With eleven national languages, South Africa is a study in diversity. Vibrant, beautiful, and laid-back, it will take you mere moments to fall in love with this region. High school students from English speaking countries will find the transition easy as English is commonly spoken, while those who speak English as a second language can register for courses. You’ll find that once you’ve arrived it will be hard to leave, as South Africa quickly feels like home!

South Africa is great for students who are interested in environmental conservation, wildlife protection, community service, experiencing unique cultures, and making new friends.

High school students interested in studying abroad in South Africa have a few different types of programs to choose from.

Direct Exchange

For students who really want a taste of life in South Africa, you can enroll in high school abroad there and spend a semester or year studying alongside local students. Since English is an official language of South Africa, this option is great for students who want to experience high school in a vastly different culture, but who don't have the language skills to do their normal coursework in a language other than English.

Volunteer / Conservation

There are many opportunities for high school students to volunteer in South Africa. Education programs are a popular one, but environmental and wildlife programs in South Africa are some of the most interesting and unique on the planet. Students can work in famous national parks like Kruger National Park to protect magnificent animals like rhinoceroses, elephants, lions, hyenas, and cheetahs.

Youth Travel Tours

Teen travel tours are the perfect way for high school students to spend a concentrated amount of time abroad. Most tours focus on a particular theme like adventure, wildlife conservation or community service. These well-prepared tours enable students to have fun while incorporating educational elements like history, art, and language.


To enter South Africa you need a valid passport with one blank page, sufficient funds for day-to-day expenses, and a return ticket.

Citizens from Canada, Australia, and the United States do not require a visa to stay in South Africa for 90 days or less. High school students who want to stay longer than three months will need to apply for a visa that matches their needs. Check the official South Africa visa requirements while planning your trip.


High school programs in South Africa have a variety of housing options. Volunteers with social programs might stay with a local family while environmental volunteers may find themselves stationed in the same living quarters as other national park employees. Traveling tour programs often use hotels and hostels.


If you’re traveling from North America, flights to Johannesburg will cost between $800 - $1,000 USD, while those coming from Europe can pay between $600 to $800 USD.

Compared to North American and European prices, South Africa is inexpensive. Larger cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban are slightly more costly than rural areas and smaller towns. Students should budget around $10 USD a day.

Length of stay, amenities, and type of housing can affect South African program costs. Relatively inexpensive programs can be found at $500 USD for two-weeks while others can cost $5,000 USD for twelve-weeks.

Packing Tips

Packing for South Africa depends on when and where you’ll be visiting. Just remember, the northern hemisphere’s summer is, in fact, South Africa’s winter. The summer months (December, January, February) are hot while the winter months (June, July, August) can be chilly to mild depending on where you are. The interior of the country has a dry environment and the northwest is classified as a desert. The coastal regions have varying climate zones of subtropical (northeast and southeast) and Mediterranean (southwest).

In general, you will need:

  • Breathable and UPF (sun resistant) clothing
  • Swimsuit
  • Sunscreen and bug repellent
  • A hat
  • Layers
  • Warm jacket
  • Solid walking shoes for outdoor adventures
  • A power and voltage converter
Staying Healthy in South Africa

Before traveling to South Africa it’s recommended to be up to date on routine vaccinations like Hepatitis, Tetanus, and Typhoid Fever. If you follow basic precautions you will have a safe and healthy high school trip in South Africa.

The country is nearly free of malaria except in the northeastern region. Mosquitos are found throughout South Africa though, so be sure to stock up on mosquito repellant. Avoid swimming in fresh water everywhere as you may come in contact with parasites that cause Schistosomiasis. Ensure you’re eating fully cooked fish and meat and only drink bottled water. Avoid animals you don’t know, especially dogs, monkeys, bats, snakes, and jellyfish.

Safety Considerations

High school students traveling to South Africa should have a fun and safe visit if they follow general safety guidelines. As with anywhere in the world, being aware of your surroundings is an important means of keeping safe.

