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Great White shark monitoring in South Africa

$2,079.00

Price above is guide only. Choose start date for your price.

   
  

Overview

Ever fancy getting up close to a Great White?

This is a very exciting program and not for the faint hearted! You will be working with Great White sharks monitoring their behaviour both from the boat and from cages! You will also be working with the Marine Big 5 - sharks, whales, dolphins, seals and penguins as well as working closely with the team`s Marine Biologist - all operating on our daily shark cage diving vessel. You will be amazed at what you will learn!

Trip Highlights

  • Have an amazing experience getting up close to these magnificent creatures!
  • Being in probably the best place in the world to see great white sharks in their natural habitat!
  • Learning all about eco systems and how to interpret the sharks behaviour

What our projects say:

Volunteers help daily on our eco-tourism shark cage diving vessel with dive operations for tourists and in the process have time to dive themselves, observing the sharks and taking photographs. Volunteers help in our research with our Marine Biologist and help them with tagging and tracking of the white sharks (this is not guaranteed and is completely dependent on funding and weather). We have two Marine Biologists that rotate between the daily shark cage diving boats and when time, weather and funding allows, they will try and tag a shark. Participants staying less than 2 weeks will not be involved and even if a volunteer stays 4 weeks, this still isn't guaranteed. They also act as Marine Biologists on our shark cage diving vessel to educate the clients.

The volunteers also educate the crew and staff that have never travelled outside of South Africa on what the world is like out there. Because some of our crew have been brought up in under privileged homes they do not get the opportunity to travel and making friends with these volunteers is an experience that they otherwise would not have experienced.

Fast facts

Project duration: 
Min 2 weeks - Max 4 weeks
Location of project: 
Kleinbaai, 180 kms south east of Cape Town
Arrival airport: 
Cape Town (airport code CPT) arrive by 4.15pm at the latest
Activities: 
Daily shark cage diving operation and helping tourists. Data collection and observations, recording and logging data,assisting crew with baits, dive gear, the cage, cleaning the boat and wetsuits and helping with the tourists.
Working hours: 
Project is dependant on the weather so no fixed itinerary, days off will be scheduled in country
Getting to the project: 
10 minute walk along the coast
Requirements: 
Minimum age 18

What's included

Accommodation: 
Shared room in a chalet sleeping between 4 and 6 people. Each chalet has a kitchen, lounge, bathroom and 2 bedrooms.
Food: 
Breakfast included (cereal, tea, coffee and sugar) and lunch if on the boat, all other meals are self-catering (budget approximately US$50 per week)
Airport pickup: 
Included on arrival date - ask us for details if you’re arriving early. Transfer back to Cape Town or the airport at the end of the trip (if return transfer to the airport is required, then flights need to be booked after 7pm on the last day).
Training: 
In-country orientation
Support: 
Pre-departure helpdesk, local in-country team and 24 hour emergency support

What's not included

Flights, Insurance, Visas, Local Transport, Food other than shown as included above

Itinerary

Day 1 (Monday) – Arrival into Cape Town 

Today you will be met at the airport and taken to our volunteer house in Fish Hoek. You’ll need to arrive in before 4.15pm so that you’re all ready for the orientation which kicks off at 5pm. The journey from the airport to Fish Hoek should take around 45 minutes and if you keep your eyes open you might get to see Table Mountain on the way! The orientation will take you through what it’s going to be like at your project, do’s and don’ts, how to stay safe and it’s your prime opportunity to ask any burning questions that you haven’t yet had answered.

After the orientation you’ll have an evening meal and some time to relax and prepare before transfering to your main accommodation tomorrow.

If you aren’t able to arrange a flight to get you into Cape Town before 4.15pm then we’d recommend you fly in 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.

Overnight in Volunteer house in Fish Hoek

Day 2 (Tuesday) – transfer to Kleinbaai

Today you will be transferred by the team on a scenic drive to Kleinbaai which is situated 180kms South east of Cape Town. Remember to bring your books or your music for the journey or you may just want to chat to your fellow volunteers or tourists! The journey will take approximately 2.5 hours. Please note that pickup can be as early as 5am, so don't expect a cheeky lie in!

