South Africa

Askari WCP

I had an amazing time at Askari during my two week stay! It feels you really make a difference. Although the days are well planned with lotsof activities, sometimes you never know what will happen.
So we had an unexpected wildfire, we bumped up to two male lions marking their territority. We were also able to see had a sable darting... Unfortunately with a sad ending...

The accomodation is great. Watching the African sky on the sable tower filled with stars while listening the lions roar is truly an amazing experience!

The staff are very helpful and always prepared to answer any questions. Their knowledge is something to be jealous of!

To sum up: this is the perfect combination of conservation work, wildlife and fun! . I would recommend this to anyone! Experience of a lifetime!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Nov 19, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Projects Abroad

I decided to volunteer abroad as every now and then I like to do something that puts me out of my comfort zone, so I chose South Africa as I wanted to go somewhere that I had never been before and somewhere I didn't actually know much about, so I would be in a situation that was unfamiliar to me. I decided to go after leaving college as I believed the experience would help my confidence and independence for going to university – I figured that if I could go to a foreign country by myself and live with a family I had never met before, then moving out and studying for a degree shouldn't be a problem!

I decided to go with Projects Abroad because of the support that was given. Even before I had made my mind up at to exactly where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do, they were on hand to answer any questions that I could think of. I also liked the fact that the price covered everything for when you were out there, so once I got to South Africa I was just able to enjoy my time there,without having to worry about budgeting and therefore possibly missing out on certain opportunities, such as social events.

I was actually very surprised when I first came out the airport – people drove on the left hand side of the road and the road signs were familiar! Not too different from home. But the thing that really shocked me, which I think affects all visitors and volunteers, is the very distinct gap between the wealthy and the impoverished. Coming from the UK, this sort of obvious divide between the poor and rich does not exist. People are not living in houses which they have constructed out of whatever materials they could find. When I was driven past the oldest and second biggest township in Cape Town I realised that this was something I had never witnessed before.

I was part of the 2 week special placement, which I really enjoyed – even if it did go too quickly! My host family were some of the nicest people I have ever met. They made me feel so welcome and comfortable, and the food! Sometimes I do find myself wistfully thinking of the delicious meals that Faye used to cook – including homemade foccacia bread, which is probably my favourite food of all time now!

The first week I was there felt like a crash course in getting to know Cape Town and its history in Human Rights, as it included visits to places such as the Slave Lodge, the District Six museum and Robben Island.
I also got to visit several townships where I was able to talk to South African citizens. This included helping out at a soup kitchen, which many of the children attended. Those children displayed a tremendous amount of energy and love, attaching themselves to you at any opportunity! I definitely felt like a piece of my heart was left behind there.

At the weekend I had the opportunity to complete the famous “Garden Route” trip, which, although involving a 5am start, was definitely one of the best parts of my time in South Africa. The two days included a three hour safari, a walk with lions and the chance to ride elephants! My favourite part however was visiting the wildlife centre where I had the chance to interact with lemurs (and by interacting I mean having them clamber all over me!)

The second week was when I was really able to focus on the current Human Rights issues that South Africa is facing. I met people who are currently tackling these issues, such as those involved in the African Scholars Fund and Gun Free South Africa. These groups really made me aware of what exactly were the causes of children not being able to receive education and illegal gun ownership, and what was being done to resolve these problems. I finished the week by presenting to the other volunteers in the Human Rights Office on The Access to Sufficient Food in South Africa. I learnt a lot from researching it and I hope the other volunteers also learnt something new.

It was quite difficult to leave South Africa in the end. Even having been there for a short time, I had made friends who I know will be my lifelong pen pals and totally immersed myself in the new, exciting culture of Cape Town. A few days after I had returned I went to a local music festival which I have been going to for a few years. It felt rather strange to be standing in a muddy field in wellies, when a week before I had been seeing animals such as springbok and ostriches in the wild - which were on sale to eat at one of the food stalls!

I am already planning my next trip to South Africa with Projects Abroad, but it might be more wishful thinking seeing as I am about to become a student! But my advice to those thinking of volunteering is not to think about it too much, obviously planning for your trip is important but try not to get too caught up in what might or might not happen when you're there – just go for it, you won't regret it.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Nov 10, 2013
Overall:
8
Support:
10
Value:
10

Askari WCP

I really enjoyed this experience. It was a dream to come to South Africa and collaborate in wildlife conservation. I have really liked it. I have had the opportunity of learning a lot about conservation and animals. The fact that we had the opportunity of taking care of some animals also or seeing them closely everyday gives you the chance of knowing better their behaviour. I’ve also realised about all the work that you have to do in a reserve to keep it. What I have enjoyed the most is to have the opportunity of seeing on the field some wild animals in their own environment. Moreover, it is so nice to meet people from all over the world who at least have one thing in common with you, their love for the conservation of wildlife and animals in general, knowing that there is people out there who really want to help make you think that maybe there is still an opportunity to save endangered species.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Nov 8, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Projects Abroad

After a fabulous and busy trip to Cape Town, I’d like to share my experience and encourage others to volunteer abroad!

