ISV - Volunteer Projects in South Africa

Video and Photos

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!

Related Programs

Questions & Answers

Reviews

98%
based on 151 reviews
  • Impact 9.5
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 8.5
  • Value 9.6
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 121 - 135 of 151
Default avatar
Josh
10/10

The most amazing, rewarding month of my life!

On January 19 2013, I travelled with International Student Volunteers to South Africa for what was undoubtedly the most amazing, rewarding month of my life!

I chose to undertake a conservation project - I worked with 19 other students, 2 amazing ISV leaders and 3 incredible members of the host organisation WEI (Wildlife Ecological Investments) at Masebe Nature Reserve.
Here, we stayed at the local 'Telekishi' community in traditional huts. During the morning, we would wake up early to do bird counts out in the field (by the end of the two weeks we were all expert bird spotters, and could even mimic some of the native bird calls!). After the bird counts, we conducted transects - we essentially measured the vegetation to help WEI identify if the land is suitable for use as a game reserve again. Driving to each site we saw an array of animals including kudu, impala and giraffes! We went for hikes up the nearby cliffs for spectacular views of the area whilst learning about the history of the area by a member of the Telekishi community.
Additionally, we visited the local school – this was so much fun, and incredibly rewarding! The kids were so excited to see us, it was so hard leaving them. We taught the children about the water cycle, and the importance of keeping our waterways clean and unpolluted! Also, we were involved in meetings with adult community members that taught them the importance of caring for the environment.

After two weeks of volunteering, we had to say goodbye to Teleskishi :( - and hello to the adventure tour!
We started off in Jeffrey’s Bay, Port Elizabeth - here, we stayed in awesome beachfront accommodation! This place had a really cool vibe about it; here we had surfing lessons and explored the surf shops.
Then we headed to Tsitsikamma National park, where we went ziplining, hiked along the coast to a brilliant open waterfall, and those of us who were keen bungy jumped off Bloukrans Bridge (216m high - the worlds highest bungy jump – this was amazing!). 

Then we headed along the spectacular garden route to Cape Town. Here, we spent 5 days doing activities such as going up table mountain, visiting Langa township, visiting the local markets, going to a 25m long buffet with African entertainment and face-painting, visiting seal and penguin colonies, and on our free day some of us went shark cage diving!
Then we flew up to Johannesburg and drove to Blyde River Canyon; just after we unpacked, we walked outside our accommodation to find kudu walking around, and then sat and watched monkeys playing as the sun went down! Here we went canyoning in the worlds largest green canyon, went river tubing, and relaxed in the pool in our free time.
Our last stop was the amazing Kruger National Park – we went on a night drive and a full day game drive – on both occasions we saw animals such as giraffes, elephants, buffalo, jackals, lions and zebra, among others!
The worst part of the trip was coming home – I’ll definitely be visiting South Africa again!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Eleanor
10/10

Best Value and Experience you could ask for :)

ISV really opened up my eyes to the world outside of my own. In January 2012 I headed off to Africa with ISV. I got to really experience not only the culture of Africa but also really understand the hardship that the people there go through. It was so rewarding to give back to such an amazing community and see how appreciative the people were of our hard work. I now appreciate my home country and everything I have so much more.

Another positive that came out of ISV was that I was always too scared to travel to Africa by myself and none of my friends wanted to come with me. When I heard of ISV, I thought it would be an easy and safe way to travel. Turns out, I was 100% correct. In fact, so correct, that I extended my trip another 4 weeks and continued to travel around Africa by myself. If it weren't for ISV, I probably never would have ended up going to Africa. The ISV staff really looked after us and made me feel safe the whole time. There was not one moment in the 4 week ISV program that I felt unsafe or in trouble.

I would definitely do another trip with ISV and recommend ISV to everyone as you get to have the best adventures, make some awesome new friends from all over the world and also make a difference in the world, even if it may only be a small contribution - every little bit of help counts. ISV is the best thing I've ever done out of all of my travels.

