SOUTH AFRICA

CONSERVATION: THE GREAT WHITE SHARK PROJECT, NEAR CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

Come face to face with the Great White Shark! You'll work in an organisation dedicated to the exploration and conservation of Sharks and the preservation of their environment. Weather permitting, you'll go to sea frequently. At sea, you'll get involved as much as possible with all aspects of sea work. This will be focused on working with the sharks from above and below the water.

Your work will help to gather accurate data on Great White sharks to assist in management programmes for the ensured survival of the species. Your work will also help efforts to change negative public attitude towards sharks through awareness and education.

Students may be able to obtain university credit for their experience, depending on your university.

SUMMARY: THE BASICS

Price: £1,495 (approx. US$1,940) for the first week, then
£350 (approx. US$455) for each additional week.
Excludes flights. Please see Full Price List & Other Currencies
NOTE: If you book and start your project before 1 December 2018, there will be a 10% REDUCTION in the price of all projects up to 4 weeks in length
Duration: From 1 week to 12 weeks or longer, subject to visa requirements.
Start Dates: All year round – Start dates 1st and 15th day of each month. (Closed from the 15th of December until the 15th of January).
Requirements: Minimum age 17. No qualifications necessary. Please note you don't have to be a diver to join the programme, all diving in the cage is a simple breath-hold method.
What's included: Arranging your Programme
Full pre-departure support and assistance
Payment Protection insurance
Accommodation
Meeting you at the nearest Airport
First night in a hotel in Cape Town (usually)
Transfer to your Project
Local in-country team support and backup
24-hr emergency support
Certificate of Completion
What's not included: Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visas, Food, Return transfer to the airport.
Who can do this Project? All projects are open to all nationalities and all ages over 17.
Suitable for gap years or those taking a year out, grown-up gappers, career breakers, anyone interested in marine conservation, caring for marine animals and ocean habitats, and working with marine wildlife overseas. This is a good placement if you want to learn about marine conservation strategies and habitats plus shark, whale and other marine species' behaviour while doing voluntary work, projects abroad or study abroad.

WHAT YOU'LL GAIN FROM DOING THIS PROJECT

  • An exciting opportunity to travel, see the world and experience a foreign culture first-hand.
  • New skills, more confidence and invaluable personal and professional development.
  • The enormous satisfaction of knowing that your work is contributing to marine wildlife conservation and that you made a difference.
  • An opportunity to take a break from the traditional academic track or your current career path in order to gain life experience and global cultural awareness
  • An entry on your CV or Résumé that will enhance your career opportunities and make you stand out from the crowd.
  • Make friends, form relationships and build memories that will last a lifetime.
  • Opportunities to enjoy some exciting adventure and cultural activities while on your programme.
  • And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!
BOOK NOW! SEE ALL PROJECTS IN SOUTH AFRICA info@travellersworldwide.com

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The shark cage on the white shark conservation project in South Africa
The shark cage seen from above on the boat.
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WORK CONTENT AND DESCRIPTION

Anyone who has had the joy of meeting a mighty whale face to face will tell you just how magical it is. Huge, gentle, mysterious, curious. Can you imagine a giant friend, like none other? As captivated by you as you are by him.

This project is a rare opportunity to view the Great White Shark in its natural environment, either from a boat or an underwater cage. You'll also see other wildlife species, including Cape Gannets, Bryde Whales, Cape Fur Seals, Dolphins and Jackass Penguins. The Shark Conservation organisation is dedicated to the exploration and conservation of Sharks and the preservation of their environment. Your work with them will help to gather accurate data on the white sharks to assist in management programmes for the ensured survival of the species. Your work will also help in their efforts to change negative public attitude towards sharks through awareness and education.

When you arrive, you'll be given a lot of training before starting your actual work. This training will consist of most of the elements of a two-week course which the project offers the general public. However, whereas the general public go home after completing their course, you will be working with project staff to assist in their research and fight against the encroaching possible extinction of the Great White.

YOUR TRAINING:
You'll receive training in White Shark biology, research, behaviour, conservation, changing attitudes, shark attacks, basic seamanship, underwater filming, still photography and shark tourism. Part of the training will be in the form of slides and videos. They will take place in the evenings after you return from sea, or on off-sea days.

Weather permitting you will go to sea frequently. At sea, you'll get involved as much as possible with all aspects of sea work. This will be focused on working with the sharks from above and below the water. Much emphasis will be placed on observing behaviour and the interactions of sharks around the boat. You will be taught how to get in and out of the cage and how to remain secure and safe in the cage. Participants in the cages will record observations of the White Sharks. This will include sex, size, markings and behaviour.

You'll also be taught the basics of how to set the camera up, how to use it under water and how to obtain the best images. This training is designed to educate you to a level of competence of a field assistant. During the training, you will be evaluated on how you handle teamwork, take your own initiatives, take interest in the work and activities, show interest in learning. Thereafter, you'll participate in assisting with various duties and responsibilities, including helping to educate locals and children on the Great White.

COMMUNITY WORK:
You may participate in assisting with various duties and responsibilities, including helping to educate locals and children on the Great White. You could also be involved with beach clean-ups, school talks and fundraising for a local shark conservancy Not-for-profit (NPO) organisation.

On a Tuesday afternoon a swop shop is also run for the local community between 2 and 4 pm which you can be involved in. The school children collect rubbish and litter from the streets and in their homes. They earn points for these recyclable materials which they ’spend’ in the shop on much-needed school stationery or clothes.

This project promotes recycling, environmental awareness, and self-reliance, and helps to provide for some of the basic needs of the children. The volunteers and staff involved find it an enriching experience that helps bridge the gap between different cultures and communities. You'll also help at the Swop Shop.

If you have a specific interest, like fundraising or community involvement, they will do what they can to get you involved you in those areas.

WORK ELEMENTS:

Please note these duties may change from day to day and you will always be working in conjunction with a qualified crew member of the placement:

  • Boat check before trip
  • Checking equipment for diving, chumming, bait, food etc.
  • Assist with anchoring
  • Assist with securing the cage
  • Educating clients and general interaction with them
  • Assisting clients as needed, including preparing and distributing wet-suits to them
  • Chumming
  • Data capturing and recording
  • Writing for the blog
  • Constant and vigilant shark spotting
  • Point out sharks to crew, clients and fellow volunteers
  • Clean boat post-trip and clean and stow wet-suits
  • Tuesdays assist at our recycle Swop Shop

A TYPICAL DAY:
The first boat trip usually goes out at 7:00am. The tourists arrive from Cape Town around 6:00am for a breakfast at the Lodge. Volunteers get up around 6:00am to help with preparing the equipment (wet suits, masks, etc.) for the day. You'll have breakfast and be ready to welcome the guests at 6:30am.

You'll walk the guests a short 5 minute walk to the launch site. Once on the boat, you'll help the crew in any way you can. This includes getting the boat anchored, helping the guests get kitted out for their cage dive, help with the chumming, and anything else that crops up. The 3.6 meter cage takes 6 people at any given time and you will be able to go into it too.

Once anchored at the dive site, the project makes use of a specially designed, secure, six man steel cage, which floats on the surface, with divers no more than 1 m below the surface. Volunteers will be taught how to get in and out of the cage and how to remain secure and safe in the cage. Cage divers are responsible for recording observations on the Great Whites, including sex, size, markings and behaviour.

