Volunteer Testimonials   |  Marine Conservation and EcoTourism Project Photos  |   Download Marine Conservation and EcoTourism Volunteer Guide

This exciting project will see you working alongside a committed team of marine conservationists and biologists in Kleinbaai, the world’s Great White Shark capital.

The shark-specialist marine biologists research the feeding, migrating and behavioral habits as well as various other aspects of the Great Whites by recording sightings, tagging, dorsal fin identification and taking thousands of photos for an ongoing data base in conjunction with various national and international academic and research institutions. The shark's superior immune system and wound healing capabilities, parasites found on sharks, as well as their interaction with other marine species, are part of the comprehensive and ongoing research.

As a volunteer you will gain work experience as part of the crew on a shark cage diving boat, have opportunities to work on a dedicated ecotour/whale watching boat, and learn about shark behavior, biology and conservation. As well as having plenty of time to observe sharks from a shark cage, your time at sea in this marine wildlife rich area is likely to yield many other encounters with dolphins, whales, penguins and seals.

The project is also home to the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary which is located just a 2-minute walk away from your volunteer accommodation.  This state-of-the-art center is dedicated to the rehabilitation of African Penguins and other seabirds that are injured, oiled or sick. After a period of care and recuperation, the birds are normally fit and healthy enough to release back into the wild.

The project supports recycling and is aimed at involving local schools and the community in beach-cleanups, marine education and placing unique fishing line bin disposal units along the coast. This programme was recognised by WESSA and the Blue Flag beach programme nationwide.

As a volunteer you should have an opportunity to work with children’s groups for beach clean ups where data is collated. You may also be involved in putting together fishing line bins or helping to clean the fishing line for recycling. By removing fishing line and other litter from our beaches you are helping to save birds and animals from agonizing injuries and death.

If you are studying marine biology, there may be opportunities for you to be more involved with the research aspects. You could be assisting with observational data capture, photography, water sampling, temperature testing and more. On land you may learn how to capture data and match shark fins for population counts.

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, 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.

Arrival AirportCape Town (CPT)
Arrival DaySunday or earlier
Join Project OnMonday
DurationYou can volunteer with the Marine Conservation Project for 2 weeks or more
Volunteering HoursVariable hours, 5 to 7 days each week
Main ActivitiesShark cage diving, learning about shark behaviour, biology & ocean conservation, assisting with boat duties and helping with community projects
Fly Home OnMonday or later
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 with expert advice and assistance to ensure you are fully prepared for your trip to South Africa
Airport TransfersOne of our team will be at the airport to welcome you when you land. We will also get you back to the airport in time for your flight home
Welcome BriefYou will receive a comprehensive welcome brief shortly after you arrive
AccommodationFor your first night (Sunday night) you will stay at Ashanti Lodge in central Cape Town. At the Marine Conservation Project you will stay in comfortable volunteer accommodation close to the project HQ in Kleinbaai
FoodA basic breakfast is included at Ashanti Lodge. Breakfasts and lunches are included during your stay at the Marine Conservation Project. Evening meals are self-catering
TransportReturn transfers between Cape Town and the Marine Conservation Project are provided
OrientationOn your first day at the Marine Conservation Project you will have a full orientation
T-ShirtsTwo Marine Conservation T-Shirts and a matching Cap
In-country SupportOur Cape Town based 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
InsuranceWe have partnered with World Nomads Insurance to give you access to great value insurance for volunteers. Please check out our Insurance page under the FAQ tab for more details.

Volunteer Testimonials   |  Marine Conservation and EcoTourism Project Photos  |   Download Marine Conservation and EcoTourism Volunteer Guide

You can expect to be busy from for 5 to 7 days each week with variable hours that can be affected by the tides and prevailing sea conditions.

As we rely on good weather conditions, we recommend staying for four weeks or more to gain the most benefit out of the programme and to ensure you experience adequate sea time. You will have opportunities to shark cage dive and will be expected to assist guests during their trip with duties assigned to you while on board.

You can expect lectures by our marine biologists and expert crew on shark biology & behavior, basic seamanship, safety at sea, shark tagging & tracking, ocean conservation, data collection, and the wide range of conservation projects that you might encounter during your stay.