How can this program be improved?
ISV is almost perfect. One thing I would change would be that the program was longer :)
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Crystal
10/10

My Trip to Mamma AFRICA :)

A big thank you to ISV for giving me the opportunity of a life time. From two weeks of volunteer work, camping in Swaziland, immersing myself in the African bush, to an action packed, fun and fulfilling tour around South Africa, i cannot fault the program.
Making life long friends from around the world, Bungy jumping in Storms River and learning the local language Siswati, were definite stand outs of my trip however 4 weeks with the program and i would not change a thing.
I highly recommend this program and if you do decide to become a volunteer and travel with ISV i highly recommend the 2weeks volunteer work and 2 weeks tour including the optional activity package :)

How can this program be improved?

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Samm
9/10

South Africa!!!

My trip to South Africa was the most eye opening and heart warming thing I have ever done! The things I experienced and the things that I saw while I was there will live within my memory and my heart forever! I would highly recommend travelling to study, volunteer and adventure to anyone and everyone. Trust me if I can do it any one can! All you have to do is dream and believe! Hands down the best thing I have ever done and I will definitely be doing it again soon.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Ken
10/10

Impact your world and let it Impact you

ISV’s motto is ‘Impact you world’ and they offer students the chance to make difference in developing countries. The truth is though, if one participates in any of the ISV programs then chances are the culture that you immerse yourself in will have a greater impact on your personality than you could ever imagine. I participated in their 2013 summer season on a 4 week program in South Africa focussing on projects based on community development and it was genuinely a life changing experience.
A group of 14 volunteers worked in the township of Dunoon, approximately half an hour out of Cape Town, where our goal was to build a shade roof outside the community centre. The community centre runs a crèche for the young children as well as a communal gathering area and so the shade cloth was to give them a place to shelter whenever the sun if it got too hot.
Priscilla, a local woman took it upon herself to run her own crèche about 10 minutes away from the town centre and here we worked putting up a new fence to keep the kids safe instead of the patchwork of rotting wood palings, torn tarpaulin that was being held together by a countless amount of bent, rusty nails. The work was gruelling at times but we encouraged each other to keep at it and whenever you put the tools down there would always be kids that would throw themselves at you to be carried, take photos with or just to kick a ball around. By the end of our 2 weeks we had achieved all we set out to do and had a little party with the kids. Seeing their joy and knowing this was the last time you’d rub thumbs and say ‘sharp! Sharp!’ was bittersweet to appreciate the simple joys of life was one of the greatest lessons that the people of Dunoon could have taught me.
The next 2 weeks consisted of a tour of South Africa which saw us travel from Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and finishing in Kruger national Park. It was a whirlwind tour that saw friendships develop whilst doing a variety of activities such as kloofing (canyoning), abseiling, learning how to surf in Jeffrey’s Bay and encouraging others to face their fear of heights at Bloukrans Bridge Bungy; the world’s Highest bridge bungy.
Now to truly make this a South African tour we were taken on safari drives one in the evening and a full day drive in Kruger National park where we saw zebras, lions, rhinos and elephants however the leopard stayed true to its character and remained elusive as ever, which really isn’t a bad thing as it gives me more incentive to go back to such a wonderfully diverse country.
From the leaders they have on project and tour to the way they shape the program what ISV ultimately does is reward students who participate with irreplaceable memories and new friendships and return home with a greater perspective on life and their impact on their world.

For more information check out the website http://www.isvolunteers.org/

How can this program be improved?
Maybe the food selection? I was happy with it but your asking me to find some thing to critique when really I loved every single part of it.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Felicity
10/10

ISV - South Africa

Volunteering for ISV in South Africa has impacted my life forever. I participated in a wildlife conservation project in the Kingdom of Swaziland which included tortoise tracking and setting up camera traps to monitor baboon activity in nearby game parks. We camped for 2 weeks in a game reserve. It was like a 2 week long, 24 hour a day safari! Meeting the beautiful people of Swaziland and South Africa was a most wonderful experience that I will never forget.

