youth conservation program

THE DISCOVER eden youth conservation program

These two-week courses are tailor-made to suit your school calendar.

We host a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 12 students per course, with a mandatory staff member from each school required to attend (at no cost).

We limit the number of school groups that we host every year, so book early to avoid disappointment!

The Discover Eden Youth Conservation Program is specifically designed for schools to expose learners to the impacts people have on their environment and how to live more sustainably. The course is also very useful for those who are looking to explore a career in the marine biology or conservation ecology fields. With a wide range of field-based components, interspersed with topical theoretical discussions and lectures, this short course gives you the hands-on experience you have been looking for to see what being a biologist is all about. Participants come out being much more aware of the global environmental issues we face today, and what individuals can do to make a difference. Conducted with fully accredited guides and partners, the course is designed to be a safe, easy-to-take-part-in, fun learning experience for your school to offer.

This activity-packed program addresses topics such as shark, seal, bird, and cetacean research and conservation, the global ocean plastic pandemic, the interface between development and coastal conservation in the marine sector, and game reserve management, ornithology, herpetology, botany, biodiversity conservation and mammal ecology in the terrestrial sector. 

Food, accommodation, and ground transport are all included in this package. Schools will need to send one staff member per group (at no cost for the course).

Please note: Due to the unpredictability of nature and the weather, the days and activities stated below may be switched around or substituted to give you the best experience possible.


Day 1


Your friendly Discover Eden Guide will pick you up at Cape Town Airport in the Western Cape Province. We will then make our way to our overnight accommodation, at a guest house in a quiet residential suburb not too far from the airport. After settling in, you will head out to do a short scenic hike to get you your first pics for the trip. You will be able to freshen up before dinner and spend some time getting to know your guide.

Day 2


A quick orientation session will explain everything that lies ahead. We then head to the Two Oceans Aquarium where you will be taken on a special ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the aquarium by one of the aquarium biologists after which you will have time to explore the aquarium at your own pace. A visit to the famous Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, one of South Africa’s most visited cultural and historical attractions will be followed by a unique experience to immerse you into South African culture and history. 

Day 3


Spend the morning with one of the country’s top botanists exploring the world renowned Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. Here you will learn about Fynbos, one of the six plant kingdoms of the world, and about its ecology and conservation. After lunch take the cable car up to the top of Table Mountain, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Day 4


Spend an incredible day getting to grips with the science behind marine biology. Starting with the basics of citizen science projects, and moving to advanced marine studies, you will cover a range of topics presented by top marine scientists. Immerse yourself in free-dive research in a marine biodiversity hotspot, learning the techniques needed for your future career. If the conditions are too rough for underwater work, there is still lots to learn, conducting a shark egg beach search or participating in a rock pool biodiversity survey.

Day 5


Today you will make your way to Gansbaai. On the way you will stop over at a coastal nature reserve where you will be given a talk by a marine specialist about marine conservation relating to endangered seabirds. The site is also a natural penguin colony! Afterward you will spend the afternoon partaking in a shark cage dive as your first activity with the marine biologists in Gansbaai. The marine biologists at Marine Dynamics are world-renowned shark biologist who share their knowledge willingly.

Day 6


In the morning you will be visiting a world class African penguin and seabird sanctuary. Here you will be given a tour of the centre and given a talk by one of the conservationists about the endangered African penguin and other sea birds that they have under their care. You will assist in the morning routine at the centre and watch the penguin feeding. In the afternoon you will once again be spending your time with the marine biologists, either learning to collect and identify shark egg cases, or about monitoring estuaries.

Day 7


After breakfast we make our way along the scenic Garden Route to Plettenberg Bay which is your last stop for the tour. Plettenberg Bay is a world-renowned hotspot for conservation – a Mission Blue Hope Spot, a BirdLife International Important Bird & Biodiversity Area and includes two Marine Protected Areas. Along the way you will visit the Knysna Heads. Settle into your Plett accommodation and if time allows visit a local beach. 

Day 8


Spend the morning at sea visiting the Robberg Marine Protected Area’s Cape Fur Seal colony. Learn about seals and their conservation. If conditions permit, get wet and snorkel with these playful creatures. After lunch head to Raptor Rescue, a well-known raptor rehabilitation centre, to learn about raptor rehabilitation and conservation. Participate in a special raptor rehabilitation workshop and watch a live flight show. 

Day 9


Start the day with an early morning bird ringing (banding) session to get up close and personal with some feathered friends. Hike to the fabulous Salt River to experience coastal impact research. Participate in beach plastics research and learn about disturbance effects on breeding shorebird. See up close and personal the impacts humans have on coastal biodiversity, and learn about innovative coastal intervention work that enables local biodiversity to co-exist with visitors on our beaches.

Day 10


Time to get to grips with some scaly friends! A half-day well-spent learning about the various reptile species in this part of the world at a renowned snake park. Learn how to handle and examine these slithery specimens from the region’s top snake experts. After lunch, sit and chat about careers in conservation with Dr Mark Brown, as he shares experiences of mentoring ecology students for over 20 years. Finish the day with a last beach walk.

Day 11


The last few days of your trip will be spent learning about game reserve management and large mammal conservation. After a scenic drive to the reserve, settle in to your accommodation, then head out for your first experience of a game drive to spot wild animals.

Day's 12 - 13


Over the next two days, you will learn about research and conservation efforts to conserve wildlife in South Africa. Survey plants, clear away alien invaders, learn how to identify spoor and track animals, and do game drives to see as many animals as you can spot. Learn about tracking animals, long-term monitoring and about cutting-edge conservation efforts taking place.

Day 14


Today is a sad day as we have to say goodbye. After breakfast we will take you to the airport where you will start to make your way back home. We are sure this experience will benefit you throughout your career and will never be forgotten.