Volunteer Programs in South Africa with African Impact

Video and Photos

Education volunteering abroad
Education volunteering abroad
African Big 5 & Wildlife Conservation in South Africa
African Big 5 & Wildlife Conservation in South Africa
Wildlife Photography and Conservation in South Africa
Wildlife Photography and Conservation in South Africa
Sports coaching volunteering in South Africa
Sports coaching volunteering in South Africa
Exploring South Africa
Exploring South Africa
Wildlife Photography and Conservation in South Africa
Wildlife Photography and Conservation in South Africa
Aerial view of Cape Town
Aerial view of Cape Town
Childcare and community projects in South Africa
Childcare and community projects in South Africa

About

There is a reason why South Africa is consistently rated one of the top travel destinations in the world. Make that several reasons. Where else can you watch the sunrise from the top of a mountain, catch a wave in the ocean and spot an elephant roaming at dusk all in the same day? President Nelson Mandela proclaimed this country as the ‘Rainbow Nation’ – a country as diverse and colorful as it is exciting and adventurous.

Whether you prefer the wild outback of the Greater Kruger, the rural beauty of Zululand, or the hustle of Cape Town, South Africa has something to offer for any volunteer.

Popular Programs

Teach the local community about litter and waste, as well as find creative ways to help individuals earn an income from upcycling discarded plastics.

Take your safari to the next level by joining our research team in game reserves across the region, tracking and monitoring the ‘Big 5’ – lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards and buffalo.

Work with local children as well as the greater community in a rural Zulu village of South Africa that is surrounded by wildlife.

Learn to take great photographs and use them to contribute to the conservation efforts of South Africa’s at-risk wildlife.

Provide specialized support to local children in township communities during, and after, school hours, contributing to their health, safety, learning and fun.

Gain skills in the health science field through hands-on work with local communities that tackles the effects of HIV in rural villages.

Work closely with adults and children in a community shut off from the city, while completing a very special home-stay once a week.

Live and work in a growing wildlife sanctuary in the Greater Kruger Area, helping to rescue and rehabilitate injured or lost wildlife.

Questions & Answers

Hey Jenna, glad you're interested in joining us either later this year or in April next year. We can definitely help you with that! We have 3 different program bases in South Africa: Cape Town, the Greater Kruger Area and St Lucia. The only program base that offers short-term trips (either day volunteering, or 1-week volunteering) is at our Cape Town project base, where we run: - An Early...
Hi! Awesome news that you're interested in joining us as a volunteer - we can definitely help with finding just the right project for you. The majority of our volunteer placements only offer stays between 2 and 12 weeks, however it's possible to do 2 placements back-to-back if you did want to spend 6 months volunteering. The price per project does vary, so we would highly recommend visiting our...
Monday to Friday. 8 hours per day. I don't know yet, but around this.
Hi Rachael, Thanks for getting in touch and that's very exciting that you're interested in volunteering abroad - we can certainly help you out with some options and give you advice on each of our available programs. The majority of our programs are only option to volunteers aged 17 and above, but that being said we do have a few locations across Africa that are open to 16 year olds and each of...

Reviews

90%
based on 44 reviews
  • Impact 9
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 8.8
  • Value 8.5
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 15 of 44
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Sarah
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

2 weeks in St Lucia on the Rural Medical and HIV/AIDS Awareness Programme

It's hard to sum up the two weeks I spent in St Lucia as the whole experience was amazing! So to give it some context, I'm 23 from the UK and have volunteered with African Impact previously in Cape Town, both times I went as a solo traveller.
For anyone worrying about going on their own, don't! You will soon become best friends with the other volunteers and staff members! (Plus it's pretty cool to say you went on your own)