How can this program be improved?
There wasn't much that I would change. If I HAD to name one thing, it would be the travel days - where we spent a significant amount of time on a bus. I felt time was being wasted! But realistically, if we took planes instead of buses, the program cost would increase. And on buses, we did get to see a lot of the country and made several stops, so time was not truly wasted.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
zwilliams
9/10

Savannah to Cityscape

For the first two weeks of my trip, I volunteered in the remote north-eastern corner of South Africa where we gathered data to determine how well the nature reserve was coping with the number of its animal inhabitants. We enjoyed the sights and sounds of the wildlife, the unique beauty of the landscape, hospitality of the local people and explored the landscape surrounding us.
The highlights include the unparalleled natural beauty from the top of mountainous landmarks and, of course, the company of your volunteering peers.
The following two weeks were comprised of adventures that took us all over this beautiful country in high excitement and safety. From Kruger to Cape Town and everywhere in between. Highlights included kloofing, bungee-jumping, shark diving, surfing and many more.

How can this program be improved?
There isn't really much about this trip I wouldn't change, but I would definitely recommend signing up for this trip with a like-minded friend, or someone who can challenge you and make it a trip to remember.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Anna
10/10

Journey to Africa

When I began to tell others that I was going to South Africa for volunteer work, the typical reaction was, ‘Be careful. It is a very dangerous place’. This led me to have some misgivings about my choice of OE. Yet, now I can safely say these fears were completely unfounded. My journey to South Africa was unforgettable with experiences that will be hard to match.

The journey was organised by International Student Volunteers (ISV), a company that arranges trips, combing a period of volunteer work, followed by an adventure tours for students from all over the world. It offers a variety of choices for both parts of the journey, and for the part of the world. For me, the country, obviously, was South Africa and my area of interest was wildlife conservation. I took part in two weeks of volunteer work, at the Ann Van Dyke Cheetah Centre in Pretoria, followed by two weeks of travelling around South Africa.

This journey interested me as I have always wanted to visit South Africa and because I love working with animals. I also felt it was a good opportunity to assess my career path as I am currently studying a Bachelor of Veterinary Technology.

During my volunteer work I took part, along with a group of other students, from around the world, in feeding and interacting with the Cheetahs and the many other endangered animals that the Ann Van Dyke Centre cares for. These include cheetahs, African wild dogs, vultures and hyenas. The work was not demanding and we got to hang out with the Cheetahs up close. The workers were kind and made you feel right at home. It was amazing to feel calm sitting down next to a potential killer. We assisted in preparing some cubs for Miami and Canberra Zoo and clearing enclosures for new Cheetahs. Overall the experience was surreal. To be able to feed and be so close to so many animals, reinforced my choice of career path and stimulated a special interest for large animals.

Following the volunteer work, my group and the other conservation groups with ISV came together for our South Africa Tour. On tour, we such a full schedule and went to so many places that we only had one free day to do as we pleased. We started at Kruger National Park, then to Port Elizabeth and finally Cape Town, travelling mainly by bus. It was so much fun travelling with all of these new people and seeing/doing so much; kloofing (hiking, caving and cliff-jumping), tubing, safaris, zip-lining, bungy jumping and surfing. It was wonderful.

Throughout the month everything I did was a unique and memorable experience, but there were a few things that stood out. Firstly, having lunch in the enclosure with the two Canberra cubs, that sat and purred while we ate. Another moment would have to be bungy jumping from 216m (the worlds highest bridge bungy). Then lastly, seeing all of the incredible animals; from a cute spider monkey to the massive endangered Black Rhino. I took nearly 2000 photos and I am struggling to decide which ones to select for my album. The sky there everyday was blue and full of sunshine and I’ve made friends I will never forget.

My journey to South Africa has left me far more knowledgeable about the country and its struggles. Africa has got under my skin and I want to return to work with more of our endangered animals.

Thank you ISV and I will return!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
deannapatterson
10/10

ISV went above and beyond expectations!

I traveled with ISV to South Africa during July/August 2012. The volunteer portion of my trip was absolutely outstanding. I think back on my volunteer work everyday, realizing how much it had an impact on me. Everyday was different and brought on a variety of obstacles.

My volunteer project was based in a township called Langa. There, we worked with children in preschools as well as in an after school program called Happy Feet. It was very challenging but incredibly rewarding; there was a massive language barrier with the kids but they were so grateful to have us there. Happy Feet really inspired me to change courses. I immediately applied to the education faculty at school and cannot wait to become a teacher. My ISV volunteer project gave me some essential experience for my education.

Happy Feet was a community development project, but ISV offers other types of volunteer projects as well. Other groups did building/planting projects, some were placed in game reserves working hands-on with animals, doing tracking work or maintaining the game reserve itself. It all depends on what you want to do.

