In Port Elizabeth, South Africa's sun city, you have the possibility to volunteer at a very professionally run rescue centre for African Penguins and other seabirds. You will be part of a group of volunteers from all over the world. Also supervised internships are possible for students of related courses.
What is your placement organisation doing?
The Penguin and Seabird Rescue Centre in Port Elizabeth was founded in the year 2000 as a result of an oil spill, when a large amount of oil was released into the ocean, threatening the life of more than 20,000 penguins.
Today, only a total of 25,000 breeding pairs of the African Penguin exist in the whole world, out of which 21,000 can be found in the Algoa Bay around Port Elizabeth, making it the area with the largest breeding colony of African Penguins in the world.
The Penguin and Seabrid Rescue Centre is caring for sick, injured or malnourished penguins and other seabirds such as seagulls, gannets, and cormorants. They are being cleaned from oil, veterinarily treated, fed, and finally released into the bay.
As a result of climate change it is getting increasingly difficult for seabirds to find sufficient food for themselves and their hatchlings. To reach the cold streams where penguins can find their food they have to swim up to 60 km (40 miles) away from their breeding grounds.
Maritime traffic and the increasing pollution of the bay and breeding grounds impose a further threat to the animals. An oil spill of the size of a coin on the feathers of a bird is sufficent to immobilize the bird or even cause its death.
The work of the Penguin and Seabird Rescue Centre is vital for the protection and conservation of the penguin breeding colony and other seabirds of Algoa Bay. Besides rescuing endangered species, the project also informs the public about the need to do conservation work. The project's visitor centre is home to a comprehensive exhibition where the tourists, school classes, and the general population can learn about penguins and other marine animals.
Video about a day as a volunteer in the Penguin Rescue Centre in Port Elizabeth
How can you get involved?
Would you like to help to rescue endangered penguins?
Then this is your project! As a volunteer you will join various activities related to the protection of penguins and other seabirds.
The facility is open 365 days a year. Volunteers work 5 days a week according to a work plan, includeing weekends. If you work on the weekend, you'll get a weekday off instead. You will be helping from 8am to 5pm with a one-hour lunch break and two short tea breaks.
Your activities include:
Bird hospital and bird rescue
Your activities include:
Bird hospital and bird rescue
- Ensuring hygiene and cleanliness in the rehabilitation centre
- Washing and drying of laundry
- Cleaning enclosures, pools and equipment
- Preparing food for the birds (fish)
- Preparing and administering medication for the birds
- Tube-feeding undernourished birds
- Wash, feed and care for bird that are brought in
- Catching and handling birds
- Assisting with bird release preparation
- Joining the staff when possible at rescues in the Port Elizabeth area
- Teaching children about the work of the institution
- Other environmental education for children focusing on "Ocean Habitat"
- Preparing displays and educational materials
- Sending letters of thanks to donors
- Tracking donations
- Preparing penguin adoption packs
- Participation in fund-raising activities
Activities in the visitor center
- Welcoming visitors
- Guiding visitors and school groups through the center
- Attending to "Bird Calls" (phone calls related to birds in need of rescue)
- Administrative activities (answering phone calls, answering emails, receiving deliveries, stocktake, order goods, etc.)
- Entering visitor data in the database
- Helping out at the centre's coffee shop
The centers receives different species of seabirds at different months. Penguins are in the center all year round, but there is a peak between October and January, when many abandoned chicks are admitted. Also for other seabirds there are certain months, during which there is a higher intake of birds for different reasons:
- Cormorants, weak juveniles January-March
- Cape Gannets, weak juveniles and abandoned chicks January to May
- Hartlaub's Gulls, abandoned chicks from February to April
- Kelp gulls, botulism disease from January to June
- Swift Terns, abandoned chicks from February to April
Volunteers should be physically and mentally resilient, have no trouble getting dirty, be able to work in a team as well as independently, follow the processes and directions of the facility, and be reliable.
If you are pregnant, you take certain medications, have animal allergies or allergies to detergents, please ask your physician whether you can volunteer with seabirds.
At the penguin and seabird rescue centre it is also to do an internship which is supervised by a biologist. These internships are aimed at students of related fields of study. In comparison to volunteering, more in-depth specialist knowledge is taught in case of an internship.
Location: Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Availability: throughout the year, flexible starting date
Minimum duration: 6 weeks
Maximum duration: 90 days
Language skills required: English
Accommodation: Dorm room or single room at shared volunteer house
Internship possible: Yes
Qualification of supervisor: Biologist
Minimum qualification intern: Student of related subject
Further contribution to the project: The minimum duration for an internship is 12 weeks, for which an additional one-time project contribution of 620 EUR applies. For longer stays, an additional weekly contribution of 70 EUR applies from the 13th week.
