APEX Foundation

Volunteer in a Monkey Sanctuary in South Africa

Monkey Sanctuary

Monkey Sanctuary

Duration: Unlimited but min 2 weeks (see “Details”)
Season: Year round
Arrivals: Any weekend before the start date (Monday)
Program Fee: $575
Age: 16 – 50
Student Status: Not required
Participants from: All nationalities
When to apply: 4 months prior to your planned arrival
Work: Unpaid


This unique primate sanctuary is currently the top eco-tourism attraction on the Garden Route. It is exceptional as it caters for several species of primates, which are not caged. They are free to move harmoniously about the forest.

The monkey sanctuary funds itself through revenue from tourists and visitors who take educational tours (safaris) in the forest which houses over 400 primates and more than 3,000 birds.

Volunteers will assist the safari guides and primate keepers or the marketing department with their daily tasks. Inexperienced volunteers will also be considered if they are hardworking, fast-learning and prepared to fulfill tasks such as walking tourists from the entrance gate to the reception area, to explain the basic rules on the way, working in the curio store, helping out at reception or assisting with the birds and primate care.

The safaris are conducted by multi-lingual game rangers and are fun, exciting and educational. You learn all about the monkeys as they encounter them roaming free in the forest and you also learn about the many other wonders of life in the forest. You will leave the sanctuary with a greater understanding of the primate’s world and the threats they are facing.

There is the option of booking an English language course in Cape Town before starting the Volunteer programme. However a course is not compulsory. If you are able to converse fluently in everyday situations, you can go straight into the programme.

How it works

Why participate in a Volunteer project

Disadvantaged communities are sometimes unable to care for their animals. Without help, these animals could develop illnesses or end up scavenging on rubbish heaps.

Animal projects in Africa involve working with animals for the benefit of people, for instance healing projects. If you love animals and want to volunteer to help animals, then become an African conservation volunteer.

In this role you will be able to gain much greater insight than the usual tourist into South Africa’s people, its cultures and its religions.

How the program works

You need to fill in the application form and provide all the necessary documents (CV/Resume, Police Clearance etc). See “How to apply”.

All documents will be then forwarded to the project for approval. Projects can deny an application and are not obliged to give a reason. We would then recommend applying for a different project.

As soon as the programme is paid in full, you will receive the full programme details. This includes the itinerary, full contact details of the programme, airport pick-up details and details of meals, accommodation, daily transfers etc.

Working day in Monkey Sanctuary

This is an example of a working day. Volunteering times 8:00 – 17:00:

  • Arrive and begin feeding and cleaning the cages of monkeys that, for various reasons, are not released into the main 12 hectare forest. This is followed by a quick “Rubbish Run” (walking through the forest picking up papers that the monkeys may have stolen and dropped on the forest floor, as well as cleaning our car park of litter that was left behind by visitors).
  • Coffee break and wait for the first guests to arrive (some volunteers may already have gone on tour with paying guests). Depending on their aptitude and wishes, volunteers will predominantly escort guests to the main reception building and/or conduct guided tours in their mother tongue and/or English.
  • Lunch is not taken at any pre-determined time as it can only be taken as the situation allows.
  • Conducting guided tours: taking guests on one-hour guided tours through the 12 hectare forest and finding the 350 primates that freely roam there, giving relevant information about the primates and observing the primates “up close and personal” in a natural setting.
  • Other odd jobs that may need to be done include: feeding the forested monkeys; maintaining of forest walkways and suspension bridge, marketing in town, at shows and functions, assisting the curators in observations, vet visits and treatment etc.
  • Unloading the food truck, loading of monkey food for next day’s feed in the cool room, feeding caged primates.
  • Top up feed for main forest, feeding a few platforms in the main 12 hectare forest.
    NOTE: At no time will human contact with the primates be allowed and we are very strict in our “HANDS OFF” approach towards the primates.
  • Close of day and short walk (5 minutes) back to volunteer houses.
  • Volunteers arrive the weekend before the project starts.
  • If you will attend a language course in Cape Town before the Volunteer project starts, please follow the arrival instructions of the course.
  • You fly to the nearest airport and can receive a transfer to the project from there (see “Local Transports”).
  • An introduction meeting as well as the required training is given directly by the project.
  • Note: It is only safe to use public transport in daylight, and never board an empty minibus taxi after dark, or get on an empty train coach. Always travel during daylight times and do not isolate yourself!

