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!
- 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.
What's not included
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.
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;
- Pocket money
- Personal journal or notebook
- 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.
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.
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
- Horse riding
- Quad Biking
What you get
What exactly do i to i Volunteering provide?
It may seem like a strange concept to pay for your volunteer experience. You'd be right if you think you shouldn't and the truth is you actually don't! Your placement is free; it's the benefits around it that you pay for. It's important to note that i to i Volunteering is a travel company and not a charity. We provide a professional travel service. We are responsible for finding and assessing worthwhile projects across the world, preparing you for the volunteering experience and supporting you whilst you're there.
Project sourcing and assessment
We work with hundreds of locally run partner projects around the world and are constantly sourcing new opportunities. We visit all projects to check that they are worthwhile and legitimate and we also conduct a thorough safety assessment before we'll send volunteers there.
Almost everyone who works for i to i Volunteering has traveled extensively or worked overseas. This means we're a goldmine of information; we're always available to offer support and guidance before, during and after your trip.
Thorough project briefing materials
Once you book on to a project you'll receive an online account that contains loads of general information about volunteering, about your chosen country and how to have fun and stay safe. We'll also give you advice on visas and inoculations.
It can be pretty daunting arriving in a different country for the first time - especially after a long flight! If you arrive on your project start date, there'll be a welcoming face at the airport to pick you up and take you to your accommodation.
Soon after you arrive you will attend a thorough orientation with our in-country team. This is to cover important safety and security information. You'll also get some tips about sight-seeing options for your time off and maybe even learn some of the local lingo!
Accommodation and meals
Accommodation is included with all projects and meals are even 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.
Local in-country coordinators
Your in-country team will arrange a pick-up for you at the airport and will conduct your orientation upon arrival. All coordination teams are English speaking and are locals of your destination country. They won't be at your project every day, but will be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week if you need them.
24/7 emergency support
Aside from the local support from your in-country team you'll be given access to a 24/7 emergency phone line manned by our response team in case any problem should arise while you're overseas. We also hire crisis management professionals to be on hand in case of a situation that requires additional expert support.
The safety and security of our volunteers is paramount. For this reason we provide ongoing crisis management and emergency response training to our local teams around the world. We also fly in our in-country coordinators to the UK regularly for thorough training to help them offer the best safety to the thousands of volunteers they support each year.
Supporting our projects
We don't fund our projects directly from the project fee that you pay us. Instead we choose to support a number of projects through our Helping Hands Foundation to provide resources to those projects that really need it.
Recruiting people like you
We make no secrets of the fact that part of your placement fee is reinvested in to recruiting volunteers just like you! The volunteers recruited in one week will typically deliver over 2000 man-days of service. The difference this makes to projects overseas is immeasurable. Many of our overseas projects rely on assistance from international volunteers, so it's necessary for us to put together brochures and websites to find the people who can support them. This recruitment process is vital to ensure programs have a constant stream of reliable volunteers.
Please note: You may be the only volunteer at your chosen project at any one time. If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact us.
What we will do after you've booked:
- Once booked on you will instantly receive a welcome email confirming your booking with access to your online account
- Community Development and Teaching customers will be requested to complete a police check (where relevant)
- We will contact you if we require anything else e.g. CV/resume for some projects, doctors note for medical conditions etc.
- We will prepare for your trip and you will receive all information required to prepare yourself in your online account
- We will ask you to complete personal information and pay your final balance if they are still due when required
- We are available for any questions you may have on firstname.lastname@example.org
What you need to do after booking your place with us:
- Book your flights
- Arrange suitable travel insurance
- Fill out your personal details through your online account
- Complete your police check if requested
- Make final payment at least 90 days before you go
- Make sure you have a visa for your trip if it's needed
- Visit a nurse or travel clinic for advice on inoculations and malaria prevention
- Read all details and prepare as much as you can for your trip
- Take contact details of the in country team and where you're going in your hand luggage - just in case!
- Get on the plane!
Flights & insurance
It's important that you get adequate travel insurance for your i to i Volunteering experience and as many of you will be working this often means standard policies won’t work. The good news is that no matter where you're coming from we have already found a policy to suit you.
The best time to get your insurance is when you book your project as this means you can get a fully tailored policy exclusive to i to i Volunteering, just ask your consultant for further details at the time of booking.
For prices, policies and key facts click here
As with insurance we advise you get these booked as early as possible to avoid high prices and to make sure you arrive on the right day. The i to i Volunteering team is right up to date with the best deals no matter where you’re flying from; their insider knowledge could save you some time and money.