I spent two weeks on the Rural Medical and HIV/AIDS Awareness programme and I absolutely loved it. Sometimes doing the same thing day in and day out can get boring, but every day I seemed to do a different project, or one I hadn't done for a while. From home based care, wound care, clinic transfers, clinic sessions, physiotherapy, nutrition, every single project I loved. Genuinely, there wasn't one that I didn't enjoy.
One of my favourites was the clinic sessions, we helped the doctors and nurses by taking patient's vital signs, something which the doctors and nurses were so appreciative of as it meant that they could see patients quicker.
Another of my favourite sessions was physiotherapy. I worked with a man who at the start of my project couldn't walk, instead he used his crutches to swing himself instead of walk. We gave him exercises to improve his strength. My last ever project was also physio. We returned to the same man and with the aid of someone holding onto his upper arm, he managed to walk from one side of the room to another. He was beaming afterwards and this is a memory I will always cherish.
Not only do you make a difference to other people but I promise they make a difference to you too.
Every single patient we met thanked us for everything we did. One day we provided home assistance to a blind couple. We scrubbed, we cleaned, we tidied and at the end of the morning project, we had given the house a real spring clean. We guided the couple around the house and let them feel where everything was. They could not thank us enough for the help as something so simple meant the world to them.
Outside of project the volunteer house is awesome! I can't recommend enough going to the balcony that over looks the estuary and watching the sunset. St Lucia itself is beautiful, there are plenty of restaurants where the food is good and also cheap! Its a very calm and chilled out town. Its harm to sum up my trip but all I can say to anyone thinking about going is to do it, you won't regret it and you'll leave with life-long memories.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be open-minded. The communities that you work with live a very different life, it can be hard to see the poverty that these people live in but it just makes everything that you do feel so much more worthwhile.
Also if you're gluten intolerant, I'd say bring some gluten-free basics, like pasta, snack bars etc.
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Jennifer
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Experience!

I can’t say enough good things about my volunteer experience with African Impact Greater Kruger Big 5 program. It’s always been a dream of mine to research and make an impact in wildlife conservation. I loved all aspects of my experience from learning about wild animals social and feeding behaviors on game drives to helping in the community on projects that benefit people’s lives. Every day was a new adventure seeing elephants, lions, leopards, giraffes, and hyenas in the wild. Camping overnight in the bush under a million stars with the milky way and southern cross visible was another highlight. Lodge life was wonderful. I made friends with people from all over the world, ate great meals, enjoyed quiet time by the pool and loved being able to take walks along the walking path around the property. It was hard to leave this remarkable experience and I hope to return. I highly recommend African Impact.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
We were observing an elephant on the side of the road then he walked directly toward our open-air vehicle. I'm usually brave, but I wasn't sure what the elephant was going to do and was starting to feel nervous as he kept coming. He came right towards us then walked around the car to get to the other side of the road. He then continued to eat on the the other side of the road.
Default avatar
Maryam
3/10
No, I don't recommend this program

Girl Impact - African Impact

I am grateful to have have had the opportunity to meet such a wonderful group of people. The staff and volunteers at Lion House were all unbelievably kind hearted and were the main reason for why my time in South Africa was one to remember. It was fantastic having the opportunity to work with different communities in South Africa and getting an insight into the wonderful initiatives set up by the locals.

Although I had a lovely experience living amongst other volunteers, exploring South Africa and working alongside the locals, I'd say that most of the work I contributed was not very impactful at all. The Girl Impact project is not yet very established in South Africa, and I spent most of my time sitting around or partaking in activities that I felt were not a good value for time (e.g. sitting and watching a girls football team play football and call this 'supporting' the girls). Not only did I have an issue with my project but also felt that other projects were overstaffed (picture a class of approximately 15-25 with 6 volunteers and a teacher). The main issue I had with African impact was that for a lot of the projects I did not understand the need for volunteers. For example, we would volunteer and deliver a lesson to a class of young kids, however the teacher of the class (a South African local) was more than capable of delivering that same session (in fact the teachers were so great, that they could probably deliver a lesson better than all the volunteers combined) so I did not understand why we went in and were doing that teachers job whom could do a much better job than us. Even with the Girl Impact Project, African Impact hired a local to coordinate and deliver the project. She was great at doing her job and did not need our support in delivering the programme at all, in fact I think it would have been more impactful if she had delivered on her own since she could speak the language of the beneficiaries.

Although, I enjoyed my time in South Africa, I do not believe that some of African Impact's projects were impactful or sustainable. The staff are all clearly well intentioned and highly motivated individuals, I do believe that with continued efforts, African Impact in SA could do a much better job in aiding those most impoverished. They just need to figure out where volunteers could be used to have the most impact and re-evaluate some of their partnerships so that they are being as helpful as possible (e.g. instead of going in to do the teachers job, simply provide resources the school does not have access to).

What would you improve about this program?
Projects to be re-evaluated so that more impactful work is being done. The feeling that I was not doing useful work is the main reason why I would not recommend this programme.
Response from African Impact

Dear Maryam,

Thank you for this valuable feedback. We’re always looking to improve our projects and bring more impact to both the community and our volunteers. We’d love to open up discussions with you; please will you pop us an email at [email protected]

We’re delighted to hear that you had a wonderful time at the Lionhouse and in Cape Town!

