GVI: Volunteer in South Africa

COVID-19 Program Updates

Due to global health & safety concerns and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, GVI has decided to offer flexible booking options for some of their upcoming programs. Learn more about COVID-19 updates to stay tuned regarding program information.

Video and Photos

township tour
township tour
township tour
township tour
tourist views
tourist views
cape of good hope
cape of good hope
sunsets
sunsets
boulders beach
boulders beach
township tour
township tour
table montains
table montains

About

South Africa is often referred to as the Rainbow Nation, for representing numerous cultures, subcultures, 11 official languages, and several more sublanguages. It’s a land with an impressive reserve of natural resources, wildlife, flora and fauna, and rightfully holds eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

GVI offers volunteer opportunities in sustainable projects that support the education, wildlife conservation, community health, and youth of the country. Your support impacts the ongoing community and sustainable development objectives of each project, and works according to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

When you aren’t on site, explore some of the countries numerous settings such as; hiking up the world revered Table Mountain in Cape Town, visiting Gordon's Bay harbor, relaxing on various beaches along the country’s coast, experiencing wildlife safari reserves, or visiting rural settlements and cities.

Highlights
  • Support global sustainable efforts that contribute towards the long-term objectives of each program.
  • Be surrounded by South African wildlife, world heritage sites, and natural wonders.
  • Live and travel in South Africa, connecting with the local community and other international volunteers.
  • Become a world citizen as you learn about different cultures, lifestyles, local cuisines, and traditions.
  • Improve your CV by adding skills in wildlife conservation, teaching, health and education, and community development.

GVI has a Community Development Internship in Thailand!


This is an opportunity to learn more about Chiang Mai's local Karen hill tribe culture, gaining intercultural communication skills and valuable teaching experience.

Popular Programs

This program is set in the reserves of Limpopo, assisting with the conservation efforts of spotted and brown hyenas. While contributing towards the UN Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life On Land, you’ll also earn valuable skill development and training in; remote camera trapping, wildlife and predator specific monitoring, habitat rehabilitation, data capturing, and conservation. Enjoy your natural surroundings, while working alongside field experts and other international volunteers.

Spend valuable time supporting education initiatives in one of Cape Town’s rural settlements. The local youth often grow up in high risk environments with few education opportunities. This project contributes towards their development in a safe space that encourages their full potential. Objectives support UN Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education. Travel around the city and coastline in your free time, or visit one of the Seven Wonders of Nature, the city’s very own, Table Mountain.

Live on a private reserve in Limpopo, experiencing the surrounding wildlife in its natural habitat, all while contributing towards meaningful conservation and research efforts for wildlife protection and longevity. Learn about biodiversity and habitat monitoring, and how to track and identify each species.

In Karongwe Private Nature and Wildlife Reserve, join conservation work to better understand, protect, and preserve the reserves existing ecosystem. By learning camera trapping and radio telemetry techniques you are not only gaining valuable skills, but contributing to the conservation projects necessary database, by identifying rare species, understanding their behaviour, estimating populations, and conducting assessments and surveys accordingly.

Inspire and encourage rural community youth in Limpopo to learn about conserving wildlife, and the environment. Learn practical telemetry techniques, and teach, facilitate, and create lecture material for conservation discussions. On this program you will actively engage with students by participating in weekly safari drives. This supports the UN Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life On Land, and Goal 4: Quality Education.

Questions & Answers

Hi, so for the cape town projects over 18 it consists of 1 day of lesson planing, normally Monday, and then the rest of the days on site. You get to site at about 9am and go to 3pm with an hour for lunch. You will most likely leave the base at about 8.20 am having had breakfast and made your lunch. In the afternoon after volunteering you have free time to go to the beach, just chill out before you...