Volunteering possible: Yes
Expected qualification volunteers: Being proactive and motivated
Further contribution to the projekt: For a stay of 6 week, a one-time project contribution of 200 EUR applies. For longer stays, an additional weekly contribution of 70 EUR applies from the 7th week.
Professional work, the "right" attitude
Accommodation in Port Elizabeth
You will stay at a volunteer house shared with other volunteers. It is located in a safe upmarket residential area of Port Elizabeth, the popular beach area of Humewood, at just 5 minutes from the beach. Shops, beach cafés and restaurants are easily reachable. It is the perfect location to enjoy the beach after your work, or on weekends.
The house has 9 bedrooms, 2 kitches, 6 bathrooms, 2 washing machines, a large dining area and 2 sitting rooms. Great Extras: There is a garden pool to refresh and the house has ocean view! Wifi internet is free and you can access it with your smartphone, tablet or computer. Two cleaners are making sure the accommodation is clean and neat.
Bed sheets are provided, but you should bring your own towels, preferably of the kind that easily dries in hot and humid climates.
You share your room with other volunteers. Some larger rooms accommodate 4-6 persons, while some smaller rooms accommodate only 2-3 volunteers. The room plan is made by the local coordinator depending on availability.
The dorm rooms and bathrooms are separated by sex.
If you prefer a single room, this is possible at a small extra (subject to availability).
Your accommodation includes 3 meals per day, which are freshly prepared by a cook. During weekends, the residents prepare their own meals, for which ingredients are provided. Free coffee, tea and juice are always available. Please inform us if you prefer vegetarian meals or if you have any food allergies, and we will try to consider your wishes.
Single room: If you prefer more privacy, you can stay at a single room at the volunteer house (subject to availability)
I. World Unite! Service Package
Mobile/Cell Phone Users: If you don't see the rates for your desired duration of stay, hide other (shorter) durations of stay.
|up to 31 Days||32-60 Days||61-90 Days||91-120 Days||5 Months or longer|
|690 EUR||750 EUR||800 EUR||850 EUR||900 EUR|
(Rate per Person)
|630 EUR||690 EUR||700 EUR||750 EUR||800 EUR|
Convert rates to USD, GBP, CAD, AUD and other currencies
The World Unite! Service Package includes:
- Individual Consultation and Preparation prior to your arrival
- Access to the World Unite! Online Resource Centre which has Preparation Materials including Intercultural Preparation, compiled particularly for your destination (PDFs, Videos)
- Preparation Session via Skype; together with further participants
- Pick-up and Transfers from/to Port Elizabeth (PLZ) Airport in case of placement in Port Elizabeth respectively Cape Town (CPT) in case of placement in Cape Town on arrival and departure
- Personal support staff at your location and at our international office
- Orientation and Introduction in Port Elizabeth / Cape Town
- Accompanying you to your placement on your first day
- 24 Hours emergency support by local support team
- Contribution to your project of at least 50 USD
- Local SIM Card with 100 ZAR air time
- Issuance of Confirmations/Certificates for your university, scholarship, insurance, etc. and filling out/signing Internship Contracts for your university
- 15% Discount for Safaris, Kilimanjaro Climbs, Excursions and Watersports Activities offered by "Budget Safari Tanzania"
- Costs for 10 seedlings of indigenous trees that we plant on the slopes of Kilimanjaro
The Rates do NOT include:
- Accommodation and Meals (see below)
- Travel to/from Port Elizabeth / Cape Town (you book it on your own; we can assist you)
- Insurance (Travel Health Insurance, Liability Insurance, Travel Cancellation insurance; you book it on your own, we can assist you)
- Personal Expenses
- Local Transport in Cape Town (Estimated amounts see below)
- Please note that for supervised/mentored internships, some organizations charge further contributions. You find this information in the "Info Box" below the respective internship description.
II. Accommodation Costs
You can choose between the following options:
| Preisangaben in EUR |
|All durations of stay |
|WG-Zimmer oder Hostel|
Shared Volunteer House on Full Board
in Port Elizabeth
|Dorm room bed p.p.||170 EUR/week|
Hostel without meals
in central Cape Town
|2 Persons p.p.
|Dorm room bed p.p.||20 EUR/night|
Room at shared apartment
in central Cape Town
|2 Persons p.p.
