Travel Penguin and Seabird program (min 6 weeks)

memories for a lifetime

Travel Penguin and Seabird program (min 6 weeks)

SANCCOB’s Best of Both Worlds volunteer programme will give you a once in a lifetime opportunity to get hands-on experience working with endangered African penguins and other seabirds in two beautiful tourist destinations in South Africa! 

In Cape Town you can experience the majestic Table Mountain, sip wine in centuries-old vineyards in Franschhoek and visit Bo-Kaap (one of Cape Town’s most famous and vibrantly beautiful neighbourhoods) – all whilst paying it forward and playing an active role in reversing the decline of endangered seabird species! Gqeberha, also known as “The Friendly City” and “The Windy City”, offers golden warm water beaches, and sensational wildlife adventures, including the Addo Elephant National Park and the Kragga Kamma Game Park!

Details about the project

What's included

Upon arrival you will be collected from the airport and driven to your accommodation for your 2 Day Cape Town Orientation. On the start day of your project you will be transferred to your accommodation for the duration of your project.


24 hour support and supervision 


Room share with other volunteers

Food & Beverages

Three meals a day, coffee & tea included

Details about the project

Travel Penguin and Seabird program details


  • Arrival Day – Saturday 
  • Time – Your flight can land anytime on Saturday 
  • Airport – Cape Town International Airport 
  • Orientation – Saturday – Sunday. 
  • Project Starts – Monday (induction is on a Tuesday)
  • Departure Day – Saturday 
  • Departure time – You can depart anytime 
  • Min Duration –  3 weeks (incl 2 day Orientation)
  • Min Age: 18
  • Max Age: N/A – Medium Level of fitness required


  • Arrival Day – Saturday 
  • Time – Your flight can land anytime on Saturday 
  • Airport – Cape Town International Airport 
  • Orientation – Saturday – Sunday. 
  • Project Starts – Monday
  • Departure Day – Saturday 
  • Departure time – You can depart anytime 
  • Min Duration –  3 weeks (incl 2 day Orientation)
  • Min Age: 18
  • Max Age: N/A – Medium Level of fitness required
  • Maintaining a high standard of hygiene and cleanliness in the rehabilitation centre
  • Scrubbing and cleaning of bird enclosures, mats, crates and swimming pools
  • Cleaning of equipment used in food preparation and feeding
  • Washing and drying of laundry
  • Assisting in maintaining the permanent bird exhibit (scrubbing rocks, raking sand and food preparation)
  • Defrosting and preparing fish for a variety of seabird species
  • Catching and handling of different seabird species
  • Feeding (force feeding and free feeding) of different seabird species
  • Hydrating (tubing) different seabird species
  • Administering medication to different seabird species
  • Assisting with bird release preparation
  • Centre maintenance duties

Please note that duties are issues based on the volunteer’s experience.

The Volunteer Coordinator creates a monthly schedule that assigns volunteers to work no more than five days per week, which includes weekends and public holidays. 

A typical workday runs from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm, with a lunch break from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm and short tea breaks in the morning at 11:00 am and in the afternoon at 3:30 pm. 

However, these times may vary based on the center’s capacity needs and the number of birds in their care. Please note that some days may require volunteers to assist until 6:30 pm, so being willing to go the extra mile during busy times will be essential.

The different areas a volunteer could be assigned to each day are:

Food Preparation Kitchen – Area responsible for fish defrosting, preparation of fluids/formula and cleaning of food preparation and feeding equipment.

Laundry – Area responsible for the washing and drying of laundry.

Cleaning Station – Area responsible for cleaning of large equipment with the use of a high-pressure hose. Example mats from bird enclosures and bird crates.

Aviary – Enclosures designated for flying birds that require daily cleaning of the enclosure and feeding of the birds (free feeding). Some birds may require hydration (tubing), medication or force-feeding.

Intensive Care Unit – Staff and interns are mostly responsible for the care of birds in the ICU, but volunteers could be asked to assist with cleaning in ICU.

Rehabilitation pens – Main enclosures for birds undergoing rehabilitation, mostly African penguins. Areas require daily cleaning and feeding birds (force feeding). Some birds may require hydration (tubing) and medication.

Home Pen – Exhibit for permanent and long-term temporary birds at SANCCOB. Assisting in maintenance of the exhibit, include scrubbing rocks, raking sand and food preparation.

Jobs – Various jobs required around the centre, crucial in the daily running of the rehabilitation centre. Jobs could include general maintenance or cleaning duties.

  • A completed Application and Indemnity form
  • No previous experience is required
  • Have an up to date tetanus vaccination
  • A good understanding of the English language is essential
  • Physically fit and able to stand for a full shift
  • Comfortable with getting dirty and willing to work in all weather conditions, frequently outside
  • Able to work in a team as well as independently
  • Be reliable and accountable and able to follow Standard Operating Procedures
  • Compassionate and caring nature with a love for seabirds
  • Be at least 18 years of age

Be aware that this is not for the faint-hearted. The birds in our care are wild and will bite at any opportunity. Learning how to work with birds is a bit like riding a bike….the more you practice the better you become. Potential volunteers should, therefore, know that commitment is key to learning how to handle and feed birds.

Cape Town accommodation

Volunteers will stay in one of our volunteer houses with bedrooms sleeping 2 – 5 people. All houses are facilitated with electricity, WIFI, hot water, a kitchen, one or two toilets, a bathroom with a shower, beds with linen (no towels). Male and female volunteers will share rooms unless otherwise requested. Upgrades to private single or double rooms are available at extra cost.

Volunteers are responsible for keeping their own room and volunteer house tidy. Bathrooms and kitchens are cleaned every day by cleaning staff, and linen is changed once a week. The volunteer houses are at walking distance from shops, restaurants, entertainment, bus stops, and the beach.


Activity level


Education level


Involvement level


Independence level

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