Quick Facts

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town International Airport

Every Monday

1 - 12 weeks

Impact: Marine Conservation

R12225 – R92610

Assist with the conservation of the Marine Big 5 — including great white sharks, dolphins, whales, seals, and the endangered African penguin — in Gansbaai, South Africa (just two and a half hours from Cape Town). Meet some of the ocean’s largest animals up close, and help with the research and conservation of some of nature’s most threatened creatures. Play your part, for Science Saves Sharks & Every Penguin Counts.

Read more about the Importance of Conservation, a Volunteer’s Viewpoint.

Project Highlights

Witness incredible marine wildlife, with the chance to spot the 'African Marine Big 5' - sharks, whales, dolphins, seals and penguins.

Volunteer on ecotourism boats - sharing your passion for marine wildlife with tourists, raising awareness and promoting marine conservation.

Learn basic seamanship skills including boat handling and general maintenance.

Enjoy the opportunity to see sharks up-close from the safety of cages (shark behaviour permitting). Observe and document their characteristics and behaviour to support vital research and conservation initiatives.

Make yourself at home in Gansbaai, a seaside village on the south coast of South Africa, known as the Great White Shark capital of the world. Explore the surrounding area and visit the city of Cape Town, just 2 hours away.

The Destination

Gansbaai is known for being the Great White Shark capital of the world. This little fishing town will become your home away from home during your work and volunteer experience in Africa.

The project office is based at The Great White House where you will be briefed. This facility has a fully equipped restaurant and curio shop and two dedicated briefing rooms. Walking to the office is easy, quick and safe and will only take between 10 and 15 minutes.

You will stay close to the harbour, which bustles with action as people head out on boats to sea. The house is very comfortable with dorm rooms, a kitchen, a dining area, and a lounge with a television and DVD player. You can relax on the outside patio and cool off in the swimming pool on hot summer evenings. There is a small supermarket nearby and you can safely walk around at any time of day or night.

Breakfast is a help-yourself affair. You will enjoy lunch on the boat and tea and scones in the afternoons when you return from your day’s work. Dinner is your responsibility – you can explore one of the local restaurants or cook your own meals at home. Embark on the adventure of a lifetime as you discover an amazing new world under the sea.

WiFi available.

Gansbaai has a Mediterranean-style climate: wet and cool winters, dry and warm summers. The annual average temperature is a delightful 17 degrees celsius. During the months of March, April, May, October, November, and December you are most likely to experience good weather with average temperatures that fall between 20 degrees Celsius (68°F) and 25 degrees Celsius (77°F).

The months of June, July, and August have a high chance of rain. Gansbaai has dry periods in January, February, November, and December. The warmest month is January with an average maximum temperature of 26°C (78°F). The coldest month is August with an average maximum temperature of 17°C (62°F).

Project Impact Areas


As a shark and marine ecotourism volunteer, you’ll spend most of your time working on ecotourism boats with specific focuses such as shark cage diving, whale watching or pelagic bird watching. You’ll teach guests about African marine wildlife species (such as great white sharks, humpback dolphins, African penguins, cape fur seals and southern right whales), the threats they face and the importance of marine conservation.

marine wildlife conservation

Through supporting ecotourism, collecting data and participating in community outreach initiatives, you’ll contribute to important marine research and conservation work, protecting the biodiversity in the waters around Dyer Island. Protect vulnerable great white shark populations, the endangered African penguin, inquisitive cape fur seals, playful humpback dolphins and the incredible southern right whale. 

Shark diving & Research

Dyer Island, or ‘Shark Alley’ as it’s popularly known, in Gansbaai, is one of the best places in the world to see great white sharks. However, even here, their numbers are in decline.

You’ll have the opportunity to go shark cage diving and, shark behaviour permitting, observe these magnificent predators up close. Whilst underwater, you’ll record observations on their sex, size, markings, and behaviour to support ongoing research and conservation efforts.



As part of the volunteering project, you will be taught basic skills including boat handling and general maintenance. In addition, talks and videos may be given in the evenings or off-sea days on marine biology, research, behaviour, conservation, changing attitudes, basic seamanship, underwater filming and photography, and shark tourism. 

