The Big Cat Sanctuary is an environmentally friendly rescue center for captive bred predators; mainly lions, tigers and leopards. At the sanctuary they are protected for the rest of their lives, without any trading or breeding taking place.

One of the project’s most important objectives is to be an educational platform and spread awareness of the conditions big cats face in captivity worldwide.

As a volunteer you will be assisting with maintaining the various big cat enclosures, helping with feeding, creating new challenges in the enrichment area, building new enclosures, working with groups of visitors, and assisting with the general running of the sanctuary.

To join this project you will need to be in good health 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, flexibility and the ability to use your initiative will also be key. To ensure effective communication between all team members, a good understanding of the English language is also required.

The two owners, one South African and one Norwegian, started their journey as volunteers in South Africa. This journey lead to a dream that has now become a reality, and they are excited to share their stories and passion with you!

View Photos of the Big Cat Sanctuary near Cape Town

Main activitiesCleaning of enclosures, assisting with feeding, helping to plan, construct and implement enrichment for all the animals, general maintenance, and working with groups of visitors.
LocationClose to Stanford, about a 2 hour drive from Cape Town in South Africa.
Arrival DayYou can arrive in Cape Town on any Friday throughout the year, subject to availability. You can add extra nights and arrive earlier if you like. This is recommended if you want to spend some time exploring everything Cape Town has to offer.
Meeting pointOne of our team members will meet you when you land at Cape Town Airport.
DurationYou can volunteer with the Big Cat Sanctuary for 2 weeks or more.
Working hoursVariable hours. Approximately 4 - 5 hours per day, for 5 or 6 days each week.
Age limitYou must be aged 18 years or older when you arrive.
Volunteers FeeVolunteer fees 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 based team is on hand with expert advice and assistance to ensure you are fully prepared for your trip to South Africa.
Airport TransfersWe provide escorted transfers between Cape Town Airport, your pre-project accommodation and the project.
Welcome briefYou will receive a comprehensive welcome brief shortly after you arrive in Cape Town.
AccommodationBefore you join the project you will stay at one of Cape Town's best backpackers. At the Big Cat Sanctuary you will stay in a fully equipped modern volunteer house right next to the lions.
OrientationYou will receive a warm welcome and a comprehensive introduction to the project when you arrive.
FoodBreakfasts and lunches are included during your stay at the project.
TransportThe project provides a shopping trip every week if you need to stock up on supplies.
In-country supportBeing based in South Africa means that we can give you real support during your stay.
CertificateOn completion of your placement we will send you a special thank you to accompany your CV or resume.
FlightsPlease ask us if you need any recommendations for keeping your flight costs to a minimum, or consult our FAQ section.
FoodEvening meal is self catering
InsuranceWe have partnered with World Nomads Insurance to give you access to great value insurance for volunteers. Check out our Insurance page under the FAQ tab for more details.
VisasCitizens from most countries can arrive in South Africa and stay for up to 90 days without a Visa. Refer to our FAQ section for more details if you are unsure.

Each day begins with a light breakfast of tea, coffee, toast and cereals.

You can expect to be busy for about 4 to 5 hours each day, with 1 or 2 days off each week. Working hours may vary from day to day, but generally you will have a long lunch break from 11:00 – 14:00 when the sun is at its hottest.

A typical lunch might include salads, wraps, burgers or a stir fry. Meals are prepared using chicken, pork or fish, but not red meat.

In the evenings you will be able to prepare your own dinner in the large kitchen. Volunteers often get together to take turns cooking for the group, and make frequent use of the indoor or outdoor braai (BBQ) for an authentic South African dining experience!

Catching up with the day’s stories around the fire is a great way to relax, and there are a selection of DVD’s and games to keep you entertained too.

For your free time there are plenty of activities in the local area including hiking, bird watching, whale watching, shark cage diving and much more. There will be a planned excursion to a local attraction each week, where transport will be provided.

Extra trips to local tourist hotspots like Hermanus and Gansbaai can also be organized for a nominal fee, and there are some great value restaurants in nearby Stanford and Hermanus if you fancy a special night out.

When you first arrive in Cape Town, you will spend the night at Ashanti Lodge, one of Cape Town’s best backpackers with free Wi-Fi, stunning views of Table Mountain and easy access to the city centre.

During your time with the Big Cat Sanctuary you will stay in a modern, yet cozy home on the farm. The house consists of 5 bedrooms with 4 bathrooms, a spacious fully equipped kitchen, a big living and dining room area, an indoor and outdoor braai, and a lovely pool.

Your volunteer home includes the following facilities:

  • All bedding is provided, though you might want to bring a travel sleeping bag for optional sleep-outs under the stars
  • You will share a room with up to 3 other volunteers. Each room has hanging space and an ensuite shower and toilet
  • A twin room is available for couples, with a shower and toilet just across the passageway
  • A large fully equipped kitchen
  • An entertainment area with flat screen TV, DVD player and an indoor Braai (BBQ)
  • An outdoor braai and a pool for relaxing in on warmer days
  • Wi-Fi is available in the house for R50 per week, so you can easily keep in touch with friends and family. The Wi-Fi is capped each month so it’s not suitable for heavy use like downloading movies or series. Please download these to your own laptop before you come.
  • A washing machine and powder is provided so you can do your laundry once per week
  • A housekeeper will look after general housework, although you will be expected to clean up after yourself as you go. You will be expected to leave the bathroom and kitchen area’s clean and tidy ready for someone else to use.

The Big Cat Sanctuary is located near Stanford, less than 2 hours’ drive from Cape Town in South Africa. We have arrival dates for this project every Friday throughout the year.

  • You should aim to arrive in Cape Town on or before your chosen Friday arrival date.
  • You can arrive at any time of day and one of our team will be there to welcome you with a big Via Volunteers sign when you land at Cape Town International Airport.We will then escort you to your pre-project accommodation, one of Cape Town's best backpackers close to the city centre. You will have the night to freshen up after your flight.
  • On Saturday morning a member of the project team will transfer you to the Big Cat Sanctuary and introduce you to the team.
  • At the end of your placement, you will depart on the Saturday morning. We can transfer you to the airport, or to Cape Town if you are planning to stay on and explore for a while.

It’s easy to add extra nights to your stay, so if you find a cheaper flight that arrives earlier than your chosen Saturday arrival date just let us know. You can also add extra nights after your placement for the same reason.

If you want to add another project, a Scuba Diving Course, a Surfing Week, or even a longer tour, we can help you with that too. Please ask one of our friendly team at any time before you arrive in Cape Town.

Durations & Pricing

Change your currency
2 weeks - £ 918 (10% discount)
3 weeks - £ 1224 (10% discount)
4 weeks - £ 1512 (10% discount)
5 weeks - £ 1728 (10% discount)
6 weeks - £ 1944 (10% discount)
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.

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