Great White Shark & Whale Conservation
Volunteer aboard the shark cage dive boats!
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Group Size: Avg. 6-8
Trip code: SAGW
Duration: 1-4 weeks
Head to the “White Shark Capital of the World" and become a marine conservation volunteer along the amazing Cape Coast in South Africa. Make new friends from your coastal base in gorgeous Gansbaai, work alongside conservation experts to monitor and track Great White Sharks and research the rare Southern Right Whale during migration season - wow! Volunteer on eco-tourism boat trips and take tourists cage diving with sharks, get up close to Great Whites on your own cage dive adventures and help to protect colonies of African Penguins as well as dolphins, seals and seabirds in this amazing South African location!
- Become a marine conservation and eco-tourism volunteer in South Africa: Get up close to amazing marine life such as Great White Sharks and endangered Whales
- Gain an insight into the migratory, feeding, and general behavioural habits of sharks, and watch rare Southern Right Whales in migration season
- Head out on daily whale watching and shark cage diving boat trips, where you will spend time assisting ecotourists
- Help with other conservation projects protecting wildlife such as the endangered African penguin, seals and dolphins
- Go underwater on your very own shark cage dive experience!
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About the Project
Set in the gorgeous South African coastal town of Gansbaai, which is famous as the shark-cage-diving capital of the world, this marine conservation and eco-tourism programme offers a unique opportunity to get up close to that most mighty of marine creatures, the Great White Shark. The project has been running for over twenty years and is world-renowned for its research and famous for its amazing shark cage diving experiences. This project is also partnered with other amazing local projects, which include penguin, whale and other sealife conservation, which you may have chance to get involved with while you are here.
What To Expect
When you first arrive at the project, you’ll have a meeting with the project team to discuss your individual itinerary preferences. In this meeting they'll give you advice, welcome you to the project and answer any questions you may have.
Each day, you'll have the opportunity to volunteer on either a cage diving or whale watching ecotourism boat, helping the crew track marine wildlife and assisting the tourists during their experience. You can also volunteer at a Penguin and Seabird sanctuary that cares for and rehabilitates sick and injured birds. Alternatively, you can get involved with vital beach clean-up, egg collection, and environmental education activities.
Though you can volunteer every day you should bear in mind that this project is weather dependant, and doesn’t run during bad weather. If this happens, you'll get the day off to relax or explore. Itineraries are flexible, so if you want to take a day off at any time, you can.
During your free time, when you’re not getting up close and personal to your study subjects on boat trips and cage dives, you may also wish to join a range of optional activities. These include paintballing, horse riding, quad biking, kayaking, skydiving and others.
Please note: Optional activities are at extra cost.
Non Sea Days
If you can't go out to sea, other educational and fun activities are organised. Activities could include:
- A trip to Cape Agulhas – the Southernmost point of Africa.
- A visit to the local heritage site Klipgat Cave where you can swim in warm water
- A visit to Stony Point penguin colony in Betty’s Bay
- Kelp diving at Stanford Cove
- Horse riding
- Shopping excursions and wine tasting in Hermanus or Cape Town
- Visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium and the Waterfront in Cape Town
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Most expensive: £1,350 July, 2023
You will need to arrive into Cape Town airport at least the day before your start date. We advise arriving a few days before so you can explore this amazing city. Our team can recommend some great places to stay in central Cape Town, where the local team will also collect you from at the start of the project.
On your project start date (usually a Monday), the local team will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to the project in Gansbaai, about 2.5 hours from Cape Town. The transfer from Cape Town to the shark project is included, and pick up times are usually between 5-8am.
A return transfer from the project back to Cape Town is included after the end of your project. If you want, you can be dropped off at the airport (at extra cost), but please do not book your flight before 9pm on the final day. Most participants choose to be dropped back off in Cape Town city centre. Accommodation in Cape Town after your project is not included, though we recommend that you spend this night in Cape Town, arranging any onward travel for the following day in case of delays. Extra accommodation would be in addition to trip costs.
On the morning of your project start date (usually a Monday) you will be transferred to the marine wildlife project accommodation in Gansbaai. The local team will collect from most central Cape Town accommodations. You will need to let our operations team know in advance of your start date where you will be staying so pick up can be arranged. We can recommend various different accommodation options for you to book.