Although many people on the teaching project teach English, as a music student I was thoroughly interested in being placed within a school that could use help in that area. I phoned the Projects Abroad head office and they found a placement completely suited to me.

My host family lived just down the road from my placement and 6 other volunteers stayed at the same house (3 of those were placed in the same school as me so we walked together every day). I could not have asked for a better host family to look out for me. They treated me like family from the minute I arrived; giving me advice on where to visit, how to travel around, cooking me fantastic Capetonian meals every night, and of course my 5-year-old host sister keeping me company throughout my stay!

My placement mostly involved taking choir and band rehearsals, as academic music was not taught in most schools due to budget cuts. I therefore made the most of it, arranging a song by Jason Mraz to teach the main school choir. By the end of the month, the choir had learnt the song by heart and performed it to Projects Abroad staff, causing me to well up with pride. (If you would like to have a listen to the end result click, on this link: https://soundcloud.com/jessicanorton14/i-wont-give-up-hyde-park)
Even during break and lunchtimes, myself and other volunteers at the school found that we were never left alone by the kids! They would always be asking us questions about our life back home, how long we were staying, and occasionally I found myself being asked whether I would eventually marry one of the other volunteers.... (it didn’t help that Brian, the other volunteer involved in this rumor, would agree with them and start describing the ceremony...!)

As our placement finished at about 3:30pm each day, myself and the other volunteers in my house would explore Cape Town every afternoon, taking a minibus taxi to the train station. The forms of transport out there were so familiar to us in such a short time, and on our induction we were told an easy way to tell which minibus taxis we should use. They usually came by our road every 10 minutes. Although we didn’t hit the town hard every night, we did go out just before each volunteer left to give them a proper send off, and for this our host family suggested a private taxi driver that they had used for years, so no matter where I went, or when, I always felt safe.

Throughout the planning and the trip itself, Projects Abroad staff really were fantastic. The personal webpage was invaluable, giving me all the information I needed including who I would be living with and a bit about my placement. I was called by a staff member in South Africa the day before I left to make sure I didn’t have any last-minute worries or queries, and at the airport I was greeted by a member of staff to take me straight to my host family.

If you are thinking of traveling abroad, I would thoroughly recommend Projects Abroad; they care about each and every one of their volunteers and will make sure you have the best time on your placement. Not only that but you meet people from all corners of the globe in the same situation as you. You make friends for life on these trips, and will have experiences that will stay with you for the rest of your life. I will always have a place in my heart for the people and places I experienced whilst volunteering, and I hope you grab the opportunity to do the same!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Nov 8, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Askari WCP

My short time that I had here was one of the best experiences of my life. I had always had a passion for wildlife but these two weeks have been everything I could have possibly wanted and more. It has confirmed for me that this is what I would like to do later in life. Whether it was the satisfaction of finally finishing the sable station or sitting in the back of Jimmy's truck trying to bait a lion, each day bought new challenges and I love the place even more for that. Finally, and perhaps most importantly I must thanks Joe and Katie, they make Askari what it is and I couldn't think of a better pair of people to run such a programme. Their depth of knowledge and obvious passion for the wildlife was quite simply unbelievable. You could not wish for a more friendly and caring two people to be looking after you. Thank you for an amazing 2 weeks and I hope to be back as soon as possible.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Sep 4, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

African Impact

Volunteering with African Impact is the best thing I have ever done and I can't wait to go back as soon as possible! The projects are organised really well, they keep you busy when you are there but thats the whole reason of volunteering right? Sustainability is really important to African Impact and thats clear in each project I was involved in. The more you put in to the projects the more you get out, thee most rewarding thing I've ever done.
Monday to Friday you're busy on projects from 8:30am till around 4pm, coming home for a delicious cooked lunch in between. In your spare time you get to see more of this beautiful part of the world and get to make friends for life with the other wonderful volunteers and the AMAZING African Impact staff.
The co-ordinators and other staff members are just brilliant, a total inspiration and are always there when you need them. The house where you stay is really lovely and the meals the zulu ladies cook are DELICIOUS!
Volunteering with African Impact is a fantastic experience, you get to see a different part of the world, immerse yourself in a different culture, help those less fortunate than you and develop yourself as person as a result.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Sep 4, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Cross-Cultural Solutions

CCS is truly an amazing program to volunteer with! They successfully combine volunteering with tourism and free time. You truly feel like you are living in the country you choose. I went to Cape Town, South Africa and literally had the time of my life. The food, the people and the music was nothing short of amazing. I received so much love in Cape Town and there was never a time when I didn't feel safe. I have so many great memories from CCS Cape Town that I will never forget. I recommend traveling with Cross-Cultural Solutions!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Aug 31, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Comments

visit: toushayinsouthafrica.tumblr.com for my full story!

