African Dawn Bird and Wildlife Sanctaury South Africa

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Sports coaching in South Africa
Sports coaching in South Africa
Cheetah conservation
Cheetah conservation


Always wanted to get up close and personal with African Birds and Wildlife? Then this is the project for you!
Don't mind getting your hands dirty or getting stuck in as part of our team? Come join us!

You will work closley with a birds and wildlife from SA and beyond, help prepare their food, clean their enclosure, help with any maintenance or building new camps and enclosures that may be needed. We also have a game reserve where you can take an evening stroll and see our Giraffe, Zebra and lots of antelope.

Just 25 mins from the surfing mecca Jeffreys Bay, there's loads of fun activities to try on your days off too!

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Questions & Answers


based on 23 reviews
  • Impact 9
  • Support 9.2
  • Fun 9.1
  • Value 9
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 15 of 23
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Yes, I recommend this program

best experience of my life :)

I stayed at African dawn for one month in January this year. words could not describe how much of an amazing time I had. as soon as I arrived I felt at home :) surrounded by all the different species of animals and also made to feel extremely welcome and part of a family as soon as I arrived. your daily routine would usually be set up for you and that included preparing food for the animals, feeding the animals, making sure all the enclosures were clean, tidy and free from any escape routes! repair of the enclosures were sometimes needed. you got to spend a lot of time with the animals and learn and experience something new every day about different species, the way they live, the stories of how they have come about to be at the sanctuary and what the staff have done to help nurse these animals back to full health. sometimes you even get to feed the babies! :) it is very interesting as you get to learn what different species eat and how they would live and survive in the wild
The staff at African dawn are fantastic! they spend all there time dedicated to looking after these animals and make sure you are made to feel welcome all times. I felt at home and part of a family :) every day they will cook an amazing home cooked meal which there was always plenty to go around! my favourite was definitely the brais that percy and ali cooked :)
on your days off, which you get two a week, there is plenty to see and do, whether you go for a lovely walk on the game farm and see all the animals ( its always a challenge trying to find the giraffes!) enjoying relaxing at African dawn and spending time with the animals, or you can go on organised trips which African dawn will arrange for you. the best experience I enjoyed was the addo/schiota safari day, it was out of this world! there is plenty to do from black water tubing, the bungee jump!, the elephant sanctuary, shopping trips into the towns, surfing at Jefferies bay, horse riding and more!
my time at african dawn was the best experience of my life, I really did not want to leave, one month is not long enough to spend here and I will surely be returning here again in the near future :)

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Yes, I recommend this program

The perfect place to volunteer!

My wife and I have voluteered at African Dawn 3 times now, and we're already planning our 4th visit!
This really is the perfect place to volunteer, wether it's your 1st time as a volunteer worker or something you've done many times before. Be you young or old (from teenagers to pensioners we have met many volunteers from all walks of life who have become completely enchanted by this place).

Why? Well, where to begin:

1. The Experience - This really is the best way that I can imagine of experiencing beautiful South Africa. Working hands on with beautiful animals on a daily basis. Making friends with like minded people. Having free time to explore what else the country has to offer. It really is an adventure that will stay with you for life, and leave you hungry for more.

2. The Animals - African Dawn literally offers you a hands-on oppurtunity to work with some of South Africa's most beautiful animals. You will actually interact with Cheeaths, Servals, Monkeys, Duikers, Wallabies, plus hundreds of the most beautiful Birds that you have ever seen. You will get to help with feeding, cleaning, and general cuddling and interaction with these animals and more. You will become close, and get to know their individual personalities, from the cheeky and playful to the utterly adorable.
It is also worth remembering that African Dawn is a sanctuary, not a zoo. Many of these animals have come from poor backgrounds, or are recovering from bad injuries. Here the animals welfare is 100% the priority. It is incredible seeing how each and every animal is so well cared for, and knowing that you have played a part in helping them gives you an amazing feeling like no other!

