Plan your trip
MINIMUM DURATION OF STAY
Our programs are designed to run for two, three or four weeks (see Dates and Rates) with your arrival or departure day being on a MONDAY. You are welcome to stay for longer than four weeks however, although we will accept volunteers for only 1 week, we really recommend a minimum of at least two weeks to enable you to thoroughly enjoy all our program has to offer.
Your arrival on your first Monday will consist of your airport or bus pick up, your transfer to the volunteer lodge, unpacking and relaxing or just getting to know your surroundings and the other volunteers. On Tuesday morning (your first day at the Ranch), you will be taken on an orientation tour, meet everyone, sort out your program and planning, after which you will start working!
You do NOT work on weekends - Saturday’s & Sunday’s are for you to relax, catch up on your washing or maybe go on a tour (we do have tour options - you can speak to your hosts when here). On your last Monday you will be taken and dropped off in time for your flight or bus.
WHAT IF MY DATES DON’T COINCIDE WITH THE PROJECT DATES?
We really prefer you to arrive or depart on a MONDAY however we realise that this is not always ideal. If you cannot arrange your transport for Monday arrival or departure, then we will arrange a private taxi (one that we trust and work with) to collect you or take you on the day you arrive or depart – you will need to pay this amount separately as it is not included in your costs.
PASSPORTS & VISA
It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa if one is necessary. The information provided here is to assist you with that process only – we cannot take responsibility for incorrect and/or out of date information. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, nor any subsequent effects. We advise that you speak to your closest South African embassy/consulate in your home country first. You must ensure that you have a full passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond the intended length of stay and your passport must also have 2 clear facing pages. You will NOT need a work permit as you will not be taking paid work.
NB: PLEASE NOTE THAT AS FROM 1 JUNE 2015 ALL PASSENGERS TRAVELLING TO OR FROM SOUTH AFRICA WHO ARE UNDER 18 ARE REQUIRED TO PRESENT ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTS INCLUDING AN UNABRIDGED BIRTH CERTIFICATE, AN AFFIDAVIT FROM THEIR PARENTS, A CONFIRMATION LETTER FROM US AS WELL AS OTHER TRAVEL DOCUMENTS. KINDLY ENSURE THAT YOU CHECK WITH YOUR CLOSEST EMBASSY AND GET ALL THESE NECESSARY DOCUMENTS IN TIME, SINCE YOU WILL BE REFUSED TRAVEL WITHOUT THESE.
Some countries SA embassy’s require you to produce a letter from us to confirm that you are a volunteer and will not be earning any money whilst here with us. Since some may require an original letter from us, check with your embassy asap and let us know so that we can post this to you in time.
For the most up to date information on passports and visa requirements, please visit http://www.home-affairs.gov.za/ www.southafrica.info/travel/documents/visas.htm or
The address where you will be staying, which you will need to list on you visa form is:
Cango Wildlife Ranch
2 Baron van Reede Street
Cango Wildlife Ranch
P.O. Box 559
TRANSPORT OPTIONS AND PICKUP
You will need to plan to arrive at either OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg (JNB) or at Cape Town International airport (CPT) on a Monday. Once there, you need to allow enough time to clear customs and immigration at International arrivals, before heading to the Domestic terminal for your domestic flight.
You will need to book your domestic return ticket to George (GRJ) Airport.
Please ensure that you leave sufficient time to make your connections. We recommend allowing an hour and a half for domestic flight check in and three hours for international check in. We recommend that you allow yourself at least 2 ½ hours between your International flight arrival and your flight to George.
You will need to book your return flight to leave from George airport again on a Monday.
DOMESTIC AIRLINES THAT FLY TO GEORGE:
(not all of them fly from Cape Town to George but all of them fly from Johannesburg to George):
www.kulula.com (domestic flights only)
www.flymango.com (domestic flights only)
www.britishairways.com (International flights also - domestics are operated by Comair or Kulula)
www.flysaa.com (International flights also)
www.flysafair.co.za (domestic flights only)
Please try and choose flights that arrive ordepart between 11am - 3pm which makes it easier for us to collect you all together and ensures that you do not wait around for other volunteers to arrive/depart. Should your flight arrive outside of this timeline we may need to arrange a taxi for you which will be for your own account.
