Top Volunteer Projects in South Africa

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About

GoEco was created by experienced volunteers for people who are eager to travel and contribute to the community, wildlife and environment they visit. Join us in South Africa for a wide variety of programs.

Wildlife

  • Big Cats Research & Conservation – Join top-notch researches and venture into the bush to track, monitor and collect data about the behaviors and movements of lions and leopards on a game reserve.
  • Great White Shark Conservation – Experience Great White Sharks up-close through cage diving, assist with data collection using techniques such as photo identification and share your knowledge with local school children.
  • Wildlife Sanctuary – Work directly with animals who have been rescued or orphaned and cannot survive in the wild plus, improve their quality of life by building larger enclosures and enrichment areas.

Humanitarian

  • Cape Town Community Projects – Work with children and adults living in the settlements outside of Cape Town and teach them the skills they need to succeed in school or enter the workforce.
  • Cape Town Physical Education and Sports Development – Teach children valuable life-skills such as confidence and team work through fun physical activities and games.
  • Teach & Surf in Cape Town – Work at a surf and adventure club for disadvantaged youth which aims to keep them off the streets and teach them necessary life skills. If you’re not a surfer already, you can learn in the mornings before the children arrive.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

98%
based on 21 reviews
  • Impact 9.4
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 8.9
  • Value 9.5
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 15 of 21
Silvia
10/10

Wild Cat Sanctuary in South Africa

Volunteering with this programme was the best decision I could have possibly taken. It was such an amazing experience getting to wake up everyday to the lions roaring. The staff there was super nice and the volunteers were the most funny people I have ever met!
We got to prepare the food and feed all the animals everyday, water them ad help with the cleaning of the house. On weekends we helped with the tours that came to see the animals and we also had a lot of free time to spend time with some of the animals. Also, we did some trips to the city to have dinner out, go to the mall and buy the groceries.

Yes, I recommend
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Tamara
10/10

Best two weeks of my life!

As I said, best two weeks of my entire life!
South Africa has become my favorite place on earth, I would totally say it's my second home.
The interaction with the animals is amazing, much more than I could ever ask for! You really get to create a strong bond with them. Our lion cubs Malakai, Malia and Nairobi stole my heart as well as the ostrich Josephine and its babies :)
And the people you meet there...they become your family!

Can't wait to go back!!!

Yes, I recommend
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Lara
10/10

The best month of my life!

Words cannot describe what an amazing time I had volunteering! First of all, the setting is just stunning as the place is surrounded by mountain chains. You can admire this view while walking the elephants, or if you go within the next few months, the 3 lion cubs. Malia, Nairobi and Malakkai were the absolute highlight as we had a lot of interaction with them and it broke my heart to leave them!
Everyday is different; from injecting goats, horse riding in the morning to chasing animals out of places where they aren't supposed to be! Everything was so overwhelming in the beginning and it was still at times after two or even 4 weeks because you experience so many different, new things.
Whatever excursion you want to do, the lovely Less will make it possible. I went to a monkey sanctuary, reptile farm, skydiving (twice), etc...
Of course the people you meet are a crucial part of your experience and you won't be disappointed: they are all amazing! They come literally from all over the world and still you all connect, because you are all there for the same reason: Your love for animals and traveling! Fun is guaranteed and it gets never boring!
The best part, however, were the different animals: the gracious tigers, the stunning lions (they are taller than you think!), the beautiful elephants, the playful leopard Selati, the super chilled zebra Jack an Roxy, the hyena, my personal favourite!
I enjoyed every second of my stay and I left a piece of my heart at this amazing farm in South Africa with all of those beautiful animals! I will definitely go back!!!

Yes, I recommend
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elena
10/10

Amazing experience

This was a once in a lifetime experience that I recommend to anyone who loves animals. It was a real dream come true and I enjoyed every single second of it. It was amazing to work alongside and interact with such amazing animals, who each have their own background story as to why they are at the sanctuary. All of the leaders and the manager were so knowledgeable and welcoming from the second we got there. My only regret is not staying for longer (2 weeks), but I will be returning in the near future.

Yes, I recommend
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Ryan
10/10

Opportunity of a Lifetime

Traveling to South Africa truly is an amazing experience. I am an avid traveler -- I have traveled to many locations in my home country and in other parts of the world. Even with that experience, I must admit I had butterflies in my stomach before leaving. I thought about the length of the flights, finding my staff member at the airport, what kind of people I would meet, the level of difficulty of the research, and how interesting the excursions would be to name some items.

