the Apartheid Museum. The friendly team at Brown Sugar can help you with these any many other activity and tour options
  • On Monday or Thursday morning you will travel approximately 4 hours by air-conditioned minibus to join the project.

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.

Durations & Pricing

Change your currency
4days - £ 590
5days - £ 740
8days - £ 1190
11days - £ 1550
12days - £ 1670
You do not pay anything when you book. We will provide you with a detailed itinerary and quote for you to check. When you are happy with the details, you will be able to confirm your placement with a deposit of £90.

Share this with your friends