3. The Staff - The owners and the managers of African Dawn literally do not stop working all day to make sure that everyone is happy. From caring for all of the animals, to making sure that every volunteer is as comfortable and happy as possible. From offering tourist advice to booking excursions to preparing a delicious home made meal every night, you will not find a place where you are made to feel more welcome.
When we 1st volunteered my wife was terribly homesick at first as she had never been away for so long. But the kindness and caring nature of the staff made her feel so at home that we both had an amazing time, and have returned several times since!

4. The Location - African Dawn really is in the perfect location to explore the best of what South Africa has to offer. The sanctuary itself is in a beautiful country setting, that really gives you the beautiful scenery of rural Africa (a daily walk accross the Game Park to see the Zebras, Antelope and Giraffes grazing is highly reccommended). But is also only a short and inexpensive taxi ride away from Jeffreys Bay, which offers beautiful beaches, a selection of shops, and many great bars and restaraunts.
On your days off this part of South Africa also offers the oppurtunity to go on Safari, walk with and ride Elephants, jump from the world's highest Bungee Bridge, visit the huge shopping centres of Port Elizabeth, go Skydiving, walk with Cheetahs plus much much more. Once again the staff at African Dawn will help with organising any activites that you may be interested in, to make sure that you get the most out of your adventure!

5. The Volunteers - This really is the best way to meet people from all over the world, of all ages, and make some of the best friends you'll ever have. From working together, helping to care for animals and build enclosures, to sitting around a fire together at night. We have met some of the most amazing people, and made some of our best friends at African Dawn.

I really can't reccommend this place enough. Basically if you want to make the most out of South Africa, work with some incredible animals, and have the most amazing time of your life, this is the place to do it!!!

What would you improve about this program?
I would never leave.
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Yes, I recommend this program

The experience of a lifetime!

