Volunteer Programs in South Africa with African Impact

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About

There is a reason why South Africa is consistently rated one of the top travel destinations in the world. Make that several reasons. Where else can you watch the sunrise from the top of a mountain, catch a wave in the ocean and spot an elephant roaming at dusk all in the same day? President Nelson Mandela proclaimed this country as the ‘Rainbow Nation’ – a country as diverse and colorful as it is exciting and adventurous.

Whether you prefer the wild outback of the Greater Kruger, the rural beauty of Zululand, or the hustle of Cape Town, South Africa has something to offer for any volunteer.

African Impact's Top Volunteer Programs in South Africa

Impact

Questions & Answers

Hey Jenna, glad you're interested in joining us either later this year or in April next year. We can definitely help you with that! We have 3 different program bases in South Africa: Cape Town, the Greater Kruger Area and St Lucia. The only program base that offers short-term trips (either day volunteering, or 1-week volunteering) is at our Cape Town project base, where we run: - An Early...
Hi! Awesome news that you're interested in joining us as a volunteer - we can definitely help with finding just the right project for you. The majority of our volunteer placements only offer stays between 2 and 12 weeks, however it's possible to do 2 placements back-to-back if you did want to spend 6 months volunteering. The price per project does vary, so we would highly recommend visiting our...
Monday to Friday. 8 hours per day. I don't know yet, but around this.
Hi Rachael, Thanks for getting in touch and that's very exciting that you're interested in volunteering abroad - we can certainly help you out with some options and give you advice on each of our available programs. The majority of our programs are only option to volunteers aged 17 and above, but that being said we do have a few locations across Africa that are open to 16 year olds and each of...

Reviews

91%
based on 36 reviews
  • Impact 9.1
  • Support 9.2
  • Fun 8.7
  • Value 8.5
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 15 of 36
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Sarah
10/10

Greater Kruger Area + Zambia

I volunteered on the Big 5 Animal Research and Community Program for 4 weeks and had an incredible time. Upon immediate arrival, all staff members were extremely welcoming. There were very clear directions on how we would be spending our time. The schedule was followed to a T. There was an appropriate amount of free time - nights and weekends. The volunteering aspect exceeded expectations - the staff fully explained how our research would benefit the wildlife and made it clear who we were sending research to and how they were helping. I learn how to track footprints, identify animals, track movement patterns, track eating habits, and many more things. The best part of the trip, aside from making tons of new great relationships with other volunteers and staff, was camping out in Klasserie - we would spend one night a week in a tent on a game reserve park - go on night drives, cook burgers, etc.
I also volunteered for 4 weeks on the medical program in Zambia, the Victoria Falls Area. When I got there, I didn't think the next four weeks could compare to the last 4 I had in the Kruger Area. I was wrong. Again, African Impact exceeded my expectations. The entire staff was fully and entirely invested in the mission of the program and hammered home on it the entire time I was there. The medical team got briefed on what weeks would look like, the first day I got there. The staff was very adamant on maintaining health care for the whole community, which I thought was awesome. We also had free time on weekends to explore the area.
I would highly recommend African Impact to anyone who is interested in exploring the area as well as making an impact that will make an overall long term difference.

Response from African Impact

Hey Sarah,

Thank you for investing your time volunteering with us in BOTH Kruger and Zambia. It's awesome to hear this feedback! Please keep in touch.

The African Impact team

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Indy
8/10

Wildlife photography and conservation volunteer

Mindblowing. Some of the things I got to see and experience are just so hard to put into words. All the animals are stunning and the landscapes breathtaking. Having a leopard run around with an impala's leg just to put it into a tree with a sunset in the background.. while hearing a hyena gnaw on the remainder of the impala, wow! Baby elephants, baby giraffes, two more kills! It was amazing. The staff is just so kind as well, waking up and getting a hug and multiple bright smiles is the perfect start of the day. The photography assistent and teacher were very patient and eager to make sure we learned all that there is to learn. Working for conservation purposes made me feel very useful and really have an impact. I wouldn't have mind to do more hard work besides the cool safari game drives.

How can this program be improved?
Adding a bit more conservation work would be a good idea in my opinion.
Response from African Impact

Dear Indy,

We'll be sure to take your suggestion on board. Thank you for your feedback. We hope to see you soon.

The African Impact team

Yes, I recommend this program
Kat
10/10

The most unforgettable experience of my life!

