Filled with amazing places to visit, from great safari adventures and incredible wildlife national parks to modern cities and traditional villages, South Africa offers options for all sorts of people to visit, including tourists, adventurers, and generous souls who seek to volunteer their time and effort in order to put in their grain of sand into the fight for helping some of the most noble causes in South Africa. Here are our top picks for the where to volunteer in South Africa.
Track lions, elephants and rhinos
Options to volunteer in South Africa can be found no matter what kind of contribution you’re willing to put in. For instance, the biggest and most majestic animals of the world live in this region and are always under threat from human devastation. The Big 5 Conservation initiative allows you to spend from two to 10 weeks in the Gauteng Province contributing to the conservation and management of a game reserve inhabited by lions, elephants, and rhinos. After completing basic training in GPS, GIS and bush techniques, volunteers will work with experienced guides to track and monitor lions, elephants. rhinos, and other large animals to track their populations and guard their habitat for conservation. Additionally, you can participate in the Elephant Research program to help stop the abusive and hurtful practice of elephant riding for tourists that takes place in the region of Western Cape.
Take care of children
However, if big animal chasing is not for you, and you’re more of a people person with a special connection to children, there’s also the very rewarding option to volunteer at the Children’s Day Care Project in Cape Town. Although the region is one of the most beautiful places in the country, it’s also plagued by unemployment and poverty, and many women have to work long hours in the surrounding farms, leaving their children in need of care and education. This gives you an opportunity to engage with this children and help them develop skills that will help them when they enter the school system. Spend anywhere from two to 12 weeks with these kids and not only will you leave a mark on their lives, but they will also change your life forever.
Dogs & cats
South Africa is home to more than just majestic giant animals like lions and elephants. Don’t forget about the dogs, cats and other small domestic pets that live here and are in need of a helping hand? The Dog and Cat Rescue program allows volunteers to help the local team in the beautiful coastal wine lands outside of Cape Town to give dogs and cats in the area the medical help they need; but also the loving care and protection which is just as important. Team up with local vets to care for these furry friends as they recover from injuries, abandonment and disease so they can have happy and safe lives.
Abusive and neglectful practices with horses are not at all uncommon in South Africa. These beautiful horses have been injured and have suffered at the hands of people and are in dire need of attention and care in order to heal and be able to trust people again. As well as running the day to day schedule of the project, volunteers at the Horse Rehabilitation Program will also be matched to specific horses according to their experience so as to take care of them and help them in their journey to recovery.
Kruger National Park is home to the Kruger Conservation Program, which provides the pars residents with much-needed protection and scientific research to ensure their future and the conservation of their habitat. After receiving basic bushcraft training and learning key skills, volunteers will collaborate with rangers in the management and research of the reserve.
Under the sea
Sodwana Bay in the KwaZulu-Natal Province is one of the world’s prime dive locations and is home to whale sharks, turtles, and manta rays, among many other fascinating species. Spend two to 12 weeks learning and/or improving your diving skills by volunteering in the Marine Conservation Program and contributing to the studies of migratory patterns of megafauna, while at the same time connecting with the local communities to teach them the importance of the conservations of these ecosystems.
Hang with monkeys
Another animal population that has suffered at the hands of people is the monkey population of Pretoria. Many have been orphaned, mistreated or kept as pets and are now in need of help to recover and have good lives even if some of them can’t be returned to the wild. The Monkey Rescue Program works with over 100 primates to provide care and enrichment for them. Volunteers in this program will learn about primate behavior and help provide these monkeys with a safe and nurturing home for their rehabilitation.
South Africa is a rich and magnificent country, but it has also suffered abuse in all shapes and forms. Luckily, there are many opportunities for people to combat some of these challenges that plague the territory. So for those of you out there looking for an adventure with a purpose, we highly recommend all options above.
Read more about Africa’s Hidden Gems