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Volunteer in South Africa

Have you always dreamed of visiting South Africa? Would you like to contribute to improving the lives of disadvantaged people? Consider volunteering abroad in South Africa with IFRE for an unforgettable experience!

Brimming with breathtaking scenery and fascinating diversity, South Africa is a heavily sought-after volunteer and travel destination. In this amazing country, you can see fascinating wildlife up close while on a safari in Kruger National Park or meet penguins and watch whales from one of the country's beautiful beaches.

If extreme sports are your thing, you'll find bungee jumping and shark cage diving, along with windsurfing and kiteboarding. A variety of delicious food, near-perfect weather, and lovely people make this country a traveler's paradise.

Unfortunately, Apartheid scarred South Africa badly, and more than half of the population still lives in poverty. The top one percent of the country owns almost eighty percent of its wealth and those most heavily affected by poverty are blacks, the less educated, households headed by women, large families, and children, especially in rural areas.

Today, many local organizations, orphanages, and schools are working to help these poor communities and children and desperately need volunteers more than ever.

When you join a South Africa Volunteer program, you’ll make an enormous impact on vulnerable South Africans living in crushing poverty. You can help underprivileged children, work in health care, teach English, or participate in a physical education project.

Be a catalyst for change and a more positive future for the people of South Africa.

Request information about volunteering in South Africa and learn more today!

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Available Volunteer Projects in South Africa

No matter what your passion is, IFRE has a project in South Africa you will love! There are so many different ways you can make a difference, so browse our offerings and find a project which is perfect for you!

For many lower-income families in Cape Town, affordable public day-care and Edu-care facilities are very hard to find and are also often booked to capacity, leaving many young children without proper care during the day while their parents work. In an attempt to minimize the effects of this problem, a few local organizations and individuals have started operating childcare centers either out of their homes or other rented spaces.

With minimal monthly fees being charged to parents, and little help from the government, funding is always a problem and these facilities are often under-staffed and operate with extremely limited resources. For this reason volunteer help is truly valued and appreciated and needed more than ever.

Want to share your love and passion for the children of poor families? Go to the project page to find pricing and complete information.

Cape Town is South Africa's capital city and the most popular tourist destination in all of Africa. It is also one of the most multicultural cities in the world. However, public schools in Cape Town are unable to provide a quality education as most public schools are often underfunded and understaffed. It is for these reasons that volunteer teachers are needed to help children studying in the public schools so they can have a chance at a successful future.

Upon joining IFRE’s teaching English volunteer project in South Africa, you will support local schools by providing basic English education to the students. This is a great opportunity to help local children while gaining valuable teaching experience. Your dedication to these children will leave a lasting mark.

Do you want to help build a better future for poor children in South Africa? Go to the project page to find pricing and complete information.

Are you passionate about sports, education, and children? Sports are an integral part of a child’s development as organized sports teach children about teamwork and sportsmanship which will motivate healthy life choices and keep them off the street and away from dangerous situations.

Unfortunately, there are not enough youth sports clubs or centers with facilities to meet the needs of young athletes in Cape Town. In fact, most children don’t even have access to a coach or the opportunity to participate in organized sports activities at all. You can change that by participating in the sports volunteering program in South Africa.

This project gives you the unique opportunity to brighten the lives of children. You will give many young athletes the chance to pursue their passion for sports and help them to find positive outlets for their energy and time. Share your passion and make a difference!

Do you want to help young South Africans flourish and stay off the streets? Go to the project page to find pricing and complete information.

Do you want to provide crucial care and relief to special needs children in Cape Town? In South Africa there is a significant lack of services and programs designed to support and care for children with physical and mental disabilities.

The Special Care Centre, founded in 1988, is working to solve this problem and improve the quality of life of children with special needs such as autism or physical disabilities. As these children require round the clock care, often for the rest of their lives, volunteers are badly needed to ensure that they are happy, safe and comfortable.

Do you want to provide care, attention and love to special needs children in South Africa? Go to the project page to find pricing and complete information.

Do you have a love and passion for animals and conservation? South Africa is home to a great diversity of magnificent creatures, including the famous “Big 5” of the African continent. The Big 5 game reserve outside of Port Elizabeth works hard to ensure the survival and conservation of these animals and is in great need of volunteers to help achieve this goal.

Sadly, poaching and illegal trading is an ever-increasing problem, and constant vigilance and effort is needed to protect animals such as lions, rhinos and elephants from these illegal practices. This is where you come in, and through dedicating your time and effort to this project you can help make sure that future generations will not live in a world without these amazing animals.

