GVI: Volunteer in South Africa
97% Rating
(16 Reviews)

GVI: Volunteer in South Africa

Join a GVI Sustainable Development Fellowship!
We are proud to launch the GVI Sustainable Development Fellowships in 2018!
As an award-winning experiential education organization we work in collaboration with widely respected organizations and educational partners to operate in excess of one hundred sustainable development initiatives. Each project has clearly defined objectives, and their collaborative impacts are tracked against the UN Sustainable Development Goals. All GVI Sustainable Development Fellows will be focused upon one site and they may be requested to provide advice on or visit additional sites.

We have 18 Fellowships available for the duration of two calendar years in the following areas:
- Community development
- Education (K-12 and Adult)
- Environmental science
- Gender equality
- Marine science
- Public health
- Social and micro-enterprise
- Socio-economics
- Urban agriculture

To apply or find out more about the requirements, duties and value of the fellowships, follow the link below.

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!
  • Volunteer with Cheetahs in South Africa: Discover wild South Africa when you join an international team of volunteers assisting in the research of the world’s fastest land mammal, the cheetah.
Africa » South Africa
1-2 Weeks
2-4 Weeks
1-3 Months
3-6 Months
6-12 Months
Starting Price
Price Details
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

Program Reviews

  • Impact
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Program Reviews (16)

25 years old
Bournemouth University

Internship to PhD research project


In September 2016 I took part in the short term internship programme in South Africa with GVI as part of my master’s placement course at Bournemouth University. I spent two months working closely with a team of dedicated conservationists within the South African bushveld and conducted valuable research on the wildlife dynamics in a reserve environment. The internship enabled me to develop an array of skills, including radio telemetry and tracking skills. Vital behavioural data at a species level was also conducted to achieve a better understanding of predator and herbivore species. There was also a strong focus on reserve management which is vital in ensuring the survival of species. I was exposed to broader global research working with industry professionals and gain an insight the vital ongoing conservation work within this region.

Since the internship I have been in regular contact with the internship leader, who has been co-supervising the development of a doctoral research project than I will be conducting from September 2017. The internship allowed me to focus on a subject that I wanted to pursue at a PhD level, which was only achievable through the skills I gained whilst being an intern. I was encouraged from day one by the internship leader Robbie Mann, who has supported my project ideas and shows commitment and drive for knowledge.

The doctoral project I propose to do along with the ongoing support from GVI and across departments at Bournemouth University considers a network of significant research themes. These include ecosystem level conservation, environmental education and sustainable development, which are important for high impact scientific output papers. I have been readily communicating at outreach events for families and general public as well as prestigious events, meeting with CEOs of wildlife conservation trusts and other various external organisations. I have also recently been nominated to receive the Freedom of the City of London award which will be presented later this year for my contribution to zoology and conservation.

Had I not had the support and encouragement that began with the two month internship and since continued, I would not have been able to reflect this when liaising with potential collaborators and even conveying research projects to esteemed professors within my university and other organisations. I am certain that the developments of upcoming research projects will have a great outreach through publications and engagement. This internship was an invaluable development for me, and I can’t convey enough how much the support is appreciated.

20 years old
GVI Limpopo
Bucknell University

GVI Karongwe


My time at GVI Karongwe was by far the most rewarding experience I could have asked for. When I first arrived I was terrified as this had been the furthest from home I had gone alone. By the end of my first hour on base I was laughing among strangers turned friends while we played volleyball. The people I was lucky enough to meet truly made my time there phenomenal. I now have friends from around the globe who share in my passion for conservation and other animal related sciences. The work we did while on Karongwe was engaging and exciting. I participated in the intern program in which we would set camera traps every week and receive lectures both on and off base about different conservation efforts in practice around us. The breadth of knowledge I left with was far greater than I could have ever wished for. The staff each had an infectious appetite for learning which made their teaching engaging and productive. Every day there were two drives on the reserve during which time we would take data on our sightings as well as the sightings called in by the surrounding lodges. The information we acquired was later transformed into maps showing the movement of species throughout the reserve and it also helped us to ensure the safety and well being of all of the animals. Having your work turned into a product you can see and appreciate made participating in the research rewarding. Even the drives on which we saw few mammals we were kept engaged as the staff encouraged us to become birders, tree-identifiers, and avid trackers. No time was wasted time with GVI. I was always learning and loving my opportunity to do so.

After having completed my time with GVI I am now in the process of applying to programs in which I can continue to satiate my appetite for knowledge surrounding conservation in the bush. The staff and program have left me with a new sense of excitement surrounding learning and working for a greater cause. I am forever thankful for how my time with GVI has so positively impacted my life.