Key Points

  • Min. 2 weeks
  • You pay the one-off Program Fee $575 and the only condition is to stay for 2 weeks. The definitive length of your stay depends on you.
Start dates
  • Every Monday all year round.
Dates Closed
  • n/a
Working Days
  • Volunteers usually work a 5-day week with two days off which, unfortunately, are not always going to be a Saturday and/or Sunday but may be any two days of the week.
  • Public holidays are also regarded as off days.
  • Accommodation in volunteer houses and park homes is included in Program Fee.
  • There are singles, doubles and dormitories, maximum of 4 volunteers per room, sharing a bathroom.
  • A basic ranger uniform is provided.
  • Meals are not included in Program Fee.
  • There is a fully equipped kitchen. Budget ± ZAR400 per week will be more than enough for food and essentials if volunteers buy from the local farms & supermarkets as opposed to the restaurants and deli stores in town.
Local Transports
  • Airport transfer to the project must be paid for by the volunteer, pick-ups can be arranged from the airport in George or Port Elizabeth with prior notification. This is at an extra cost, which is rather expensive, as Port Elizabeth Airport is ± 400 km from the project.
  • The organization suggests that volunteers find their own way to Plettenberg Bay where they will be picked up at no extra cost.
  • No daily transfer is needed as the project is located within walking distance from the accommodation.
  • Also a local store is within walking distance from the sanctuary.
  • The price of a local taxi from the sanctuary to Plettenberg Bay is ± ZAR13.00 one way.
  • 16 km East of Plettenberg Bay, ± 400 km from Port Elizabeth Airport
  • All participants are required to provide details of the cover to the program sponsor in writing before departure.
  • You can use insurance arranged by the program sponsor, or you can arrange your own.
  • Details of the sponsor-arranged insurance are available upon request.
  • APEX Foundation is not involved in arranging the insurance in any way and can not offer any kind of support regarding insurance whatsoever.
  • In case of any problems, no matter how serious or small they are, inform the organization you are volunteering for immediately in order to give them a chance to rectify the problem.
  • In the event that the problem cannot be solved to your satisfaction, inform the program sponsor about the problem immediately.
What you will need
  • Pocket money
  • Any khaki-colored clothing you can bring will come in handy, especially in winter. Camera, plain colored rain jacket, polarized sunglasses, work clothes, comfortable shoes, swimming costume (we are near the beach), warm clothes in winter time, your own toiletries, any medication, sun screen, household cleaning products (i.e. washing powder), phone and towel.
  • If you are assisting the marketing department, you will require your own laptop and camera.
Potential Health Risks





Age: 16 – 50
Student status: Not required
Experience: Not required
Required languages: English
Required level: Intermediate, IELTS 5.0 (or equivalent) or better*
Nationality: Nationals of all countries are eligible
Type of visa: If staying less than 90 days, free “Visitor Visa” obtainable on arrival.
If staying longer than 90 days, applicant must arrange for own visa
for duration stay in South Africa.

*You must be able to understand English in everyday situations, in this case you can go straight into the program. If your English level is lower we recommend to attend a language course in Cape Town before the beginning of the volunteer program.


  • All fees are subject to change without notice.
  • All bank transfer fees are always born by the participant.

Application Processing Fee: $50 (non-refundable)
Payable with your application, includes:

  • Processing your program application
  • Processing your payments for the program sponsor
  • Transferring materials and communication between you and your program sponsor
  • Responding to your email questions until your departure for South Africa
  • Check APEX Foundation Terms & Conditions for more details

Program Fee: $575
Payable after you are accepted, includes:

  • Placement at a project
  • Documents for your visa application if required
  • A certificate & report on the volunteer’s programme if required for studies or other purposes
  • Assistance by the program sponsor during the entire program
  • Sponsor’s 24 hrs emergency number
  • Accommodation (including bedding)
  • Basic ranger uniform provided
  • Internet access at Monkey Sanctuary but not at the volunteer house
  • A monthly donation to the Volunteer Project, to assist in their funding

