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Monkey sanctuary near the Kruger Park


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



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.

Trip Highlights:

  • 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

Fast facts

Project duration: 
Min 2 weeks - Max 8 weeks
Location of project: 
Near Tzaneen, around six hours from Johannesburg
Arrival airport: 
Johannesburg (airport code JNB) arrive by 4.15pm at the latest
Various types of work with animals, including helping with feeding and facilities maintenance
Working hours: 
Flexible; one day off per week worked, plus 1 touring day per week worked
Getting to the project: 
On site
Minimum age 18

What's included

Shared wooden cabins
All meals included (vegan food only - prepared by professional chef Monday to Friday)
Airport pickup: 
Included on arrival date - ask us for details if you're arriving early
In-country orientation
Pre-departure helpdesk, Local in-country team and 24hr emergency support

What's not included

Flights, Insurance, Visas, Return Airport transfer, Local Transport


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.

Following weeks

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.

Accommodation facilities

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

Next steps

Flights & insurance

Country information

I've done this trip. Write review >
Rachel Bryan gives this project
Here is what Rachel had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
The highlights of my trip were meeting great people from around the world, getting to pet a cheetah, and going on safari.
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
1. RESEARCH the country, location, animals you will be working with, etc. 2. Go in with an open mind. 3. Take advantage of any travel time you are given.
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
A great adventure that made me want to do more!
Davina Pease gives this project
Here is what Davina had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
The whole trip was a great experience!
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
I would definitely recommend i-to-i to anyone interested in doing a worthwhile project, whether it's conservation or humanitarian.
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
I could not fault the whole experience!
Mercedes Wilson gives this project
Here is what Mercedes had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
Working with the monkeys was amazing. A life-changing experience. We also were given days off specifically to go touring - and I got to do a 3 day tour of the Kruger. Seeing all the Big 5 was surreal!
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
There's enough medication, sunscreen and mosquito repellent supplied already - so you don't need to bring any. Bring a head torch and take a whole lot of cash if you want to do more than just sit around on your days off.
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
A magical moment in my life.
Helen Van Dam gives this project
Here is what Helen had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
Sitting in with some of the monkeys. Grooming and being groomed by them was something I never expected to happend, but was truely amazing!
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
1. Get out and explore the local town and the surrounding area. There are weekend trips to go on, but do more than that. Becaus you will not be living with South Africans getting out there is your only chance to experience South African culture so do it. It is an awesome experience and well worth it, just remember to stay safe in numbers. 2. South Africa has two seasons one where is it hot all the time and one where it cools down at night. They may be selling long sleeve clothing in the stores, but it is still really hot during the winter months so pack accordingly. 3. Learn all you can about the project you are working on and the Culture you are working with, otherwise it would be a wasted experience.
Annaliese White gives this project
Here is what Annaliese had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
Visiting Kruger national park and seeing the big 5. Day visit to Graskop and doing the zip wire across a gorge. Working so hands on with all the monkeys and getting to do a variety of jobs that all contributed to helping the monkeys.
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
1. Take lots if warm clothing it got very cold at night 2. Take old clothes that you don't mind getting ruined and dirty 3. A really good torch and lots of batteries!!
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
beautiful country, the monkeys cheeky but adorable, such a fantastic experience.
Wendy Morgan gives this project
Here is what Wendy had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
Working with vervet monkeys firsthand
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
1, Contact the volunteer site directly re clothing, living accoumodations, age of volunteers
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
Vanessa Moffit gives this project
Here is what Vanessa had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
The hands-on experience we had with the Vervet monkeys. Being giving responsibility for certain duties and tasks. I loved the fact that "tent village" where we slept had no electricity.
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
Do not rely on i-to-i for temperature when you are doing your volunteering, but search on the internet to find out what it will be. It was a lot hotter when I went, than I had been led to believe by i-to-i Huge amounts of hard physical work, but SO worthwhile because of the hands-on experience you get. Enjoy and make the most. It's a wonderful opportunity, set in stunning african location.
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
Opportunity of a lifetime working with such amazing creatures.
Clare Humes gives this project
Here is what Clare had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
Being groomed by monkeys. Looking after baby orphan monkeys. Going to Kruger National park and seeing lots of amazing animals close up.
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
It takes a little while to get into it, so it's worth staying for longer if possible. Be prepared for snakes and scorpions in your cabin and in the showers! Go to Kruger!
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
An amazing experience, which I didn't want to leave.
Elizabeth Hamilton gives this project
Here is what Elizabeth had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
I loved that we were actively involved with the monkeys, getting to know particular monkeys, and it was amazing being able to help with the orphans that arrived at the Foundation during my stay.
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
Be prepared to get dirty, bring an alarm clock (for the 7am starts!) and just enjoy yourself!
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
Hardwork, but worthwhile and fun at the same time!
Suzannah Gregory gives this project
Here is what Suzannah had to say:
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
1. enjoy every second and take every opportunity to experience something different. 2. do all you can to help out while at your project then travel afterwards 3. don't be put off by what other people or the news tells you about the country- just follow the incountry advice and be careful.
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
Absolutely incredible & 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.