Situated in the Western Cape Province on the wind-swept, southern-most tip of Africa, Cape Town has long been an entry point for visitors to South Africa – initially developed by and serving as a major port for the Dutch East India Company.

Now, thanks to a combination of unsurpassable beauty, a mild Mediterranean climate, and a lively multicultural, artistic vibe, the city easily claims itself as one of the most popular tourist and expat cities on the entire African continent.

Both South African and international influences have helped shaped the character of Cape Town, making it an ideal gap year location for those who can’t decide between uncovering issues unique to a developing country, an outdoorsy and adventurous lifestyle, and the cosmopolitan atmosphere of a city renowned for its music, art, and cuisine.


The largest opportunities for volunteering in Cape Town involve social programs or work with wildlife and environment. Community development projects range from assisting the elderly or promoting HIV awareness and prevention, to mentoring youth, teaching ESL, and sports coaching. Examples of wildlife programs in Cape Town include monkey rehabilitation, white shark conservation, or working with cheetahs and lions.

Language Programs

The range of language programs available in Cape Town is just as multi-lingual and varied as the list of languages spoken throughout South Africa as a whole. In addition to English for non-native speakers, gap year participants also have the option to take short- or long-term courses in Afrikaans at Inlingua, or Xhousa at Ubunto Bridge. Programs for French and German also exist.

Adventure Travel

Amidst the scenic backdrop of Cape Town’s mountains and sea is a thriving outdoors and water sports scene. Those taking a gap year have the chance to hone in on surfing skills with programs such as Cape Town Surfing or embark on safaris based out of Cape Town. Additionally, kite-boarders can become certified instructors through IKO International.


Although professional internships are not as widely offered in South Africa as other western nations, opportunities still exist, mostly in business or tourism. To find an internship, try searching listings at CapeIntern and VAcorps.

Cost of Living in Cape Town

Overall cost of living in Cape Town is reasonable and generally lower than many U.S. cities. Expect to pay about $250 – 400 USD a month for shared accommodation, $2 USD for a local beer, $1 USD for a one-way local bus ticket, and about $8 USD for a meal at an inexpensive restaurant.

Health and Safety in Cape Town

Although the benefits and attractions of Cape Town far outweigh its potential risks, personal health and safety are serious issues to consider when planning a gap year in Cape Town. Crime rates are considerably lower than Johannesburg and general street smarts will prevent most problems of theft and robbery. For example, do not walk alone in the city after dark, be aware of your surroundings, and do not leave valuables in cars or flaunt them. Most crime takes place in the townships and crime in the city is on par with any other major American city.

For health, all travelers are required to have a yellow fever vaccine and show proof of the vaccine upon arrival. All those without proof of the yellow fever vaccine will be quarantined. Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Typhoid shots are recommended. Cape Town is not a malaria zone but anti-malarials may be necessary for travel in other parts of the country. HIV is a major problem throughout South Africa.

Contributed by Jessie Beck

Gap Year Programs in Cape Town

Displaying 1 - 15 of 20 programs
GVI: Volunteer in South Africa
South Africa
9.76 •41 reviews

South Africa is often referred to as the Rainbow Nation, for...

Plan My Gap Year
Plan My Gap Year - Volunteer in South Africa from $435
South Africa
9.6 •5 reviews

PMGY offers 1-week to 6-month volunteering opportunities in the...

Seamester: South Africa to Caribbean - 90 Days
Multiple Countries
10 •5 reviews

This voyage is a once in a lifetime opportunity to sail aboard S/Y...

Seamester: Australia to South Africa - 90 Days
Multiple Countries
10 •4 reviews

This voyage is a once in a lifetime opportunity to sail aboard S/Y...

Seamester: Bali to South Africa - 80 Days
Multiple Countries
10 •1 review

Sailing aboard our 112-foot schooner S/Y Vela is a unique chance...

VACorps Gap Year Program in Cape Town
South Africa
9.67 •3 reviews

The VACorps Gap Year Program is a transformative experience that will...

Iko Poran Volunteer Abroad - IKPVA
Highly affordable programs in South Africa from $400 for 2 weeks!
South Africa
9.6 •10 reviews

Enjoy the time of your life in South Africa by volunteering for a safe...

Gap Year South Africa
Surfing Program
South Africa
9.6 •5 reviews

The Surfing Program is designed for all levels of surfing, whether...

Gap Year South Africa
Gap Year South Africa - Community Development Program
South Africa
9.75 •4 reviews

We offer a variety of volunteer and surfing projects. You can join the...

Gap Year South Africa
Hillsong Africa Program
South Africa
9.25 •4 reviews

Gap Year South Africa have teamed up with Hillsong Africa Foundation...

Volunteering Journeys
Travel and Volunteer Gap Break
Multiple Countries
10 •1 review

How about an alternative winter, spring or summer break that gives you...

CIEE Global Navigator
CIEE Gap Year in Cape Town – Leadership Through Mandela's Example
South Africa

Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, is famous for...

Hotspots2c Travel and Tours
5day Garden Route + Addo Adventure Tour
South Africa

5day Garden Route + Addo Duration: 5 days | 4 nights Departs: every...

Marine Dynamics
Shark Cage Diving with Marine Dynamics
South Africa

Join award winning Marine Dynamics Shark Tours for an incredible cage...

Sepela Field Programs
Expedition Photography Program
South Africa

The Expedition Photography Program is customized for each participant...

New Jobs

View the latest job postings on our job board. A great way to earn work experience during your gap year!

What People Are Saying

My time in Cape Town through VA Corps allowed me to grow as a person and work on my specific goals in a comfortable, organized, and independent setting. VA Corps provided me with structure but also...

Cederberg swimming holes

I actually was in South Africa this past summer through my University and we worked with GVI. It was amazing. It was 100% the best summer of my life. GVI gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in...

I was teaching these little girls how to play rock paper scissors

When I decided to take a gap year, I was initially wonderfully overwhelmed with the amount of options that the world presented me. With each google search I discovered a new country, new possibility...


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