South Africa Volunteer & Safari
Experience the best of South Africa
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Group Size: Varies
Trip code: C360
Duration: Up to 9 weeks
Our epic South Africa Volunteer & Safari combines an exciting range of our fantastic projects in South Africa in one awesome adventure trip. See the ‘Big Five’ on the savannah, stay in a traditional Zulu camp, work at amazing volunteer projects in and around Cape Town, get hands on with wonderful wildlife at a sanctuary, volunteer on an award-winning game reserve, hit the world-famous Garden Route and check out cosmopolitan Cape Town for some of the most epic scenery on Earth. This really is the ultimate South African experience!
This trip is fully flexible and tailor-made to suit you, so if you want to add in or take out tours then let your travel advisor know and you can plan your own perfect itinerary!
- Take a once-in-a-lifetime safari drive through Kruger National Park and a sunset game drive in Hlane National Park, Eswatini
- Volunteer in Cape Town’s local communities at schools, local settlements, crèches, or sports projects
- Get incredible hand-on experience working with animals such as squirrel monkeys and caracels on an amazing wildlife sanctuary
- Spend 1 – 2 weeks volunteering at an award-winning game reserve
- Explore Cape Town’s spectacular scenery, vibrant centre, and epic nightlife
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South Africa Volunteer and Safari is an amazing combo tour bringing together four of our most popular South African experiences.
- South Africa Adventure
- Cape Town Community Volunteers
- Wildlife Sanctuary Volunteer in South Africa
- South Africa Experience
Please note: Each trip leaves you in the correct location for the trip that follows, apart from Wildlife Sanctuary Volunteer, for which you’ll need to arrange a short flight from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, to be ready to begin your South Africa Experience.
South Africa Adventure
Days 1 - 2: Johannesburg. Explore Johannesburg and Soweto township with a bicycle tour, and a visit to theApartheid Museum or Mandela’s House. After dark, head out for drinks at the best watering holes around.
Day 3: The Panorama Route. Stop for breakfast in Dullstroom, then continue to the legendary Panorama Route for views that are out of this world. Spend the night at a cool backpacker resort.
Days 4 - 5: Kruger National Park. Head to one of the world’s best wildlife-watching destinations - Kruger National Park! Spot elephants, rhinos, lions, buffalo and more by day and at night, gather round the campfire for a traditional South African barbecue.
Day 6: Hlane National Park,Eswantini. Head to Hlane Royal National Park in Eswantini (previously Swaziland), home to all the safari big hitters. Drop your bags and take a sunset game drive. Tonight, enjoy some traditional Swazi singing and dance.
Day 7: Zulu community stay. We’re on our way to Pongolapoort Nature Reserve today, where we’ll be staying in a traditional Zulu camp. We’ll visit a local village to learn more about daily life before gathering round the campfire for a traditional Zulu meal.
Day 8: Explore Durban. Continue on towards the coastal city of Durban. Enjoy a free afternoon in Durban. Hit the beach, enjoy some wine tasting, or go dolphin spotting. Tonight, we’ll learn how to make bunny chow, a local speciality!
Days 9 - 10: Cape Town and Table Mountain. Fly to Cape Townand scale Table Mountain to watch the sun set over the city. On day 10 take a walking tour of Bo-Kaap and take a drive past key sites including the Houses of Parliament, Slave Lodgeand more.
Day 11: Cape Peninsula. Explore the dramatic beaches and cliffs of Cape Peninsula, go on a cruise to see wild fur seals, explore the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and hang out with a colony of wild African Penguins on Boulders Beach.
Day 12: Trip end. Pack your bags and say goodbye to the rest of the group before heading on to the next stage of your trip – Cape Town Community Volunteers!
Cape Town Community Volunteers
As part of a team of volunteers, you will provide children from severely underprivileged backgrounds with new skills, create new opportunities for poorer communities, and brighten the futures of countless local people.
