ISV - Volunteer Projects in South Africa

By ISV   Reviews (78)   97% Rating

South Africa is renowned for its vigorous culture, sweeping landscapes and remarkable wildlife - but communities, children's homes and wildlife reserves need the help of volunteers through organizations like International Student Volunteers (ISV) to address disadvantage and environmental concerns.

Through volunteering with ISV, you can be involved in life-changing community development projects, taking part in tasks such as building schools and playgrounds, urban renewal programs, water and sanitation development and classroom support. On ISV's wildlife conservation and environmental management projects, you could be assisting researchers in surveying and monitoring of flora and fauna used for conservation management, or volunteering on a wildlife rehabilitation centre. Come join us to make a meaningful difference in South Africa!

View Program Information
Location: 
  • South Africa
  • Swaziland
Program Length: 
2-4 weeks
Cost: 
$2,000 - $5,000 (USD)
Languages: 
English
Housing: 
Camping
Guest House
Hostels
Hotels
Student Dormitory
Volunteer House
Application: 
Online Application

Program Reviews (78)

97%
Positive
Leave a Review
  • Impact
    94%
  • Support
    94%
  • Fun
    96%
  • Value
    94%
  • Safety
    95%
  • Conner
    Age: 19-24
    Male
    Rohnert Park, California
    Sonoma State University
    Once in a lifetime opportunity. Don't miss out on this amazing experience!
    08/27/2015

    Traveling to South Africa and getting to spend a month working with animals and becoming immersed in the culture was unbelievable. I met some amazing people and the memories from this trip will last a lifetime. Bottle-feeding baby antelope, sitting by a watering hole for hours watching the wildlife, going on safaris, making friends, swimming with dolphins, cave exploring, spending the day with elephants, and going kaloofing are just a few of the awesome things we got to do on this trip. Coming home after being in Africa for a month has changed me forever in a positive way and my hope is that I can use these experiences to enlighten and encourage others to experience this for themselves.

    How could this program be improved?

    The program was fairly expensive but for an opportunity like this, who knows if you'll ever get to go back! So it's definitely worth it.

    Was this review...?
    Useful: 0 Inspiring: 0
  • Paul
    Age: 19-24
    Male
    Costa Mesa, CA
    Incredible Experience!!
    08/11/2015

    I enjoyed my volunteering trip to South Africa. I am excited about working with animals and it is something that I will remember forever. The staff were helpful and we worked hard. Next time I would like to go for the adventure as well. Thank you.

    Was this review...?
    Useful: 1 Inspiring: 0
  • Lauren
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Jacksonville, FL
    University of North Florida
    An experience I will never forget
    08/06/2015

    This experience was so amazing and was one I will never forget. Boarding the plane, I knew I would be making a difference but never knew how much this trip would shape me and change my perspective on life. This trip made me realize so much. Coming out of this experience with a new perspective, a better understanding for new cultures, amazing stories and new friends that I will cherish for a lifetime are all things I have ISV to thank for. Watching the children run to the finished playground for the first time is a moment I will never forget. Their faces lit up and they all ran so fast. It was finally the first time they had a playground big enough for them to all play on. The children at the daycare and the village of Chinsta East have taken a piece of my heart. I made some of my best friends along my journey and wouldn't change my experience for anything. Walking down before volunteering one morning to see the sunrise was one of my favorite memories, along with all the fun activities we got to do the second two weeks! I definitely went out of my comfort zone but it was all worth it. I recommend this trip to everyone. I can definitely say I left a part of me in Africa and I cannot wait to go back one day!

    How could this program be improved?

    This program is so amazing but one thing I would change is the amount of information they give you before you go. They needed more concrete information. Before we all boarded and started to meet everyone, no one really knew where we were going or where we were staying the first two weeks. We also did not know that we were going to be pairing up with the host organization there, VA32. I think they just need to be more specific about some things. The visa was also a big problem, myself and many others had to get two passports, some even two visas, because we did not get them back in time. Next time, I think ISV needs to set a certain date for when the passports need to be shipped out, that way everyone is on the same page and no one would have to get a second passport. Overall I think ISV is great and because of this organization I got to experience so much.

