image description
image description

Volunteering with Dolphins

from US $625 (14 Days) / $ 1210 (30 days) (PP Sharing)

14 nights volunteering programme with Ponta do Ouro dolphin experts. Also 30 and 90 days available.

  • Destination
  • Duration
    7 Days+
  • Profile
  • Group Size
    Min 1 / Max 6
  • Categories
  • Reviews

Volunteering for DolphinCare is a great way to give back and help us keep up with the work load. As one can imagine there are many jobs, ranging from mundane office work to exciting sea travel! Visiting volunteers are accommodated, fed and mentored on-site by the Dolphin Team and visiting interns. 

Our visiting volunteer program offers a unique opportunity for one to gain hands on experience with a focus on dolphins, whales and turtles depending on season. For some it is a month long journey tuning into mother nature through both giving back and really diving in and for others it is used as platform to extend their knowledge on wild dolphins, their behavior, the marine environment & ethical marine mammal tourism.  During the humpback whale migration, the whales are an added bonus, as are turtles in season.

Volunteers assist our founder Angie Gullan & Mozambican biologist Diana Rocha both on land & whilst at sea when undertaking specialised dolphin & whale eco-tours that support the longterm monitoring of marine mammals in the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve.  

Dedicated research launches are done bi-monthly to monitor the northern range of our local dolphins & humpback whale monitoring undertaken during the migration. Please visit our dolphin dates for upcoming NRM!

Volunteers can expect to have regular in-water encounters with our local dolphins of ponta while collecting and entering baseline data & assisting guests whilst at sea depending on your length of stay. The project operates year-round with programs lasting four weeks. We will generally start each four week program on the first Monday of every month, each holding a maximum of eight participants. Additional weeks can be arranged upon request. 

Local volunteers stay in the area and help by being on call for emergency standings, helping in beach clean-ups, educational events and citizen science data collection.

The Facilitators


Mozambican Diana, joined our team in February 2010 after having returned from Brazil where she completed a degree in biology at the University Gama Filho in Rio. She grew up in Maputo after the war and was a regular visitor to Ponta who worked part-time at the then famous Cafe Del Mar. Her love for the area and interest in pursuing her career in marine science lead her back to Ponta where she committed herself to working with the Dolphins of Ponta! After many years of searching we were proud to welcome our first fulltime Mozambican biologist onto the team. She is also the owner of the charming Lodge Lar do Ouro.



Is our dedicated skipper who has been working in the industry for the last 21 years. He is highly skilled in surf launching, ensuring safety and peace of mind whilst at sea. Mitchel heads up the boating side of the project and has spent the past 10 years working with DolphinCare. His experience allows him to identify individuals within the pods we monitor, as well as read and understand the myriad of different behaviors they exhibit, a vital component to ethical marine mammal tourism practice. Mitchel has had some profound interactions with both dolphins and whales during this time, one of which was being involved in a humpback whale rescue along the KZN coastline where he assisted to cut free a whale that was caught in the shark nets. His authoritative yet friendly manor is encouraging and he works hard at ensuring everyone is comfortable and safe whilst at sea.


South African, Angie Gullan, co-founded the program during the mid 90’s and spent five years commuting between JHB and PDO before she took up residency in Mozambique in 1999. She has lived there ever since, spending hours at sea, ‘relationship building’ with her dolfriends. Her regular visits to the dolphins have manifested a truly humbling lifestyle and love for dolphins. Her mantra ‘for the love of dolphins’ is incorporated into everything she does. While in the water, she takes advantage of the opportunity to film the Dolphins of Ponta in order to gain better understanding of their behaviour & sociability. Her shy and quiet demeanour is likened to the humpback dolphin and she has often been heard to say she has more dolfriends than human friends! Given her 21 year relationship with this population of dolphins, one can understand why. She has been socialising with some of these dolphins their whole life. Angie is a passionate citizen scientist and has spent many years campaigning for dolphin rights in Mozambique.