Are you interested in saving amazing animals and ensuring their continued existence? Go to the project page to find pricing and complete information.

In addition to the exciting programs listed above, IFRE also offers group programs for high school and college students, family volunteering, alternative spring breaks, and many other unique programs. Contact us today to learn more!

Volunteering South: Program Dates

IFRE programs begin every Monday year-round. If you have travel constraints, you can still start your chosen program on any day of the year.

Please check the program page for the available dates

Our Fees

Since 2003, IFRE has been the most trusted and respected volunteer abroad organization in the world, and also the most affordable. We’re dedicated to providing the highest quality volunteer programs at the lowest fees, which make it possible for everyone, especially students, to volunteer internationally and make a positive impact in the lives of others.

We believe in 100% transparency. Rest assured; we never use middlemen. Your one-time registration fee of $299 covers our administrative costs. The low weekly fee is paid in the host country directly to your host family and project (via country coordinator), and includes housing, food, and minor expenses. IFRE is a non-profit organization, so your program fees are tax deductible.

Volunteer Program Fee (US$)

Duration All Projects (Cape Town) Wildlife Conservation
  1 Week   $300   $740
  2 Weeks   $450   $1,170
  3 Weeks   $600   $1,600
  4 Weeks   $750   $2,050
  5 Weeks   $900   $2,500
  6 Weeks   $1.050   $2,950
  7 Weeks   $1,200   $3,400
  8 Weeks   $1,400   $3,950
  9 Weeks   $1,550   $4,400
  10 Weeks   $1,750   $4,900
  11 Weeks   $1,900   $5,350
  12 Weeks   $2,050   $5,850

Comprehensive Travel Insurance $3.49/day ( below 28 years) and $4.49/day ( above 28 years) »

How your fee is allocated?

Program Fees Cover:

  • Accommodation (host family)
  • Food (local food 3 times a day)
  • Airport Pick up/Transfer
  • Program Orientation
  • In-country support
  • Personalized project
  • Pre-departure information
  • Certificate of completion
  • Fundraising ideas and letters
  • Discount for returning volunteers

Program Fees Exclude:

  • Visas
  • Airfare
  • Personal expenses on soft drinks and foods
  • Daily transportation
  • Airport return transfer

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If you’ve never traveled on your own to Africa, the prospect of planning a trip there can seem pretty overwhelming. Will your accommodations be safe? What about food and sanitation? Who will help you navigate your way on a continent you’ve only just arrived on? With IFRE you can put all these doubts and fears to rest and breathe a big sigh of relief knowing that we’ll take care of everything for you.

IFRE arranges safe, clean, and comfortable housing, serves you two local, healthy meals day, and makes sure our stellar in-country staff watches over you and guides you throughout your entire experience volunteering abroad in South Africa.

During your volunteer program you will stay in our volunteer house located in Cape Town’s most bohemian suburb, Observatory! Affectionately called “Obz” by the locals, this suburb is the home of the oldest South African Astronomical Observatory, giving volunteers easy access to all parts of Cape Town.

You will receive two meals of South African cuisine each day. Breakfast normally consists of cereal and toast and dinner is a nutritious home-cooked local meal (meat, vegetables, rice or potatoes and salad). If you are a vegetarian, vegan, or have other dietary restrictions, inform your in-country coordinator ahead of time so we can make the necessary arrangements.

Our volunteer house boasts the following amenities for your comfort and safety:

  • Backpacker-style dorm rooms with 4 to 8 volunteers per room
  • Lockers are provided to keep valuables safe (please bring your own padlock)
  • Strictly controlled access (all gates fitted with electronic keypad access)
  • 2 TV Rooms / Lounges with full cable TV (various movie, sport & music channels)
  • 2 fully equipped kitchens (fridge, stove, microwave, kettle, cutlery, crockery, etc.)
  • Communal Showers and Toilets
  • Indoor and Outdoor braai/barbecue facilities
  • Pool Table, Table-Tennis table and dartboard.
  • Hi-Speed Wi-Fi (vouchers can be purchased at R100 for 4GB of data)
  • On-site hostel manager and daily cleaning staff
  • Meals: Breakfast and Dinner included from Mon-Fri (lunch and weekend meals not provided)

You are guaranteed to make friends for a lifetime while staying in our volunteer house!

Read more about your accommodation while volunteering in South Africa.

Free Time

If you are like most of our South Africa volunteers, you’ve been dreaming of visiting Africa for a lifetime. You’ll be devoting a large part of your time abroad to making a real difference in the world, and we applaud you for your noble efforts! You’ll still want to get out on safari and see all that amazing wildlife and travel around and get your fill of all the sights and sounds this amazing destination has to offer.

