Volunteer in South Africa and experience all the different colors of the ‘Rainbow Nation’. Visit vibrant and multicultural cities and volunteer with underprivileged south african children in the townships of Cape Town and Johannesburg. Do you want to use your language skills? Teaching English at local schools is perfect for you. You’re not a fan of big cities? The endless plains and plateaus are the home of the most famous South African wildlife, the coastlines offer amazing beaches and plenty of marine life. Get ready to volunteer with South African elephants, big cats, rhinos, great white sharks, you name it! Plenty opportunities are waiting for you and we are keen to show you how to volunteer in South Africa.
Are you thinking about doing something meaningful on your next holiday? Why not volunteer abroad in South Africa, a country with a great diversity of landscapes, astonishing wildlife, and even a bustling city life in places like Cape Town and Johannesburg. Volunteers can support community projects in South Africa, work with African wildlife or join one of the many NGOs. South Africa is an international volunteering experience that you won’t regret.
This guide will give you an overview of the volunteer opportunities in South Africa. Once you’ve found the right project and start planning your stay, make sure to plan in some extra time to explore South Africa’s breathtaking landscapes and its rich culture.
South Africa is called the “Rainbow Nation” for a reason. South Africa is a mix of cultures and celebrates all of them. From small villages to big cities such as Cape Town or Johannesburg, there are many places to volunteer in South Africa and plenty of South Africa volunteer programs that need your support. Here are a couple of interesting facts about South Africa:
South Africa is one of the most developed countries on the African continent. Like most places, it still faces its own challenges on many fronts. There are several poor communities that require all the support they can get. South Africa’s animals and biodiverse environment also rely on external conservation efforts to protect it.
What makes this African country particularly interesting for volunteers is the variety of volunteering projects abroad:
Let’s take a look at the different volunteering opportunities in South Africa!
Quality education is the key to the positive development of a community. Volunteering in a South African school can be a great way for you to help children get a good start in life and break out of the vicious cycle. Although South Africa’s rate of investment in education is one of the highest in the world, its education system and youth still face many challenges.
Wealth is not divided equally between the different segments of the population. This is especially noticeable in larger cities like Cape Town. There aren’t enough schools or qualified teaching staff to do a good job which leads to the ongoing high illiteracy rates in South Africa.
Volunteers who want to teach in South Africa can join a school and teach the subjects they’re most passionate about. This can range from language lessons to mathematics, IT skills, and even sports. All types of creative after-school activities are appreciated because they are so helpful for children’s development.
Physical education is another crucial part of children’s development and where you can help in volunteer organizations in South Africa. Sports projects are a great way to work with at-risk youth from disadvantaged areas and give them a meaningful past-time. It’s also a safe environment to teach them about fairness and discipline. Some of the country’s favorite sports you can teach are:
You can support one of the many community projects by becoming a child care volunteer in South Africa. Help take care of young children while their parents work. Engage them in activities and give them the attention they lack but desperately need.
Volunteers who want to work with children are required to stay for a minimum of 4 weeks to guarantee a stable environment for the children. We also strongly suggest you have relevant work experience with children.
South Africa is the perfect destination if you want to volunteer with African wildlife in their natural habitat. The country has the third-highest level of biodiversity worldwide. It is shrinking, however, at an alarming rate because of habitat loss and illegal hunting.
Volunteering for an African wildlife conservation project in South Africa allows you to see the Big Five (if you’re lucky) and many other amazing animals. This is also your chance to spread awareness about the importance of protecting them. The tasks you will do as a volunteer in South Africa with wildlife depends on the project you join and can range from:
While it is important for wildlife volunteer organizations in South Africa to practice a strict “hands-off” policy with the wild animals, orphaned animals and those that can’t be released will require close contact and attention. Some animals you may work with during your South Africa volunteer experience, either in the wild or at a sanctuary are:
Not only the animals on land need help from volunteers. Those living underwater also need your help.
As a marine conservation volunteer in South Africa, you can get the best of both worlds. Live in Cape Town or Port Elizabeth and volunteer at sea while you get hands-on experience assisting research and conservation efforts. Support the continued development of marine conservation efforts by spreading awareness among locals and tourists. South Africa has an abundance of marine life, including species such as:
If you’re interested in doing environmental volunteer work in South Africa, you will learn a lot about South Africa’s unique environment. By volunteering, you will have a huge impact through your work in nature but you can also make an impact by educating people in the community about the importance of environmental conservation and how they can help.
One of the greatest environmental issues in South Africa is deforestation. This is caused by the expansion of plantations, mining, and changes in infrastructure. This is why raising awareness among locals whilst reversing the destruction of indigenous forests and woodland is so important.
