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Vervet Monkey Rehabilitation


At this special primate sanctuary, monkeys are part of the family. The sweetest, cheekiest rescued and orphaned monkeys come to us from near and far to be cared for and rehabilitated so they can make it in the wild.  With more than 500 of the little primates in their care at a time, the project needs extra helping hands to make sure they’re fed and cared for – and to help raise money and keep the place in shape for its gorgeous guests. This is an awesome opportunity for anyone who’s passionate about primates, as you’ll be spending some time working hands on with the monkeys under the instruction of experienced professionals and other times working hands off carrying out tasks that help the monkeys. You’ll also get to enjoy life in the amazing African bush. You’ll make BFFF’s (Best Furry Friends Forever) and take home memories you’ll treasure for the rest of your life.

Trip Highlights:

Living and working with Vervet Monkeys

Experiencing bush life in South Africa

Meeting like-minded people from all over the world.

At a Glance

Project Duration:  Min 2 weeks – Max 8 weeks.

Location of project: Near Tzaneen, about six hours drive from Johannesburg.

Arrival Airport: Johannesburg (airport code JNB) you need to arrive by 4.15pm at the latest.

Activities: Various types of work with the animals, including making milks for the orphans, being a baby mum to the orphans (in baby season Nov-Jan), observing monkey foster mums with the orphans (Jan-Mar), observing integrations of monkeys into social groups (all year round), collecting forage for the monkeys, disinfecting cages, changing waters, assisting in the sickbay area or other sections, helping with feeding, and maintenance of the other park facilities.

Working Hours: Flexible; one day off per week worked, plus 1 touring day per week worked (if you stay a min of 4 weeks)

Getting to the project: You will be based on site.

Requirements: Volunteers must be 18 years or older.  For the safety of the animals, a TB test is required. 

Accommodation: Shared wooden cabins at the park.

Food: All meals included (vegan food only - prepared by an African char trained by a professional chef) Monday to Friday). Types of delicious meals include shepherds pie & gravy, veggie burgers and chips, Soups, lasagne, schnitzels, sausages, salads, hummus and guacamole sandwiches, wraps with veggie strips and more. (The food has had excellent reviews from non-vegans and vegans alike)

Airport Pickup: Included on arrival date, please ask us for details if you will be arriving earlier.

You need to organise: flights, insurance, visas, return airport transfer, local transport.


Your Role

These little guys need your help so that they can grow, develop and hopefully enter the wild where possible. The project also needs a hand to keep running smoothly and provide clean, safe facilities for its cheeky little monkeys. So you’ll be asked to help out with a variety of tasks. Be prepared to get stuck in and get your hands dirty, it’s lots of fun!

You’ll help with:

Caring for orphans – in baby season, between November and February, many Vervet monkeys are orphaned.  They need constant supervision and care by volunteers to get the best start in life. 

Care of monkeys and their enclosures – providing much-needed water under the hot African sun, preparing food, feeding, de-worming, administering medications, grooming. You’ll be
able to enjoy one-on-one time with monkeys and help to integrate them into new troops, a very important part of the rehabilitation process. The longer you are here, the more you can become involved with.

Observation, monitoring and research - this is an important job as you will help to monitor and observe each monkey within the sanctuary, checking for any injuries, stress or sickness, reporting information back to 'base' to ensure the monkeys stay in the best of health.

Construction – you might be asked to help with building new enclosures, maintenance, fencing, eradicating invader plant species, collecting new branches for cages. All of these tasks are really important to ensure the monkeys get the best care possible.


Day 1 (Monday) – Hello and welcome!

On arrival into OR Thambo (Johannesburg International) Airport you’ll be met by one of our team and taken to Pretoria Backpackers Hostel in Pretoria, about 45 minutes away. You’ll need to arrive at the airport before 3pm to get to the backpackers before orientation which starts at 5pm. Orientation is a very important part of your volunteering experience - you learn about your project, important safety and security information, sight-seeing options for your time off, and maybe even learn some of the local lingo!  It’s also be a great time to ask questions.  If you are not able to arrive before 4:15pm, we recommend that you arrive a day early. We can arrange an early airport pick-up for you including one night’s accommodation, please give us a call for more information.

