Volunteering in South Africa is a highly rewarding way of enjoying a holiday with a purpose, and there are plenty of great organisations that rely on the assistance of others to keep their daily operations running. Here are some of the top organisations to try out, that cover everything from marine creatures and wildlife to teaching and community upliftment.
This non profit organisation is located near the Kruger National Park in Hoedspruit Limpopo, with a mission to inspire and educate local underprivileged children to care for their environment through the medium of a wildlife orphanage.The bush school provides the ideal location for children to learn more about their natural heritage while volunteers conduct lessons and guide the children in caring for animals. Daktari also runs on outreach programme to impact on the larger community, and assist adults and youth to gain employment in what is considered the poorest province in South Africa.
From community outreach programmes to teaching, wildlife conservation and sports and healthcare, the Naturally Africa organisation covers a wide variety of volunteer options. Both skilled and non-skilled volunteers are invited to hop on board as participants are taken on a life-changing experience and make memories to last a lifetime. Naturally Africa bases its organisation on three main priorities these being: to ensure projects are of genuine benefit to local communities or conservation of Africa’s wildlife; the safety and well-being of volunteers; and the promise of a rewarding and enjoyable experience.
Nature’s Valley Trust offers small and personalised volunteer projects and only take on four volunteers at any one time, ensuring participants of a personal and inclusive experience. Located along the Garden Route in the Western Cape, volunteers can gain a unique insight into conservation in one of the most pristine areas in South Africa, as they do anything from building sand castles with local kids to catching fish for estuary surveys. The organisation has two main areas of focus, conservation education and research ecology, and volunteers can choose to concentrate on one or tackle combination of both. Volunteers share a house in Nature’s Valley with Chewy the dog, who is said to live up to his name.
With a focus on the conservation of endangered wildlife, this organisation offers the ultimate African wildlife experience and the opportunity to make a difference to the livelihood of threatened species in Africa. Volunteers work in small teams in collaboration with wildlife monitors at game reserves where daily activities include tracking and monitoring of animals. Don’t expect a free holiday as volunteers are are kept busy, however the reward outweighs the effort as participants are guaranteed of gaining a true conservation experience and can conclude their volunteer project knowing that they have actively contributed to the preservation of wildlife. Volunteer work focuses mainly, but not exclusively, on research into African wild dog, cheetah, black rhino and vultures.
This organisation offers volunteer projects and gap years in locations throughout southern and eastern Africa, as participants learn about different cultures and experience different lifestyles. There is a strong focus on ethical and responsible volunteering that covers fields such as sport development, children, community upliftment, healthcare, wildlife conservation, and education projects. The organisation promises an affordable and unforgettable volunteering experience that allows time for sight seeing and other leisure activities.
SANCCOB (The South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) rescues and rehabilitates injured, oiled and abandoned seabirds and relies heavily on volunteers to assist with their much needed conservation work. Volunteers need to be over the age of 18 and no previous experience is necessary. Enjoy hands-on interaction with penguins and other sea birds with activities such as cleaning and feeding birds as well as other events such as fundraising and marketing. Internships are structured, mentored training programmes with a strong focus on skills development and cover seabird rehabilitation, penguin nursery internships and seabird chick rearing internships.
Help change South Africa for the better and hook up with Habitat for Humanity where volunteers have the opportunity to help communities address, improve and self-manage their development to sustain their economic futures. Far from being simply about building houses, the organisation take a holistic approach to their programmes, actively working within the community while simultaneously seeking help from government, private citizens and corporations. HFHSA is involved in 34 communities around the country, including Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal and the Western Cape.
WWOOF is a movement that first gained momentum in the early 1970s as a means of giving organic farmers a much-needed helping hand to be competitive with conventional production. Today WWOOFing focuses more on cultural exchange while volunteering on farms with an organic approach to life and production. In exchange, volunteers get food and lodging. Activities range from fieldwork and building and renovation to chopping wood, gardening and cleaning guest cottages. Only a handful of volunteers are accepted at any one time and enthusiasm and a good sense of humour are a must. Meals are vegetarian and WWOOFers are expected to follow certain organic, natural principles such as using chemical free toiletries and limiting WiFi connectivity to emergencies.
In an effort to help the plight of abandoned babies in South Africa, the Door of Hope offers unwilling mother’s an anonymous means of safely giving up their babies, as opposed to just leaving them abandoned in dustbins or bushes on the side of the road. Volunteers are constantly needed to help care for the babies and assist in the construction of the on-site village. While some infants are adopted, those that aren’t are housed in the village, surrounding by a loving community of volunteers and helpers. Volunteers must be over the age of 20.
Although it’s slightly off the beaten track, the Centre for Animal Rehabilitation and Education offers the unique opportunity to assist in the rehabilitation of the indigenous Chacma baboons of South Africa. Most of the animals at the centre are orphaned or abandoned babies and volunteers are required to assist with the hand-rearing of infants, making bottles and food, caring for the adult and sanctuary baboons, cleaning enclosures, and other maintenance programmes. Interacting with such human-like animals is a special treat and all volunteers are made to feel welcome and readily accepted into the CARE family.