Conservation Volunteering

Dolphin & Whale Research and Coastal Conservation, Knysna Coast

Experience fantastic dolphin and whale sightings. Raise awareness about wildlife conservation in the beautiful Garden Route region of South Africa.

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£430.00 ⁄ wk

Deposit £150.00


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Apply now for a unique opportunity to undertake research and conserve dolphin and whale populations. You will assist with conserving coastal areas, while observing and making notes on whale and dolphin spotting. You will get the exciting chance to have close encounters with dolphins and whales!

You will also accompany local children on boat trips so that they can experience this spectacular opportunity too, while educating them about marine conservation and how to respect our oceans. The activities in this programme are varied and interesting, with a strong focus on eco-tourism and the aim of preserving our beautiful marine life.

Project details

  • What's included?
  • Dates & duration
  • Eligibility
  • Location
  • Project life
  • Accommodation
  • Flights & Visas
  • Insurance

What's included?

  • Pre-departure support
  • Airport transfers from George Airport or from Cape Town International
  • Free return Baz bus ticket from Cape Town to Knysna
  • 24/7 emergency support
  • In-country orientation and training
  • Assistance obtaining a local SIM card for your phone
  • A coordinator that will help you on a daily basis
  • Work t-shirt(s)
  • Unlimited wifi, and computer access
  • Comfortable accommodation
  • All meals provided

What’s NOT included?

  • Flights
  • Visas
  • Travel insurance
  • Excursions and extra activities on weekends

Dates and duration

  • The Dolphin & Whale Research and Coastal Conservation programme is available all year round, except from mid-December to mid-January
  • Please arrive on a Saturday, for orientation and training on the following Monday (please enquire as to available dates)
  • Minimum duration is 2 weeks, with a maximum duration stay of 6 weeks. However, if you would like a duration of over 6 weeks, please contact one of our travel advisors by submitting an enquiry and we will check if this is possible for the time of year you are interested in attending.


  • Minimum age: 16 years old, however under 18's must have written consent from their parents/guardians to attend the programme
  • CRB check required
  • Genuine interest in animal welfare and conservation
  • Hardworking, mature, motivated, and able to show initiative
  • Good physical fitness
  • Comfortable with being on the water for long periods of time
  • Confidence with speaking English


Project life

Working hours vary but a typical day would start between 7:30-9am, and end between 3-6pm. Please note that in the busy season, boat trips may not end until 8pm. You will work five days a week, and have weekends free to explore the area.

Volunteers will work in small groups, depending on the needs of the project. You may also have to work individually on projects, but you will always have the support of a project coordinator and be surrounded by local people.

During a typical day, you will go on whale and dolphin watching tours, where you will record information about sightings. The number of boat trips per day may be between 3-4, dependant on weather conditions. You will also act as a guide to other guests by relaying information to them about the animals you’ve observed.

In between boat trips you will assist with data entry and educational workshops, a few marketing tasks, and helping to prepare vessels for the next outing on the water.

Accommodation and Food

  • Basic but comfortable volunteer house, with dorm-style sleeping arrangements
  • Located within walking distance of the town of Knysna
  • Hot water showers
  • Electricity
  • Communal kitchen
  • Communal lounge area with TV and DVD player
  • Computer access and unlimited wifi
  • Hammocks and outdoor braai (barbeque) area
  • Family rooms and private rooms available on request

All meals will be provided:

  • Breakfast: Selection of breads, cereals, fruit, juice, tea and coffee
  • Lunch: Sandwiches, bread rolls, salads, and traditional meals
  • Dinner: Healthy meals provided on weekdays and a few self-catered dinners over the weekends

You can expect variety with the meals, and they are all prepared to suit your specific tastes as much as possible. Specific requests such as vegetarian meals are subject to request and availability.

Flights, Transportation & Visas

  • Flights are not included
  • Transfers are conducted from George Airport (you can fly to this airport from Cape Town International Airport of Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport)
  • A representative will collect you from the airport and take you to the project location. On departure, your project  coordinator will transport you to the airport and/or assist with further travel arrangements

Safety & Insurance

  • All of Twin Work & Volunteer's placements are in partnership with recognised and established local organisations, run by or employing local people. These organisations, depending on the nature of what they do, might be small-scale NGOs, family projects, schools or orphanages, or local initiatives with environmental or social goals.
  • We often use local businesses to provide logistical and support services to volunteers such as transfers, pick-ups, accommodation and so on. In this way, we support the local economy through helping independent local businesses to thrive. We take our partnerships very seriously and work extremely closely with all our partners.
  • We provide 24-hour emergency support from the UK and our partners provide support locally.
  • We have an agreement with the crisis management service Tranquillico, should the very worst situations arise.
  • If any wider safety concerns arise in the destination, such as civil disturbances or natural disasters, we seek advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and implement their recommendations where appropriate.



Insurance options...

Comprehensive insurance is available for all programmes. You have no obligation to take up insurance with any of these companies, but insurance of a suitable sort is mandatory on all our programmes.

Book Now > Make an enquiry >

Volunteers will be based no more than 20 minutes drive away from the up-market town of Knysna, which is situated in the beautiful Garden Route region between lush forests.

Knysna has all the necessary amenities for volunteers including ATMs, medical support, shopping malls, cafes and restaurants. There will be plenty of opportunities (at least once a week) for volunteers to spend time shopping and exploring this breathtaking fast-developing town.


The Garden Route is famous for its diversity and beauty, with a pristine coastline, mountains crowded close to the shoreline, tall indigenous forests, vividly coloured wildlife and flowers, and a unique fynbos flora.

Knysna is one of the Garden Route’s best-known holiday destinations, popular because of its spectacular scenery and low crime rate. The local township consists of a colourful array of culture, including South Africa’s indigenous Zulus, Xhosas, Rastafarians and communities from as far away as Malawi and Somalia.

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