Penguin and Seabird Project in South Africa

Volunteer with Penguins and help protect this endangered species

As you volunteer at the rescue centre for seabirds in South Africa, you work side by side with wildlife specialists. The help of volunteers is essential for the successful rescue, rehabilitation and release of seabird species. You support the capture, feeding and animal care as well as the maintenance of the enclosures. Your efforts make a huge difference to a species who's numbers are in drastic decline and which require support to thrive.

All Accommodation Included (Host Family or Shared Volunteer House)
Full Volunteer Placement of 6+ Weeks
Every Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included
Airport Pickup & Transfer Included
Private Apartment Upgrade Available
Complete Pre-Departure Travel Preparation
Full In-Country Orientation
Weekly Start Dates
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The Project

The Issue

Due to their population decreasing by 90% in the last 60 years, the African penguin is now one of the world’s endangered species. Commercial fishing is a major cause, due to the penguins being left with very little food to find, oil pollution is a contributor and lack of protected breeding grounds results in penguin parents struggling to protect their eggs and hatchlings from big cats, birds of prey and fur seals.

The Rehabilitation Centre

The penguin and seabird project in Cape Town is in a lagoon area, about 15 minutes from the city centre. The rehabilitation centre is an important sanctuary for various species of seabirds, including the extremely endangered African penguins, albatrosses, petrels and skuas. You’ll work closely with other volunteers from around the world, as well as local veterinarians and rehabilitation workers, to find animals, treat them and release them back into the wild. The centre is split into different areas, so you may find yourself working indoors helping the animals who are being treated, or you may be outside working along the seashore.

Types of skills
  • Energetic
  • Friendly
  • Outgoing
  • Driven
  • Animal Lover
Types of Tasks
  • Feeding Penguins
  • Cleaning
  • Monitoring
  • Helping with the Habitat
  • Assisting Existing Team
Age Range & Requirements

Age Range

We are able to take applicants who are aged 18+, and although we do not set any upper limit on age, it is important to check if you're eligible for a visa with the relevant immigration authorities.


You must be an energetic and friendly person, who has a real passion for working with animals. A background or education in working with animals is beneficial, but not essential.


Both the projects and the accommodations are based in and around Cape Town, South Africa. You'll always be within an easy distance of accessible public transport, which will get you directly to your project, if you live a little further away.

Duration & Availability


Volunteer placements are available from 6 weeks up to 12 weeks. If you require longer than the 10 weeks available on the registration and booking form, please speak to our team and we'll happily discuss the duration with you and get it sorted for you.


Understandably, there are a few 'down' times, where there may be public holidays or religious dates, where no work will happen. This will affect arrival dates, but if you're in the country on project already, it will simply mean that it will result in some down time until the project starts back up.

Accommodation & Meals


In Cape Town, the choice of accommodation is up to you, depending on what you want to get our the experience. Your options are: A Host Family, Shared Volunteer House, or for an additional supplement, a private apartment (you are welcome to select your preferred choice of accommodation, subject to availability). A host family really gets you to experience 'the real South Africa', where you'll be interacting with your South African host family on a daily basis and joining them for family meals. The Shared Volunteer House brings the volunteers together to live under one roof, where you can meet other people at the projects. There are multiple bedrooms and the home comforts you'd expect, including electricity, wifi, showers and more. The private apartment is, quite literally that, a private apartment! This can be shared with up to 3 other people, if you're traveling with friends.


You'll certainly fully fed during your stay at either a host family or the shared volunteer house! You'll eat in a similar way to the locals and the local cuisine, so expect to get to know new foods and delicacies! If you do have any dietary requirements, please let us know about them as far in advance as possible, and we will do our best to accommodate them, or we will inform you if the local area can't.

Airport Transfer

As part of the programme, there is an airport transfer to first nights accommodation included. So you'll have one of the friendly RGV South Africa team there to welcome you at the airport!

Work Clothing

Latex work wear is provided (allergy sufferers should consult with the attending physician). It is also important to bring some clothing that covers knees and arms, which is at times expected in certain areas due to local culture and customs. However, most of the time, you'll be completely fine with shorts and t-shirts.


Most of the work takes place outside under the South African sun.

Documentation - What do I need?

There are certain pieces of documentation that RGV require during the application process, to ensure you're a suitable applicant to work at one of our projects. They are:

  • Copy of Passport - A pretty standard request for all volunteer companies!

  • Letter of Motivation - This is a one page letter stating why you want to do the programme. The people that use these projects need it's support, so it's super important we send committed and determined volunteers, who really want to make an impact.

  • CV - This just gives us a bit of a better understanding of your background and your past work roles, as again, this is a work placement and not a vacation!

  • Criminal Background Check - With nearly all of our projects, you'll interact with either children or wildlife, so an up-to-date (within 3 months of departure) clean, criminal background check is required. We suggest ICPC, as it is internationally recognised.

