Most Affordable & Trusted Volunteer Programs in South Africa

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About

Trusted by 90,000+ volunteers, IVHQ offers the most popular volunteer programs in Cape Town and 40+ other destinations around the world.

You can choose from 5 volunteer project options in South Africa and give back for periods ranging from 1 week to 24 weeks. Your Program Fee includes airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support. You’ll be accommodated in a volunteer house, with other like-minded, impact-focused travelers from around the world.

IVHQ is trusted to support the meaningful adventures of thousands of volunteers every year, so before you even depart for South Africa, you’ll receive outstanding personalized service from your expert Volunteer Program Manager and exclusive access to superior pre-departure volunteer training.

With IVHQ, you can expect to establish real connections within the local community while supporting projects that make a genuine difference.

Available Volunteer Projects with IVHQ in South Africa:

  • Teaching
  • Childcare
  • Computer Training
  • Sports Development
  • Surf Outreach
Highlights
  • IVHQ’s South Africa program is available year-round, starting on the first and third Monday of every month
  • Highly affordable program fees starting from $250 - IVHQ provides the most affordable and top-rated programs
  • You’ll be joining between 20 and 50 other IVHQ volunteers who start in Cape Town each month
  • You’ll be traveling with IVHQ, the volunteer travel experts, and joining a network of 90,000+ volunteers. Our outstanding safety systems and track record set us apart, we are the world’s safest organization
  • Your efforts will have a positive impact because our programs are community-driven with a focus on supporting long-term local needs

Questions & Answers

Reviews

96%
based on 47 reviews
  • Impact 9.1
  • Support 9
  • Fun 9.3
  • Value 9.5
  • Safety 8.4
Showing 31 - 45 of 47
Jamie
10/10

Life Begins Outside Your Comfort Zone

Dear rad perspective volunteers,

To be honest, I was a little hesitant about going at first. I applied for the program one month before, but wasn't sure if I was going to go through with it. Traveling alone can be scary. I went to Bali for summer holiday and actually had a plane ticket back home to Hawai'i. Five days before I was supposed to go home, I canceled my ticket, bought a roundtrip ticket to Cape Town, and, I kid you not, emailed my parents saying "Hi mom & dad, going to volunteer in South Africa for 2 weeks, see you soon!" And of my 20 years of living, it was by far the best decision of my life!

I took a crazy leap of faith and ended up going on an adventure of a lifetime! My volunteer house was filled with 22 amazing people from all around the world, who share the same free spirit adventurous soul as me. We became a family. Today, we have an active group chat. Many of us have visited each other, some are coming to stay with me for Christmas, and we are all planning on doing another IVHQ trip this summer. Out of luck, my randomly picked roommates are now some of my best friends. One of them even became my roommate in real life!

You fall in love with these kids. They are the most genuine, funny, and happy children. You don't realize how attached you get to them. They touch your heart. I got to wake up every day and surf with these amazing children....what's more can you ask for? In the end, they were the teachers. They taught me to find the beauty in the little things in life. They were the ones inspiring me. I was the happiest I've ever been when I was with these kids.

In two weeks, I bungee jumped off the highest commercial bridge in the world, hiked one of the seven new natural wonders of the world, took a selfie with a zebra, went cave climbing, went on a safari, went to the most south-western point of the African continent and so much more. South Africa has my heart! It's my favorite place on this planet. If you ever get an opportunity like this TAKE IT! Because you might just make memories that will last a lifetime and meet the best people in the world.

Love,
Someone who really recommends you going on this

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Jamie, Wow! What a review! We are so happy to hear of your epic and spontaneous journey to South Africa - thanks for taking a crazy leap of faith. It sounds like your volunteer work was rewarding and inspiring, and your free time was totally action packed. It is fantastic that you are planning on volunteering with us again as a group and have stayed such close friends with the other volunteers. Thanks again for your kind words and recommendation. We can’t wait to have you back with IVHQ.