Diving takes place on a rotational basis on good diving days. The duration of each dive depends on the diver, the number of eco-tourists and the activity of the sharks, but could be up to half an hour per dive.

When the boat trip is over, you'll wash the boat down and pack all the kit up to take back to the lodge. The equipment needs to be washed and hung to dry for the next day. If it is busy there might be a second boat trip (and even possibly a third!) so all the above is repeated. If not, you have the rest of the day off.

This daily routine takes place 7 days a week. If it’s a quiet day, you may have the opportunity to go on the Whale Watching boat (if there is space) for no charge.

SKILLS LEARNED FROM THE PROJECT:
You'll learn many new skills (depending on your previous experience) - everything to do with running a boat and keeping it in a good working order. You'll also learn ways to identify the sharks and study their behaviour. A lot of researchers use the boat trips to collect data, so speaking to them will teach you a lot as well.

You’ll also be taught basic seamanship skills and how to crew and assist on the boat when out at sea. Tasks include chumming, wet-suit and cage diving preparation, client well-being and cage and anchor set up.

You'll be taught how to collect data in the field on free-swimming white sharks. At sea, you’ll be focused on working with the sharks from above and below the water, observing behaviour and the interactions of sharks around the boat. You will be educated in an informal environment, learning about the behaviour of the great whites, their history and the urgent need for research. Volunteers will also be taught how to input the data into our database.

RESEARCH:
Volunteers help the project staff to fill in data sheets for the sharks they spot day to day. There is no scientific research carried out by the project itself. It is a tourist operation, but their sightings are sent back to Cape Town to the researchers and this information is used by them. Wednesdays are data capturing days. Great White sharks are identified by marks, scars, dorsal fins, sex and size and satellite and acoustic tags are also looked out for.

REQUIREMENTS:
You should be hard working, have a genuine interest in the sharks and be up for mucking in at all times. We don't recommend it for anyone with a ‘shark curiosity’ as we feel you may get bored very quickly. The day-to-day routine doesn't change, the real thrill is seeing the sharks. If you aren't passionate about the creatures, the novelty could wear thin quite quickly. There isn’t much to do outside of work hours, so you must be able to amuse yourself - the crew does go for drinks sometimes and our volunteers are invited along, but they all have families to go home to and it’s an early start, so no big parties.

Positive aspects of this project are the sharks (obviously!) and an active outdoor lifestyle in a stunning environment. Generally, our volunteers can go on the boat everyday - if there is room, and subject to weather conditions. You'll usually be able to dive in the cage as many times as you like as well, again depending on tourist numbers and weather conditions. There is generally space on the boats most days, a full boat is not a daily occurrence.

BOOK NOW! SEE ALL PROJECTS IN SOUTH AFRICA info@travellersworldwide.com
The shark cage with participants in it on the white shark conservation project in South Africa
The shark cage with participants in it. They pull themselves down into the bottom of the cage and hold their breaths. Compressed air is no longer used because it distresses the sharks, so dives are now done by holding one's breath.
Close-up of the shark taking food from a line on the white shark conservation project in South Africa
Good photo of a shark tempted close to the boat by putting food at the end of a line.
Close-up of the shark taking food on the white shark conservation project in South Africa
A close-up of the shark as it takes the bait.
Volunteer leaning over boat holding chum on the white shark conservation project in South Africa
A volunteer leaning over the containers holding the chum to bait the sharks.
Inside the shark boat on the white shark conservation project in South Africa
Inside the shark boat.
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ACCOMMODATION

You'll live in a cosy brick house in Kleinbaai. It is very comfortable, quiet and walking distance from the harbour.

The house has a dorm room and two double rooms, one bathroom, a nice kitchen, a lounge area and an outside patio for those hot evenings. With a comfortable seating area, satellite television and video for entertainment, you will be very relaxed in your new home and shark briefings will take place here from time to time too in the lecturer room. There is also free Wi-Fi and a computer to use for the internet.

Wi-Fi / Internet: There is FREE Wi-Fi / Internet, plus a computer you can use.

You will be taken into Gansbaai (a nearby town) twice a week on a Monday and Thursday for shopping, laundromat and anything else you may need.

Couples, friends or families volunteering together who wish private accommodation may reserve a double room for an additional cost per month.

FOOD:
While food is not provided on this project, you will get a light breakfast which is comprised of toasts, cereals, tea and coffee. Food is also provided on the boat which is usually fruit, sandwiches and soft drinks.

You'll need to take additional funds with you to cover the cost of your main evening meals and the local supermarket stocks a variety of food and there are kitchen facilities in the house for cooking.

At the time of writing this, a very loose guide of how much you’re likely to need is R1000 (eating sensibly cheaply) to R1500 (on which you should be eating fairly well). Obviously, if you eat out in restaurants, it will cost more.

EXCURSIONS:
During whale season there will be the possibility of a whale watching trip (this is at an extra cost).

Traditional South African cooking evenings – either a potijie or a braai (bbq) this will be included in your programme, so you will just need to provide your own drinks.

A walk along the shoreline to investigate the marine life and search for shark and ray egg cases.

For those SCUBA qualified there are dives that they can arrange for you locally in the kelp forests with the possibility of observing the smaller shark species. There are also other scuba dives available with other shark species (not great whites) that they can help arrange for you during your stay.

BOOK NOW! SEE ALL PROJECTS IN SOUTH AFRICA info@travellersworldwide.com
The accommodation on the white shark conservation project in South Africa
The volunteer accommodation on the project.
A thank-you note from Stephanie Edwards
A lovely thank-you from volunteer Stephanie Edwards :-)
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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

YOUR SAFETY, SUPPORT AND BACKUP:
Read important information about the Support & Backup you receive before you leave and during your programme.

Read about the Safety and Security measures we take to ensure your safety and wellbeing while on our programme.

ABOUT THE PROJECT ORGANISATION:
Sharks are intelligent and vulnerable, deserving of sympathy and respect. Education helps people to lose the Jaws phenomenon and gain the realisation that sharks are a complex and precious species, living in the water – just doing their best to survive.

Travellers partners with a world leading marine organisation focusing on the Great White Shark. Founded in 1989 purely as a research centre, it now collects information which is passed on to and used by other research organisations. Since 1989 it has grown and broadened its services to include an excellent film department, diving and viewing centre and a separate conservation and educational department. "Everything we do we aim to do in harmony with nature and the environment we are working in."

The dedicated Shark Team has been conducting population dynamics and behavioural research since 1991 and was responsible for having the Great White declared as a protected and endangered species in South Africa.

Contrary to popular opinion, shark attacks are rare, with only 20 to 30 fatal attacks each year worldwide. The media hype of these attacks plus movies have engendered a fear which has been exploited and then marketed at the expense of the well being of the shark species. Sharks' natural feeding areas are seal colonies.

The organisation undertakes much cage diving with sharks. This was originally thought of as a bad idea, as it was believed that by baiting humans in cages, sharks would associate humans as food, through the process of conditioning. However, our partner organisation disputes this as sharks are highly nomadic animals, their territory ranging over vast areas, even across continents. Research shows that a shark would never stay in one place long enough to become conditioned

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU BOOK YOUR PLACEMENT?
Once you have applied for a placement, we'll contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have access to all the documentation and information which we've put together to facilitate preparations for your adventure! Your Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on your placement and on your return home.

