Volunteer International Adventures

Program Reviews

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Amy
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

My time volunteering in South Africa

I have absolutely loved my experience in South Africa volunteering on the Endangered Wildlife Monitoring and Research project, a I am sad that I have to leave tomorrow. By the time I leave I would have spent 6 weeks in South Africa, so I have been lucky enough to have experienced all 3 of the reserves that take volunteers.

My first reserve was Imfolozi, where I saw my first wild elephant before we had even been through the gate! We also saw alot of cheetahs which was very special. The camp itself was lovely, and I especially loved the Rick where you could see all sorts of animals including elephants and rhinos. However, my highlight of my experience at Imfolozi was seeing wild giraffes for the first time, and I couldn't stop smiling all day!

My second reserve was Manyoni, and on the first day we saw an impressive male lion lying mere inches away from the car! What I loved about Manyoni was the fact that the animals had never had a bad experience with a car, so you got super close sightings. My favourite place in Manyoni was the Fever Tree Forest, because it felt magical and was alive with all sorts of incredible sounds, and the trees there were breathtaking! I also loved the camp itself, with it being a spacious farmhouse that boasts a beautiful garden and a lovely terrace.

My third and final reserve was Hluhluwe which had stunning scenery with its rolling hills and glistening rivers. Seeing animals there was a challenge, but that made it very special when you saw them. The camp was nice, and I liked the fact that the bedrooms had a wardrobe and desk. I can't choose 1 highlight, so I'll tell you my 2 highlights, the first one was seeing a leopard twice, and my second one was seeing the pack of 11 wild dogs.

The staff and volunteers alike have been extremely friendly and I felt like I was part of a family. I would definitely recommend volunteering on this project, because you can make a positive impact on the world and contribute to the conservation of South Africa's animals. I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone involved, and I can't wait to be back! :)

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
We got charged and trumpeted at by a matriarch elephant, who was protecting her herd, and I sat very still and made sure that I didn't say a word. The monitor raised her hand and the matriarch bowed her head and backed away.
Pros
  • You learn so much about the African Bush.
  • You grow as a person.
  • You meet so many interesting people.
Cons
  • I've struggled to adjust with limited signal and power.
  • It was very stormy.
  • You have to get up early.
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Maike
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Had an amazing time!

I really had an amazing time at the project. This was my first solo trip and I was so nervous. Once we arrived at the project, everyone was very kind and I immediately felt at home.

The Horse Rescue and Rehabilitation Project does the most amazing work for their horses, donkeys and other farm animals. It felt great being a part of the team during my staying. You can really feel the love for the animals everywhere you go on the project. I really enjoyed my time with them and hope to come back anytime soon.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I stayed at the program for two weeks and now that I look back at it, I definitely would stay longer. Also, I recommend to do a little sightseeing before or afterwards the project. The surroundings of Bonnievale and Cape Town are breathtaking!
Pros
  • Riding more than 1 horse a day
  • Being in a calm, rustic environment
  • Great balance between working days and going on some trips: wine tasting and horse races
Cons
  • Bonnievale is approachable by car, but not by walking
  • Didn’t do any trails during the stay
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Lynn
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Definitely worth doing it!

A massive thank you to everyone who was involved in this project! The collaborative efforts and dedication of each team member truly made this project a success. I felt safe and well taken care of. Every aspect was meticulously handled. Working alongside a diverse array of big cat species not only enriched the project, but also broadened my perspective, making it a truly unforgettable and transformative experience. I think about this amazing opportunity a lot. And without hesitation, I would definitely recommend it to everyone!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
One standout moment at Ethical Predator Sanctuary was seeing how much Max, the caracal, enjoyed playing with my enrichment. It was amazing to see how such a ‘small’ thing, really can make their day better. This moment showed the essence of my volunteer experience – making a lasting difference in the lives of these incredible big cats.
Pros
  • The best staff ever
  • The wonderful communication before, during and after the trip!
  • The perfect work/chill balance
Cons
  • Nothing :)
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Michaela
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Youth Development Centre in Knysna

I had the great pleasure to volunteer at the Youth Development Centre in Knysna last year (July and August). This was one of my best experiences and I can only suggest to be part of this program.
Besides of spending an amazing time in one of the most beautiful countries, exploring Garden Route and its natural beauty, I learned a lot about the way of life and culture.
I had the possibility to assist with sports, music, art and teaching...
Working and spending time with these kids gave me a sense of personal fulfillment and definitely made an impact on my life.
Everything was perfectly planned and organised by the team of Volunteer International Adventures. Even if it's your first time in South Africa - don't hesitate! You will gain an unforgettable experience.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Bring your ideas, be creative and motivated! The kids are curious and eager to learn and are grateful for any experience.
Pros
  • learn about culture and way of life
  • happy smiling children faces every day
  • gain personal fulfillment
Cons
  • also winter in South Africa can be cold ;) don't forget to bring some warm clothes...
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Ovejero González
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

A Remarkable Journey: Volunteering with Monkeys in South Africa

I recently had the incredible opportunity to volunteer in South Africa, and I can confidently say that it has been a truly extraordinary experience. Working closely with monkeys, these remarkable creatures have left an indelible mark on my heart, creating bonds that I will cherish forever.

South Africa itself is a country of breathtaking beauty, boasting an overwhelming natural richness that captivated me from the moment I arrived. The landscapes, teeming with diverse flora and fauna, provided a stunning backdrop to my volunteer work. The chance to witness the wild beauty of this country has been nothing short of awe-inspiring.

