Drakenstein Lion Park Volunteer Programme

Two week placement – R5,000


Four week placement – R10,000


Drakenstein Lion Park is an award winning and internationally acclaimed sanctuary for captive born lions that cannot be rehabilitated into the wild. The Park provides these displaced lions with a lifetime home in an enriched environment, where they are treated with compassion and respect and allowed to live out their lives with dignity.

As a genuine sanctuary, the Park is not involved in breeding or any form of commercial trade.

Drakenstein Lion Park is situated in the scenic Cape Winelands and although the Park is located in a rural setting, civilization is only 5 minutes away in the town of Paarl!

Volunteers have the unique opportunity to become a part of our team of dedicated animal care givers and experience the day to day running of a lion sanctuary, working for the animals and not with them.

Why pay to volunteer?

Most non-profit organizations that run international volunteer programs are to some extent funded by volunteer contributions. In return for the opportunity to work at the organization, volunteers fund themselves, ensuring that the host organization does not incur any expenses. The process of preparing, training, transporting, housing and supervising volunteers is not cheap.

Volunteer fees generated by our programme also go towards the care costs of our resident lions, as well as the costs associated with future rescues. The cost to join our programme is R5000 for a two week stay or R10 000 for a four week stay (starting on a Monday and ending on a Saturday).


Accommodation is in the form of shared same sex units (maximum 2 persons). The kitchen is fully equipped with a gas stove and fridge. Volunteers are responsible for keeping the accommodation tidy at all times.

The accommodation unit is situated a short distance from the lion and chimp enclosures, so volunteers will have the added bonus of hearing the lions roar every night!

Volunteers are responsible for supplying and preparing their own meals. Volunteers will be taken on a scheduled shopping trip to purchase the necessary supplies and can safely budget on 400 ZAR per week for food.


How do I apply for a volunteer placement?

1) Download the application form and email to info@lionrescue.org.za

2) We will then advise if your placement is successful for the desired time period and send you an   email link for payment.

3) You secure your placement by making a non-refundable, non-transferable 100% payment.

4) We confirm receipt of your payment and confirm your placement.

5) You book your flights, and organize your passport, vaccinations, medications and travel/medical insurance.

6) You join our volunteer team!

How far should I book in advance?

Our project has limited availability, we advise you to submit your application as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. The sooner you apply, the better your chances of securing your placement! However, it is sometimes possible to join a project at the last minute so please contact us if you are interested in volunteering in the near term.


Do I need to have experience to volunteer?

Absolutely not. Drakenstein Lion Park’s program is open to anyone with a love of adventure, travel and the great outdoors! Whether you bring specific skills or good old-fashioned elbow grease and enthusiasm, you will perform important work in our project. A great volunteer is… open to experiencing new cultures and meeting people from around the world • tolerant and respectful of others, no matter what their beliefs or background • flexible and adapts well to new situations and environments • self-disciplined with a sense of independence • eager to develop their own personal qualities and character while giving something back to the planet • pro-active and look for opportunities to experience their new surroundings.


Volunteer Duties & Work Hours

Volunteers are required to work 08h30 to 17h00 daily, excluding Mondays which is an off day.

General volunteer activities will include but not be limited to the following:

  • Monitoring visitors to the sanctuary to ensure our animal’s well-being.
  • Food preparation for the lions.
  • Cleaning the grounds and facilities.
  • Cleaning lion camps.
  • Clearing alien vegetation.
  • Clearing fence lines and general fence maintenance.
  • Fence construction.
  • Firebreak maintenance (and fire fighting in the summer!).


Can I travel before/after my volunteer placement?

Of course! Many volunteers arrive early to start exploring South Africa. Our volunteer project can also offer volunteers the chance to meet potential travelling companions or to slowly acclimatise before heading off alone in South Africa

How will I keep in touch with friends and family at home?