However, from the moment I met my project staff member at Johannesburg airport, I knew what kind of tone this experience would entail. He was very welcoming and right away I meshed with the other volunteers on the way to the bush. The accommodations did not disappoint, as the food was delicious and plentiful and the rooms were very clean. The staff gave us a sufficient amount of training before we went into the field. Everyone was responsible for a different task related to research. These tasks were educational but not overwhelming. The sights and sounds in the South African bush were extraordinary. Our schedule kept us busy but still allowed some time for resting and sharing photos. There was a wide variety of tasks to be completed, including research, conservation work, community involvement, camping, and social events. On the weekend, everyone got to sign up for a fun excursion. My trip to Swaziland proved to be memorable.

My time in South Africa went extremely quickly. Meeting people from all over the world was truly a great experience. By keeping an open mind and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone a little, it is amazing what you can accomplish. I highly recommend this trip to anyone interested in a life-changing experience!

Yes, I recommend
Ashley
10/10

Taste of the Wild Side

I’ve always wanted to be a veterinarian since I was five years old and I’ve always wanted to work at a zoo because I’m in love with wildlife, so I thought this internship was a perfect opportunity to see if my dream is what I wanted and to also be a part of a volunteer project. During the project, I was able to do so many things I would have never thought I’d been able to do for years to come. I was able to give a Nyala an IV, which is probably one of my highlights of the trip. We were always asked our diagnosis on an animal to figure out what was wrong with it, which helped you start thinking like a vet, and then we were able to treat the animal if the medicine was at hand and if we were able too. After being at the project for 3 weeks and being able to visit the same townships, during dog dipping, you could see the impact you were making on the animals which is honestly the best feeling in the world. You would notice the decrease in mange, ticks, fleas, and worms that dogs had. You would see the growth of puppies and see how much healthier looking they would be after you treated them. Additionally, we were able to practice tasks of a large animal veterinarian as well. These tasks include, pregnancy testing, pig AI, cow dehorning, etc. The program offered a great selection of tasks where you could work with wildlife, livestock, and domestic animals. I realized from this trip that I do not want to be a zoo veterinarian anymore because I believe animals shouldn’t be in enclosures and instead roaming free like they were supposed to be. You could see the happiness of animals when they were in their own environment with freedom to do as they pleased. It was an amazing feeling being apart of such an awesome program that made a difference in the local towns and its surrounding reserves. And thanks to this internship, I now know that I want to travel to different countries that need veterinary help due to animals that have poor health and living conditions and be a part of the impact veterinarians are making around the world.

How can this program be improved?
Even though the program is hosted in Africa and I know things never go as plan, the program's organization could definitely improve. Some days you knew what you were doing for the week and other you didn't know till the day of. Besides organization, the program was ran pretty well.
Yes, I recommend
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Lindsey
10/10

Working in a wildlife reserve

Growing up I have always loved animals especially cats since my mom always made sure we had at least one! So when I found this experience to go help in a wildlife reserve and Moda specifically the white lion I was giddy excited! It was more than what I had ever dreamt of! The staff at the park were so nice and I loved staying right there at the park! goeco.com has a ton of wonderful wildlife and conservation programs it was hard to choose which one but this was an experience I'll never forget!

Yes, I recommend
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Floortje
9/10

Lifechanging experiences in South Africa

One of the best parts of my internship in South Africa was treating a sick rhino. When we arrived she was very skinny. Because she was quite weak, we were able to hold her against the ground while the veterinarian and the volunteers gave here some fluids and glucose. After this we tried to get her on her feet, so she could recover faster. Unfortunately, she never stood up, because she died three days later. After she died we had the opportunity to do a post-mortem on her, to see why she died. I was incredibly lucky to be that close to a rhino and to see what was wrong with her by doing a post-mortem on her. It was very sad that she died though, but unfortunately this is part of the job. Not only did I get some hands-on experience with a variety of beautiful animal species, I also learned a lot from the veterinarian who worked there at that moment. He taught me a lot of useful stuff, which I can use for my further studies. For example: pregnancy testing, the drugs he used, darting animals, working with horses, doing intravenous injections and so one. I absolutely recommend this project, because it is diverse, educational, fun and a thrilling experience you will never forget.

How can this program be improved?
Sometimes, we had days where we couldn't do much. This was due to the late planning of the staff. If they would make plans a little earlier, we wouldn't have to make plans in the morning for the same days. Our days would be more filled with more useful things to do.
Yes, I recommend
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Zach
10/10

Life in the Bush

Through my experience in the Greater Kruger Area I was exposed to this side of life I had only seen in my dreams. Doing a wildlife conservation trip gave me some of the most unreal encounters with some of the most majestic and intriguing African wildlife. One of my most memorable experiences was during a night drive when a bull elephant looking for a mate charged our game vehicle. It was so dark out we could barley see 10 feet in front of us and we all stood frozen as we heard this giant run full speed for our car. Of course we knew in the back of our heads that we were safe because of our outstanding guide who experiences this kind of behavior on the regular. By banging the side of the car with his rifle, our guide stopped the elephant right in his tracks purely by using noise. It was amazing to be able to see these creatures in the natural environment and is a memory I can never forget.