  • Travel Insurance - Travel insurance tends to be mandatory for most visas, and we also require it to ensure that you are completely covered in case of emergencies.

  • Flight Itinerary - We need to know when you arrive! By having this, we can keep up to date with where you're at. If you need help with flights, we will happily point you in the right direction.

What's Included

Pre-Departure Prep & In-Country Orientation

Before you even depart, our friendly UK team will take you through every step of the process, from answering your questions about the programme, through to adivsing you where to go for your visa. We are here to help you and to ensure that you feel totally comfortable (and prepared!) before departing.

For your volunteer work in South Africa, you will land directly in Cape Town. Here you will be welcomed at the airport by a member of our RGV team South Africa (you will recognise each other by your RGV T-shirts!). From here we drive you directly to the RGV office in Cape Town. The drive from the airport is already a first small highlight; through a beautiful backdrop, you get closer and closer to Table Mountain. The rest of the day is used to move into your accommodation and get to know your new surroundings.

To better understand your new environment, your stay begins with an orientation. As soon as you arrive, we will give you your South Africa starter package which includes a city map, SIM card, and other useful things to make your stay easier. During a workshop in the RGV office, you will learn more about your destination country and its inhabitants. Culture, country and people as well as current events and recent history of the country will be the subject of this discussion. Our team will introduce you to the Cape Town slang and give you valuable safety, transportation, money tips and so on. In addition, you will explore Cape Town on a guided city bus tour with other newly arrived participants.

Your program will start with an introduction day, and then you will get straight to work. You will be given a plan by your contact, and then you will be sent off to explore the site. In your first few days of service you will likely be working inside the centre, with the injured or sick animals. You may be preparing food, cleaning the animal housing, pools and other areas.

Accommodation & Meals

If you choose one of our volunteer houses, it definitely won't be boring! In our volunteer houses, you live together with up to 24 other RGV participants in shared rooms. In addition to our large volunteer house, we also have two smaller houses with up to 12 residents. Two of the houses are solely for female volunteers. You and your roommates have a fully equipped kitchen and a sufficient number of bathrooms. In addition, all volunteer homes have a living room or a lounge and a garden where you can relax, all with stable WiFi. All of our volunteer homes are easily accessible by public transport. The city centre is about 30 minutes away by public transport.

Our host families are very welcoming and open up their home for you to stay during your volunteer work. The homes are comfortable with electricity and running water. In addition, you get breakfast and a dinner here every day! Also, you are not usually housed alone as a volunteer, but you share the accommodation with one to five other participants. Internet connection or Wi-Fi is only available in a few host families. If you need internet, you can get a prepaid SIM card with mobile data. The advantages of living with a host family is that you get a deeper insight into the culture and lifestyle of the local people. Most host family houses are closer to the project because our team will place you near, when possible.

In addition to our volunteer homes, we can provide accommodation in private apartments for an additional charge. If you like something a little quieter and do not want to live with a host family, this is the place for you. The fully equipped apartments accommodate up to four people sharing a kitchen, living room and bathroom. When you register, you can tell us your desired accommodation. However, if this is already fully booked during your stay, we count on your flexibility and place you in alternative accommodation.

Meet the RGV South Africa Team

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Our RGV team in South Africa consists of team leader Jemaine, his siblings Cindy and Chad, and the two permanent employees Essie and Mina. Jemaine's wife Verena also supports the team and organises social events for our participants.

Jemaine's family comes from the townships of Cape Town. He has worked in the travel industry for many years. Verena knows RGV founder Steffen as they underwent teacher training together. During your stay, the RGV team will be your first point of contact for all questions and concerns, but our host families are also part of the extended RGV team!

Our lively South Africa team is looking forward to welcoming you to the Rainbow Family!


Total Cost: £1249 (6 weeks)

Additional Weeks Cost: £150 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.

What's Included
  • Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
  • Airport Pickup
  • 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
  • Travel Insurance
  • Criminal Background Check

Enquire about volunteering at the penguin project in South Africa


Don't Just Take Our Word For It...

Our programmes have been running for many years now, and we've had countless numbers of happy and inspired applicants join us in making an impact. The best way of understanding our projects are through the words of our previous volunteers, so check out a few of their experiences below!

"My Volunteering with Penguins Near Cape Town"

Annika S.
As Annika says, "penguins are, and always will be funny", but learning about animal behaviour was a key component of her stay in Cape Town. Read through her report and see what contributed to her having an amazing time.

"Report on My 5 Month Stay in Cape Town"

Elisa E.
Elisa "fell in love with Cape Town" because of the "way people live and the general atmopshere", so have a look at her own words to understand why.

"Helping with Rescued Penguins in Cape Town"

In his report, Lucas covers his daily routine whilst in South Africa, and why the project was a great move for him.


Penguin and Seabird Project in South Africa
from £1,249 6 weeks

Volunteer House in Cape Town

RGV Host Families in Cape Town

RGV Apartment in Cape Town

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