26 years old
Freehold, New Jersey
University of Delaware

Unforgettable Experience with GVI Cape Town


I spent six months as a volunteer / intern at GVI South Africa Cape Town and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
I was exposed to a different lifestyle and culture in a new setting while on project, but also had the luxury of feeling 'at home' in our apartments. Throughout my time there, I learned so much about South Africa, it's history, life in the townships, and South African school and healthcare systems. I got to experience life as a childcare worker, teacher, sports and surfing coach, and so much more. I was able to interact with so many people from the local community and learn about what they value in their culture. The experience helped me broaden my perspectives as an educator and opened my eyes to the impact of poverty in educational settings. The children that we worked with are absolutely amazing (albeit crazy at times) and I've missed them every day since I left. Their way of life, their sense of humor, their appreciation for small things, and their excitement to interact with the volunteers - they all leave a lasting impression on your heart. They might drive you insane but be prepared for an overload of cuteness!

When I wasn't working on project, I was able to explore my surroundings - Gordon's Bay, Cape Town, and other areas within driving distance. I frequently used uber to get around because it was safe and affordable. There was always something to do on the weekends - beautiful beaches, scenic hikes, outdoor markets, shopping, cultural activities, and abundant nightlife. There were also so many opportunities for thrill-seekers like myself. Over the course of my six months, I was able to go shark-cage diving, go sand-boarding, walk with elephants, go on safari, explore a cave, and jump off of the highest commercial bungee jump in the world. It's safe to say that there was a never a dull moment in South Africa!
The living conditions and accommodations met or exceeded my expectations in most aspects. We had running water and hot showers. We had bunk beds and some personal storage space. The kitchen and living room spaces were communal and comfortable enough. No wifi, no TV (which I think are GOOD things) and no air conditioning (just a little sweaty at times in that South African heat). Any issues that I faced with cleanliness or hygiene were usually the result of some messy housemates. There was basic food items available to us, homemade dinner 4 nights out of the week, and the option to walk to the supermarket or restaurants (all of which were right down the road). We weren't living in luxury by any means, but I was overly grateful for the place I got to call home for six months (especially in comparison to the community in which we were working in - looking at it in that perspective always helped me stay grounded).
One of the best things about the program is that it hails volunteers and staff members from all over the globe. As an American, I didn't want to have a typical "study abroad" type experience with people who were all my age and from my similar background. GVI was amazing because I got to live and work with people who came from all different backgrounds. There were people younger than me, my age, and people much older than me. Everyone had their own story and had something interesting to contribute to our group. I learned a lot by interacting with all of these different types of people and I am so happy to say that I made some amazing life-long friends along the way.

How can this program be improved?

Expanding relationships with new or existing project partners to ensure a long-lasting impact on the community and meaningful experience for volunteers, no matter when they arrive on project. More accurate and up-to-date online descriptions of the work that will be done on each project so that volunteers have a better understanding of what to expect before they arrive.

17 years old

Under 18's Volunteer and Adventure Experience in South Africa


I had the best summer volunteering in the Under 18s program in Cape town. I had initially chosen this program because I wanted the opportunity to go have an independent holiday abroad and volunteer. GVI gave me this and much more! During my 2 weeks there I got to see the impact every volunteer makes, whether you stay for 2 weeks or 6 months. Nothing beats the feeling of finishing a project, for me it was water tank stands, and seeing how happy the children and creator of the orphanage were when they now had clean rain water. I got to try new things, such as brick laying, mixing cement, canoeing, seeing whales and penguins. The garden route tour was incredible and you really get a chance to explore the country through an adventure week, authentic food and quiz nights. I think the most important thing about GVI is that even when you leave you are a part of a community. You meet people who went on your program months or years later and they can tell you how that child is doing or that project is doing, because it is continuous.
Remember to bring warm clothes, sunglasses a hot water bottle and a strong pair or walking boots as SA has 4 season in 1 day, but you are just 10 minuets from the beach with 4 scoops of ice-cream for 40 rand.
I makes you so happy for what you have got and so inspired to try and do more. You will always be apart of GVI and the experience will just make you want to go on more projects or just never leave. I am still involved as an ambassador and plan to go agin next summer.

I will never be a waste regardless of what project you get to do. Who wouldn't want to travel meaningfully, make a difference and have an unforgettable experience!

How can this program be improved?

More access to authentic food and life style, as time it felt a bit western like going shopping in a mall rather than a market- but that is South Africa.

23 years old
Barnt Green, Worcestershire

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


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


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...

24 years old
University of Reading

The Experience of a Lifetime


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!

57 years old
Evanston, Wyoming
University of Hawaii- Manoa

Never too Old to Volunteer


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!

24 years old
Dublin, Ireland

Life Changing


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

24 years old
Buenos Aires

Would i go again?


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.

24 years old

Best thing I've ever done


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.

24 years old
Minneapolis, MN

exactly what i was looking for


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!

24 years old
Washington, DC

Life Changing Experience!


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

24 years old

This is Africa


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

32 years old
Leeds, England

Amazing and rewarding experience!


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!

24 years old
Leicestershire, England

Literally changed my life...


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