Marine Animals Project in South Africa

Support animal welfare in Port Elizabeth

Get involved in the conservation of animals and nature on the coast of Port Elizabeth! As part of this project you’ll be supporting the valuable work of a foundation committed to the protection of endangered marine animals such as whales, dolphins, turtles and seabirds.

The Project

The Issues

South Africa is home to a diverse collection of animals and plants. This includes 43 species of marine mammals, which you can observe in their natural habitat. However, numerous species are threatened with extinction due to pollution or the overfishing of the oceans, caused by humans. According to the environmental organisation WWF, the white shark is now on the list of endangered species. Some whale species are also seriously endangered and these animals need our help. At the marine protection project site in Port Elizabeth, our volunteers work hard to ensure that this fascinating collection of biodiversity is preserved for future generations.

The Workplace

Your job site is a foundation near Port Elizabeth that is committed to protecting endangered marine life. Located on the shores of the Indian Ocean, it is in the middle of the world famous Garden Route region. Here you will find breath-taking landscape, with azure bays, natural sandy beaches, and dense forests. Off the coast, the Indian Ocean is home to many marine species, such as orcas, white sharks, dolphins, penguins and sea turtles. The goal is to promote the protection of marine life and nature in the region and raise awareness of animal and nature conservation, by improving on the ground education.

Your Tasks

As a volunteer in this project, you can be active in three different areas: animal and nature conservation, education and English lessons in schools, as well as research and data collection. In the area of environmental protection and nature conservation, for example, you can help rescue seabirds such as penguins or rescue stranded marine animals such as whales. You bring turtles that come to the beach for egg deposition into a protected coastal area. Furthermore, you help keep the beach clean and plant trees to protect against erosion in the coastal region. In the area of information and education, you can help to run an environmental protection programme at local pre-primary and primary schools. You educate the students about animal and nature conservation and contribute to raising awareness through fun tasks and games. You can also participate in English lessons. In the research area of the project, you and a team of oceanographers take a boat out to the open sea to observe whales and dolphins. You photograph them and collect data about their population, which you later feed into an online database. You also analyse the water quality of the surrounding rivers and the sea. To capture the population of seabirds and to investigate their behaviour, you equip the animals with numbers. In addition to these three main areas, it is also possible to help with the local leisure activities and experience tours and to work with international guests. For students there is the possibility, if desired, to carry out a small research project of their own and work with a local researcher.

The Hours

Your specific activities will depend on the season, weather conditions, and site needs, and will be discussed with you on-site. When the weather is bad, there will be indoor activities instead. You usually work from Monday to Friday from about 8:30 am to 16:00 pm. You can use your free time after work and on weekends to hit the shops in the shopping centre nearby, relax on the beach or, for those thrillseekers out there, take skydiving, abseiling or bungee jumping tours!

Volunteer Placement
Meals Included
Airport Pickup Available
Full Country Orientation
Assistance with Travel Preparation

From 18 years.


Interest in animal welfare, seaworthiness, enjoy working outdoors, teamwork.


English of a good level, Afrikaans and Isixhosa.


Port Elizabeth, South Africa.


From 2 weeks to 3 months.


Volunteer House. Please see our 'What you get' section for more information.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Airport Transfer

Airport transfer from Port Elizabeth to first nights accommodation.

Work Clothing

Comfortable clothes that can get dirty.

What You Get

For your volunteer work in the project for marine animals, you will land in Port Elizabeth or in George. Your project is located between the two airports. The on-site project team will gladly arrange your airport pick-up (not included in the initial RGV fees). You will be picked up from the airport and taken directly to your accommodation. Alternatively, you can also travel by public transport from the airports to where you will be staying. When you arrive, you will get to know your local contact people, and there will be an introduction to the project. You will be shown the whole area and will be given information about the way of working, safety instructions and house rules.

White beach, crystal clear water and the Tsitsikamma Mountains; Plettenberg Bay is not without reason in the so-called 'District of Eden'. The picturesque scenery lies on the Indian Ocean and just East of Plettenberg Bay you can see jungle and coastal areas. The Robberg peninsulas on the western side are not far away from here. As a nature reserve, they are a true paradise for their inhabitants; a seal colony! You will also see one of the largest breeding colonies of seagulls on the South African coast and until 1920, this was the location for a whaling station. Today, the big sea creatures feel very comfortable there, especially during their mating season between July and December. Depending on the time of year, you can also discover dolphins. If you're on a hike along the coastal paths, you can take a break or visit the famous Monkey Land at Keurboomstrand. There is a 128m long suspension bridge that is a favourite for many backpackers!

A note about Housing & Accommodation...

