If you have the urge to work with animals and care to protect the penguins in South Africa, then Volunteering Solutions has the perfect program you! The Penguin and Marine Bird Rescue Program aims at protecting and caring for the avian species who have been affected by the adverse effects of human behavior.

Volunteering Solutions, in association with a local South African organization, focuses mainly on caring for sick or injured African Penguins (also known as Jackass Penguins) because of their vulnerability as well as other marine birds such as gannets, cormorants, and seagulls. As a volunteer, you'll have to play an active role to rescue and rehabilitate, as well as to inform and educate the public through their different programs. The extensive displays at the center give tourists, school groups, and other visitors the opportunity to learn about these endangered birds but also a wider variety of marine life in the beautiful and incredibly diverse Algoa Bay.

This program would be a perfect choice for animal lovers, who wish to make a difference through active contribution. 

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Program Requirements

Participation in this program requires a minimum time commitment of 6 weeks. Volunteers must be 18 years or older at the time of joining the project. Participants should have an open mind and flexible attitude for working outdoors and should have a keen interest and love for animals. Volunteers joining this program should be physically fit and comfortable working outdoors and getting their hands dirty. The participant should be compassionate and of a caring nature with a love for sea birds. Participants in the program need to be up to date with their Tetanus vaccination prior to joining the program.

Volunteer Roles & Responsibilities

Being a part of this project, you'll be playing an active role in carrying out the following:

  • Assisting in a variety of tasks and activities such as Welcoming visitors, Answering the phone and office duties, Guiding visitors and school groups through the center, Helping at the coffee shop when needed.

Work at the Sea school 

  • Teaching the visiting children about the center
  • Helping with rock pool and shipwreck lessons
  • Looking after displays and educational material

Work at the Bird hospital

  • Scrubbing and cleaning the bird hospital facilities
  • Preparing food and medication
  • Feeding the penguins and other birds
  • Cleaning and caring for the birds that are brought in
  • Joining the staff (when possible) at rescues in the Port Elizabeth area

Volunteer Work Schedule

You'll be working from Monday to Friday, from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Weekends are off and you can head out to explore the beautiful town of Port Elizabeth.

The program starts on Monday and the volunteers will have to arrive that day. You will be picked up at either the airport or any accommodation in Port Elizabeth on Monday morning, after which you will have time to settle in and explore the area. Tuesday will be your introduction day at the project. If you arrive before Monday we can assist with accommodation at a backpackers or guesthouse for you.

Note: Participation is per full weeks only and the project will be closed for about 3 weeks over Christmas and New Year’s every year.


Airport Transfer

Volunteers are picked up from the Port Elizabeth Airport on the program start date i.e Monday and dropped off back to the airport after their project stay is over. Daily transportation to and from project placement to the accommodation is also included in your program fee.


Upon arrival all volunteers are given a detailed welcome pack with information guide, free sim card, maps etc. Volunteers are also given an introduction to the program as well as a tour of the area around before starting their program.


Volunteers in the Port Elizabeth program are provided accommodation at a backpacker lodge.

Superbly located in a prime spot in Port Elizabeth, close to beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife, the accommodation is a comfortable and relaxing space that volunteers can call home. Rated as 3-star backpackers by The South African Grading Council, the lodge is a quiet sanctuary where volunteers can find relax and enjoy this time with others. It is a place where friendships are forged, and memories are made.

The Lodge is made up of various spaces, living areas, bathrooms and 3 bedrooms with other rooms optional for couples and older volunteers. The house has a nice entertainment area with barbecue (braai) facilities, a comfortable lounge with fireplace and a sparkling pool that you can happily dive into on a hot day.  A great area to socialize with your fellow volunteers from all over the world.  The interior of the Lodge is laid back and cosy with an African feel.

Note: If you would like to have a private room, we will gladly see if we can arrange that for the small surcharge per week. Couples and older volunteers will have a preference for private rooms if available, but if you want to be guaranteed a private room we will have to charge this extra fee. Let us know if you want more information.


Three meals per day are included and we work on a set menu per week, lovingly prepared by our cook with your assistance. There is free coffee, tea and drinking water available at any time.For breakfast you will have continental buffet with a choice of bread, fruit, yoghurt, cereals and/or eggs. For lunch, you can make your own sandwiches with cheese, marmalade, cold meat or other spreads to take with you to the project. Dinners are a variety of hearty healthy meals such as soups, stews, pies, oven dishes and other options.

We cater for vegetarians and vegans but please inform us before arriving to prepare accordingly.