After a 2-day orientation in Cape Town you’ll get started with your volunteering. There are a range of fantastic community volunteer projects which you can take part in in Cape Town.
- Community settlements. Help with education at crèches and adult learning projects, plus assist with social events and empowerment projects. Get involved with building and improvement work, as well as educating the community about subsistence farming and vegetable gardens to help alleviate poverty.
- School/Crèche assistant. Volunteer in pre-school educare centres around Cape Town and work with kids aged 0 - 7. You will be assigned to a class and help the teacher with daily tasks such as marking and teaching. You will be able to run your own lessons and help children develop life and educational skills.
- Disabled school assistant. Assist with learning and care at an incredible township school for disabled children. The school is the only one of its kind in the local area and provides all-day care for children with disabilities in the community. You will help with teaching classes, mind stimulation, physiotherapy, speaking English to the younger children, and fundraising for the school. This is a challenging but deeply rewarding role.
- Adventure swim and surf club. Teach swimming and surfing to local kids at an after-school club. The main aim of this project is to keep children occupied and away from negative influences and local gangs. The club is an incentive for children to do well at schooland teaches them important skills such as teamwork - as well as just being great fun for them! You will also assist with computer lessons in the mornings before the club starts.
- Skills development projects. If you have specific skills to share, you can volunteer at a specialist skills development project. Skills can include life skills such as basic wound care and HIV awareness, sports development such as soccer and dance clinics, and business skills such as craftsmanship, woodwork and entrepreneurship. This will help out of work adults find new jobs and opportunities.
- Sport and youth development. Plan and deliver sport sessions to children at a local recreation centre, as well as assisting in morning classes. Teach kids new skills and promote teamwork and leadership. This aims to lower socio-economic problems such as delinquency, petty crime, and teenage pregnancy.
You should choose one project to focus on, and most of your volunteering will then take place at this project for the duration of your stay, although you do have the flexibility to move projects if you wish. Let us know your project preference when you book so we can get the ball rolling on your volunteer experience.
Volunteer projects will adapt to the needs of the local community at the time of your visit. The following is an example of a typical 15-day itinerary.
Day 1: Saturday. You’ll be transferred you to your volunteer house accommodation by one of the local team where you’ll have an introductory orientation session. The rest of the day is free for you to check out the shops, beach, bars, and restaurants.
Day 2: Sunday. Take a walking tour where you’ll visit historical sites like the Castle of Good Hope and the Grand Parade, learn about life under apartheid and do some shopping at St Georges Mall and Greenmarket Square before dinner at a beachfront restaurant.
Day 3: Monday. Breakfast is from 7.45-8.15am on all volunteer days. Project volunteering from 8.30am-12/12.30pm. In the afternoon you’ll meet to plan lessons, discuss challenges, help with donations, and take part in training.
Days 4-6: Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday. After breakfast, take part in the volunteer programme from 8.30am-12/12.30pm. Lunch is between 12-2/3pm on all volunteer days, and afternoon volunteer sessions run from 2-4.30 for settlement or teaching projects and 3-4.30pm for the swim/surf project. During the evenings you will set aside some time for project or lesson planning.
Day 7: Friday. A flexible day where you can help with handing out donations to local settlements, do training or planning sessions or get involved in fundraising activities in the local area. You will also have some free time to yourself.
Days 8 & 9: Saturday and Sunday. Free days.
Day 10-15: Monday to Saturday: Repeat of week 1.
Please note: At the end of your time on the volunteer programme, you’ll need to take a flight to Port Elizabeth (PLZ) to join the Wildlife Sanctuary Volunteer programme.
Wildlife Sanctuary Volunteer in South Africa
Expect an itinerary full of plenty of hard work, incredible South African sights, amazing animals, beautiful birds, and unforgettable moments. A day at the sanctuary can be tough but unbelievably rewarding! You'll spend some 'feeding' days caring for the animals and some 'project' days helping out with maintenance and repair duties at the project.