The volunteer house is located about three kilometres from your project site. Depending on the season, one to twelve volunteers are at home there. You never share your room with more than three other volunteers. A laundry room is available on site, where the housewife Teliswa takes care of the laundry several times a week. She also prepares a delicious dinner for the volunteers five times a week. From the basic foods that are freshly prepared for you, volunteers can put together a lunch or cook together. Also, breakfast is included too. Furthermore, restaurants are not lacking around your accommodation. However, you must keep in mind the costs of eating out. In the immediate vicinity is a shopping centre. Car hire and taxis (from economy to premium) are also available on weekends and in the evenings for various leisure activities.

What's Included
  • Breakfast & Dinner
  • Accommodation
  • Volunteer Placement
  • RGV Orientation
  • Personal Contact Person in RGV
  • 24Hr Emergency Number
  • Assistance with Travel Preparation
  • RGV Family T Shirt
  • Participation Certificate
  • Extensive RGV Travel Documentation
Additional fees
  • Flights (request a quote to include flights)
  • Visas & Vaccinations
  • Public Transport/Extra Transfers
  • Beverages
  • Tours/Accommodation Outside of Stay
  • Travel Insurance
  • Private Expenses
  • Airport Pickup (available for a fee)


Total Cost: £1249 (2 weeks)

Additional Weeks Cost: £440 per week (up to 12 weeks)

Initial payment consists of a £200 deposit, with the remaining balance due 8 weeks before departure. There is also an option to pay the full amount up front at time of booking.

Additional weeks can be added on through the ‘profile’ area of each applicant, which is created upon initial booking.

Types of skills
  • Energetic
  • Friendly
  • Comfortable Around Water
  • Adaptable
  • Animal Lover
Types of Tasks
  • Tracking and Monitoring
  • Feeding
  • Reporting
  • Maintenance
  • Assisting Team

Trust us - The Team

In the Marine Project, you will meet founder Tony along with Jared, who leads the project as an experienced environmentalist and marine guide. Minke is head of the research department and holds a master degree in ecology. She is always happy when she can teach you something new.

Michael is a qualified marine guide and instructor, he loves to work with new people. As a project coordinator and house manager, he always strives to make you feel at home in the volunteer house.

The good soul of the house is Tilly; without her and her cooking skills, the volunteer house would not be what it is! For you and everyone else in the project, Tilly is everyone's 'mum' away from mum!

Our Rainbow Family in South Africa welcomes you!


When should I register?

Ideally, you'll need to register at least 4-6 months before your desired departure date. Of course, short-term registrations of 1-2 months before departure are possible - but it may then be that your dream project is already full. In this case, we will try together to find a suitable alternative for you.


Lead time is especially important for the countries in which a visa has to be applied for in advance.

For medical projects as well as for internships, short term registrations are not possible.

What happens after I sign up?

Our UK team will send your registration through to the Germany headquarters as soon as possible, who will then confirm your booking as soon as possible, after liaising with the relevant in-country team. They will contact you to ensure you’re fully prepared for your stay abroad. Our headquarters in Germany has 20 years experience in organising successful stays in Africa and Asia and are more than happy to answer your questions.

What documents do I need to participate?

You'll need a few documents (which are listed below), but only once you've signed up. Our team will happily talk you through what is needed and when it is needed.

CV with photo, letter of motivation, copy of your passport (identity card is not enough), copy of your extended police certificate (no older than 3 months), simple proof of an existing health insurance abroad (name of insurance and insurance number are required), your signed code of conduct.

Is there an age limit?

You must be above 18 to make a booking through us, but there is no upper age limit set by RGV (however, you must check that you fit the required visa criteria for the country you wish to go to).

Who is my contact person at RGV?

Pre-booking, you have a customer service team in the UK. Once you have booked, you will have a dedicated contact within our RGV Head Office team in Munich.

Before you leave, you are in direct contact with one of our coordinators. You can find out about the program coordinators through our ‘The RGV Team’ page, and there is also a dedicated local team in each country.

Can I plan my volunteer work in a flexible way?

Our organisation works in the countries exclusively with our own RGV teams. That means maximum flexibility and planning freedom for you. You can choose a travel date to suit you, because we are not dependent on collection dates.

If you want to fly together with a further participant, you can inform us about this upon booking.

What is the minimum/maximum stay?

The minimum duration of volunteer work in Africa or Asia is 4 weeks for most projects (with a select few being 2 weeks) and can be extended weekly. This gives you the freedom to adjust your length of stay to what suits you.

Maximum duration of volunteer work is based on visa restrictions (Ghana: 12 months, South Africa: 6 months - up to 12 months through an extensive visa procedure, Thailand: 12 months).

Do I need a visa?

For all our destination countries, a visa is required. However, we distinguish between visas that must be issued before departure and visas that are issued automatically upon entry. Our Head Office team in Munich can guide you through every step of the way.

