ISV - Volunteer Projects in South Africa

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Program Update:

ISV will only be conducting programs for this coming summer, 2018 in the Dominican Republic.

About

South Africa is renowned for its vigorous culture, sweeping landscapes and remarkable wildlife – but communities, children’s homes and wildlife reserves need the help of volunteers through organizations like International Student Volunteers (ISV) to address disadvantage and environmental concerns.

Through volunteering with ISV, you can be involved in life-changing community development projects, taking part in tasks such as building schools and playgrounds, urban renewal programs, water and sanitation development and classroom support. On ISV’s wildlife conservation and environmental management projects, you could be assisting researchers in surveying and monitoring of flora and fauna used for conservation management, or volunteering on a wildlife rehabilitation centre. Come join us to make a meaningful difference in South Africa!

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Questions & Answers

Reviews

98%
based on 151 reviews
  • Impact 9.5
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 8.5
  • Value 9.6
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 91 - 105 of 151
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Austin
9/10

Unforgettable Experience

South Africa was an unforgettable experience for me because I did so many things I thought I would never get to do, such as pet cheetahs, go spelunking, explore caves and interact with animals in such a close atmosphere. I think South Africa is one of the most culturally diverse places on this planet and going there opened up a whole new perspective in my life that i will always cherish. I would recommend any ISV trips to anyone who wants to adventure in a safe,learning, and fun environment.

How can this program be improved?
If I could change one thing about the program it would be the costs. I think ISV should make a better effort to help kids who are committed to going fundraiser for their trip and maybe plan more activities that are more interactive with the local people.
Yes, I recommend
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Dylan
10/10

ISV South African Conservation Trip

Dagse! To those of you unfamiliar, this is Afrikaans, a language I was able to learn during my time in South Africa. As I stood in the JFK Airport, I was incredibly nervous. However, the other volunteers were very friendly, I still chat with most to this day, and the volunteer project had profound implications.

I had wanted to travel to Africa to experience the diverse culture, and also experience one of the world's last strongholds for wildlife. Although I was able to work on a reserve (Mesebe game reserve in the Limpopo region) and photograph some of the most beautiful animals on Earth, I was impacted even more so through the humanitarian efforts. Twice, I travelled to the village school to assist teaching. Working with adults and grade-school children really gave me a chance to impact lives and have my own impacted as well. The kids always had the biggest smiles oddly enough, were captivated by the exotic culture I represented! The short time spent with these children was enough to promise myself a return, to see their faces once again. The village where I stayed (Telekishi) was just outside a smaller town, and I would frequently discover children lingering around, waiting for the volunteers to offer a game of soccer. Sweetest kids ever. At the end of the trip, these kids drew me illustrations in my notebook, and I gave them my bracelets.

The time spent with the schoolchildren, and the kids near Telekishi, has determined my joining Peace Corps. Spending time with these kids, sharing stories from America, and listening to their stories of Africa, or their favorite animals, has influenced and drawn a career path. I am currently enrolled in a TESOL (teaching english to students of other languages) program in hopes of returning to the Limpopo region with the Peace Corps. I cannot imagine my life without seeing everyone I met in South Africa once again.
Of course, the two weeks I spent traveling were remarkable, and I created memories that even now, while writing this review, I am able to relive. If you have a passion for wildlife, these two weeks will seem like reverie. I recall spending HOURS admiring a leopardess. I sat in silence perfectly content, stunned by such beauty!

From spending time teaching in schools and playing soccer with kids, to humbly observing African wildlife, this experience has provided me with unforgettable memories and an unquenchable thirst for traveling!

How can this program be improved?
As odd as it sounds, I did not enjoy the free time during the volunteer project. I understand the importance of free time but I would have much preferred to drive back to the school, or walk into town, and spend time playing soccer with the kids. In a sense, the two weeks traveling are an extended "free-time," so I would have enjoyed spending the most time possible with the children in Telekishi. Perhaps if students were given a choice between free-time and time spent at the school, or with the village children.
Yes, I recommend
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Demi
10/10

Life changing!

This trip completely changed my life for the better! The people were so friendly and welcoming! I made friends I still talk to in Africa! The volunteer experience and travel took me to some breath taking places and pushed me out of my comfort zone to do things I never imagined such as climbing mountains, diving with sharks, caving, ect! I'll never forget the little faces we worked with in Cape Town! It was definitely a trip of a life time!