A typical day may involve the following:
- 7:30am - After a quick cup of tea it is time for the animal's breakfast. Volunteers are given a food route which takes around 30 minutes.
- 8:00am - Now it is feeding time for you! Enjoy a delicious breakfast before getting on with the day.
- 8:30am-1pm – After breakfast you'll start going through the park's to-do list. Jobs include washing the animal’s dishes, more feeding, checking the fence perimeters for any holes, and cleaning, raking, maintaining and repairing enclosures. Jobs are allocated on a rota, so each day will be varied.
- 1.00pm-2.00pm – Take a break for some well-earned lunch!
- 2.00pm-3.30/4.00 – Animal feeding time again. The afternoon is dedicated to food preparation and distribution.
- 4.00-4.30/5.00pm - Late afternoon jobs often include washing dirty dishes, making sure there are no problems around the park, seeing to any clinical duties, and rounding up calves and other farm animals. After this you’re done for the day and can relax until dinner!
- 6.00pm – Dinnertime! After a day of hard work, you'll probably want to take a shower and scrub up before you eat. The rest of the evenings are usually spent enjoying some chill-out time, and you can watch some TV or a film, go for a walk, sit round the fire and chat, or just catch up on some Zzz’s!
You will generally be interacting with animals such as servals, caracels, marmosets, squirrel monkeys, duikers and a wide variety of birds on a daily basis. Your duties and the animals you work with will vary depending on the needs of the sanctuary at the time of your visit.
South Africa Experience
Day 1: Port Elizabeth. One of the staff from the game reserve will transfer you to the reserve where you’ll meet the gang and enjoy a welcome dinner together.
Day 2-8: Volunteering at the game reserve. Spend the next 7 – 14 days (it’s your choice whether you spend 1 week or 2 on the reserve) exploring the award-winning 6,000-hectare game reserve. Stay in five-star backpacker accommodation and work with zoologists, rangers, and conservation staff. Get up close with amazing animals every day, doing work such as game monitoring, animal capture and relocation – it’s like a non-stop safari. In your free time, the reserve’s swimming pool, tennis courts and lounge area are yours.
Day 9: Port Elizabeth. If you’ve chosen the 2-week option, head to Port Elizabeth today. Spend the afternoon exploring or sign up for one of our epic optional activities, including sand boarding on Sunday River and the longest double zip-line in Africa!
Day 10: Jeffrey's Bay. J-Bay is on the menu today for total surfing heaven. Check into the accommodation and choose from a morning surf lesson in the bay or a horse ride in the afternoon. The rest of the day is yours – that beach is calling!
Day 11: Tsitsikamma. The garden of the Garden Route, Tsitsikamma is seriously gorge. Walk the bridge trail (if you dare - the park is home to the world’s highest), join a treetop safari, do a spot of white-water rafting, or take on the 700-foot bungee.
Day 12: Knysna. Next up it’s gorgeous Knysna. Check out the bright blue lagoon and take a boat tour to Knysna Heads. Back on dry land, explore the town, grab a drink harbourside, or do an optional spot of paragliding.
Day 13: Oudtshoorn. Say ‘see ya later alligator’ to the coast and head to Oudsthoorn (the ostrich capital of the world) for a guided tour of the Crocodile Ranch. The afternoon’s yours – sample some fine wine at a vineyard or check out the amazing Cango Caves.
Day 14: Cape Town. Our last stop is epic Cape Town. You get to either take a cable car up Table Mountain, visit Cape Point or Robben Island (activity is dependent on availability). Later, tuck into a slap-up farewell dinner with the gang.
Day 15: Trip end. Say goodbye to your travel fam and either head to the airport (your group leader can help with transfers) or spend a couple more days in gorgeous Cape Town. Start planning your next trip on the way home!
Want to volunteer for longer? If you’d like to spend an extra week on the game reserve choose the 3-week option when booking.
