South Africa Monkey Sanctuary
2-12 weeks from £489
- Help care for and nurse injured monkeys back to health
- Get hands-on experience caring for wild animals, carrying out research, and assisting on animal releases
- Work with a dedicated team of expert animal carers and learn about South Africa’s amazing wildlife
- Meet a whole bunch of likeminded people and make friends for life on this unforgettable experience
- Take part in some fantastic optional activities, and go on safari at Kruger National Park
- Become part of the team, which is more like a family, and have the best time making some great memories
Prepare to have your heart stolen (as well as glasses and even items of clothing) when you visit the cheeky residents and inspiring team at our monkey rehabilitation centre in beautiful South Africa. An unforgettable experience, you’ll get to help with every aspect of animal care when you join this programme, from building enclosures and caring for injured animals, to bottle-feeding baby monkeys and taking the troops out for walks – although they’d probably rather just climb onto you while you do all the legwork! You’ll be given proper training by the passionate and devoted team, so you’ll be well-equipped for giving all the animals at the centre the care and attention they need to be successfully released back into the wild. A truly remarkable and rewarding experience, don’t be surprised if, like many past volunteers, you end up going back for more!
Interested and want to find out more? Download more trip information and detailed itinerary HERE!
What to expect at the project
Flying into Phalaborwa Airport (also known as Hendrik Van Eck Airport), you’ll be met by a member of the team who will drive you to the rehabilitation sanctuary where your accommodation is located. Depending on the time you get to the centre, you’ll be introduced to the fantastic team and founders, as well as your fellow volunteers and a few of the cheeky residents.
Your work at the centre will vary from day to day and you’ll get the opportunity to work in different areas, from feeding and handling baby monkeys (dependent on whether there are babies at the centre at the time), taking monkey troops out on bush walks, cleaning out enclosures, repairing and maintaining buildings, or planting and gathering food crops – there’s a lot involved in the care of wild animals, so don’t head out to this project thinking it’s all cuddles and play time (although there is an element of this) – giving these little monkeys the right care is hard work, but so incredibly rewarding.
The team are all expert animal handlers, and have been doing this work for a long time, so you’ll learn lots about the animals and South Africa. There are some excellent optional excursions organised for volunteer groups, and you’ll get to explore the best bits of your beautiful surroundings in your own time.
Do bear in mind that you’ll be getting your hands dirty at this project, in fact hands, hair, clothes, shoes – everything will get dirty, so wear practical, inexpensive clothes you don’t mind getting torn, dusty, muddy, or wet, tie long hair back and be prepared to have inquisitive monkeys tugging at hair and limbs a lot, and well, just try and be as practical as possible – animals don’t care about valuables or how you look!
Day in the life
Looking after the animals at the rehabilitation centre is a round-the-clock job, so check with the team to find out when and where they need you most. You could be asked to do a number of tasks, which typically include: morning and afternoon feeds that involve unloading and preparing food before delivering crates of food to the enclosures, bottle-feeding baby monkeys and other animals (depending on the animals in the centre at the time) and monitoring their food intake, scrubbing and disinfecting enclosures to prevent illness, working in the clinic and observing animal surgery, helping to care for injured animals, harvesting crops and indigenous plants to supplement the animals’ diets, carrying out important research and data collection to help inform future care and release, taking the monkeys on walks to the river to help prepare them for life in the wild, building and repairing enclosures. Depending on when you go, you might even witness and be able to assist during a troop release, although these happen at different times throughout the year and are not guaranteed to coincide with your trip.
You’ll have three meals each day (some of which you’ll need to prepare yourself), and have the opportunity to buy snacks on local shopping trips. There aren’t specific set hours for work, and everyone is expected to help out as and when required, come rain or shine, but you will have plenty of time to relax – and although the workload is plentiful, it’s fun and you’ll spend your days with other volunteers, the team at the centre, and of course adorably cheeky monkeys and other animals. Typically, Saturdays and Sundays are seen as rest days (as long as the animals have been fed), and are earmarked for fun and excursions. You’ll be able to head into town a couple of times during the week, and on Fridays the group usually heads off to the local pub for dinner (this is optional and not included in the cost of your trip).
Purpose and aim of the programme and how do you benefit the programme
The rehabilitation centre was established in 1994 after realising a need for (and distinct lack of) care facilities for injured and abandoned vervet monkeys and other primates. Over the years, the centre has taken in a huge number of animal residents, often turning up on their doorstep as unwanted pets, having lost their appeal to their owners as they’ve grown from cute fluffy babies into wild adult animals, and others are found injured or orphaned in the wild. The centre aims to care for and nurse all of its residents back to full health, with a highly regarded rehabilitation programme to reintroduce them to their natural surroundings in the wild, which they have successfully done countless times. Your role at the centre will be to carry out any job to help make this happen, whether you’re feeding the animals, cleaning out and maintaining enclosures, or carrying out research.
This is a fantastic programme to join whether you’re looking to work in animal care in the future, have an interest in conservation, or just really love animals! You’ll be given full training, to give you a good understanding of each species’ needs and to ensure you’re equipped to handle and care for the animals safely. Previous volunteers have said they’ve found the experience life-changing, and many have gone back to the project, having enjoyed it so much first time around. You’ll make lifelong friends, and work with some incredibly inspiring people.