How can this program be improved?
It was pretty perfect! It is a little pricey, but completely worth it!
Yes, I recommend
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Danielle
10/10

Conservation programme

This trip was the best experience I have ever had. I have met friends from all over the world that I still keep in contact a year later. Waking up and walking to breakfast to be greated by cheetahs was amazing, and being able to provide help for shingwedzi cheetah reserve was icing on the cake. Then to see all the sights around South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique is am trip of a lifetime something you will never get anywhere else
Loved every minute of it, only thing I hated was leaving my project leaders after two weeks

How can this program be improved?
I would recommend to pack less bottoms and.more tops. It can get very cold in their winter
Yes, I recommend
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Kaitlin
10/10

Awe-Inspiring Africa

Enjoyed volunteering on a cheetah reserve, walking elephants, horseback riding, exploring local markets, surfing, caving, cliff jumping, and watching a cheetah-ostrich chase! Amazing people, amazing food, culture shock. Great opportunity for getting involved and making a difference you can see. Truly and experience I will never forget.

How can this program be improved?
It is quite a lot of money for University students to come up with so perhaps more fundraising opportunities would be helpful.
Yes, I recommend
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Laura
10/10

Life changing experience

I went with ISV to South Africa in 2013, and it was the best experience of my life! It was an amazing opportunity, I would go back in the morning if I could!

It was extremely emotional at times but knowing that you are making a difference is the best feeling I have ever experienced l! I made the trip with my friend Emma and we still keep in contact with the friends that we made there. You get to meet people from all over the world, two of the girls have already made the long journey from Canada and Montana to Ireland to see us. I would advise anyone to do the 4 weeks as the adventure tour is just as brilliant as the first two weeks!

From building the classroom to elephant encounters, visiting orphanages to surfing it really has something for everyone! Not to mention all the beautiful places that we visited Mozambique, Swaziland and all the different cultures and languages.

If anyone is reading this review considering travelling with ISV to South Africa then I would say do it!
I can't put into words how much this experience has effected me and it is honestly a life changing experience!

T.I.A.

How can this program be improved?
I was a bit worried before I went as we felt there wasn't enough contact.
Yes, I recommend
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Ellen
10/10

achieving something

A volunteer trip anywhere is the most humbling and rewarding experience for anyone. A volunteer trip to South Africa is the most eye opening, vibrant and magnificent adventure you will ever have. I wanted to challenge myself and get away from everyday life that revolved around things not people. ISV provided the opportunity for me to do that. I was sceptical at first as you never know who you can trust when it comes to travelling programs.
The emailing system made me feel alienated from the group and the trip organisers as I was the only one from New Zealand but once I met everyone at Singapore Airport I felt apart of the group straight away. From there on the trip was well organised and was open to changes which made it a lot easier on the guides and us.
If you are going to go on this trip please be open minded and don't expect everything to be out-of-this-world-amazing. Of course, almost everything was amazing but things are so much better when you have low expectations.
I couldn't rate this program high enough. I know for a fact that it has made me a more compassionate and loving person. It has taught me my limits and has taught me how to exceed the limits I placed on myself. Volunteering right there in the moment and seeing your results straight away is, by far, my favourite part of the trip. The people of South Africa offer another way to look at the world, an experience I wouldn't be able to get if I stayed in New Zealand.

All I can really say is open your eyes, your mind and your heart. ISV will be there to support you while you do the best thing you have ever done in your life.

How can this program be improved?
The emailing system was hard to organise the trip. It would have been nice to see a real ISV person to organise everything.
Also a list of where all the payments are actually going would have been nice.
Yes, I recommend
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Nancy
9/10

AMAZING EXPERIENCE!! Totally Worth It!

Volunteering in South Africa with ISV was hands-down one of the greatest experiences of my life. Although the package is rather pricey, I still cannot believe I had the opportunity to visit a beautiful and culturally rich part of the African continent. Working on the project every day for 2 weeks was in itself an educational experience and I learnt many valuable lessons that I will take with me as I myself have hopes of venturing into the field of conservation. The project leaders were most accommodating, and felt more like friends than leaders. I HIGHLY recommend going on to do the 2 week Adventure Tour because if you're in South Africa you can't and should leave with first going on a Safari and spotting the Big 5 out in the Wild (there simply isn't anything like it) or visiting the iconic Table Mountain in Cape Town, let alone abseiling 112m down the mountain with absolutely breathtaking views - this was DEFINITELY my favourite activity, I would do it again any day!! The people of South Africa are so friendly and warm, and immersing my self in one of the cultural boiling pots of the world will always be a very unique and memorable experience. you can't bring back these opportunities once they pass so just do it, there really is nothing to lose! I will definitely revisit SA again!!!!

