Apply
Now

Coastal Conservation Experience

Dive into the thrilling world of marine conservation.

Home to a thriving population of bottlenose dolphin and important whale breeding grounds, the waters around South Africa’s Garden Route are nothing short of an underwater jungle.

Guided by the experienced conservation researchers, this project gives you the chance to join an internationally recognised marine research project in the heart of this teeming seascape.

Whether you’re cruising the waves on a research boat or exploring the wild coastline on foot, you’ll get a unique chance to study whales, dolphins, sharks and other marine animals up close. You’ll also lend a hand educating locals and tourists about the importance of protecting our oceans.

Rhino Rating

?

This tells you how physical the experience is. More >

2 out of 5 rhino rating
Category

Marine Conservation

Species

Dolphins, whales, birds

Impact

Marine research
Coastal habitat conservation
Conservation education

Country

  South Africa

View all
  • Highlights
  • Do
  • Learn
  • News
  • Costs

Highlights

Focus on marine animals

Most people associate Africa with elephants, rhino and lions. But protecting the continent’s fragile aquatic ecosystem is just as important for wildlife conservation.

Perfect for thrill-seekers

The area’s waters and sandy beaches aren’t just appealing to marine wildlife. South Africa’s Garden Route is a mecca for adventurous traveller with activities such as bungee jumping and black water tubing on offer, as well as a lively social scene.

Meet the locals

Part of your time as a coastal conservation volunteer will be spent teaching local school children about the dangers our oceans face. This is a fun and educational experience, no matter which side of the classroom you’re sitting.

DO

This project gathers information on all marine wildlife in the West Indian Ocean and build a model for sustainable conservation. As a volunteer, your role will be very hands-on, working alongside professional researchers to continue this study. Depending on the animals being monitored at the time, you’ll get the chance to be involved with the following activities:

Wildlife research and monitoring

Decades of research into bottlenose and humpback dolphin has really put this project on the map. As a volunteer, you’ll help to carry on this legacy and take the research in new directions.  

  • Learn how to do cetacean dorsal fin identification as part of dolphin and whale monitoring
  • Collect and analyse the egg cases of shark, skate and ray (known as elasmobranchs) 
  • Test the quality of river water to assess the health of local water systems
  • Catch and ring birds to monitor migratory routes
  • Monitor migrating humpback whales, southern right whales, and resident Bryde whales
  • Build up your research and data collection skills
    Spend time on research boats and land-based projects and reserves

Practical conservation work

The project has a strong emphasis on practical conservation work, and you’re likely to join many different activities.

  • Assist with the rescue and rehabilitation of penguins and sea birds
  • Plant indigenous trees and removal of alien species to rehabilitate land and minimise our carbon footprint
  • Hike on the Robberg peninsula, studying rock pools and clearing rubbish as you go
  • Maintain small aquariums at the centre, including collection of fish food and cleaning of aquariums
  • Support local initiatives, from helping to maintain enclosures at wildlife sanctuaries to cleaning dog enclosures at a local animal welfare society

Community outreach

The project has a long-standing working relationship with local pre-schools. If your trip is during term time, you’ll join them for weekly fun education sessions.

  • Inspire the local kids about conservation and the mysteries of the sea
  • Support experienced educators to help the kids learn through play

LEARN

As well as gaining all kinds of practical work experience (which you can read about under the ‘do’ tab), you’ll learn about the behaviour, biology and conservation of dolphins, whales, sharks and South Africa’s other marine species.

You will also learn about:

  • Cetacean physiology and anatomy
  • Biodiversity and evolution
  • Moon phases and the tides
COSTS

Our costs include:

Accommodation

Internal Flights

Airport Meet & Greet

Transfers

24/7 Support

Personal Guidance

Meals

Cost Calculator

TOTAL COST: £0000

Looking for something bespoke?

You can volunteer at more than one project during your time in Africa. Please contact us for a bespoke quote including travel arrangements between locations.

Payment

Costs are subject to change but will be confirmed in writing at the time of booking.

I would advise anyone with a sense of adventure and willingness to work in a team to have a look at volunteering on any of the ACE programs.

I’ve been back four times and each time my experience has been unique and exceeded all my expectations.

My days with the vet were always full and exciting, with a new unexpected challenge each day; this could be a day trip to de-horn rhinos, capturing giraffe or staying back at the clinic looking after some cheetah cubs.

There is something quite rewarding in meeting people who share your views about conservation and like you who are willing to put some of your own time into making some slight difference.

It may not be helping on the front-line to stop the poaching but helping it is, not for one's own satisfaction but for the good of the Rhino species as a whole and we would recommend it to anyone.

ACE coordinated this for us as well as implementing all of the connecting travel arrangements. They were a pleasure to deal with, beginning with Ellie in the main office in the UK. She and I had several phone conversations before finalizing which projects my husband and I would participate in, as I wanted to make sure our (mature) ages would not be an issue.

ACE is an amazing organisation and I would definitely recommend going on one of their trips. ACE was there right when we arrived in South Africa and also when we left to make sure we were okay, safe, and well taken care of. You really get treated like family with this organisation and get to participate in the most unforgettable and life-changing experiences. I already can’t wait to go on another trip with ACE!

From helping us work out which volunteering experience would suit best, to making sure we knew exactly when and where to be in country, we found the level of service from ACE to be exceptional. So much so that we want to continue helping them with their great work supporting meaningful conservation projects in Africa, with the right type of volunteer.

What Makes Us Different?

Southern Africa's original conservation travel company

We are qualified zoologists and conservationists

Personal guidance before you book

Join real wildlife conservation projects

Enjoy total peace of mind, with 24/7 in-country support

Empower vital conservation initiatives

NEWSLETTER

From Africa to your inbox, hear all the latest news

READ OUR BROCHURE