For years before i volunteered i always had the desire of going abroad to help others, but held back on doing so because felt i wasn't courageous enough to take that step. I have always naturally been shy and not wanted to take myself away from my comfort zone but i came to a point in my life where if i didn't do it now, i wouldn't do it at all. I came across African Impact back in 2016 online and reading the reviews I knew this was for me. I booked to go for a month on the St. Lucia project doing 'Day Care & Community Support'. I absolutely loved every day on project and really opened my eyes to the poverty there is around us, it definitely changed my outlook on life when i returned and i couldn't wait to do it again! I met a girl from Norway called Tove and it was amazing how close we grew as friends throughout the month and beyond. We kept in contact and was even planning a trip from UK to Norway to visit her, but even better we decided to book another African Impact adventure! We both decided Cape town was going to be our next trip and i chose the Early Childhood Development Project as i loved working with the kids from South Africa before on the St Lucia project. We went out for a month again and it was truly the most amazing experience i had ever done and i really felt i had changed from the shy girl who didn't want to step out her comfort zone to a confident girl making so many new friends from all around the world! I made real special relationships with another two girls from Australia and America where we talk everyday still to this day. It's so nice to meet people who are there for the same reason as you are and i know we will be friends forever. When coming back to England i missed it out in South Africa so much that i decided to go work as a part of the African Impact team for 6 months. I felt so lucky to have the opportunity to go back and work for a foundation that i am so passionate about. I absolutely loved it on project and every single moment i treasured. On the weekends i conquered fears such as heights, abseiling off mountains, jumping out of planes and coming into the unknown of not knowing what to expect. I want to thank you all for being so welcoming and accepting. I recommend African Impact to anyone! Words can't express how life changing and incredible it is to be able to help others and make a difference. I am planning on coming back this October and most probably year after year! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to finally find my feet in something I am passionate about and make my heart grow bigger and bigger for others who need it.

How can this program be improved?
I couldn't fault it!
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Emily
10/10

Awesome Time Working In Cape Town

When I came to volunteer with African Impact in Cape Town, I originally planned to only stay 4 weeks, but I ended up staying 3 months! I absolutely loved my experience from day one. The staff was so friendly and welcoming, the kids that I worked with managed to impact me even more than I impacted them, and I made friends here in Cape Town I know will last a life time. I specifically worked on the Teaching and Early Childhood Development projects. It's so amazing to work in Cape Town because you get the opportunity to learn about all of the different cultures and work in the communities during the week and then explore the beautiful city of Cape Town on the weekend. There is honestly so much to do - you will never get bored. The staff will even help you plan everything from skydiving to safaris for the weekend so you can make the most of your time here! I would recommend this life changing experience to everyone!

Response from African Impact

Hey Emily,

Thank you for spending 3 whole months out in Cape Town with us. We loved having you here and feeling the impact you were making at GAPA, Kuyasa and Fiks. You'll have to come back and check out our new digs! Keep in touch!

The African Impact team

Yes, I recommend this program
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Beatrice
10/10

Unforgettable

This experience has been amazing!! African impact offers a beautiful lodge, where you can find everything you need. The room was big, and the bathroom was perfectly furnished. The housekeeping changed our towels and sheets once a week, and they also made our laundry. At the lodge there is also a big pool, and an huge garden.
The staff was incredible, everyone is always available. They were really professional but at the same time so friendly and funny. They always tried to help everyone, and satisfied our request in the best way they can.

During my stay I was in the photographers team for one month. We had the chance to improve our skills thanks for all the activities that were organized. We practiced almost everyday. The game drives were amazing, the guides were really prepared, they answered to all our questions. In addition we had the chance to get so close to the wild life, and it was incredible. One of the best moment of the week was camping in klaserie. Klaserie is a private natural reserve where we had three game drives in different time of the day, afternoon, night and early morning. We spent the night in a camp around a fire, where we cooked our meal. During the night drive we looked for predators as leopards, hyenas or lions. And we also had the chance to try astrophotography.
We also did community projects. We went to a school for helping children with English. This project was absolutely one of my favourite. It was well organized and the kids are lovely, they were so happy every time we were there. Another community project is farmers of the future, we helped local people to arrange a quiete large garden.

Response from African Impact

Hey Beatrice,

Judging by your photographs, it looks like you had an amazing time! Thank you for joining us at Dumela. We hope that we'll be seeing you soon! Keep in touch.

The African Impact team

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

Volunteering with African Impact

I was volunteering in Cape Town with African Impact for six weeks, and I guess those were the most amazing six weeks of my life. I was able to get to know another culture, get in touch with people from all over the world and work with children from different age groups. It was an unbelievable experience and I would recommend volunteering with African Impact to everyone, you won't regret it! I can't wait to be back.

Response from African Impact

Hey Clarissa,

Thank you for such wonderful feedback. We hope to see you soon! Keep in touch!

The African Impact team

Yes, I recommend this program
Michelle
8/10

Wildlife & Community experience

So back home now almost 3 weeks. Everyday I reflect and remember each day filled with experiences. How wonderful to spend 28 days with a camera in your hands, surrounded by life so different to yours and a chance to contribute to a world/life that needs help. Apart from the amazing pics I’ve returned home with, my life feels enriched by knowing in some very small way I’ve made a contribution. Yes back home, but the journey continues to spread the good word of the African Impact Projects. I hope I get the chance to return someday, but if I don’t then I will always be greatful for this amazing experience.