Rest assured IFRE has plenty of free time built into your volunteer trip so you can get out and explore. You’ll be working on average 4-5 hours per day, and only Monday-Friday. That leaves every evening and every weekend free to have fun and go make all your big dreams of an African vacation come true!

While IFRE does not arrange activities during this time off, our local staff members and coordinators can provide priceless assistance to South Africa volunteers in making appropriate arrangements to travel. Free time is perfect for socializing, sightseeing, and adventure. Take this time to explore South Africa, one of the most beautiful countries in the world offering numerous opportunities for a truly amazing experience.

Learn more about some of the exciting destinations you can visit while volunteering in South Africa.

Safety and In-country Support

Your safety is IFRE’s number one priority at all times, and you can have peace of mind knowing we will do everything possible to ensure you have a safe and secure experience volunteering in South Africa. We offer pre-trip support, reliable and comprehensive travel insurance, airport pick-up, and availability to guidance and support by an experienced in-country staff that is right there on the ground to help you every step of the way.

In-Country Support

As soon as you arrive in South Africa, you will have the support of an experienced team of in-country field staff. The team is comprised of mature, educated, socially respected individuals who are dedicated humanitarians highly experienced in working with international volunteers.

Your main point of contact will be the in-country coordinator. They will select your South Africa volunteering project placement, make all the arrangements for your airport transfer, accommodations, and food, give you an orientation which covers culture, safety, and your service work, introduce you to your host family and project staff, and make periodic visits and calls to check up on your progress. You can reach out to the coordinator at any time with any questions, issues, or to ask for advice and they will be happy to assist you.

Read more about our safety and in-country support.

Volunteering South Africa: FAQs

If your head is a whirlwind of questions buzzing around your upcoming volunteer abroad experience, don’t feel alone! Many other prospective international volunteers like yourself have a ton of questions they wonder about, and after fielding those questions since 2006, IFRE feels pretty confident we have the answers you’re looking for. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know!

At which airport do I need to arrive?

You need to fly into Cape Town International Airport.

Do you organize airport pick up for volunteers?

Yes, we arrange for your airport pick-up upon arrival for your volunteer project in South Africa. With prior trip information, you will be greeted at the airport by local staff.

What happens if I miss my flight or arrive late?

No need to worry about that. If you miss your scheduled flight and your arrival is delayed, adjustments will be made accordingly. As you will be provided with the necessary contact information and hostel address in your placement packet, please get in touch with us as soon as possible so that we may arrange for a new pick-up time or you can hire a local taxi and arrive to the hostel.

If my project begins on Monday, when should I arrive? If I want to arrive earlier than the day when my assignment begins, where do I stay and who will organize the accommodations? Does it cost me extra?

It is always advisable to arrive early if possible. We suggest you arrive one day prior to the beginning of the program. As all our volunteer work in South Africa programs start on Monday, you can arrive on Sunday and rest for a day and then begin the project in better physical and mental shape.

You can stay at our hostel, which is $30 for each additional day for food and accommodations. Inform our in-country coordinator of your plans, and they will help you make the arrangements.

Who will bring me to the airport for my departure?

We do not provide departure transportation to our volunteers after the completion of their individual projects. Our local staff can assist you in arranging transportation to the airport for your departure, but you will be responsible for the payment of this so budget accordingly.

What do I need prior to departure from my home country?

There are number of steps you will need to take to prepare for your South Africa volunteer trip. Visit your doctor and get up to date on needed vaccinations. Buy your flight tickets and provide your itinerary to our in-country coordinator so they can arrange your airport pick-up. Prepare yourself financially to cover unforeseen expenses and transportation to your project each day. Make sure you have obtained your required travel insurance and taken the necessary action to obtain your visa.

Where are the projects located?

With the exception of the Wildlife Conservation Project, which is located near Port Elizabeth, our projects are located in and around fascinating and bustling Cape Town, South Africa, the oldest city in the country surrounded by dramatic mountains and both the Indian and Atlantic oceans.

Is there a minimum and a maximum stay?

In general, our projects last from one to twelve weeks. However, certain projects have longer minimum time frames to which you must commit. Be sure to review the project pages for this information.

Can I extend my stay if I choose to?

Yes, it is possible for our international volunteers in South Africa to extend their stay. You can extend your travel visa (if needed) in South Africa without any complications. We can also provide assistance in finding other volunteering projects to join during your extended stay.