- Airport transfers (both on arrival and departure)
- All accommodation at the centre during your programme dates
- Three meals each day, including weekends (on site only)
- Weekly traditional South African braai (BBQ)
- Learn how to make traditional South African potjie
- In-country team
- Animal care training
- Animal feeding and handling
- 24/7 emergency support
- Optional activities
You’ll be staying in very basic dorm-style volunteer huts set within the grounds of the rehabilitation centre with up to eight other volunteers – do bear in mind that the centre is out in the African bush, so facilities are pretty basic, and there will be wildlife on site other than those the centre is caring for at the time. The huts are usually split between sexes, but sometimes small groups prefer to share just one hut and all be together. If you’re travelling as a couple, separate accommodation can be arranged (subject to availability). Bedding and mosquito nets are provided but you’ll need to bring your own towel. Flush toilets and outdoor shower facilities are on site (but not always with hot running water – but cold showers are really refreshing when it’s hot!). Electricity runs throughout the site, so you’ll be able to charge phones and tablets – provided you bring a South African adaptor with you! Wifi is available between certain hours of the day, the laundry service can be used on certain days at a cost of 20R/£1.25 per load, and valuables can be kept in your locker so please ensure you bring a padlock with you.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner is provided each day and generally consists of toast, cereal, juice and coffee(with eggs, bacon, muffins, and yoghurt on occasion) for breakfast, various ingredients for you to make your own sandwiches at lunchtime, and prepared meals in the evening that include pasta, rice, meat, and vegetable dishes. On Fridays the team usually drives to the local pub and restaurant for dinner (which isn’t included in the cost of your trip), although if you prefer you can stay at the centre and use the kitchen facilities to make your own food. On Saturdays you’ll get to enjoy a traditional South African braai (BBQ) around the fire with meat, pap, and sheba, and on Sundays you’ll get to learn to make your own South African potjie. Do let us know if you have any dietary requirements when booking – there are plenty of delicious options for veggies and vegans, and the team can cater for gluten-free diets and other dietary needs as long as you let us know ahead of your trip.
To get a flight quote simply use the form below, or contact our fantastic flights team on 01892 277037.
Get A Flight Quote
You’ll need to arrange flights to Phalaborwa Airport, also known as Hendrik Van Eck Airport (PHW) to arrive on the first day of your trip. Our friendly local team will meet you at the airport to drive you to your accommodation at the project. You may find you’ll need to get a connecting flight via Johannesburg.
To arrange your flights, contact our fantastic flights team on 01892 277037 or email them at [email protected] They will be able to search for the best flight offers to your chosen destinations, so you can plan and organise your trip in one place. Just make sure you give them your full name, as stated in your passport, along with your chosen departure dates, return dates, and any other details you want to include.
It is important that once you have booked your flights you add these details to your online account or alternatively you can contact us with your departure date, the flight number and arrival time at your destination.
The minimum age for this trip is 18.
Nationals of the EU, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand don't require a visa to enter South Africa, though South African Immigration does ask that you have two completely blank consecutive pages in your passport. As long as you hold a valid passport (and a valid return ticket) you will be granted a temporary visitor's permit on arrival, allowing visitors to stay in South Africa for up to three months (90 days). You should also ensure that your passport will still be in date for six months after your return.
Do I Need To Have Experience Working With Animals?
Nope! You’ll receive all the training you need at the rehabilitation centre; all we ask is that you’re fit and healthy and have a passion for animals.
How Many Volunteers Will Be At The Project At The Same Time As Me?
Group sizes vary, but on average there are usually 10-20 volunteers at the project, with a maximum capacity of 45 during the busiest periods.
Do I Need Shots/inoculations?
We’re not qualified to offer you medical advice, so it’s a good idea to visit your GP well ahead of time to find out what inoculations you might need. Remember to tell them which countries/regions you’re travelling to and the sorts of activities you’ll be taking part in – particularly when caring for animals. You’ll also need to make sure you have enough of any prescribed medication to see you through the duration of your trip.
How Much Spending Money Should I Bring With Me?
You won’t need much spending money with you on this programme, but do remember to budget for any optional activities or excursions you’d like to go on while you’re in South Africa, and bring some money for trips into town and to the markets. Around 1000R/£60 per week should be plenty, and there are ATMs available in town, so don’t carry large amounts of money around with you.
What Optional Activities/excursions Are Available?
Depending on weather and based on a minimum of four participants taking part in the activities, you’ll have the option to. Trips and prices do change from time-to-time, so please think of this list as a guide rather than a scheduled itinerary. You can get up to date information from the team at the project. Visit the biggest Baobab in the world – a mighty tree with a circumference of 46m 250R-400R/£16-£25. Visit a local cheetah project 180R/£11. Take a heart-stopping ride on the big swing over a 65m gorge drop 285R/£18. Go on a magical safari experience at Kruger National Park (with overnight stay) 3050R/£186. Microlight flight (priced locally).
Does The Rehabilitation Centre Take Donations?
If you’d like to contribute more than just your time, the centre is always in need of specific items, which you can bring with you or get while you’re in South Africa, if you like. Here are some suggestions of bits they’re always in need of: nappies (premature size), baby bottles (normal shape 125ml or 250ml), baby teats or puppy teats, bottle brushes, unused towels, heavy-duty rubber kitchen gloves, hand brushes, pens and notepads.