Those who want to lend a helping hand with wildlife or people can take their pick and volunteer in Africa or elsewhere in the world. But why does South Africa regularly make it to the top of volunteers’ wish lists? We take a look…
Nature has is all
For those who want to volunteer with South Africa wildlife, there is no shortage of opportunities. South Africa has is all. Further north near Johannesburg, it’s easy to find the much sought-after Big Five and there are countless volunteer projects to conserve the country’s many large mammals and primates. Marine lovers who want to volunteer in Africa will find one of the largest stretches of coastline on the continent. Watch whales migrating, go shark cage diving to help conserve great white sharks, or teach underprivileged children to surf.
Dramatic landscapes: mountains to beaches
It’s official – South Africa has some of the most incredible landscapes in the world. The country has eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with a further seven sites under consideration for the list. The country also has 62 mountains and hundreds of beaches along its 1,500-mile coastline. Given its geographical location, South Africa is home to the southernmost point of Africa at Cape Agulhas, which feels like the end of the earth. Such amazing landscapes mean there is plenty of nature that needs looking after, hence why South Africa volunteer programmes are thriving.
South Africa has 12 official languages, and English is one of them. This is comforting to those who want to volunteer abroad and know they’ll be able to get by in English if they need to. The country’s unique history means South Africa is home to a melting pot of cultures, helping people from all walks of life feel like they fit in. Among other people in history, we have Nelson Mandela to thank for this, who helped to negotiate the end of apartheid and paved the way for much rapid and positive expansion in the country.
Many people imagine volunteering in South Africa as being all about wildlife and long stretches of time being out in the bush. While there are plenty of opportunities for this, South Africa is home to some modern cities too, ideal for both volunteering and experiencing a different side to the country’s culture. Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa and one of the 50 largest urban centres in the world. Bursting with history, culture and modern entertainment, it’s a place to take in the Soweto township – once home to Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu – and visit the captivating Apartheid Museum. Down south, Cape Town is regularly voted one of the world’s best cities, with its enchanting mountains, beaches and ‘Europe in Africa’ feeling. Those looking for an urban volunteering experience should volunteer in Cape Town, in volunteer projects ranging from township crèches to helping disabled people.
South Africa volunteer programmes offer amazingly varied experiences, but volunteers are often looking for more than one thing when choosing to volunteer abroad. For those always on the hunt for gastronomical perfection, South Africa is the place to be. The abundance of fresh ingredients together with globally renowned chefs attracted to South Africa’s amazing lifestyle means foodie heaven is a real possibility in the country. The country is also home to hundreds of famous wineries, particularly around Stellenbosch and further along the Garden Route. Even cooking a simple barbecue (the famous South African ‘braai’) out in the bush on a volunteer project tends to be a simple foodie delight.
Any volunteer in Africa is in for a treat when visiting South Africa. Nature, landscapes, culture, history and people collide to make South Africa volunteer programmes vibrant, fulfilling and unparalleled. We know we’re biased, but South Africa is one of our favourite places in the whole world. You don’t have to look far to see why.