Please try and choose a bus/coach that arrive ordepart between 11am - 3pm which makes it easier for us to collect you all together and ensures that you do not wait around for other volunteers to arrive/depart. Should your coach arrive outside of this timeline we may need to arrange a taxi for you which will be for your own account.
Please be very careful booking your bus all the way to Oudtshoorn. Depending on where you are travelling from, it is an extremely long and tiring trip and you may have to wait and change buses in George or Mossel Bay. It is far easier therefore for you to disembark in George where we will pick you up (book to get off in George, not George Station).
BUSES / COACHES THAT TRAVEL TO GEORGE:
We strongly suggest that you check your route and details with us BEFORE you finalise your booking.
WE WILL BE THERE TO MEET YOU IN GEORGE AT THE AIRPORT OR AT THE BUS STATION !
Whichever way you decide to travel, please make sure you have provided us with your correct arrival details to ensure we meet you at the correct time….…with a warm welcome!!
Transfer time from George to Oudtshoorn takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour
MEDICAL AND TRAVEL INSURANCE
Insurance cover is compulsory and you are required to send us proof of your medical cover/insurance before your arrival. Your insurance should cover the kind of activities you will be doing on your trip (including contact with wild animals) and you should also include cover for any medical requirements which could arise during your trip, including full air evacuation and repatriation in the unlikely event of this being necessary.
If you think you’re already covered by an existing policy, such as those provided by credit card companies, please check your policy very carefully.
When sending us proof of your cover please ensure that your document contains the following: Name/Address & 24 hour emergency telephone number of the Insurance Company / Your full name as the insured person / a policy number / confirmation of amount of medical cover as well as confirmation that you are covered for evacuation and repatriation. You will not be able to participate in our program should you not have the correct cover.
Most of our volunteers use www.caremed-travelinsurance.com and our volunteers from The Netherlands seem to prefer www.verzekeringeninhetbuitenland.nl
Vaccinations / Health:
You should consult your local doctor with regards to immunisations, as we cannot give professional medical advice, however below are details of our personal recommendations for consideration purposes only. There may be other vaccinations, which may be recommended by your doctor, so once again please ensure you check thoroughly with your representatives.
Tetanus: A recent tetanus injection is highly recommended.
Hepatitis A and B: Recommended.
Yellow fever: only required if travelling through a yellow fever designated country on your way to South Africa and if this is the case, you will be required to carry proof of a yellow fever vaccination (certificate) on entering South Africa.
Malaria: The Western Cape, the province in which Oudtshoorn and the Ranch is situated, is Malaria free and therefore this vaccination should not be required, unless you are travelling into a Malaria area after or before your stay with us.
Rabies: Oudtshoorn and surrounds is a rabies free area so this vaccination should not be required, unless you are travelling into a rabies area after or before your stay with us.
Oudtshoorn is in the semi-arid Little Karoo and has a wonderfully sunny climate, which can get very hot in the summer months of December to February, so we strongly advise you to use sun block and keep hydrated during the day. It can also get extremely cold at night from June-August, so bring a warm jacket during the winter months.
We have highly regarded and excellent doctors and dentists in Oudtshoorn as well as a number of specialists who come to Oudtshoorn on a regular basis. We also have an excellent private hospital.
WHAT TO PACK / WEAR
South Africa is an open-minded country and it is acceptable to wear shorts and skirts however, due to the nature of the work you are doing, you may not wear skirts whilst at work.
To ensure that you blend in with our staff and to keep a professional image on the Ranch, you will be required to wear our volunteer uniform at all times whilst at work:
(Please ensure that your long pants or shorts you bring with you are stone as in this picture).
You need to buy and bring with you your own stone coloured shorts and/or long pants (suggest long pants during winter months), as they can be difficult to find here easily and you will not be allowed to work unless you have the correct uniform.
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Volunteer tee-shirts/golf shirts will be issued to you on arrival
- Stone peak caps, wind-breakers and fleece tops are available for you to buy when you are here
- NO JEANS allowed whilst at work and you are also not allowed to wear any other colours or your own items of clothing whilst at work.
- YOU WILL BE SENT BACK TO THE LODGE TO CHANGE SHOULD YOU NOT HAVE THE REQUIRED UNIFORM ON.
A more detailed packing checklist will be sent in our Pre-Arrival Information booklet, once you have paid your deposit and your placement has been confirmed.