The documents you'll have access to also include a Country Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on your particular programme (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.

As with all our destinations, the culture and heritage is different to what you're used to ... which, although one of the most exciting aspects of travelling, should be borne in mind. Self-reliance and independence are highly appreciated in all our destinations and will help you to make the most of this wonderful opportunity.

On Arrival, your Introduction to the Country:
When you arrive in Cape Town, you will be welcomed by a member of our South African staff who will take you to your accommodation. You’ll spend your first night at a backpacker lodge and be collected early (3-5am!) the following morning by the shark project.

On arrival at the project you will receive a full induction into the programme and meet the team you will be working with on land and out at sea. Trips out to sea on the commercial shark vessel is weather dependent. They aim for a minimum of 15 trips out to sea if you are on the 4 week programme. One of these trips will be an exclusive – just yourselves and the crew out on the boat.

During your first few days you'll be given an induction so that you can learn about the country and its culture, as well as other useful information, like how to use the transport system, banks, safety issues, tipping, and lots more. You will also get a boat induction and a garage induction which is where the chum oil and equipment is kept.

SOME INFO ABOUT THE GREAT WHITE SHARK:
Sharks are intelligent and vulnerable, deserving of sympathy and respect. Education helps people to lose the Jaws phenomenon and gain the realisation that sharks are a complex and precious species, living in the water – just doing their best to survive. 100,000,000 sharks are killed each year by humans, usually through fishing. They are, as a result, on a collision course with extinction. Great White Sharks are the last wild predator on earth that we cannot tame; from that point of view alone it deserves our respect and attention.

How could our oceans be the same without the glorious Great White beneath its surface. Great White Sharks are very stable animals, displaying stable and predictable behaviour. They do not like to fight with or bite one another. They are highly intelligent animals, able to learn quickly and to remember. This is all new and contradictory evidence in the field and it is apparent that the Shark Team are just scratching the surface now.

Finding the Great White, or letting them find you, is a skill, involving years of practice, the water temperature, depth, visibility, swell height, current and wind direction are all major factors. Once the site is found, the bait is prepared and the team awaits the shark, respecting it as a free animal. A recent tagging project was very successful allowing a number of Great Whites to be tracked.

Possible Extinction: Considering the incredible number of between 150 - 200 million sharks destroyed each year, there is a potential threat of extinction to these species. Most sharks are slow growing, have late maturation and low fecundity and this is the shark's downfall. They cannot replace their stocks to keep up with human exploitation, such as say, sardines can. The Great White Shark female takes approximately 15 years to become sexually mature, and the male about 8 years. At these ages the female will be around five meters long and the male around four meters long. The Great White Sharks' fecundity is low, so the female may possibly only give birth to several litters of pups in a lifetime and these litters are relatively small, ranging from about seven to eleven pups in a litter.

So due to the shark's inability to reproduce quickly, stock replacement is not occurring and subsequently the populations of the world are fast diminishing. In fact, they are being wiped out far quicker than most people realise, with many species critically endangered and some species literally on the brink of extinction. The Great White Shark is now protected in South Africa, California, South Australia and Tasmania, and although this is only one of almost 400 species of shark, its protection is a step in the right direction. The Great White is a key stone species on this planet and its protection, subsequent media attention and high public profile allows us to use it as a battering ram to push for the protection of other shark species.

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The awesome and unique Table Mountain. Climbing the mountain is on most people's bucket lists. When the clouds roll over the top of the mountain and cascade down the front, they call it the "table cloth".
The Twelve Apostles Mountain range, and showing how beautiful the beaches are in South Africa.
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OPTIONAL ADD-ON ACTIVITIES:

Make the most of your time there! To help you do that, we've put together some exciting activities, courses and tours that you can add to your itinerary. These are designed to be fun, but also to enable you to learn, and expand your personal and professional development enjoyment ... but mostly for your enjoyment! :-)

Cage Dive with Sharks in South Africa

CAGE DIVE WITH SHARKS:
Price: £135, includes breakfast/lunch and return transfer from Cape Town.

Getting into the cage with the sharks around is truly breath-taking and gets the adrenaline going! When feeding actively around the boat, the sharks may occasionally brush their tail against the cage, but they NEVER attack the cage. They are curious and often come close-up to the cage to look at the diver. You’ll usually see at least two or more members of the Marine Big Five - sharks, dolphins, whales, seals and penguins.

You’ll be collected from your arranged accommodation in Cape Town between 3.00 and 5.00 am) and driven to Gansbaai, the shark capital of South Africa. Enjoy a light breakfast while the safety briefing and other formalities are concluded, including sizing you for a wetsuit. After an exhilarating 20 minute boat trip, it anchors in or nearby “Shark Alley”. The shark diving then commences and lasts around 2 hours, sometimes longer.

On return to the harbour, you’ll receive a light hot lunch while viewing the video of the day. A copy of your own personal experience is available on DVD after the tour (optional extra).

Duration: Total duration from meeting point until departure is about 5 hours with around 3 hours at sea. Please note: Due to tides and collection schedules, exact collection times from Cape Town will only be confirmed after 16h00 the day prior to your tour.

Included:
• Hot tea / coffee and light breakfast, plus snacks, drinks and sweets on-board the boat
• A hot light lunch upon return (beef lasagne, rolls and Greek salad)
• Educational information and safety briefing
• Diving equipment and wet-suits available at no additional cost
• Scuba diving in the cage for experienced divers (conditions allowing)
• Assisted snorkeling in cage for inexperienced divers
• View Cape Fur Seals from the boat (conditions allowing), plus enjoy land-based whale watching in Hermanus (July – Dec)

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Penguins at Boulders in Cape Town

1-DAY CAPE PENINSULA & WINE TOUR:
Price: £59.

ITINERARY: We begin the morning with a leisurely stroll along the cobbled streets and brightly coloured houses of the Bokaap while sampling some of the local traditional snacks before heading through the exclusive seaside suburbs of Clifton and Campsbay where we have a short photo stop.

We then carry on along Victoria drive, through Houtbay and along the scenic Chapmans Peak Drive eventually arriving at The Cape of Good hope Nature Reserve where we have the option of doing a 40 minute hike from the most south west tip of Africa, Cape of Good Hope to the Cape Point Light House.

We then start driving north to Boulder Beach Penguin colony, where on a nice day you can actually swim with these sea birds! By this stage you would have built up quite an appetite. We stop for a traditional Cape lunch of fish ‘n chips in the old Kalk Bay harbour where the local fishing community goes back generations.

After everyone has had their fill, we stop briefly at the Shark Spotter, entrusted by the local surfers of Muizenberg to look out for Great White Sharks. From here we travel through the lush Constantia Valley to one of the oldest wine farms outside of Europe for a relaxing end of the day wine tasting experience, where we also learn about the history of farming in the Cape in beautiful surroundings.

Included Highlights: Lunch and refreshments in Kalk Bay, Cape of Good Hope Entrance Fee & Boulders Beach Entry Fee to see penguins, Wine Tasting in the Constantia Wine Valley, Walking tour of Bo-Kaap.

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Bungee jump

3-DAY WEEKEND WILDLIFE SAFARI & BUNGEE ADVENTURE:
Price: £230, includes accommodation, breakfast and dinner. Leaves Cape Town every Friday and returns to Cape Town on the Sunday afternoon.

