Nature's Valley Trust

Nature Conservation Assistance

Nature's Valley, Plettenberg Bay, South Africa show on map
founded in 2000
Nature's Valley Trust
Coordinator | Kellyn
Coordinator | Kellyn
Get involved and gain hands on experience in all of our conservation research and conservation education projects. Help contribute to NVT's conservation cause. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:

About the volunteer programme

This programme is important because you not only help us collect valuable data or help us pass on the importance of conservation to the younger generation, but you help us keep going with all of our different projects. This is not going to be your usual 9 to 5! Working hours can be long, often flexible, but plenty of fun. There’s lots of getting stuck in and being hands-on whether it’s building sand castles with the kids at our holiday programme or catching fish for estuary surveys. We also like to give you a personal project to call your own if we can, so we’ll talk through the options with you when you arrive so it can be tailored towards your interests and expertise; there’s always plenty to do!

Some of the social issue we face in the area involves the relationship between our local communities and their surrounding environment as well as the issue of sharing our environment in a way that both people and wildlife can enjoy it. Ways in which we try approach these issues to work with the communities and educate them on how the environment can benefit them if they take care of it. We create eco-clubs with various schools in the area and take the kids out into the different ecosystems and teach them about it. Our research projects are focused on different areas such as our coastline, estuary systems and fynbos (plant) ecosystems. All the data we collect from our research is used to help implement management plans working with the local municipalities and in some instances the government.

We have two areas that you can focus on during your time with us: Conservation Education and/or Research Ecology, or a mix of the two.

As a Conservation Education volunteer you’ll engage with a wide range of stakeholders, from the local community to conservation professionals. Our community programmes are award-winning, with over 5000 participants per year, making them an ideal way to get the inside scoop on conservation education. Typical activities you’ll help with are facilitation of school groups, helping out at events, environmental calendar days, research support for updating environmental education resources, general administration assistance and planning and preparation of outdoor activities for eco clubs and school camps, community projects and events.

As a Research Ecology Volunteer you’ll work alongside acclaimed biologists who are well published professionals with decades of experience doing conservation based research in Africa. You’ll work on the important long term ecological projects we run in the region. Over a relatively short period of time you’ll be exposed to conservation based research in several different biomes and habitat types including beach, estuary, river, fynbos, forest and even urban areas. We work on a range of systems and study plants, insects, mammals and birds, giving volunteers a range of different wildlife experiences.

As a general rule volunteers can normally expect to work from 08.30-16.00, Monday-Friday. However, some projects do require a bit extra now and again or unusual hours (you’ll need to be at our bird ringing sessions at 05.30!).

Location and surroundings

The house that NVT rents for its volunteers is based in Nature's Valley and is 1km away from the office and 1km from the local village shop and restaurant. The Valley is surrounded by the Tsitsikamma National Park with mountains on three sides and a beautiful beach. The beach and all of the hiking trails in Nature's Valley are walking distance from the house. 

Nature's Valley is 35km Plettenberg Bay which is the closest town and where we go to do our weekly shop. Plettenberg Bay a lovely town with beautiful beaches, a number of very nice restaurants and a shopping mall with all the necessary shops. The general area around Natures Valley offers some fun outdoor activities including hiking, kloofing, canoeing, bungee jumping, sky diving and much more.

What should you bring along?

All equipment you would need for field work will be provided by NVT but a few handy things to bring along (apart for the usual like clothes etc) would be

  1. Binoculars (if you are a keen birder)
  2. Camera
  3. Laptop (some data entry will be required and handy to have one with you)
  4. Water bottle
  5. Sunscreen (at least 30 SPF) 
  6. Hat

What can volunteers expect from NVT?

Here at NVT we want you to have a most enjoyable and comfortable experience and we will therefore treat you as one of the family. You will be working with a team of dedicated individuals who have a passion for the environment and the work NVT does. We will provide you with all the necessary things you need for each of the projects, teach you different field techniques and one on one mentoring to insure you get everything out of your time with us. There will also be two members of the team available for you to talk to whenever you need someone. Most of all we want you to have fun while you are with us while you get down, dirty and hands-on working in the conservation field.

Typical day

A typical day for a Conservation Education volunteer would involve updating lesson plans for outdoor classrooms to ensure they are kept up-to-date with what is happening in the area, and what the schools are teaching learners. Once lessons plans are update you would then ensure all the material is ready and transport arrange to bring the school learners to the beach or river where they will be having the lesson. Once all the planning has been done, you will then assist with the lesson and get involved in all the activities with the learners. Part of the day could also involve developing some material for our different social media platforms.