    Was this review...?
    Useful: 1 Inspiring: 1
  • Fatima
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Sydney, Australia
    Macquarie University
    Trip of a Lifetime!
    03/06/2015

    This trip was one of the greatest experiences of my life! It was so easy to get along with the other volunteers on the group, and we all bonded very well. I loved meeting all of the beautiful locals in the amazingly stunning town of Chintsa in East London. Going down to the beach every morning and taking in the spectacular scenery was so much fun. Playing sports with the children was also so much fun, as you could really see the enjoyment in their faces. The work done on the volunteer site was very hard and rewarding. We did the work on the creche whilst the children and carers were there, which allowed to really see just how much they appreciated it. The children even became involved by grabbing a paint brush and painting the mural. This was definitely my favourite part of the program, although the adventure tour I must admit was pretty incredible!! I got to bungee jump off the highest bridge bungee in the world, abseil off table mountain, and do cliff jumps at Blyde River, things I never thought I'd get the chance to do in a million years. I particularly enjoyed the atmosphere at Island Vibe in Jeffrey's Bay and in Cape Town. The locals were so friendly and chilled out, I never wanted to leave!!

    I would 100% recommend this program to everyone! It is the most life-changing experience and leaves you ready to help and explore the world!!!

    How could this program be improved?

    I think its important to make the extra costs more clear beforehand. Other than that, everything was amazing! Wish it could have been longer!

    Was this review...?
    Useful: 0 Inspiring: 0
  • Harry
    Age: 19-24
    Male
    Melbourne, Australia
    RMIT
    ISV Shingwedzi
    03/05/2015

    A truly amazing experience. While on project we had the opportunity to interact with a wide variety of amazing animal species, and we were able to see the benefits of the work we were completing first hand. Not only fulfilling, but a life changing experience. Could not recommend highly enough!

    How could this program be improved?

    Maybe more free time/down time on project, was quite intense. To be honest though I wouldn't change anything

    Photos:
    Was this review...?
    Useful: 0 Inspiring: 0
  • Madalyn
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Melbourne, Australia
    Victoria University
    Take me back!
    03/05/2015

    I have travelled the world to nearly 30 countries and my experience with ISV was my all time favorite experience yet. The Volunteering aspect was filled with hard labour, learning new things, laughter, friendship, townships and an extremely rewarding outcome. Our arms ached, bodies sweated and got tired but I wouldn't change it for the world. That was the best part! We knew what we were doing was getting done for the right reasons as we were surrounded by children who would be using the facilities we were creating around their childcare centre.

    The Adventure tour was full of facing fears, fun and exploring new cities. This was an experience where I reconnected with myself and those around me to get out what I put in. I then have the privilege of traveling to Zambia and Botswana to be faced with lions while camping in Chobe National Park and swim on the edge of Victoria Falls. Does it get any better than that? It sure did!! I flew over Vic Falls in a microlight flight and rafted down the Zambezi.

    This trip was a life changing experience where I learnt about the world we live in, unique individuals and found myself through daring, challenging and testing myself.

    Thank you ISV and your incredibly commited, passionate and enthusiastic leaders.

    * I completed this in 2015

    How could this program be improved?

    I honestly couldn't fault it

    Photos:
    Angels Pool | Victoria Falls
    Volunteering | Cinsta, South Africa
    Was this review...?
    Useful: 0 Inspiring: 0
  • Nikki
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    New Zealand
    Massey University
    YOU HAVE TO GO!!!!
    03/05/2015

    This has been the experience of a lifetime ! I recommend it to everyone - young an old ! Thank you ISV for the adventure ! 5/5 !!!!! I was on the 4 week project and adventure tour and the time flies. I was not home sick once and i have made friends for life ! The project was hard work but relly really inspiring ! I loved the children that surrounded were we worked. They would help and were so fun ! I loved the adventure tour as we did so much in only a short two weeks ! Seeing so much of Africa was AMAZING!

    Photos:
    Was this review...?
    Useful: 0 Inspiring: 0
  • M
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Auckland, New Zealand
    University of Auckland
    Life Changing
    03/04/2015

    Volunteering at Masebe was incredible, our Field Guides were really knowledgable and friendly, as was the rest of the staff. They really made it feel like home.

    It really didn't feel like work everyday we were out in the field, we had so much fun with the VCAs and Bird Point Counts thanks to our amazing Field Guides. Being in the reserve everyday was incredible and gave us ample opportunity to spot some wildlife, whether it was an elusive bird or a glimpse of a herd of Zebra, every sighting was exciting.

    The scenery there is absolutely breathtaking, it's such a beautiful place, and to be surrounded by that everyday was just fantastic. The view from the top of Mt. Magagamatala made the hike up more than worth it (this coming from a girl who had never hiked a day in her life prior to the trip).

    The environmental education was by far one of my favourite things that I got to do while on project. The kids were so eager to learn and just so enthusiastic--and they ran circles around us when we played games with them. They had such a positive attitude, and as much as we were there to teach them, I learned a lot from being around them.