How can this program be improved?
The overall cost of the program should be reduced if possible, it is so expensive especially for students and that's why I wouldn't go on another trip with ISV.

On the adventure tour there should be more 'free time' for students to do what they wish instead of always strictly following a schedule - that got really annoying!

I liked that not all activities were fixed into the itinerary as it meant we didn't have to pay for those activities we didn't participate in and we also had the flexibility and choice to pick and choose activities that we were keen on doing.
Yes, I recommend
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Kristy
10/10

Amazing

Had the most amazing time. It's a beautiful country, and the adventure tour allowed us to see so much of it. The volunteer experience was amazing. We worked in primary schools to provide physical education, the children were gorgeous. An experience that I will never forget, and something everyone should have the opportunity to do.

How can this program be improved?
Better organisation of the volunteer weeks. As we were the first group doing this type of volunteer project it was a little unorganised, but will improve over time.
Yes, I recommend
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Veronica
2/10

Uncertain Trip

ISV is not an organised company. The outline is not given to customers until thousands of dollars have been paid. ISV will not give customers a break down of the cost, meaning that customers do not know how much of their funds are allocated where.
When I asked the program co-ordinators about our schedule, they could not ofen tell me when the program day ended and one program co-ordinator in particular tolerated illicit substances on our tour.
Although the culture and scenery of the country was nice, the lack of organisation of ISV discouraged me from ever traveling with them again.

No, I don't recommend
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Alexa
10/10

The perfect combination of travel and community service!

If you want to take a life changing trip, ISV is the way to go! I went to South Africa and every experience I had there was amazing. From a safari in Kreuger National Park to going surfing in Mozambique to getting to hang out with cheetah cubs, you'll never have another trip like this! You make lifelong friends and memories with an amazing and support staff all while making the world a better place. When it comes to travel, volunteer projects with ISV are the way to go!

How can this program be improved?
I wish they had more offices, it was hard to get some of my questions answer with the time difference of their office being in California.
Yes, I recommend
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Nicole
10/10

My Trip to South Africa!

ISV gave my the best trip of my life. I loved that we got to pick a project that we were interested in and they paired me perfectly. We were able to embrace the culture and were thrown into the day to day routines of the locals. I made so many friends from the states and there at Glen Afric, we still talk. The process getting there was so smooth, ISV gave so many great resources for raising money and the transition to South Africa. I hope to go back one day but for longer!!

Yes, I recommend
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Kimberly
10/10

Most remarkable two weeks of my life

I went to South Africa in the Summer of 2013 to work on a wildlife conservation program project at the Shingwedzi Cheetah and Wildlife Ranch through ISV! We worked hands on with cheetahs, African wild dogs, vultures, and more! The staff we worked with was amazing and taught us so much. I feel so much more prepared and knowledgeable for a future career in conservation work. My project leader took time to get to know each and every one of us and made all of our times there unique and memorable. The preparation prior to the trip was very organized and ISV staff was there to help me through the entire process of signing up with the program, flights, and packing. I will remember this two weeks for the rest of my life.

How can this program be improved?
Only thing I would change was being able to stay longer! Aside from that it was perfect.
Yes, I recommend
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Kelsey
10/10

Love, Love Loved!!

I had the chance to volunteer at the Ann Van Dyk cheetah centre and it was the best experience of my life. I got to be hands-on with the cheetahs and helped improve the conservatory! It was definitely rewarding and I would recommend to anyone this program. It was the greatest experience of my college career and it is always a topic of conversation.

How can this program be improved?
Have more chances to be interactive with the locals.
Yes, I recommend
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Raquel
10/10

Experience of a lifetime

I was nervous before going on this trip, I would be in a new country for a month with people I've never met before. But as soon as I arrived I realized I had nothing to be worried about. It was an amazing experience. I was able to learn how other people live and try to make a little bit of a difference before I left. While I loved working with the kids, I felt I was really helping out when I was assisting with the building of the school. I realized the work I was doing would be there for years to come and we saw such a huge change in our two weeks there. The construction workers that we were led by were so hardworking and supportive.

The adventure portion of the trip was unreal. South Africa, Mozambique, and Swaziland are such beautiful countries! I would recommend staying awake for the long bus rides and looking out the window so that you can see how the beauty along the way. There were so many activities to do, things I would have never imagined I'd try. Our group became so close. My only wish is that I would have been able to stay there longer!

How can this program be improved?
More time volunteering.
Yes, I recommend

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Meet the Alumni

About ISV (International Student Volunteers)

ISV’s mission is to support sustainable development programs around the world through life changing student volunteer programs designed to positively impact our world and to educate, inspire and result in more active global citizens.

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