Jump on this 3 day rip-roaring adventure through the Garden Route where we fit as much as we possibly can into 3 awesome days. On this trip you can experience a Game Drive, enjoy some treetop ziplining, visit a local farmers market, an elephant and a monkey sanctuary, the Cango Caves AND The World’s highest Bungy Jump!

Day 1 Friday ǀ Overberg, Garden Route, Myoli Beach: We leave Cape Town, heading past Swellendam, to a Private Game Reserve on the Garden Route. Here we go on a safari where you can see Lion, Buffalo, Elephant, Rhino, Cheetah and Giraffe in their natural habitat. After lunch we will enjoy some fun with a canopy tour, experience the thrill of crossing rope bridges, wobbly crossings and zip wires high up in the trees. Next we carry on our way to Sedgefield.
Included Highlight: Game Drive Safari
Optional Activities: Treetop Adventure & Zipline

Day 2 Saturday ǀ Garden Route, Knysna, Tsitsikamma: After a morning visit to a popular local farmers and craft market in Sedgefield village, we make our way to the Crags where you have a two of options to choose from:
1. Elephant Sanctuary where you learn about, and interact with orphaned elephants.
2. Monkey Sanctuary where rescued monkeys roam free in a large jungle area.

Our next stop is the World’s highest commercial Bungee Jump at 216 meters where you have the opportunity to experience this adrenalin pumping activity! From here it’s back to Myoli beach to carry on with the festivities.
Included Highlight: Local craft and farmers market
Optional Activities: Elephant Sanctuary, Monkeyland, Bloukrans bungy jump (216m), Bloukrans Bridge walking tour.

Day 3 Sunday ǀ Little Karoo, Oudtshoorn, return to Cape Town via Route 62. We head to the Town of Oudtshoorn, the “Ostrich Capital of the world”. Here you can choose between:
1. The Cango Caves where we will embark on a 1-hour guided tour of the cave system to view its massive caverns millions of years old. Cango Caves is a world heritage site and one of the great wonders of the natural world. If you enjoy spelunking and don’t mind trying to squeeze through some smaller gaps then you are also welcome to take the 1.5 hour adventure tour!
2. Go on a guided tour of the Cango Endangered Wildlife Ranch for an opportunity to pet cheetah, cage dive with crocodiles and view and learn about many rare and endangered animal species.

Included Highlight: Cango Caves (Adventure or Standard Tour) OR Cango Wildlife Ranch
Optional Activities: Pet a cheetah, cage dive with crocodiles.

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3-day Garden Route Safari in South Africa

3-DAY ELEPHANTS, CAVES AND BUNGEE SAFARI
(One-way from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth or Knysna):

Price: £239. Leaves Cape Town every Monday morning (early).

The 4 Day tour is ideal for volunteers to use to get to our Wildlife Sanctuary project near Port Elizabeth, or one of the Knysna projects. You save on a connecting flight from Cape Town and get to take part in a fun-filled experience with lots of amazing activities. The tour bus will drop you off at either project destination mentioned above on Day 3.

Day 1 – Monday ǀ Cape Town to Oudtshoorn Little Karoo, Cango Caves, Wildlife Rehabilitation Ranch: We head into the semi-arid Little Karoo along the scenic Route 62 driving to the town of Oudtshoorn, known as the ostrich capital of the world. Here you can choose between:
The Cango Caves: a 1-hour guided tour of the cave system to view its massive caverns and a wonderland of stalactite and stalagmite formations, millions of years old. Cango Caves is a world heritage site and one of the great wonders of the natural world. Or if you enjoy spelunking and smaller gaps, you are also welcome to take the 1.5 hour adventure tour!
A guided tour of the Cango Endangered Wildlife Ranch: you can pet cheetah, cage dive with crocodiles and view and learn about many rare and endangered animal species.

We then head over the Outeniqua Mountains to the lush coastal region known as the Garden Route where we will head to the beach town of Sedgefield for our first night. If time allows we will also head to the beach for a swim in the Indian Ocean.
Included Highlight: Standard or adventure guided tour of Cango Caves OR Cango Endangered Wildlife ranch.

Day 2 – Tuesday ǀ Sedgefield – Jeffrey’s Bay, Monkey Sanctuary, Elephant Sanctuary, Kloofing, Bloukrans Bungee & Tsitsikamma National Park. This morning we drive through Knysna on our way to the Crags where you have two options to choose from:
1. Elephant Sanctuary where you learn about, and interact with orphaned elephants.
2. Monkey Sanctuary where rescued monkeys roam free in a large jungle area.

Our next stop is the World’s highest commercial Bungee Jump at 216 meters where you can experience this adrenalin pumping activity. Finally, to end the day, we take a beautiful walk through the indigenous Tsitsikamma National Park to the Storms river swing bridges before we head to the famous surfing town of Jeffreys Bay where we stay at a backpackers directly on the beach.
Included Highlight: Tsitsikamma Forest.
Optional Activities: Elephant Sanctuary, Monkeyland, Bloukrans bungee jump (216m), Bloukrans Bridge walking tour.

Day 3 – Wednesday ǀ Jeffrey’s Bay – Addo National Park – Sedgefield Game Drive (Addo), Surfing, shopping time (Jeffrey’s bay). There are 2 options to choose from this morning:
1. Sleep in then explore the town's many surf factory shops, or go for a surf lesson.
2. Wake up early and head to Addo Elephant National park where we go on a morning game drive to view the multitudes of wild animals. Addo has the Big 5 and also the highest concentration of African Elephants in the world!
Included Highlight: Jeffrey’s Bay/Addo Entrance & Game Dive with tour Guide
Optional Activities: Surf Lessons, Shopping OR Addo Game Drive with National Parks guide (morning).

Please note: This is where the 3 Day One Way to PE/ J-Bay/ Knysna will end.
• Volunteers destined for our Wildlife Sanctuary placement are dropped off at the project.
• Volunteers destined for the Knysna projects will be dropped off at our accommodation.

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Caves, Elephants Safari

4-DAY ELEPHANTS, CAVES AND BUNGEE SAFARI:
Price: £265, includes accommodation and food. Leaves Cape Town every Monday morning (early), returning to Cape Town on Thursdays.

Day 1 – Monday ǀ Cape Town to Oudtshoorn Little Karoo, Cango Caves, Wildlife Rehabilitation Ranch: We leave the Mother City behind and head into the semi-arid Little Karoo along the scenic Route 62 driving to the town of Oudtshoorn, known as the ostrich capital of the world, it is situated in a beautiful, fertile valley between the Outeniqua and Swartberg Mountains. Here you can choose between:
1. The Cango Caves where we will embark on a 1-hour guided tour of the cave system to view its massive caverns and a wonderland of stalactite and stalagmite formations, millions of years old. Cango Caves is a world heritage site and one of the great wonders of the natural world. Or if you enjoy spelunking and don’t mind trying to squeeze through some smaller gaps then you are also welcome to take the 1.5 hour adventure tour!
2. Go on a guided tour of the Cango Endangered Wildlife Ranch for an opportunity to pet cheetah, cage dive with crocodiles and view and learn about many rare and endangered animal species.

