Fancy some monkeying around?
Monkey business is certainly allowed on this project which is set in a stunning area of South Africa close to the wilderness of the world-famous Kruger National Park. The foundation is a huge rehabilitation centre and currently looks after around 500 monkeys, so there will be plenty of opportunities to meet the cute little things. Your time may be spent caring for injured or orphaned monkeys (in baby season Oct – March), working one on one with ex-pets, doing general maintenance work around the centre, enrichment of enclosures and contributing towards the building of new facilities. In your spare time you can even take advantage of the great location and enjoy the country’s animals in the wild.
- Living and working with Vervet Monkeys - WOW!
- Experiencing the 'bush life' in South Africa
- Meeting and making friends with people from all over the world - this is a very sociable project!
What our projects say:
- We rely on the workforce of volunteers for many tasks that otherwise couldn’t realistically be achieved without the manpower. We solely depend on volunteers for contributions and also to help fundraise towards our project goals
- Achievement of our new sickbay area would have been difficult without funding from i to i and the help of their volunteers constructing it
- Spreading the word internationally is vital, volunteers learn about conservation whilst here and therefore strive to do their best to help from a global perspective as well as whilst volunteering here
What's not included
Day 1 (Monday) – Arrive into Johannesburg International Airport (airport code JNB)
Today you will be met at the airport and taken to our backpacker’s hostel in Pretoria. 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 Pretoria should take around 45 minutes. The orientation is a crucial part of settling in to life in South Africa and 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 some time to relax and prepare before your first day at the project tomorrow.
If you aren’t able to arrange a flight to get you into Johannesburg 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.
Day 2 (Tuesday) – Introductions at your project
This is the time to get things started! Today you will be transferred to your project; you will meet your team and start your volunteering. This project is based in Tzaneen, which is roughly 420kms north of Johannesburg. To get there you’ll travel from Pretoria bus station by Translux bus, which leaves at 10.30am daily and arrives in Tzaneen at 3.40pm. A representative from the monkey sanctuary collects you from the Tzaneen bus stop –and then it is a journey of approximately 25 minutes from Tzaneen to the project.
The project and accommodation are on site, so there are no transport costs once you arrive! The team will make sure you get settled in and know what you’re doing. You will be introduced to the staff at the project who will be your main contacts while you are working. Your first day will be all about settling in and getting to know how things work.
Day 3, 4 and 5 (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) – Getting stuck in!
Be prepared for the fact that between November and February, you may be starting the day as early as 6am and finishing at 4pm in baby season including occasional overnight shifts with the babies – well worth it to see that sun rise. Outside of these months, you may start at 8am and finish at around 5pm. You have half a day off at weekends and one day off during the week. Talk to the team if you’d like to take some time to go to Kruger; you just need to make sure that your absence can be covered, that’s all.
You can expect to become involved in a variety of duties which can vary from starting with monitoring the health of monkeys in the morning to a baby shift and then possibly helping with construction or maintenance. Duties involve looking after the orphans, bowl washing, feeding, sickbay, enclosures, observations & recording data, working with and grooming ex-pet monkeys, blanket washing, construction, writing articles for newsletters or taking photos collecting fruit and vegetation for monkeys.
Now that you’ve learnt the ropes you will be acting as an extra pair of hands at the project, assisting wherever help is needed. You’ll be working alongside the regular staff so there’ll always be someone there to help you, but the more pro-active you are the more you’ll get out of your experience. If you think something needs doing, don’t be afraid to get in there and do it!
Days 6 or 7 (Saturday or Sunday) – Half day of free time
You are entitled to a half day of your own time on either day at the weekend which can be spent exploring all that the local area has to offer. Occasionally a member of staff will be able to take a group out on an afternoon (dependant on vehicles and drivers), or drop you at the nearby country lodge, pool & spa. Our suggestions include visiting Debengeni waterfalls, visiting the tea gardens and the baobab tree, relaxing at the local country lodge and spa, visiting Kruger National Park, visiting Graskop, Gods window, potholes, go on the gorge swing, quad biking, horse riding or other activities. You can then also choose a day off midweek to spend as you choose.
Mondays to Fridays will be spent at the project with your half day during the weekend and day off free to fill with whatever you fancy! Don’t forget to keep asking the staff for more challenges if you feel like it – there’s more than enough work to go around.
Once you’re ready to explore further afield the team at the sanctuary can help organise touring trips with a local qualified tour guide. Whether it’s a riverboat safari, visiting the magnificent Kruger park, or just a day chilling by the pool in a 5* hotel. The guide will collect you directly from the volunteer village and return you safely.
Your Last Day (Monday)
Say your goodbyes as the project team drop you back at Tzaneen to catch your return bus to Pretoria. Your return bus ticket is included in your project fee.
Because the journey back takes 6-7 hours, we recommend you book your flights home to depart late in the evening (after 20.30) on the last day of your trip, 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 will be able to advise you of your options. The cost of an airport transfer will be around US$50.
What does the project do?
The project provides a sanctuary for orphaned, abused or injured vervet monkeys and aims to rehabilitate them back into the world or into natural enclosures for those that can't be. They also educate the local community on how to peacefully co-exist with vervets as well as explaining the importance of the vervet in the eco-system. The Vervet monkey is listed on CITES appendix 2 as threatened.