Reviews

9.76 Rating
based on 41 reviews
  • Impact 9.3
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.6
  • Value 9.4
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 1 - 8 of 41
Default avatar
Benedict
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The best time in the most wonderful place

Volunteering with GVI in Limpopo, South Africa was one of the most incredible experiences. The six months I spent there I really felt I had the opportunity to experience the country and the culture to the full and say I had lived there for part of my life. The wildlife experience in Limpopo is second to none and being part of ongoing research and conservation in to endangered species like cheetahs, rhinos and elephants was such a privilege. The internship expanded my knowledge of field biology and biodiversity and allowed me to practice field study skills, as well as debating and discussing important conservation topics with like minded individuals. Whether visiting as an opportunity to enjoy nature at its very best or using the time as a taster of a career in that sector, this internship has it all. During my time in South Africa I worked with some amazing, kind and knowledgeable staff and met some great life long friends. If it's a fully immerive bush experience you after, then this is for you!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Do it, you went regret it! This internship is incredible if you love nature, seriously.
Default avatar
Jazz
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An Experience I Will Never Forget

I actually was in South Africa this past summer through my University and we worked with GVI. It was amazing. It was 100% the best summer of my life. GVI gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in new cultures and connect with people I wouldn't have been able to do before. Forever grateful for the opportunity I had. Those children and women in the township I worked with taught me so much. I loved every part of that experience. They taught to appreciate what you have not to dwell on what you do not have.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
I was afraid that they would be very standoffish of us coming into their township and nervous if they would be accepting of us. They were. They loved us and treated us like their own. They taught us their language, their games, shared their favorite meals. It was amazing
Default avatar
Natalie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Research, tracking and fun

I had never been to South Africa before but I spent six months over there, spending 4 weeks at GVI Karongwe. I did this straight out of high school as a lone travelling female with a love for wildlife. I had heard a lot of tales of some companies being misleading in their contributions to wildlife so I didn’t really know what to expect before I arrived but it was better than I could have ever imagined. I saw so many amazing animals and had the opportunity to experience many of them up close. I also met so many incredible and interesting people from all over the world which helped make the whole experience even better and I’ve remained in contact with several of them! The GVI staff were so helpful in the months leading up to the trip and were so kind and lovely too when I was there it was one of the easiest and well organised programs I spent my time with.

Every day we went on game drives and collected data on a variety of species for their research.I have to say it changed my life in so many ways and actually guided me on my path to the career I am pursuing now.
The team was made up of incredibly skilled drivers, guides and researchers who taught me so many things about conservation, wildlife and the bush as well as research, but I also met people from all over the world and all ages and backgrounds, united by the common goal to contribute to wildlife conservation in South Africa which was incredibly refreshing!

The first week was pretty busy with training week to prepare us for our research drives in the bush and teach us mammal, bird and reptile identification, tracks & signs as well as how to use the equipment, take care of the vehicles and clean and cook for a house of 20+ people but I’m so glad they did that! It makes a world of difference to anyone who has nerves about being new to the South African wilderness.

I would recommend to any traveler looking to visit an unknown country to do it through the GVI programs, it’s an incredible way to learn and contribute to the community/wildlife in a hands-on way. I can’t recommend it enough, it’s put me on the path of wildlife research for the rest of my life!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Seeing a leopard was amazing. Never saw one anywhere else.
Default avatar
Nicolas
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My GVI experience 2019

My volunteering experience in South Africa was one of the most enriching experiences of my life. I have always had a love for animals, and this experience was everything I had hoped it could be.

The staff create a friendly and safe environment, as well as continue to pass on their knowledge to the volunteers. I learned more in my time with GVI about wildlife than I do in my university classes.

The other volunteers are also extremely likeminded and animal focussed, which makes for a real family feeling. I am still in contact with several of the people I met volunteering.

My trip was so wonderful, I have booked a new trip with GVI, and I would recommend these programs to any travelers looking to do some impactful work in different countries.

What was your funniest moment?
Watching a large male leopard walk within a few feet of the vehicle from us.
Default avatar
Kirstin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An experience of a lifetime!

