African Impact

African Impact

About

African Impact pioneered responsible volunteer abroad travel in Africa back in 2004 and have since grown into the largest provider of volunteer projects on the continent. Proudly African, we work hand-in-hand with local communities to establish, develop and monitor initiatives that contribute to community empowerment and wildlife conservation. Our dedication and commitment to authentic and sustainable practices has earned us 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 for 5 years in row in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

We invite you to join our 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. Volunteering abroad in Africa has never been so amazing, apply today!

Reviews

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Chris
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

From my point of view the whole experience of volunteering at African impact was of the highest possible calibre. The staff and people around the lodge were friendly and helpful, nothing was too much trouble. When it can to the guides who took us out on the drives, there knowledge was superb and there was a good level of really specialist knowledge in lots of very specific areas, there was not a single question I asked, that wasn't answered with great detail. I learnt so much that just cannot be taught by just watching documentaries.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
if i did it all over again, i would do it for longer. for me 2 weeks just wasnt long enough to feel like i did the project justice.
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Brigitte
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering with African Impact was the best traveling experience I ever had. I have been traveling for years but this was the first time as a volunteer. I always wanted to come to Africa as a photographer. The experience changed me. I had tears leaving the place. From the moment Jack one of our guides picked me up, I felt comfortable with the organization. I did not know what to expect. The full staff at the lodge for African Impact are amazing. Such good people! The kitchen staff are really good cooks. The lodge was always cleaned and ready to repair anything that needed maintenance. The lodge structure is well organized and maintained. I was impressed. The staff was very friendly and amazing. I had a great time with the guides on a daily basis and was impressed by their knowledge of animals. The accommodations were great. The food was great. It was different everyday and well cooked. We even got dessert on some occasions. I visited friends who had private outdoor tents as an accommodation and it was very well organized and set up for the guests. We were lucky to have a nice cleaned pool. I liked the set up as well of the outdoor fire area with logs we could sit on and enjoy the night with a cool drink and sometimes dinner. I liked the fact that we had a cozy area to relax, read and watch movies as well as sit for presentations. The lodge program structure was well organized. We knew exactly where to go and talked to if any issues occurred. The program was busy and well structured for a photography beginner’s course. Even being a professional photographer I enjoyed the program as a refresher and certainly enjoyed the daily safari drives. At night at the lodge we could hear predators calling each other. That was amazing and scary at the same time! I loved this place! I would recommend this program to anyone who loves photography and research. I will return to this program in the near future.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
My most memorable experience from the program was when we encountered leopards twice actually during the month. The first time was when we were driving on a night game drive looking for predators. We found a male calling the female for mating, but unfortunately she never came but hearing the sounds he made was incredible. Such a rare opportunity; to experience in the wild! He was big and beautiful. My favorite animal and one of the reasons I traveled to Africa as a photographer. The second time we were also on a game drive but during the day. We finally saw a female leopard sleeping. This is also a rare opportunity! My heart was beating so fast and I was hoping she would wake up so I could take a good picture of her, as I was not able to get a good one from the night drive. After half an hour she finally woke up and started to stretch before us. My stomach was having butterflies, as I was so happy to get the chance to see a leopard close and in the wild. I finally got the perfect focused shot in the bush of her. I had tears in my eyes!
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Sheila
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering at African Impact in Tanzania was by far the most rewarding and fulfilling, and hot, experience of my life! I loved every second! I felt that I contributed positively in so many varied ways, and all suggestions were encouraged by staff. I was immersed in the culture and really felt like I was living as a Tanzanian, experiencing such a different way of life than my own, appreciating getting to know the Tanzanian people, their way of life, and their laughter! I came home a better person, with a clearer perspective on what is important in life, feeling like I had accomplished a lifelong goal! I want to go back to continue teaching English and working on gender equality and health education. Thank you for the awesome opportunity!

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Tristan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

We were a bit hesitant, its a pretty big adventure to decide to go as a 17-year old to kind of 'the middle of nowhere' in South Africa. But it was just... just... GREAT. The support from African Impact before even going was quick, personal and just really caring. I felt I was in good hands, and this was confirmed during my 2 weeks there. We got to do different things, got enough autonomy without feeling lost. Learned so much. The person in charge in our project was this super cool lady that taught me every day new things. We want to book another trip for this summer!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
The organisers took us out camping in Kruger and they offered some kind of weird fried worms. At home I wont even eat a weird vegetable (weird vegetable is any veggies that is not a carrot or a cucumber) but I ate it and yes, I even liked it (enough to have a whole bowl and be the cool dude in the group!)
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 !