    This trip changed my life. The girl who left on the 2nd of January was not the same who returned home 4 weeks later. This trip pushed me to think more about how I impact the world (and environment) around me, it made me more confident in myself, I learned A LOT, and I really can't express enough how much I loved this experience. Would do it again in a heartbeat.

    Was this review...?
    Useful: 2 Inspiring: 1
  • Jack
    Age: 19-24
    Male
    Gold Coast, Australia
    Griffith University
    If I could recommend one thing...
    03/04/2015

    When the opportunity comes, sign up to do the bungee jump on the adventure tour! I don't care how terrifying it sounds, or how much it freaks you out, The atmosphere was electric and it was the best experience of my life. Those in my group that didn't jump have told me that they regret it, and rightfully so. Watch "Jack's Bungy Jumping Adventure" on YouTube to see what we did.

    How could this program be improved?

    The weather in cape town was a bit of a pain, but tbh it was a brilliant program, and I wouldn't change a thing about it :)

    Was this review...?
    Useful: 2 Inspiring: 0
  • Roger
    Age: 19-24
    Male
    Auckland
    University of Auckland
    ISV 4 weeks SA trip
    03/04/2015

    I'll never forget this experience I had with my volunteer family and tour friends. I've learnt so much from this trip and made a lot of lifetime friends which we still keep in touch even after the tour. Thanks to ISV for making this possible :)

    How could this program be improved?

    Stay there longer :)

    Was this review...?
    Useful: 0 Inspiring: 0
  • Kinsey
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Ottawa, ON
    University of Ottawa
    An eye-opening experience abroad!
    11/14/2014

    When deciding where to volunteer abroad, I came across International Student Volunteers and was amazed at how thoroughly organized the program was. I immediately applied to volunteer and was accepted for my first choice, South Africa! They do everything for you, from the flight booking to the accommodations, to most of the meals and all of the activities you could possibly imagine doing while overseas. It was such a culturally rich experience and there was a diversity in activities during the adventure tour to please the thrill seeker and the cultural history buff at the same time.

    The volunteer project that I was on in Cintsa East, South Africa, was an eye opening experience for me. We got to work side-by-side with locals in the community, we got to experience the Xhosa culture and ultimately put smiles on the faces of the children there. In fact, the entire experience made me realize that I wanted to pursue a career in Global Health which is exactly what I am doing now, two years later! I strongly suggest volunteering abroad with ISV if you have any desire to work with vulnerable populations, especially children, or if you are studying health/international development. It can definitely enrich your educational path.

    It was also excellent that we had a fixed schedule day to day, waking up around 7:00am and travelling to our project. We had our lunches prepared for us and worked until between 2 and 4:00pm. In the evenings, we were free to go to the community store and to call home (which was incredibly easy from South Africa...only 1 rand a minute with a payphone). We also had our dinners prepared by our amazing house mother and got to spend quality time together all evening.

    There were plenty of opportunities to learn about different African foods and cultures throughout the volunteer project and the adventure tour. We were able to participate in high adrenaline activities like caving and swimming with whale sharks, but we were also awarded cultural experiences like visiting an orphanage in Swaziland.

    The ISV staff were generally very kind and helpful, with the exception of a couple incidents with our project leader, but overall we felt incredibly safe and supported the entire time.

    I also went on this experience with my boyfriend and it was an excellent way to bond as a couple.

    I would suggest this experience to absolutely anyone who was considering it!!

    How could this program be improved?

    The cost of this program is a bit on the high side. The originally advertised cost is approximately $3500 (not including flights). For me, it came to about $8000 total after all of the extra ISV related costs and after purchasing my insurance, gear and shots. I have seen much less expensive programs that still offer full room and board.

    Was this review...?
    Useful: 4 Inspiring: 0
  • Cait
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    Whitby, Ontario
    ISV South Africa
    11/13/2014

    Figuring out the trip beforehand was quite a headache for me. People giving inaccurate answers, receiving emails saying I have to pay more than what was agreed on, nonsense like that. The trip itself was absolutely amazing!! Project coordinator was top notch, and tour leader was a blast. So although I had difficulty before I actually left, the trip was definitely worth every penny.

    How could this program be improved?

    Better organizing of information before departure.