Volunteer opportunities in South Africa will require a lot of physically hard work but will also be incredibly rewarding. Are you ready to support one of the environmental conservation programs?
Joining medical mission trips or one of the healthcare volunteer projects in South Africa is a great way to do something meaningful while gaining practical work experience.
This is a unique opportunity to gain healthcare experience in a completely new work environment. Depending on your knowledge and qualification, your medical volunteer work in South Africa can include the following:
Your work as a volunteer for healthcare projects is highly valued because the country’s healthcare system faces many challenges. This is your chance to use your skills to have a positive impact on healthcare development in South Africa and experience the challenges and rewards of a job in the medical field.
Volunteers who enjoy the hustle and bustle of the city will find volunteer opportunities in exciting South African cities like Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, and Johannesburg.
Don’t worry if you prefer a less busy setting. There are several environmental or wildlife conservation volunteer programs located all over South Africa close to national parks.
Get ready to discover one of the world’s greatest tourist hotspots and contribute to a meaningful cause!
The suggested daily budget for living as a volunteer in South Africa is between US$ 28 and US$ 50. This is an estimate made considering the average price of some of the services or things you may need. It gives you a general overview of how much things cost in this country, so you can be prepared and put aside the money you will need.
Additional costs you should consider will be:
There are a few volunteer programs in South Africa that are free. Volunteer in South Africa for free and work with children or African wildlife. In these cases, you can even count on accommodation to be included during your stay.
You can also use the filter option on our platform to select volunteer projects within your budget. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our live chat team if you are having any difficulties. We are always happy to help you find the right volunteer opportunity for you.
Before starting one of the volunteer programs in South Africa, it’s important to think about the cultural norms and precautions you’ll need to adjust to. The following list will help you with that:
There are some things you need to know to travel safely. Some cities are more dangerous than others. Although Cape Town is considered relatively safe, there are always areas that should be avoided. Do your research beforehand so you’re aware.
Using your common-sense and intuition is always good to keep you safe but here are some useful tips for your adventure abroad:
The majority of people in South Africa are Christian (around 80 %), 1.5 % believe in Islam, 1.2 % in Hinduism, 0.3 % in African traditional belief and 0.2 % in Judaism. You’ll find many places of worship for all of the different religions. You should act respectfully and appropriately in these places.
To make sure that you have a pleasant stay while volunteering in South Africa, there are some tips for health and disease prevention that you might find helpful while traveling abroad. Make sure to have valid standard vaccinations against:
The US based health protection agency CDC also recommends getting further vaccinations to prevent diseases from contaminated water and food. If you are volunteering in South Africa with animals and spending a lot of time outdoors, you will also need additional preventive vaccinations and medication:
Your luggage will depend on where you’re staying in South Africa and what kind of voluntary work you will be doing. There are some essentials we recommend to everyone:
This is a blogpost on the ultimate packing list that may be useful for your trip.
You may notice that there are many different volunteer programs in South Africa. They each require different skills and abilities. While you can find the specific requirements for each project on their program page, here are some general requirements that apply to most volunteer projects in South Africa:
Take a look at the following 3 steps that will prepare you for your volunteer work in South Africa and an unforgettable adventure abroad:
Please keep in mind that the following information is based on a best practice approach. It has been made to the best of our knowledge and in cooperation with several volunteer projects in South Africa.
You should discuss your visa requirements with your project coordinator via Volunteer World. They are happy to help you with that. If in doubt, we also recommend getting in touch with the South African embassy or consulate in your country.
There are some general requirements you need to take into account prior to traveling:
If you are a resident in Australia, Switzerland, the USA or EU (including the UK), you can volunteer in South Africa on a holiday visa for up to 90 days. This holiday visa can be obtained at the airport upon arrival. Once in South Africa on a holiday visa, you can apply for a three-month extension for an additional fee to extend your stay up to six months.
If you are planning to volunteer in South Africa for more than 90 days, you should apply for a volunteer visa, which is a temporary residence visa.
It takes a bit more effort and documentation but lasts up to three years! To make this step as easy as possible, you can find the application form via the link. Make sure to submit the completed application form to the South African Embassy or Consulate in your home country. They will provide you with further information and give you a checklist of documents to be submitted. Please remember that the application process can take more than a month so we would advise you to start far in advance.
If you’re thinking of volunteering abroad, South Africa is a wonderful volunteer destination with options for all types of volunteers. Whether you’re teaching, volunteering with African wildlife, or contributing to childcare initiatives, your work makes a difference.
International volunteering overseas is a great way to gain practical work experience abroad while giving back to the community. Let us help you find the volunteer projects abroad that are right for you. Whether you’re volunteering in Cape Town, Johannesburg, or Port Elizabeth, we have inspiring volunteer abroad programs waiting for your support.