During your Free Time

You will have the weekend free wherein you will have time to explore other locations in South Africa as well.You can choose to fly into Cape Town for the weekend and explore the city or just spend the weekend chilling at the volunteer house with other likeminded volunteers from around the world.Other activities that you can get involved in include sandboarding down the giant dunes, having close encounters with peaceful pachyderms at Addo Elephant Park, hiking in the lush coastal countryside around Port Elizabeth…and much more

Program Cost

Please Note: -An application fee of $229 is charged over and above the program fee as an application payment. (A 4% international banking fee is charged at the time of payment)

What are you Paying for?

  • Information and assistance before departure 
  • Pick up upon arrival and drop off at the end of your stay
  • Welcome pack with the information guide, free SIM-card, maps, etc. upon arrival
  • City Tour and Introduction Programme
  • Accommodation in volunteer house close to the beach 
  • (7 nights per week of volunteering booked)
  • Volunteer coordinator available 24/7
  • 3 meals a day
  • Direct donation to the project’s needs
  • Transport to and from the project
  • The offer of weekend trips and outings (extra costs apply)
  • Certificate Of Completion (Upon Request)

What's NOT included?

  • Private Luxuries (snacks, soft drinks, alcohol etc.)
  • Costs for weekend outings to safari parks etc.
  • Air tickets
  • Insurance 
  • Weekend Pick up and Drop off at airport

Program Dates

Months 2023
January 09162330
February 06132027
March 06132027
April 03101724
May 0108152229
June 05121926
July 0310172431
August 07142128
September 04111825
October 0209162330
November 06132027
December 04111825

Available Filling Fast Not Available Past Date




FAQ's Application and Program Details

It is advised to apply for the projects once the volunteering/ traveling dates are decided as there are limited spots available. Our service is based on first come first serve basis. As soon as you decide the travel dates, we suggest you apply for the program and hold your spot.

Usually, it takes around 10-12 working days for the application to be processed and placement to be confirmed. After we review your CV and documents, your booking is confirmed and the booking confirmation is updated in your ‘My Account’ and you can view the information in your account. The application acceptance depends on the availability of seats in the project as well as the eligibility criteria of the program (age, skills and experience etc.).

Below are the necessary requirements to participate in the Port Elizabeth, South Africa volunteer projects:

  • Volunteer must be at least 18-year-old at the time of joining the project. 
  • Volunteer needs to have an open mind and flexible attitude for working in a new and different environment. 
  • The volunteer should bring energy and enthusiasm to make a difference.
  • The participant must be in good health.

Yes, you are welcome to take part in the Volunteer Programs as part of a group. We welcome families, friends, high school students, college/university and corporate groups to volunteer together in the Port Elizabeth programs. Volunteering Solutions has hosted student groups as well as families coming to volunteer in the program.

It is important to prepare yourself and obtain local knowledge about the country you are about to visit. Once you apply for the program, we shall provide you with the pre-departure guidebook that has all the detailed information about the lifestyle and living in South Africa. Life in this country is a little different from anywhere else in the world, and you need to adapt their ways to immerse yourself fully. Apparently, the locals might appear to be lazy, always late, talking loudly, chaotic and a little hot-headed - but once you start spending time with them, you'll realize how good at heart they are! 

Yes, most definitely you can, as we believe every participant brings something new to the project. If you do not have previous experience, we offer you the opportunity to have a great start with us. We make international volunteering easy – not only are our Volunteer Abroad opportunities rooted in offering you extensive support, but they are also very affordable. No matter whether you choose the Township Volunteering Program or the Penguin Rescue Center Program, you’ll have an incredible experience with us.

Yes, we will provide you with the Certificate after successful completion of your program. The Certificate is provided on request.

Volunteers need to arrive at Port Elizabeth International Airport (PLZ) from where you'll be picked up by our local coordinator and transferred to the volunteer house.

Your airport pickup is included in your fee when arriving on Monday or any other day of the week. If you choose to arrive on a weekend, we will gladly organize a cab to pick you up (or you can take an Uber) to any accommodation of your choice. We will collect you there on Monday morning at 9 AM to start your stay with us. 

If you prefer to come to us directly over the weekend, as well as when you depart again, we will charge an extra Weekend Fee of R200 (15 EUR) for your pick up or drop off. An additional R250 (20 EUR) per night for any extra nights outside of your booking dates. Please discuss your personal preference with us to make sure all is prepared for you.

Health and Safety

Like in any new country, you need to take general precautions for safety. You will be given safety precautions and instructions by the local coordinator team during the orientation as well as in your Pre-departure handbook after you become an enrolled participant.

As we offer free WIFI, you will be able to Skype, use Facebook or other forms of social media to stay in touch with the family and friends back home. 
To be connected in South Africa, we will give you a free local SIM card to use locally and to phone us if you need us. Please make sure your Smartphone is SIM lock free to be able to use this card. 