How can this program be improved?
More info shared before arrival would be great. More awareness would give volunteers more chance to share their upcoming trip with others and greater awareness would help with contributions to the projects.
Response from African Impact

Hi Michelle,

What a beautiful photo attached! Thank you for spending time with us, making your impact. Hopefully we'll cross paths again.

The African Impact team

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Emily
9/10

Valuable Sports and Teaching Experience in Cape Town

I spent three months in Cape Town with African Impact on a teching and sports volunteer programme. It has been the most amazing experience meeting such interesting people, working hard to actually feel like i could contribute to the community and learning valuable lessons about the South African Culture.
I was very happy during my stay, the staff were very nice and helpful and I would love to come back in the near future to see how much has developed and changed. I liked the emphasis on sustainability and collaboration with the partners on site, and this was such a valuable lesson for me personally as well. Hope I can come back someday!

How can this program be improved?
The one thing I would possibly critique is the fact that a lot of the nights at the house are usually connected to some type of fundraising from the volunteers (meaning vols pay additionally for merch or group activities to support the project) which in concept is a good idea but can feel exclusive to some volunteers who have a tighter budget for an already pricier trip.
Response from African Impact

Hey Emily,

Thank you for this feedback and your suggestion. 3-years on and we have listened to this feedback and our fundraising has taken on a different approach. We hope you're well!

The African Impact team

Yes, I recommend this program
Caitlin
9/10

Nerves are good!

When I went to Africa last year I was 18, fresh out of school, I booked a 4 month trip to africa and I started with this project in South Africa. And I was mostly scared about not feeling comfortable or at home in the places i was going to be staying. But be assured, the african impact team make you feel like a family, especially the team in Cape Town! They are amazing, from a welcoming hug to the staffs calming natures and knowing you can ask them any question was so reassuring for my 18 year old self!!

How can this program be improved?
More organisation in terms of storage of items for projects
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Gabriela
1/10

A lie

Well, this project was supposed to be a perfect match, but it ended up the opposite.
The Cheetah Centre was meant to be a Reintroduction Centre where cheetahs should be in the process of being released in nature.
But they were not doing this. They were just taking care of the animals (this they could do), but even when they received a baby cheetah and could've done something to release this one back to nature at some point, they taught the baby to have contacr with humans and were making tours with it!
I felt really frustated and disappointed.

Other aspect that horrified me was the careless with the animals food (rabbits and chicks). They were kept in dirty and safeless (one day a wild animal entred and killed a lot of them) places. And they were killed in a way that I can not agree with, with the machines and all of them seeing the other dying and they were all "screaming".

Also, they made me cut meat when I told them that I didn't feel comfortable with it, specially when the animal was hanging with its blood leaking just behind me.

They were mocking at me all the time because I was vegan and I felt disrispected and not well welcomed.

For all these reasons I left the project before the end: I could not be part of all that.

I know the care-takers had good intentions, but this my point of view and, for me, this project is a definite NO.

Response from African Impact

Hi Gabriela,

Thank you so much for leaving this honest review about the cheetah centre we used to partner with in South Africa, and we are truly sorry you did not have a great experience. We wanted to let you know that we actually stopped working with this centre in early 2018 as we were receiving a considerable amount of negativity about the project. We really do listen and value the feedback of our volunteers and used the standard we would apply to any of our own (not third-party projects like this one), to assess the project and decided that we did not support it and no longer send our volunteers there.

We hope you had a much better experience on our own project in Zanzibar, and hope that your competition win wasn't tainted by your experience at the cheetah centre.

Thank you again Gabriela.

The AI Team

No, I don't recommend this program
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rebekka
9/10

Most amazing experience

This volunteer program is absolutely amazing for people who wants to make a difference. I thought volunteering was just a waste of time, but i got to try a bunch of different programs with AI and from what i saw, they really do make a change. They are invested in their project and spend a lot of time making sure that their programs are of good quality, commitment and helps towards a better future. The only thing I can be negative about is that the price was a little high for its value (when considering the whole package deal) and also for me who was looking for an adventure they were a little strict and I would appreciate more free-time. This is my individual opinion though, and does not affect what i think about the incredible volunteer programs they offer. The staff members were so nice and helpful, really cares about the volunteers and everybody they worked with and I felt safe and taken care of. I would absolutely recommend.

How can this program be improved?
The only thing I can think of is maybe getting a little more value for the money.
Yes, I recommend this program
Siem
9/10

Expensive but worth it

The prices were the only downside for me. The support and everything else you got were great!

This was my first trip alone for over two weeks, far from home. To have everything from, housing, food, safety and travel to the project, included in one, was amazing.

