I spent five weeks in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa, with the Dolphin and Whale Project working as a volunteer. I travelled with Africatime Travel and was treated extremely well indeed. My itinery was met 100% and then some, and my travels made extremely easy; comfortable; and pleasurable. Africatime Travel is a Tour Company with a personal difference.
From the minute I signed with Hands-On Holidays all I had to arrange was my international flights and the rest was done for me including; plush accommodation for the lay over; internal flights; taxi transfers to the door of my new house; even my hunger needs were seen to.
At the house I was greeted by the other volunteers and shown to my room, a shared room with just two other people with an en-suite. Again my hunger needs were seen to by our lovely cook/house keeper who cooks for us 6 out of 7 days a week and also does our washing and generally looks after us.
Daily activities at the Project consisted of a number of things including; boat trips out to watch the whales and seals (weather permitting); collecting muscles and prawns for the fish and turtle at the Aquarium; feeding the turtle; beach clean ups; river monitoring; tree planting; as well as helping out at the local leopard or penguin parks. A major part of the program is education and regular visits to the local township schools, amongst others, to help out and teach them about conservation proves very rewarding.
Opportunities for individual research projects are available and welcomed from looking at anything from whale sounds and recordings to studying a rare local seahorse.
Every member of the Project team are very amenable and friendly and will bend over backwards to meet your needs; wants and interests.
The day is always broken up, and the activities varied, so not much chance of you getting bored. The weekends are your own with plenty of tourist things to do like; visiting elephants; skydiving; surfing; sea kayaking; monkey parks; and for the real crazy, the tallest bungee jump in the world! Or simply enjoy the views; do a bit of shopping; or grab ice cream or coffee in town.
Plettenberg Bay truly is an amazing; gorgeous; relaxed and friendly place. If you’re looking for crazy parties however this might not be the place for you. Nightlife isn’t exactly in the same league as London or New York but there are a few local places to hang out and have a drink, The Surf Café being up there with the best, with live music and very relaxed atmosphere. There are places to go have a dance after hours but like I said, they are no Ministry of Sound. There are however quite few very pleasant place to go have some food with quite a variance in cuisines.
The team are great and the program ideally suited for someone new to the conservation lifestyle and maybe just wanting to get a feel for the marine based conservation and seeing how things work. It is a very relaxed program so if you’re looking for intense hard work this might not be the program for you. My thoroughly enjoyable experience was made very easy and stress free by Hands-on Holidays, I didn't have to worry about a thing. They are perfect travel company if, this is your first time away from home on your own; if you are unfamiliar with South Africa and just want a helping hand in getting around; if you want to make sure everything is organized correctly and runs smoothly; or if you just can’t be bothered to make the arrangements yourself! They make you feel extremely safe and reassured and if, like me, you are a little apprehensive about Johannesburg due to media misrepresentation, you will welcome the fountain of knowledge that Hands-on Holidays presents you, and you may even be lucky enough to have a mini tour of the city with lots of interesting facts thrown in for free!