We then head over the Outeniqua Mountains to the lush coastal region known as the Garden Route where we will head to the beach town of Sedgefield where we spend our first night. If time allows we will also head to the beach for a swim in the Indian Ocean.
Included Highlight: Standard or adventure guided tour of Cango Caves OR Cango Endangered Wildlife ranch.

Day 2 – Tuesday ǀ Sedgefield – Jeffrey’s Bay, Monkey Sanctuary, Elephant Sanctuary, Kloofing, Bloukrans Bungee & Tsitsikamma National Park. This morning we drive through Knysna on our way to the Crags where you have a number of options to choose from:
1. Elephant Sanctuary where you learn about, and interact with orphaned elephants.
2. Monkey Sanctuary where rescued monkeys roam free in a large jungle area.

Our next stop is the World’s highest commercial Bungee Jump at 216 meters where you have the opportunity to experience this adrenalin pumping activity. Finally, to end the day we take a beautiful walk through the indigenous Tsitsikamma National Park to the Storms river swing bridges before we head to the famous surfing town of Jeffreys Bay where we stay at a backpackers directly on the beach.
Included Highlight: Tsitsikamma Forest.
Optional Activities: Elephant Sanctuary OR Monkeyland. Bloukrans bungee jump (216m), Bloukrans Bridge walking tour

Day 3 – Wednesday ǀ Jeffrey’s Bay – Addo National Park – Sedgefield Game Drive (Addo), Surfing, shopping time (Jeffrey’s Bay). There are 2 options to choose from this morning.
1. Sleep in and take some time in the morning to explore the towns many surf factory shops, or go for a surf lesson in one of the most famous surf spots on earth.
2. Wake up early and head to Addo Elephant National park where we go on a morning game drive to view the multitudes of wild animals. Addo is home to the Big 5 and it also has the highest concentration of African Elephants in the world!
Included Highlight: Jeffrey’s Bay/Addo Entrance & Game Dive with tour Guide.
Optional Activities: Surf Lessons, Shopping OR Addo Game Drive with National Parks guide (morning).

Day 4 – Thursday ǀ Sedgefield to Cape Town: Return to Cape Town via Sir Lowry’s Pass. After breakfast we start our journey back to Cape Town. For our first stop we will enjoy some fun with a canopy tour, experience the thrill of crossing rope bridges, wobbly crossings and zip wires high up in the trees. We then visit an Aloe factory, where you can purchase a variety of Aloe Ferox products. Finally, enjoy a wonderful scenic drive back to Cape Town, arriving early Thursday afternoon.
Included Highlight: Visit to an aloe factory.
Optional Activities: Treetop Adventure and Zipline.

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5-day sharks and wildlife safari

5-DAY WILDLIFE, SHARKS, CAVES AND BUNGEE SAFARI
(One-way from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth or Knysna):

Price: £345. Includes Accommodation and Food. Leaves Cape Town every Saturday morning (early).

This is the ideal tour for volunteers to use to get to our Wildlife Sanctuary project near Port Elizabeth, or one of the Knysna projects. You save on a connecting flight from Cape Town AND you take part in a fun-filled experience with lots of amazing activities.

Day 1 – Saturday ǀ Cape Town to Struisbaai: Overberg, Whale Route, Cape Agulhus: Depart Cape Town at 8:30 am and Stellenbosch at 9:30 am, our exciting journey begins on the whale route in Gordons Bay for a stunning drive along the R44 mountain pass overlooking False Bay to the vibrant coastal town of Hermanus. After a picnic lunch on the seafront, we continue to Birkenhead Brewery to sample some fine beers before moving to the southernmost tip of Africa in Cape Agulhas National Park.

We then make our way to the harbour where there is an option to embark on an exciting ski-boat cruise to search for dolphin and whales (June to November). Accommodation is along “Die Plaat”, the longest beach in the Southern Hemisphere. This day is a relaxing one for you to get to know your fellow travellers.
Included Highlight: Land Based Whale Watching in Hermanus/Shopping Beer/wine tasting at Birkenhead Brewery
Optional Activities: Shark cage diving.

Day 2 – Sunday ǀ Cape Agulhas to Sedgefield: Canoeing & Hike: After breakfast we drive inland towards the famed Garden Route! After a scenic drive we begin a beautiful canoe trip down one of the many tranquil rivers, followed by a short hike to a stunning waterfall. We finish off the day with some beach time down at Myoli Beach.
Included Highlight: Canoe trip & hike to waterfall.

Day 3 – Monday ǀ Oudtshoorn day trip: Little Karoo, Cango Caves, Ostrich Farm, Wildlife Ranch: We drive over the stunning Outeniqua mountains into the semi desert Klein Karoo and Oudtshoorn. The ostrich capital of the world, Oudtshoorn is situated in a beautiful valley between mountains. The Cango Caves is our first stop with a 1-hour guided tour of the cave system to view its massive caverns and a wonderland of stalactite and stalagmite formations, millions of years old. Cango Caves is a world heritage site and one of the great wonders of the natural world. If you enjoy spelunking and smaller gaps, you can also take the 1.5 hour adventure tour!

Next is an option to view and ride ostriches on a working ostrich farm, or go on a guided tour of the Cango Endangered Wildlife Ranch for an opportunity to pet cheetah, cage dive with crocodiles and view many rare and endangered animal species.
Included Highlight: Standard or adventure guided tour of Cango Caves Optional Activities: Tour of a working Ostrich farm + riding (weight restriction applies to riders). Cango Endangered Wildlife ranch.

Day 4 – Tuesday ǀ Sedgefield – Jeffrey’s Bay: Monkey Sanctuary, Elephant Sanctuary, Kloofing, Bloukrans Bungee & Tsitsikamma National Park: This morning we drive through Knysna on our way to the Crags where you can choose from:
1. Elephant Sanctuary where you learn about, and interact with orphaned elephants.
2. Monkey Sanctuary where rescued monkeys roam free in a large jungle area.
3. Kloofing trip through a spectacular gorge with jumps, abseils and swimming.

Our next stop is the World’s highest commercial Bungee Jump at 216 meters, which you can do - optional. Finally, we take a beautiful walk through the indigenous Tsitsikamma National Park to the Storms river swing bridges before we head to the famous surfing town of Jeffreys Bay where we stay at a backpackers directly on the beach.
Included Highlight: Tsitsikamma Forest Optional Activities: Elephant Sanctuary, Monkeyland, Bloukrans bungee jump (216m), Bloukrans Bridge walking tour.

Day 5 – Wednesday ǀ Jeffrey’s Bay – Addo National Park – Sedgefield: Game Drive (Addo), Surfing, shopping. There are 2 options to choose from this morning.
1. Sleep in and then explore the town's many surf factory shops, or go for a surf lesson in one of the most famous surf spots on earth.
2. Wake up early and head to Addo Elephant National park where we go on a morning game drive. Addo has the Big 5 game animals and the highest concentration of African Elephants in the world!

A relaxed drive back towards Sedgefield for the night. Time permitting, we'll visit the famous Knysna Heads for some absolutely amazing pictures where the ocean meets the inlet to the Knysna Lagoon.
Included Highlight: Storms River/Jeffrey’s Bay/Addo & Knysna Heads
Optional Activities: Black Water Tubing, Canopy Tour, Surf Lessons, Shopping, Addo Elephant NP tour (morning)

Please note:
• Volunteers destined for our Wildlife Sanctuary placement, can get dropped off at the project or choose to be fetched in Jeffrey’s Bay after the activities.
• Volunteers destined for the Knysna projects will be dropped off at our accommodation

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7-day extreme advanture safari in South Africa

6-DAY WILDLIFE, SHARKS, CAVES AND BUNGEE SAFARI:
Price: £375. Leaves Cape Town on a Saturday morning and returns to Cape Town the following Thursday afternoon.

