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Oceans 2 Earth

Lion Sanctuary Assistant

The Lion Sanctuary has been caring for rescued and mistreated lions for nearly 20 years. It is one of only 7 official lion ‘sanctuaries’ in South Africa.

The sanctuary

The award-winning sanctuary is the largest lion sanctuary in the Western Cape province and provides a ‘forever home’ for over 30 rescued lions. As the lions can never be released into the wild, the sanctuary provides the animals with a safe, comfortable home where they are treated with care and respect. 

The sanctuary is also home to a small number of tigers, chimpanzees, capuchin monkeys, marmosets, waterfowl, ponies and llamas.

It is one of only 7 official lion ‘sanctuaries’ in South Africa that are true sanctuaries and do not allow breeding. They operate under strict conditions in which the animals’ best interests are at heart. 

Please keep in mind that this is a strictly hands off program as lions are extremely dangerous animals. There is no contact of any kind with the animals. This includes the lion cubs. Most operations involved in the hand rearing of lion cubs do not have the lions’ best interests at heart. Many of these cubs end up providing sport for hunters. Potential volunteers are encouraged to do their own research on the Canned Hunting industry before embarking upon a lion volunteering project in South Africa to ensure that they aren’t supporting an unethical and cruel practice.

The location

The sanctuary is located on 50 acres of land in the Cape Winelands in the Western Cape province of South Africa, which is home to some of the oldest towns in South Africa. Settled by Dutch explorers in 1687, the local town retains some fine examples of Cape Dutch architecture. The Sanctuary is located in a stunning valley famous for its vineyards, and birthplace of the Afrikaans language. It is also the final site of Nelson Mandela’s incarceration.

South Africa is the country on the southernmost tip of the African continent. It is made up a variety of ecosystems. The inland safari destination of Kruger National Park covers vast shrublands populated by big game, the Western Cape encompasses lush winelands around Stellenbosch and Paarl, wild beaches, the rocky cliffs at the Cape of Good Hope, the forest and lagoons along the Garden Route, and the city of Cape Town which sits beneath flat-topped Table Mountain.

Our volunteers

The sanctuary is a not-for-profit organisation. The organisation relies on volunteer fees, animal adoptions and donations to meet the costs of caring for the lions and to enable the rescue of other lions in need.

The lions and their accommodations require daily care and attention. Volunteers hep to ensure that the lions are well cared for and contribute to their overall wellbeing and quality of life.

Please note

Summers in South Africa can get quite hot and may take some adjusting to. Some of the maintenance activities that volunteer participate in are physically demanding, however breaks are scheduled throughout the day.

Suitable for


Typical day

Volunteers will be involved in the direct care of over 30 lions. Daily activities include 

  • preparing food for the lions 
  • cleaning lion camps
  • cleaning and maintaining the sanctuary grounds and facilities 
  • monitoring sanctuary visitors 
In summer, volunteers may be required to contribute to fire prevention and firefighting activities.

Details on Arrival

The start dates for this program are Mondays all year long. Please make sure to arrange your travels accordingly. 

Program Requirements

In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s).
Language Skills
You need to speak English (fluently)
Health Declaration
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Volunteers must be fluent in English, be willing to work and must be able to take direction from staff. Volunteers should also have a moderate level of fitness and a genuine respect and compassion for the lions.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

Any questions? Just ask. We at Oceans 2 Earth are happy to help you.

Free-time activities

The best way to explore the area is to hire a car to visit wineries, dairies, apple and pears orchards, coffee shops, fruit farms and undertake a huge array of activities. Expect top class places to eat, from superior farm stalls to gourmet restaurants on stunning wine estates.

The natural beauty of Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve lies right on Paarl’s doorstep.The picturesque landscape is dominated by native fynbos vegetation, a form of flowering heathland believed to contain one of the highest diversities of plant species in the world.View some of the 8500 species of plants found here, including proteas and ericas or catch a glimpse of some of the unique wildlife that the fynbos supports, such asbaboons, jackals and antelope.The Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve offers many additional attractions for outdoor enthusiasts, including scenic walking trails, hiking, rock-climbing, abseilingand mountain-bike riding.

For some amazing birdwatching head to the Paarl Bird Sanctuary in the heart of Paarl. Forming part of the town’s water treatment plant, the 45 hectares of ponds attract over 140 species of bird. Look out for colourful Flamingos, African Jacanas, Green-backed Herons and many others.

For a relaxing afternoon, head to the Butterfly World Tropical Garden to see free-flying butterfly species from around the world or picnic at the Paarl Arboretum. Situated on 31 hectares on the banks of the Berg River, the arboretum boasts a collection of over 2500 tree and shrubs planted in groups according to their continent of origin.

Once you have built up a thirst, why not visit one of wine farms for which the region is renowned? The Paarl Wine Route is the second oldest in South Africa and is particularly well known for its high-quality Shiraz.


Included Services

What's included?

  • Pre-departure support
  • Program information pack
  • Accommodation
  • On the job training
  • 24-hour in-country support

Meals are NOT included. You must supply and prepare your own meals. But you will be taken on a scheduled shopping trip to obtain supplies.

To get to the project site you have to fly to Cape Town, South Africa. There you catch a train to Huguenot, Paarl, and then take a taxi to the sanctuary's location. 


Our accommodations are dorm style. There are male/female segregated units with a communal kitchen.

Dorm Room
Internet Access
Good access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees. An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either. Food, snacks or beverages are at extra costs.

No worries, Volunteer World supports you in raising funds, checking your visa regulations and travel insurance. We also assist you in finding the cheapest flights for your journey.
Costs (Prices in USD)
1 week (min. stay)
2 weeks
3 weeks
4 weeks
5 weeks
6 weeks
8 weeks
16 weeks
50 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees

You can volunteer at the project site in Paarl/South Africa between 1 week and 50 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Oceans 2 Earth will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment must be made up to 30 days before to the volunteer program starts. This payment is also securely handled by PayPal or credit card.

Get ready to volunteer in South Africa

Check out first

Visa Regulations
Depending on your nationality, you have to arrange your visa for South Africa. Please check the visa regulations for South Africa.
Travel Seasons
Find out the best time to volunteer in South Africa and receive information on weather and climatic conditions.
Living Costs
Living costs vary with each destination. We give an overview of what you should plan as an estimated budget to volunteer in South Africa.
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in South Africa.

What's next?

The nearest airport is Cape Town International (CPT) in Cape Town. We assist you to find cheap flights to South Africa.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for South Africa provides security and is a plus to have.
Vaccine Checker
If you are intending to volunteer in South Africa you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for South Africa.
What can you do in leisure-time in South Africa while you are not working at your volunteer opportunity?
Cape Winelands, Paarl, South Africa

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