Will I have enough time to travel after work and during the weekends?

All of our programs are designed to be flexible enough to allow free time to go out and explore South Africa’s beautiful landscapes after work and during weekends. You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy this exciting destination.

Who will guide or support me in my project?

Our in-country coordinator will support and supervise you throughout your volunteer project in South Africa. Likewise, our local staff will also stay in contact with volunteers either with timely field visits or via email and telephone. You can expect our field staff to visit you every two to four weeks to make sure that all things are going as smoothly as planned.

Can I switch projects if I do not like the one that I chose?

Yes, you can change your project if you find yourself struggling or experiencing any kind of discomfort. However, we work hard to make sure our participants have a pleasant and meaningful experience volunteering abroad. Thus, it is quite rare for our volunteers to change their initial projects. Reach out to your in-country coordinator to discuss this possibility.

Can I work in more than one volunteer program in South Africa at once?

Yes, you can work in more than one volunteer project once if you choose to. You simply need to get in touch with our country coordinator to begin the application process for your participation in additional volunteer programs.

Keep in mind each project requires you to work for at least four to five hours daily. Therefore, it can be difficult for volunteers to complete all their duties and responsibilities if they participate in more than one volunteer project at a time. A more manageable alternative can be to spend half of your available time at one project of interest, and switch to another for the second half of your trip.

How old do I need to be to participate?

You must be at least 18 years of age to participate. Anyone who is below the minimum age must provide us a legitimate parental consent from their parents/legal guardians for our approval to join. Minors can also volunteer alongside their parents.

Who manages the volunteer projects in South Africa?

Once in South Africa, there will be many layers of support for you. All of our programs are extensively managed by our in-country coordinator from start to end, and the local staff at your chosen project will also offer you support and guidance. IFRE offers field support to volunteers to ensure a pleasing and worthwhile experience.

Will I receive training before the start of my volunteer placement?

IFRE provides training before the start of any volunteer placement. The nature of the training will depend on the difficulty and requirements of the project itself. You will most likely receive training and guidance in an orientation class run by our country coordinator and local staff members after arriving in South Africa. This will cover your service work and project schedule, safety measures you need to keep in mind, and the customs and culture of South Africa.

Is there a dress code in the project?

No, there is no dress code. However, we do advise our international volunteers in South Africa to wear modest and decent clothing.

Why pay to volunteer abroad?

IFRE serves as a non-profit volunteer organization that highly prioritizes offering life-changing volunteer abroad programs in 20 countries worldwide. IFRE supports local development projects to make a difference in the lives of people living in disadvantaged areas.

IFRE depends upon its application fees for the operation and management of its programs. Everything from the utility bills, rent and advertisement to the salary of the staff and tax of the company is covered by this. The project fees are paid directly to the host families and the projects you are volunteering to help, so you can feel good knowing that the money you spend volunteering in South Africa is going directly to where it is needed most.

Why are IFRE’s fees so much more affordable than other volunteer organizations?

IFRE does not aim to earn profits or gain financial income through its volunteering projects. IFRE’s fees have always been affordable, as all the programs are tailor-made, and the money paid directly goes to the host families. There are no hidden costs or middlemen involved. This helps us to cut down on unwanted expenses. IFRE is also a financially transparent organization and works together with many international organizations to provide the most affordable and meaningful volunteer opportunities possible.

Can I get a tax deduction?

As a 501(c)3 organization, IFRE can facilitate tax deductions to those who wish to take part in any of its volunteer projects.

Can I get help to raise funds?

Yes, we provide support that will aid your endeavor to raise funds for your volunteer trip to South Africa. Contact IFRE to learn more.

For further readings:
Cost /money matter
Why to pay for volunteer abroad
How to reduce the cost of volunteer abroad
Pay fee directly to host family

Is it safe to travel in South Africa?

Yes, by all means, South Africa is a safe country to travel in. The safety of IFRE’s volunteers is always a matter of paramount importance to us. However, all international tourists need information and awareness about safety. We request everyone volunteering work in South Africa to do research about the safety measures necessary for South Africa before leaving home. Travel opinions and advise always help to make your travel safer.

What safety measures should I take?

You will be picked up from the airport and safely transferred to the hostel. Once with us, we will provide you with an orientation session. During orientation, we will inform you about the safety measures, project sites, local etiquette and culture, and various do's and don’ts to make your volunteering stay comfortable, safe, and productive. Of course, you will need to take ordinary safety precautions such as not wandering in dangerous areas alone or walking at night, being vigilant, and not carrying a large amount of cash on you.