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

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

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.

Stuart Fairbairns

Job Title
General Manager
Stuart grew up all on the Isle of Mull, Scotland where he trained as a marine wildlife guide. Moved to South Africa in 2007 where a degree in Fine Art was completed and thereafter a deep dive into the corporate world as Integration and Business Strategist. As an avid traveler, with a passion for people and conservation Stuart and his wife Stacey decided to free themselves form the corporate world and head back toward conservation, joining African Impact in 2014. Stuart and Stacey now run the Kruger location projects, Dumela Lodge, the project base as well as support projects at a wildlife rehabilitation center a little further north.
Stuart peering out the Jeep

What is your favorite travel memory?

Having traveled a great deal it is tough to find the 'favorite'. Spending time travelling through North India by train was incredible, slow but incredible :). Getting deeply involved with he culture, experiencing the incredible foods, the people and their stories, the respect for animals (especially cows of course), the religion, the passion for community and the abundance of vibrant colours, spices and music.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I was fortunate to have a great deal of experience of people, cultures and conservation through my upbringing. My parents started the first Whale and Dolphin conservation society in the United Kingdom, that runs to this day. African Impact has afforded me the opportunity to establish solid projects and business concepts that make solid and important impacts. Providing better opportunities and living situations for people and whole communities whilst simultaneously protecting and learning about important wildlife species and their habitats. I have met and worked with people from the world over with such a variety of experience, qualifications and each has inspired me more than I can share. I am passionate about business strategy, turning my skills toward the betterment of situations for people, wildlife and the environment is incredible. My abilities have grown and developed substantially as a result, I shall be forever grateful for the opportunities this role has afforded me.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

There are so may it is hard to list. I am so proud of how many have returned to us and have found their lives passion through the experience. There are Doctors of scientist and anthropology in the world today that have come about as a result of experiencing our projects, the exposure to your passionate teams. We have had story books published by participants who are now well recognised, the books begin put together as part of, and in order to support our projects through essential donations and awareness. We have had those that are now married with children - who met at our location. Without a doubt every single person that joins us firstly doe snot want to leave and secondly is likely to return, I love hearing this and do on a daily basis. We are African Impact, the impact we make is on people and communities, it is on wildlife and habitats/the environment and just as importantly it is on our volunteers and interns - we set out to build informed ambassadors for conservation across the board whilst giving each and every one of them a life changing experience. I am proud to say we more than succeed at this.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

The ones I established and run :) I am bias however! I have visited many of the projects and locations over the years, however I would love to see the projects in Zanzibar and Kenya. I have visited Zanzibar previously and it is an incredible place, the projects there are marine focused which I have an affinity to with my past. Kenya has a special place in my heart. For me, vising other locations is an opportunity to learn form one another. For us to see first hand how things are run and learn what we can. We do have a good communication structure in African Impact but there is nothing like being face to face and working together, to have the cultural exchange and to benefit from one anther's experience and expertise.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

We are unique as African Impact largely due to our values. Be it toward our projects and our teams. I am extremely proud to be a part to this organisation, the impact of the work is palpable and blows my mind daily. We have consistent support sessions with our team members to ensure everyone is on track, not only with their role expectations and performance but further in their personal lives. We are only as good and strong as the people we work with. One pillar is only as strong as the one next to it and we must all share the load. African Impact is an inclusive and powerful operation. The attention to detail when it comes to the volunteer and interns experience as well as the imapct they make through the work they do is scrutinised through grueling processes before a projects establishment and throughout its running. We have meticulous monitoring and evaluation to ensure we are consistently achieving what we set out to, and more. I believe in numbers, I believe in measurement, one of the things we do well is measure the work we do, ourselves, our projects and our overall success.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Well, as mentioned above, measurement and evaluation, passion form the roots up and the canopy down. Communication and fair support. I believe that people make things happen, be it staff running the projects, or the project base, to the volunteers and interns that join us. We must look after everyone, ensure everyone is well motivated, is passionate through doing what they want to be doing, to be moving forward and for the impact that we collectively make to be such that the progressions of Africa's needs is supported and moving forward. Further to this, I use the analogy that finding a need in Africa is like finding a grain of sand on a beach, whilst that may sound sad, it is not, it is ripe with opportunity, what we do need to do, and as African Impact we do well, is selecting the right grains of sand to collect and work on ensuring that we are as effective as possible. We cannot solve all issues however we can take the focus areas that we do and ensure we are successful. As previously mentioned this is done through stringent measuring and evaluation.

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