A typical day for a Research Ecology Volunteer would involve heading out in the morning for data collection for one of the research projects (this could mean an early start to the day, depending on the project). Once you have returned to the office (usually around late morning or early afternoon) you will assist with data capturing for some of the projects. Depending on the length of time you are with us, you could also get some hands-on experience with data analysis. Part of the day could also involve helping with the usual day-to-day admin such as developing some material for our different social media platforms.

Details on Arrival

Volunteers can join NVT throughout the year.

Free-time activities

The Garden Route offers a wide range of outdoor activities which allow you to explore nature. These activities range from having a relaxed sightseeing trip to doing something a bit more extreme and adventurous. These are good outings to do on your weekends. After work you can always head to the estuary for a swim or go and relax on the beach.

If you are looking for a more relaxed day out there are a large number of hiking trails in the area. Hiking trails in Nature's Valley include the Groot River, Kalander Kloof and Salt River hikes. In Plettenberg Bay you can do the Robberg Nature Reserve hike which has three different loops of different lengths and has beautiful views and lovely beach. Other hiking trails can be found in Harkerville, Knysna, Wilderness and Storms River.

If you are looking to something more adventurous and with a bit of an extreme element there are a number of activities available in the area. Some of these activities include, the world's highest bridge bungee jump, zip-lining in the forest canopy or among waterfalls, sky-diving, canoeing, black water tubing, surfing and kloofing.

There are also a few national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the area. These include the Garden Route National Park (divided into three sections, Wilderness, Knysna and the Tsitsikamma) and Addo Elephant National Park, Birds of Eden, Monkeyland, Lawnwood Snake Sanctuary and Radical Raptors.  

Water Sports

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) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 08:00 - 16:00

Included Services

Extra security layer by Volunteer World
Volunteer World is the world's leading comparison platform for international volunteer opportunities. We guide you through a safe and easy application process - including all necessary payments. Planning your next meaningful trip with Volunteer World gives you free access to our:
Quality Assurance
High ethical standards & transparent social impact
Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if Nature's Valley Trust cancels your trip
Support & Mediation
We cover your back no matter what happens
Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Nature's Valley Trust.

Before your journey

Profound consulting and ongoing support (free)
Nature's Valley Trust (your host organization) provides consulting and is keen to answer all your questions. Once you reserved your spot, you will receive the contact details of your volunteer project.
Online preparation course (optional, from $49)
Prepare yourself and become a confident and well informed traveler. Global Travel Academy takes you on a journey before you leave home, helping you to become one of the world's greatest travelers. Our trusted partner for online learning offers courses in "International Volunteering", "Travel Health & Safety" and "Travel Safety Abroad".

On-site services

Services by Nature's Valley Trust
  1. Accommodation
  2. Field experience and equipment
  3. Cleaning and laundry
  4. Office space and office wi-fi
  5. One on one mentoring
  6. Transport to and from work related activities
  7. Three meals a day
  8. Not included:

    1. Personal amenities
    2. Free time activities
    3. Transport to and from airport

The volunteer house is situated in Nature's Valley which is surrounding by the Tsitsikamma National Park.

The house is a four-bedroom wooden property with a furnished, open-plan kitchen, lounge and dining room. Rooms are generally shared. There is a garden as well as an outdoor deck and braai (BBQ) facilities. There is a washing machine and tumble dryer at the house to do laundry when needed. There is also an ironing-board and iron available. There is no internet connection or landline at the house.

The house is situated 1 km from the NVT office and 1 km from the Nature's Valley Trading Store and Restaurant. The trading store  is the only shop in the valley and has the essentials. The beach entrances and hiking trails are also walking distance from the house. 

Bedroom (Single)
Food & Beverages

Three meals are provided a day. Breakfast and lunch volunteers make themselves with the food provided and in the evenings a hot meal is cooked and provided for the volunteer. Drinks are included as well, except of alcohol, which the volunteer must supply themselves.

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.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Plettenberg Bay Airport (PBZ) in Plettenberg Bay. 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.
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.
Costs: Prices in USD
2 weeks (min. stay)
$ 756
3 weeks
$ 1,134
4 weeks
$ 1,512
5 weeks
$ 1,890
6 weeks (max. stay)
$ 2,268
Average fees
$ 378 /week

You can volunteer at the project site in Nature's Valley, Plettenberg Bay/South Africa between 2 weeks and 6 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Nature's Valley Trust will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Crowdfunding Service
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in South Africa.
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 will be agreed with Nature's Valley Trust during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.
  Africa Southern Africa South Africa  Nature's Valley, Plettenberg Bay, 388 Lagoon Drive
The project site is open in: Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

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