GVI: Volunteer in South Africa

By Global Vision International (GVI)   Reviews (12)   98% Rating

Travel to sunny South Africa and make a difference to critical conservation and community development programs. From working with underprivileged children, to getting up close with the charismatic wildlife, there's a volunteer project for everyone in South Africa! Discover Cape Town; the Design Capital of the world, get up close and personal with the Big Five on safari and conquer the iconic Table Mountain.

Top Volunteer Projects in South Africa:

  • Volunteer with Children in South Africa: Assist with childcare & educational activities in a township educare center while exploring South Africa
  • Wildlife Research in South Africa Expedition: Get up close and personal with Africa's large game such as lion, leopard, elephant and hyenas. Learn how to use conservation and research equipment to help locate collared predators, receive invaluable training in large animal identification, tracking and behavioral study skills.
  • Sports and Surfing in South Africa: Volunteers will be teaching children to surf in conjunction with coaching a range of different sports including football, netball, cricket, tennis, athletics and rugby in townships that surround the beautiful city of Cape Town.
  • Volunteer Healthcare Project in South Africa: Volunteer on a program in a colourful township just outside Cape Town, educating child-minders, parents and children on the importance general hygiene practices.These fun and interactive workshops are set up in an informal environment and involve lots of fun activities.
  • Wildlife Conservation and Childcare in South Africa: Provide disadvantaged children with much needed educational improvement in Cape Town and help with the conservation of wildlife in Limpopo on a private game reserve. Immerse yourself in a country known for its rich history, culture and natural beauty!
Africa › South Africa
1-2 Weeks
2-4 Weeks
1-3 Months
3-6 Months
6-12 Months
Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
All meals (unless otherwise stated in field manuals)
All necessary project training by experienced staff
All necessary project equipment and materials
24-hour in-country support
Starting Price

Rating Values

  • Impact
  • Support
  • Fun
  • Value
  • Safety

Program Reviews (12)

22 years old
Barnt Green, Worcestershire

A thoroughly worthwhile and enjoyable experience, one I hope to go back to.

Overall 9

Came back from two weeks volunteering with GVI at the Childcare and Healthcare project in Cape Town, South Africa. I was originally only meant to stay for one week but was so impressed by the standard of good work being done of project and the excellent set-up that the GVI staff maintained there that I wasn't prepared to leave. As it was, leaving was very difficult being as invested as I was just in those two weeks in the wide range of teaching, childcare, and healthcare opportunities available. i'm deeply grateful to GVI for this opportunity and look forward to going back to this project in the future one way or another.

How can this program be improved?
Expanding the project to work with more schools, there was enough volunteers to work with more potentials partners.

Wildlife Research in South Africa Expedition: studying Africa's large predators up close and personal

Overall 10

It was early April 2007 when I started the Global Vision International research expedition. Karongwe Private Game Reserve, situated in the Limpopo province in South Africa, is the home of a permanent team of researchers, which is supplemented on a regular basis with volunteers from all around the world and I was one of them. The research is focused on the interactions between the larger carnivores, so daily we would trek down the resident lions, cheetahs, spotted hyenas and of course the leopards. During the first week we weren’t able to get a glimpse of any of the leopards, known to call Karongwe home. We were especially interested in a female leopard called Tilo and her two young cubs. One morning we were trekking Tilo but couldn’t go on when we hit a large drainage ditch (Karongwe is made up of several old farms). We could hear her calling her cubs and we could clearly hear that something was wrong for she sounded stressed. Later that day we were trekking her again through the dense bush when all of a sudden we heard the squeals of a warthog. So we were on the right course but would we be able to see her and her cubs this time? The grass was getting higher when I spotted movement in front of the vehicle and shouted to the driver/ guide to stop immediately. As the driver hit the brakes a leopard, we later determined was the elusive Tilo, broke cover and dashed away from the car, settling some forty metres away. In front of the car was what appeared to be the carcass of a freshly killed warthog. But appearances can be deceiving for the warthog got up, looked around and ran off. He ran off in the direction of the waiting Tilo, who tackled the warthog and made the kill. Afterwards she disappeared into the undergrowth. We decided to come back later. After spending some time with the resident lion pride on their freshly killed impala we went back to the warthog carcass. It took us awhile to relocate it because the carcass had been moved and when we finally found it, there was no sign of the leopard. After staring at the carcass for several minutes, at a distance of course, we saw some movement: a baby leopard walked over and around the carcass like he had killed it himself. We spotted only one cub but we couldn’t be sure. We feared that the other cub had died and that that was the reason Tilo was calling that morning.

