If you want to experience true Africa and live like the locals do (well almost like the locals do), travel to Gisenyi, Rwanda and volunteer with GVN and their local partner on the Children's Program.
A wonderful driver who speaks just a smidgen of English will greet you at the bare bones Kigali airport, even if you arrive in the middle of the night (with or without your luggage - mine took a detour to Ethiopia without me).
You will stay in a clean, basic guest house in Kigali (unless of course it's full and you have to stay in an overflow guest house which isn't quite as clean or as nice and you will have to try your hand at falling asleep on a vinyl mattress while the thump of nightclub music hammers outside your door.)
On Day 1 - an incredibly sweet host will give you your orientation to the country and to your placement. In the afternoon, you will have the gut wrenching, but very necessary experience of visiting the Genocide Memorial. Steel yourself to witness more horrific tragedies than you can possibly imagine and to be more inspired than you thought possible by the resilience and grace of the Rwandan people.
On Day 2 - You will board a bus crammed with locals, suitcases, bags of food, and babies strapped to their Mamas backs and weave through the hairpin turns on the winding and beautiful 3 1/2 hour drive between Kigali and Gisenyi.
When you arrive in Gisenyi, you will stay in a secure house within the community and will experience all of the pleasures of African life (outside of having to haul your own water). You will eat the same staple diet as the locals (white bread and fruit for breakfast) and some version of plantains or french fries with saffron rice and vegetables for dinner. You will share a room with 1 or 2 roommates (unless you are lucky enough to travel in low season and have your own room) and you may or may not have to wrestle with a bathroom door that doesn't properly close. Either way, you will fill up your bucket in the bathtub with cool water from the tap and experience the cold bucket showers that are the norm for everyone who is lucky enough to have water in their home.
Each morning, you will rise around 7am and after breakfast, your host/translator will walk with you up the rocky hill to the chaotic bus station. She will help you negotiate a ride in an overstuffed mini van and may or may not be so crammed against the people beside you that one butt cheek is resting on your neighbour's thigh. You will hear the sounds of hip hop or African music on the radio and smell the salty/sweet smell of sweat (which may or may not be your own) as you bounce through the local roads and then climb the hill up to the Noel Orphanage in Nyundo.
When you get there, be prepared to fall HEAD OVER HEELS in love. With 600 children between the ages of 0-21, there is no shortage of work to keep you busy. Whether you are changing cloth rags on baby's bums, getting buried under a crush of tiny humans who see you as a walking jungle gym, washing dishes after helping feed the little ones lunch, or practicing English with a bright eyed beautiful 10 year old girl, you will feel needed and useful. Remember to save room in your suitcase for some granola bars or trail mix because you will be on your own for lunch and with 7 hours away from your home base, you will need some energy food to keep you going (AND the options for buying food in Gisenyi are VERY limited)
Although there were days in Rwanda that I missed the creature comforts of home (especially the hot showers and the ability to eat a fresh salad), I would volunteer there again in a moment. The beautiful children made it 100% worth it and I will miss their sweet faces for a long time to come.