On arrival you will be met by a representative of the team who will then introduce you to the rest of the crew and people that you will be working with. If the time and weather permits you may even be able to go out on the boat for your first sighting!

After your return you will then be able to watch a DVD that was made on your boat trip and you will have the opportunity of spending some time with the on site volunteer coordinators who will explain your duties and responsibilities for the program. The program representative will also give you a welcome briefing with house rules etc. (This will either be on your first day or on day 2).

The representative will then take you food shopping and then onto the volunteer lodge were you will be staying for the duration of your placement. You can then have some time to relax and settle into your new quarters. Volunteers usually have a traditional South African barbeque (braai) on the first or second night to socialize and get to know each other. Here you can ask all the questions that you have and become more comfortable with your surroundings. You will receive information about the launch time for the next day.

Day 3 (Tuesday) – getting stuck in!

Today you will meet the crew an hour before the launch at the Great White House (main office) for a briefing and you will then be going on the boat as a tourist where you will have the opportunity to dive and see what it is actually like from the guests point of view!
An itinerary will then be worked out for you for the weeks to come taking into account your days off or for no sea days when you will be based on land - we work out a schedule for the week but nothing is set in stone as it is all weather and season permitting. Volunteers can take off whenever they want but they need to inform the coordinator.

Day 4 (Wednesday) onwards

You will be working with the itinerary that has been set for you on your arrival. As cage diving is a daily working industry be prepared for some very early morning starts!

You will be spending your time on the project learning more about sharks and observing their behaviour. On the white shark dive boat which often does two trips per day, you will be working with the tourists, assisting the crew with baits, chum, the cage, the dive gear and also the cleaning. If your interest is data and you have some experience, then let the marine biologist know and ask how you can get more involved with recording data and assisting in logging the data. On the whale boat (this is seasonal from July to December. Please inform your coordinator if you have an interest in joining in on one of the whale trips), you will assist the tourists but your main task will be data collection and observations. You will be looking particularly for bite marks on seals, birds and dolphins as well as looking out for entangled animals.

The boats often do one to four trips per day depending on the season and you will be rotated accordingly. Please note that this project is weather permitting so it will be almost impossible to maintain a strict schedule. You will need to be flexible but we can promise that you will have a great experience.

As the project is dependant on the weather and sea faring days there are no set days off per week, however time off will be arranged in country (please inform your coordinator). For times that you have 2 or more days off then you can always rent a car and go up the Garden route, do a game drive or some bungi jumping if you feel up to it! On other days that you are not able to go to sea there are other activities that you can do.

Your last day

Having said goodbye to all your new friends you’ll be transferred back to Cape Town city centre or the airport. You will leave the project in the afternoon and will arrive into Cape Town at approximately 17.00 hrs. Please take into account your check in time when planning your onward flight, we suggest that you book any flights to depart after 20.30 hrs. You may however decide to stay in Cape Town for the night and book a departure for the day after. 

Project

What does the project do?

The project is based in Kleinbaai, a small harboor town, and part of Gansbaai in the Western Cape of South Africa. The area is known as the best place in the world to see Great White sharks in their natural habitat. The sister company is a boat based Marine Eco Tourism company which allows tourists an unforgettable experience to see whales, dolphins, seals, penguins and sharks, as well as many species of rare pelagic birds that reside close to the shore. These two companies allow volunteers access to a diverse area of learning and a holistic insight into the challenges of ocean conservation at the tip of Africa.

As shark populations worldwide are increasingly threatened it is only by getting to know these complex creatures more intimately that the impact of their current continuing decline will be understood. In scientific circles there is still research needed to fully understand and interpret shark behaviour.

What’s the project like?