Where to start! My stay at African Dawn was the experience of a lifetime and I was 19 at the time when I went to stay. I had always wanted to travel because I love to: challenge myself, experience new things, meet new people from lots of different places and backgrounds and from a young age watching animal planet I had always said that I'd love to go out and do something involved with animals! I have done all of these things while at African Dawn! It was an amazing opportunity which I was lucky enough to have, I feel that while travelling I have found more confidence and maturity that I believe I didn’t have before I started and I believe I found it at African Dawn.
While at African Dawn a normal day starts with waking up and heading to the Prep room in the main building. Plates of food for the animals are already set up and waiting, (If you are on morning prep you come up earlier and help the managers set up the plates) you will already of been assigned a route and you will be with a more experienced volunteer who will teach you the routes and show you the animals you will be feeding. Therefore you get to learn about the animals and what they eat. I thought this was fascinating as all the animals, I found (especially with the birds) all have their own little personalities which you get to learn about when you do the routes! So you go along and give fresh food and water and check the animals are all okay! When you get back all the dishes are taken to chicken dishes and the prep room is cleaned, after that it’s breakfast time! After breakfast is finished, about 9 o’clock! Everyone gathers and the daily jobs list gets read, you can volunteer for any of the jobs that you want to do (for your first week or two you will get put with a more experienced volunteer and they will show you how to do the jobs on the jobs list, if they don’t know or you don’t you can always ask the managers because they are more than happy to help)! Then there are chicken dishes which means all the animal food dishes need to be cleaned, sounds a bit yuck but you always have a laugh, this gets done twice a day after both feeding routes, there is a rota so that it gets evenly shared out so you don’t need to keep doing it! Usually after the first 2 weeks or so you get the chance to teach people the routes and pass on your knowledge!
Then if you finish all of your jobs you can help the others. There is usually a bit of free time before lunch, after lunch the feeding routes are started again at 2pm, this time everyone works together to set up the prep room and depending on your route you will have various different tasks such as chipping apples, cutting meat, making jam bread, etc. Everyone then sets out on their feeding route and when it is complete, the dishes are taken to chicken dishes and the prep room is then cleaned.
Unless you have any PM jobs (such as seed dish bring in or aviary water) you are usually finished for the day, so you can spend your time with the animals or relaxing, sun bathing, playing cards, listening to music or whatever you want to do! A lot of people go jogging on the game farm as there is a game farm with zebras, giraffes and a few other animals on the back of the lodges! It’s a good fun walk! Then dinner time is about 6, I’m a really fussy eater and I thought the food I was always extremely yummy, all the managers are great cooks! Also they can cater if you are vegan or vegetarian!
The lodges are very basic, which was what I was expecting but they have comfy mattresses, good powerful shower’s and it is a good communal space for all the volunteers. There is an old barn type building which is used as entertainment room, it has lots of sofa’s and a TV with loads of DVD’s, so it’s a good way to spend the nights! You can also play loads of games in here and there is a space for a camp fire just outside, which is always good fun! While you are out in Jeffery’s Bay there is also a hostel where you can stay on your days off!
Then other days you have project days to mix it up a bit and project days mean that you help out doing various tasks that need doing around the park, it can be a hard graft but personally I found this very rewarding as I helped build new enclosures and plant trees for the animals! To stand back and see it nearly all finished was amazing! You also get 2 days off a week, in which I have done some fantastic activities! I have done a sky dive, a bungee jump, horse riding along the beach, elephant back riding and a trunk in hand walk and I have also walked a cheetah on a lead or really, it took me for a walk! These are memories that I will cherish forever and will never forget, I wouldn’t have experienced all these amazing things if I hadn’t of came to South Africa on my trip! The trips are very easy to book and the managers help you organise these, they help you sort the transport with a man called Clinton (who I think is the best taxi driver in South Africa!) he has been working with the sanctuary for a long time and provides taxi services for the volunteers, he also has another taxi driver who works with him and they are a great team as I always felt safe in their company!
One of my favourite experiences was just before I left I got to go into the enclosure with some of the cheetah’s they have at the sanctuary! It was amazing to be stood next to the fastest land animal and surreal when it licks your arm and it’s like wet sand paper, it was amazing!
Personally the only thing I would of done differently was that I came through a company rather than direct with the African Dawn website, I would of researched more and maybe would of come directly because I think I would of saved myself a fortune, but it was the first time I’ve been away from home for longer than 2 weeks and 2 months is a lot longer, so I’ll know for next time! And I most definitely hope there will be a next time because I would love to go back soon and see how much everything has changed and grown and see how all the animals are!
Can’t thank African Dawn enough for all the experiences it has given me and can’t say enough how much the managers do a fantastic job, I have had so many brilliant opportunities and fun memories so I would most definitely recommend it to all of my friends, I have met so many fantastic people at African Dawn that I want to stay friends with for life, as for me I’ve got the travel bug now and I want to travel to as many places as I can, better get saving haha!

What would you improve about this program?
I would of liked to spend more time with the big cats!
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Yes, I recommend this program

African Dawn a paradise for animals and volunteers

African Dawn is with no doubt one of the most wonderful places I've been in my life. It stole my heart and that's way I have not only been there once but came back not even one year after I was back in Germany. Both of the times have definitely been one of the best decision of my life. I love looking at all these wonderful picuters and just think that I can't believe that I've actually been in that wonderful place and did all the things I was able to do.
One of the best things was that I really felt like a volunteer who's acutally helping someone. African Dawn is such a wonderful place where so much good work is done and where people actually take care for so many animals. Everyone who's helping there as a volunteer can be proud to be a little part of the big African Dawn family. I can say that I am a little proud. When I came back it was like coming back home because I felt so welcome there, both times. Not only I met so many new true friends of all ages and from all over the world but also the managers try to do everything to make everybody feel welcome and be happy. Allthough they have a lot of work to do they will always take care of every volunteer. They plan great trips for you, too which you'll still talk about when you're old. You can jump out of a plane or from the highest bungee jump bridge in the world or enjoy a wonderful safari.
Also I love the contact we had to the animals. I fell in love with so many different species of animals especially with the once I never thought I'd like. Birds! Never thought I'd love them. But also I never had the opportunity to be so close to them like I was in African Dawn. Sometimes I just can't believe how many of those animals I could cuddle with. I cuddled a Ground Squirrel everyday and it was my job! How awesome is that? And for the cheap money you pay I imagined a less luxtuary accomodation. I loved the cute little hut I stayed in and watching zebras standing at our fence. Or when I'm going for a run spotting some giraffes. And the food we get... Hm I loved it! I've been to other volunteering projects and I can tell that's damn good food you cook for so many volunteers.
All in all African Dawn is indeed a little paradise to me and I will always try to come back when I get the opportunity. I can just recommend it to everybody. It was truly an experience I will never forget. I also kind of carry it with me everyday on my skin and of course in my heart.

