This adrenalin kicking project is for you, who would like to experience the Great White shark head on – literally! Going cage diving with the Great White shark is an adrenalin rush combined with a calm and gracious experience when watching the powerful shark gliding through the water at eye level.
At the Great White Shark Project, you will become an active part of the projects conservation efforts by assisting with data collection based on the shark’s behaviour and interaction with other sharks. You will also be educated on the ocean eco-system, the Great Whites biology and why the need the research is so urgent. As an active part of the boat crew you will also learn basic Seamanship, assist with preparing the boat, the cage and anchor set up. All the activities combined with frequent lectures by marine biologist will give you a solid understanding of the Great White sharks and the marine eco-system – and give you tons of bucket-list experiences!
The project has also introduced an amazing initiative that runs every Tuesday afternoon: a Swop Shop, where the young children in the town ship, Masakanie, can clean up in their community and then swap the garbage for school supplies.Off Sea Days
On the days where we are not able to go to sea due to weather or sea conditions, alternative activities or excursions may be arranged. These days may be filled with lectures, writing of blogs or Data Entering.Activities could include:
Please note entrance fees may apply as well as food and beverage costs and will be for your own account.
Volunteers stay in a cosy brick house situated a few hundred meters from the harbour, which bustles with action and boats as people head out to sea. The volunteer house is comfortable with dorm-styled rooms, a nice open plan kitchen dining area, a lounge with digital satellite television, a DVD player, board games, and an outside braai area for those hot evenings. Couples, friends or families volunteering together, who wish private accommodation may reserve a double room for an additional cost per month.
Personal laundry is not included but can be taken to a commercial laundry. They charge R16/kg and wash, iron and fold it for you.
The project provides ingredients for a help-yourself breakfast (tea, coffee, hot chocolate, bread, cereals, granola, yoghurt, butter, jam, milk and juice). If you are on the boat, then sandwiches, fruit basket, chips, juice and water are available. If not at sea, then lunch is your own responsibility. Dinner is for your own account. There is a fully-equipped kitchen, so many of the volunteers buy and make food together.
There is free Wi-Fi at the main lodge and at one of the volunteer houses. If you want to be online more often, then it’s recommended to buy a local SIM card with internet.
There is phone reception, but make sure to check costs with your service provider or buy a local sim card in the airport.
There is a basic supermarket nearby (volunteers usually buy provisions and prepare meals together) and the house is located in a very safe and beautiful area. You will be taken into the town of Gansbaai on allocated shopping days.
This page will guide you on how to book your flights, transfer to and from The Great White Shark Project and which vaccinations are required.
Please note: You need to arrive a day early (30th/31st or 14th) and spend one night in Cape Town before the project will collect you next morning. The same applies for when going home, unless your return flights scheduled departure time is after 5PM, then you will be dropped off at the airport. If you’re not flying out in the evening, then you will be dropped off at the accommodation you have booked so you can have a last night in Cape Town before flying out the next day.
The project recommends 2 places for accommodation you can book: Atlantic Point backpackers and Never at Home backpackers.
Flights should be booked with arrival at Cape Town airport (CPT) on 30th/31st or 14th. On return your departing flight from Cape Town (CPT) can depart at any time the day after you end your stay at the project.
You will be picked up on 1st or 15th by the shuttle arranged by The Great White Shark Project. Please make sure to inform us about where you will be staying in Cape Town. It’s recommended to book either Atlantic Point backpackers or Never at Home backpackers. The project will inform you or your accommodation about the pick-up time the evening before. The project will arrange airport transfer to your accommodation in Cape Town and will send you an arrival letter the day before you fly out, which gives you instructions on what to do once you arrive in Cape Town.
We recommend you consult your doctor to ensure that you have the appropriate vaccinations. The project is situated in a malaria-free area.
People from most countries will automatically get a tourist visa valid for up to 90 days upon arrival. If unsure, please check this site to see if you require a VISA before arrival in South Africa. http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/countries-exempt-from-sa-visas
It is mandatory that you have a valid travel insurance for your entire trip, which will cover all costs involved with any kind of an emergency/incident i.e. air rescue, hospital/medical costs, flights etc. Please contact your travel insurance otherwise we can recommend checking with the travel insurer World Nomads: https://www.worldnomads.com/
This program is aimed at creating awareness of the Great White Shark and promoting its conservation and protection. Our programme is open to any dedicated, hard-working individual, who does not mind getting their hands dirty. If you have a passion and love for the Great White Shark and the Ocean, and you have a sense of adventure with a streak of fun, then you are what we are looking for! We will teach you everything else you need to know!
