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South Africa Orca Conservation Project

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South Africa Orca Conservation Project

Discover the renowned Garden Route while participating in marine conservation, research and local education initiatives in Plettenberg Bay!

Prices from US$1,745

Often referred to as the Rainbow Nation as a result of its great cultural diversity South Africa is one of the most multifaceted countries in the world. It plays host to a vast multi cultural society, with a mishmash of cuisines from all over the world and 11 official languages! With Kruger National Park, the Cape of Good Hope and the awe-inspiring Table Mountain, South Africa has a varied and vibrant array of wildlife and natural geography that has inspired travellers and entranced locals for centuries.

This project takes place in Plettenberg Bay, a fashionable eco tourism hotspot and a beach lover’s paradise located along the heart of the stunning Garden Route. Home to some of the world’s most fascinating marine species, including humpback whales, bryde’s whales, orcas, bottlenose dolphins and even the odd great white shark, this project is perfect for anyone looking to catch a glimpse of one of the ocean's most wanted.

If you have a passion for marine wildlife and habitats or want to gain valuable experience in marine research and conservation, this will be the perfect project for you. If you’re just looking to learn a little more about marine ecosystems, try the two week project and learn transferrable skills in research and data collection – you can even earn a qualification in marine animal care!



  • Catch a glimpse of orcas, bottlenose dolphins and humpback whales!
  • Participate in hands on marine research activities
  • Help educate local children through conservation programmes
  • Explore the world renowned Garden Route!


Location Plettenberg Bay, South Africa
Activities Whale and dolphin data capture
Analysing river health
Tag and release fishing
Aquarium maintenance
Beach clean-up
Alien tree removal
Marine bird rehabilitation
Turtle rehabilitation
School education programmes
Transport Volunteers must make their way to the volunteer house
Accommodation Shared volunteer house


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
3 meals a day 5 days per week
Transfers during working hours on the programme
24-hour 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.


This project aims to focus on research and education regarding the diverse dolphin and whale species in the Plettenberg Bay area as well as environmental conservation and monitoring. Plettenberg Bay is located along the Garden Route of South Africa and is home to an abundance of rare and unique wildlife and fragile ecosystems that need to be protected to maintain their biodiversity. Carrying out research and analysis of the local marine and terrestrial environment is a vital component in the ongoing preservation of this spectacular region. By collecting data about the marine wildlife, including whales, dolphins, birds and fish, you will be helping researchers better to understand the state of the rivers and the bay and determine the health of the ecosystem.


Activities on this project will vary depending on the time of year and the needs of the research centre, but no matter when you go, the work will be very much hands on and you’ll have an unforgettable experience. No day will be the same in Plettenberg Bay – some will involve more rigorous physical work such as tank maintenance at the centre, whilst others will move at a more leisurely pace. Be prepared to adapt though – daily schedules can change at a moment’s notice if an exciting opportunity comes along!

Your working week will be Monday-Friday, from 8.30 to 16.30. Tasks that you may be asked to carry out could include:

  • Assisting research teams out on the ocean
  • Tag and release fishing
  • Animal rehabilitation
  • Aquarium maintenance
  • Bait collection
  • Fin profiling and spatial distribution
  • Tree planting and alien tree removal
  • Beach clean up
  • Local school conservation education

The contribution that you make during this project will be vital for the upkeep of ongoing studies and wildlife analysis. You will have a unique, once in a lifetime opportunity to observe some of the most mesmerising marine species in the world while participating in important conservation and community development work.

You will have the evenings and weekends free to explore and get to know the area you’re staying in. In the week, you can pop in to the lively town centre for dinner with your fellow volunteers. At the weekends, take a stroll down the endless stretches of unspoilt beaches, take a hike through the towering forests or discover hidden lagoons in the peninsula – the possibilities for exploration in and along the Garden Route are endless. If you’re in the mood for something a little more adrenaline-inducing, you could try your hand at surfing, skydiving or bungee jumping for a little extra cost!


You will fly in to one of South Africa’s major cities of Cape Town or Johannesburg, where you can take a connecting internal flight to the city of George. From George, you will need to make your own way to the volunteer house by bus. Alternatively, we can arrange for an airport transfer from George at an additional cost of around $60 USD.


You will be staying in a volunteer house with up to 11 other volunteers depending on the season. Bedrooms are shared, with no more than 4 people to a room, and the house has bathrooms. Laundry facilities are available and, to conserve energy and water, a communal wash is done several times a week. Wi-Fi is available so that you are welcome to bring your laptop or tablet.

The house is situated close to a shopping centre, which includes shops, restaurants and a cinema and is in walking distance of the beach.


Most meals are provided for you during your stay. Basic food is provided in the house for you to make your own meals in the morning or for when you need to bring a packed lunch. Evening meals will be prepared for you 5 nights a week, though you are also welcome to eat out at one of the many local restaurants close by. Look forward to an eclectic mix of cuisines from African to Italian to French – even the picky eater is guaranteed to be impressed!

Ten Most Recent Reviews for This Project

The time I had on the Orca conservation project was truly amazing, I gained many new experiences ...

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BEST 6 WEEKS OF MY LIFE  | 17 Nov 2019
The best 6 weeks of my life so far were spent in the absolutely beautiful continent of South Afri...

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First Aid for Stranded Marine Animals

If you decide to stay for just 2 weeks, how about completing this entry level course in animal care? Don’t worry if you have no experience, as it has been structured for beginners who are simply keen to learn more about marine conservation.

Marine Guiding Programme

If you choose to stay for at least 4 weeks, you can complete a Marine Guiding programme, which is an entry level, nationally accepted qualification. It requires 2 weeks of theory work, and 2 weeks of practical work and is a fantastic opportunity that offers the chance to gain a number of transferable skills.

Talks and Presentations

Throughout your time in South Africa there will be lots of chances to go to talks from experienced field professionals and scholars at the centre. Topics can range from dolphin and whale behaviour to research methods and are definitely worth attending.

Diving Courses and Other Extras

Plettenberg Bay and the surrounding area offers up a plethora of activities for your free time, including diving courses with the local dive school, scuba diving, riding with elephants, swimming with seals, horseback safaris and animal sanctuaries. These will come at an extra cost, but as a volunteer you can get a discount on many of them – so be sure to make the most of it and go make some memories!


2 weeks US$1,745

3 weeks US$2,495

4 weeks US$3,295

5 weeks US$3,995

6 weeks US$4,795


January – November


From 2 weeks to 12 weeks

Project is full from 1st of June till 30th of September


Before you go

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


  • Accommodation
  • 3 meals a day 5 days per week
  • Transfers during working hours on the programme
  • In-country emergency support
  • 24-hour international HQ back-up


Nearest airport(s): George (GRJ), Johannesburg (JNB), Cape Town (CPT)


  • 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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