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Yes, I recommend this program

"Home is where your heart is!"

Home is where your heart is, they say. Does that mean I’ve got more than one home now? One thing I know for sure. I lost part of my heart to African Dawn. Not only to the people I met there, but also to the animals and to the place itself.

To be honest. When I first arrived in 2014, I was quite sceptic. There seemed to be so many birds. (Until my time at African Dawn I’ve never been a bird lover.) Then I discovered the servals. God, are those animals lovely. Just like big house cats they love to play. Or try to show the monkeys your selfie cameras. They enjoy looking at themselves way too much if you ask me. Did you ever get the chance to play with baby servals? I had this chance during the last few weeks and believe me if I say: I’ve seen many cute things, but those little kittens beat every single thing. (Of course they can't always have babies at African Dawn!)
What surprises me most? I miss many of the birds along with all the other animals! As you know, I’ve never been a bird lover. Soon I had to find out, that - just as humans - birds have different personalities. They like different things; they act and react different. Even among humans there are those you can’t get along with. But you also get a good few you love. It’s the same with the birds. Take your time to get to know them. My love is Sam, an umbrella cockatoo. He comes to sit on your arm to get some cuddles and sometimes he starts dancing if you put music on. (Sounds crazy I know. Maybe that is why he lives in the "mad house".) I miss my big boy.
The accommodation might be basic, yes. But that’s great. Finally you have to talk to people again! Instead of spending your time staring at your laptop or your phone screen, you can join the bunch of lovely volunteers playing cards, watching a movie, chatting, laughing, … (My tip: Ask the managers to take you out to the lagoon for a barbecue. It’s so beautiful down there!) For those of you who need internet, like I do – sending photos home and making friends jealous is amazing: Get yourself a local sim card. It’s easy to get, it’s cheap and connection is great.

“Nothing is permanent, nothing is ever and change is the only constant.
But we must embrace change because without it none of us would ever have met,
And goodbye tears means your life has changed in some beautiful way.” – African Dawn

African Dawn can change you if you let it. Definitely worth a travel or two … or even three. I hope to be able to come back one day.

See you at African Dawn!

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No, I don't recommend this program

Better projects / things to do in South Africa... don't waste your time.

It's disappointing to see so many reviews touting how great this place is... sadly, it's not. It's misleading not just from the reviews... but it's not even what it claims... it's not an animal sanctuary but more like a petting zoo, with tons of birds, and some other random animals that you normally can't interact with. No one visits the place and it seems like they only get by on the money you pay as a volunteer... the owner lives in a nice place adequately furnished place on the premises, while you, the volunteer, get shanty style accommodations--meaning: no heating, no insulation, no A/C, no internet, no TV--no nothing other than a shower and toilet.
Also, when working, you are not provided with proper working tools to do your job either... the place looks like it's on its last dime, ready to fold any day. The work is hard, and dirty... I can't imagine anyone who can read this want to go all the way to South Africa to do this kind of thing... although it is volunteering, you don't want to do slave labor.
Everyone pays different rates to volunteer so don't be surprised if someone is paying significantly less than you.
Anyway, the people I worked with were cool... but being older, it kind of sucked for everyone else being younger. No one there seemed above the age of 23...
Conversely, other volunteer programs in South Africa are better for the better facilities and accommodations they provide, as well as diversity of volunteers, not just young kids who graduated high school. African Dawn is cheap compared to these other places but obviously, as just discussed in all I laid out, there's a reason.