Recent Reviews

Frequently Asked Questions

Sharks are undoubtedly powerful predators but, whilst movies and other media can make it seem that sharks are highly dangerous to humans – shark attacks are actually quite rare events. When they do occur, it is usually an accident where the shark mistakes a human for a fish or other marine mammal. You will be under expert supervision whilst volunteering in South Africa and all necessary precautions will be taken to ensure your safety. Whether you’re shark cave diving to support our research projects or viewing marine wildlife from above the waves on our ecotourism boats – your safety is always our top priority.

Great White Sharks are endangered for several reasons including intoxication from polluted water, overfishing, and dorsal fin poaching – and that is why shark conservation is so important. Turns out we are more of a threat to them than they are to us! As a Shark Conservation and Marine Ecotourism volunteer, you will be sharing this knowledge with tourists aboard our ecotourism boats – inspiring others to share in your passion for sharks and marine wildlife conservation. You will also have the opportunity to support important research projects, helping evidence the need for shark conservation.

Volunteering on our Shark Conservation and Marine Ecotourism project is a great way to help protect Great White Sharks, whales, seals, dolphins, penguins and more! But, if you can’t join us in Gansbaai, South Africa, there are still several ways you can help. You could volunteer with local conservation organizations, participate in beach clean ups, reduce your use of plastics, and ensure any seafood you buy is sustainably sourced. You can also share your passion for marine wildlife with others, spreading awareness and inspiring more people to support shark and marine conservation efforts.  

Your Shark Conservation and Marine Ecotourism volunteering experience will take place in Gansbaai, South Africa in the waters around Dyer Island – one of the best places in the world to see Great White Sharks. Program highlights include shark cage diving, completing research projects, observing incredible marine wildlife such as sharks, dolphins, and penguins, and helping eco-tourists learn more about Great White Sharks and marine conservation.

Joining our Shark Conservation and Marine Ecotourism volunteer project in South Africa comes with many exciting benefits. Firstly, you will be based in a prime destination for spotting Cape Fur Seals, African Penguins, Great White Sharks, Southern Right Whales, Common Dolphins, and other incredible marine species; it’s a wildlife lover’s dream! It’s also a great opportunity to boost your resume if you’re looking for work in wildlife conservation or ecotourism. Your willingness to take action and volunteer in your chosen field will demonstrate your passion and commitment, and you can evidence experience in data collection, science communication and basic seamanship on your resume. What’s more, you’ll have the opportunity to explore other exciting destinations in South Africa (like the lively city of Cape Town or the harbour town of Mossel Bay), connect with people who share your love for marine wildlife and make new friends!

Other Activities

The area surrounding Gansbaai has a variety of interesting places for you to explore. Visit the caves in De Kelders, hike along the coast, and walk along the sandy white beaches of Franskraal and Pearly Beach. You can also enjoy a tractor ride in the fynbos, visit the Strandveld Museum, and discover the Dangerpoint Lighthouse.

The vibrant city of Cape Town is just two hours from Gansbaai. Take in some lunch and a cable car ride up Table Mountain for magnificent views over the peninsula.

Other beautiful places to visit are the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Point Peninsula, or do a Winelands tour where you can indulge in some of the best wines in the world. Cape Town is also famous for its beautiful beaches and options for cocktail sun-downers abound.

Apply Now

Once you have submitted your application, a Destination Specialist will be in-touch to discuss the project with you.

Step 1
Select your Start Date
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Select your Duration
1 week R12225
2 weeks R20020
3 weeks R28515
4 weeks R34130
5 weeks R41440
6 weeks R48750
7 weeks R56060
8 weeks R63370
9 weeks R70680
10 weeks R77990
11 weeks R85300
12 weeks R92610

Project Fee Includes

  • Pick-up from Cape Town accommodation and drop-off at the airport                                           
  • All accommodation during your placement                                           
  • Breakfast and lunch each day                                                                  
  • 24 hour support from the experienced team on the ground                                                                   
  • All training and resources needed to make an impact                                                                                                 
  • Wi-Fi 

Project Fee Excludes

  • Flights                                                                        
  • Medical and travel insurance                                                                  
  • Visa-related fees                                                       
  • First night’s accommodation in Cape Town                                                                         
  • Dinner (there is a fully equipped kitchen to make your own meals)                                              
  • Weekend trips and other non-project activities                                                   
  • Items of a personal nature, including gifts, snacks and alcohol                                                    
  • Mandatory contribution of US$25 that is donated to the African Impact Sustainability Fund