Monkey Sanctuary Volunteers
Hands-on rehab project with cheeky primates!
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Group Size: Avg. 15, max. 40
Trip code: SAMV
Duration: 2-12 weeks
Enjoy the experience of a lifetime, caring for injured, orphaned and abandoned monkeys at this world-class monkey rehabilitation centre in the heart of the South African bush. You’ll be welcomed like family by the small team that have dedicated their lives to this cause. Duties are varied and seriously hands-on, including helping with sick and injured animals in clinic, building enclosures, harvesting food and maybe even helping release the animals back into the wild! Spend your free time exploring your stunning surroundings, visiting local villages, waterfalls, nature reserves and going on safari, and make friends for life with your fellow volunteers (and the monkeys!)
- Feed the monkeys twice a day, including bottle-feeding adorable baby monkeys!
- Take the monkeys down to the river for a daily swim and play in their natural habitat
- Help nurse injured and sick monkeys back to health in the clinic
- Become a part of a dedicated team and meet new monkey-minded mates!
- Explore beautiful South Africa and go on safari in your spare time
About the Monkey Sanctuary
Established in 1995, this amazing monkey sanctuary specialises in rehabilitation of South Africa’s five primate species. The centre is run by a small team that have dedicated their lives to this cause and has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world. They provide a temporary home for orphaned monkeys, wildlife casualties, animals which have previously been kept in captivity, and unwanted pets.
Your Volunteer Role
As a volunteer you’ll help with feeding, cleaning and handling the animals, as well as the daily maintenance and construction of the centre, and in planting and harvesting vegetables to feed the animals.
A typical daily routine may look like this:
- 6:45 - 7:00am - An early start - monkeys don’t do lie-ins! Your mornings will be dedicated to jobs around the sanctuary. You'll get stuck in with cleaning their cages, preparing their breakfast and feeding the animals (maybe even bottle feeding the babies!) as well as various projects specified by the staff.
- 13:00 – 14:00 (approx) - Lunchtime
- 14:00 - Activities in the afternoon vary depending upon the needs of the centre, though tasks often include monitoring or doing enrichment tasks with the animals such as walking them down to the river to play or swim in their natural habitat. Sometimes there will be free time here, so you can relax or go on excursions with other members of the group.
- 18:00 (approx.) – Dinner
- 19:30 – After dinner you will have the rest of the evening as free time
When not out doing your rounds, there are other activities you can get involved with, such as researching the habits of the monkeys. We will only be able to offer these projects to those who will be at the centre for a minimum of 6, or 8 weeks (sometimes even longer). This is to enable you to fully understand what is required from the project, and more importantly give you time to be accepted by the animals!
Free Time and Optional Activities
Once chores have been completed for the day and time/weather permitting, there will be a chance to have some fun and explore the surrounding area. The project staff can often help you book trips and excursions locally at an extra cost. These excursions can include:
- Tree canopy and waterfalls tour
- Modjadji Cycad Reserve
- Overnight safari in Kruger National Park
- Gorge swing
- Panorama tour of Graskop and Three Rondawels
- Visit a cheetah project
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To get to the project you will need to book a flight to Hoedspruit Airport in South Africa. Most flights will have a connection via Johannesburg. When you land into Hoedspruit on your start date we will meet you and drive you to the project. The airport pick up is pre-arranged to coincide with your arrival.
Staying in rustic style dormitories enveloped in unspoilt South African bush, you can wake up in the morning to native birdsong and drift off to sleep to the calming sounds of the African bush at night.
Rooms are based on 2-9 people sharing. Sexes are normally split, but within small groups volunteers often choose “mixed” dorms. Couples and single-occupancy rooms can also be accommodated (subject to availability and at an additional cost). Speak to your travel advisor for more information.
It’s worth noting that the standard of accommodation on this project is much higher than that of many other similar projects operating in the area. Facilities include European style flushing toilets, hot showers, and lights and power points in the dorms, none of which are standard in the region.
If you want to bring a laptop or notebook, you can access free Wi-Fi between 4 and 7 or 8pm. There are lockers for valuables available for you to use but you will need to bring your own padlock (number combination types are suggested rather than padlocks with keys)
Sheets, duvets and pillows will be provided and there are extra blankets available on request.
The staff will also do your laundry (one load included in your project fee), if you don’t want to hand wash your own clothes. Each dorm will have a set day for laundry, which the staff will inform you of when you arrive.
When you have completed your jobs for the day, you can relax at the river; bird watching and enjoying the colours of a true South African sunset. During the summer this picturesque scene truly comes alive at night, as the banks of the river are transformed by hundreds of fireflies.
Mosquito nets are not a necessity, but you are welcome to bring your own if you wish. They are cheaper to buy in South Africa than the UK.
Three meals a day, teas and coffees are included in the price of your monkey sanctuary experience. A semi-continental breakfast is served at 9am, with lunch at around 1pm normally consisting of breads and spreads.
Dinner is at 6pm and during weekends you’ll get the opportunity to experience South African braais (BBQ’s).
You’ll also have the opportunity to pick up your favourite snacks, drinks, and groceries on our weekly town trip to the local greengrocer.
Please note: Vegetarians and vegans can be catered for on request. Please let us know of any dietary requirements before you travel.
You’ll need to be 18 or over to join this project.
Don’t worry if you haven’t had any previous experience working with animals, you will receive all the necessary training at the centre. You do however need to be healthy, fit and of course have a passion and love for animals! Volunteering on the centre is hard but rewarding. There’s plenty of lifting, carrying, sweating, and getting dirty so you need to be prepared for that!
You’ll also need to sign a code of conduct document on arrival, that states that you agree to abide by the project’s rules and that you understand any safety issues.
British citizens can travel to South Africa for any purpose for up to 90 days without a visa. If you plan to stay longer or have any other questions regarding visas, contact the South African commission.
Your passport should be valid for 6 months from the date you arrive.
Visa rules and regulations are subject to change. Please check the relevant embassy websites for the most up to date visa information.