    Was this review...?
    Useful: 1 Inspiring: 0
  • Jacie
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    West Lafayette, IN
    Purdue University
    Time of my Life
    11/12/2014

    Being with people who share the same values as you makes the experience that much more life-changing. We all are there to make a difference, to impact the world, and we change each others lives in the process. I made some of the greatest friends while I was there that I still contact regularly. Each day you wake up and go out not knowing what the day will bring. We would prepare food for the cheetahs, go on feeding rounds, play with the cubs even, and learn about cheetahs. You learn so much about sustainability and conservation. This trip made me grow so much as a person. Every day we would do hard work: fixing the roads, repairing the camps for the endangered vultures and African Wild Dogs, and trimming branches. The work never even seemed like it was work. The reward for everything we did was immediate. Every new project we did helped Shingwedzi incredibly. The traveling: caving, rappelling in Blyde River Canyon, horse back riding through the mountainside of Swaziland, meeting the kids in an orphanage, etc. were all once in a lifetime things! So many memories, people, and experiences I will have for the rest of my life.

    How could this program be improved?

    I wish I was volunteering longer!

    Photos:
    Swaziland Orphanage Visit
    Simba
    Selfies with Spooky!
    Was this review...?
    Useful: 1 Inspiring: 0
  • Julian
    Age: 19-24
    Male
    United States
    Washington State University
    ISV South Africa
    11/10/2014

    My ISV experience was pretty amazing! Not only did it give me a direct cultural understanding, but gave me a strong historical background, which drew it all together. When we first landed in Cape Town, all I could think about was sleeping and how jet lagged I was from the 16 hour flight. However, once we started driving to our hostel (Salty Crax), the reality of where I was gave me a burst of energy. The first thing that caught my eye was how beautiful South Africa is. The second thing that caught my eye was the Dunoon township right next to the highway, and how extensive it was. When you see kids (12-15 years old) walking down the road with scrap metal for their homes, it makes you open your eyes.

    After a day of orientation and walking around Cape Town, we were able to start our volunteering. Our group was split into two groups. One group did community development for the first week and the other group had a building project. We then switched projects (different locations) for the second week of volunteering. My first project was working at a special needs school (Elundini) in the Dunoon township. Here I worked with kids ranging from 2-3 years of age. The highlight from my whole trip (even including the excursions) happened here. One of my students didn't seem to have much interest in socializing with the other kids (he was a little younger). After pushing him to interact, he finally gave in. I handed him and another student two toy trucks. They started talking and giggling, which slowly transformed into a friendship. After just a week, I could see a huge difference in his attitude. He went from standing around with his hands in his pockets, to actually playing and interacting. It really seemed like they formed a true friendship. It's hard to explain in words how such a simple thing can make such an impact.

    I could go on an on about by trip, but I will leave this review somewhat short.

    Accommodations- Salty Crax. It was rad! I shared a room with 4 guys, and we all vibed really well. They had a bar in the back yard. (enough said)

    transportation- Bus for free time, coordinators to and from projects. No issues.

    Volunteering- Loved it, will be going back for a longer period of time.

    Overall, my experience in South Africa was absolutely amazing! I got to go shark cage diving, feed elephants, meet lifelong friends (including my current girlfriend). I'm really grateful for the experience.

    How could this program be improved?

    Direct dates and in-depth project inquiries prior to the trip.

    Photos:
    Dunoon Township
    Students
    building project
    Was this review...?
    Useful: 0 Inspiring: 0
  • Kjersti
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Moorhead, MN
    Minnesota State University
    South Africa
    11/10/2014

    I spent my first two weeks building bike paths for underprivileged kids in Cape Town, South Africa. It was the most rewarding part of the trip.

    Our group first had to dig a path. We moved 10,000 lbs. of dirt, rock, and concrete in a little under 10 days.

    That was the physical labor part of our volunteering. The more meaningful work came from working with the kids in the preschool. Most of the children had learning disabilities and came from low-income homes. It was heartbreaking to learn some of their stories. All of our hard work paid off just to see how happy they were to be in school.

    How could this program be improved?

    More interaction with the children.

    Photos:
    South African Boy
    Timely
    Victoria Falls
    Was this review...?
    Useful: 0 Inspiring: 0

About the provider

ISV's mission is to support sustainable development programs around the world through life changing student volunteer programs designed to positively impact our world and to educate, inspire and result in more active global citizens.

Destinations include South Africa, Costa Rica, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and the Dominican Republic. ISV has won multiple awards and over 30,000 participants from around the world have experienced their educational, cultural and adventure programs. Volunteers can join small teams for two-week projects in the field of conservation or community development, followed by a two week adventure tour. Many students earn academic credit for their involvement and highly qualified local staff carefully oversee programs in each country. ISV is recognized as one of the highest rated volunteer and travel organizations in the world and is a non-profit organization in California, USA. Its Australian operations are based in Sydney. Begin your ISV adventure today!