The African Impact team

Default avatar
Ana Maria
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Highlights of A.I

The fact that we get to interact with so many places makes everything worth it, you actually feel like your making an impact on these kids and it never becomes a routine. I would like to highlight the fact that African Impact is very organized, they have everything structured which makes it just more professional and easy going. I've been volunteering before and we didn't spend the whole day at the project which I think is totally worth it if you're traveling abroad for a volunteer experience.

What would you improve about this program?
The program itself I consider it's fine, maybe at the house the wifi connection should be better if we are paying for it. But the rest is just fine, was a great experience.
Response from African Impact

Hey Ana Maria,

Thank you for this feedback. Welcome to our Alumni Squad!

The African Impact team

Default avatar
Sarah
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

If you want to volunteer abroad - do it here.

This was by far one of the most accommodating and rewarding volunteer trips I have gone on. From the welcome packet, orientation, child protection policy, and weekly topic based seminars, the program and staff go above and beyond to make sure everyone feels welcome and supported in the stay. The community partners that they pair with are top notch and each day is set up for success starting the day prior to ensure each program and project is set up for success. My one bit of feedback to the program was not to require experience but to possibly provide some incite prior to arrival on the weekly planning need and goals for each program so that each volunteer can bring some ideas to the table in advance (if desired).

My only disappointment was not staying longer.

Response from African Impact

Hey Sarah,

Thank you for such a glowing feedback report! We're happy to have you part of our Ambassador Program. Keep well!

The African Impact team

Default avatar
Shane
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Summer In Cape Town

African Impact and the staff at Lion House (the house location in Cape Town) provided the unforgettable experience everyone should desire to achieve. The program helps support multiple sectors from a sports program, to foster homes, after school problems, etc;.
My time in Cape Town saw me in a Academy Volunteer role, which allowed the opportunity to experience each program and there ability to help the surrounding communities of the mother city. Creating memories that support the notion that the experience does more for you, then you could ever do to help the community.
You will be given the opportunity to leave your mark in what ever sector you chose to provide help for. From Monday to Friday you get to go on project and make a connection and a difference in the community. After 5, and on your weekends the freedom to experience and see the cape are endless. The staff is accommodating in helping you cross of your checklist so that you can live the entire volunteer-traveler experience. A must do experience all should invest in.

Response from African Impact

Hey Shane,

We couldn't agree more - our Lion House staff are amazing! We're so happy to hear you had an unforgettable experience in Cape Town. We hope to have you back one day. Until then, keep well and keep in touch!

The African Impact Team

Default avatar
Michaela
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering In South Africa

I volunteered with African Impact in the summer of 2017. It was my first time ever leaving the country and I was going alone. As soon as I landed I was greeted with a smile and a huge hug, exactly what I needed after 23 hours of traveling. My time in Cape Town was the best 2 weeks of my life. The other volunteers became my family and the Team is exceptional with organization and made me feel completely safe at all times. I got to spend each day in an orphanage, foster home and after school program called GAPA. I still hold onto those memories and think about the kids and people I met all the time. I can't wait to get back there someday! I recommended this program to anyone who wants to have a life changing experience and have the time of their life in the most beautiful country I have ever seen!

What would you improve about this program?
Its perfect!
Response from African Impact

Hey Michaela,
Thank you for such an awesome review - it's so lovely to hear you had a wonderful time in Cape Town. We hope to have you back soon!
The African Impact Team

Default avatar
Tate
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Sports and Community Development in Cape Town

I volunteered for 4 weeks on the Sports and Community Development project with AI in Cape Town and any expectations that I had going into it were infinitely surpassed within the first 3 days! The staff, volunteers and everyone we worked with from the teachers, coaches and of course the kids were so friendly, supportive and every positive adjective that I can think of. The social side was amazing and I made some amazing friends in my time there. It definitely helps that Cape Town is one of the most amazing cities in the world as you can literally do anything you can think of in the free time at the weekend. The culture , food, shops and scenery are all beyond words, but all of that is surpassed by the work that I was able to do with AI. There is a clear goal and a clear progression of what they want to do and it is such a special thing to be a part of that I can't recommend enough to take part. The experience is such a unique one, made so much more special by the people that you meet and work with. It's a once in a lifetime experience that I want to do again and again.

What would you improve about this program?
I honestly don't think it can but I'm sure they will find a way.
Response from African Impact

Hey Tate,

Thank you for such a kind and honest review. We're so glad you saw progression towards our goals and that you were part of it! We'd love to have you back with us someday - until then, keep well and keep in touch!