While working with the shark cage diving vessel you will be assisting visitors with their lifejackets and wetsuits, assisting anyone that suffers with seasickness, recording shark data and preparing & cleaning the boat.
If you are allocated to the ecotour/whale watching boat you will be assisting with lifejackets, guiding and capturing data. If you are staying for a longer period and demonstrate an enthusiastic interest in Great White Sharks, there may also be opportunities to spend time on the research vessel where you can assist with tracking activities, water sampling, chum trips and preparation & cleaning.

If you are allocated to the penguin centre, you may be involved in cleaning the birds’ pens, crates and living areas, assisting with preparing medicated fish, recording medical records and data and telling visitors about what we do. If you are staying for a minimum of 4 weeks and you want to volunteer at penguin centre regularly during your time here then you may be able to learn how to handle the birds yourself, if the rehabilitator feels that you show an aptitude for this. There may also be an opportunity to read blood slides on the microscope and to enter data onto the computer.

There may be occasional off days so should we not be at sea, in lectures or on a planned activity, then we will arrange a fun activity with hiking, snorkeling, beach walks, visiting caves, wine tasting, shopping in Hermanus and visiting a penguin colony being some of the options.

Volunteer Testimonials   |  Marine Conservation and EcoTourism Project Photos  |   Download Marine Conservation and EcoTourism Volunteer Guide

During your time with the project you will stay at a large volunteer lodge in Kleinbaai which is equipped with four cottages with room for 6 volunteers in each one.

Each cottage has a bathroom, kitchenette and living area as well as daily living essentials.

The main building has a beautiful kitchen, equipped with induction plates, a microwave and oven for cooking and a fully functional recycling system in place. There is also a very spacious living area with satellite TV, DVD player, board games, pool table and foosball. There is an activity hall with some weights and a table tennis table.

Walking or cycling to the project HQ is easy, quick and safe and will only take between 10 and 15min (1.4km). We also have 2 dedicated minibuses that are used daily for the volunteers’ transport needs.

The project HQ is the hub of the tourism activities. It is here that we brief our clients prior to each trip. This facility has a fully equipped restaurant and curio shop and two dedicated briefing rooms for clients, not to mention really great staff who make awesome coffee! There is also a Southern Right Whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling – the largest privately-owned exhibit in South Africa – as well as two dolphin skeletons.

Here are some useful things to know about the volunteer lodge:

  • You can expect to be sharing with volunteers from around the world
  • The lodge and chalets are fully furnished
  • All bed linen is provided and washed on a weekly basis
  • We provide ingredients for a help-yourself breakfast at the lodge (tea, coffee, eggs, bacon/vegetarian sausage, bread, cereals and milk) and a light lunch will be provided aboard the vessels (sandwich, fruit and crisps). Should you be doing other activities, you may be responsible for your own lunch. Evening meals and other entertainment are at your own expense.
  • There is a Satellite TV and a DVD player
  • You will have free Wi-Fi at the lodge (bring your laptop and/or phone)
  • The lodge has a large swimming pool and garden
  • The main house has a very spacious living area with a pool table & table tennis for entertainment
  • There is also a communal indoor BBQ and kitchen area
  • A laundry service is available twice weekly for your personal items at approximately R20 per kilo
  • Lockable under bed storage for your suitcase/clothing (bring a small padlock for this)
  • There are bicycles for your personal use
  • Each cottage has a safe

Volunteer Testimonials   |  Marine Conservation and EcoTourism Project Photos  |   Download Marine Conservation and EcoTourism Volunteer Guide

The project is located in Kleinbaai, a small harbour town just over 2-hours drive from Cape Town in South Africa.

We have arrival dates for this project every Sunday throughout the year.

  • You should aim to arrive in Cape Town on or before your chosen Sunday 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
  • On Monday morning we will transfer you to Kleinbaai by minibus
  • When you arrive in Kleinbaai, one of the project team will be there to welcome you and help you get settled in.

It’s easy to add extra nights to your stay, so if you find a cheaper flight that arrives earlier than your Sunday 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

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2 weeks - £ 1150
3 weeks - £ 1590
4 weeks - £ 1900
6 weeks - £ 2660
8 weeks - £ 3400
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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