Avoid going to the townships alone and be sure to have a knowledgeable guide if you are visiting. Walking around alone at night is not advised, so grab a group of friends or take a taxi.

When using ATMs be alert and don’t withdraw excessive amounts of cash at one time. Credit card fraud is on the rise in all of South Africa, so keep your credit card in your line of site at all times and intermittently check your statements for any unusual activity.

Contributed by Alecia Weaver

High School Abroad Programs in South Africa

Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 programs
Travel For Teens
Travel For Teens: Community Service Travel Programs
Multiple Countries
13 reviews4 interviews

Meaningful Community Service is an important component to many of our...

GVI: Volunteering for Teens
Multiple Countries
10 reviews2 interviews

GVI offers a variety of opportunities for young adults between the...

Travel For Teens
Travel For Teens: South Africa
South Africa
2 reviews

Embracing South African culture and helping out the community is what...

Global Leadership Adventures (GLA)
Summer Volunteer Programs in South Africa
South Africa
3 reviews

South Africa is a country on the southernmost tip of the African...

The Experiment in International Living
South Africa: Leadership & Social Change
South Africa
7 reviews1 interview

Land in stunning Cape Town, where you will learn about South Africa’s...

The Traveling School
The Traveling School's Fall Semester to Southern Africa
Multiple Countries
4 reviews3 interviews

Our fall semesters run from August 20 - December 5 in southern Africa...

Bold Earth Adventures
Summer Teen Travel in Southern Africa with Bold Earth
Multiple Countries
2 reviews1 interview

South Africa, Mozambique, & Swaziland in three incredible weeks! It’s...

Westcoast Connection
Westcoast Connection | South Africa Community Service
South Africa

Incredible wildlife, varied landscapes, warm people and thrilling...

Projects Abroad
Projects Abroad High School Volunteer in South Africa
South Africa

Projects Abroad offers unique 2 or 4 week volunteer programs in South...

Education Challenges in South Africa
South Africa
1 review1 interview

Participants develop a deeper understanding of and appreciation for...

CIEE Global Navigator
CIEE High School Summer Abroad in Cape Town, South Africa – Leadership Through Mandela's Example
South Africa

Mandela lived his life according to the African philosophy Ubuntu...

Youth For Understanding (YFU)
YFU High School Study Abroad Program in South Africa
South Africa

Bond with your classmates and host family during your semester or year...

Edge of Africa
High School Program Abroad in South Africa
South Africa

Combine volunteering with a fun and interactive Adulting 101 course...

Gap Year Programs in South Africa

Have you considered taking a gap year after high school? Start researching some of these options in South Africa.
  • GVI
    GVI: Volunteer in South Africa
    South Africa
    39 reviews7 interviews

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

  • Warriors Academy
    Warriors Academy Gap Year Program in South Africa
    South Africa
    100 reviews21 interviews

    The Warriors Academy Gap Year program is aimed at developing each...

  • Winterline Global Education
    Explore the World & Learn New Skills on a Winterline Global Gap Year Program
    Multiple Countries
    15 reviews8 interviews

    Are you prepared for life? Are you not sure what you want to do after...

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

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

  • Seamester
    Seamester: South Africa to Caribbean - 90 Days
    Multiple Countries
    5 reviews2 interviews

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

  • VACorps
    VACorps Gap Year Program in Cape Town
    South Africa
    2 reviews

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

  • Hamba Africa
    Wildlife Experience in Kruger National Park South Africa - 12+ Projects!
    South Africa
    7 reviews1 interview

    4-week wildlife placement working on conservation projects in the...

  • Projects Abroad
    Projects Abroad Global Gap Year Program
    Multiple Countries
    2 reviews

    Projects Abroad has designed an innovative gap year program designed...

  • African Impact
    Gap Year and Volunteer Programs with African Impact
    Multiple Countries
    2 reviews

    Taking a gap year after high school, university, or from your career...

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