The African Impact Team

Default avatar
Sarah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Greater Kruger Area + Zambia

I volunteered on the Big 5 Animal Research and Community Program for 4 weeks and had an incredible time. Upon immediate arrival, all staff members were extremely welcoming. There were very clear directions on how we would be spending our time. The schedule was followed to a T. There was an appropriate amount of free time - nights and weekends. The volunteering aspect exceeded expectations - the staff fully explained how our research would benefit the wildlife and made it clear who we were sending research to and how they were helping. I learn how to track footprints, identify animals, track movement patterns, track eating habits, and many more things. The best part of the trip, aside from making tons of new great relationships with other volunteers and staff, was camping out in Klasserie - we would spend one night a week in a tent on a game reserve park - go on night drives, cook burgers, etc.
I also volunteered for 4 weeks on the medical program in Zambia, the Victoria Falls Area. When I got there, I didn't think the next four weeks could compare to the last 4 I had in the Kruger Area. I was wrong. Again, African Impact exceeded my expectations. The entire staff was fully and entirely invested in the mission of the program and hammered home on it the entire time I was there. The medical team got briefed on what weeks would look like, the first day I got there. The staff was very adamant on maintaining health care for the whole community, which I thought was awesome. We also had free time on weekends to explore the area.
I would highly recommend African Impact to anyone who is interested in exploring the area as well as making an impact that will make an overall long term difference.

Response from African Impact

Hey Sarah,

Thank you for investing your time volunteering with us in BOTH Kruger and Zambia. It's awesome to hear this feedback! Please keep in touch.

The African Impact team

Default avatar
Indy
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Wildlife photography and conservation volunteer

Mindblowing. Some of the things I got to see and experience are just so hard to put into words. All the animals are stunning and the landscapes breathtaking. Having a leopard run around with an impala's leg just to put it into a tree with a sunset in the background.. while hearing a hyena gnaw on the remainder of the impala, wow! Baby elephants, baby giraffes, two more kills! It was amazing. The staff is just so kind as well, waking up and getting a hug and multiple bright smiles is the perfect start of the day. The photography assistent and teacher were very patient and eager to make sure we learned all that there is to learn. Working for conservation purposes made me feel very useful and really have an impact. I wouldn't have mind to do more hard work besides the cool safari game drives.

What would you improve about this program?
Adding a bit more conservation work would be a good idea in my opinion.
Response from African Impact

Dear Indy,

We'll be sure to take your suggestion on board. Thank you for your feedback. We hope to see you soon.

The African Impact team

Kat
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The most unforgettable experience of my life!

For years before i volunteered i always had the desire of going abroad to help others, but held back on doing so because felt i wasn't courageous enough to take that step. I have always naturally been shy and not wanted to take myself away from my comfort zone but i came to a point in my life where if i didn't do it now, i wouldn't do it at all. I came across African Impact back in 2016 online and reading the reviews I knew this was for me. I booked to go for a month on the St. Lucia project doing 'Day Care & Community Support'. I absolutely loved every day on project and really opened my eyes to the poverty there is around us, it definitely changed my outlook on life when i returned and i couldn't wait to do it again! I met a girl from Norway called Tove and it was amazing how close we grew as friends throughout the month and beyond. We kept in contact and was even planning a trip from UK to Norway to visit her, but even better we decided to book another African Impact adventure! We both decided Cape town was going to be our next trip and i chose the Early Childhood Development Project as i loved working with the kids from South Africa before on the St Lucia project. We went out for a month again and it was truly the most amazing experience i had ever done and i really felt i had changed from the shy girl who didn't want to step out her comfort zone to a confident girl making so many new friends from all around the world! I made real special relationships with another two girls from Australia and America where we talk everyday still to this day. It's so nice to meet people who are there for the same reason as you are and i know we will be friends forever. When coming back to England i missed it out in South Africa so much that i decided to go work as a part of the African Impact team for 6 months. I felt so lucky to have the opportunity to go back and work for a foundation that i am so passionate about. I absolutely loved it on project and every single moment i treasured. On the weekends i conquered fears such as heights, abseiling off mountains, jumping out of planes and coming into the unknown of not knowing what to expect. I want to thank you all for being so welcoming and accepting. I recommend African Impact to anyone! Words can't express how life changing and incredible it is to be able to help others and make a difference. I am planning on coming back this October and most probably year after year! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to finally find my feet in something I am passionate about and make my heart grow bigger and bigger for others who need it.