You can buy international phone cards from airports, certain stores and post offices which will allow you make a call from any public phone. To make an international call from South Africa, dial 00 followed by the country code of the country you wish to call, followed by the relevant area code and phone number.

What is your age policy?

The minimum age requirement for our program is 18 yrs old.

What languages will I need to speak?

You will need to be able to communicate in English.


Each volunteer is supplied with ONE uniform T Shirt and will be required to wear a volunteer T Shirt while working in the Park. Additional T Shirts can be purchased at 120 ZAR each.

During summer months you will need lots of sun block. When working in the Park volunteers will be required to wear hiking boots and will not be allowed to work in open shoes or sneakers.

During winter months warm clothes are required, as well as a rain suit and gumboots.

Volunteers will have to be presentable and properly clothed (high heels and short skirts are definitely not suitable work attire!).

Bugs, snakes and creepy crawlies

We are in a malaria free area! As we are in a rural setting, there are snakes during the summer months, the most common being the venomous Cape Cobra, but they will most definitely be more scared of you than you of them! For this reason volunteers are required to wear hiking boots while working and will be advised on some basic cautionary behaviour to avoid encounters with snakes.

Ticks are also common during warmer weather and volunteers are encouraged to check themselves for ticks when dressing / undressing.

What are the health risks in South Africa?

You must ensure that your vaccinations are up-to-date prior to arrival (hepatitis A/B and tetanus) and that you have adequate medical/travel insurance for the duration of your stay in South Africa. We have very good medical emergency facilities nearby. The most serious health risk you are likely to face is from the South African sun so please come prepared with adequate sunscreen, UV filter sunglasses and a hat. For further information relating to health issues: http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/travel/africa/south_africa.shtml

What are some safety tips for travelling in South Africa?

When travelling in South Africa, tourists should follow a few simple rules of safety so that you can enjoy our beautiful country without incidence. If you are alert to potential problems, you are already halfway to avoiding them!

Avoid walking alone at night | Don’t wear flashy jewellery or expensive cameras around your neck | Never leave valuables unattended | When travelling in a car, keep your doors locked and windows halfway up | Always use reputable transport services and avoid driving or using public transport at night | Be alert when drawing money from ATM machines and avoid drawing money in the evenings | Don’t carry large sums of money

Other tips:

Please note that drinking and driving is a very serious offence in South Africa and if caught you will end up in jail! We are unable to assist any volunteer in the event that they contravene the laws of South Africa.

Bush fires are common and a carelessly discarded cigarette butt could cause massive devastation! Volunteers are requested to be especially careful in this regard while working at the Park.

Will I need a visa when entering South Africa?

At present, volunteers from the EU, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand do not require a visa to enter South Africa and will be granted a temporary visitors permit valid for 90 days on presenting their passport on arrival. If you are intending to stay longer than 90 days, you can apply for an extension in your home country or at the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa.

Volunteers from other countries should apply for tourist visas (not work visas) at the nearest South African Embassy, High Commission or Consulate at least 4 weeks before your departure for South Africa. It will take about 10 days to process the application, and you will need to supply two passport photos, a valid passport, necessary visa fees, and details of your travel arrangements. We do advise that you consult with your South African Consulate as the visa regulations are subject to change!

Do I need insurance?

It is always a good idea to have adequate travel/medical insurance before you travel anywhere. You will not be allowed to join our volunteer project unless you have fully comprehensive insurance. It is important that your policy covers you for theft, loss, illness, injury and repatriation in the event of a medical emergency. Check your policy to see if medical benefits are paid ‘as you go’ or on your return home. You may not appreciate having to pay for medical costs out of your own pocket if you are unlucky enough to need long-term treatment of any kind.

Please Note: There are many lion projects where volunteers can hand rear and play with lion cubs. A large number of these projects are in fact factory farms for the canned hunting industry and the lion cubs that volunteers care for may eventually end up on hunting farms. Please choose your project carefully!

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