*Please note: Some activities on this itinerary will depend on seasonal conditions. We’ll do everything we can to advise you of changes to this itinerary wherever possible.
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South Africa Adventure
Arrive into Johannesburg O.R. Tambo Airport (JNB) on day 1. There are no activities on the first day, so you can arrive at any time. You’ll be met at the airport and taken to your starting accommodation. If you choose to arrive before the starting day, we can book you into our starting accommodation from the day you arrive at an extra cost. Speak to your travel advisor for more information.
This leg of your adventure finishes on day 12 in Cape Town.
Cape Town Community Volunteers
You will already be in Cape Town after finishing your South Africa Adventure. Meet the rest of the group and your guide at your volunteer accommodation on day 1 of this programme, where you’ll have an orientation session and the rest of the day free to explore at your own pace. At the end of your time on the volunteer programme, you’ll need to take a flight to Port Elizabeth (PLZ) for the next leg of your journey.
Wildlife Sanctuary Volunteer in South Africa
We will arrange a private transfer for you from Port Elizabeth (PLZ) airport, and you will be taken to our stunning sanctuary, where you will meet the team and the other volunteers. Please note that transfers are only available between 9am and 5pm so you must arrive between these times. Depending on your arrival time, you may have to wait in the airport for other volunteers to arrive, and travel to the sanctuary as a group. If you arrive after 5pm you will need to spend a night in Port Elizabeth and the team will pick you up from Port Elizabeth airport the next day.
Your volunteer experience also ends in Port Elizabeth, which is where your South Africa Experience begins.
South Africa Experience
This leg of your adventure begins in Port Elizabeth. One of the staff from the game reserve will meet you at a designated point on the start date for this programme and take you to the reserve where you’ll meet the gang and enjoy a welcome dinner together.
The trip ends on day 15. You should arrange return flights to depart from Cape Town (CPT). We can arrange airport transfers for you from 7am on your last day (extra cost), but we’d recommend that you stay on to enjoy Cape Town for an extra night or two.
Whilst we do try and put as many start dates together as possible, there may be independent travel days in between each sector of your trip. In most cases, you can arrive in advance of the start date for any of the above programmes and still take up the inclusive transfer if you book extra nights of accommodation through us. If you’d like to arrive before the start date then please let us know in advance.
You will need to book your own international and domestic flights to move around during this multi-programme itinerary. Our partner team at Flights 360 can help you book all your flights in one go, so you won’t have to worry about a thing! For a great flight deal call Flights 360 on 01892 543943 or email [email protected]
South Africa Adventure
11 nights’ accommodation is included in a mixture of hostels and safari tents. Accommodation is on a twin, double or multi-share basis. Multi-share rooms will be a combination of mixed-sex and single sex rooms of between 4-6 people.
- 2 nights in a centrally located hotel in Johannesburg
- 1 night in a twin / double share resort with shared toilets along the Panorama Route
- 2 nights in a twin-share traditional rondavel hut with shared toilets in Kruger National Park
- 1 night in twin/double huts in Hlane National Park
- 1 nights staying in double / triple rooms in a traditional Zulu camp
- 1 night in multi-share rooms in a backpacker hostel by the beach in Durban
- 3 nights in multi-share rooms with shared pool in the centre of Cape Town
Cape Town Community Volunteers
All volunteers will stay in our volunteer house (although in busy periods, it is possible some volunteers may stay in a local hostel - they are only around the corner from each other). The accommodation is located only a 5–10-minute walk from a beautiful beach, and is in a safe, residential area close to shopping centres, restaurants, and great local bars. The volunteer house is located only a 15–20-minute walk from the bus terminal, where you can hop on a 20-25 minute bus ride into the centre of Cape Town.
The volunteer house is made up of four separate buildings in a compound, with a swimming pool and communal outdoor and indoor eating areas. In each section of the volunteer house you’ll find a communal lounge and kitchen facilities, and 2-3 bedrooms per building, with 3-4 people sharing each room, so you're sure to make some new South African friends fairly quickly!