ISV also offers adventure travel - all in all I visited five countries in five weeks. We did game drives, cliff jumping and abseiling in South Africa. We swam with dolphins and whale sharks in the Indian Ocean. We did a horse back ride along the beaches of Mozambique. We did mountain biking through the hills of Swaziland. We sat on the edge of Victoria Falls in Zambia. We saw hundreds of elephants and camped under the stars in Botswana. Sound incredible? I can tell you with 100% honesty that this trip was above and beyond expectations.

ISV will not let you down. The entire trip was an experience of a life time, I would do it over and over and over again if I could. I cannot wait to visit South Africa again!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Anysahamid
10/10

Experience of a lifetime !

I had an amazing time in South Africa, volunteering at the Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre at De Wildt as well as he adventure tour around southern Africa. I simply can't put into words the experience, definitely eye-opening. South Africa is a beautiful place, ISV does a great job combining both volunteer work and discovering Africa. As an animal science major, the volunteering was very helpful in cementing my career path, giving great hands on experience with the animals and also educating me on animal behavior, the breeding, and research program there. The adventure tour was simply getting your reward for working hard during the first two weeks. I did more in those two weeks than I ever have in my life. We went to amazing places, learnt a lot about the cultures and did crazy, adrenaline-pumping activities. I'd definitely go again if given the opportunity !

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Holly
9/10

The trip of a lifetime!!

In January 2012 I travelled with International Student Volunteer to South Africa to be involved in a 2 week conservation volunteer project followed by a 2 week adventure tour around South Africa. I’ve always been very passionate about animals and working with them (as I am a vet student) and ISV the perfect opportunity for this. For our project we were working and living in Lapalala Game Reserve, an environment fill with wild exotic animals such as zebra, wilder beast, giraffes, rhino, leopards and impala just to name a few. Our mission was to carry out field work in the reserve, which the reserve’s scientists could then use to assess whether elephants and lions could be re-introduced into the area. Working amongst these animals and seeing them wild in their natural environment was truly amazing and an experience I will never forget. Knowing that wild rhinos walked around the camp at night and coming out of your cabin in the morning to see a family of warthogs at your door was surreal. We also had the experience to meet the critically endangered black rhinos that were to be released in the park, it was spectacular. This volunteer work left me with such a feeling of pride and accomplishment and further sparked my passion for wildlife. ISV projects were amazing as I could have confidence that the volunteer projects were sustainable and of great importance to South Africa. Not only did the experience benefit South Africa’s conservation programs but also changed my life and perspective of the world. I loved this project so much that I didn’t want to leave!! Then however we were off on our 2 week adventure tour of South Africa!!!! This was another truly unforgettable experience and we were lucky enough to do activities such as kloofing in the middle of the largest green canyon in the world, a night drive in Kruger National Park where we came face to face with wild lions, tree-top canopy tours in famous yellow-wood forests and dolphin and fur-seal watching. My favourite day however was when we got to abseil of Table Mountain in Cape Town!!! Crazy experience. I met the most amazing people on my trip who I will keep as lifetime friends. This was the most amazing experience of my life and it has truly changed me forever.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Jack
10/10

ISV - South Africa

The ISV trip to South Africa in Feb of 2012 was one of the most fantastic trips I have ever been on. Each day brought a host of new exciting experiences and the work on the first two weeks of the tour was both extremely rewarding and interesting.

My group and I (about 15 all up, comprised of people 18-22 years of age) conducted habitat assessments at Lapalala nature reserve in the Limpopo province in South Africa. We were doing these assessments to ascertain whether the reserve could once again sustain populations of lions and elephants, after they had been hunted from the park earlier in the 20th century. The work was very rewarding, and the days in the field gave me the opportunity to see some of Africa's most amazing wildlife, such as leopards, giraffe's and hippo's.