Yes, I recommend this program
Ellyn
10/10

Six months in South Africa

I had the pleasure of living in South Africa for 6 months back in 2015. The experience was unlike any other. I was immersed into a culture that I fell deeply in love with. Over those 6 months I learned a lot about myself and I'm so deeply grateful for that. Obviously I have tons of stories that I wish I could share all of them, but that would require me writing a novel! One of the stories that sticks out the most to me was my second to last day in South Africa. I had the privilege of being invited to one of the families homes in Capricorn Township. I became incredibly close with a group of kids from school and was invited into their home. To be in their territory and see the way the live was so empowering. Every single day these kids show up with a huge smile on their face and are grateful for the new day they're given. That moment I realized how incredibly lucky I was for what I was given in life and stopped worrying about the petty things in life. Over those 6 months those kids taught me life lessons and impacted my life more than they know. Walking away from that trip was one of the hardest things I had to do. You don't expect to get attached to the kids and form amazing friendships along the way. I left South Africa a different person and I'm so grateful for the way this trip shaped me as a person. I am extremely fortunate to be returning to South Africa in January 2017 to be reunited with my kids and my second home.

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Ellyn, Thanks for sharing your beautiful story. Committing to a 6 month program is a big decision and we are so grateful to have had you join us in South Africa. Thanks for being an IVHQer and we can’t wait to have you back.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Olivia
9/10

An Incredible 3 Weeks

To all anxious, first-time volunteers,

It's hard to pinpoint what made me choose South Africa. As a Canadian student who had never traveled solo before in her life, it seemed like the most unlikely place for me to choose. I didn't know anyone there and, to be frank, I'd never even given the country a second thought. My family thought I was insane to traveling to a place two whole continents away. As the rebellious person that I am, I ignored their nagging and dove into what seemed like an endless number of forms that needed submitting and bags that had to be packed. Caught up in the excitement of it all, I felt like I was in a dream; as if I were about to wake up from it at any second. None of this was actually going to happen, right? It wasn't until I found myself sitting on the plane with a cram-packed backpack on my lap that I began to feel the reality of it all. Yes, I know this sounds all cliche, but bear with me. I'm not lying when I say that I felt utterly alone on that journey over. It was a brutal 32 and a half hours and the last 12 were accompanied by full out panic attacks. It even got to the point where I was seriously considering not boarding the plane. Well, I am extremely and ecstatically pleased to tell you that I did not go along with that plan. Yes, that's right, not me. I made it to Cape Town (and eventually Langebaan) all in one piece, and as a result I had one of the most memorable three weeks of my life.

It's impossible for me to tell you about everything that happened during the time I spent on the Conservation program. All I can say is that I got to experience cultures and adventures that I never even knew existed. Some of them were amazing; none of them were terrible. Everyone staying at the volunteer house was very friendly and we all became involved in some really neat projects. I'd have to say that one of my main highlights took place at the Langebaan Primary School, teaching all the sweet, energetic kids about local conservation issues and fixing up their library. Working out in the field was also incredible and resulted in many beautiful photos (if you're a sucker for sunsets, this is the place to be). The weekends were also filled with many opportunities to explore and climbing Table Mountain was one of the best. The photos truly do not do it justice.

So even though you may be feeling nervous about taking off on a volunteer trip for the first time (like I did), I'm telling you that it will definitely be worth it in the end. South Africa is an incredible place and you'll only regret it if you pass up this chance to experience it. That being said, bon voyage!

