Animal Volunteer and English


With present day time restraints on people that need to learn English either for work or leisure, International House Cape Town and SAVE have designed a program which ultimately combines learning English with participating in meaningful volunteer projects in South Africa.

International House Cape Town is a registered Cambridge ESOL Teacher Training Centre and offers a wide range of courses that can be tailor made to meet the requirements of each individual student.  International House Cape Town is part of the International House World Organisation (IHWO), which has 150 schools in 50 different countries. With over 60 years of teaching experience IHWO has proven to be one of the top language providers throughout the world.

Volunteers pay a fee that covers the costs of their stay such as accommodation, transport and meals as well as a donation that assists to finance the projects. In return volunteers get to see our beautiful country, experience South African culture, learn some new skills and make a difference to those in need. As well as making many new friends, the memories made are sure to last a lifetime.

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.
If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.
“Nelson Mandela”

OverviewVolunteer programsExtra Info

English Course Structure and Content

The course consists of 15 lessons per week (3 lessons of 50 minutes per day). The content of the English lessons will also offer students something unique. Rather than ‘traditional’ classroom lessons,  you will be able to work on your grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and skills in contexts related to the wonderful natural environment in which you will find yourself.

English level

  • If you are at a Pre-Intermediate level/CEF A2, the course starts on the 1st Monday of the month.
  • If you are at an Upper Intermediate level /CEF B2 the course starts on the 3rd Monday of the month.


All materials for the course are included; for example, materials required during the course and an end-of-course certificate.


The project has CELTA-qualified teachers that are based at the project house. Your teachers are trained in the communicative approach and will, as much as possible, take their individual students’ needs into consideration when planning their lessons.

Locations for lessons

Our aim is to provide you with a unique hands-on language learning and volunteering experience. With this in mind, daily lessons will be located in a variety of interesting and beautiful locations from within the projects.

Project Highlights

  • Learn English in a unique surrounding and not just a classroom
  • Practice your English with fellow volunteers and volunteer leaders
  • Learning more about animals through interactive hands-on projects
  • Learning to capture, tag and release wild vultures
  • Interactions with elephants, monkeys and many more animals
  • Working on a real game reserve with truly wild animals around
  • Making a positive difference
  • Living a genuine conservationist lifestyle
  • Developing personal strengths and life skills


  • All transport to and from Projects
  • Return transport from JHB Airport
  • 15 English lessons a week
  • English course material
  • English certificate
  • Accommodation
  • All Meals
  • 24 hours support and supervision
  • Financial contributions to the projects
  • Animal interactions (elephant, monkey, lion, vulture)

Extra information

Although care is taken to ensure that animals are treated in the way they deserve, there are often times when animals cannot be released back into the wild and therefore we try to improve the conditions of these animals’ lives as best we can in their captive environment. The area of Hartbeespoort is rich in cultural and historical value. We are nestled in the foothills of a 2.3 billion year old mountain range surrounded by natural beauty and encompassing the Hartbeespoort dam.

Project Information

Start Dates:

1st Monday of the month for Pre-Intermediate/ Intermediate.
3rd Monday of the month for Upper-Intermediate/ Advanced.
Arrivals and Departures on a Sunday.

Minimum Duration:

The minimum course duration is 2 weeks.
Students that pass from Pre-Intermediate are able to continue the course for a following two weeks.
Students may also stay longer and volunteer for 2 weeks before entering the same level course again.

All of the programs incorporate wild, rescued and rehabilitated animals to improve their living and environmental conditions. These projects require volunteers to move between locations on completion of assigned tasks. All the locations used are within 25 km of the volunteer accommodation.

The main purpose of the projects we are involved in is to detect the needs and improve the living and environmental conditions of the various animals residing at these locations. The interactions that the volunteers have with some of the animals will be done in a respectful way and always under supervision.


The elephant reserve is for orphaned and rescued animals. It provides a safe environment for young African elephants in need of a temporary home, as well as a safe environment for a big bull (male) elephant called Amarula rescued from a Zoo in 2006. This elephant sanctuary started in 1999 with a strong conservational purpose and works with a vision of releasing all the elephants into an environment where they can be more independent once they are older.

Volunteer Tasks

Our volunteer program here will start with an educational introduction about the reserve, including the elephants history and how to make a difference to them. The tasks will include assisting the staff with the day to day management such as brushing, cleaning and feeding the elephants, observation of their behaviour and general maintenance of the reserve (painting and cleaning the stables) as well as completing projects to benefit the life of the elephants. This will ensure a safe and educational environment where the public is enlightened and where awareness is created about elephants and their plight.


Primates are under constant threat.  They are hunted for meat, body parts or captured as pets and exported illegally to every corner of our planet. Monkeys that were kept as pets and later became unwanted, are rescued and released into a wild forest with waterfalls and mountain springs. It is very important to have a safe environment where monkeys can be rehabilitated and professionals and volunteers can take care of them.

Volunteer tasks

Our program in this sanctuary will start with an educational introduction about the reserve, including the monkeys’ history and how to make a difference to them. The required tasks will include assisting the staff with the day to day management such as dietary requirements, observation of behaviour and general maintenance of the reserve.