Response from African Dawn

Hi Mike
I'm sorry you didn't enjoy your short time at our project, we are always open to constructive criticism but due to a few contradictions in your report I feel the need to respond.

We do not allow the public any hands on contact with any of our birds or animals so cannot be descibed as a 'petting zoo'. The volunteers do get to spend time hands on time with the birds and animals as a vital part of the work they do, this up close contact is enjoyable for both the animals and volunteers!

All of the birds and animals at the sanctuary have been brought in as either unwanted pets or animals that need our assistance - those that can be re released are and those that can't enjoy the rest of their lives within the safety of the sanctuary. We did not open as a 'tourist attraction' so of course the money and 'hard work' from the volunteers is vital to help look after all these birds and animals.

I'm sorry the accommodation wasn't up to your standard also - the accommadation is described as basic during the application process and I feel that most people unfortunate enough to be living in real 'shanty towns' would be very grateful for the double bed, duvet, heater, fan, electricity and hot water you recieved.

Most volunteers use their cell phones for their basic internet needs and enjoy the time in nature away from the internet and TV (although there is a TV with dvd player in the volunteer entertainment room). The volunteers usually prefer to spend their evening gathered around a fire than infront of the telly. The age range and nationalities of the volunteers are always changing too.

Again I'm sorry you didn't enjoy your experience, maybe if you had stayed a little longer you would have got to experience and appreciate all we offer a little more. We do however appreciate your feedback. We are always looking to improve our program and hope you enjoyed the rest of your travels and time in SA.

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Yes, I recommend this program

my experience

Me, doug and wesley had the oppertunity to build a beautyfull avairy, it was awsome to see how our effort came together, I saw first hand what teamwork can accomplish.
Sarah's food she cooked were absolutely delicious as specialy the pizza(mmmh yumyum) , Eli were as always very helpfull and compasionate when it came to matters of the heart and M allways got things done
I take my hat off to Percy, it takes a lot of hard work and passion to keep a place like African dawn running while giving the vollenteers an experience of a lifetime.
I'm gratefull for the new friends I made all over the world, and hope all the best for them on their future path
I whould definitely recomend African Dawn to all vollenteers, it truly was a life changing experience for me

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Yes, I recommend this program

Life-changing experience at African Dawn

Imagine waking up every morning to an incredible sunrise, hearing marmoset monkeys chattering to each other, listening to every kind of bird imaginable singing and whistling, and leaving your cabin to glimpse a giraffe walking by in the distance. As you begin "work" you visit with the cheetahs, take in a meeting with the meerkats, and discuss development opportunities with the African greys. After a well deserved breakfast you set to work on a project and actually see your hard work come to fruition as a new enclosure is built, or an injured animal is nursed back to health. After your "working" day you relax with colleagues (who you actually like!) and have dinner, reflect on the day, watch the sun go down and listen to the sounds of Africa by night.
Well that is pretty much a day at African Dawn.
Of course there is a chance the boss (Percy, the owner) may throw you in the pool, or one of the birds in the aviary might decide to relieve himself down your shirt. But that is all in a days work!
I am sure there were moments during my 3 months at African Dawn where I was tired, not in the mood to be at work at 7am, or just fed up of living and working with the same people everyday, but those moments were fleeting and don't compare to the many, many positives that I experienced.
If you love animals this is the place for you, and what an experience you will have. If you want an experience unlike other then there is the place for you. At African Dawn you become part of a family. African Dawn takes a little bit from every volunteer, but every volunteer takes a lot from African Dawn, and even more from Africa.

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No, I don't recommend this program

Animal sanctuary or small, very ordinary zoo

The information available for African Dawn is very misleading. It is not so much an animal sanctuary - more of a petting zoo that you would visit for a day in the UK. It consists mainly of birds which is very disappointing. The staff work hard and are very supportive but there is hardly anything to do in the evenings except play cards or watch old dvd's. You are encouraged to use one taxi firm (the only number available in the pay phone booth)and go on their very expensive day trips (£150 to go to neaby Addo elephant park and Scotia half day safari)on your days off. You are warned about safety issues if you try to find out about alternative transport/taxis. The work is not interesting and very manual when you are required to do "project work" - in our case clearing ground and laying turf
Summary - you are paying a lot of money to work very hard for what is after all a business. We hardly saw any visitors in the two weeks we were there so assume they are making most of their money from naive people such as ourselves who believed they would be making a difference - not just lining someones pocket.

