ISV - Volunteer Projects in South Africa

By ISV   Reviews (77)   97% Rating

South Africa has had a turbulent history, but with the help of volunteer programs like ISV's, the country is back on its path to development. ISV's volunteer program in South Africa allows you to make a positive impact on the quality of life for South African or the wildlife of South Africa! ISV offers volunteer projects in South Africa in many different areas, such as wildlife conservation, community development, children's programs, and environmental management.

In the community development and children's programs, you may be involved in building schools and playgrounds, urban renewal projects, water and sanitation development, or teaching lessons. In the wildlife conservation and environmental management programs, you could be assisting researchers in surveying and monitoring of flora and fauna used for conservation management or volunteering on a wildlife rehabilitation centre.

Program Info

Location: 
  • South Africa
  • Swaziland
Program Length: 
2-4 weeks
Cost: 
$2,000 - $5,000 (USD)
See Additional Information
Languages: 
English
Application: 
Online Application

Videos

Program Reviews (77)

97%
Positive
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  • Impact
    94%
  • Support
    94%
  • Fun
    96%
  • Value
    94%
  • Safety
    95%
  • Fatima Taoube
    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!

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  • Harry Barley
    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:
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  • Madalyn Bernardelle
    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
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  • Nikki Holland
    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:
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  • M Bowyer
    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.

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  • Jack Tredinnick
    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 :)

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  • Roger Lo
    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 :)

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  • Kinsey B
    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.

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  • Cait S.
    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.

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  • Jacie Anderson
    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!
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  • Julian McMahon
    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
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  • Kjersti Maday
    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
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  • Rebecca Noyes
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    West Lafayette, Indiana
    Purdue University
    Go! Go! Go! You will not be disappointed!
    11/09/2014

    International Student Volunteer's South Africa program was pretty much flawless. Everything was very well organized and had no problems with the travels, planning, or my time spent in Africa. During my time across seas, I not only met some of the most amazing people, but the experience itself changed my whole outlook on life. After coming back home after this amazing trip, I was already looking into what trip I wanted to go on next, preferable through ISV. I wouldn't change a single thing and I encourage everyone to explore the world and make a difference. ISV is the perfect place to start.

    How could this program be improved?

    If I absolutely had to change one thing about the ISV program, it would probably be to maybe prepare the volunteers a little more as to what to take. I brought a lot of unnecessary things as well as wish I would have brought other items from home.

    Photos:
    Fun with kids in South Africa.
    Climbing table mountain in South Africa.
    Elephant crossing during a safari in Zimbabwe.
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  • Austin
    Age: 19-24
    Male
    Bozeman, Montana
    Montana State- Bozeman
    Unforgettable Experience
    11/09/2014

    South Africa was an unforgettable experience for me because I did so many things I thought I would never get to do, such as pet cheetahs, go spelunking, explore caves and interact with animals in such a close atmosphere. I think South Africa is one of the most culturally diverse places on this planet and going there opened up a whole new perspective in my life that i will always cherish. I would recommend any ISV trips to anyone who wants to adventure in a safe,learning, and fun environment.

    How could this program be improved?

    If I could change one thing about the program it would be the costs. I think ISV should make a better effort to help kids who are committed to going fundraiser for their trip and maybe plan more activities that are more interactive with the local people.

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  • Dylan McManus
    Age: 19-24
    Male
    Sacramento, California
    California State- Sacramento
    ISV South African Conservation Trip
    11/08/2014

    Dagse! To those of you unfamiliar, this is Afrikaans, a language I was able to learn during my time in South Africa. As I stood in the JFK Airport, I was incredibly nervous. However, the other volunteers were very friendly, I still chat with most to this day, and the volunteer project had profound implications.

    I had wanted to travel to Africa to experience the diverse culture, and also experience one of the world's last strongholds for wildlife. Although I was able to work on a reserve (Mesebe game reserve in the Limpopo region) and photograph some of the most beautiful animals on Earth, I was impacted even more so through the humanitarian efforts. Twice, I travelled to the village school to assist teaching. Working with adults and grade-school children really gave me a chance to impact lives and have my own impacted as well. The kids always had the biggest smiles oddly enough, were captivated by the exotic culture I represented! The short time spent with these children was enough to promise myself a return, to see their faces once again. The village where I stayed (Telekishi) was just outside a smaller town, and I would frequently discover children lingering around, waiting for the volunteers to offer a game of soccer. Sweetest kids ever. At the end of the trip, these kids drew me illustrations in my notebook, and I gave them my bracelets.

    The time spent with the schoolchildren, and the kids near Telekishi, has determined my joining Peace Corps. Spending time with these kids, sharing stories from America, and listening to their stories of Africa, or their favorite animals, has influenced and drawn a career path. I am currently enrolled in a TESOL (teaching english to students of other languages) program in hopes of returning to the Limpopo region with the Peace Corps. I cannot imagine my life without seeing everyone I met in South Africa once again.
    Of course, the two weeks I spent traveling were remarkable, and I created memories that even now, while writing this review, I am able to relive. If you have a passion for wildlife, these two weeks will seem like reverie. I recall spending HOURS admiring a leopardess. I sat in silence perfectly content, stunned by such beauty!

    From spending time teaching in schools and playing soccer with kids, to humbly observing African wildlife, this experience has provided me with unforgettable memories and an unquenchable thirst for traveling!

    How could this program be improved?

    As odd as it sounds, I did not enjoy the free time during the volunteer project. I understand the importance of free time but I would have much preferred to drive back to the school, or walk into town, and spend time playing soccer with the kids. In a sense, the two weeks traveling are an extended "free-time," so I would have enjoyed spending the most time possible with the children in Telekishi. Perhaps if students were given a choice between free-time and time spent at the school, or with the village children.

    Photos:
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About the provider

Our 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 our volunteer, educational, cultural and adventure programs. Volunteers can join small teams for two-week projects in conservation or community development, followed by a two week adventure tour. Many university students earn academic credit for their involvement and local staff carefully oversee programs and volunteers abroad. ISV is recognized as one of the highest rated volunteer and travel organizations in the world. ISV is a non-profit organization in California, USA and its Australian operations are based in Sydney. Begin your ISV adventure today!