Day 2 (Tuesday) – Travel to the project

Today you will be transferred to your project; you will meet your team and start volunteering. This project is based in Tzaneen, about 420kms north of Johannesburg.  You’ll travel from Pretoria bus station by bus, leaving at 10.30am and arriving in Tzaneen at 3.40pm where a representative from the project will collect you. It’s a further +25 min journey from Tzaneen to the project. The accommodation is on site, so there will be no transport costs once you arrive. The team will make sure you get settled in and introduce you to the staff. Get settled in, relax and prepare to get stuck in tomorrow!

Day 3, 4 & 5 (Wednesday – Friday) – Let’s do this!

November to February is baby season for the monkeys so if you’re volunteering during this time be prepared to start your day as early as 6am and finishing at 4pm to take care of the orphaned youngsters. You might even need to work an occasional overnight shifts to give the babies round-the-clock care.  Outside of these months, you’ll usually start at 7am and finish at about 4.30pm.

You’ll be involved in a variety of duties from monitoring the health of adult monkeys and baby monkey feeding and care to helping with construction or maintenance. You’ll look after the orphans, wash bowls, feed monkeys, help out in the sickbay, clean enclosures, observe and record monkey behaviour to help with research, write articles for newsletters, take photos and collect fruit and vegetation for monkeys. Whatever keeps this place running, they need your helping hands to make it happen. You’ll be working alongside the regular staff so there’ll always be someone to help you and it’s so much fun getting to know the staff, your fellow volunteers and all the little monkeys!

Day 6 & 7 (Saturday and Sunday) – Time off!

You have half a day off at weekends and one day off during the week. Talk to the team, and arrange that your absence can be covered if you’d like to take some time to go to Kruger National Park. There are lots of things to do in the local area – we recommend visiting Debengeni waterfalls, Graskop, Gods window, the tea gardens and the baobab tree or relaxing at the local country lodge and spa or visiting Kruger National Park. If you’re feeling
adventurous, try the gorge swing, quad biking or horse riding.

Occasionally a member of staff will take a group out for an afternoon (dependent on vehicles and drivers), or drop you at the nearby country lodge, pool & spa. You can also choose a day off midweek to spend as you choose.

Your last day – Goodbye we’ll miss you!

After you’ve said goodbye to your new furry and human friends, the project team will drop you back at Tzaneen to catch your return bus to Pretoria. Your return bus ticket is included in your project fee. The journey back takes approx. 6 hours so we recommend you book your return flights to depart late in the evening (after 20.30), or even the day after. If you need an extra overnight stay in Pretoria, our team can help you to arrange this. An extra night will cost approximately US$40. The return transfer from Pretoria to the airport is not included, but our team can advise you on your options. The cost of an airport transfer will
be around US$50.

About the Project

This project provides a sanctuary for Vervet monkeys who have been orphaned, abused or injured, and aims to rehabilitate them back nature or into natural enclosures for those that can't make it in the wild. The project is involved in education programmes with the local community on monkey’s importance in the eco-system and how to co-exist peacefully. The Vervet monkey is listed on CITES appendix 2 as threatened. 

They have about 500 Vervet monkeys in the 25 hectare sanctuary. They treat sick or injured monkeys in an on-site sickbay. The project helps to integrate young monkeys into troops so that they grow up to be valuable members of that troop.  At this point they will live in a soft release environment on-site, before suitable habitat is found when they will be released back into the wild. If a juvenile or adult monkey is injured, providing exact location is known as to where the monkey is found then upon recovery, the monkey will be released back with its troop in the wild.

They have about 500 Vervet monkeys in the 25 hectare sanctuary. They treat sick or injured monkeys in an on-site sickbay.The project is verified by GFAS (Global Federation of Animal
Sanctuaries), and is a member of PASA (Pan African Sanctuary Alliance) who carries out inspections every two to three years. The local SPCA and Department of Nature Conservation visits regularly to ensure that all the animals are being well looked after. 

The project promotes a vegan lifestyle and works to educate people on how the way they live affects the lives of wildlife and their habitats. Their aim is to encourage more people to understand that looking after the environment and planet begins at home.