Mozambican Dallas joined our crew in December 2001 and has proved his dedication and commitment to the dolphin team time and again. Although not a keen swimmer, he is wonderful on the boat as he gives a helping hand. He is usually the first on the scene everyday preparing our boat in the early morning hours for launching and is responsible for fuel, keeping our boat Avalon clean and general maintenance. While on board, he can often be found behind the cameras lens taking images for the dolphin id project and of people interacting with our finned friends.




  1. Example of Volunteer's Duties (depending on length of stay and current circumstances)

    • Boat & in-water data & image capturing

    • Land based observations

    • Data entry & image cropping/cataloguing

    • Dolphins of Ponta fin id & adoption project

    • Preparation of educational/information boards

    • Educational orientation with tourists

    • Marine animal stranding assistance

    • Bone/skeleton preparation, cataloguing & reconstruction

    • Tourist / lodge surveys

  2. 90 Days Volunteering Option

    Interns commit to 3 months and complete two application forms; one for registration and one for the Department of Conservation Area’s in Mozambique, detailing ones independent research. Permit fees apply. Interns have access to data, imagery, sound recordings and in-water video for use in their collaborated project / publication.  On completion DolphinCare provides Interns with a letter surmising the activities undertaken during the program. Interns wanting academic credits are to please make arrangements with their learning institution and speak to their scientific advisors.

    Please enquire for more information and availabilities for this option.

  • Accommodation sharing in Ponta do Ouro, in our volunteer centre
  • Breakfast & dinners
  • Training for specific tasks (only if you volunteer for 30 days or more)
  • Research contribution to DolphinCare
  • Multiple Encountours per week
  • Dolphin Pack :t-shirts to be worn on duty, certificate of attendance, pictures & dolphin diaries of during your stay; information on our dolphins, research projects & interesting reference papers electronically
  • Snorkel Tax
  • All travel costs to/from Ponta do Ouro
  • Visa, medical & travel insurance costs
  • Soft drinks, alcohol, dining out, spending money, recreational & additional activities you decide to take part in
  • Research permit fees (for interns staying longer than 90 days)
  1. Getting there

    - from anywhere in South Africa. You must drive to the Kosi Bay/Kwanganase border, where you can safely leave you car for approximately R30 per day, unless you car rental does include a the cross-border option.

    - from Maputo: You can rent a 4x4 in Maputo or go on one of the local "chapas" (minibus taxis). It's only 120 km away but it's a sandy road. The chapas are neither comfortable or reliable, but they are cheap (around USD20 one way). We cannot recommend them but we can confirm that they are indeed an unforgettable experience and allow you to really mingle with the locals and understand their lifestyle. Allow for a lot of extra time in case of a puncture or a break down! If you are going as a group of 4 or more, you can hire private transport from a Maputo tour operator. Let us know if we can assist.- from Richards Bay to Ponta do Ouro, which is 4 hours drive, there is an operator from which you can hire a private taxi for a reasonable sum. Please let us know and we will provide the contact for you to organise

  2. Accommodation and meals

    At our Volunteer Centre. Dinner and Breakfast (brunch) included.

    Single Supplement:

    All of our group tours are planned and operated on a twin-share basis, meaning that the standard cost is based either on individual travellers sharing accommodation with another group member of the same sex, or people who book together sharing accommodation.

    When a Single Supplement is available it is included in the Prices tab. Depending on the Experience chosen, all accommodations may not have the capacity to offer single accommodation.The Single Room supplement also applies to the third person in a party of three that will be accommodated in a single room.

  3. Important information


    A visa is required to enter Mozambique, except for citizens of SADC (Southern Africa). Approximate cost is USD 70. 

    • We continue to recommend that international travellers pre-apply for visas, as we want to ensure all our guests arrive without any issues. In the instance when there is no consulate in the home country, or for last-minute travel, a visa can be obtained at the border. Travel documentation is essential to prove the visit is tourism related. Items such as (return ticket, accommodation confirmation or invitation letter) are normally considered adequate.
    • Please make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months from the day you enter Mozambique.
    • Please note that as of 1 June 2015 all children under the age of 18 must present an unabridged birth certificate  (shows both parents' names) along with their passport at immigration. Children who do not have the correct documentation will not be allowed to leave South Africa. If children are not travelling with their own parents/one parent a letter of consent from the parents/other parent will need to be presented in the form of an affidavit.