There is only eight licensed Shark Diving Companies in Gansbaai, and we are fortunate enough to work from Shark Team, a licensed cage diving vessel. It is a tourist boat, so most days we will be out with tourists, but there will be days when you have the vessel to yourselves.
The cost of the programme will cover accommodation, breakfast, lectures and regular trips to sea. Air travel to and from South Africa is not included, but transport from and to Cape Town is. It is recommended that you fly to Cape Town International Airport. Depending on your habits and lifestyle, we usually suggest adding to your monthly budget an estimated 3000 to 5000 South African Rand for souvenirs, excursions, entertainment and other personal daily needs.
No. You will not be employed by us, nor paid. Most tourists get a 3-month / 90-day Tourist / Visitor VISA upon entry in South Africa. However, we do recommend that you contact the South African Embassy or Consulate in your home country to confirm this fact. Do not leave this enquiry too late. If your application period extends three months, or if you plan to travel in South Africa prior or after your internship for a period extending 90 days, you will have to apply for a Tourist / Visitor VISA application.
Yes. When you are accepted in this program, you will have to sign liability, copyright documents, as well an agreement that you are knowingly partaking in dangerous activities. You will not be covered for accidents or illnesses, so please do organize your own medical and health insurances. You may apply for a normal travel insurance policy. Chances that you will be injured by a marine predator are non-existent, if you follow the safety guidelines. But you will be working on a boat in conditions which can, at times, be less than comfortable. And accidents on a boat may occur, so it is important to be covered in case of an emergency or accident. Be sure to have insurance cover for your entire stay in South Africa
No, we are far from any Malaria areas, and there are no strange diseases such as yellow fever, which you could contract in our area (that is if you respect the same safety rules as anywhere else in the world).
Volunteer work on Shark Team can get quite smelly, so leave your fancy clothes at home and pack some old jeans; tops; shoes/boots to use on the boat, warm clothing; a wind breaker jacket; good waterproof clothing; factor 30+ sun block and a wide brim hat. You don’t have to bring any bed sheets, but if you want to, you may bring your own towel or buy one when you arrive. Comfortable, non-slip shoes is an absolute must. Investing in a pair of Polaroid sunglasses might be an added bonus. Please see the kit list for a better idea.
No, but yes... The weather along the Western Cape of South Africa is fickle and the sea does not allow field work every day. Nevertheless, Kleinbaai is comparatively sheltered, allowing us to go out to sea quite often. You will have days off, whenever the weather and sea conditions do not allow for field work. Sometimes, we have long periods during which the weather is nice and after 4-5 days at sea, we will then take a couple of days’ break. Why? Well, being at sea is very tiring: constantly having to balance yourself, baking in the hot sun and being blown by the winds, eventually takes its toll on your body and you will need to rest! If you wish to have a day off or take some time off if you are with us for a long stay, you just need to co-ordinate with your supervisor at the project. Bear in mind that Kleinbaai is renowned for its sharks – NOT its night life!
”I recently finished a 11 week volunteer programme with Great White Shark project. I came as a part of my university degree and I fully satisfied my requirements and then some. The crew the ladies in the office and our coordinator Jess and Tom really go out their way to help and make sure we are all OK. I have truly made friends for life and can't wait to come back next year. I have more knowledge on the diversity of life in the oceans and have a respect for the animals I observed whilst I was there and I learnt so much. I loved my time on the boat diving and educating clients from what I had been told that felt I was truly a part of something that I never could have imagined. Not only did we work had but we're rewarded on no sea days and taken to fantastic places. Wine tasting, exploring the southernmost tip of Africa and visiting the Africa penguin colony in Betty's Bay were just a few of the things I experienced during my time. I couldn't have asked for more. Thank you! it was a blast!”