The vulture conservation programme focuses for advancing knowledge, awareness and innovation in the conservation of Africa vulture populations for the benefit and well-being of the society. Nowadays, vultures face an unprecedented onslaught from human activities. They have to cope with electrocutions and collisions with electrical structures, poisonings, land-use changes, a decrease in food availability and exposure to toxicity through veterinary drugs.

Volunteer Tasks

Our program in this sanctuary will start with an educational introduction about the reserve including the wild birds’ history and how to make a different to them. The required tasks will include assisting the staff with the day to day management such as dietary requirements, handling the vultures and eagles if needed under supervision, observation of behaviour and general maintenance of the reserve.


The area is home to a diversity of “plains game”.  The objective of our involvement here is to create a fully functional, clean and well managed nature reserve that is accessible to the public and will generate a consistent flow of visitors to the area. There is a long list of conservation orientated tasks to carry out on the property and we will ensure that every second we spend there will be to the benefit of the animals and plants on the reserve.

Volunteer Tasks

Volunteers will assist with tasks such as the clean-up and removal of alien vegetation, developing new eco-friendly visitor paths, building bird hides, developing regular feeding areas and structures for our winter months when food is scarce , regular burning to ensure fresh grass is accessible to the animals and bush clearing (removing excess vegetation that hampers natural growth).


The IH/SAVE English and Volunteering project is located in Hartbeespoort; a small, picturesque town located in the eastern corner of the North West province, bordering the Gauteng province. It is about a 1-hour transfer from OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg and 45 minutes from Lanseria Airport. Hartbeespoort Dam is the area’s major attraction and the heart of this tourism region. A mecca for adventure pursuits, the majority of Hartbeespoort adventure activities are centered on the dam and its magnificent mountain and bushveld surrounds.

Boating and watersports are popular and visitors can enjoy sailing, windsurfing, jet skiing, parasailing and water skiing. Sundowner cruises on Hartbeespoort Dam are also popular. Quad biking has become a popular way to explore the rugged hillsides around the town and there are numerous operators offering quad trails of varying lengths and levels. There are also many ways to enjoy the scenery from the air. Paragliding and hang-gliding are both popular, as is hot-air ballooning, which gives you a bird’s-eye view of the dam, mountains and adjacent river valleys.

If climbing mountains is more to your liking, you will be pleased to know there are several rock climbing and hiking routes in the area, some of which also include abseiling. The nearby Crocodile River, which feeds the dam, offers white water rafting, including overnight options complete with riverside camping. Tubing, canoeing and cable slides into the river are also available. The area also boasts one of South Africa’s few inland dive sites – a 33m deep open cast chrome mine at Miracle Waters, north of the dam. The clear spring water provides good visibility and several underwater features, including a sunken bus and aeroplane that are accessible to experienced divers.

Other Attractions nearby

  • Kgaswane Reserve
  • Pilansberg Big 5 safari
  • Borakalalo Game Reserve
  • Vaalkop Dam Reserve
  • Sun City
  • Lost City
  • Magaliesberg Mountains
  • Crocodile Ramble
  • Lesedi Cultural Village
  • Cradle of Humankind
  • Tswaing Salt Pan Crater
  • Golf Estates
  • Boat Clubs


All accommodation will be located in a safe and secure environment in the town of Hartbeespoort. Our Volunteer house has multiple rooms with various facilities, 2 – 4 people in a room. Private room upgrades are available at a additional cost. All self-catering facilities are supplied.


Please advise on your booking form of any dietry needs/requirements and allergies.
All meals are provided for during the week. This includes a continental breakfast with fresh fruit, lunch on location and a hearty cooked evening meal. There will be regular shopping trips into town so you will be able to purchase food or additional items you may need during your stay.


All transport is safe and reliable. All licenses and insurances are up to date. All insurances and liabilities for passengers are up to date and fully paid.

Supervision and coordination

At all times a member of our staff will be there to assist and co-ordinate movements on all projects. Our project leaders will ensure that you receive the right instructions, safety briefings and objectives for the tasks at hand. There will be a de-briefing session each day to discuss the days events and the following days work and objectives.

Emergency and safety information

All our staff have the relevant licenses for driving with passengers. All staff are qualified in First Aid. There will be a staff member in close proximity at ALL times. Volunteers are handed a safety guidelines card containing the relevant contact numbers and emergency procedures. The nearest hospital is within 20 minutes drive of all locations. An emergency cell phone will be handed to one group member each day. Please note: Every precaution is taken to ensure your comfort and safety at all times.


  • All beverages
  • Additional tours
  • Flights
  • Visas and travel insurance
  • Personal items such as sunscreen, bug-spray and amenities.


Example Itinerary


A.M : Elephant food preparation and feeding

P.M : English lessons

A.M: Preparing and feeding monkeys

P.M: English lessons

A.M: Building new vulture enclosure

P.M: English lessons

A.M: Animal tracking in reserve

P.M: English lessons

A.M: Elephant house painting

P.M: English lessons

A.M: Off

P.M: Off

A.M: Off

P.M: Off

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