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South Africa Elephant Sanctuary

  • In Brief
  • The Project
  • What to Expect
  • Reviews
  • Gallery
  • Extras
  • Dates & Costs
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How To Apply

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Find out more about South Africa

Start your adventure now by reading our country guide for South Africa!


Frontier Partner Projects

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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.

  

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS

  • 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

PROJECT REQUIREMENTS

  • Minimum age of 18 years
Airport Pickup Emergency Hotel Research Terrestrial Wildlife Wildlife Encounter Free Time Family
FAST FACTS
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
 

WHAT'S INCLUDED
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
 

WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?

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. 

WHAT WILL I BE DOING?

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 assisting the guides during daily tours, 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. 

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.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I ARRIVE?

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.

WHERE WILL I BE STAYING?

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.

WHAT WILL I BE EATING?

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.

Challenging, eye-opening but most of all fun!  | 29 May 2016
The time I spent at the park was one of the most positive and rewarding experiences of my li...

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All in all, an unforgettable experience!  | 19 Mar 2016
The time I spent at the park was one of the most positive and rewarding experiences of my life, s...

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THIS PROJECT IS SO WORTHWHILE  | 17 Mar 2016
I chose The South Africa Elephant Sanctuary Project because it had been recommended by a friend w...

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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.  

COSTS

3 weeks £ 899

Extra week £ 215

DEPARTURE DATES

Please arrive between 11.30am and 3.45pm at George Airport.

2017

20th March - Fully Booked

10th April - Fully Booked

1st May - Fully Booked

22nd May - Fully Booked

12th June - Fully Booked

3rd July - Fully Booked

24th July - Fully booked   

14th August - Fully Booked

4th September - 7 spaces left   

25th September - 7 spaces left  

16th October - 8 spaces left

6th November - 6 spaces left

27th November - 8 spaces left   

18th December - 6 spaces left   

2018

8th January

29th January

19th February

12th March

2nd April

23rd April

14th May

4th June

25th June

16th July

6th August

27th August

17th September

8th October

29th October

19th November

10th December

DURATION

3 weeks +

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

WHAT’S INCLUDED?

Before you go

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

In-country

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

AIRPORT INFORMATION

Nearest airport(s): George (GRJ)

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

Flights

Flights are not included in our project costs. However, Frontier have partnered with an experienced and professional team of travel experts to help our volunteers find the best flight deals for their trips with Frontier. This travel specialist operates in the tailor-made, long haul multi-stop travel market, arranging complex airfares and transfers for independent travellers. They provide expertise, security and a vast product range along with a Travel Butler service which is a single point of contact and support whilst you are overseas.

Visas

For fast, efficient and up-to-date visa advice please contact our recommended visa consultancy partner:

Depending on your destination country and your country of origin, you might require a visa. Please see the appropriate country consular website for details or contact our affiliate visa consultancy service. Please note that your visa will usually start on the date that you enter the destination country regardless of when it was issued. Please check with the relevant embassy or high commission. If you are purchasing your visa or paying entry/exit fees in-country you will probably need to pay in US Dollars. If you have any questions please consult the relevant embassy or high commission. Please check the visa information regularly, as changes often happen without warning.

Insurance

You'll need to buy appropriate travel insurance covering your participation on the project. You won't be able to go without the right travel insurance so double check to avoid disappointment. Please make sure that you're covered for the whole duration of your trip – from the day you leave the UK to the day you return. It's also best to get your travel insurance at the same time as paying the deposit for your project. Depending on your policy, this will cover you for any unexpected cancellations.

Your insurance should include the following:

  • Medical cover, including medical emergencies and medical evacuations (up to USD$3,000,000 / GBP£2,000,000);
  • Personal liability (up to USD$1,500,000 / GBP£1,000,000);
  • Cancellation and curtailment of your trip (up to the value of your project contribution).

If you are going to be scuba diving you should get coverage for scuba diving up to 30m, including hyperbaric therapy treatment (unlimited). You should consider obtaining insurance to cover you for any additional activities which you plan to do during, before, or after your Frontier project. We recommend that you obtain cover for your baggage and personal effects.


LEGAL STATEMENT
Frontier Partner Projects and Frontier group projects are run in partnership with in-country NGOs, small community based organisations, local research institutes, academic organisations and conservation agencies. Project descriptions and information are supplied directly by our partners or field staff and are accurate at time of publishing.

We aim to keep information up to date and accurate, however, the nature of our projects and in particular the fact that they are constantly evolving and developing in response to changing needs means that project activities, travel schedules, tour itineraries and daily timetables can change overnight and without notice.

To apply for this project, or to register your interest, just click on the orange "Apply Now!" button at the top of the menu. Fill out and submit a short application form and then one of our advisors will give you a call back to answer any questions and to progress your application if you wish to continue.

There is no obligation when making an application, and you do not need to pay anything at this point.