While you're here


You’ll stay in basic but clean two-person wooden cabins on location, sleeping on mattresses. A mattress, sheet, pillowcase and pillow is provided but you’ll need to bring your own bedding along. In keeping with projects’ ethos, the cabins do not have electricity so please bring torches and lots of batteries; the toilets eco-style with worms and enzymes that do
the composting; and the showers are bush showers with limited running hot water which is trucked in once a day. There are 2 private cabins available for an extra fee suitable for couples or those who prefer to stay by themselves outside of the volunteer village.

There’s a kitchen with crockery, cutlery, cooking utensils and fridge/freezers for storing your groceries. There’s also an outdoor campfire for evening BBQ (we call them braais) under the stars, a great time to chat to fellow volunteers and enjoy the night sounds of the African bush.


Breakfast is self-service. From Monday to Friday, lunch and dinner is prepared and served by our African chef, all vegan meals have been checked by a nutritional consultant to ensure they are healthy and tasty to give you lots of energy. It is important to note that meals are vegan and the chef will ensure they are varied and delicious, including a sweet treat twice a
week!  A vegan diet is in keeping with the project’s belief in doing as much for the animals, environment, habitat loss, people and the planet as possible.

Cereals, tea, coffee, soya milk, sugar, toast, spreads, fruit and seeds are provided for breakfast at the cottage and you can help yourself to tea, coffee, bread, peanut butter, marmite, jam, fruit etc during your mid-morning coffee break.

On the weekends 2 volunteers are delegated to choose a meal to prepare for everyone in the afternoon. You will also be able to shop for snacks at the local town. We also provide some amazing recipes that volunteers often use to cook communally and enjoy together on the weekends, around a fire under the African sky.

If you are not a vegan and would like to indulge in some carnivorous eating, there are lots of local lodges and restaurants to try when you feel like it (at your own expense). However, please do not bring any meat, fish or products containing any ingredients from animals onto the project premises.

Facilities and area

WIFI (for a small donation of R100 per month) and a laptop available

Linen can be changed as required

Self service laundry

Onsite travel desk for booking tours and activities

Pool area with sun loungers and a BBQ – change this to braai / camp fire area (no pool)

Mini bar and an outdoor patio area with seating and BBQ facilities

Lockable storage for your valuables (please bring your own padlock for this)

Night manager in case of emergencies

The lodge is cleaned daily and rooms are also serviced daily.

Although you will be on call 24hrs a day, the project team will only call you for an emergency if they have no other alternative.

On your day off you will be provided with a lift into town to purchase supplies, visit a nearby attraction or satisfy your shopping cravings in the mall.

If you are volunteering for four weeks or more you will be given an additional day off each week for touring. Volunteers often save these days up and use them for a visit to nearby Kruger National Park which is only one hour away.

There are so many options for whiling away your free time. You’re in the heart of African bush country where the Big Five is always around at the nearest game reserve. Kruger is just one of these reserves. There are also other amazing attractions within a couple of 100km radius such as the Blyde River Canyon, Mac-Mac Falls, Berlin Waterfall, Bourke’s
Luck Potholes, God’s Window, Debengeni Falls and the Modjadji Cycad Forest.

What to bring:

Torches and rechargeable camping light

Playing cards, books and music for peaceful evenings on the project

Clothes that can get dirty and wet

Sunblock, insect repellent

Raincoats and pants

Warm clothes, especially between June and August when evenings and early mornings are chilly.

Driving license (if wish to hire a car or if can help with some driving duties)

Malaria tablets (if planning trips to Kruger or surrounding areas)

Mosquito net

Other toiletry items can be bought at the onsite gift shop such as shampoos, cleansers, deodorant, toothpaste, natural insect repellent and other items. (All chemical free, natural and cruelty free)

Advice & Safety

Throughout your programmes you will have the support and guidance of the programme co-ordinator and team. You will be provided with competent assistance and help with any questions or advice you may need during your stay and someone will always be available in case of emergency.

At the end of your stay the team will give you a certificate of thanks.

What you get

Expert help-desk

We're always available to offer support and guidance before, during and after your trip.

Thorough project briefing materials

Once you’ve booked you'll receive a full pack of all the information you need for the project. It contains general information about volunteering, your specific project and South Africa as well as advice on safety, visas and inoculations.

Airport pickup

Don’t worry about arriving in a new country on your own. We’ll be there to welcome you and take you to your accommodation.