– Zuzana Erosova, Slovakia
“I experienced an amazing 2 weeks in Gansbaai with WSP. I loved the lectures, the beach cleans and taking data on the boat. Early mornings and excited volunteers and clients gives you such a buzz! During my stay I was fortunate to take part in two dolphin dissections which was so interesting but also brings to light the sad truth of pollution in our oceans and made me really aware of what is going on in the world regarding protecting our oceans. Cage diving were amazing, and the crew were always making sure we had enough cage time but also experience life on the boat and what is like to work in this industry. Jess the volunteer coordinator organised us most days and would always check that we were doing OK and helped us with anything we needed. It was such a cool experience that I will never forget :)”
– Jessica Herbert, USA
”My name is Achanta from India and I fulfilled my dreams of diving with the magnificent great white shark. I spent 3 weeks watching and diving with this amazing creature and enjoyed watching and assisting the crew in this very important job. Tom the marine biologist taught me so much and listening to him on the boat helped me teach and tell other people not only in Gansbaai but back home in India. As volunteers we all come there not knowing any other people so we all feel nervous and excited. From the moment we arrived until the moment we left we all felt such a close team and we're welcomed and made to feel at home. We all cooked together and took it in turns to make a meal from our home countries each night. There were a mixed group of us including Australians, Scottish, Germans, Slovakians, English and French so it was so amazing to meet these people from all over the world that we all had the same connection Great White Sharks. Thanks WSP!”
– Achanta, India
“My name is Beth and myself and best friend Lizzie have just recently returned to the Great White Shark project for the 4th time this year. One of the best things about this programme is that you feel you are a part of a tight knit team and more than that a part of a family. We love the crew and love our time out at sea on the boat. When we have no sea days we are coordinated on off days by Jess and Tom and they always make sure we have things to do and we know what is planned for us for the days ahead. Cage diving is amazing and seeing Dyer Island and Shark Alley on many of our trips never gets boring. The swop shop is something we always love doing and seeing how much the local children from the town ship integrate with us and enjoy asking us questions. It teaches the children about conserving the environment and rewards that are gained by working hard. Anyone volunteering can truly grasp the struggles of conservation through education in this area and you can learn so much that can be passed on when you return home to your friends and families. We cannot wait to return again next year and look forward to seeing our shark family again soon.”
– Beth & Lizzie, UK
“Volunteered for 2months. Absolute AWESOMENESS! Got to be involved with most aspects of the cage diving process. Found alot of clients come to the trip anxious and almost afraid of the sharks, after meeting the crew and the sharks they would leave with admiration and respect for these amazing animals. :.
Loved the whole program and met some lekker people!!! Mates for life. :)
Thank you WSP, will always remember this experience Xx”
- Sarah Reiko Ward, Australia
“Amazing experience. We are glad to have this amazing Apex Predator in our oceans, and the Great White Shark Project Team did all their best to be sure that all the volunteers enjoy their time in South Africa. Seeing these animals in their habitat should be compulsory for every human being, it would change our perception of their behaviour and, hopefully, we would start protecting them as we should. 100% recommended.”
– Juan Jose, Spain
”This programme was perfect from the start. Helpful crew, always happy to help and always laughing. The project itself is really involved in the education of eco tourists on Shark conservation and the Ocean as a whole besides the main point of Great White Sharks. There is a wide variety of activities we did on my stay that I really enjoyed and learned from. Would highly highly recommend this project to anyone who alongside having a whole lot of fun, really wans to learn about our Sharks and our Ocean ecosystem and how we can.”
– Liam, UK
”This project was such a great experience and such an eye opener! Not only was this project really nice, the people you work with were, the nicest people I have ever met, Volunteering is all about how you work together and these people were amazing! Such a friendly and open crew, the people you live with in the lodge, and this lodge is 1 minute walk from the sea, are such great people, very successful and for me as a young 18 year old student, I have learned so much of them, they have changed my life, learned me about the essentials of life. Working with them cleaning and taking care after the boat and diving with the amazing great was shark was such a pleasure, we had great trips every day out at sea, about 3-4 great whites every trip, and that is very good! You get to see how great white sharks operate and how spectacular they are, they are so big and strong you could not imagine, they come up to the cage super close and are always inspecting everything!”
– Tristan, Germany
“Seeing this beautiful creature in its own environment, (not on TV) was extremely rewarding. The staff were friendly, helpful and really put you in the heart of the shark cage diving experience. They are very educational about the sharks, teaching you about their behaviour and letting you immerse yourself in the experience. I've wanted to do this pretty much my whole life, and this experience was incredible and did not disappoint at all.”
– Sal, UK