The heart of my experience, however, lies in the interactions with the monkeys. These incredible animals, with their unique personalities and behaviors, have taught me so much about resilience, adaptability, and the importance of preserving their natural habitats. The bond I formed with these monkeys is something I will carry with me always, a connection that transcends words.

Equally memorable has been the people I've had the pleasure of meeting during this journey. The camaraderie among fellow volunteers and the warmth of the local community made my time in South Africa even more special. The friendships forged are ones I hope to nurture and maintain, transcending geographical boundaries.

I wholeheartedly recommend this enriching experience to everyone. Not only does it provide a profound sense of fulfillment for the soul, but it also plays a crucial role in the survival of orphaned baby monkeys who have lost their mothers. Participating in this volunteer program not only allows you to contribute to a meaningful cause but also exposes you to the beauty of South Africa and its incredible wildlife. It's an adventure that goes beyond the ordinary, leaving an impact that lasts a lifetime.

What was your funniest moment?
I can´t choose one. But many of them were watching little monkeys playing, or just being themselves.
Pros
  • What you learn
  • People I met
  • Landscapes and safaris
Cons
  • Saying goodbye to the little monkeys...
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Gitte
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Vervet Monkey Rescue & Rehabilitation

I had such an amazing 8-week experience volunteering with Vervet Monkey Rescue & Rehabilitation. The moment you enter the place and see such a precious baby monkey is breathtaking. Taking care of these babies is just incredible and so rewarding; you get to feed them, cuddle them, bath them, and play with them, which just really makes your heart jump of joy. I fell totally in love with these baby monkeys...The place where we got to stay was also insanely beautiful! The place is clean, the area is nice and calm, and the view is just incredible. Steve and Carol are amazing people and I am so lucky that I got to meet them. They take amazing care of you, and you can learn so much from them about rescuing and taking care of the monkeys, and about South Africa in general. The passion and dedication they put into their organization is just incredible to see and experience. They also give you the opportunity to go on trips with fellow volunteers, with whom you can gain some lovable memories which you will never forget. I could not have wished for a more rewarding, lovable and wonderful experience than this!

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Stevie
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible opportunity, exceeded expectations

My experience with the Social Work, Education & Youth Development project with Sharon and Rustin was life-changing. It was meant just to be a stop on a year-long participatory research project. I planned to commit to a month with this organization and ended up extending twice. Needless to say, my expectations for this project were exceeded in every category. Social impact and activities: If you prioritize local-community centered, ethical and grassroots organizations, this project has to be at the top of your list. The organization itself supports at-risk youth and the kids themselves are talented, engaged and earnest. You will spend much of your time learning from and laughing with bright young people while facilitating programs that nurture their development. In your off time, you can immerse yourself in the outdoors (some of my favorites included ziplining, game drives and nature reserve hikes) and explore part of the Garden Route or even just hang out in town with your new friends at many of the locally owned cafes. Location, safety and support: Knysna is a gorgeous, easily navigable and friendly town. People know one another and in that way, it is a great place to connect with folks with similar interests. There is a great sense of community, people’s networks are often interwoven with each others and acquaintances become like family at an unprecedented rate. Overall, I encourage anyone who’s interested in either the broad category of social welfare or even just has an interest in visiting South Africa to come and learn and experience under the guidance of Sharon and Rustin who go above and beyond to provide you with the best experience. Their generosity with their time and efforts and their passion for this work is evident in the way they organize this project and others for and with their community. Working with organizers as dedicated as they are and a community that is so engaged is really an incredible opportunity not to be missed.

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Zoey
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Youth development and Social Work

I loved my time in South Africa, working with locals and planning lessons/activities and spending time getting to know new people and exploring a new continent. I made Memories that will last a life time, 3 weeks flew by and we managed to fit so much in to the little time we had! Sharon was amazing making sure we explored all areas, helping us to book excursions and taking us to local places that are a must see after travelling so far! I would highly recommend volunteering to any one as it’s so much more than just volunteering!!

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
My sky dive after waiting until the day before we were scheduled to leave for home after the wind was finally safe for the sky dive to take place! And the tandem sky diver originally being from 30 minutes from my home town!
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Nan
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Youth Development and Social Work in Knysna, South Africa

An excellent learning experience for young and older adults alike. This was an impressive programme, working with children and young people who were not in school and who were therefore at risk within their communities. What was especially impressive was the programme’s “whole child” focus, looking not just at the child/ young person’s particular individual needs but taking account of their family and community context and working collectively to achieve progress. In spite of often limited financial resources, the programme staff had developed a significant range of skills and personal resources to support the children/young people. Their commitment was very evident and was much valued by the children/young people.
In the end, it was lovely to be reminded that all across the world and irrespective of the huge variation in the challenges they face, children/ young people are very much the same. They all have dreams and aspirations, they all recognise the importance of their families and communities, even where these may sometimes present risk. With the right support, even the most isolated and excluded children/young people can recover, can thrive and they all deserve the very best efforts of those adults who can provide them with that support.

What was your funniest moment?
Re-visiting my footballing skills, which were never very good, with some very enthusiastic and skilful young footballers!
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Siobhan
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Youth Development & Social Work

Rewarding and engaging programme which has been hugely beneficial for all participants. Very participant focused and the staff are passionate and selfless and ensuring they get the most out of it. The project helped those in need get back on their feet and each individual was taken care of and shown compassion by all volunteers helping out. As a volunteer this was a completely unique experience and each day was well spent contributing what I could to the project. Highly recommend to anyone travelling.