Note: To avoid any confusion, the Program Fee does not include:

  • Travel and medical insurance
  • Visa Fee (if required)
  • International airfare and airport taxes
  • Airport transfer*
  • Local transport
  • Any pre/post project accommodation and meals
  • All meals (self catering – fully equipped kitchen available)
  • Laundry (laundry facilities on site) and towels
  • Weekend excursions (not part of the social programme)
  • Spending money for evenings and weekends

*An airport transfer on arrival (paid by the volunteer) can only be provided if the program sponsor receive the arrival details (date, time and flight number) at least 3 days before arrival.

Accommodation Placement Fee: 0

  • Accommodation is included in Program Fee.

Accommodation per week: 0

  • Accommodation is included in Program Fee.

Miscellaneous fees:
Not everybody pays them:

  • Alteration of booking: $70

Additional Expenses:
May involve for example:

  • Airport transfer
  • Local transport
  • Spending money
  • Meals
Cancellations & Refunds

Cancellations received:

  • 4 weeks or more prior to the program start: Program Fee less $240 is refunded.
  • Fewer than 4 weeks prior to the program start: No refund.
  • Visa denial: Cancellation Fee is 20% of the Program Fee
  • No suitable placement from the program sponsor: Full refund
  • Cancellation by participant after the start of program: No refund
  • Cancellation because of unsatisfactory attendance or performance: No refund
  • In the event a refund sent according to the applicant’s instructions is returned by a bank or the postal service as undeliverable or unclaimed, $20 administrative fee plus expenses are charged for each subsequent refund attempt.

How to Apply

Get the application kit

Complete application
At least 4 (four) months before the program starts, full application must be received. The full application includes:

  • Enrollment Form
  • An English Curriculum Vitae
  • An English Police Clearance Certificate
  • An English Letter of Motivation
  • $50 Application Processing Fee (non-refundable)

Application Approval

  • The application form is sent to the program sponsor and you will be waiting for it to be approved.
  • Once the application is approved, you will receive payment instructions for the Program Fee.
  • Please note, the program sponsor can deny an application and are not obliged to give a reason. We would then recommend applying for a different project.


  • The balance payment must be made at least 6 weeks prior to the arrival. Payment can be made either by a bank draft (bank check) or by AMEX Traveler’s checks.
  • As soon as the programme is paid in full (no later than 6 weeks before arrival), you will receive the full programme details: the itinerary, full contact details of the programme, airport pick-up details and full details of meals, accommodation, daily transfers etc.


I am from – insert your country – can I participate?

Yes. The program is available to applicants from all countries.

I am not a student, can I participate?

Yes. You don’t have to be a student in your country to apply.



4 Responses to “Volunteer in a Monkey Sanctuary in South Africa”
  1. Maggie Sun says:

    Is IELTS level must required?
    Could I applicate before I get IELTS grades if i want to start the program in the next year’s spring?
    Maggie from China

    • admin says:

      Hello Maggie, first of all we are very sorry for our late reply! For some reason, your comment was categorized as spam and didn’t show among the other comments. To answer your question, there is no specific language requirement for this program. So IELTS most certainly isn’t required. Your English will be evaluated during a Skype interview. We will judge if both your language capabilities and your maturity are sufficient for the program. Especially because you may have to travel independently in South Africa to get to the location, and you must be able to take car of yourself and any difficulties that you may encounter. Please, let us know, if you wish to apply.

  2. Kristóf Baranyai says:

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I am a student of the University of Pannonia, Hungary. I am majoring in nature conservation engineering. I only have a half year left but I have to accomplishing my term of practice.
    I have to work ten weeks and I only need a letter of acceptance, an internship evaluation and at the end a diary of my work signed by the institute to prove for my university that I worked there. Is it possible and how much would it cost for 10 weeks?

    Faithfully yours,
    Kristóf Baranyai

    • Misa says:

      Hello Kristof, the total amount will consist of €3,100 program fee for 10 weeks (accommodation is included) and $50 non-refundable Application Processing Fee. For more details about what’s included in the program fee please see the program description. After completion of the program you will receive a certificate.

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APEX Foundation