We understand that traveling to Africa to work with sharks is a massive and daunting undertaking! Here we try to answer all questions that we commonly receive from prospective volunteers. Naturally we cannot answer everything, so if we have missed something, simply submit your question in the below form.
Do I need to be SCUBA qualified?
No – Many of our adventures are snorkel based, so you will be able to participate in all activities even if you cant SCUBA dive. But many of our students choose this as a time to get qualified with a SCUBA qualification.
Where do we stay?
Blue Wilderness has a volunteer house near the beach of Scottburgh – South Africa, about 2 minutes away from the beach launch site.
How do our days work?
On the program, we are flexible with our daily activities, and the Blue Wilderness team works out a daily program the night before. This works great, as it is difficult to predict how many clients we will be working with on a given day, or what the weather will be like. We try to work 5 days a week (which often covers weekends) with a couple of days break during the week.
What will I get out the the program
The primary purpose of the program is to offer you extensive real world training and experience in driving shark research, conservation, education and ecotourism operations and campaigns. We believe that shark ecotourism operations also have a duty to drive education, conservation and citizen science research initiatives. As such, our volunteers drive many of these programs. So in addition to becoming an expert shark diver, many of your experiences will empower you in the fields of shark education, research and conservation.
How often will we be diving with Sharks?
There is no set number, but the team will head to sea whenever we have clients and space permits. We also do a number of research and discovery expeditions to look for new reefs or collect data. In total, you can expect between 10 and 20 trips to sea each month.
How much does the program cost?
The month long program is costed at 2,200 USD. This covers your accommodation, food, local transport and all our blue wilderness shark expeditions. The fees does not cover social money, weekend excursions, internet, or transport to and from Durban.
What does my fee cover?
- Transfer to and from the airport to Blue Wilderness on arrival and departure (only on the 1st of each month)
- Every day transport from the Blue wilderness to launch site, or days activity location
- Dorm room accommodation (2-4 interns/room, gender separated).
- SCUBA and snorkeling equipment for Blue Wilderness expeditions
- All practical and theoretical training instruction
Not included in the cost for either month, as most are optional :
- Additional days accommodation & food
- Optional photographic / tourism expeditions (including travel, entry fees, etc.)
- SCUBA diving training (i.e PADI Open water: R4700) (Other advanced courses are offered)
- Internet fees
- Laundry service
- Non-work excursions
- Extra food and beverages
- Bank charges for transfer of fees
Am I eligible?
Anyone 18 or over can join our volunteer program. It is ideally suited to students and enthusiasts who are passionate about sharks, adventure, fun and hard work!
For how long can I stay?
Attendees will be asked to stay for a minimum of one month and maximum of four months (shorter or longer stays will be considered if special motivation is given).
Do I need to bring my own photographic equipment or gear?
As part of our citizen science research program you will be using the company videocamera to collect data and information. It is how ever recommended that you do bring your own camera or video-cam. All SCUBA and snorkeling equipment is supplied as part of the program.
Where do I fly to?
Volunteers need to make plans to fly into King Shaka Airport at Durban. From here you will be picked up by the Blue wilderness team.
Arrival dates and pick-up arrangements?
Arrivals and departures should occur on the first day of the month. If your travel plans fall outside of the first day, then you will be required to pay an additional pickup or drop-off fee.
Can I cancel or change the dates for my program?
Due to the number of applications received and limited places, we unfortunately cannot accept all applicants. Therefore, we do not welcome cancellations or date changes after the final confirmation has been sent to us. Please, make sure that the dates you indicate in your application form suit your own schedule/budget before applying.
We request that a non-refundable $500 deposit is paid within two weeks of being accepted into the program as confirmation (foreign and local bank fees are at the applicant’s cost). The remaining fee must be paid in full 1 month prior to arrival in South Africa. We would, however, appreciate it if you could let us know of any changes or cancellations as soon as you are aware of these, so that we are able to welcome another applicant.
Do I need a VISA?
Do I need a VISA?
No (for most countries)! In South Africa most visitors can enter on a visitors permit that is issued for three months on arrival into the country. However, a few countries do require an advance VISA to be issued (including New Zealand as of 2017). Thus we do suggest you contact your local South Africa embassy to determine if you do require a VISA as determined by the passport you intend traveling on.
If you are intending to stay in south Africa longer than three months (90 days) then you will need to apply for a ‘Volunteer visa’ that does require advance administration to obtain. Please email us if this is the case.
Do I need insurance?
Yes. When you are accepted into this program, you will have to sign liability, copyright documents, as well an agreement that you are knowingly partaking in potentially 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 very slim if you follow the safety guidelines, and do not try anything foolish of which we would not approve. However, you will be working on a boat or game viewing vehicle in conditions which can, on occasions, be less than comfortable. Accidents may occur, so it is important to be covered in case of an emergency or accident. Be sure to have an insurance cover for your entire stay in Southern Africa. For SCUBA divers, you also need to be insured by the Divers Alert Network (DAN)
Do I need malaria medication?
No, we are far from malaria areas, and there are no strange African diseases which you could pick up (that is if you respect the same safety rules as anywhere else in the world).
How can I get more information?
Once we have submitted your booking form, you will be asked (if you are not already) to be registered on Facebook (www.facebook.com). You will then be invited to join a volunteers forum run by Blue Wilderness. This forum will enable you to ask questions and seek out any additional information by meeting and networking with both staff here and other past students.
We have not answered your question? Oh no – send us your question via the form and we will get right onto it.