Several weeks went by and we had occasional sightings of Tilo and her cub; our worst fears had come true, Tilo had only one cub. One morning we were trekking Tilo again and doing some serious off-roading when we spotted her in the yellow grass looking straight at us. We wanted to get a closer look and see if her cub was with her but the driver/ guide told us that there was a big rock between us and the leopard and that he couldn’t get around it. The rock didn’t look too big to us. But was it a rock? It looked odd. While we were writing down our observations Tilo kept looking in our direction and stayed out in the open, which was unusual for this shy animal. When Tilo picked something up in her mouth it became clear to us that we had misinterpreted the entire situation because what she had picked up was the head of an enormous 14 feet African rock python. What we had assumed was a rock was the body of the python filled with a fresh kill. We realised that we were witnessing something amazing. We edged a little bit closer to get a better look and noticed that the leopard cub was there with his mother, hiding in the grass. After Tilo made sure that the snake was dead by biting it repeatedly on the neck, her cub started playing with the dead python’s head. What an awesome sight. When we returned that night to see what the leopards had done with the dead snake we observed something quite unusual: the python was still in one piece, except for a large tear in its abdomen. The leopard had removed and eaten what was inside the python. So the question on our minds was: has Tilo killed the python to protect her one remaining cub or had she killed it for the easy meal inside its stomach? Whatever the reason it was an unique sighting we will never forget.

How can this program be improved?
I had a great time, learned a lot, seen amazing things and made friends for life. The old farmhouse we stayed at wasn't luxurious (back in 2007) but what can you expect in the middle of the African Bush...
23 years old
University of Reading

The Experience of a Lifetime

Overall 10

I completed a six month Wildlife Conservation Internship in South Africa with GVI, and it was phenomenal.

The staff are incredibly friendly, helpful and great fun to be around. Their knowledge is amazing, and they were always willing to answer questions, and helped us organise side trips to places like Kruger National Park.

I looked forward to getting up early, it's not hard when you know you're about to spend most of your day in the South African bush, tracking focus animals like cheetah and lion. And alongside, you get to see the high array of flora and fauna in the bush, birds, antelope, you name it, you'll probably have a chance to see it!

Everyone got involved around base, helping out with cooking, cleaning, and none of it felt like a chore! Base was fairly basic, but really comfortable and surrounded by like-minded people. You sleep in dorm-style accommodation which is great fun, and there's a chill out area where you can relax in the evening and between drives.

There was such a range of things to get involved with, from learning how to record data to learning how to use radio telemetry. For someone who has completed a Zoology degree after volunteering with GVI, I can certainly say that the things I learnt with GVI helped me no end at university! My experience in fieldwork with GVI led to me being able to go back to South Africa to do my final year dissertation, something which would not have been an option without having volunteered previously with GVI!

South Africa is a beautiful country, and travelling with GVI got me hooked. I can't wait to travel with them again! Saving every penny I can to get back out there to experience another country!

How can this program be improved?
Nothing springs to mind!! I just wish I could have stayed even longer than I did!
56 years old
Evanston, Wyoming
University of Hawaii- Manoa

Never too Old to Volunteer

Overall 10

As a 52 year old past international volunteer through Rotary International I admit I wanted to do this volunteer experience for both selfish and altruistic reasons. Selfishly I have always wanted to travel to Africa and go on a safari. Volunteering I have found addicting and has left me with powerful feelings for people from other cultures and other life experiences than my own. I signed on to this particular program because of the selfish reasons and because I felt I could use my past teaching experience to possibly help others. When asked how I enjoyed my trip I have found that the more exclamation words I use (Fantastic! Life changing! Amazing! Awesome!), the enthusiasm I feel of my experience is best communicated. I enjoyed the raw beauty of South Africa – pristine beaches next to mountains with clouds below the peaks next to colorful wine country. The weekend adventures (including my safari!) were memorable and my picture portfolio proves this. My fellow volunteers from Australia and United States and England and Columbia and Scotland made the trip so much fun. (I like to say I gain another son or daughter in every country I visit). Teaching subtraction with carrying to my 4th grade boys and playing dice with them and seeing their progress was well worth the days of flying to get there. I am so lucky to have been able to experience this South Africa teaching project. Thank you!

23 years old
Dublin, Ireland

Life Changing

Overall 10

I spent 4 weeks in the summer of 2011 with wonderful children in South Africa on the Childcare Programme. I am now returning for the whole summer of 2012 which I think proves how amazing, life-changing and rewarding spending your time with these children really is.

The staff are brilliant and are always there when you need them to answer any questions you may have no matter how stupid they sound! Their first priority is health and safety but they all want you to enjoy your time in South Africa, experience the lifestyle and your surroundings and above all make a difference to the children’s lives in the best way you can.

Being away from home can be scary but with GVI it’s like a home away from home. After just a few days you feel like you have been there months and have made friends that you know will be in your life for years to come. You all become a little family and you make a special bond that no one can ever take away from you.
I would highly recommend GVI to anyone considering volunteering abroad in places that really need your help...I promise you won’t regret it xx

23 years old
Buenos Aires

Would i go again?

Overall 9

Definitely. I would have stayed forever there if i could.
Just imagine, living in the middle of the nature, sharing your home with lions, elephants, hyenas... Where nothing matters, no politics, no economics, no tv. The only "worry" is where the lions are.
More than a dream.

