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African Horizon

This animal rehabilitation centre feeds and cares for stranded and injured animals. Up to 50 different species call this centre home. Unfortunately, some animals that can’t be free-roaming are kept in enclosures, but most of the larger animals roam freely during their rehabilitation.

African Horizon
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Location Thornhill, South Africa
Duration From 2 weeks
Dates All year round
  • You must have an upper intermediate level of English
  • Special skills: A reasonable level of fitness
Minimum Age: 17
Your impact
Documents required Enrolment form, curriculum vitae, letter of motivation, passport copy, proof of medical insurance, if under 18: letter of parental consent
Day of arrival Monday
Day of departure Monday


  • Work and live up close with a large variety of South Africa’s birds and wildlife.
  • Explore a game reserve where giraffe, zebra and other buck species run free.
  • Make a difference to animals’ lives.
  • World's top surfing mecca Jeffrey's Bay is only 30 minutes away.
  • Take part in amazing tours and excursions outside of the project.
  • Make new friends from all over the world.

Project Information

The sanctuary boasts the most incredible animal enclosures and aviaries in which it houses the many species brought there by the public. Nearly all the baby animals in the sanctuary are orphans that have been rescued from elsewhere and brought to the sanctuary for safety and, where possible, will be released back into their natural habitat in the wild.

The sanctuary has grown steadily since it opened to the public in 1992. Since then many more animals and birds have been taken in and the sanctuary is now home to a large number of animals and over 300 species of birds. Most birds and animals are brought to the sanctuary by members of the public or referred from local veterinary practices. These have usually been injured or orphaned. They can range from small birds to larger animals such as bush pigs and buck. Many of the parrots at the sanctuary are unwanted pets which are brought in and integrated into the aviaries with other birds of the same species. Some animals not indigenous to South Africa have come from zoos and other wildlife parks throughout the country. These include Emu, Wallabies and Marmoset Monkeys.

The centre is primarily a sanctuary and the majority of animals and birds that come in are either infants or seriously injured adults. They are cared for by the volunteers and live out the rest of their lives at the sanctuary. However, those that are able to survive in the wild are nursed back to health and released back into their natural habitat.

Your Role

The usual day-to-day duties involve preparing food for the animals and birds and feeding them twice daily. This can take up to 1 hour in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon. Volunteers are required to maintain and clean out enclosures regularly and be aware of any problems that arise either with the animals themselves, their enclosures, or their access to food and water.

There is also a clinic where new injured or young animals are kept. You will help to feed and look after these animals daily. 

Volunteers work 5 days with 2 days off each week (not necessarily the weekends). It can be hard work. It can be dirty. It can be smelly. But that’s all part of the fun!

It is important to note that this description serves as an example only. The daily tasks and challenges depend on the volunteer, the time of the year and the work that needs to be done. The final job description can therefore vary substantially from the above.


Your accommodation is a 5-minute walk away from the project. You live in a backpacker-style accommodation with rooms ranging from single to an 8-sleeper dorm, but usually 2 or 3 volunteers share a room. For all volunteers there are 2 bathrooms to share, with a total of 4 toilets and 6 showers. The lodge has a TV lounge (DSTV, DVD) and is equipped with a small kitchen area with a fridge, kettle and microwave. Outside there is a fire pit where you can make bonfires in the evenings. A small laundry room is available where hand washing of clothes can be done. For R35 per load you can also use the washing machine. Sheets, a pillow and a duvet/blanket will be provided; however, you must bring your own sleeping bag which is necessary especially in the winter months.

There is no WiFi available, only in Jeffrey’s Bay. But you are able to purchase a dongle for your laptop if you want personal Internet at your accommodation. You can easily buy a South African SIM card to access Internet through your cell phone. The volunteer staff will assist you in getting a local SIM card at the airport on your arrival.



Eva from Austria


"I’m really missing South Africa so much! The time I spent at African Horizon was honestly the best so far. I got to do so many different things and met so many new people who truly became really good friends to me. Since I’m home I really miss the people, the animals and the work so so so much! I fell in love with South Africa and everything it has to offer. Can’t wait to go there again! I also wanted to thank you for your effort to make this great journey possible for me! It was truly amazing and I miss the time in SA so so much! Thank you!"

Melanie from France


"It was the most incredible experience of my life. Being able to help others by doing what we love is amazing. We were close to all the animals, I met a lot of incredible persons from all over the world, we were just a big family. The managers were so nice. It's an experience that I would do it again without hesitation."

Dana from Brazil


"My experience in the project was amazing, since I was living in a totally different routine than I am used to. Being able to work with animals made the job much more easier and fun! Also, the fact that I was all the time with people from different countries and cultures than mine made the experience really interesting. I have no regrets of doing this project because I grew a lot and it was a huge experience!"

Marina from Brazil


"The contact with animals, and with other cultures, showed me a new way of seeing things. The routine like voluntary is not light, it's hard some times, but every effort is more than worth, rewarding is one of the words that makes the most sense for me thinking about every day I spent in Africa. The people of the project are really nice, the place is beautiful, the animals are then the best of everything. Africa it's an amazing country, with lovely people, with rich views, pretty beaches. I really want back there. It was all wonderful. Thanks for everything."

Ossian from Sweden


"My time at the project has been one of the best and richest times of my life. It is with a heavy heart that I come to realise it has all come to an end. But it's not a goodbye it's a see you later."

Aina from Spain


"This experience has been exciting. I've been quad biking and shark cage diving and at the project I have gotten to see plenty of different animals: cheetah, lynx, crocodile, several cats, squirrel monkeys, etc. Also it's been great helping around with the feeding, giving water, cleaning enclosures, preparing food, etc. I've also had more hands on contact that I expected. It's great to have some real responsibility. The work involves getting pretty dirty but that's okay and the activities you can do in your spare time are mind blowing! The location is so amazing. All in all, great experience, would recommend it, THANK YOU!"

Pia from Switzerland


"The first few days you kind of feel “lost” because there is so much information but you get a lot of help from all the others. It is really amazing to work with all these animals and it is so nice to observe them and get new information. The other great part is getting to know so many new people from all over the world. Im really going to miss the work with the animals and spending time with my new friends. Thanks African Horizon, for the amazing experience."

Magdalena from Germany


"I had an incredible time in South Africa and at African Horizon. South Africa is a wonderful country: I met so many nice people and I was so happy to see how friendly people in South Africa are! The landscape and animals fascinated me a lot and I'll definitely come back! I enjoyed my stay at African Horizon very much. It was such a great experience to be able to work so close with the animals. I felt very needed and helpful and I'm very impressed of the work the managers of African Horizon do every day!"