Penguin & Marine Bird Rehab

Volunteer and get hands-on experience working with endangered African penguins and other seabirds in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.


Minimum Duration: 6 weeks
Cost: From 275 Euro per week
Minimum Age: 18 years

In our experience there are two kinds of volunteers; PENGUIN LOVERS and the rest. If you are determined to learn about these amazing birds, if you have loved penguins for forever but never had the chance to work with them up close, if you are a hands-on kind of person and don’t mind getting your hands dirty (or fishy), this is your chance!

The South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), a non-profit organization in Port Elizabeth, South Africa; has stepped up to nurture and rescue African Penguins(also known as Jackass Penguins) and other marine birds. This project relies heavily on volunteers to keep the centre running and conserving the largest breeding colony of African Penguins in the world. (on St Croix Island, just off the shore of Port Elizabeth)


Project Needs

The centre has limited staff and relies heavily on the support of volunteers.  Apart from working with the birds (which happens after sufficient training of course) the project also receives educational tours from schools and visits from the general public. There is fundraising to be done, a reception to manage, a curio shop to only mention a few.  We recommend that volunteers are flexible and willing to do what is needed by the project.



It is important that volunteers:

  • Are physically fit and able to stand for a full shift
  • Are comfortable with getting dirty
  • Are willing to work in all weather conditions, often outside
  • Are able to work in a team as well as independently
  • Are able to follow Standard Operating Procedures
  • Are reliable and accountable
  • Are of a compassionate and caring nature with a love for seabirds
  • Are able to work well under pressure
  • Are at least 18 years old
  • have an up to date with their tetanus vaccination
  • have consulted with their doctor before volunteering if they are pregnant, on medication or allergic to animal dander or detergent.
    Persons with chronic respiratory ailments or impaired kidneys or liver should avoid working around crude oil.

This project is not for the faint-hearted. The birds are wild and will bit at any opportunity. Learning how to work with birds is a bit like riding a bike… the more you practice the better you become. Volunteers should know that commitment is the key to learning how to handle and feed birds.


Working hours and days

The project is open 365 days of the year and need volunteers throughout the year. Volunteers work 5 days per week from Monday to Sunday from about 8h00-17h00 with a lunch break 13h00-14h00 and short tea breaks during the morning and afternoon. This means that you will be asked to work on weekends but then you will have two days off during the week. Some days might start earlier or later and in summertime, due to the heat, hours can change.


Guidance & Supervision

You will be supervised by our Volunteer Coordinators who will pick you up upon arrival, make sure you are settled in, show you around the city and prepare your work activities at SANCCOB. They will transfer you to and from the project, make sure the shopping is done and organize fun outings for the weekends.

At SANCCOB your work will be supervised by one of the staff members who will allocate daily tasks and activities to you. They will also be the people to report to in the mornings and sign out before you leave again at the end of the day.


Other Volunteers

You most likely won’t be alone when volunteering at SANCCOB and meet both local as international volunteers. We get volunteers from all over the world, from the USA, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the UK and many other countries.


The volunteer house in Port Elizabeth is a gorgeous home with loads of space.  Whether you prefer to unwind in the garden, at the pool or in the lounge; this home has a special place for everyone.

The home was built in grand old architectural style and is decorated with modern touches. A pool for summer and a fireplace for winter, what more do you need?

The property is well secured and superbly located within walking distance of the beach, restaurants, laundry & shops.



We include three basic meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner).



Airport transfers and daily transport to and from your project is included in your fees. Keep in mind that daily transfers to projects are planned between projects and your host.


The Fun Stuff

Volunteering with Khaya also means there is time for fun things and to share your time with all the other volunteers the best way possible.

There is so much to do in the area and we love organizing weekend tours and day trips (additional costs may apply). We however provide a free activity weekly during our Friday Social.

As we finish early on Fridays we use the afternoon to do fun activities together like visiting the Penguin Rehabilitation Centre, visiting Animal Welfare to walk their dogs, go for a hike along the beaches, play games on the beach or start the weekend with a beer at one of the beachfront bars.



What is Included?

        • Information and assistance before departure
        • Pick up on arrival and drop off at the end of your stay (Monday to Friday)
        • Basic family style meals during your stay Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
        • Shared dorm style accommodation with our host. Single and double/twin rooms are available upon request at extra cost.
        • Daily transport to and from the project
        • Direct donation to the project
        • Free social activities
        • Volunteer T-Shirt from Sanccob with a name badge

What is Excluded?

        • Personal luxuries such as snacks, cold drinks and alcohol
        • Costs for weekend trips
        • Flight tickets
        • Insurance
        • Laundry service
        • Arrival/departure transfers on Saturday/Sunday

Starting dates

Our volunteers arrive on Mondays and start at the project on Tuesdays. We can pick you up from the airport or from any accommodation in Port Elizabet/Gqeberha.

Arrivals and departure transfers from Monday to Friday are included in the fees. If you need an arrival or departure transfer over the weekend (Saturday to Sunday), we ask for a local cash payment of ZAR 250 per transfer.

Participation is in full weeks (7 nights) only. Please also keep in mind that projects close for 2-3 weeks over December/January each year.

Port Elizabeth, South Africa

The team at Khaya loves Port Elizabeth (PE to the locals). Our head office is based in Port Elizabeth, so we know what we are talking about!

Here we enjoy beautiful beaches, scenic hiking trails, the Big 5 is on our door step, amazing restaurants, whale watching, sand boarding, canoeing, diving, international sports events and much more!

East of PE you will find the Wild coast (former Transkei and Ciskei). Here you can experience the unspoiled rolling hills & rural villages in wide open spaces between larger towns like Grahamstown, East London & Port Alfred. Along the Wild coast there are numerous coastal towns where many locals go to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

To the North you will find the great Karoo; a semi desert area with wide open spaces, large nature areas and long open roads with historical places such as Graaff Reinet, the Baviaanskloof Wilderness and much more.

To the West towards Cape Town, you will be amazed by the Tsitsikamma National Park, holiday villages such as Plettenberg Bay, Knysna and Nature’s Valley or the surf mecca of Jeffreys Bay.

This gives you plenty to see and visit while you are here, and we believe even provides you more diversity than staying in Cape Town to volunteer. You can always visit Cape Town or any other city or area on weekends or after your stay with us.

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