African Impact Volunteer in Africa

African Impact

About

African Impact pioneered responsible volunteer travel in Africa back in 2004 and have since grown into the largest provider of volunteer projects on the continent. Proudly African, they work hand-in-hand with local communities to establish, develop and monitor initiatives that contribute to community empowerment and wildlife conservation. Their dedication and commitment to authentic and sustainable practices has earned them numerous awards throughout the years, including becoming the only organization to ever win Outstanding Volunteer Project twice in the Global Youth Travel Awards, and being named the Top Volunteer Abroad Organization by volunteers in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

They invite you to join their passionate teams on the ground and to experience projects that take you to a place that leaves you awed, inspired, able to do more, to discover more, and to make a real impact.

Founded
2004
Headquarters

153 Main Rd, Muizenberg
Cape Town
7950
South Africa

Reviews

Default avatar
Pauline
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This has been a dream come true volunteering in this wildlife hot spot ! The staff is extremely knowledgable and always available to answer every single question. The lodge is also very cosy with amazing surroundings. We go on drives every day searching for animals and let me tell you, you will find them ! The advantage to be in a smaller reserve and not directly in the kruger park is to be able to go off road, approach the animals closer and avoid majority of the tourists. You can still visit the Kruger park on the weekends as the lodge organise excursions every weekend. Personnaly I have done the Kruger park visit and the kloofing which was amazing for those of you in need of a little adrenaline ! In conclusion it was the best decision of my life and I don’t regret it whatsoever...

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The best thing about the program is to be able to sleep in tents in the middle of the bush once a week !
Default avatar
Winki
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Africa was a mysterious place for me before attending to this program, I was worried about numerous things! However, when I first arrived to Dumela lodge(where we live during the program) I felt so surprised and relaxing! This place is beautiful ,people here are super nice and the food is delicious ! It makes me feel likes home after a week, and I am gonna miss it forever..Besides, I learnt a lot from volunteering in this wildlife conservation! I still remember when I first saw the lion in front of our car..and I was holding my breathe and my excitement! Apart from lions, we also met rhinos, cheetahs, elephants .. and impala! There is too much to say about our game drives every day... and I have never thought that I would have made an impact on helping anti-poaching / animals protection organization to get different animals' data. This summer holiday would not be even better without African Impact, and I miss it tons!

What was your funniest moment?
The funniest moment was we (all volunteers, interns and stuffs!) taking the light painting photos! That was my first light painting experience and I had no idea how it works, so I kept moving when they took the photos, and I ruined most of them haha! Finally I tried so hard to keep still and the picture looks awesome!
Default avatar
Victoria
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

In April 2019, I volunteered with the Girl Empowerment Programme in Zambia.
During the few weeks I was there, we focused on working with girls to teach them about the importance of self-confidence and how to deal with toxic people; teaching the women about methods of earning income independently; and talking to boys about the importance of consent among other areas. It was incredible to see how keen everyone we worked with were to learn, and how grateful they were to us for spending time sharing our experience with them. Working within the community was very rewarding and it was difficult to leave, even after such a short amount of time.
Getting involved with Girl Empowerment was a truly awesome experience; a steep learning curve, an opportunity to meet and support some incredible people, and hopefully a positive impact left on at least a few young Zambians!
Livingstone was an amazing place to spend three weeks and the amazing accommodation and staff made me feel at home as soon as I arrived. I made some great friends in Zambia, many of whom I've seen since being back in the UK. I had a brilliant time and can't wait to go back!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would go for longer! I only volunteered for 2 weeks and spent 3 weeks in total in Zambia - next time I'd love to volunteer for longer and give myself enough time to visit some other African nations I'm interested in visiting!
Default avatar
Ruby
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Right from the very start of my time with African Impact I knew I was in a safe and fun environment and immediately felt at home at the lodge. The other volunteers and interns were all so welcoming and we had a lots of laughs throughout the stay!! The food provided by the kitchen staff was always delicious, and I enjoyed every single meal. The guides were very kind and not once did I feel as though I was causing them an inconvenience. They are so knowledgeable and really try to help you get the most out of your stay by teaching you loads invaluable information about the plants and animals in the bush. Obviously you can’t predict nature so game drives can be quite hit and miss, however I was lucky enough to be able to see loads of amazing animals during my 2 week stay. My only regret is that I didn’t stay longer!