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Yes, I recommend this program

The greatest place on earth

I can't even begin to describe how much my stay at African Dawn meant to me. I'll start by saying that however long you think is long enough, it really isn't. I intended to stay 2 weeks and I was there a month. African Dawn is absolutely beautiful and the people are incredible. I met some lifelong friends there and learnt some valuable lessons, not only about animal care but also about myself.

A typical day begin at 7am when we get the animals fed. We all stumble sleepily around the prep room and head out onto our routes. Keep an eye on Murray, Fugley and Scraggles - a bite from them is sure to wake you up :) then its breakfast time and finally, list time! Once you've made it through the list of odd jobs, the rest of the morning is yours. Go play with the kittens, walk the dogs, cuddle the bunnies, hang with the monkeys! Be back in the afternoon for afternoon feeds though! Once your done there, it might be off to chicken dishes (it's not that bad, we swear) or clinic where you can help the sick animals. After that your done! Spend the rest of your day lounging at the cabins and making lifelong friends :) our group spent most of our nights watching Disney movies and finger knitting!

African Dawn is an amazingly peaceful place where your stomach hurts from laughing, your face hurts from smiling, your brains full of new things and your heart hurts to leave.

I love African Dawn!

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Yes, I recommend this program

Great Program!

I enjoyed the program a lot, learned a lot and already do recommend it to friends on a volunteer in SA page I made on Facebook, so no lies. I do not win anything with posting it there, so I only post programs I think are really good. Lots of different animals and a great group of people running the place!

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Yes, I recommend this program

African Dawn :)

A typical day would be starting work at 7am, for the morning feed; usually the plates will be completely prepped and laid out for you (by Sarah/Em/Ali), so you just pick and go. You'll be with someone who knows what they're doing for the first few days, until you get to know the routes. This takes an hour or two, depending on how many volunteers/weather/which route you're doing. Breakfast is about 9 o'clock, then there are some jobs from a daily rota (washing the animal dishes, checking the clinic etc) that get done first, then a jobs list that varies from day to day - this is usually raking enclosures, moving supplies about etc, which might sound boring but you're pretty much always somewhere that animals are, so you get plenty of contact. Then, depending on how quickly you finish your jobs, you might have a bit of a break before lunch from 1 until 2. After lunch is the afternoon feed, which is pretty much the same as the morning only the volunteers help with the prep this time - chopping fruit mainly! Then there are a few afternoon jobs to do but you're usually done by about 4 and then you'll definitely need a shower because you get covered in all sorts throughout the day! Dinner is at 6 and from then on you're free to do whatever you like; there's an entertainment room for the volunteers, with a TV and DVD player and a big log fire and tables and sofas, so you can play cards or just sit and chat. In your free time during the day you can go into most of the enclosures and spend time with the animals but after it gets dark, we stay out of the park because the noise can startle the birds and cause them to fly into the fences or trees - not good!

The animals are an absolute joy to work with. There are a lot of birds (a lot of people seems surprised, so I'll give you a heads up!) but there are also servals, cheetahs, lynx, squirrels, monkeys, buck (deer), as well as tortoises and rabbits that wander all over the park. You can spend time with the servals if Ali/Sarah/Em go with you and meeting the cheetahs is usually kept as a special experience for just before you leave.

Volunteers get two days off a week and there is loads to do! You can go to Jeffrey's Bay, which is the nearest town (about half an hour), and get surfing lessons, go shopping or go to the beach and there are lots of nice cafes etc. or Port Elizabeth, which is about an hours drive, where there's a cinema and a big mall. There are lots of attractions nearby as well, like the Elephant park, endangered cat centre, skydiving and bungee jumping (recommended!) and you can take a day trip to do a safari on a game reserve.