Safety is an issue that is paramount in the minds of volunteers visiting South Africa. Safety is important to us and by following just a few guidelines your safety in South Africa can be increased incredibly. Although South Africa is in many aspects a developed country, much of its population, particularly in rural areas, live in great poverty. 

When you stay in South Africa, the odds are that you will have a safe and incident-free volunteering period. However, crime and violence, as well as unexpected difficulties, can happen. 
Hoping to help you avoid serious difficulties during your visit to South Africa, you should keep the following in mind:

  • Safety on the Street: use the same common sense traveling in South Africa that you would at home. 
  • Don’t walk around with all your valuables visible.
  • Use taxis at night and let somebody always know where you are going.
  • Try to seem purposeful when you move about. Even if you are lost, act as if you know where you are going. When possible, ask directions from individuals in authority.

The Program looks after your safety in multiple ways during your stay:

  • We offer safe and well-equipped accommodation. The volunteer house has perimeter walls, burglar bars and a dog on the premises.
  • Our coordinators are prepared for your stay and have been instructed to keep you as safe as possible.
  • Our Code of Conduct, which will be spoken about and signed has clear do’s and don’ts which we urge volunteers to stick to. 
  • All activities and visits in the townships are supervised by our coordinators, who will walk with our volunteers and make sure they are safe.

Port Elizabeth is a malaria free area; in fact, we have very little mosquitoes at all. It is best to contact your local physician before you leave your country to check what vaccinations they advise you to have. Rabies is NOT common here and no real risk, so no need for that.
However, while there are risks anywhere you travel, South Africa has a relatively salubrious climate and the levels of hygiene, health care, and water treatment make it a pretty safe destination. Our policy is that we do not allow volunteers to be exposed to any serious health risks. Guarantees are impossible to give but we do believe that we can offer healthy working environments for volunteers, staying within reasonability of risks involved of course

Yes, for all participants, it is mandatory to have a valid travel medical insurance for their trip. Volunteers have the option to purchase Travel and Medical Insurance at a nominal extra cost from Volunteering Solutions.  To provide the best option to our participants, we offer comprehensive insurance coverage in collaboration with a leading insurance provider.

If you already have a valid Travel and Medical insurance, you can email us a copy of the same. It is also advised to bring along the Insurance documents during your trip.

Accommodation and Living
The weather in this part of Africa can be diverse and summers can get really warm, while winters can get quite cold. Port Elizabeth has a very moderate climate though due to the ocean currents and winds, cooling things down on those hot summer days. 
Not what everybody expects of Africa but bring a jacket and warm sweater to be prepared for some of those colder days, if you come in our winter months (June, July, and August).
Summer (Dec, Jan and Feb) 16 – 40 ? Celsius
Autumn (Mar, April and May) 10 - 32 ? Celsius
Winter (June, July and Aug) 8 - 25 ? Celsius
Spring (Sep, Oct and Nov) 10 - 32 ? Celsius

Your fees will cover most of your expenses but if you like to enjoy a beer or soda, want to buy some souvenirs or fancy a nice dinner eating out, we advise you to bring some extra money. Basically, keep the money for your personal expenses and trips that you would wish to take.

Bring clothing for a variety of weather conditions. Even though it is Africa, it is not always hot and especially in winter, the nights can be cold. So bring a wind jacket and some long trousers, a hat is always handy on sunny days and good shoes for weekend outings.

Connect with Past Volunteers

We encourage volunteers to get in touch with former Volunteering Solutions South Africa program participants and also other program participants joining our projects. You are recommended to join the Volunteering Solutions Facebook Page or Facebook Group to communicate with other participants.

To read alumni interviews from past participants, visit the Meet a Volunteer page on our website.

Flights and Visa

All travelers coming to South Africa need to have a valid visa.The citizens from most of the European (including UK & Ireland), African and South American countries as well as the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand do NOT need to obtain a visa beforehand and can stay in the country for a period of up to 90 days. However, you must have a passport valid for at least 6 months period.

All participants joining the South Africa volunteer projects for more than 90 days, need to apply for volunteer Visa at the nearest South African Embassy or Consulate. Along with the Visa application, you need to attach the required supporting documents. Volunteers are provided with the necessary supporting document for their South African Visa application. More detailed information shall be provided after you become a Volunteering Solutions’ enrolled participant.

There are not many direct international flights to Port Elizabeth - you will probably need to fly to Cape Town or Johannesburg and then take a connecting flight to Port Elizabeth. 
South African Airways, Mango Air, and Com Air have flight options to Port Elizabeth. 

Other Programs in South Africa

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