23 years old

Best thing I've ever done

Overall 10

Had an amazing time on the program. I went to Karongwe Game Reserve along with people from the whole world, who later became really close friends to me. I learned a lot about the bush, the animals, other cultures (not just South African) and myself. You live close to the others everyday, and you are almost never alone. Almost every day of the week (besides when you were on base duty, town trip or in the mountains) we went on reasearch or conservation drive, or bush walk, where we walk on the roads in the reserve, or even in the thick bush!

Almost every day we saw lions and cheetahs, as they are our focus animals. In the first week you learn to track down the animals, and how to identify every mammal species in the reserve. I had a lot of great (epic) sightings in Karongwe, caracal, honeybadger, pangolin, rhinos mating etc., and in the mountains we even saw a serval. You share the reserve with other nature lovers; theres Eco-training and around 10 different safari lodges, plus the reserve manager, so you are not completely alone in the bush. Town is around 40 minutes away, so almost every week you have the chance to go there and buy snacks/clothes/post mail/eat at a restaurant/withdraw money.

You live very simple. I realized that I don't need things such as tv, because theres so much stuff to do, when you are surrounded by nice people. Between drives I usually went for a nap (because we wake up at 4:30 am when you go on drive), or play pool with the other vols. The staff there is amazing, you can easily talk to them, and they become friends to you as well, as you spend a lot of time with them.

From volunteering with GVI I gained wisdom, great close friends, and I became a lot more social. I miss the place everyday, and I am sure that I will return to SA someday, and definately see my close girl friends again.

23 years old
Minneapolis, MN

exactly what i was looking for

Overall 10

Everything about the program was wonderful; it was well organized, you were with kids for 8 hours a day, the staff was wonderful and helpful, the culture was rich and influential.
The only thing I would say is more consistency with the lessons for the children. They already have people going in and out 2 weeks at a time! But my experience was exactly what I wanted and they needed. South Africa is a beautiful country with amazing people and hopefully through this program we will give them the tools to better themselves and their communities even more!

23 years old
Washington, DC

Life Changing Experience!

Overall 10

This was my first time out of the country and it was absolutely incredible. From the moment I got off the plane the GVI staff was extremely accomadating - waiting for me at the arrival gate. When traveling to a country such as South Africa safety is obviously a major concern and not once on this trip did I feel like I was in harms away. At the same time, you get a hands on experience in the townships working directly with those who need it most! Leaving was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. South Africa and GVI has a special place in heart and not a day passes without this experience crossing my mind. GIV and the Cape Town Pediatric Project comes with my highest endorsement!

Skills Developed/Improved:
- Practical training on lesson planning & teaching strategies
- Strengthened presentation skills
- Utilized reflective practices
- Developing sustainable program initiatives
- Greater understanding of community-based prevention programs
- Deepened interpersonal skills & enhanced cultural awareness

23 years old

This is Africa

Overall 10

Once you go and experience Africa, you will always go back, it gets under your skin!

Through this program or any other for that matter yu will understand the important things in life. Often the most simple things, and the things we take for granted in ours means so much to somebody else.

Use your educational skills to teach others less fortunate. Have a real impact on helping a child learn English, Maths and Creative/Social skills. Whether you go for 2 weeks or 2 months you will have an impact on their lives. As they will on yours. It's a truely humbling experience.

Don't Hesitate get involved, what is two weeks of your time?

Don't hesitate, what is two weeks of your time f

31 years old
Leeds, England

Amazing and rewarding experience!

Overall 10

I spent 10 weeks on this program, and it was without doubt the most rewarding experience of my life!

The community and children this project supports are incredible, they really are resilient people and really appreciate the pressence of GVI. I felt the project allowed me to contribute alot, but also walked away feeling I gained so much from those around me, GVI staff and the community I worked in alike.

This really does provide the opportunity to be directly exposed to a different culture, experiencing so many amazing this, coupled with supporting a really worthwhile community!

One warning, if you do take part in this, be prepared it will be really difficult to leave at the end of your time! Enjoy!

23 years old
Leicestershire, England

Literally changed my life...

Overall 10

I know it sounds cheesy, but the 4 weeks that I spent on this project really have changed my life for the better. Its not just spendinding time with the amazing and beautiful children, its getting to know the culture, the environment and most importantly, making lifelong friends.
GVI are a great company, and one which I wouldnt hesitate recommending to anyone. The co-ordinators are all previous volunteers so really do know exactly how your feeling, and how to make you feel at ease. If you have any questions they are always there to answer them, and really do give you a lot of support both on and off project.

About The Provider

GVI is an award-winning organisation that tackles critical local and global issues by operating education and training programs on sustainable development projects around the world.

Formed in 1997, we have been operating our award-winning programmes for over two decades and over 25,000 participants have volunteered or interned with us. All our programmes are run in in partnership with acclaimed international partners, like Save The Children, WWF, The Red Cross, PADI, Project AWARE, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and the National Parks of South Africa, Costa Rica, Seychelles, Mexico and Thailand, among others.

GVI consists of a vibrant group of friendly staff members who regard each other as family and passionately work together towards making a difference in the world.

Community Photos:

GVI: Volunteer in South Africa