How can this program be improved?
The only issue I had was the fact that I was not told that I would be the very first volunteer on the program. I don't think that it would have changed my mind about registering, but it would have been nice to know.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Olivia, thanks so much for being the first volunteer to post a review of our South Africa Conservation project! We are also extremely pleased that you boarded the plane and made it to Cape Town. It sounds like you had an incredible, memorable and adventurous time – and those sunsets!! Thanks for being and IVHQer and we would love to have you volunteer with us again in the future.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Jessica
10/10

2 Weeks in SA

My biggest regret was only staying for two weeks. I had the time of my life in South Africa and I would definitely recommend for everyone to stay at least four weeks to get the entire feel. The kids were by far the highlight of the entire trip. Seeing them every morning is sure to put you in a good mood despite if you're a morning person or not. These kids come from such harsh backgrounds, but they don't let that get in the way of their happiness at school. They were all such sweet, genuine kids and I wish I was able to spend a longer time there.

The other volunteers were all amazing to work and live with. I came into this all by myself, but left after just two weeks with friends from all different parts of the world. For the most part, everyone is there for the same reason, to make a difference and change these kids lives.

I would 100% recommend this program for anyone who is looking to volunteer in South Africa. I had such an amazing time and I will definitely be back volunteering with IVHQ.

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Jessica, We are so glad to hear that you had such a great time in South Africa! Thanks for being a wonderful volunteer by immersing yourself in the volunteer work and making meaningful connection with the other volunteers. We would love to have you volunteer with IVHQ again in the future!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Aundrea
8/10

6 Weeks in SA

The best part of the trip was definitely the time that I spent with the kids. There was truly nothing better than walking into class day after day and having the kids run up to me yelling "Teacher Aundrea!" with huge smiles on their faces ready to give me my morning hugs and kisses. The kids all come from such tough backgrounds and sometimes their stories are heartbreaking to listen to, but it only makes the immense love they have even more amazing. 10/10 would definitely go back for the kids.

To future volunteers, I would definitely recommend that you take it upon yourself to make this trip special. Love the children with every ounce of your being and make them your number one priority. Make it a point to take them out after school or on the weekends. If you see a need for something and you want to fix it, then do it. I did all of these things, and when my last day came, I still wished that I could of done more.

How can this program be improved?
Definitely wish that the volunteers that sign up for childcare could have more time at their placement, or something specific to do in the afternoon. There was almost too much free time to an extent and it always led to spending money. Also, DTR should talk to volunteers about where their fees go as far as how it helps the schools/daycares/community. There are many sketchy stories floating around about DTR not using their money to actually better the community.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Eli
10/10

My trip abroad

There's no one good story that could wrap up my entire trip. There are so many I could tell; playing with kids on the playground, socializing with other volunteers, and exploring an entirely new country were only just a few of the incredible things that this journey has to offer. My one regret is not staying longer. The program was very organized, and I never once felt like I was in danger. 10/10 recommend for anyone who has a soft spot for children and an adventurous attitude.

How can this program be improved?
The only thing that I would improve is to ask for the criminal background check before the volunteer lands in the country. My record was clean, but I would like to be certain that those around me also have clean records before going & sharing a house with them. Other than that, everything was great!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Runa
10/10

IVHQ South Africa - 8 weeks

The two months I have spent in South Africa with IVHQ were one of the best times of my life. I had the opportunity to meet so many open minded, friendly people from all over the world, which broadened my horizon and helped me to know what I want to do when I get back home.

The highlight of my trip was definitely the work with the kids. Even though they come from disadvantaged backgrounds, they are so welcoming and loveable. I will never forget how they ran up to me every morning when I entered the classroom, screaming “Teacher, teacher!” and then all came up to hug me. It was so sad in the end to leave them. I would highly recommend doing the Childcare program, because it is so rewarding and if you give the kids some attention, they are so happy and they smile at you, which fulfills your heart.