I was not an experienced traveler, so I found it no problem to pay extra and be able to get all tose things taken care off. It takes away a lot of stress when you go there. Knowing you don't have to worry about it when you are there.

How can this program be improved?
The program wasn't really from African Impact. They just helped you with housing and travel to the project. But the volunteer work itself was from the place itself, called "TEARS", a dog shelter and catenary.
Yes, I recommend this program
group photo
Inger-lise
9/10

Amazing experience!

I don't even know where to begin. It's been 6 weeks since I came home and I still miss it every single day. I volunteered in the orphanage in the morning and at GAPA in the afternoons. The atmosphere in Khayelitscha is so special and makes the experience incredible. The smiles of the children are worth everything and unforgettable. The African Impact team makes you feel so welcome, not only by providing so much information that you know the house like your own in day, but also by always being there for a chat. I would recommend volunteering for everyone wanting to make a change, big or small. You also get to know so many people from all around the world and get to make so many memories at projects or in the weekends.

How can this program be improved?
There's not a single thing I would change, African Impact provides such good projects and really makes sure you are able to be a part of a change.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Christine
10/10

Experience of a Lifetime

My time volunteering at GoEco’s Big 5 Wildlife Reserve project was better than I could have ever imagined. I didn’t know what to expect when I left New York and traveled to South Africa alone, but once at Dumela Lodge, the staff immediately made all of the new arrivals feel comfortable and welcomed. All of the volunteers became immediate friends- it was such an amazing experience to work and connect with more people from across the globe than I ever have before. Our purpose there was to assist in the data collection of a variety of species, including elephants, rhino, lions, leopards, birds of prey, and many others, to give to conservation organizations that protect these animals and their environments. Without the help of volunteers, the staff wouldn’t be able to collect and maintain all of the information that they need. Almost every morning, we would wake up bright and early for a game drive at a nearby reserve and would get to watch the sunrise from the jeep with beautiful landscape and animals all around. I felt that volunteering in South Africa was the absolute best way to enjoy the beauty of country, while also giving something back and doing your part for the magnificent animals that are in danger of not always being around. If we weren’t busy with our research work, we were camping in the bush, hanging out by the pool, going on scavenger hunts, helping out at a local reptile park, and going on weekends trips like to Kruger National Park. If you have the opportunity to volunteer here, do it. It was the best possible experience I could have asked for.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Brian
10/10

Big 5 Project at Dumela Lodge

I signed up for the Big 5 project in August this year (2015). I had reached a point in my life where I needed to re-focus on my ideals and get a better sense of wellbeing.
Embarking on a 3 week project I didn't know what to expect, but left the Uk with the pre-advised open mind and positive attitude.
Wow, I could not have been more overawed and could in no way have had any pre-conceived ideals of what this project would give back to me.
I was not aware that the project had reasonably recently moved from Thande to Dumela, but that didn't appear to have hampered the underlying project goal in any way whatsoever.
From day 1 all the 'staff' and interns at Dumela were absolutely amazing. They are a font of knowledge when it comes to wildlife and all are such great characters and personalities in their own right, right up to Stuart and Stacey, the program leaders at the site.
I was lucky enough to see the Big 5 within my first week, something I could never havve hoped for nor expected, but having an underlying sympathy for all animals endangered or not, I was blown away already.
The one thing I have to say is that everything is catered for, great food, great accommodation, great staff, and I made some fantastic friends too, who will never be forgotten.
The trips too, spending overnights in a local game reserve, were amazing, and get you so close to actually living, not just experiencing the bush it is surreal. Also the weekend trips pre-scheduled for you and made available are amazing. I did a reasonably 'calm' trip on the Panorama tour and the sight still amaze me, month later.

For anyone who has a care or sense of pride in wildlife and wants to give a part of themselves, to give just a little bit back I would say 100% do sign up for this project. It is not just the animals but also the involvement in the local community projects, the camaraderie and friendship and sense of fun in what you're doing that makes every single part of it worthwhile.

African Impact made such an impact on me that I had the logo and 2015 tattooed between my shoulders as an everlasting memory, and I cannot put into words how much better and rewarded I felt as a person for having visited. I now have a burning desire to return as soon as I am possibly able to experience it all again, this time with my partner who sadly was not able to come with me on this trip.

For satisfaction, and reward at such an amazing financial cost and personal reward I can't praise A.I. enough, everyone at Dumela is amazing. If you hae a bucket list put this on it, and get it ticked off. You will spend 5 or 10 times ore on a tourist safari that will not reward you, and what you do even a fraction as much as this project does.

How can this program be improved?
It could not be improved. I know the team are still developing Dumela Lodge but for me that made it all the more real, and a better experience. I felt more grounded because of it, but with continued work it will be even more amazing I am sure
Yes, I recommend this program

About African Impact

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...