Please note that if you stay in the volunteer house, you'll have free usage of all hostel facilities and be welcome to hang out there during your evenings and free time. The hostel is just around the corner from the volunteer house and has everything you will need to feel at home and have a great time during your stay.
Facilities at the hostel include:
- Cheap, fast and reliable Internet
- An on-site bar serving beer, wine, cider and soft drinks
- A Jacuzzi – the ideal place to relax those muscles after an adventurous day.
- Lounge & TV room – includes a flat screen TV with satellite access.
- Laundry – A washing machine & tumble drier are available for a small fee. Alternatively the staff can do it for you!
- Communal kitchen – stacked with all the equipment you’ll need to create a delicious masterpiece.
- Complementary tea & coffee is available.
- Zen garden - where you can chill out and relax under the palm trees next to the pond.
- Bonfire area – a great place to make new friends, swap travel stories and cook your food the traditional South African way – on the braai!
Both the hostel and the volunteer house are just a five-minute walk from the beach, a shopping centre, restaurants, bars and pubs. The hostel and the volunteer house are only accessible by a code pad entry system, for security.
Wildlife Sanctuary Volunteer in South Africa
You will be living within the grounds of the sanctuary in our on-site backpackers’ wooden lodges, in twin-bedded cabins. Please note that, in line with much backpacking accommodation, the lodge only offers a very basic standard of accommodation and facilities, but it does have hot water and electricity. Due to the remote location of the sanctuary, it is not on a mains water supply which means the water supply may be limited. We ask all volunteers if they will please use the water supply sparingly and always turn off taps.
You will need to bring a sleeping bag with you for visits during the winter months (March - September). You may also wish to bring a sleeping bag at other times in the year to make you feel more comfortable at night.
As the project is quite remote, there is no Wi-Fi available. However, it is easy to purchase a local sim card with internet data which you can use. At the accommodation there is a TV lounge with DSTV (African satellite TV) a DVD player, and various chill out areas to relax in after a hard day’s work! As the DVD selection isn't all that huge, you may like to bring a few of your own films along if you plan to stay for a while!
Facilities for volunteers at the park include:
- Dorm accommodation
- All your meals included
- TV lounge with DVD player and DSTV
- Restaurant serving light meals and a small curio shop selling ice creams, snacks, and drinks
- Several braai (BBQ) areas and picnic locations around the park so you can take in the scenery
South Africa Experience
You’ll spend the first part of this leg of the trip staying on the game reserve (8-15 nights, depending on whether you opt for an extra week at the reserve). Accommodation here comprises of two five-star backpacker lodges with dorm-style rooms and shared bathrooms. Both the rooms and bathrooms are single sex. Lodges also feature a lounge, entertainment area with TV and an on-site shop.
For the rest of the trip, you’ll stay in backpacker hostels along the Garden Route. These have shared dorm style rooms.
- South Africa Adventure: 11 breakfasts, 4 dinners
- Cape Town Community Volunteers: You'll enjoy three included meals a day during the week (Monday to Friday) throughout your stay on the volunteer programme. Breakfast is served at 7.45am and is a continental style breakfast of toast, fruit and eggs, and sometimes treats such as pancakes. Every morning you will be asked to fill out a lunch request form, choosing from a selection of hot or cold sandwiches, or salads, and your order will be waiting for you when you return from your volunteer project for lunch. Evening meals include hearty dishes such as chicken stir fry or pork chops. Tea, coffee and tap water are provided but other drinks are at your own cost. Your meals are served at the volunteer house and cooked by an on-site cook and will be served in outdoor or indoor communal areas.
- Wildlife Sanctuary Volunteer in South Africa: All your meals will be provided, though you can always bring some of your own food to take on picnics round the park, cook on one of our many braai’s, or buy light meals and snacks from our on-site restaurant and curio shop. With regular trips into the local town, you will never be too far from anything you might need. Please note that as you will be working alongside the wildlife, alcohol consumption is not permitted during the evenings on site.
