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South Africa Elephant Sanctuary

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South Africa Elephant Sanctuary

Care for and protect South Africa’s mighty elephants as you make a valuable contribution towards their conservation while taking your time to explore the spectacular Rainbow Nation

Prices from US$1,545

Visit South Africa – a "Rainbow Nation" that combines modern culture with an ancient landscape that is simply breathtaking. South Africa has evolved over thousands of years to become the biologically and culturally diverse nation that it is today and attracts thousands of visitors a year to its wide, sandy beaches and cosmopolitan cities and of course the dramatic natural monument that is Table Mountain.

If you have a passion for animal conservation, or just love elephants then this project is perfect for you. You will get up close and personal with these friendly giants in a way that very few people have the opportunity to do – caring for and observing these magnificent creatures in their own environment. The experience will leave you feeling humbled and inspired as you support and make your own crucial contribution to their conservation.



  • Help care for one of the most beautiful animals on the planet
  • Contribute towards valuable conservation research
  • Discover the world famous ‘Garden Route’ of South Africa


  • Minimum age of 18 years


Location Western Cape, South Africa
Activities Observe and record elephant behaviour
Assist guides with tours
Help educate visitors
Clean and maintain elephant enclosures
Transport Airport pick-up (depending on arrival time)
Accommodation Volunteer bunkhouse


Before you go Pre-departure support & documentation
Travel & medical advice & documentation
Advice on visas and equipment
Discounted medical kit
Free Frontier t-shirt
In-country Accommodation
Airport pick-up & transfer to project (depending on arrival time)
Project orientation and training
In-country emergency support
24-hour international HQ back-up


A variety of qualifications are available on many of our projects. For example, BTEC certificates and diplomas on our Group conservation projects and TEFL certificates and BTECs on most of our teaching projects. You may also be able to gain a CoPE to support your university application. For more information on these qualifications, please see the qualifications section of our website or ask your volunteer advisor.


The vulnerability of elephant populations around the world is something widely acknowledged as a result of which many conservation initiatives have been set up to protect this mighty and magnificent animal. However, despite the large scale conservation efforts across much of the globe the opposite has occurred in South Africa. As a result of increasing population numbers over the last few decades, the country now considers itself to be facing the challenge of too many elephants. This overpopulation has led to the culling of many elephants, sadly leaving many more orphaned and unable to fend for themselves. Fortunately a number of reserves have been set up in order to rescue orphaned or threatened elephants from further harm. However, these sanctuaries only have limited capacity, which restricts the number of animals that they can help. 

You will provide vital support to nature reserve staff, who will appreciate the extra pair of hands helping to care for their resident elephants. You will also make a significant contribution to the reserve’s research goals, which focus on the welfare and management of captive elephants in South Africa. 


Your time at the park and the work you do will vary depending on the needs of the animals. No need to worry though as the elephants will definitely keep you busy! As a volunteer you will get involved in all aspects of running the park, including research, marketing, events, maintenance, guiding, education and more. 

Daily tasks may include maintaining and cleaning enclosures, preparing food for the elephants and maybe even preparing milk and feeding the baby elephants if there are some in the park at the time of your visit. You will also be asked to help out with any marketing or advertising campaigns which the park wants to implement. You will support staff in educating visitors about the current environmental issues facing South Africa and the vital role of conservation in the preservation of fragile species and ecosystems. 

Your main responsability is to observe and record the elephants out in the field. You will devote much of your time to assisting the research team in their studies. You will collect data and monitor behaviour on some of the following: social interactions between elephants, night time observations, interactions between the elephants and visitors, plant surveys and feeding behaviour. Your contribution will assist in improving the welfare and management of captive elephants in South Africa. 

During the day you will tend to work the same hours as the elephants – up early and finishing around 5:30pm. The days will be long and sometimes tough, but the rewards for your dedication will certainly be worth it. You will start to feel something very special when the elephants begin to recognise and trust you.


You will fly into George Airport, which is just a short flight from Cape Town international airport. Upon arrival you will receive a warm welcome from one of the friendly project staff who will then accompany you to the sanctuary. 

Please arrive at George Airport on the first or third Monday of the month between 11.30am and 3.45pm.


Throughout your placement, you will be living at the park’s very own volunteer ‘bunkhouse’ where you will share a room and bathroom with your fellow volunteers. The rooms will be traditional and comfortable, ensuring that you have a relaxing environment to return to after a hard day’s work. Laundry facilities will also be available for you to use – something you’ll find necessary after spending long days in the field! Chill out in the evenings on the terrace and witness spectacular views overlooking the park and dam as the sun sets.


You will be responsible for your own food for the duration of your project. The volunteer bunkhouse has a fully equipped kitchen, which includes a stove, fridge, kettle and microwave for you to use. Shopping trips will be arranged weekly for you to buy supplies or you may even decide to visit the park’s restaurant every so often and experience local speciality African food.

Ten Most Recent Reviews for This Project

Challenging, eye-opening but most of all fun!  | 19 Nov 2019
The time I spent at the park was one of the most positive and rewarding experiences of my li...

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I chose The South Africa Elephant Sanctuary Project because it had been recommended by a friend w...

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All in all, an unforgettable experience!  | 17 Nov 2019
The time I spent at the park was one of the most positive and rewarding experiences of my life, s...

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You should have the majority of your weekends free to explore the ‘Garden Route’, globally renowned for its stunning scenery and mild, comfortable climate. You could visit the nearby bird and primate sanctuaries for an uplifting experience with some of South Africa’s indigenous species. The area also has a number of nature reserves where you can encounter Africa’s ‘Big 5’ (elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard) in their natural habitat, as well as over 150 other species of game and birdlife. There are also whale and dolphin watching trips which depart most days from the main beach. If you are an adventure and adrenaline junkie, you may like to bungy jump off one of the world’s highest bungy bridges or explore the Tsitsikamma rainforest from up high, as you scale the heights on steel cables suspended 30m from the forest floor. Alternatively, if you want to up the thrill factor, you can even sky dive, free-falling over one of the most beautiful drop zones in the world.  


3 weeks US$1,545

Extra week US$395


Please arrive for between 12.00pm and 15.0pm at George Airport, as this is when we do airport pick-ups.


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3 weeks +

Projects will conclude on Mondays and return flights should be booked from 12.00pm onwards.


Before you go

  • Pre-departure support & documentation
  • Travel & medical advice & documentation
  • Advice on visas & equipment
  • Discounted medical kit
  • Free Frontier t-shirt


  • Accommodation
  • Airport pick-up & transfer to project (depending on arrival time)
  • Project orientation & training
  • In-country emergency support
  • 24-hour international HQ back-up


Nearest airport(s): George (GRJ)


  • Flights
  • Visas
  • Insurance

For detailed information on flights, visas and insurance, click here.


Please read our legal statement regarding the running of NGO projects.

To apply for this placement, click on "Apply Now" below. Fill in the short application form and one of our advisers will then call you back to answer any questions and make sure this is the perfect placement for you. Applying doesn't cost a penny and you won't pay anything until you're completely happy and you're ready to reserve your place.

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