Living in Muizenberg was really nice, the houses were very clean and totally fitting for the cause, the staff was really welcoming and they always cared about us and offered their help, if we had any problem. The beach is very close and there is also everything else you need: a big supermarket, a pharmacy, some shops, cafes, bars, restaurants…

Furthermore I did so many great things in Cape Town, because there is so much you can do there! You should definitely put the following things on your bucket list:
1. Watch the sunrise from the top of Lions Head
(That was definitely one of my highlights!)
2. Enjoy the sunset in Camps Bay, which is unbelievable beautiful too
3. Go on a tour to Cape Point, the most southwestern tip of Africa
4. Hike up Table Mountain
5. Get close with penguins in Seaforth and Boulders Beach
6. Go to the Cape Point Vineyards for sunset
and experience the amazing food markets
7. Watch a movie in the open air cinema in
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
8. Go shopping in V&A Waterfront in a beautiful atmosphere
9. Visit the colorful houses in Bo Kaap
10. Feed a seal in Hout Bay
and take a boat trip to the Seal Island there
and you can do so many more things!

So if you have any doubts, just go there, you definitely won’t regret it! :-)

Yes, I recommend this program
IVHQ Volunteer with children in Africa
Austin
9/10

Wow what an experience

My name is Austin fuller and I traveled to South Africa through IVHQ for six weeks. This trip was really a life changing experience for me. Not only can I say I walked away from this trip changing people's lives but I can say I walked away from this trip with my own life being changed. This trip helped me find my true love and passion. I met some friends that I will have forever and met some locals that really opened my eyes to the beauty of this world and the people in it. Most importantly I met the most amazing, kind hearted, talented children. These kids made such an impact on me I even decided to get their school crest tattooed on my arm. There was never a dull moment and I wouldn't have changed a second of this trip. The town is beautiful and there's so much to do! The food is amazing and the people are just fantastic. Four days in I was already calling my parents asking to extend my trip because I realized just how special this place was. It really was a second home for me and I couldn't be more excited to return in August of this year! I would definitely recommend this trip for anyone who is searching for a heart warming or life changing experience.

How can this program be improved?
If I had to change one thing I think I would enjoy there to be some weekend opportunities to see the kids and really show them a good time with positive role models because they really need that.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Austin, It’s nice to hear from you! It's great to hear you had such a life changing experience volunteering in Muizenberg. Thanks for sharing a few photos from your time in South Africa as well. It's great to have you as an IVHQer and we hope to welcome you on another IVHQ program again in the future.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Trinity
9/10

5 Weeks in South Africa

As this was my first time out of the country by myself I didn't know what to expect. I was leaving behind my 2 year old little brother at home and going to Africa to care for children the same age. After my first few days the babies had gotten used to me and would run and cling to my legs when I walked in everyday. It was the BEST feeling in the world! We spent all day cuddling and playing! I taught the babies how to play Ring Around the Rosie and they loved it!

How can this program be improved?
I really had to adjust to the differences in safety in Muizenberg compared to that in the United States. I was not living in a house with a locked fence or security guard, which worried me. I think this is the only thing I would really like to change about my South Africa experience.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Trinity, Thanks for sharing a little about your experience and a few photos. It sounds like you had a really memorable time on your placement in South Africa which is great to hear. I’m sure your time abroad will make you an even better big sister :) Thanks for being an IVHQer!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Pedro
10/10

Marvelous Experience in South Africa!

This is definitely a life changing experience after I joined the IVHQ volunteer program in South Africa as I participated in the Sports Development program. The most memorable moments were when the very first time I step into the school, I was surrounded by lots of kids as some boys jumped on my back hugging me, and cute girls holding my hands as I am part of them.

Most of them called me Jackie Chan as I have no idea why, probably because I am the only Asian and have a well built body? They were also very curious see my tattoos on my arms and shoulders.

One thing I learned from those kids is that, whatever they've been through, they give happiness and a big smile to people like us (the fortunate) and we have to appreciate whatever we have and who we are.

This journey definitely opened my eyes towards society and the world, giving positivity and great vibes around, to help those who needs it.

