Top Volunteer Projects in South Africa
98% Rating
(17 Reviews)

Top Volunteer Projects in South Africa

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.
Locations
Africa » South Africa
Starting Price
$500.00
Currency
USD
Cost Description
Most of our programs include 2-3 meals per day, accommodations, pre-departure kit, comprehensive travel health insurance, local in-country staff and 24 hour emergency support. Please see the project details on our website for a complete list of what is included.

Program Reviews

  • Impact
    92%
  • Support
    92%
  • Fun
    86%
  • Value
    96%
  • Safety
    92%

Program Reviews (17)

Ryan
Male
31 years old
Glendale, WI

Opportunity of a Lifetime

10/10

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!

Ashley
Female
21 years old
East Lansing, Michigan
Michigan State University

Taste of the Wild Side

10/10

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.

Lindsey
Female
27 years old
Lakeland, Florida
University of Utah

Working in a wildlife reserve

10/10

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!

Floortje
Female
23 years old
Goes, The Netherlands
Other

Lifechanging experiences in South Africa

9/10

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.

Zach
Male
Connecticut
Florida State University

Life in the Bush

10/10

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.

Axel
Male
19 years old
Chicago, Illinois

Awesome Experience

10/10

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.

Adrian
Male
19 years old
Evanston, Illinois

Great Experience

10/10

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.

Alexa
Female
24 years old
Leesburg, Virginia
Longwood University

Pre-Vet Wildlife Internship Experience Review

10/10

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.

Anhthu
Female
24 years old
Texas
Other

Teach Children and Surf in Cape Town

10/10

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.

Victoria
Female
24 years old
Oswego, IL
Nova Southeastern University

Great white shark conservation!

10/10

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.

Natacha
Female
42 years old
Brazil
Other

Wildlife Sanctuary

8/10

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.

Thais
Female
42 years old
São Paulo, Brazil
Other

Unforgettable experience

9/10

Volunteering with GoEco has been an unforgettable experience, helped me to understand the biodiversity of the ocean, including seabirds & penguins, seals and the Great White Shark. In addition, I had the great opportunity to help on seabird recovery, as part of the The African Penguin & Seabird Sanctuary volunteer program.

How can this program be improved?

I would provide more humanity related tasks.

Cierra
Female
24 years old
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada
Algoma University

Teaching in Cape Town, South Africa

10/10

I must say this was an once in a lifetime experience that I would highly recommend anyone who has the chance to go to DO IT! It was amazing interacting with people from the communities and getting to know them on a day to day basis. I really enjoyed working with the children and loved how I could see the difference that I was making while I was there. At the end of the week you could see the progress the kids were making with their colours and shapes and letters. I came to South Africa wanting to make a change and when I left I definitely achieved what I wanted to. The house was a bit crowded at times in the mourning with everyone getting ready for their day which was frustrating but I am glad we all lived together for the month because then I got to make friends from all over the world that I will possibly be able to meet up with in my later travels. Overall this experience showed and taught me a lot and the memories that I made along the way will stay with me forever. Some day I will be returning to South Africa :)

How can this program be improved?

The program description could be improved in the web listings because it doesn't specify exactly what we are doing it just gives a broad range of things we could be doing not what we are actually doing. Also I would try to make the meals a little healthier because I found that there was a lot of carbs but not a lot of veggies and fruit. Lastly make more room in the living room just so that everyone can eat dinner together so that no one feels left out and that would also give a family feel if everyone could sit at the dinner table together and would help the volunteers bond with one another ( sharing their day or stories over dinner)

Michaela
Female
42 years old
Bremen, Germany

Perfect weeks in Cape Town

10/10

I spent 6 weeks in Cape Town to work in an over 30s Teaching and Community Development project. That was one of my best times and most valuable experiences I had so far.

In the mornings we went to pre-schools in two different townships and helped the children with all the typical pre-school stuff: getting to know numbers, colours and shapes, writing their names, learning to listen. With the younger children it was mostly about chasing, playing and cuddling.

The afternoons were spent in two other townships where we provided after school programs in a library or a foster home. It was really great to see that the kids have a safe to go after school. We helped them with their homework, talked about their future plans or just played or danced with them.

It was so rewarding! And so many of the kids are so much fun! And I learned so much! It was just great.

Furthermore, Cape Town is an incredible beautiful place and me and my fellow volunteers spend a lot of time exploring the city, gazing at the scenery, strolling through pubs and restaurants. I loved it!

Thanks to GoEco for making this wonderful experience possible.

Andrea
Male
24 years old
Torino
Other

#LoveCapeTown

10/10

I was on the "Teach Children and Surf in Cape Town".

Goeco helped me with everything I needed and assisted me in every step on my way to Cape Town.

There, volunteer share a big house and they're splitted into double or triple rooms. It's definitely not a five-star hotel and the food is quite bad, but you don't go there looking for jacuzzis and saunas (even though you can look around for them in the neightborhood).

The overall experience has absolutely positive, demanding but extremely rewarding. I meet lots of beautiful people there, and I surely will keep in contact with them in the next years!

Andrea

How can this program be improved?

Nothing major, just some adjustments in the on-site organization.

David
Male
24 years old
Tacoma, Washington
Ohio State University

Volunteer and Surf in Cape Town

10/10

I did the "South Africa - Teach Children and Surf in Cape Town" with GoEco and it was the most amazing trip of my life!

I spent my mornings in a township teaching 3-5 year olds how to speak english and spent my afternoons surfing and helping 13-15 year olds learn how to surf.

The hostel SaltyCrax an volunteer organization SAVE that GoEco paired me up with was top notch and full of extremely awesome and helpful people. If felt very welcome, was able to settle in from the time I arrived, and truly felt like Cape Town was my home for the 6 weeks I was there.

In addition to the volunteering and doing other activities in the Cape Town area, we had the weekends free to ourselves to explore. I went on a tour of the Eastern Cape and got to see a bunch of other amazing towns and areas of South Africa and even got to surf in the Indian Ocean at Jeffreys Bay!

I know I would not have had as awesome and fun filled a trip if I didn't book with GoEco, so I truly recommend them for any and all volunteer trips abroad!

David Kolakowski

How can this program be improved?

I stayed at the same township the whole time. It was amazing and I got to know the children very well, but I would have liked to rotate to another township for a few days here and there. So the 1 thing I would improve would be a more organized system to rotate people to different locations once in a while but still have their main location to go back to!

Gabriella
Female
24 years old
Israel

Working with Kids

10/10

I fell in love with the kids I taught, the nature, the language and the people that I worked with. The adults and the children were hungry for knowledge, affection and attention and I'm glad I was a part of their life for a short amount of time. 3 weeks was not enough! I learned some basic Zulu, and I was able to communicate to the children and the locals of the Zulu tribe. I even managed to teach a whole lesson in Zulu on my last day, and the kids answered me in English!

I'm so happy I volunteered through GoEco. GoEco has been there for me from day one, helping me with whatever was needed for this trip. I was supposed to volunteer at different project with children in Mozambique, but that program was canceled a week before my flight. GoEco immediately contacted me, and told me about another similar volunteering project that had a space for a few more volunteers in St. Lucia, just a few hours away. I jumped at the opportunity! I mean, come on, who wouldn't?

How can this program be improved?

I wound't change anything. Everything went smoothly, the volunteers and staff were incredible. So were the kids and adults I had the chance to work with and get to know. I managed to experience things people only dream of!

About The Provider

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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 partnerships. Join one of our rewarding projects and

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