The people working there are incredibly committed and passionate about what they're doing and are always keen to share this with volunteers, so everyone becomes very invested in the project no matter how long you're there for. You get a great sense of achievement from working at African Dawn because you're so involved in the running of the place and you really get to see the difference that you make as a volunteer.

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Yes, I recommend this program

A place to call home

I adored volunteering at African Dawn for 8 weeks. All the staff and other volunteers are exceptionally helpful and friendly.

I am a vegetarian and had no problems with the food they cooked everyday as some of the full-time volunteers are vegetarians and always provided a tasty nutritional meal for lunch and dinner.

Caring for the animals is a great experience whether cutting up the fruit and sorting out the portions for their nutritional needs or cleaning and filling their water and enclousures. So many jobs to help out with, there are too many to mention.

I love African Dawn because I truly believe in their cause for helping injured South African wildlife, no matter how small. Some will be rehabilitated back into the wild but for the ones no longer well enough to survive in the wild they are found a new home in the sanctuary for life.

Most of the animals are socialable and love to come over and say hello. There are so many animals of all shapes and sizes from chickens, geese, small birds, parrots, birds of prey, emus, Marge the adorable Ostrich. Kudo's, meerkats, marmosets, spider monkeys, Lynx, Servals, Duikers, wallabys, cheetahs and many more. They all have such different personalities and you will learn to love all of them for their strange and wonderful habbits.

African Dawn is like a second home for me and I highly recommend this sanctuary. I have plans to go back at the end of this year and will definatly be staying for longer next time :)

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Yes, I recommend this program

A home away from home...

The first time I went to African Dawn was in Jan 2010 with a friend of mine. We really had no idea what we were signing ourselves up for; but the experience was so fantastic, 2 weeks were not long enough. I ended up extending my stay to 1 month but I still remember vividly how much I didnt want to leave. The tears were proof!

I returned to African Dawn in June 2010 with my stay duration unknown and ended up being there until December. The guys who work there; Percy, Janey, Ali, Sarah, Claire, Sticks, Babese and Ouma became my family and are always there for a good laugh, an Afrikaans lesson and meat fight.

The animals at African Dawn are the heart and sole of the program. Whether it was attempting to mount Fabio the Kudu, breaking up domestic violence between the Black Swans or trying to clean the Meerkats enclosure without feeling the wrath of Stumpy, the animals are essentially, what makes your time so fantastic. Volunteers who stay longer than a few weeks get the opportunity to become surrogate parents to injured and orphaned animals; Arthur and Annie, two tiny Grysbok babies were my pride and joy and nothing made me happier each morning to wake up at 7am to bottle feed and stimulate!

Volunteering at African Dawn is not easy, but it is the most wonderful and rewarding experience I could have asked for. It is a beautiful place, with a well run volunteer program and its definitely worth the visit.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Three months that changed my life