- South Africa Experience: During your stay on the game reserve, breakfast, lunch and dinner are included. The menu changes, but breakfasts usually consist of cereals, bread, jam, cheese, tea, and coffee (and sometimes cooked breakfast). Examples of the kind of lunch and dinner you can expect, include burgers, chicken and chips, veggie dishes and casseroles.During the second part of the trip, we’ll provide breakfast, but you’ll need to buy your own lunch and dinner.
You’ll need to be a minimum of 18 years old to participate in this trip. This trip is designed for 18–39 year olds.
British passport holders can enter South Africa for a stay of up to 90 days without a visa. Your passport should be valid for at least 30 days beyond your intended date of exit. However, some immigration officials request at least 6 months validity. You’re advised to ensure your passport meets this requirement.
This trip requires you to show evidence that you have been fully vaccinated against covid-19 (final dose administered a minimum of 14 days prior to the start of the trip).
Please note: Visa and passport restrictions can be subject to change. Always check foreign travel advice and visa rules with the local embassies before travel.
Cape Town Community Volunteers
When you book, let us know which project you are most interested in for this leg of the trip, and we will match you up with this project (as long as your skills suit). When you book this trip our partner organisation asks that you provide us with a copy of your CV but don’t worry - this isn’t for anything too serious, they just want to look at your skills, experience and interests in order to match you up with the exact right placement!
On this particular programme, as you’ll be working with children, you’ll need an enhanced DBS check for this programme. If you don’t have one dated within 12 months of your programme start date, please contact us and we can arrange the check for an extra fee.
This trip is designed with your safety and wellbeing in mind. As a result of Covid-19, many of our suppliers and partners around the world are introducing new policies and procedures surrounding health and safety in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. As the state of travel is evolving these new safety measures will adapt over time, and will be different for each trip. Here are some of the changes you may see on your trip:
Arrival safety meetings
Most trips have an arrival meeting on the first day where the guide or local team will run through the trip, the safety protocols, and to answer any questions you may have. Now more than ever it is important you arrive in time for these meetings.
Proof of vaccination or negative covid test
For the safety of all travellers, at the start of some trips you may be required to show evidence that you are fully vaccinated (14 days after your second dose) and/or show evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the tour start date in order to join the programme.
Updated hygiene and safety procedures
Our suppliers and partners have health and safety procedures in place on all of our trips. These protocols will be updated and adapted as a response to the Coronavirus outbreak, dependent on local restrictions and laws.
Transport and accommodation choices
Our suppliers and partners choose the accommodation and transport on our trips very carefully, and you may see a change to what would normally be used as a response to the outbreak. This may involve such changes as enhanced use of private transport or quieter accommodation.
Trained and knowledgeable staff
Our staff in the UK are trained to help you with your trip before you depart and answer any questions you may have. In addition, the local team and guides on our trips are there to help with any health and safety concerns and to ensure our trips run safely and smoothly.
Reduced group sizes
Some trips will run with reduced group sizes to start with. You may find that trips are more intimate and chilled, whilst still being packed with fun and adventure.
Your guide or the local team will be on hand to help you seek medical attention should you require it during your trip. As medical facilities and standards can vary around the world, you should ensure you have adequate travel insurance in place before you depart to cover you for any medical emergencies.
24/7 emergency support
We operate an emergency phone line for our travellers abroad. This is operated by a UK based member of staff 24/7 if you have a genuine emergency or urgent matter that you need attending.
It is important that you take measures to make travelling safer for yourself and others around you. Ensure you frequently wash your hands, cover your face when you sneeze and cough, bring and use your own hand sanitiser and facial coverings/masks, and enable social distancing where necessary. You should also ensure you listen to the instructions and guidance of the local team at all times, and follow all local laws and restrictions.