Marine Volunteers: Frequently Asked Questions

The Marine Volunteers experience is a broad and exciting program, so we fully expect you'll have further questions about how it works and what's involved.

Change your life - become a marine volunteer.

General Questions

Unsure what to do about flights? Need information regarding vaccinations? You'll find answers to the most regularly asked questions right here.

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Arrivals and departure

There are direct flights from London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and Dubai.

Alternatively, you can transit via Johannesburg which has flights from most major cities in Europe and regular connections with the US and other parts of the world including Asia and Latin America.

Please ensure that we know where you are staying so that we can leave a message with the establishment with regards to your pick up time; or let us have your contact number while in South Africa. Let us know if you need a recommendation as we work with some preferred establishments.

As our start and end days are Mondays you will need to arrive no later than the previous Sunday, because our Monday morning pick up is often before 05:00 and airport pick ups cause delays. You will stay a night in Cape Town, which you will need to arrange. You will be responsible for the transfer from the airport to your accommodation � most reputable places will have this available as a service.

We will leave a message for you at your accommodation informing you what time you will be fetched in the morning � we have a shuttle to Gansbaai. The drive from Cape Town to Gansbaai is about 2 � hours.

On arrival you will be fully briefed and have the opportunity to meet the IMV team, including the volunteer coordinators who will be available to you throughout your stay. Prior to your arrival we will be available to answer questions or provide advice via email.

Please ensure your departure flight is booked for after 19:00 on the last day of your programme. If your flight time is before that, then you may have to leave the programme the day before in order to avoid any issues with arriving on time at the airport. This is because you will travel back with the shuttle after a cage diving trip, the timing of which is unknown in advance due to weather dependence. We suggest you also stay and enjoy a few days in Cape Town before returning home. We can also recommend some tours with our trusted partners. If you would like to know more, please give us an indication of what you would like to do and we will gladly recommend a company that we trust.

Do I need any vaccinations?

No specific vaccinations are needed as Gansbaai is not in a malarial area.

Where will I be staying?

Accommodation is at the International Marine Volunteer Center. There are 4 cottages that accommodate up to 6 people per cottage. Each cottage has a bathroom, kitchenette and living area as well as daily living essentials. The main building has a beautiful kitchen, equipped with induction plates, a microwave and oven for cooking and a fully functional recycling system in place. There is also a very spacious living area with satellite TV, DVD player, board games, pool table and foosball. There is an activity hall with some weights and a table tennis table. The facility has a large, safe swimming pool and garden.

Walking or cycling to the Great White House is easy, quick and safe and will only take between 10 and 15min (1.4km). We also have 2 dedicated minibuses that are equipped with all the necessary safety permits and licences and are used daily for the volunteers� transport needs.

Key things about the center:

  • Expect to share
  • Fully furnished
  • Satellite TV and a whole lot of channels
  • DVD player
  • Free WiFi (remember to bring your laptop or smartphone)
  • Emergency numbers are in the house
  • Bedding is provided and washed on a weekly basis
  • Bicycles for personal use
  • Keep your personal belongings safe (each cottage has a safe)
  • The water is safe to drink

Is food included in the price?

We provide ingredients for a help-yourself breakfast at the IMV Center (tea, coffee, eggs, bacon/vegetarian sausage, bread, cereals and milk) and a light lunch will be provided aboard the vessels (sandwich, fruit and crisps). Should you be doing other activities you may be responsible for your own lunch. Evening meals and other entertainment are at your own expense. Our accommodation has a fully equipped kitchen and braai/barbeque area.

Laundry service is provided twice weekly at an additional cost.

There may be occasional no-sea days due to bad weather, in which case we will arrange a conservation or recreational activity to do as a group.

Depending on your lifestyle, we suggest adding ZAR 1000 per week for excursions, food, entertainment and other personal daily needs � this excludes the buying of souvenirs.

Are there any other activities I can do during my stay?

We do get you out and about, especially if we have a no-sea day when we organise some other recreational stuff to do. Activities could include:

A trip to Cape Agulhas � the southern-most point of Africa
A visit to the local heritage site Klipgat Cave
A visit to Stony Point penguin colony in Betty�s Bay
Kelp diving at Stanford Cove
Horse Riding
Visit to Panthera Africa, a captive bred big cat sanctuary
Quad biking
Shopping excursions and wine tasting in Hermanus or other nearby areas
Visit Danger Point Lighthouse
Hikes in the local area
Visit to Strandveld Museum
Visit the Birkenhead micro brewery and the Klein River Cheese factory
River boat cruises along Stanford River

Please note that entrance fees and food and beverage costs involved in these excursions are for your personal account.

We don�t visit the Two Oceans Aquarium, but after your trip we can arrange a dive in their ragged tooth shark tank at an excellent discount for you!

Note that personal excursions up the Garden Route or to other tourist attractions are at your own cost but don�t hesitate to ask if we can assist with your planning.

What is the cost and duration of the program?

All bookings should be made at least 30 days before the programme starts although due to the popularity of the programme, we recommend further in advance.

As we rely on good weather conditions, we recommend staying for four weeks in order to gain the most benefit out of the programme and to ensure that you experience adequate sea time. Shorter or longer stays can be arranged and the price varies accordingly. Start and end dates are on Monday�s � this enables better planning for us and your fellow volunteers.

Should you stay four weeks or more, a donation is made from your fee to the African penguin nest project for which you will receive a certificate of donation and your name will be listed on our Trust website.

Price on request! Price includes accommodation, transfers to and from Cape Town on Mondays for your arrival and departure, all trips on the boat, presentations and related conservation work, WiFi access at accommodation. A 50% deposit is required to secure your booking and the balance of payment due 14 days before arrival.

Terms and Conditions
Applications must be cancelled at least 30 days before the programme starts.
If you cancel less than 30 days before the programme begins, a 50 % cancellation fee will apply.
If you cancel less than 14 days before the programme begins then there is a 100% cancellation fee.

Not included: Flight ticket, medical and travel insurance, excess baggage, meals and cooking (other than eggs, bacon & cereals provided for breakfast and a light lunch on the boat), lodging in Cape Town on arrival and departure if required. Transfers to and from the programme on any day other than a Monday.

To bring with you:
Towel � Sun Block � Polarised sunglasses � Camera � Swimming costume – Suitable clothing for sea depending on season � Seasickness Tablets � Laptop/Smartphone � Shoes for boat (we provide waterproof boots) � Warm clothes and a beanie for the winter months.

On arrival you will receive branded volunteer gear:
2 x T-shirts
1 x cap
1 x jacket (must be returned after programme)
waterproof boots on request (must be returned after programme)

Other points:
Please advise us of any known or possible medical condition or dietary restrictions.