Marine Research and Community Volunteering...
Costs£945 / $1890 (US) / €1229
Group SizeUp to 12
South Africa
Dates10 Apr to 08 May 2011
17 Apr to 15 May 2011
24 Apr to 22 May 2011
01 May to 29 May 2011
08 May to 05 Jun 2011
Click here for all dates
  • 15 May to 12 Jun 2011
  • 22 May to 19 Jun 2011
  • 29 May to 26 Jun 2011
  • 05 Jun to 03 Jul 2011
  • 12 Jun to 10 Jul 2011
  • 19 Jun to 17 Jul 2011
  • 26 Jun to 24 Jul 2011
  • 03 Jul to 31 Jul 2011
  • 10 Jul to 07 Aug 2011
  • 17 Jul to 14 Aug 2011
  • 24 Jul to 21 Aug 2011
  • 31 Jul to 28 Aug 2011
  • 07 Aug to 04 Sep 2011
  • 14 Aug to 11 Sep 2011
  • 21 Aug to 18 Sep 2011
  • 28 Aug to 25 Sep 2011
  • 04 Sep to 02 Oct 2011
  • 11 Sep to 09 Oct 2011
  • 18 Sep to 16 Oct 2011
  • 25 Sep to 23 Oct 2011
  • 02 Oct to 30 Oct 2011
  • 09 Oct to 06 Nov 2011
  • 16 Oct to 13 Nov 2011
  • 23 Oct to 20 Nov 2011
  • 30 Oct to 27 Nov 2011

Marine Research and Community Volunteering: Full Itinerary

Costs -

Pound sterling (£) US Dollar ($) Euros (€)
2 weeks 945 1890 1229
4 weeks 1675 3350 2179
8 weeks 2995 5990 3895
12 weeks 4250 8445 5525

Please note that when completing the online booking form, you should select the applicable start date and specifiy your desired trip duration in the 'Other Details and Information' section.

South Africa

Weeks 1 and 2 - Learn about the marine life of Plettenberg Bay, learn research techniques and begin a qualification that will teach you how to be a marine guide

Your home for the coming weeks is South Africa’s Plettenberg Bay, a popular up-market holiday resort with approximately 4,000 permanent residents in the town itself, and up to 40,000 people during the peak holiday season. Upon arrival at Plettenberg Bay you will make yourselves at home in the volunteer house, which contains all the creature comforts you require, having a TV and free internet use. Local amenities are all located nearby, with the mall just a few minutes walk away. As Plettenberg Bay is a tourist location, it is therefore a safe haven for young travellers and vibrant place to stay.

During the first two weeks you will learn a variety of subjects, both in the classroom and hands-on. Each day our coordinator will collect you and take you to either the research base or directly into ‘the field’ to learn a range of interesting subjects, including how to carry out the dolphin and whale research, take note of behavioural information, take photos of the dolphin and whale fins for id purposes, and log data. You will also learn how to take and analyse water samples from the local estuary, clean the boats, remove alien plant species from the shoreline, plus much more. When the weather is not perfect during the training you will be taught the Local Marine Guiding Programme modules, which cover the number of subjects required to talk knowledgably to clients about the commercial operation of everything from the local area to the gestation period of a humpback whale! At the end of the course you will sit the exam to hopefully qualify to be involved in the commercial side of marine guiding. In the evenings you will be taken back to the accommodation where you can do some reading, have dinner, socialise with our colleagues, go into town and see a movie, or go to a bar for a drink.

During your stay you will have every weekend off to do with as you wish, and try out the range of activities that Plettenberg Bay boasts. With mountain biking, hiking and scuba diving there’s no chance of getting bored! Or for anyone wanting even more of a thrill, just an 80km trip will take you to the world’s highest bungee jump, where you can soar from 216 meters above the Bloukrans River! (See below for more ideas for your day off).