What happens if I get sick?

You don't need to worry at all. Your health will be closely assessed and monitored by our staff on-site. If you get sick, our in-house coordinator and support staff will take you to a nearby clinic or hospital if needed. Be sure to bring along your passport and a copy of your insurance policy to present to the doctor.

Why must I get travel insurance before beginning my volunteer trip to South Africa?

Obtaining reliable travel insurance is required for all IFRE volunteers. This gives you a safety cushion should something happen to you. If your trip is cancelled, if you need any kind of medical treatment, if you need to return home, if your belongings are stolen, or if you have an accident, you will be covered. IFRE can assist you in obtaining an affordable and comprehensive insurance policy if you need help with this.

What Vaccinations do I need?

Vaccinations are highly advisable for our volunteers traveling to South Africa due to the various health hazards you might encounter. You should consult the Center for Disease Control's traveler's health recommendations (www.cdc.gov.). The main recommended vaccinations for South Africa are tetanus and diphtheria, hepatitis A, typhoid, rabies and hepatitis B. For your personal health precautions and extra safety, you should consider consulting your doctor for further vaccine recommendations.

What are the principle health risks for volunteering in South Africa?

The primary health risks that you should be aware of while traveling in South Africa are malaria, HIV/AIDS, cholera, hepatitis B, rabies, typhoid, yellow fever, and tuberculosis.

For further readings:
Volunteer Health and Safety
Safety tips for your volunteer abroad trip

Do I need a visa to travel and volunteer program in South Africa?

Yes, you will need a tourist visa. Without obtaining a travel visa, you will not be eligible to stay in South Africa and take part in our programs. You can learn more about South Africa’s travel visa.

How do I apply for the visa?

The easiest way to apply is to go to the South African embassy in your home country. You will need to have your original passport with you, along with a couple of passport-sized photos and to fill out the visa application form provided by the Immigration Department of South Africa. You will have to pay a certain fee for the visa application. You can expect to obtain the visa in a couple of weeks. Depending on your nationality, you may be eligible to obtain your visa upon arrival at the airport in South Africa. Do some research online to determine what the requirements are for your home country.

Can I extend my visa while I am in the country? Can you help me with this?

Generally speaking, extending a South African tourist visa for volunteer work in South Africa is not difficult. You just need to pay a visit to the Immigration Department of South Africa and the rest will be taken care of by the government officials. We can assist you if you need help from our local staff.

How do I contact IFRE’s local coordinator?

You will be provided with the personal information and contact details of our local staff members and in-country coordinator prior to your arrival. You can simply call them or send an email and they will be happy to help you.

How can I communicate with my family from South Africa?

Contacting your family during your volunteer program in South Africa is effortless. There’s internet access available everywhere in South Africa, so you can video chat with them via Skype or chat with them on Facebook. You can also call them directly from your mobile phone, but it can be costly without the use of a local SIM card.

Can I use my phone?

Yes, you can use your personal mobile phone during your volunteer experience abroad. However, you will need to contact your current provider prior to travel to ensure your phone will work while traveling to another country.

Can I buy a SIM card in South Africa?

Yes, you can buy a local SIM Card in South Africa even if you are foreigner. Again, you will need to check with your current provider prior to leaving for your trip to determine if your phone is unlocked and will function with the foreign SIM card.

How can I get/purchase internet services?

First you will need to buy a local SIM card from the local vendor shops. You need your original passport for documentation and a recent passport-sized photo to fill out an application form. Once you have done that, the vendor will give you the SIM Card. You can then insert it and purchase a data pack to access the internet after its activation, or you can always ask the vendor to purchase the internet data pack for you.

Is there internet available everywhere?

Yes, there is internet available everywhere in South Africa. You can access the internet from your mobile phone effortlessly during your volunteer work in South Africa with the use of a local SIM card and purchased internet data pack.

What do I need to bring?

Volunteering in South Africa can seem intimidating to some volunteers and it can be hard to know what to pack for your trip. For your stay in South Africa, you need to make sure that you have a pollution mask, a power adapter, toiletries, medicines, a first aid kit, your passport, visa, flight tickets, travel insurance, rolling suitcase, insect repellent, filtered water bottle, a power bank, earplugs, hand sanitizer, a sleep mask and sunscreen. IFRE provides bedding to its volunteers, but if you feel you would like to bring along a sleeping bag you are welcome to do so.

We hope we have answered your questions and you are now feeling ready to move forward with your volunteer trip abroad. To learn more about volunteering in South Africa, contact IFRE today!

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