    Citizens of all countries can obtain a visa on arrival if they have documentation to prove they are traveling for leisure purposes (return ticket, accommodation confirmation or invitation letter). This visa is valid for 30 days, and is extendable up to 60 days.


    It is a condition of booking with Gaia Conscious Travel that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on travel, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit, which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for domestic travel.

    Age Restriction: 

    18 years old.

    Health Warnings: 

    This Experience is not suitable for people with fragile health or weakened physical conditions. Pregnancies and Special Needs can be catered for, please enquire.

  4. Preparing your experience


    Within the Ponta do Ouro Parial Marine Reserve we have 5 confirmed species of Dolphins. Our Indian Ocean or Inshore Bottlenose dolphins together with the Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphin are both cross border species who are regularly sighted moving between the Kosi Bay Sanctuary and the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve.  Both are coastal dolphins which means they spend much time traversing the shallows where they can be found most days frolicking in the surf, resting, foraging and socializing.  

     New scientific research on dolphin intelligence suggests that dolphins are "non-human persons" who are vulnerable to a range of both emotional and physical pain. They are able to reflect upon and choose their actions and are self conscious, unique individual personalities who are able to remember and recall. They have both acoustic and non-acoustic ways to communicate vital information to members of their pod. And they devote a good deal of time and energy to developing and maintaining strong relationships with other members of the group. Indeed, the centrality of relationships in their lives probably means that on a daily basis they process more emotional information and are called on to use emotional skills more than humans do. %u200BThe similarities suggest that dolphins qualify for moral standing as individuals and, therefore, are entitled to treatment of a particular sort. The differences, however, suggest that species-specific standards may apply when it comes to determining something as basic as "harm." %u200B The book argues that dolphins have intellectual and emotional abilities sophisticated enough to grant them “moral standing” and is a valuable read for anyone who is interested in learning about dolphins! The novel ‘Dolphin Way’ Rise of the Guardians by Mark Caney paints a wonderful picture of a pod of dolphins that are portrayed in this way. The book takes you on a heartfelt and emotional journey with Sky and has his fellow students. One cannot NOT think otherwise after this read.

    Fauna/Humpback whale: 

    Between the months of June and November we welcome the majestic humpback whale migration where we observe these graceful beings moving  between their Antarctic summer feeding grounds and winter breeding grounds closer to the equator. Researchers are able to tell humpback whales apart by studying both the flukes and dorsal fins and Southen Right Whales are identifiable through the callosities found on their head! 

    From land, breaches, blows and pec waves can be seen as the whales pass by in large numbers. Whilst at sea is it quite possible that you may find yourself in close proximity to these energetic surface behaviors that are used as a form of communication. During this time our waters come alive as the whales can be heard communicating down below. Grunts and groans and barks and squawks are some of the social sounds whales use. Males are famous for their structured songs which are said to be used as a sexual advertisement directed to females and establishing male dominance.%u200B


    Ponta do Ouro's climate is classified as tropical. The summers are much rainier than the winters. The average annual temperature is 22.3 °C. Precipitation is lowest in June and highest in January.

    Climate graph, Ponta do Ouro

  5. Budgeting your Experience


    You will need some extra money to cover your expenses  in Ponta de Ouro. Please inform us if you wish to prolong your stay in the area.

    Tipping is customary in Mozambique

    Foreign Exchange: 

    The local currency in Mozambique is the Metical (plural Meticais). 

    ATM are available in Ponta do Ouro. Rand is also accepted everywhere in Ponta. 

Select Currency:
Accommodation Options

    There are no extra accommodation options for this Experience. Please contact us for accommodation options before and after your trip

Optional Activities

    There are no optional activities features for this Experience. Please contact us if you would like us to enquire further

Select Currency:
Departure Dates Status Price (PP Sharing) Excluding Flights Single Supplement Child Notes  
Write a Review
All Reviews Overall Rating 5/5