Shark education features as a prominent part of the project and it is only by getting to know these complex creatures more intimately, that the impact of their current continuing decline can be understood. Therefore the project is particularly suited to those who are willing to take up a challenge and play a pivotal role in observing and promoting these graceful and majestic creatures.

You will have an amazing time as the project will enable you to see sharks in their natural environment, either from a boat or from a cage. You will also learn about coastal eco systems in the region and about what work is going on to help preserve them. Each link of the chain needs to be supported in order to ensure ocean sustainability. Because of this you will have a wide variety of tasks and activities to participate.

As shark cage diving is a daily working industry volunteers should expect some early morning starts! And help the crew and staff prepare for the days shark cage diving trips.

Why does the project need volunteers?

This is an ideal opportunity for volunteers to partake in learning about shark and marine research. The project wants to be able to deliver an opportunity for the volunteers to experience the industry and also tourism in order to get a better knowledge of South Africa and its culture while working with these majestic animals.

Activities and schedule

On the white shark dive boat that will often do two trips per day, you will work with the tourists, assisting the crew with baits, chum, cage, dive gear and cleaning. You will be gaining very good boat and team experience and will be recording and logging the data (if this is your interest please discuss with the Marine Biologist on your boat trip). On the whale boat (this is seasonal from July to December. Please inform your coordinator if you have an interest in joining in on one of the whale trips), you will be assisting the tourists but your main task will be data collection and observations. You will be looking out for any bite marks on seals, birds and dolphins. You will also be looking out for entangled animals.

The boats often do one to four trips per day depending on the season and you will be rotated accordingly. The project is weather dependant so it will be almost impossible to maintain a strict schedule. You will need to be flexible and go with the flow.

During the education part of the project you will be learning about the following;

  • Learning about climatic conditions pertaining to seamanship
  • How shark cage diving operates
  • Shark behavior and biology
  • The history of shark attacks
  • Lectures by qualified marine biologists, shark lovers and enthusiasts
  • How to photograph marine wildlife - the skipper on the boat can give you loads of advice on how to get the best shots
  • Ocean conservation needs at the tip of Africa
  • Learning about South Africa’s conservation organizations

Practical experience will include the following;

  • Experience out at sea, weather permitting
  • Photographing sharks and observing them around the boat with the use of your own camera
  • Learning how to identify individual animals through newly discovered dorsal fin recording, measurement and markings
  • Boat safety and seamanship. Learning how to maintain standards and equipment needed for the operation
  • Assisting with the monitoring of other marine animals (dead or alive) in the area, and learning about hierarchy in the ecosystems
  • Participating in data collection on marine species
  • Field work in and around the area of Gansbaai, which is dependent on the ocean and tourism for its survival

Where the project is based

The project is based in Kleinbaai, a small harbour town situated 180 kms south east of Cape Town, and part of Gansbaai in the Western Cape of South Africa. The project is also located within walking distance from the accommodation.

Project resources and advice

The project is well resourced however you may like to bring your own snorkel/ mask and flippers or you can rent some from a shop in-country. Here is a list of personal items you may want to bring with you;

  • Towel
  • Pocket money
  • Personal journal or notebook
  • Camera
  • Sun hat
  • Sun cream
  • Some old clothing that can be worn at sea
  • Old shoes for use on the boat (water boots will be provided)
  • Your own snorkel/mask and flippers. (You can rent equipment should you wish to instead of having to carry your own) We provide  a mask, wetsuit and all dive gear for shark cage diving so there's no need to bring your own
  • Rain jacket
  • Warm clothing for evenings / boat.
  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Motion/sea sickness tablets

Please note that the weather can become quite cold during the months of May to September, please remember to bring some warm clothes with you.

Accommodation

What type of accommodation will I be in?

The accommodation is comfortable chalet accommodation sleeping between 4 and 6 persons. Each chalet has a kitchen, lounge, bathroom and 2 bedrooms. In the main house there is a communal kitchen, lounge, pool table, table tennis table and outside swimming pool as well as a lecture room. You will spend your time here on a self catering basis although breakfast (cereal, tea, coffee, sugar) and lunch during your time on the boat will be provided.