What was your funniest moment?
My funniest moment was singing Lion King really loudly on the way to Kruger with some of the other volunteers.
Default avatar
Sarah
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

It's hard to sum up the two weeks I spent in St Lucia as the whole experience was amazing! So to give it some context, I'm 23 from the UK and have volunteered with African Impact previously in Cape Town, both times I went as a solo traveller.
For anyone worrying about going on their own, don't! You will soon become best friends with the other volunteers and staff members! (Plus it's pretty cool to say you went on your own)

I spent two weeks on the Rural Medical and HIV/AIDS Awareness programme and I absolutely loved it. Sometimes doing the same thing day in and day out can get boring, but every day I seemed to do a different project, or one I hadn't done for a while. From home based care, wound care, clinic transfers, clinic sessions, physiotherapy, nutrition, every single project I loved. Genuinely, there wasn't one that I didn't enjoy.
One of my favourites was the clinic sessions, we helped the doctors and nurses by taking patient's vital signs, something which the doctors and nurses were so appreciative of as it meant that they could see patients quicker.
Another of my favourite sessions was physiotherapy. I worked with a man who at the start of my project couldn't walk, instead he used his crutches to swing himself instead of walk. We gave him exercises to improve his strength. My last ever project was also physio. We returned to the same man and with the aid of someone holding onto his upper arm, he managed to walk from one side of the room to another. He was beaming afterwards and this is a memory I will always cherish.
Not only do you make a difference to other people but I promise they make a difference to you too.
Every single patient we met thanked us for everything we did. One day we provided home assistance to a blind couple. We scrubbed, we cleaned, we tidied and at the end of the morning project, we had given the house a real spring clean. We guided the couple around the house and let them feel where everything was. They could not thank us enough for the help as something so simple meant the world to them.
Outside of project the volunteer house is awesome! I can't recommend enough going to the balcony that over looks the estuary and watching the sunset. St Lucia itself is beautiful, there are plenty of restaurants where the food is good and also cheap! Its a very calm and chilled out town. Its harm to sum up my trip but all I can say to anyone thinking about going is to do it, you won't regret it and you'll leave with life-long memories.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be open-minded. The communities that you work with live a very different life, it can be hard to see the poverty that these people live in but it just makes everything that you do feel so much more worthwhile.
Also if you're gluten intolerant, I'd say bring some gluten-free basics, like pasta, snack bars etc.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 9 of 38

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Jennifer Bauer

Jennifer is a mom and a teacher who loves adventure, nature, the outdoors, and helping others.

Why did you choose this program?

I fell in love with Africa the first time I visited 20 years ago and have been back several times. I wanted to do volunteer work on my next trip there. My daughter is an environmental science student and also wanted to volunteer doing animal conservation. The African Impact program was recommended to her by one of her professors. The program in Big 5 animal conservation and community volunteering looked like the perfect fit.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

They had everything planned once we arrived (airport pick-up, lodging, volunteer activities, optional weekend trips, etc.). They offered guidance with other things like visas, shots, etc. They offered help with airfare, but we did it on our own.

We wanted to go to Kruger Park for a few days after our experience and they connected us to a travel outfit to help, but we ended up making the arrangements and renting a car on our own which saved us money.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

If you go in the winter, bring warm clothes to wear on the early morning game drives. It will warm up later, but the early mornings can be cold in the open-air vehicles.

Advice for friends traveling overseas: Be ready to have the adventure of a lifetime and open yourself to new ideas and cultures. Your heart and mind will never be the same.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

You're up early for game drives, where you do research on animals; then some days you go into the community to help with reading or farming programs.

Other days, you will go on a game drive, then input data into the computer and have time to listen to talks on animal behavior, poaching, and African culture. We also participated in debates and did presentations on animals.