We have sorted our destination countries by visa type for you:

Apply for a visa before departure: • Ghana and South Africa (for over 90 days stay) • Thailand (for over 30 days stay)

Visa on entry: • South Africa (only up to 90 days) • Thailand (only up to 30 days)

What vaccinations do I need?

The required vaccinations vary widely from country to country. In the tropics, more vaccinations are needed than in the extra-tropical latitudes. In health care we recommend to use several information channels:

Consultation with the doctor, personal counseling of RGV (you benefit from our many years of practical experience in our target countries), forums and travel reports on the Internet

Attention: For the countries Ghana and Togo, you also need the yellow fever vaccination - this is obligatory upon arrival.

Do I need insurance?

The proof of a valid foreign insurance is a basic requirement for all volunteers and trainees abroad.

Can I choose my own project?

In volunteer work, you always have free choice and you can pick your dream project according to the job description - if there are still places available!

If you have signed up for a specific position and we can not offer you this position, then you can either take advantage of an alternative, or you can withdraw from your application absolutely free of charge.

Can I extend my stay when I'm there?

Yes you can, but there may be some additional costs that need to be covered. Our team in Germany can advise you of this in advance.

Can I choose my accommodation?

At locations where both options are available, you can choose whether you’d prefer to stay in a host family or in the shared volunteer house. For some places, however, only one or the other is appropriate due to the distance from the project. We will give you a recommendation as to what fits best in your case.

How are host families checked/selected?

The host families in our target countries are, in most cases, part of the family environment and circle of close friends of our local team leaders. Selection and review is regularly undertaken by our teams.

Can I share accommodation/project with a friend?

We are always happy to give our participants the opportunity to work together with friends in a project, and to also place them in the same shared accommodation. Shared occupancy requests for the project and accommodation must be indicated at the time of registration.

Since some of our countries are traditionally conservative, it is often not possible to accommodate male and female participants in the same room. However, this is country / site specific and our Head Office can talk you through the options.

When do I find out the exact project/accommodation I'm in?

No later than 4 weeks before departure, our Head Office will send you the specific location with description and associated accommodation, provided that we have your exact departure date and all necessary documents have been submitted by you in good time.

In exceptional cases, it may take a little longer to confirm your project and your accommodation - for example, if the internship placement is particularly complicated, for special project wishes or changed conditions on site. You can always ask us for the current status of your placement.

How will I prepare for my time abroad?

In addition to the extensive information material that you receive, our coordination team in Germany is always there to help you with advice and answers.

Do you have a packing list/info sheet?

You will receive a travel ABC (our complete travel guide) from us before your departure. It contains everything you need to know about your trip, specific to your destination country.

Why do I have to call RGV 3 days before departure?

This phone call is important to discuss last points and to coordinate the progress of your trip and arrival in your destination country. For example, it will explain where you will be picked up from your destination airport and brought into your project.

Will I meet other volunteers?

Yes you will! You will generally meet a range of volunteers who come from Europe at each project.

Can I travel on the weekends?

Almost all of our participants are very active in their free time and use the weekends to travel! Nobody should travel alone, there is no need, as at most locations there are always several participants on site, so you can go on tour together. Our local teams have plenty of insider tips for you and are happy to advise you on organisational issues, such as public transport.

Can I travel after my project?

Yes, you should always plan your travel for the time after your project work, so that you can concentrate fully on your work during the placement. You have to pay attention to the expiry date of your visa. This is the perfect time to enjoy breathtaking nature, diverse wildlife and unforgettable experiences.

Do I book additional activities in advance, or in country?

Most additional services can also be booked flexibly on site, as well as in advance.

Is there internet?

Often there is Wi-Fi in our accommodation, but might not be at the speeds you’re used to in western countries. If this is not available, the mobile network is developed enough in order to browse the internet. SIM cards can be bought very cheaply near all accommodations and come with some great data passes (your team leaders can give you tips here).

What happens if I have a problem when there?

In your destination country, our RGV teams will assist you with all your problems. If your problem can not be solved with the help of the team leaders on site, contact the RGV team in Munich.

How much money should I take?

We have already covered most of the costs with your contribution. Nevertheless, you should plan additional costs of an average of 75 to 125 pounds per week. The biggest additional costs usually arise from your own personal expenses, as well as your leisure time activities.

Here is a list of possible additional costs on site:

• Private expenses • Leisure activities • Use of public transport or rental vehicle (during the week to the project and back to the accommodation, or on weekends for travel) • Extension of your visa • Telephone costs (prepaid)

What rules are there?

With your RGV registration, you will receive important behavioral guidelines to follow. You should also adapt to country-specific practices so as not to appear rude. For example, in Africa and Asia, it is particularly important to treat older people with respect.

Will I receive a certificate of participation?

Yes, after your successful participation in an RGV project, you will receive a confirmation of participation.

Marine Animals Project in South Africa
from £1,249 2 weeks

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