African Dawn is without a doubt the most incredible, life altering, simply amazing place. Situated just out of Jeffrey's Bay it really feels like you have your own corner of the world. Waking up to the chatter of animals and the usually beautiful weather, you only have to look out the window to see animals but about 100 metres late and you are in the main farm area. Here we prepare food (for animals and humans alike) and set off on the morning feed. If you are doing main aviary you will be in for a suprise when Petey the pidgeon will no doubt come flying at your head, of hand if you hold it up high enough. Or if you go on male wallaby route and you get to go in with the marmoset monkey boy, he was hand reared and as a result loves climbng all over you - but carefull he's adventourous and loves climbing down your shirt or even in your mouth!!
After morning feed there is our breakfast which is usually cereal/toast etc but there is always eggs to be eaten so eat eggs every day! Scrambled eggs on toast with cheese was my favourite, gave me plenty of energy for a busy day.
Then out comes the list, there is a list of to-do's ranging from caring for the sick/injured animals, feeding the cows with left overs, fixing a broken enclosue fence, patching up escape artists holes to the worst dun dun duunnn! Chicken Dishes!! Chicken dishes is basically washing up all the plates/bowls used in food prep that morning. Although its a smelly job and takes a while, Chicken Dishes was actually quite fun, take your ipod speakers and have a mini 'chicken dishes' party with your partner, Its also a really good time to get to know your fellow volunteers. I made really close friends this way.
After all those jobs are done its time for lunch, usually toasted cheese and ham sandwhiches or left overs from dinner if there was any. Lunch is supplied but its nice to offer help if you have free time, not only then do you get to choose what you get before anyone else does, but it gives you time to talk to Sarah or whoever is making lunch. Once again this is good! You get to make friends like this!
aftr the humans are fed and watered ;) its time for afternoon feeds, this is the same routine as morning feeds only some animals will/will not be included because they are nocturnal or only need one feed a day.
When that is finished one person will check its all finshed and no cages were left unlocked. Also Chicken Dishes must be done again. Chicken Dishes in the afternoon was always a good time because when the other volunteers were finished they wouls come and chat.
When all jobs were finished you get free time of something like 2-3 hours? or less depending on what jobs you have etc (this could be wrong I can't really remember when we finished)
During this time normally you shower first because you will smell bad, of BO of animal smell and sometimes poo or whatever. But don't be fooled its a good smell, it doesn't smell good, but it makes you feel good. If you smell you have done a hard days work - GOOD JOB!

Dinner is usually around 6ish? I think? once again my mind fools me. but anyway it is always good hearty food, you may think in the beginning this is too much food or not ''healthy'' enough as it is usually alot of carbs but you will need it and mark my words you will most likely still loose weight/gain muscle tone. I ate like a champion and still lost 10 kilos.

after dinner is more free time until you decide when to go to bed, in the beginning you will want to stay up talking etc but by about week 3 you will be so knackered that you will be happy to be asleep by 8pm. Especially if you are doing morning aviary (just doing water and a few etxra things before normal morning feed starts)

Volunteers get 2 days off out of 7, and these days are rostered with other volunteers (unless there is not enough vol's) on these days you can go into Jeffries Bay and go shopping, the beach or horseriding on the beach just for a start. NB if you go into Jeffries Bay PLEASE go to The Mexican for lunch/dinner its an awesome mexican style resturant with delicious cocktails. Very yummy what I wouldnt give to go there again!

Also you can venture further away to Port Elizabeth or Knysna etc and there is always the Highest Bungy Jump in the world!!
There is a huge list of places you should go on your days off and i would recommend them all especially going to Schotia National Park and Addo Elephant Park. There is tour that takes you to both in one day I think for somewhere around 800 Rand? Gosh I have no idea so don't qoute me on that, but also If you call them you can arrange to volunteer for them in exchange for a guided tour, I would definatley recommend that I did both tours because I had friends who wanted to go and I made up the numbers so Im glad I did both but if you are low on cash or want a deeper experiance ask if they are still doing the volunteering one, because you get to stay the night and wake up to lions roaring and rhinos/wild boar at your door.

Well anyway thats a day in the life of an African Dawn Volunteer, I hope I have given you enough information to make your decision but before you do, know this; If you choose to go to African Dawn YOU WILL have an amazing experiance, YOU WILL make friends that last and YOU WILL want to share your story with others to make them go aswell!!
SO do it!!


South Africa
South African Rand
81 F / 57 F
68 F / 46 F
66 F / 45 F
77 F / 52 F
O. R. Tambo International Airport
( JNB )
Cape Town International Airport
( CPT )
King Shaka International Airport
( DUR )

South Africa is often thought of as resoundingly unstable and poor; however, this is far from the case. The duality in South Africa encompasses big cities with a well-developed infrastructure, as well as rural areas that are under developed and impoverished. South Africa is well known for having 11 recognized languages, beautiful landscapes, and abundance of animals

About African Dawn

African Dawn Wildlife Sanctuary and Endangered Species Breeding Centre set in the heart of a lush valley. Situated between Jeffrey's Bay and Port Elizabeth lies African Dawn a truly beautiful bird and wildlife sanctuary, featuring a endangered cat...