This was a hand-on learning experience.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I've been abroad several times, so I'm pretty comfortable, but one fear I had was being older than a lot of the participants since the pictures showed a lot of young people. I was one of the older people, but it turned out to be a lot of fun to be around the fun and energy of students and they were very welcoming.

Is Africa safe?

A lot of people at home ask me if going to Africa on a safari is safe. I felt very safe in this program. The people of South Africa are some of the kindest, friendliest people I've ever met. They have the biggest hearts and smiles. As far as being safe from animals, our guides explained that the animals are used to cars being around them and view the car as one large solid object. As long as you keep your hands and body inside the space of the car, they will ignore you.

Countless times I have had close encounters with lions, rhinos, elephants, and cheetahs in a safari car and never had any trouble with them. For the most part, they just want to get away or ignore you.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

What position do you hold at African Impact? What has been your career path so far?

Natascha Pettit

Natascha: I am a Development Manager at African Impact. I started out as a project Manager at our Thanda Game Reserve projects in 2011 when it first opened. The projects grew quickly, with a Research & Conservation focussed project and an over 30's Community project added to the offering by the time I became Business Manager.

Our first year at Thanda saw 130 volunteers join us on project. This has grown to 200 volunteers in 2012, and it looks as though this year we’ll be beating our record yet again! 2013 is also our first year we’ll be open over Christmas, offering volunteers a festive season that is both unique and rewarding! What better way to spend Christmas than by giving back to conservation while celebrating the holidays in the African bush?! My recent appointment to Development Manager gives me the opportunity to work with new projects and to develop the African Impact portfolio, establishing lasting relationships in communities where help is needed.

Did you volunteer abroad? If so, where and what inspired you to go?

Natascha: I volunteered with African Impact in St Lucia several years ago. My time in South Africa was fantastic and I left knowing I had left a part of me behind and was destined to return.

I was inspired to experience more of Africa and had the chance to travel the continent solo, but safely and all the while experiencing Africa on a much deeper level than the average tourist. I had hoped to meet some like-minded people and be able to use my skills from my professional life in the UK, and when I returned to African Impact it was a dream come true.

What inspires you most on a daily basis?

Natascha: My inspiration comes from the volunteers who join us and the measurable successes they achieve each day. The accomplishments we see from their willing hands and minds is fantastic. I feel lucky to have experienced so many of our projects and to have seen the positive impacts of each, which can vary enormously.

Whether it’s a special community day supporting the local clinics, celebrating World Aids Day, a grandmother receiving a certificate for progressing through her reading levels, or data collection and analysis of the movements of wild elephant herds, every small victory is inspirational. But even beyond this, knowing that so many volunteers leave having learnt something about Africa, having tested themselves, grown as people and vowing to return is what keeps me going!

What should volunteers know about South Africa when considering it as their next volunteer destination?

Natascha: South Africa sits in a unique position. It’s often seen simply as an emerging first world country with a big mining industry, but dig a bit deeper and there lies so much more richness in heritage, culture and passion. Volunteers are instantly welcomed into peoples’ lives and homes. A country that has just emerged from a tangled history is open, warm and wanting to celebrate.

In SA you experience a mixture of beautiful landscapes, easy and safe travel, and English widely spoken. You also get up close and personal to wildlife as you never have before.

What makes the African Impact volunteer programs in South Africa so unique and special?

Natascha: This is a chance to meet people and become intrinsically part of daily life in Africa. Whether it’s people or animals you wish to meet you have the opportunity of a lifetime to do so and alter your perspective.

It's rare to be able to combine both these elements in one project, but African Impact offers just that – a chance to combine various experiences. We are also great at putting together weekend trips and add-on tours for volunteers who want to see the local sites or do a bit of adventure travel!

US visitors, meet us in person!

  1. Saturday 1 February
    Austin, TX Gap Year Fair
    St. Andrew's Episcopal School
    Fair:
    12:00 PM - 4:00 PM
    Presentation:
    12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Professional Associations

NAFSA Logo
USA Gap Year Fairs Logo
World Youth and Student Travel Conference Logo