Family volunteering - Primate Sanctuary


Bring your family on the adventure of a lifetime, as you assist in the daily care of a variety of animal orphans. Learn about Zimbabwe's small animals, and play a part in the rehabiliation and release process. Work in Zimbabwe's only dedicated primate rehabilitation centre.

Join the sanctuary's team who have one goal in mind - the rehabilitation and release of Zimbabwe's wildlife. 

Baboons and monkeys are the often-overlooked victims of the human-wildlife conflict, losing their natural habitat to over-grazing, agricultural expansion and the growth in human settlements. Their biggest predators are humans and are often treated as vermin, being shot or poisoned for eating crops and small livestock.

No animal is ever turned away from the centre, and every volunteer assists with their daily care, from Klipie the Klipsringer, Yoda and Marley the bushbabies, Kuda, Lucy and Umfazi the baboons and Peck the ostrich.

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Quick Facts

Who can join: Families with children aged 6 and over (please enquire if any / all of your children are under 6)
How long can we stay: 1 week +
Accommodation: Volunteer house
Transfer time: 30 minutes
Pick up from: Bulawayo
Meals: 3 meals a day
Project numbers: 4 (larger families on request)
Start dates: Flexible, closed from 20th December 2018 - 4th January 2019
How much: from $935 (1 week)


Teach your children the importance of coexistence between humans and wildlife, and the ways they are able to make a difference. This is a truly unique wildlife experience, where you will work in Zimbabwe's only wildlife sanctuary dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of primates. Family volunteers assist in all aspects of daily animal care, working to rehabilitate and release wherever possible.

Programme Activities


This project is all about animal care and education and a large part of the programme focuses on teaching children the importance of wildlife conservation and animal care. 

The human-wildlife conflict has resulted in numerous cases of orphaned primates who, if not rescued, spend their lives in small cages. Volunteers assist in animal rehabilitation, working, where possible, towards their successful release back into their natural environment.


Volunteers enjoy a diverse mixture of wildlife conservation activities; learning about the resident animals and birds; helping their food preparation and feeding; interacting with the baby primates; learning about the tracks and signs animals leave behind; and learning about Zimbabwe's endangered wildlife. Interspersed will be more activities dependent on the time of year, the animals in the sanctuary at the time and the age and interests of your children.

Animal care:

  • Work hands-on with wildlife orphans
  • Help raise baby monkeys and baboons - from bottle-feeding to bush walks, all the way to reintroduction and release
  • Assist with food preparation and feeding of a variety of species, from zebra and ostrich, to antelope, birds and bush babies

Behaviour enrichment:

  • Go on bush walks with primates (and whichever other animals are keen to join in!), stimulating them to explore their natural habitat
  • Build enrichment toys, platforms and playgrounds
  • Work with animals who are not candidates for release because of mental or physical issues

Rehabilitation and release:

  • Understand the rehabilition process as it applies to all animals at the sanctuary
  • Be part of individual animals release strategies
  • Monitor released animals on foot, horseback and by vehicle
  • Join the veterinary team when releases are carried out (usually from September to April)
  • Undertake snare sweeps, litter picks and boundary patrols of the release sites

Community outreach

The project runs an outreach programme where children come on educational tours of the sanctuary, learning the importance of wildlife preservation and kindness to animals. Children will get involved with these tours, and the whole family will help with making materials for the visits.


Family volunteers live at the sanctuary in purpose-built brick and canvas accommodation. Your home is a large thatched open-plan lodge-style house with two bedrooms, living room and kitchen. There is hot and cold running water for the showers; the water runs off a solar geysers and the house has solar electricity only, so make sure to bring plenty of spare batteries for cameras. Cameras and phones can be charged in the evenings, but it is recommended, if you are able, to bring along solar charging setups for your devices and lots of spare batteries or solar chargers for head torches.

There is a laundry service available and a housekeeper who comes Monday - Friday.

Being on-site means that you are able to be close to the orphans day and night in case you are needed for night-time bottle feeds. You might find yourself with a little orphan sleeping with you! The sanctuary is also home to three deaf Dalmatians who are all rescues. They are easily excited and will seek attention wherever you are! Popular volunteers are those with the energy for evening walks and runs!

Three meals a day are supplied and tea, coffee, water and juice is freely available through the day. If you have any dietary requirements, inform us when signing up for the programme.

There is no WiFi available at the sanctuary, however you can purchase a local SIM card and buy data bundles for Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and emails, to enable you to keep up to date with the outside world. Do bring games, books and other activities for the evenings - laptops and DVDs are welcome.

Rates & Dates

When can I volunteer?

The project runs from the first week of January through to the middle of December. Volunteers should aim to arrive and leave on a Monday, but dates can be flexible.

Project pricing

2018-2019 pricing for this project is as follows (all prices in USD):

1 week: $935
2 weeks: $1,800
3 weeks: $2,520
4 weeks: $3,240
6 weeks: $4,440
8 weeks: $5,640
10 weeks: $6,600
12 weeks: $7,560

Group discounts are available, dependent on group size and children's age.

What does the cost include?