The adventure tour after our volunteer work took us from Kruger national park in the northeast of the country (where record rainfall kept us in the park for almost 24 hours!) all down the eastern coast, finally ending up in Capetown. Along the way we were able to participate in amazing activities such as bungy jumping, zip-lining, shark cage diving and surfing, as well as a number of activities that could not be achieved in any other country. We were also exposed to a more grass roots level of the African culture, gaining more appreciation of South African society than you would get in similar tours by other companies
My volunteer work in South Africa was an irreplaceable trip, one where I made friends that I am still in regular contact with today, accomplished a real difference in the conservation work we undertook and had my entire outlook on life changed for the better. I would recommend anyone looking to do some volunteer work and have a great deal of fun to ISV, as their knowledgeable and extremely friendly staff made the trip infinitely better and the organisation allowed us to focus more on having a great time. 10/10.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
SB87
10/10

Time of my life!

What an amazing experience!! ISV took me to 5 different countries in Africa which gave me a real perspective on Africa and it was amazing, beautiful, wonderful and exotic! Our two week volunteer trip was at a reserve called Lapalala where we took surveys on vegetation, mammals and birds. It was so interesting to get to know the environment of Africa because it is so different from North America. The animals there are out of this world! They fulfill every child's dream of being in the Lion King. ISV had great leaders who taught us so much about the different places in Africa and its cultures. Every Safari we took we learned something new and became familiar with all the animals. We also got to also go to Victoria falls which is a wow moment it its self. I would defiantly do this trip over again and again!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
PBuddle
10/10

A once in a lifetime journey through Africa

My journey through Africa started with a night in Johannesburg, early the next morning seven of us headed off to the beautiful country of Swaziland. I didn't know much about Swaziland but after two weeks I was in love. This country is amazing! the people are fantastic and all so happy, and the country is beautiful. We roughed it for our two weeks of volunteering. Sleeping on the ground in tents, showering once every two days (if you were lucky enough to have the shower working), and waking up at 4:30 every morning. The view from the look out was to die for, it looked across the entire private game park and you could spot giraffes as you ate your breakfast! or even as you had a shower! We worked hard; tracking tortoises, macheteing, and setting live animal traps and experienced the local culture on some village tours. Already the African experience was incredible and we still had the adventure tour to go! I was very sad to leave Swaziland but we still had so much to look forward to.

The first few nights of our adventure tour were in Blyde River canyon, an awesome place. For the first time in two weeks we saw beds! That itself was a great thing. But so much to do! We did some kloofing and tubing down the river, and also played some paintball, with some not so good results....

After Blyde River we were off to Kruger for some much anticipated game drives... unfortunately the weather did not abide by our rules. On our full game drive we experienced a slight issue with flooding and hung out in the safari trucks for a few hours...Once we managed to get back to our accomodation we had a 3-course meal and warmed ourselves up. The next day, we had a flight to catch!

Jefferys bay was everything we had been told it would be. A great backpackers and some surfing lessons and we were having a ball. We also managed to see some Lions at the lion park!

Next stop Tsitsikamma, a georgous little town. Here we travelled through the canopies doing some ziplining- lots of fun! Then took a beautiful hike around the coastline. Reminded me a lot of home.After an 8 hour drive we arrived in Cape Town. We were to spend the next 5 days here and what a fantastic 5 days they were. A few hikes, some town tours, shopping, and my favourite: abseiling down table mountain! We spent an entire day up the mountain and had a chance to do the heighest commercial abseil in the world- 115m!! Such an incredible place.

Cape town was our last stop sadly before heading back to Jo'burg and home. I had such an amazing time, with incredible guides and made new friends for life. Africa is a beautiful country and definitely somewhere that i will be returning to.

ISV is an amazing program that incorporates volunteer and adventure, with friendly outgoing and helpful staff, i doubt there is a better company to travel with!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
jess
10/10

Once in a lifetime experience!!!

Nothing will be ever agin top this experience. From talking to community members, to playing with kids, to having them sing and dance for us, to hugging them and genuinely helping these communities in indescribable. There is nothing more beautiful and rewarding than seeing the smiles of these kids faces. It is something I think about every day and will never forget! The adventure tour after the volunteer work...wow! accomplished thinks I never eaven dreamt of doing - playing with lion cubs, abseiling down table mountain, smimming beneath waterfalls, doing the highest bridge bungee in the world, ziplining through rainforest canopys, amazing hiking, safari rides, cliff jumping...the list goes on and on and on...words cannot describe it!!!

Yes, I recommend

Interviews

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.

Destinations...