Surf Hostel without meals
in Muizenberg Beach
|2 Persons p.p.
|Dorm room bed p.p.||15 EUR/night|
Lodge without meals
in Table View (northern Cape Town)
|2 or 3 Persons p.p.
|Dorm room bed p.p.||100 EUR/week|
Host family of upper standards
on full board in Cape Town
(incl. Muizenberg Beach & Table View)
|2 Persons p.p.
*You pay incomplete months (exceeding the first month) proportionally per day
In case of 3-4 person: Same rate as in case of 2 Persons. 5 or more persons: Contact us for group rates.
Overview of other costs:
- Small local expenses in Cape Town (e.g. Internet, local transport): around 30-50 USD/Month (Estimate)
- Insurances around 30-50 USD/Month
- If your flights are scheduled outside the time slot from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., there will be an additional cost of 25 EUR per night transfer
How do I pay?
Once all your questions have been answered and you confirm that you want to participate, we will email you an invoice. You can pay it via bank transfer, credit card or via Paypal. You will pay a deposit of 200 EUR / 250 USD when the invoice is issued. One months prior to your arrival you will pay the remainder for your Service Package.
The payment modalities for rent and possible further costs (e.g. internship supervision fees, as stated in info box of the respective project description) depend on your host country and placement. We will inform you beforehand. In many cases these costs are paid on site, but for some countries and placements they need to be paid partially or fully in advance.
Other Projects That Might Interest You:
These projects are suggestions for alternatives that may interest you or those that could be chosen as COMBINATIONS. The combination of projects in different organizations is often possible and usually cheaper than two individual bookings.
Safaris, Kilimanjaro Climbs, Day Trips, Watersports
As "Budget Safari Tanzania" we are arranging cost-effective yet high-quality safaris, Kilimanjaro climbs, excursions, and watersports activities in Tanzania and Zanzibar. You will group with other World Unite! participants and further travellers.
As a World Unite! participant, you get a 15% discount on all offers of Budget Safari Tanzania. We will share a Discount Code with you that you can use with the online booking of your safari, Kilimanjaro climb, excursion or watersports activity.
This is the Website of Budget Safari Tanzania.
Travel Health Insurance
We recommend the following travel insurance that is meant specifically for participants of internships, volunteering, language study, working holiday, and courses abroad. It is available for travelers of all nationalities and usable for all countries, except your home country. You can also add a journey liability insurance.
Just click on the link, fill in the form and you will get a confirmation email.
Port Elizabeth is located on South Africa's southern Indian Ocean coast.
The city, which has around 240,000 inhabitants, and which the South Africans usually simply refer to as "PE", has the reputation of being the "friendliest city of South Africa". It stretches for 16 km along the coast of the Algoa Bay. The parts of the city you can find along the shore line with its attractive beaches, are tidy, clean, modern, chic, and have lots of open space.
Just next to this, you can however find the densely populated townships, of which only the Walmer Township is located within the official grounds of the city of Port Elizabeth and is therefore included in the city's official population count. Other major townships around Port Elizabeth are Motherwell, Zwide, Kwazakhele, KwaMagxaki and New Brighton, where many people live in very little space under poor conditions.
The Algoa Bay is of major ecological importance for many seabirds at the southernmost tip of the African continent. Approximately half of the entire global population of the endangered African penguin (African Penguin) live on the islands of the Algoa Bay.
Due to the tidiness of city, its high development level, our accommodation at the shared volunteer house of high standards, and the personal and comprehensive support provided by Samantha, we recommend a placement in Port Elizabeth particularly to younger and less travel-experienced participants.
During your leisure time, you can relax at our cozy volunteer house (with pool!) or take long walks on the beach, which is just a 5-minutes' walk from your accommodation. Port Elizabeth is the perfect destination for excursions to the numerous National Parks and nature reserves of the Eastern Cape such as the Kragga Kamma Game Park, Shamwari Game Reserve or the well-known Addo Elephant Park.
Getting to South Africa
South Africa's two largest airports, Cape Town (CTP) and Johannesburg (JNB), are internationally well connected.
Port Elizabeth (PLZ) can usually be reached by flight with a transfer in Johannesburg or Cape Town. There are several low cost carriers in South Africa offering domestic flights that you might also book separately from your international flight to reach Port Elizabeth. In the case of our placements in Cape Town, your flights should be scheduled between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.. If your flight arrives outside of this time frame (or departs on the return journey), we charge an extra 25 EUR per night transfer.
Some South African airlines such as mango connect certain South African cities with Zanzibar, however not throughout the year. They might be an option to look into when combining our two destinations Zanzibar and South Africa.