Arrival orientation

Soon after you arrive you’ll attend a thorough orientation with our team. It covers everything you need to know about your next few days, dos and don’ts and your safety. You can ask any questions and find out more about the fun stuff to do around Cape Town and South Africa.

Accommodation and meals

Accommodation is included with all projects and meals are included with some. We only use locally-owned and operated accommodation so that part of your placement fee is filtering back into the local economy. Most projects offer homestay, guesthouse or shared volunteer houses as standard accommodation, but some offer the chance to upgrade to a more comfortable living standard.

24/7 emergency support

We’re always on hand in case of an emergency.

After you've booked

  • You will receive a welcome email confirming your booking
  • You’ll receive a full project pack with all the info you need
  • You’ll be asked for any extra info if we need it – such as doctor’s notes for medical conditions, or maybe a CV on some projects
  • You’ll need to pay if you haven’t paid already (at least 90 days before travelling)

Then the fun starts!

Next you should:

  • Book your flights
  • Arrange suitable travel insurance
  • Get a visa for your trip if it's needed
  • Visit a nurse or travel clinic for advice on inoculations and malaria prevention
  • Start packing and come and join us!

*Remember to keep our contact details in a safe place in your hand luggage in case you need to contact us during your travels.

About South Africa

South Africans are patriotic and passionate about their country. And it’s not despite the country’s famously troubled history – it’s because of it! The people of this democratic country are so proud of how far they have come from the dark days of Apartheid and it makes us grateful for the diversity of cultures and languages that make up our amazing rainbow nation.

South Africa is a country of diversity in so many ways. It’s not a big country but travelling across the length and breadth of it, you’ll encounter an incredible range of climates and landscapes. There’s beautiful Cape Town, with its Mediterranean feel, pristine white beaches, sparkling oceans and magnificent Table Mountain providing the craggy backdrop for every setting. Travel east along the Garden Route with its picture-postcard coastal villages and you’ll eventually reach Durban and surrounds, a tropical area where the sun shines almost every day, the sea is warm and the surfing is fantastic! Then there’s the rugged Drakensberg mountain range, a place of rich Zulu heritage, spectacular views and jagged sweeps of peaks.  Further north you’ll hit South Africa’s famous ‘veld’ or bush where you’ll find Africa’s big five and many thousands of other species of animals, hiding out in landscapes that are lit at sunset by the most vivid orange, pinks and purples.

There are so many things to see and do here that you’ll need years. But if your time is limited, here’s our top five must-dos:

Game viewing

You can’t come to Africa and not experience the amazing animals, the wild and beautiful African bush and the chorus of an African dawn. Kruger National Park is the most popular choice but there are a host of other parks in the northern parts of South Africa and the Free State as well as KwaZulu-Natal, offering a range of options from the most luxurious accommodation with chefs at your service to DIY game viewing and camping.

Adrenalin adventures

Adventure is the name of the game in this crazy country and if it’s outdoors and adrenalin-inducing, you’ll find it here. From the highest bungee jump and highest commercial abseiling in the world to shark cage diving, downhill mountain biking, trail running, walking safaris, big wave surfing and multi-day hiking, there’s something for ever thrill seeker.


South Africa has thousands of miles of glorious coastline, with Blue Flag beaches and hidden gems dotted along its length. There’s beaches for the glamorous, where you can go to see and be seen, beaches perfect for families, beaches for walking, beaches for swimming and beaches for watersports. There’s probably beaches which have never been trodden by a tourist before. Go on, we dare you to find it!

Nightlife, restaurants and entertainment

No holiday would be complete without a few good nights out and South Africa knows how to entertain. With so many cultures making up our population, there’s loads of delicious food on offer full of every fresh ingredient you could think of. There are pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes to suit every taste. South Africa is famous for its wonderful wines and there’s a craft beer revolution happening right here. Pack your dancing shoes!

A taste of township and culture

South Africa has a rich, tumultuous history dotted with dismal lows and incredible highs – and full of astounding stories from amazing people. It’s what makes South Africa the colourful place it is. Museums of every shape and size document the various aspects of our human and natural history, arts and culture – you’ll find them all over the country. Or why not take a township tour and experience the true heart of South African culture?  If you’re visiting Cape Town, come to Kommetjie and visit Masiphumelele with the Township Sisters, our special Volunteer and Explore partners, and help support the sustainable development of this vibrant township.


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