Yes, I recommend
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Axel
10/10

Awesome Experience

During my service in the school I remember showing one of the kids an American handshake from back home and he started smiling a lot and showing it to the the other kids, they all started to crowd around me and begin doing with me and smiling a lot.

Yes, I recommend
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Adrian
10/10

Great Experience

This project was the best experience of my life. It has the perfect blend of freedom and structured time. It also immerses you directly into the most needy places so it feels like you're making real change. In the mornings you teach small school children, then you have time for lunch, then you either go surfing, swimming or sporting. The weekends are entirely free with hundreds of options of things to do at very reasonable prices.

Yes, I recommend
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Alexa
10/10

Pre-Vet Wildlife Internship Experience Review

This trip was an experience I will never forget. The state vet we worked with was amazing. We assisted him on multiple game captures. One night we were out darting nyala until 10pm. Then after, we went to a bar in Cinsta for a much deserved drink! Along with nyala, we captured and transported blesbok and giraffes. The staff and other volunteers were all very nice and helpful. We all got to experience a variety of things while volunteering. One day we did pregnancy testing on cows with the project vet and other days were spent in the townships providing free veterinary care for their dogs and vaccines for the puppies. There was also a fair amount of free time, which was usually spent at the bar or in East London. I also chose to spend the morning at a game park where we could interact with elephants and cheetahs.

How can this program be improved?
I would suggest more organization with the program coordinator/facilitators. Lunches were often hectic and although plans can and often do fall through, regular evening meetings about the next day would be very beneficial.
Yes, I recommend
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Anhthu
10/10

Teach Children and Surf in Cape Town

I spent three weeks in South Africa for the Surf and Adventure project, and it was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. The mornings were spent teaching at the preschools in the settlements and townships. While communicating with the children was difficult because some of the children had limited English skills, the children were extremely affectionate and lovable. I'm always going to remember their chants of "teacher! teacher!" whenever I walked into the classroom. In the afternoons, the surfing instructor would teach the volunteers how to surf. The children that were part of the surf project were extremely good at surfing, so the volunteers' main responsibilities were to monitor them while they were in the water and help them to catch a wave. Some of the children even compete for the national surfing team! Volunteers had the weekends off, so we were free to explore South Africa and do fun activities if we wanted to. I had the pleasure of doing a wine tour, shark-cage diving, bungee jumping, safaris, and hiking up Table Mountain. The SaltyCrax hostel that the volunteers stayed at helped to arrange the various activities and tours, making it really convenient.

I met some amazing people on this project that I will never forget, ranging from the other volunteers to the SAVE staff members. It was a truly amazing experience to have people from various backgrounds and cultures all come together with a common thought in mind: to help underprivileged children.

How can this program be improved?
One thing that could be improved about the project is better communication between the volunteers and the staff members because there were times when projects were delayed or cancelled for that day, and the volunteers weren't aware until the last minute. However, the surf project is weather-dependent, so it was understandable when projects were cancelled.
Yes, I recommend
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Victoria
10/10

Great white shark conservation!

I was in South Africa for 2 weeks for great white shark conservation and completely fell in love. I got to help passengers cage dive while I learned about the sharks and local seals. I even got to cage dive about 4 times which is something I will never forget. I met some amazing people including the other volunteers I stayed with, the coordinators and all of the staff and crew on the boat. It was truly an experience I will never forget and will be telling everyone I know about it.

How can this program be improved?
I think more lectures should be given about the local oceans and marine organisms so we are aware of them before we go on the boat.
Yes, I recommend
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Natacha
8/10

Wildlife Sanctuary

I had one of the most amazing experiences in my life at the wildlife sanctuary in South Africa. I've always wanted to have a close and personal experience with African animals and you really get a chance to do that at this project. We have plenty of interactions with different animals and we also get to participate in the daily activities that help maintaining the sanctuary running. It's a great opportunity to meet new people as well and learn more about wildlife in Africa. Definitely an experience I'll never forget!!

How can this program be improved?
Personally I think I would have liked better accommodations, and that we didn't have to pay for services like laundry and Internet access.
Yes, I recommend

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About GoEco

GoEco is a leading eco-tourism company with a varied selection of affordable volunteer projects abroad. We act as a gateway to over 150 extraordinary community, wildlife and environmental initiatives all over the world thanks to our great...