5 Unmissable Things When Volunteering In South Africa
So I’ve just wrapped up my volunteer program in Muizenberg, South Africa.
I did a three week program in Childcare in the township of Capricorn. First off, I want to say that everything you read about volunteering changing your life.. is true. You don’t notice it at first, but as the days go by its not only those that you’re trying to help that are changing you, but also the volunteers you’re surrounded by. I feel like volunteer programs attract similar personalities, all there with a common goal and similar mindsets. So it’s not hard to make friends. New friends that you’re able to share new experiences with.
I loved the class I was assigned to, I instantly fell in love with the kids. They are so full of life and love yet it is so heartbreaking that they are confined to that township, I fear that they will become a product of their environment. A township notorious for high crime rates, regular riots and abuse being the norm. And whilst I felt like there was little I could do, I wanted to make the most of my time and show these kids that not everyone in the world is bad. I wanted to give myself wholeheartedly to these kids with the hopes to create a ripple effect.
The beauty of volunteering with IVHQ is that you get the best of both worlds. Especially for those who love exploring and constantly have itchy feet. Depending on which program you do and which country, a lot of programs end midday or early afternoon. Leaving you with the rest of the day to explore your new surroundings. Better yet, on the weekends you get to frolic and adventure as far as you desire.
There are a lot of things that I love about South Africa, but heres a shortlist of five things you can’t miss while volunteering in South Africa.
1. Hike Table Mountain
Now this one might seem like a no brainer. It’s almost a given that you should get to the peak of Table Mountain, it is after all one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. But many opt for the cable car, if you don’t have an injury or any health issue hindering your ability to hike up, hike up. There are various routes with the most popular being the Platteklip, which is the most direct route which roughly takes 2-2 1/2 hours and involves a direct ascent. Whilst this might seem daunting, there is nothing more rewarding that reaching the top of one of the wonders of the world. It’s an incredible feeling of accomplishment. You’re rewarded with incredible views of Cape Town, Devils Peak, Table Mountain National Range, Camps Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Hike up so that you make it for sunset, you will not be disappointed. For those that really can’t hike up, the Cable Car costs approximately 240 Rand or 26 AUD.
2. Do a Cape Point Tour
Cape Point, where two oceans brush together and say hey. This is where the Atlantic and Indian Ocean meet, the views are unspeakably beautiful. Most Cape Point tours will take you to Boulders Beach which is where you’ll find the penguin colony!! Hundreds of penguins just doing their thing by the beach, seeing them waddle on the shore is probably the cutest thing. They’ll also take you to Hout Bay markets, one of the better markets to buy little trinkets. You’ll also take a breathtaking drive around Chapmans peak where you’ll pass rugged cliffs edges, dense in colour which is contrasted by the vast blue sea. Might I suggest David Kennedy Adventures, an independent tour guide who really goes above and beyond to make the tour memorable. He is well known within the IVHQ volunteers in South Africa, it’s as if its a group of friends on a road trip. He knows the best spots and best angles for a photo op and takes you where the locals go.
3. Cape Point Vineyards
You’ll find that there are an umpteenth amount of markets around Cape Town. Thursday market, Friday Market, Saturday Market, Sunday Market, Tuesday Market. I’m not joking, theres a market on almost everyday. Food and wine market, clothing markets and markets with basically everything. My personal favourite is the Thursday Food market at Cape Point Vineyards. Some of the best restaurants around Cape Town set up stalls in a hall nestled within the vineyards. Not only do you get a variety of quality food, you get to enjoy it with stunning views of vineyards and mountains and theres a large lake which reflects the sky and sparkles as the sun begins to set. The food is affordable and it’s only a 25 minute drive away from Muizenberg. Do yourself a favour, treat yourself to a decadent array of dishes at Cape Point Vineyards.
4. Chase the sunset at Various Locations
Cape Town has some of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. The rugged but beautiful landscape makes for one indescribable sunset location. Check out Camps Bay, my favourite. You have close up views of the famous mountainous terrain and the sandy white beach of Camps bay. All in a 180 degree view, you can perch yourself on a rock and watch the sun drop below the atlantic and cast colours in the sky that don’t seem to belong. Secondly, Lions Head - my favourite hike! Whilst I love Table Mountain, Lions head gives you stellar 360 degree views of Cape Town, Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s an easy hike and the views are painfully beautiful. It will leave you in awe of mother nature. Lastly, if you get a chance - head over to Blouberg and watch the sunset from Blouberg beach. You get the silhouette of Table Mountain and the surroundings. When the sun goes down, you’re treated to a plethora of colours, you’ll see pink, mauve, light blue, orange. It will honestly leave you speechless.
5. Carpe Diem
Now you might think how can I miss “seizing the day” But it’s so easy to go on about your day and forget to make the most of it, the days will merge into a giant blur and before you know it, its time to go home. Carpe Diem. Give yourself whole heartedly to your program and the community/kids you’re devoting your time to. Carpe Diem. Explore the new city which you are calling home for however many weeks. Carpe Diem. Delve into the culture and really get to know the history of your temporary home. Carpe Diem. Get to know your fellow volunteers in your program, your house and other programs. It’s an incredible experience, meeting people from all corners of the earth coming together with the same mindset.
It is a beautiful world, we’re all in this together. IVHQ offers incredible programs all over the world which enables us to come together and to make small changes in every corner of the world. Hope for a ripple effect.
- Joanne Cucio