This is the ideal tour for volunteers wanting to arrive at our Wildlife Sanctuary project near Port Elizabeth, or one of the Knysna projects. You save on a connecting flight from Cape Town and get to take part in a fun-filled experience with lots of amazing activities. The tour bus will drop you off at any of the destinations listed above on Day 5.

Day 1 – Saturday ǀ Cape Town to Struisbaai: Overberg, Whale Route, Cape Agulhus: Departing Cape Town at 8:30 am and Stellenbosch at 9:30 am, our exciting journey begins today along the world famous whale route in Gordons Bay for a stunning drive along the picturesque R44 mountain pass overlooking False Bay to the vibrant coastal town of Hermanus. After a picnic lunch on the seafront, we continue to Birkenhead Brewery to sample some fine beers before moving on to the southernmost tip of Africa in Cape Agulhas National Park.

We then make our way to the harbour where there is an option to embark on an exciting ski-boat cruise to search for dolphin and whales (June to November). After the cruise we take a walk back to the accommodation along “Die Plaat”, the longest beach in the Southern Hemisphere.
Included Highlight: Land Based Whale Watching in Hermanus / Shopping. Beer/wine tasting at Birkenhead Brewery
Optional Activities: Shark cage diving (MUST be pre-booked in advance).

Day 2 – Sunday ǀ Cape Agulhas to Sedgefield: Canoeing & Hike: After breakfast we drive inland again, this time towards the famed Garden Route! After a scenic drive we begin a beautiful canoe trip down one of the many tranquil rivers in the area, followed by a short hike to a stunning waterfall. We finish off the day with some beach time down at Myoli Beach.
Included Highlight: Canoe trip & hike to waterfall

Day 3 – Monday ǀ Oudtshoorn day trip: Little Karoo, Cango Caves, Ostrich Farm, Wildlife Ranch: We begin the day with a drive over the picturesque Outeniqua mountain range into the semi desert region of the Klein Karoo and Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of the world. Oudtshoorn is situated in a beautiful valley between the Outeniqua and Swartberg Mountains. The Cango Caves will be the first stop, a 1-hour guided tour of the cave system to view its massive caverns and a wonderland of stalactite and stalagmite formations, millions of years old. Cango Caves is a world heritage site and one of the great wonders of the natural world. If you enjoy spelunking and smaller gaps, you are also welcome to take the 1.5 hour adventure tour!

Next is an option to view and ride ostriches on a working ostrich farm, or go on a guided tour of the Cango Endangered Wildlife Ranch for an opportunity to pet cheetah, cage dive with crocodiles and view many rare and endangered animal species.
Included Highlight: Standard or adventure guided tour of Cango Caves
Optional Activities: Tour of a working Ostrich farm + riding (weight restriction apply to riders). Cango Endangered Wildlife ranch.

Day 4 – Tuesday ǀ Sedgefield – Jeffrey’s Bay: Monkey Sanctuary, Elephant Sanctuary, Kloofing, Bloukrans Bungee & Tsitsikamma National Park: This morning we drive through Knysna on our way to the Crags where you have two options to choose from:
1. Elephant Sanctuary where you learn about, and interact with orphaned elephants.
2. Monkey Sanctuary where rescued monkeys roam free in a large jungle area.

Our next stop is the World’s highest commercial Bungee Jump at 216 meters where you can experience this adrenalin pumping activity. Finally, we take a beautiful walk through the indigenous Tsitsikamma National Park to the Storms river swing bridges before we head to the famous surfing town of Jeffreys Bay where we stay at a backpackers directly on the beach.
Included Highlight: Tsitsikamma Forest Optional Activities: Elephant Sanctuary OR Monkeyland. Bloukrans bungee jump (216m), Bloukrans Bridge walking tour.

Day 5 – Wednesday ǀ Jeffrey’s Bay – Addo National Park – Sedgefield: Game Drive (Addo), Surfing, shopping. There are 2 options to choose from this morning.
1. Sleep in then explore the towns many surf factory shops, or go for a surf lesson.
2. Wake up early and head to Addo Elephant National park where we go on a morning game drive to view the multitudes of wild animals. Addo has the Big 5 and also the highest concentration of African Elephants in the world!

Included Highlight: Jeffrey’s Bay/Addo Entrance & Game Dive with tour Guide
Optional Activities: Surf Lessons, Shopping OR Addo Game Drive with National Parks guide (morning).

Day 6 – Thursday ǀ Sedgefield to Cape Town: Return to Cape Town via Sir Lowry’s Pass: After breakfast we start our journey back to Cape Town. For our first stop we will enjoy some fun with a canopy tour, experience the thrill of crossing rope bridges, wobbly crossings and zip wires high up in the trees. We then visit an Aloe factory, where you can purchase a variety of Aloe Ferox products. Finally, enjoy a wonderful scenic drive back to Cape Town, arriving early Thursday afternoon.

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4-day Kruger  National Park Wildlife Game Safari Tour in South Africa

4-DAY KRUGER NATIONAL PARK SAFARI:
Price: £595 per person, includes game drives, tented accommodation, breakfasts and dinners. Leaves Johannesburg daily at 7:00.
Join this 4 day tour to the majestic Kruger National Park, one of the top wilderness reserves in the world and home to the highest concentration of lions in Africa. You'll stay at a private Wildlife Reserve with permanent safari tents.

Day 1 Sunset Drive, Kruger National Park: We collect you from your hostel or Johannesburg Airport and travel via Dullstroom or Nelspruit to the lodge in a Big Five Game Reserve. Transfer to an open-top game vehicle for a Sunset Drive. After dark, spotlights are used to locate nocturnal animals. Dinner in the open Boma and overnight in air-conditioned chalets.

Day 2 Bush Walk, Kruger National Park:
Awaken at sunrise for an exhilarating day of unforgettable bush life. Drive to a remote part of the Balule Game Reserve, where you enjoy a 4h Bush Walk. Your experienced field guide will lead you through the bush. The thrill of following Africa’s large animals until you can take a photo will remain with you forever. Adrenalin surges will be acute, notwithstanding the presence of your armed ranger. Return for brunch. At around 14h30 we go on an afternoon game drive. Transfer to Marc’s Camp where accommodation is in tents equipped with beds and bedding, soap and towels, electric light and fan. Dinner and overnight at in the camp.

Day 3 Orpen Gate, Kruger National Park:
After breakfast you travel on the open-sided Gameviewer to the Orpen Gate of Kruger. The added elevation and absence of windows allow for excellent viewing and photographic opportunities. Your qualified guide will show you various animals, large and small, that frequent this outstanding wildlife paradise. The zone of Kruger you visit has the highest percentage population of giraffe, zebra, wildebeest and impala that attract numerous lions and other predators. Dinner and overnight at Marc’s Camp.

