I sent United Planet $9680 dollars for a full year to volunteer abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. They put me in a muslim home in a muslim neighborhood where nobody was even remotely the same age as me (26). It was very difficult to experience all the cultural immersion I was hoping for, because my host family basically had no concerns for me whatsoever, and I was really just a paycheck to them each month (later I realized it was about $200 per month). I asked my program rep to move so I could better my experience, but before I could even state my case she was already cutting me off in mid sentence and wouldnt let me even finish my case. Even the lady who was my immediate supervisor
was shocked at how this lady treated me. I then emailed United Planet my concerns, and presented my case to maximize my experience in South Africa. I waited for weeks with no reply. I then resent the email and waited, they eventually got back to me in a short email and said that I was to stay in the Muslim household. I told them that according to their website the majority of my $9680 was allocated to housing, they informed me that in my case that is not correct, and I later figured out that they sent the organization in South Africa about $4000 for my whole year, and they pocketed the rest. Once I sent them the money and left they basically cut off contact completely. As far as the pre departure training they offer, it is just a bunch of nonsense and not helpful. As far as the insurance, it is completely useless as my friend came over on United Planet program and got into a motorcycle accident, and the insurance didn't do anything he was stuck in a givernment hospital in South Africa, given horrible treatment, and the contat organization didn't even help him in any way with his accident or insurance. I was fortunate enough to take out a 1 million dollar insurance policy from a company called Four Corners, and it provided me with private hospital stay in necessary, helicopter airlifts, and the best doctors in South Africa, and the best part is it only cost $55 a month. United Planet made it sound like I was getting great care and help from them, when in reality they just wanted my money. Several of my friends came over as indepedants and saved lots of money, had a great time, and even stayed longer.
Cape Town as a city is beautiful, the people are great, the nightlife incredible, and the traveling in South Africa is unbelievable. As a matter of fact, I have been here for 2 years now and love it, but I really was taken advantage of by United Planet and I wouldn't recommend them to anyone.