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ORCA Foundation

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ORCA Foundation Programs

South Africa

Marine Conservation and Community Project

ORCA Foundation offers a marine conservation and community volunteering project in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa. Whale and dolphin watching is the most exciting part of

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ORCA Foundation Reviews

Overall Rating

10 / 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

ORCA Foundation is where it all began for me

I first visited ORCA Foundation in July 2012 as a volunteer and it is definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made. My main purpose for doing this was to gain first-hand experience in whale and dolphin research and observation, so I spent a lot of time concentrated on doing my marine guide training with Ocean Blue Adventures (the local whale watching company, partnered with ORCA). This gave me some amazing practical experiences, as well as unexpectedly boosting my confidence in terms of public speaking and dealing with small (but potentially nerve-racking) everyday challenges. At present, I partake in various cetacean-related issues, collaborate with different conservation non-profits and am beginning to take groups on guided wildlife tours - my time at ORCA definitely gave me a head start! I also enjoyed participating in all the other available activities: trekking, helping feed the stranded sea turtles and cleaning their aquarium, visiting the local pre-school... to name just a few of the many things that made up our daily lives at the "ORCA house". It has now been over 4 years since then and I am pleased to say that I have been back on various occasions to visit everyone at ORCA and Ocean Blue. I am still in touch with Tracy, who was the programme manager in 2012, and who really helped me develop in my initial short 4-week stay. Jared and company, who have been there for the last few years, always make everyone feel at home, and the programme is running as strongly as ever under their management. It is always enriching and exciting to climb into the ORCA van, and I will hopefully be doing so again this 2017. Whatever your age, if you want to get outdoors and have some fun, are young and need extra motivation and experience to help further your ambitions... I sincerely recommend you stop by Plettenberg Bay and join up with the ORCA team.

Program: Marine Conservation and Community Project

Overall Rating

10 / 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    8

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Community Impact

    9

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    9

My experience with ORCA Foundation 2015

It's been over a year since I left my time in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa with the Orca Foundation and the experience has enriched my life immeasurably. What first attracted me to the program were the whales. It was a lifelong dream of mine to see a whale, and ORCA lived up to the promise of experiencing whales. Not only did I see one- I saw them everyday... all different types of whales, and I even saw them breaching. The little girl inside of me was bursting with joy.

In addition to the whale surveying, the variety of marine mammals/animals that we experienced was very educational. We were immersed in weekly talks with scientists taking up their PhD's who enlightened us about marine conservation through their specific studies and research. I even got the chance to go on a boat and spend the day with Dr. Ale Vargas who was completing her study on dolphin population (if I remember correctly). That was a truly special day. We also visited numerous conservation institutions which really opened my eyes and gave me the chance to understand conservation much more. We even got down and dirty and cleaned a large penguin pool, which was a fun bonding experience with our ORCA group and group leader, Michael.

Another very special part of the program that I loved was the community development. Visiting Siyakhula was always such a treat- being welcomed by the beautiful children was such a loving and connecting experience. The weekly visits to the Sterreweg School for children with special needs by the Sabrina Love Foundation was also very heartwarming and educational for me. I feel blessed to have given the opportunity to meet and interact with the children in that school, and to learn more about the different disabilities and the therapies being used to treat them.

Fishing, hiking, kayaking, swimming, horseback riding and going on adventures through the forests was the norm at ORCA Foundation and I absolutely loved it! I also really enjoyed our visits to Mark, Polly and Kara the Donkey. By the end of my trip I even went skydiving which was absolutely fantastic.

On weekends, we had time for ourselves and I was able to go on Safari adventures with the friends I made at ORCA, and I even gathered the courage to explore Cape Town on my own for 4 nights. Which is another reason I loved this program- they are very flexible and understanding. ORCA is very accommodating of what each volunteer wants to get out of the program. Even if it's just to have fun!

The age group of the program was wide... from High School Students to Senior Citizens- very culturally dynamic, it was awesome. The people I made friends with at ORCA plus the ORCA staff- Michael, Jared and Kim, Charlie, Tily, Driver Ken are all such amazing spirits, and even though I was very far away from home, I felt safe and I knew I was in good hands.

I hope to visit Plett again one day. After my experience with ORCA, I came back to the Philippines wiser and my heart grew 1000x bigger. South Africa and the ORCA Foundation will always be a part of me.

Program: Marine Conservation and Community Project

Overall Rating

10 / 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    6

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    10

First time travelling

In all I spent about a month here during by travels in South Africa. This was my first project on my trip so was a little apprehensive as was travelling alone however these apprehensions quickly disappeared from the moment I was met at the airport.

All the other volunteers and project workers were really welcoming and showed you the ropes. Plettenberg bay is a great Base with lots of activities to take part in when you have free time e.g. snorkeling with seals, skydiving etc.

While on the project you get to go out on so many boat trips to try and find the dolphins and whales within the bay. I was lucky enough to see bottlenose and common dolphins along with a number of humpbacks.

My other favourite part of this project was helping out in the local schools. We got to deliver Christmas presents and also attempted to do some sing-a-longs followed by duck duck goose!

Could speak about how great this project is for ages! Jared, Michael and the rest of the crew made it so much fun while still experiencing and learning about coastal conservation.

Program: Marine Conservation and Community Project

Overall Rating

10 / 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Volunteering with ORCA

I cannot begin to express my gratitude to Ocean Blue and the ORCA Foundation for this amazing experience!!! Every single thought and expectation I had about this trip was surpassed immensely! There was never a point in time where I did not learn something new. From the boat trips, learning all about the local marine life to completing an otter dissection, there was a never a dull moment! I will never forget the hikes we did, most definitely the most beautiful yet scariest thing I have ever done! It wasn’t just the experiences that made this trip amazing but also the sense of community that the ORCA foundation extended and the friendships that were made. Leaving Plett, I truly felt a part of something bigger than myself. I was warmly welcomed into this brand new family, something most cannot say after leaving a volunteer experience. I not only grew educationally, but personally as well! I wouldn't trade any part of this trip for the world! Thank you ORCA foundation for showing me all of these opportunities that exist to not only help save animals, but also to improve the lives of others around me! It has been almost two years since my time with the ORCA Foundation and I miss it dearly! It helped me grow so much as a person and student and I will be forever grateful for that!

Program: Marine Conservation and Community Project

Overall Rating

7 / 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    7

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Community Impact

    8

  • Health and Safety

    7

  • Social Life

    2

Good times

I had a great time while in Plett. I was there for four weeks and really enjoyed my time there. When I arrived there were three other volunteers, and when I left there were also three others with more arriving. We created a good bond between us and I still speak occasionally to them, even though it's been over two years. I would really recommend this experience!

Program: Marine Conservation and Community Project

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