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Penguin Rescue

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Help rescue and rehabilitate real life “Happy Feet” Penguins. Volunteers will not only have the opportunity to learn about the life cycle and conservation of the African Penguin, which is still an endangered species but will also work very `hands-on` with these birds.

Cape Town`s wild seas are prone to ships having oil spills, which is very bad news for endangered sea birds like the African Penguin that lives and swims along the Cape Coast.

Due to pollution and climate change penguin chicks are becoming more and more vulnerable, and without intervention they would face extinction. This project has stepped up to the plate and is doing all it can to nurture and rescue penguins and other sea birds in distress. Volunteers get involved with the day-to day care od seabirds: washing oil off seabirds, feeding them fish and cleaning their swimming pools. Once the sea birds are healthy and fit enough to survive, they are released back into the wild.

This organisation was established in 1968 and have cared for over 83 000 seabirds. Mandated by the South African government, this project is responsible for the rehabilitation of sick, injured, oiled and abandoned Seabirds. Although they are known worldwide for our success in rehabilitating African Penguins during major oil spills on the Southern African coastline, they also care for and rehabilitate many other species of seabirds including Cape Gannets, variety of Gulls and Cormorants, Pelicans and even the odd Albatross.

With a staff component of 10 people of which only 4 People work hands-on with the birds on a daily basis, the need for volunteers speaks for itself.
  • Project Highlights

    - Hands-on work with seabirds
    - Learning about conservation
    - Actively partaking in the conservation of endangered seabirds
    - Being witness to penguins and other seabirds recovery process
    - There might be an opportunity to go on a release trip to Robben Island, off Cape Town (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned)
    - Robben Island is home to one of the largest African Penguin colonies in the world

  • Weekly Schedule & Activities

    - Volunteers will be taught how to catch, handle, feed, tube and administer medication to a variety of seabirds
    - Volunteers will assist in the Intensive Care Unit as well as clean and scrub bird pens on a daily basis.
    - Volunteers must be prepared to work a 5-day week including weekends.
    - Volunteers work according to a shift schedule arranged by the volunteer co-ordinator once they start.

  • Inclusions

    - Airport transfers
    - Cape Town Orientation package: 3 nights' accommodation, orientation that covers everything the volunteers need to know about staying in South Africa (from social skills to transport and safety), two meals per day, bus trip into town, lunch (on the Friday), walking tour of the city, a train ride back to there accommodation and day trip (on the Saturday)
    - All paperwork, placement and liaising with your volunteer program
    - Appointed supervisor for the duration of program
    - Accommodation
    - Two meals a day (breakfast and dinner)
    - Donation per month to the volunteer project to assist in their funding
    - A South African SIM card that works on a pay-as-you-go top up system
    - Monthly socials for volunteers to get together and meet other volunteers (cost depends on social)
    - Certificate & report on volunteer`s program should this be required for studies or other purposes
    - FREE 2-hour surf lesson

  • Mandatory Volunteer Requirements

    - Minimum age of 18
    - Intermediate English. You need to be able to understand enough English to follow instructions from the volunteer co-ordinator and other staff, as they guide you in how to handle the seabirds.

  • Special Skills Required

    - Biology and zoology background is an advantage, but not necessary
    - Love of marine life, and care for conservation
    - Need to be hard working, okay with being in wet conditions a lot, unafraid of being pecked, and not squeamish about chopping up fish to feed the birds.

    Se hele rejseprogrammet


You can choose to be accommodated in a self-catering Volunteer House, on the edge of a residential area, close to the west coast, situated near a bird sanctuary OR with a South African Host Family in local community (own room or shared room with another volunteer (same gender)).

Here is some additional info about your accommodation in the case of a Backpacker Accommodation:
- Single gender rooms with 4 beds
- Communal kitchen and lounge
- Internet available

Here is some additional info about your accommodation in the case of a South African Host Family:
- Close to all amenities
- 15-20-minute walk to the bird sanctuary


Your airport transfers are included in the price. Arrive Thursday for orientation, start volunteering Monday.

Getting from the Backpacker Accommodation to Penguin Project:
- Hire own car (at own cost (only with valid drivers permit))
- 7-minute walk from Backpackers to project.
- Female volunteers must walk in groups of 2 more, or with a male volunteer

Getting from the Host Family to Penguin Project:
- Pay 200ZAR/week for public transfers from host family to project
- 15-20 -minute walk to project


Good wholesome fresh meals cooked daily by our chef who provides a great cereal breakfast and tasty delicious dinners with weekly menus to suit all culinary tastes. Lunches are at the volunteers' own cost and should be taken and eaten at the volunteer project. We can cater for vegetarians, vegans and those with lactose or gluten intolerance, please just inform us at the time of booking. If you have more special dietary requirements, please be prepared to provide this for yourself.