During your stay at the project in Gansbaai you’ll be staying a modern, comfortable and welcoming lodge set in scenic surroundings. The lodge consists of four lovely chalets, each housing 4-6 people in multi-share rooms, with each chalet having great communal areas with comfy sofas and dining areas, modern bathrooms, kitchens and everything you’d want for a real home from home in South Africa.
There is also a central communal living area and kitchen, a pool table and entertainment area, a communal outdoor braai (barbeque) so you can enjoy some traditional tasty South African braai, and a gorgeous garden with an amazing outdoor swimming pool so you can relax, swim and soak up the sun on your time off.
The lodge has satellite TV, a DVD player, wireless internet for use on your own laptop or phones (there is one computer for communal use), heating, and 3 bicycles which are available for volunteers to use when they wish. Bedding is provided. Laundry services are not included but this can be done every Monday for a small extra fee of 15 Rand per KG.
The lodge is located only a short 10-15 minute walk from the offices in Gansbaai (about 1.2km away) and there is also a volunteer bus available for daily use. Volunteer co-ordinators and a full-time janitor live on site at the lodge, providing a safe, secure and supportive living environment for all volunteers.
Basic breakfast items are provided at the house (cereal, coffee, tea and sugar). Sandwiches and crisps are provided for lunch when you are aboard the dive boats. Other meals and snacks are not included. Supermarkets, restaurants, bars and everything you need can be found nearby in the local town, and there is a fully equipped kitchen at your volunteer accommodation so you can cook your own meals if you wish. There is a restaurant at the volunteer offices where volunteers can receive a 10% discount on the menu.
The minimum age for this trip is 18, and nationals of the EU, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand don’t require a visa to enter South Africa.
Please note, you should make sure your travel insurance policy covers shark cage diving activities.
South African Immigration does ask that you have two completely blank consecutive pages in your passport, though as long as you hold a valid passport (and a valid return ticket) you will be granted a temporary visitor’s permit on arrival, allowing visitors to stay in South Africa for up to three months. You should also ensure that your passport will remain in date for a minimum of six months after your proposed return date.
Visa rules and regulations are subject to change. Please check the relevant embassy websites for the most up to date visa information.
This trip is designed with your safety and wellbeing in mind. As a result of Covid-19, many of our suppliers and partners around the world are introducing new policies and procedures surrounding health and safety in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. As the state of travel is evolving these new safety measures will adapt over time, and will be different for each trip. Here are some of the changes you may see on your trip:
Arrival safety meetings
Most trips have an arrival meeting on the first day where the guide or local team will run through the trip, the safety protocols, and to answer any questions you may have. Now more than ever it is important you arrive in time for these meetings.
Proof of vaccination or negative covid test
For the safety of all travellers, at the start of some trips you may be required to show evidence that you are fully vaccinated (14 days after your second dose) and/or show evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the tour start date in order to join the programme.
Updated hygiene and safety procedures
Our suppliers and partners have health and safety procedures in place on all of our trips. These protocols will be updated and adapted as a response to the Coronavirus outbreak, dependent on local restrictions and laws.
Transport and accommodation choices
Our suppliers and partners choose the accommodation and transport on our trips very carefully, and you may see a change to what would normally be used as a response to the outbreak. This may involve such changes as enhanced use of private transport or quieter accommodation.
Trained and knowledgeable staff
Our staff in the UK are trained to help you with your trip before you depart and answer any questions you may have. In addition, the local team and guides on our trips are there to help with any health and safety concerns and to ensure our trips run safely and smoothly.
Reduced group sizes
Some trips will run with reduced group sizes to start with. You may find that trips are more intimate and chilled, whilst still being packed with fun and adventure.
Your guide or the local team will be on hand to help you seek medical attention should you require it during your trip. As medical facilities and standards can vary around the world, you should ensure you have adequate travel insurance in place before you depart to cover you for any medical emergencies.
24/7 emergency support
We operate an emergency phone line for our travellers abroad. This is operated by a UK based member of staff 24/7 if you have a genuine emergency or urgent matter that you need attending.
It is important that you take measures to make travelling safer for yourself and others around you. Ensure you frequently wash your hands, cover your face when you sneeze and cough, bring and use your own hand sanitiser and facial coverings/masks, and enable social distancing where necessary. You should also ensure you listen to the instructions and guidance of the local team at all times, and follow all local laws and restrictions.