How can this program be improved?
More protein meals to include in the daily program :)
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hey Pedro, Thanks for volunteering with IVHQ in South Africa. It sounds like you had a really special experience and we are glad we were able to provide this for you. Great photos! We hope to have you on another IVHQ program again in the future.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Siobhan
7/10

Learning to surf (more than just waves)

The kids you get to work with will change your life. They are beautiful, so resilient and will teach you oh so much. I was in the Surf Outreach Program, so I got to surf everyday, hang out with the kids after school, and also help out in the schools once in a while. I built some amazing relationships with the kids and community members, however, working with Dreams to Reality, IVHQ's local partner, was probably the worst part of my experience

However, Dreams to Reality as an organization is very lacking. They did not provide proper security to the volunteers, were anything but transparent about where our fees were going, and very difficult to work with.

I will be returning to Muizenberg to see the kids that I worked with and visit this beautiful place, however, I would never work with DTR again. DTR showed me the bad side of 'voluntourism' and I would not want to support them again.

My suggestion would be to look into other organizations in Muizenberg, as the place and the people contain so much beauty. (ALSO S/O to David Kennedy - the best adventure leader/tour guide around town, if you will be in Muizenberg, find this dude and go on some of his tours!!!)

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Siobhan,

Thank you for your feedback! We appreciate all feedback from volunteers - it helps understand where we can make improvements to our programs.

It’s great to hear that you enjoyed the time that you spent in the community as part of your program. We can assure you that there have been a number of changes implemented within the program over the past 2 years. All houses are patrolled by a security company in the evening and have either security gates or an electric fence. The local team now provides volunteers with a program fee breakdown during their orientation and this is also displayed in all of the volunteer houses, along with the contact information of the local team ( 24/7 support), emergency numbers and recommended taxi companies.

We wish you all the best on your return to Muizenberg and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to let us know.

No, I don't recommend this program
Maryke
9/10

IVHQ South Africa volunteer review

South Africa is an absolutely amazing country with some really wonderful people and astonishingly beautiful scenery; however the political and social turmoils it faces will undoubtedly leave you heartbroken. IVHQ and their current in-country volunteer company is great because they allow you to see both sides of the story. You'll fall in love with the kids you volunteer with -- I was placed in Steenberg Primary School seen and I've never seen a school with a more welcoming and loving community of kids. While the program itself has a few flaws and hiccups, the experience is what you make it and it's not difficult to make it life-changing. I miss it so much!

How can this program be improved?
Although the program is quite affordable, I felt that Dreams To Reality should change the way they accommodate for their volunteers. While I definitely wasn't expecting 5-star hotels and gourmet cuisine, they houses/security were very low quality and the food verged on inedible. My advice would be to bring some decent pepper spray and South Africa is a very dangerous country (although if you're street smart and use a bit of common sense you'll be fine) and over budget for food and groceries as you'll be making and buying a lot of your own food!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Katharina
9/10

8 weeks of happiness

I came to South Africa without any expectations, because I had learnt various times before this trip that this is the best way to make the most out of it. But in the end my time there was so much fuller than I could have ever imagined.
I don't know where to start, because so many things were just amazing. The country is beautiful. Just incredibly beautiful. That's why it is especially sad that it is so dangerous there and we could only go outside till 5pm, before it was "hunger games time". Your freedom is definitely taken away from you by the living conditions there, in the sense that you can only walk in groups or take cabs if you don't wanna risk getting mugged or worse. But the kids you teach there make it all worth it. They have the worst background stories and don't even show a glimpse of negativity. Their smiles make your day and in the end I learnt more from them than I could ever have taught them. Moreover the other volunteers I worked with are great. Everyone has their own amazing life story and everyone just wants to enjoy life, which spreads good vibes wherever you go. I did so many things from my bucket list while I was in South Africa, I walked with lions and elephants, did a skydive, experienced Cape Town, drank more expensive wine than I would have imagined, dived with great white sharks in a cage, went surfing, rode in a cab with crazy local "cab drivers", saw penguins, went to beautiful places of which I could not have dreamt of... This list could go on and on. I met people from all over the world, made friends with the most beautiful people and learnt so much during these 8 weeks, more than I could ever have wished for. I highly recommend doing this program to everyone! Of course one will encounter dodgy situations and be to scetchy places, but if you have a common sense and some luck you will survive South Africa without any problems! :)