What would you improve about this program?
I couldn't fault it!
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Emily
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Awesome Time Working In Cape Town

When I came to volunteer with African Impact in Cape Town, I originally planned to only stay 4 weeks, but I ended up staying 3 months! I absolutely loved my experience from day one. The staff was so friendly and welcoming, the kids that I worked with managed to impact me even more than I impacted them, and I made friends here in Cape Town I know will last a life time. I specifically worked on the Teaching and Early Childhood Development projects. It's so amazing to work in Cape Town because you get the opportunity to learn about all of the different cultures and work in the communities during the week and then explore the beautiful city of Cape Town on the weekend. There is honestly so much to do - you will never get bored. The staff will even help you plan everything from skydiving to safaris for the weekend so you can make the most of your time here! I would recommend this life changing experience to everyone!

Response from African Impact

Hey Emily,

Thank you for spending 3 whole months out in Cape Town with us. We loved having you here and feeling the impact you were making at GAPA, Kuyasa and Fiks. You'll have to come back and check out our new digs! Keep in touch!

The African Impact team

Read my full story
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Beatrice
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable

This experience has been amazing!! African impact offers a beautiful lodge, where you can find everything you need. The room was big, and the bathroom was perfectly furnished. The housekeeping changed our towels and sheets once a week, and they also made our laundry. At the lodge there is also a big pool, and an huge garden.
The staff was incredible, everyone is always available. They were really professional but at the same time so friendly and funny. They always tried to help everyone, and satisfied our request in the best way they can.

During my stay I was in the photographers team for one month. We had the chance to improve our skills thanks for all the activities that were organized. We practiced almost everyday. The game drives were amazing, the guides were really prepared, they answered to all our questions. In addition we had the chance to get so close to the wild life, and it was incredible. One of the best moment of the week was camping in klaserie. Klaserie is a private natural reserve where we had three game drives in different time of the day, afternoon, night and early morning. We spent the night in a camp around a fire, where we cooked our meal. During the night drive we looked for predators as leopards, hyenas or lions. And we also had the chance to try astrophotography.
We also did community projects. We went to a school for helping children with English. This project was absolutely one of my favourite. It was well organized and the kids are lovely, they were so happy every time we were there. Another community project is farmers of the future, we helped local people to arrange a quiete large garden.

Response from African Impact

Hey Beatrice,

Judging by your photographs, it looks like you had an amazing time! Thank you for joining us at Dumela. We hope that we'll be seeing you soon! Keep in touch.

The African Impact team

Default avatar
Clarissa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering with African Impact

I was volunteering in Cape Town with African Impact for six weeks, and I guess those were the most amazing six weeks of my life. I was able to get to know another culture, get in touch with people from all over the world and work with children from different age groups. It was an unbelievable experience and I would recommend volunteering with African Impact to everyone, you won't regret it! I can't wait to be back.

Response from African Impact

Hey Clarissa,

Thank you for such wonderful feedback. We hope to see you soon! Keep in touch!

The African Impact team

Michelle
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Wildlife & Community experience

So back home now almost 3 weeks. Everyday I reflect and remember each day filled with experiences. How wonderful to spend 28 days with a camera in your hands, surrounded by life so different to yours and a chance to contribute to a world/life that needs help. Apart from the amazing pics I’ve returned home with, my life feels enriched by knowing in some very small way I’ve made a contribution. Yes back home, but the journey continues to spread the good word of the African Impact Projects. I hope I get the chance to return someday, but if I don’t then I will always be greatful for this amazing experience.

What would you improve about this program?
More info shared before arrival would be great. More awareness would give volunteers more chance to share their upcoming trip with others and greater awareness would help with contributions to the projects.
Response from African Impact

Hi Michelle,

What a beautiful photo attached! Thank you for spending time with us, making your impact. Hopefully we'll cross paths again.

The African Impact team

Location

Location:
South Africa
Currency:
South African Rand
Weather:
Jan-Mar
81 F / 57 F
Apr-Jun
68 F / 46 F
Jul-Sep
66 F / 45 F
Oct-Dec
77 F / 52 F
Airports:
O. R. Tambo International Airport
( JNB )
Cape Town International Airport
( CPT )
King Shaka International Airport
( DUR )

South Africa is often thought of as resoundingly unstable and poor; however, this is far from the case. The duality in South Africa encompasses big cities with a well-developed infrastructure, as well as rural areas that are under developed and impoverished. South Africa is well known for having 11 recognized languages, beautiful landscapes, and abundance of animals

About African Impact

African Impact pioneered responsible volunteer travel in Africa back in 2004 and have since grown into the largest provider of volunteer projects on the continent. Proudly African, they work hand-in-hand with local communities to establish, develop...
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