INDEMNITY AND CODE OF CONDUCT
On your arrival, you will need to sign an indemnity document with us. This is pretty standard in this industry when you are working with wild animals. A draft copy of our indemnity form is included in your Pre-Arrival Information Booklet which will be sent to you once your placement has been confirmed however should you like a copy of this before you make your decision, please let us know and we will happily email it to you.
You will also be required to sign our code of conduct which information is also included in our Pre-Arrival Information Booklet but let us know if you would like a copy of this ahead of time.
The Klein Karoo is certainly an area with an extreme climate. The summers are long and hot with temperatures sometimes reaching above 40°C. The winters, though short, can get extremely cold with snow often appearing on the Swartberg Mountains after a cold front has passed over. On 26 December 2003 - midsummer - there was snow on the mountains!
About 600mm of rain falls the whole year round peaking in spring and autumn while in the summer it can be delivered in the form of dramatic thundershowers.
Although Oudtshoorn is prominently an Afrikaans speaking community (a daughter language of Dutch), most people are able to speak and understand English with no problem.
220/240 V. Plug sockets are 3 circular pins in a triangle.
Most major religions are represented in Oudtshoorn but there are also inter-denominational churches with services on Sundays. There is also a small but strong Jewish community and a synagogue.
BANKS AND SHOPPING
Most businesses in Oudtshoorn open at 8am and close for lunch between 1-2pm, officially closing for the day at 5pm, Monday to Friday. On Saturdays businesses close at 1pm and on Sundays only supermarkets are open from 8am until 5pm. All major South African banks are represented in Oudtshoorn but banking hours are from 8.30 am – 3.30 pm Monday to Friday and 8.30 am – 11.30 am on Saturdays. They are not open on a Sunday. There are plenty of ATM machines around where you can draw money, but it does cost you!
The currency in South Africa is the Rand (R), which is divided into 100 cents. Currencies can be fairly volatile so the exchange rates mentioned below are merely a guideline:
1 USD = R 10/ R 11 1 GBP = R 17 / R 18 1 EURO = R 13 / R 14
Major credit cards are accepted throughout South Africa
Meal at inexpensive restaurant: $7-$8 / Local beers: (340ml): $1 / Coke can: 88c
You may want to bring some spending money to buy gifts or for touring the local area in your free time. We would normally recommend around £30 / 45 US$ a week. There are plenty of ATMs where you can easily draw money including one on the Ranch itself. South Africa represents great value for money for visitors and you can survive on suprisingly little day to day. A good breakfast will set you back about R50, lunch at a cafe/restaurant about R80 and an evening meal with a bottle of wine can be had for R120 and upwards (prices are a guideline only).
South Africa is 2 hours ahead of GMT
TRANSPORT AND TOURS
During your stay with us we will look after your transfers to and from the airport or bus/coach stops in George, as well as a few trips into town to enable you to stock up! The Ranch, where you will be volunteering, is a short 15-minute walk away from your Lodge. It will take you 10 minutes to walk to a local small shop (café), whilst a half hour walk takes you to most places in town, including supermarkets, shops, restaurants and pubs. Oudtshoorn is considered to be a safe town with a low crime rate but as in most places around the world, it is recommended to walk in groups at night.
Although not always guaranteed, we do offer tours on most weekends of the local attractions. From the world famous Cango Caves and ostrich farms, from hiking to canoe trips, game drives and elephant encounters, to scenic trips of the Garden Route, whale watching, shark cage diving, hot air ballooning – we have something for everyone!
If you are looking for tours in and around other areas of South Africa or Africa before or after you join us, we can suggest you look at some of these sites:
www.hotspots2C.co.za www.selftours.co.za www.enchantmenttours.com
Oudtshoorn is a rather sleepy town, but there are a number of restaurants and pubs should you choose to go out. Oudtshoorn is incredibly safe and you can happily walk the 20-30 minutes it would take you to town. During March/April of each year a well-known week long Afrikaans arts festival Afrikaans arts festival is held with the town becoming packed to capacity, streets being blocked off for market stalls, shows, bands and plenty of entertainment. Other information sites worth looking at are www.oudtshoorninfo.com and www.tripadvisor.co.za/Attractions-g312667-Activities-Oudtshoorn_Western_Cape.html