The accommodation is very comfortable with all standard facilities.

There is one safe in each chalet where valuables can be left stored, however you will need to be responsible for your own valuables left in the accommodation and should take care not to leave anything lying around. Internet and WiFi is provided at the house for you and access to a mobile phone in case of emergencies.

There is a housekeeper that will clean the accommodation once a week although you are also expected to keep the house clean in the meantime.

Accommodation facilities

Bedrooms are based on twin share and there is one bathroom per chalet with a western style toilet and hot and cold running water.

The accommodation is fully furnished and has modern facilities including tv, dvd player, lounge and also a kitchen with good facilities.

Breakfast will be provided and will include cereal, coffee, tea and sugar. If you are working on the boat then lunch will also be provided. All other meals are to be provided by yourself.

You will do your own shopping and cook all your meals in the well equipped kitchen or you can always eat out if you would prefer!

Things to bring from home

  • Some old clothing that can be worn at sea
  • Old shoes for use on the boat (water boots will be provided)
  • Your own snorkel/mask and flippers. (We can loan or rent gear should you wish not to carry extra gear and we provide a mask, wetsuit and all diving gear for sahrk cage diving)
  • Rain jacket
  • Warm clothing for evenings / boat.
  • Polarized sunglasses

Where is the accommodation?

You will be based in Kleinbaai, part of the Gansbaai area approximately 180 kms South east of Cape Town. The Western Cape area of South Africa enjoys a temperate climate with the majority of its rainfall in the winter months of July and August. However, its pleasant winter days compare favourably to European summer days.

How far is it from my project?

The house is within walking distance of the coast and Kleinbaai and also a 10 minute walk to the project so won`t cost you anything and will certainly be a lot different walk to work than back home! You will also be able to walk to Kleinbaai and Gansbaai for your food supplies (we take volunteers for food shopping during the week).

Taxi to Gansbaai is approximately R5, and if you need any laundry doing then you would be looking at a cost of approximately R30 per load.

On an evening you can relax at the house with a pizza and DVD, or there are also arrangements with local restaurants whereby they can pick volunteers up to come and have dinner and then drop them back off, or have a get together with the crew for a Braai (BBQ, payable locally)

If you are able to have 2 days of more days off together then you can always hire a car and travel further afield along the Garden Route, do a game drive or if you are feeling more adventurous then you could always do a bungi jump!

On other days that you are able to take the day off due to the weather you might want to try some of these as well;

  • Betty's Bay to the Penguin colony
  • Cape Aghulhas – most Southern tip of Africa
  • Wine tasting in Hermanus
  • Paintball:
  • Horse riding
  • Quad Biking
  • Kayaking
  • Skydiving 

What you get

Next steps

Flights & insurance

Country information

I've done this trip. Write review >
Wolfgang Pfaffenberger gives this project
9/10
Here is what Wolfgang had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
the daily trips to the sharks, the daytrip to the most southern point of africa and the people (staff and volunteers) of Marine Dynamics
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
going again to south africa looking for languages (spanish) and volunteering going again to alaska
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
a great experience for me as an "old man"
Sharon Rhys-Davies gives this project
10/10
Here is what Sharon had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
Seeing a beautiful humpback whale coming towards the boat under the surface of the ocean and then surfacing right by our boat.
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
1) Get involved as much as possible! The more you do, the more you get out of it. 2) Learn a few words of the local language if you can. 3) Make the most of your time off - eat local food, see the area you're volunteering in.
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
I'm not scared of great white sharks now - they're amazing!

We work in partnership with hundreds of established projects that are run by local communities. The information on our website comes directly from the projects and we work with them to ensure this information is as accurate as possible. However, due to the very nature of the projects themselves the exact details of what happens on a daily basis can change with little or no notice. If you have travelled with us and have any updates to this information, please let us know.