How can this program be improved?
The food should consist of less carbs and more proteins. We all started feeling impacted by the quality of the food provided after some time.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Katharina, thanks for the recommendation! Sounds like you had beautifully amazing 8 weeks in South Africa. We are so glad that you made lifelong friends and made the most of your time there. Thanks for being an IVHQer!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Alvaro
6/10

Volunteering in Muizenberg, South Africa

I volunteered with Dreams to Reality, IVHQ's local partner in Muizenberg, South Africa.

Accommodation: I stayed in one of the volunteer houses, my room had bunk beds to accommodate up to 5 people. It was in a residential area 15-min walk from where the shops and restaurants are. There was no wi-fi. The house had security gates and procedures to protect from break-ins (luckily, there were no break-ins during my stay), however due to constant power outages, the electronic security door didn't work all times, and once I was locked out of the house at night (fortunately nothing happened).

Food: lunch and dinner was brought to the house during weekdays and they could be much better. Menu was mostly carbs. Manny volunteers chose to eat out.

Transportation to/from placement: due to safety concerns, transportation in a van was provided.

Safety: South Africa has safety issues. We heard from staff mugging and break-ins in the volunteer house happened, but fortunately no major issues happened during my stay. I recommend volunteers to avoid using their credit cards, since many volunteers had been victims of credit card frauds, including me. Also, I recommend having a local mobile number to take Uber to travel around the city.

Volunteering: my placement was at a day care center with other volunteers (we stayed there in the morning). We helped the teachers feeding the children, playing with them. The children were lovely.

How can this program be improved?
Quality of food could definitely be improved. Also, I think working hours should be increased since volunteers stayed at their placements only in the morning.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Alvaro, thank you for the feedback on your trip to South Africa. We appreciate your comments and have passed on you suggestions to the Program Manager. Thanks again.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Rebecca
10/10

Best summer in South Africa

My volunteering experience with IVHQ in South Africa was absolutely amazing. I was doing the Surf Outreach program and I loved every single second of it. The volunteers on this program got connected very fast and it was a lot of fun to work together. There was always this happy and positive vibe going around.
Working with the kids at the beach and seeing them being happy, was the best feeling you could ask for. The kids might be shy in the beging, but as soon as they know you a little bit better, they won’t leave you alone and want to play with you all the time.
You will be staying in a beautiful town just outside of Cape town. The stuff is very helpful, always around if they are needed and very passionate about the community support we are doing. The accommodations are in good conditions and you’ll be sharing a room with other volunteers. It is very easy to socialize and fun to meet all those new people from around the world.
You are not only teaching and helping the kids, you will learn so much about yourself and from the people you are staying with.
The hardest part is to say good bye. You can’t get those sad faces out of your head, when you tell the kids that it is your last day on program.
Back home I’m already trying to find the perfect time to go back again and spend more time with the kids.
So if you are still thinking about the program, just do it! I’ll promies, you will have the best time of your life!

How can this program be improved?
I had a very good time on the program and nothing to complain about.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Rebecca, It's great to hear from you. We totally agree, it will be the best time of your life - just do it!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on your experience volunteering on our South Africa program. It sounds like you had a really special abroad experience where you met some great people and made some good memories. It's great to have you as an IVHQer and we hope to see you on another IVHQ program soon.

Yes, I recommend this program

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About International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

IVHQ is the world’s most trusted and affordable volunteer abroad organization, offering the largest range of safe and impactful volunteer programs in 40+ destinations around the world.

Over 80,000 travelers have volunteered abroad with IVHQ over the...