Day 4 Bush walk at Kruger National Park, Johannesburg
We enjoy an early morning Bush Walk accompanied by an armed ranger. You will be shown various interesting details of the bush, including insects, spoor and scats. You have an excellent chance of encountering Buffalo, Nyala and other game on foot. After breakfast, we drive to the Three Rondawels of the Blyde River Canyon. We return you to your hostel or airport at around 17h00.

Includes:
• Return transfers from Johannesburg
• 3 hour Sunset Big 5 game drive in Big 5 reserve
• 4 hour Big 5 walk with armed ranger
• 2 hour afternoon game drive on Balule Game Reserve
• Full Day Kruger Park on open vehicle
• Breakfasts, Dinners, Accommodation and bedding
• Sunrise bush walk with armed ranger
• Blyde River canyon and Three Rondawels

Excludes: Lunches, Transfers, Drinks & Laundry

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LOCATION | SIGHTSEEING:

The best advice you'll get from us is to try to see some of the country while you're in South Africa. It's big (huge!) and each different region is exciting and very, very beautiful. Cape Town is probably the most beautiful city in the world (I can say that, I grew up there :-) KwaZulu-Natal comes a very close second, albeit very different. Knysna is where South Africans go on holiday, which gives you some idea of how lovely the region is.

LOCATION - GAANSBAAI:
The program runs out of Gaansbaai, South Africa. Fieldwork will take place around Dyer Island and possibly other shark locations. Dyer Island (known as Shark Alley!) is possibly the best place in the world to see Great Whites. Gaansbaai is a seaside village, which depends on fishing and tourism for its survival. It is situated approximately two hours south east of Cape Town.

On one of the main research sites, Dyer Island, many other wildlife species can be viewed from the boat. It is the breeding ground for Jackass Penguins, Cape Cormorants and Gannets, whilst Geyser Rock opposite, is a breeding mecca for Cape Fur Seals and currently home to approximately 20 000 seals. In season Whales and an occasional Dolphin can be spotted. This is a perfect habitat for the Great White.

One of the exciting aspects of this project is that you may be fortunate enough to spot all the ‘Marine Big 5’:

  • Shark – The Great White
  • Whale – Southern Right, Humpback and Brydes’
  • Dolphin – Bottlenose, Common and Humpback
  • Penguin – African
  • Seal – Cape Fur

ACTIVITIES IN CAPE TOWN:
Adrenaline Activities - Enjoy exciting and “real” adventures with an adrenaline twist!

  • Abseiling
  • Sandboarding
  • Deep-sea Angling
  • ‘Kloofing’ (insanely jumping off very high cliffs into pools of water!)
  • Paragliding
  • Helicopter flips
  • Bungee jumping (just up the coast)
  • …..and a LOT, LOT more!!!!

Township Tours - A visit to one of the many townships surrounding the city is an experience that will open your eyes to the way in which the biggest portion of Cape Town's population are living. Take a township tour of Langa, the oldest township in South Africa or Khayelitsha, the second largest township in South Africa. Township tours will usually be co-led by a resident in the area, showcase local industry and community projects and include a visit to a township bar or 'shebeen'.

Two Oceans Aquarium - Located in the V&A Waterfront, the Two Oceans Aquarium has lots of display tanks, interactive experiences, a touch pool and the highly popular predators tank.

Cape Winelands - Wine lover or not, a visit to the Cape Winelands is an absolute must as the region is one of breathtaking beauty and majestic mountain backdrops. Rolling vineyards and quaint Cape Dutch homesteads ... as well as some of the country's best wines.

Relaxing drives: Drives are a very popular leisure activity in South Africa, because the roads are generally wide, in good condition, relatively empty and a pleasure to drive on. People often go for drives on a Sunday afternoon to a favourite hotel or restaurant for afternoon tea and scones, or to the top of a pass just to look at the view, or to a national park to watch the baboons - there's always a good reason to go for a drive!

Cape Town has lots of cafes and restaurants with outdoors seating areas overlooking the street or on the pavements, with colourful sun umbrellas - a perfect place to sit with the sun on your face, watching passers-by ambling along, sipping a steamy cappucino or staving off the heat with a cold drink.

TRAVEL:

Read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you arrive in your new country.

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Bo Kaap (formerly known as the Malay Quarter) is well known in Cape Town, famous for its colourful houses and as the hub of the city's Muslim population.
Another Bucket List activity is to go cage diving with sharks, or taking a tour out on the boat to go Whale, Shark and Dolphin spotting.
South Africa is Wildlife Heaven for anyone interested in Elephants, Big Cats, Rhinos, Monkeys ... and just about any other animal - don't miss the opportunity to take a safari through a local Game Park.
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REVIEWS AND FEEDBACK:

ANDREW BURGE
New Zealander
Great White Shark Project near Cape Town

Life in Gansbaai is going well. There are two new volunteers living in the house with me, a couple from Florida. They're staying for a month. We've also had 3 other volunteers staying with us but only for a week. They leave today and tomorrow. So, has been nice to have some company. Craig, the founder of the Project, has also been staying with us for the past week. He's given us a few lectures on the white shark. We have learnt a lot from him.

It's not the relentless killing machine as it's made out to be in JAWS. Rather, it's highly intelligent and shies away from confrontation. Obviously, when it does attack, it does it very well. But worldwide, there are only about 100 shark attacks a year, of which only 20-30 are fatal. Supposedly, more people die from falling coconuts!

Have been out on the water 5 times now. Am still finding my sea legs. Sea has been pretty rough, so I'm hoping for some calmer days. The sharks have been awesome. The largest one I've seen so far was a 3.5m shark nicknamed "Slashfin" because her dorsal fin is cut. She looks a lot bigger up close, I can tell you! Got to see a "predation" as well - a shark take out a seal. Was all over in a matter of minutes, just a pool of blood on the surface to tell the tale.

Also saw a Southern Right whale out on the water which was pretty cool!

Yesterday and today the water has been too rough to go out. Yesterday we all went to Cape Aghulas, the southern most point in Africa. Today, I am planning on going for a bike ride along the beach in the afternoon. Have been in the cage twice so far. As amazing as it is to see them from the boat, it's awesome to view them in the water, in their own domain. First time I went in the cage, a shark took the bait and came thrashing up against the cage. Its pectoral fin actually came inside the cage. I could have shaken hands with him!

Yesterday I went in again and got a close up look at a 3.8 meter great white. Looked to be the size of a bus! She was huge! The visibility wasn't so good, so the shark would appear out of nowhere and glide slowly past, eying me up. Was amazing! The biggest shark we've had around the boat so far was 4.5m. At one point it took the bait, which was tied to the boat, and it actually pulled the boat! Everyone grabbed hold of the rail and looked around nervously, thinking of the movie JAWS. Can't imagine how massive a 5 or 6m shark must be. Hopefully will get to see one while I'm here.

Today was good. Only saw 3 sharks, but a couple of them hung around the cage for a while, took the bait at one point and put on a bit of a show, thrashing against the cage. Also saw six Southern Right whales up close, including a mother and her calf. They were so huge. Amazing to think such amazing creatures are swimming around our ocean.

What do you feel you gained from doing this Project?
Practical experience: working on a small boat, working in a small team environment, dealing with the public/customers on a daily basis. Intrinsic Experience: Seeing the great white shark up close which was incredible. Beautiful, awesome creatures. Learnt lots from the WSP staff.