Global Vision International (GVI)

From the moment i stepped off the plane in Johannesburg I was met by smiling, friendly GVI staff, along with the other volunteers who would also be joining me on the program. After a few hours drive and a lot of very nervous conversation between everyone we arrived at our base camp in Karongwe Game Reserve. As soon as we stepped off the mini bus though everyone's nerves soon disappeared. Greeted by fellow volunteers who even took our bags from the bus and made us feel right at home straight away. Instantly i was impressed by the organisation and the friendly manner of everyone. The facility itself also surprised me for the good. It had been described as basic, but it had everything someone would need to be happy. A bed, hot shower (apart from a couple of days), lovely food, friendly people and a view to die for looking into the African Wilderness. After a week of training learning about the area, the animals, and how the research will help with future development of these wonderful creatures, we got underway with the reason I went out there. Going out on two game drives a day provided me with some sightings i will never forget. A particular highlight was a Brown Hyena, only the third to be spotted in a year, and also a sighting of the rare honey badger. However the best part of the entire program was helping when 'Tsavo', a big male leopard was darted and operated on as he was implanted to help with research. Getting that close to these amazing creatures was mind blowing! Of course as I was doing the Lion Research program I had side projects to help with the understanding of them. For example collecting data on movement patterns, and learning about track sizes and calling/roaring etc. Knowing my research was helping these animals was a brilliant feeling. I also found a new found love of birds and the little creatures. It was a memorable time and I wish i was there for longer. The staff were incredibly knowledgeable and I am still in contact with many of them now! GVI were superb throughout and i would thoroughly recommend doing a program like this if you are interested in this field of work or just fancy getting an amazing insight on some amazing animals.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Aug 29, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
8

Frontier

In January 2013 I arrived at Kwantu Private Game Reserve to start my Field Guide Course to become certified as a South African Park Ranger! This project is 56 days long, if you choose to stay later I would highly recommend it! I had so much fun while I was out there. We would start our days at 7:30am and go out onto the reserve and begin our very labor intensive day, usually clearing fence or chopping down trees! We went to breakfast at 9:30, for all of you used to eating as soon as you get up...be prepared for a change! 10am was usually the time we would have class with our wonderful instructor Gerry, we were given a work book and a book to study from. If you are an animal lover you will never be bored with this class. After a lecture lunch began at 1pm until 2pm, if you finished a little early we would all go up to the pool and hang out for a bit. Then the hard work started at 2 because we were getting to the hottest part of the day! Some days it reached 108 and was unbearable. We'd do the same like chopping trees, clearing fence, weeding the garden, going to feed lions, tigers and cheetahs, fix the pred camp fence and much more. And then late in the afternoon you get a game drive! Seeing hundreds of wildebeest, blesbok, springbok, a few kudu, eland, and the most exciting...elephants, giraffes, lions, rhinos, buffalo, and if you are super lucky a leopard. Dinner started at 6pm and we had the rest of the night to do what we wished. We were allowed to leave on the weekends to go into Port Elizabeth, great parties, food, clubs, beaches, shops and anything else a tourist could want! The hardest part about this program was leaving. I made so many friends that live all over the world. There are very few I'll ever see again. The rangers are the kindest people you will meet and I had the opportunity to help raise a white lion cub. He was a true treasure and he made so much of the life at Kwantu bright. I highly recommend this trip for anyone who isn't afraid of hard work, dedication, and love for animals. Because if you're are, it will be a rude awakening labor wise and not as enjoyable as you predicted. Not all days were like the day I summarized, there would be dawn drives at 5am and night drive from 8pm-11. You'll have the time of your life, trust me! For anyone who is choosing this trip, have fun :)

Program: Gap Year
Location: South Africa
Posted: Aug 21, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
8
Value:
10

Global Vision International (GVI)

I spent two months volunteering at Karongwe game reserve in South Africa and I loved every minute of it.
The people that I meet on my trip were amazing, the staff were so passionate about what they do, and the friends I have made will be my friends for years to come. Some of the experiences we had on the reserve were once in a life time events that we will probably never get to see again. It was amazing!

I will 100% recommend this program to anyone who loves Wildlife and Conservation to try this program, you will never regret it!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: South Africa
Posted: Aug 9, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

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