  • Programme fee - financing which goes back into the programme your are involved with; this includes funding for equipment, supplies, vehicles and foodstuffs
  • Transfers to and from Bulawayo
  • Accommodation and all meals
  • Laundry and housekeeping
  • All programme-related transport and equipment required to do your work
  • 24 hour support and guidance from the volunteer programme staff

The programme cost excludes:

  • Transport by air or bus to Bulawayo
  • Visas
  • Any expenses prior to your programme start date
  • Any personal items such as dinners, alcoholic drinks, snacks, additional food or souvenirs
  • Personal medical and travel insurance, which must cover the entire duration of your programme and should include cover for repatriation, air evacuation and any activities you may undertake or plan to undertake
  • Any additional trips outside the volunteer programme
  • Telephone calls and internet

View our booking terms and conditions


Who should volunteer?

This is a wonderful experience for families of all ages, where you will experience Africa in a safe environment, work hard and become part of a very special team. No experience is required to volunteer - as long as you have a passion for wildlife and an enthusiastic “can-do” attitude, you are very welcome!

How old do I need to be?

The minimum age for the family project is 6 years, although younger children can often be accommodated. There is no upper age limit, but if you are over 65 we will need a completed medical form signed by a doctor. 

How many people will there be?

There is a maximum of 4 volunteers at one time plus staff and managers. If your family is larger, please enquire as additional accommodation can usually be arranged.

Do I get some time off?

Volunteers work Monday to Saturday lunchtime. Saturday afternoon and Sunday is leisure time where you can explore Bulawayo and the surrounding areas. Weekend visits to Victoria Falls (a 45 minute flight) can be arranged.

When can I arrive?

Volunteers should aim to arrive and depart on a Monday, although start dates can be flexible to fit in with your ideal dates and other projects you might be joining.

How long can I volunteer for?

1 - 12 weeks. Longer or shorter stays can usually be accommodated, please enquire for more details.

Do I need a visa?

Most nationalities can get a 30-day tourist visa upon arrival into either Harare, Bulawayo or Victoria Falls Airports (Bulawayo is the most local to the project). Fees are dependent on nationality and vary from around $30 to $75. Extensions are available from the Bulawayo Department of Immigration, to a maximum stay of 6 months.

Please check your visa eligibility prior to arrival.

What animals are at the sanctuary?

The sanctuary is currently home to 9 baboons, 14 monkeys, antelope, bush pigs, an ostrich, various exotic birds and owls, mongoose, bush babies and three deaf Dalmations (usually found in volunteer bedrooms).

Volunteering in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is the true home of Conservation Travel Africa. The country has previously been in the international news for all the wrong reasons, but the reality is quite different and tourism is beginning to grow again in one of Africa’s most beautiful and unspoilt countries.

The country offers something for every traveller - from the absolute wilderness of Gonarezhou and Mana Pools to the ruins of Great Zimbabwe and the hustle and bustle of Africa’s adventure capital, Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe is rich in colour and through adversity, the people have retained their resolve, sense of humour and friendliness.

No trip to Zimbabwe would be complete without a visit to Victoria Falls. Mosi-au-Tunya (“The Smoke that Thunders") is accepted to have the largest sheet of falling water in the world (1,708m wide and 108m high), and is located on the far western tip of Zimbabwe on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Victoria Falls is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

As well as the Falls being a definite must-see for visitors, Victoria Falls town is a also lively centre for adventure. For white water rafting the best time to visit is when the waters in the Zambezi are low (August - December) - these rapids have often been referred to as the best one-day white water rafting in the world.

Hwange National Park: at 14,000 square kilometers, Hwange is a wildlife enthusiast’s dream. With some of the most unspoilt wild areas in Zimbabwe, an abundance of elephants as well as leopard, lion, rhino, buffalo and over 100 bird species, a trip to Hwange must be on everyones To Do list.

Mana Pools National Park: Mana Pools is synonymous with the Zambezi River, elephants, lions, wilderness and remote beauty. It is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site based on its wild-ness and beauty together with its wide range of large mammals and birdlife. The name “mana” means “four” in Shona, relating to the four large pools inland from the Zambezi River, the remnants of four ancient ox-bow lakes. Spread over 2,196 square km, the Park is part of a region of 10,500 square km, from the Kariba Dam to the Mozambique border, which has no physical boundaries and animals are able to move freely throughout the area. It is the only National Park where visitors are allowed to walk unaccompanied by a guide.

Great Zimbabwe: a ruined stone city in south Zimbabwe, which was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the country’s late Iron Age, in around the 11th Century. One of its most prominent features are its 5m high stone walls, constructed entirely without mortar and the ruins are some of the oldest, largest and most impressive stone structures in Southern Africa. The city was built over a period of 300 years and it is believed that over 18,000 people lived there at its peak before being eventually abandoned and falling into ruins.

Nyanga: Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands is home to rolling green hills, majestic waterfalls and the country’s highest peak, Mount Inyangani. A tranquil retreat from the heat of the Lowveld, Nyanga is a haven for bird-lovers and hikers and is also home to rivers ideal for tubing and canoeing.

Please enquire about our family-friendly tours and safari options around Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls.


Take a look at some other family-friendly volunteer programmes and experiences.

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