What was the best thing about your placement?
Getting to go in the cage and see the Great White in its own environment. It was awesome to see them appear out of nowhere and glide by the cage, eying me up.

Would you recommend this placement to anyone else?
Yes, for those with an interest in sharks.

What type of person do you think this placement would suit?
Hard working. Involves early starts and physical work. Personable, good social skills – dealing with the public and working with the small WSP team. Independent – if you are living on your own, you need to enjoy your own company. Nights can be quiet.

Can you describe a typical day?
Two hours before launch (which is usually between 8 am and 12 pm) we load the pick up truck with everything we need on the boat (wetsuits, fuel, bait, etc.) and drive down to the harbour (3 minutes walk) and transfer everything to the boat. After getting the boat ready, we come back to the lodge, the skipper briefs the clients, then we walk them to the boat to launch.

On the boat I have various duties: helping clients into wetsuits, recording data on the sharks we see, laying anchor and bringing it up, getting the cage in and out of the water, other help around the boat. We’re usually on the water for 4 – 5 hours. After we get back to the harbour, we have to unload the boat. I usually take turns with another crew member in washing the boat or rinsing out wetsuits. I am usually free 1 – 1.5 hours after getting back to the harbour. The rest of the day is yours.

STEPHANIE EDWARDS
British
Great White Shark Project near Cape Town

I'm having an awesome time in South Africa!!!! I settled in very quickly at the lodge, (which is beautiful and huuuuge!) and started work on the boat the day after I arrived.

The area is stunning, right on the sea, lovely views of the ocean from the top windows of the lodge. Everyone is really friendly, especially the skippers Gerald and Grant, and the hostess Elizma, and they have really made me feel at home. Well the first day was fantastic (apart from feeling a little sea sick!). On that first day I just watched what the crew did and tried to take as much in as possible.

I also got to go in the cage, which was incredible; the best thing I've ever done in my life!!! The sharks are so beautiful, and even more impressive from under water. We also saw a southern right whale breach right near to our boat as we were on our way back to shore. It was absolutely stunning; I thought I was going to cry!

Most days I get up at around 5.45am and launch is usually at 8.30am. We go out to sea and I help out with getting the clients in/out of their wetsuits and generally help out on the boat (with the anchor, cage, cleaning etc). We are usually back on shore by around 12/1pm but the day can go on longer if it take a while to get sharks. But the chum usually works very well and we get a shark within 1/2 hour of getting to our spot.

At the end of the day I help clean the boat with a lovely guy named Mandla, who has taught me a lot. It's very rewarding when the clients really enjoy the sharks and the weather is good. Some days can be quite hard when we have to battle with the rain, wind and poor water visibility (and people getting very sea sick!). Luckily that doesn't happen too often though, the weather is usually fantastic!

I love being out at sea (now that I have my sea legs!) and everyday is so exciting, especially when we get really interesting sharks. I also help out with taking data, eg. noting down each shark, what time it's seen, distinguishing marks, tags, size, sex etc, which is really interesting.

The amount I have learnt since I got here is unbelievable! Not only more about the sharks, but also about working out at sea, which I knew nothing about 2 weeks ago!

AIMS AND ACHIEVEMENTS:

The Challenges
Working with Great White Sharks, Carcharadon carcharias, has many challenges. At the forefront it has to be said is the challenge of changing the majority of peoples’ opinions on these very misunderstood animals.

There is also the somewhat obvious hurdle of working with an animal that one could say is the last apex predator that man has not learned to control or at least successfully contain in a controlled area. These animals are highly migratory and, contrary to some people’s opinions, are not conditioned to associate the cage diving boats with food. Therefore there is never any guarantee on what we will see on each trip.

Along with working with a truly wild animal, we are also working on the sea which can be temperamental and so we cannot go to sea on all days due to the obvious safety considerations.

Working with the ocean there is also the knowledge of the problem our oceans and their inhabitants have with pollution. Therefore we also focus heavily on trying to battle this problem.

Our Goals
In order to change people’s opinions on Great White Sharks we need to provide education and also first-hand viewing of how different they are to that portrayed in movies, certain documentaries and photos.

To try and get the white sharks around our boat, our highly experienced crew, with the help of our volunteers, chum the water in order to provide the sharks with a scent in which they can follow (using their highly evolved sense of smell) to our boat, combined with a visual stimulant, a tuna head attached to a bait line (not a free meal), which is there to bring this inquisitive animal up from the depths and closer to the cage for our clients to view it.

Our volunteers also help our marine biologist collect data on each shark that is seen around the boat on every trip, in order to get information on how many sharks we are seeing per trip, along with behavioural data and scar patterns on these animals. This data helps provide us with knowledge on seasonal patterns whether it is concerning numbers, fresh scars or a difference in behaviour.

With regards to pollution, our goal is to educate the younger generation and try and encourage recycling in the community, as the amount of plastic and other recyclable materials food in our seas are some of the biggest problems are oceans are facing when it comes to pollution.

Our Achievements

With each trip that goes out and comes back, it is evident and highly pleasing to see the complete change in the clients’ mindset when it comes to the Great White Sharks. As previously mentioned the majority of clients come with the idea of seeing a monster, however after the education that is provided on the project, along with the viewing of these sharks people leave with a changed opinion, a determination to spread their new-found knowledge on these misunderstood creatures and a desire to help protect them in any way they can!

Working with such a highly migratory animal as the white shark, which is not conditioned to the boats, the project is lucky to be able to boast about an extremely successful viewing rate, where it is very rare to go on a trip and not have the privilege of seeing this apex predator in the wild. One of the reasons the area is the white shark capital of the world.

Concerning the problem of pollution in our oceans, the project runs a very successful and heart-warming project swop shop program. Each week some of their staff along with volunteers go to one of the local townships in order to install the valuable sense of recycling in the young future generation. Here the children of the township bring recyclable material collected from their homes and from the streets to the swop shop where they get given tokens that can be spent on items of their choosing. We believe that encouraging this at a young age will cause them to continue to recycle throughout their lives and thus help reduce the amount of pollution in the area (of which 80% will end up in the ocean!).

In 2014 we also launched a campaign called 21 Days for the Ocean which runs from the 1st of September to the 21st of September every year.

The 21 Days for the Ocean was conceptualized from the idea that it takes 21 days to break a bad habit. And we here at White Shark Projects were determined to help the Overstrand community to break some of their bad habits which have a negative impact on the ocean. Daily habits like driving our cars when we don’t really need to, using pesticides in our gardens, leaving lights and televisions on when nobody is in that room, using chemicals to clean ourselves and our homes all contribute to the acidification of our oceans. Ocean acidification is an ominous natural disaster in progress which not many people know about. Ocean acidification occurs when Carbon Dioxide (C02) gets absorbed by and dissolves in the seawater. The product of the subsequent chemical reaction is Carbonic acid. If we allow our oceans to continue to acidify it will cause the collapse of whole marine ecosystems. The ocean absorbs more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and produces more oxygen than the rainforests, so if the ocean disintegrates, it would have dire consequences to our planet as a whole.

Ultimately, we hope that our message has not just been heard, but that the seeded information has actually germinated and taken root in the consciousness of the community, leading to the growth of ocean conservation.

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Tempting a shark in close with some bait
Using bait to draw the shark closer for examination.
The shark cage
The shark cage.
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PHOTO GALLERY: The Great White Shark Project