I am 17 years ago and was part of the GVI Teens Wildlife Conservation in Limpopo, South Africa. I was there for 2 weeks in July/August 2019 and I can honestly say it was the best two weeks of my life! I didn’t really know what to expect before I arrived but it was better than I could have ever imagined. I saw so many amazing animals and had the opportunity to experience so many of them up close. It was breathtaking! I also met so many incredible and interesting people from all over the world which helped make the whole experience even better. The GVI staff were so helpful in the months leading up to the trip and were so kind and lovely too when I was there. The only bad thing was having to come home! I definitely think that everyone should try at least one of GVI’s programs. You won’t regret it!

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
The most nerve-racking moment was arriving and meeting all the other volunteers. After we all relaxed and got to know one another, it was so much better.
Default avatar
Karl
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Experience

I spent three weeks volunteering at Karongwe Game Reserve in July/August of this year. I enjoyed every second I spent there, interacting with the friendly, approachable staff; who's knowledge of the program and animals is incredible. They really make you feel like you are part of the team and making a difference. The drives that you go on allow you to see and experience wildlife like you have never before. Tracking the animals through telemetry and writing down the data makes you feel like part of the team.

Being educated in different fields that enhance your experience allows you to create a family-like bond with your peers that are on the trip. The family atmosphere that is echoed by the staff strives you to make a difference.

This program is an amazing experience and I would recommend this to anyone.

What would you improve about this program?
I would improve the information you get pre-travel. The kit list you get is not accurate to what you actually need for the trip.
Default avatar
Theresa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Delving into the realm of Wildlife Research in South Africa!

I just spent 4 weeks in South Africa on gvi's Research Expedition programme, going on game drives almost every day and collecting data on a variety on species for their research. Without wanting to endorse any cliches, I have to admit it changed my life in so many wonderful ways!
Not only did I get to meet an amaying team of drivers, guides and researchers who taught me so many things about conservation, wildlife and the bush as well as their research, but I also met people from all over the world and all ages and backgrounds, united by the common goal to contribute to wildlife conservation in South Africa. I learned much about them, but maybe even more about myself.
The programme itself was just as great, starting off with a training week to prepare us for our research drives in the bush and teach us mammal, bird and reptile identification, tracks & signs as well as how to use the equipment, take care of the vehicles and clean and cook for a house of 20+ people (very useful life skills). The daily research drives were more fun, engaging and fascinating than I could have hoped and we got to see some amazing wildlife from super close up. The staff were always willing to teach and answer questions, expanding our minds, making us think and directing our focus on the small, yet no less remarkable things around us.
There are a thousand memories I would like to share, from stargazing from a safari vehicle in the middle of the bush, being face to face with elephants, lions & cheetah, to the most beautiful sunsets imaginable. I can honestly recommend this programme to anyone interested in wildlife, research or conservation, or anyone who just wants to have a great time in the African bush and meet some great people!
I will certainly never forget my time there and I'm sure it will be the same for you!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Stay longer! Even 4 weeks were not nearly enough time to learn all the things I wanted to learn and while you can certainly achieve a great deal in that time, I would have loved to stay on for longer!
Default avatar
Nicolas
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Experience in Limpopo

As a first time in Africa, I didn’t know what to expect. Despite any hesitations around how the experience would be initially, I felt nothing but at home. The staff were incredibly friendly and prioritized the volunteers every step of the way. It was a unique way to spend a month in a country on the other side of the world from me. The program also allowed me to complete over 200 volunteer hours towards my major.
I would recommend to any traveler looking to visit an unknown country to do it through the GVI programs, as it is a meaningful way to learn and help the community/wildlife in a hands-on fashion.
These programs are excellent for solo adventurists looking to meet like-minded people. It is very easy to relate to everyone, and making friends comes very easy.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
African Wild Dogs, which also happened to be my favourite sighting.