The project integrates young monkeys into troops so that they grow up to be valuable members of that troop. From this point they will live in a soft release environment on-site and when a suitable habitat is found they will be released back into the wild.
The project is verified by GFAS (Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries) and they are members of PASA (Pan African Sanctuary Alliance). PASA carries out inspections every 2 to 3 years to check faciltiies and there are also visits from the local SPCA and Department of Nature Conservation to ensure that all animals are well looked after.
What’s the project like?
The sanctuary is in one of our most rural locations, Tzaneen, and gives you an opportunity to get involved in a project where the Vervet monkey is the epicentre of everyone’s attention. If you’re not into Vervet monkeys then this isn’t the project for you! Everything you do here is with the precious primates in mind, whether that is preparing food, washing, cleaning, cooking – you’re all working together for the same cause.
There are approximately 500 vervet monkeys in the 25 hectare sanctuary with over 10 large enclosures and many smaller introduction cages. The foundation has a sickbay on site to treat injured or sick monkeys, has 12 local volunteer staff in addition to the volunteers.
The project promotes a vegan lifestyle and works to educate all on how the way we live affects the lives of wildlife and their habitats. Their hope is that this will encourage more people to understand that looking after the environment and planet begins at home.
Why does the project need volunteers?
The project relies solely on volunteers for funding and to help the centre run. They would be unable to achieve many of their goals without your help. Examples are constructing new enclosures, looking after babies, bringing new skills amongst many others. The monkey sickbay was built solely by volunteers and our volunteer staff along with our baby care centre and many other enclosures.
Please note we require a TB test to be completed for you to participate in this project. You’ll be spending lots of time in close proximity to these rare creatures so we need to ensure that you don’t have any communicable diseases that you might pass on to them. A chest x-ray will need to be carried out in order to show the results, and you’ll need to take the results with you to South Africa.
We can’t read the x-rays ourselves so would need the written reports from volunteers, they can bring it with them or e-mail it to us in advance. Otherwise, they can have a chest x-ray here on arrival which is often cheaper and works out around R375.
Activities and schedule
Your working hours on this project are roughly from 7am-4pm will be Monday – Friday with one day off midweek and a half day off at the weekend. There are different areas to participate in, including:
- Caring for orphans – orphaned vervets in baby season between November to February who need constant supervision and care by volunteers in order to have the best start in life.
- Construction – you can help to build new enclosures, maintenance, fencing, eradicating invader plant species. These tasks mean that you can leave part of what you have achieved behind and see the end results; for example when a monkey moves to a new enclosure that you have helped construct.
- Day to day care of enclosures – watering, enrichment of cages, feeding, de-worming, administering medications, grooming, possibly one to one time with monkeys helping integrating monkeys into new troops (for the longer stay volunteers). This is a very important part of the rehabilitation process and one of which you are welcome to participate in.
Project resources and advice
You will find all resources that you need at this project so there’s no need to bring anything along from home.
If you do have a specific interest in a field that you’d like to get involved in at the project please let us know. 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?
You will live in basic but clean 2 person wooden cabins at the project location, sleeping on mattresses. The cabins do not have electricity, so please bring a torch/flashlight and plenty of batteries.
You should bring your own bedding although you will have a mattress, sheet, pillowcase and pillow provided. Toilets are eco style toilets with worms and enzymes that do the composting, and showers are bush showers but have limited running hot water. Due to the fact water is brought onto the site each day; you will only be able to take one shower a day.
The accommodation area has a shower, toilet, kitchen and a campfire for evening BBQ’s (braais!). Crockery and cutlery is provided. There is also a computer with internet at the volunteer cottage and a mini self service bar with soft & alcoholic drinks, crisps and chocolate for sale.
Breakfast is self-service and food is provided at the project. Lunch and dinner is provided and prepared by our qualified nutritional consultant and chef from Monday to Friday. You'll need to prepare the meals for yourselves over weekends, which is an opportunity for anyone who likes cooking to get inventive. It is important to note that meals are vegan, but our chef will ensure they are varied and delicious, including a sweet treat for desert twice a week! The meals are suitable for vegans and vegetarians, as well as everyone else. A vegan diet is also more in keeping with the project’s ethos of doing as much for the animals, environment, habitat loss, people and the planet as possible.
If you are a non-vegan and would like to indulge yourself, you are welcome to visit a local lodge or restaurant for a meal if you wish (at your own expense), although please do not bring any meat or fish onto the premises of the project.
Tzaneen has a subtropical climate with many scenic opportunities nearby such as waterfalls, Kruger National Park, Baobab tree, tea gardens, country lodge & spa.
Things to bring from home
Here is a list of suggested items to bring sent directly from the monkey project to make your stay even more comfortable:
- 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)
- Light raincoat / waterproof trousers during rainy season (Nov – Mar)
- Torch and rechargeable camping light
- Rehydration sachets
Where is the accommodation?
On site! In an accommodation village fully equipped for your needs during your stay.
How far is it from my project?
You're based on the project itself, you’ll never be late for work!
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. More
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. More
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. More
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. More
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. More
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 Big Giving initiative 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.
The intangible benefits
Volunteering through a company like i to i has a lot of intangible benefits to developing overseas communities and the individual projects that we work with. To find out more about our placements. click here
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 email@example.com
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.