Volunteer Abroad FAQ South Africa | Eastern Shores

Whale and Leopard Research

Prior to departure

Do I need specific requirements or abilities to apply for this project?

In order to apply for this project, you need to be over 18 and have sufficient English skills to follow the instructions. It is also important that you are physically fit, because you may work under high temperatures. To be able to participate at the whale survey you also need a good vison. You do not need any special knowledge or prerequisites to take part at the project, but should be flexible, open and willing to work in a team as well as independently and be motivated to work as part of a species conservation project. Regarding visa requirements, you should inform yourself in advance at the department of foreign affairs of your home country or ask the NATUCATE team directly.

Which services does the price include?

Prior to your departure we will support you during the organization of your travel plans and secure you a placement at the project. If you like we can also assist you to find a suitable travel insurance and flights. At the project you will have access drinking water and food which you can use to prepare you meals. The accommodation during the project is also included. Experienced staff members will give you an introduction to the project and will be there for you if you have any questions. The NATUCATE Team will also be available for you if there should be any questions or problems. Flights, travel insurance, visa fees, airport transfer, other drinks and groceries as well as other personal expenses are not included in the program fee.

Do I need certain medical precautions or requirements?

In general, we recommend you talk to your doctor and see what vaccinations he suggests. It is advised to be vaccinated against Morbilli, Mumps and Rubella (MMR), Diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus. You should also consider being vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B, typhoid fever, rabies, and pneumococci and also think about taking prevention medications and/or standby emergency malaria treatments with you – even though most parts of South Africa are supposed to be free from malaria. Before your departure you should speak to your doctor about the different ways to prevent malaria. It may be helpful to pack a small amount of medication with you. These should include plasters and medication against diarrhea, headache, and nausea. If you take medication on a regular basis please make sure to take enough medication with you, as the medical supply may not be sufficient in certain cases while you are at the project.

For current information about South Africa you should check out the homepage of the foreign department of your home country. You need a travel insurance to start your volunteering work with NATUCATE.

How long can I participate in the project?

It is possible to volunteer for two, four or six weeks in this project.

What kind of equipment should I take with me?

You should pack sturdy shoes, binoculars and clothes which are coloured in beige, khaki, ochre, or similar colors. Do not forget to bring long-sleeved, light clothing to protect you from insect bites. Since it can get cold during the nights and in the mornings, we recommend you bring some warm clothing as well, a scarf to cover your face and maybe a thermal bottle for a warm drink during excursions in the morning. During the day and hot hours over noon short sleeved clothing is the most comfortable. For the rain season during summer you should also pack a waterproof jacket and pants. Other items you should pack include towels, a mosquito net, insect repellant, sunscreen, a hat to protect you from the sun, a daypack, a water bottle and a headlamp.


How do I arrive at my destination? Do I have to organize it myself?

We will support you with the organization of your journey to South Africa, but you need to do the final bookings on your own. The best way to get to the project is by flying to Johannesburg and to take a national flight from there to Richards Bay. For a fee of 115 € we can arrange a transfer for you, who will pick you up and bring you to the city of Mtubatuba. There a staff member will welcome you and bring you to your accommodation in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park

During the project

How is the project structured?

After your arrival you have some time to make yourself comfortable, get to know the team and a short overview about the project and volunteer tasks. The team will be divided into three smaller groups and will rotate between the whale and leopard surveys.

When you support the whale survey your main tasks will be to look out for whales anear the coast from a view tower. If whales re sighted you will start to note down all relevant Data about distance, movement patterns, speed and location. In case of string winds or heavy rainfall the whale monitoring will be put on a break.

While you are assisting the team at the leopard survey you will be in charge of installing and deinstalling the camera traps, their regular controls as well as downloading and recording the collected data.

After work you will return to your accommodation with the rest of the group and have the evening for yourself.

How big is the group?

The size of the group will be between six and ten volunteers.

Life on site

What is the accommodation like?

Together with the other volunteers you will be accommodated in a volunteer house close to Lake Banghazi located in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. The house has four double bedrooms, a shared bathroom, a communal kitchen, and a lounge. There is also an outdoor area with possibilities to relax and to make a barbecue.

Is it possible to share rooms with a partner?

In general, it is no problem to travel with a partner – but it depends on the size and constellation of the group, which is why we cannot guarantee you that it is possible. Please notify us in advance so we can prepare accordingly.

How is the food provided?

The local staff will provide you with basic groceries, which you can use to prepare your daily meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The kitchen is equipped with a stove, a microwave, a fireplace and a stovetop. You will also have access to drinking water. If you would like to have other beverages you will need to buy these in your own.

Is it possible to receive vegetarian meals?

Since you will prepare your meals on your own it is possible to prepare vegetarian meals. Moreover, please also inform us about special dietary needs (allergies, vegetarian etc.), as the team needs to prepare for that as well.

How can I spend my free time?

After your first research activities in the morning you will return to the accommodation and have free time over noon, where you can relax at the volunteer house. Evenings are free as well. You can play games, read a book, or enjoy nature and spend the day with the rest of the group at the barbecue.

Do I have a contact person on site?

On site there is always a staff member there for you, who will help you with questions and problems. You can also contact the NATUCATE team whenever needed.

What kind of cost do I have to expect during the project? Can I withdraw cash on site and do I have to pay in local currency?

The local currency in South Africa is the South African rand. While in South Africa you should exchange euro or dollar instead of Traveler Cheques. In bigger cities it is possible most of the times to pay by card. Usually smaller shops only accept cash – it is not possible to pay with another currency than south African rand. The easiest way to exchange money is to take money from an ATM. Please keep in mind that in many cases a transaction fee of 5 $ is charged when taking money from your bank account when you are abroad. We would recommend you contact your bank and inform yourself about the regulations, as well as to have a certain amount of money available for your time before and after the project in case of an emergency.

How can I contact family and friends at home?

There is an Ethernet cable available in the house which you can use with your own laptop to stay in touch with your family and friends. We would also recommend you bring your own smartphone (Tri or Quadband) and buy a South African sim card at the airport to be able to call or send text messages home. Depending on the sim card provider it can be possible to use internet as well.

What’s the weather/climate like?

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park is located in the subtropical region of Africa. The weather is mild most of the time. During the winter months (May till July) the temperature drops to between 14 and 18 °C and light rain showers may occur. During the evenings it can get very cold, but the temperature never drops below 0 °C. The average temperature in summer (January till March) is around 26°C. Especially during the summer months the tropical climate can be very damp and there are also heavy rainfalls.

Do you have further questions that you did not find here?

Then call us at +49 241-91994357 or send an e-mail to info@natucate.com

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