South Africa

Week 3 Onwards - Research dolphins and whales, aid the local community, and help conserve a marine park and unique marine protected area

Now you are trained in the ways of research and guiding on a boat, it’s time to be let loose! Each day you will be picked up from your home and taken to the research base, where you will have different projects and jobs to work on. These vary greatly, yet whether you assist dolphin and whale watching trips; research dolphins and whales; enter data on the research computers; take water samples in the estuary; help with surveys on local commercial fishermen; catch, tag and release fish; attend cleaning days on the beach; help with environmental education days; clean equipment; or collect mussels and prawns for the aquarium to be used for environmental education, you are bound to find enjoyment learning a variety of things and seeing amazing sights. As well as this you have the opportunity to be involved in other projects that are running (see list below) and will volunteer each week in a local community; helping to teach English and any other skills you have to disadvantaged school children, as well as about conservation and the sea. In the number of years in which this project has been running we have become an integral part of the community and are highly appreciated by this area of Plettenberg which has, with assistance, built itself into a successful self-sustaining community. Each evening you will head back to the accommodation where you can relax, have dinner, tell jokes and prepare for the next day’s adventure.

Anyone with a scuba diving qualification has the opportunity (for a small additional charge to cover equipment hire) to do some underwater research with the team on approximately a weekly basis (weather dependant). Anyone who doesn’t have a diving qualification can arrive early and do the PADI Open Water certificate in preparation. Yet whether you conduct underwater research or not, this research and volunteering project will give you an amazing once in a lifetime opportunity to see some of the world’s rarest sea life and discover a spectacular marine reserve whilst you help a brilliant community.

Ongoing projects -

Projects you can be involved in are:

  • Involvement in community development programmes for previously disadvantaged communities (e.g. the Masizame Street Children’s project, Qolweni Crèche)
  • Participation in a broad range of educational initiatives involving the local community: educating school children on conservation principals and helping spread the word of the foundation
  • Organising co-ordinated provincial marine and coastal awareness campaigns (e.g. National Environment Week, National Marine Week, Youth Day)
  • Participating in commercial marine-eco tourism activities, which include whale and dolphin watching tours, sea kayaking and township tours (many water activities are complimentary of the foundation)
  • Monitoring and cleaning beaches and coastal regions
  • Maintenance, feeding and cleaning of fish tanks in the aquarium on a daily basis
  • Collection of fish food for the fish in the aquarium
  • Conducting research surveys:
  • Marine and coastal resource economic valuations
  • Angling surveys within the surrounding estuary and coastline
  • Various marine animal surveys
  • Sampling, tagging, monitoring and dissection of fish species
  • Supervised collection of aquarium species for the aquarium
  • Report presentations on topics relative to the project which will be tailored to suit and stimulate your individual interests
  • Patrol boat trips to collect data, monitor the bay and take photos of whales, dolphins and other marine species.

Local Marine Guiding Programme -

This course and qualification is a condensed version of the National Marine Guiding programme offered by South African Boat Based Whale Watching Association. The course includes approximately 10 hours of theory instruction, with a one hour exam and 10 hours of practical training.

Topics covered include:
  • South African tourism and guiding
  • General knowledge about South Africa
  • History of Plettenberg Bay
  • Marine ecology
  • Whales
  • Dolphins
  • Seals and seabirds
  • Sea fish
  • Conservation
  • Safety at sea
  • Commercial operations and cultural upliftment programme

Other courses you can do during or after the project -

Want to learn more whilst away? Here is a list of other qualifications you can obtain for an additional cost.

  • SCUBA diving (PADI)
  • Fish identification (PADI)
  • Peak Performance Buoyancy (PADI)
  • Project AWARE (PADI) (diving and non diving)
  • Coral Reef Awareness (PADI) (diving and non diving)
  • Skippers Courses for sheltered waters and open sea
  • SABBWWA Marine Guiding Program

Extra activities (at own cost) -

Approximate prices are given in South African Rand and are subject to change without notice

  • Bungee Jumping R580
  • Sky Diving R1300
  • Tree Top Canopy Tours R450
  • Monkeyland R100
  • Scuba Diving Courses R1500-2500
  • Scenic Flights around the bay R550+
  • Surfing Lessons 3 Day Course R200
  • Mountain Biking in the forest Varied
  • Yacht Cruises/Sailing R300
  • Deep Sea Fishing R450
  • Fly Fishing R400
  • Birds of Eden R100
  • Quad Biking R400
  • Lawnwood (snake park) R100
  • Helicopter trips R550+
  • Mountain Climbing/ Abseiling R300

Our Partners On This Trip -

We work in partnership with established projects, courses and expeditions. The information on our website comes from our local partners and we work with them to ensure the information is as accurate as possible. However, due to the very nature of the trips themselves the exact details of what happens on a daily basis can vary.

To contact us phone 0845 006 1435 or email us at

© 2009 Yomps | Designed in Exeter by Sound in Theory