Are you considering volunteering in South Africa? Volunteer trips to South Africa prove to be one of the most popular options for IVHQ volunteers and with two South Africa programs to choose from it’s important to find the program that will be the right fit for you. So which of the two programs is perfect for you?
While both programs operate out of the wider Cape Town area, there are a few distinct differences. This blog will help you choose the program that is best for you, by providing you with an insight into each location and what makes them different. If you are looking for other opportunities to volunteer in Africa, head to the volunteer opportunities Africa page.
Where can I volunteer in South Africa?
Cape Town, close to where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet and nestled under Table Mountain, has a rich colonial history and is known as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is a cosmopolitan city that offers its visitors all the modern amenities, while still being steeped in history, with no shortage of activities to keep you busy.
Each program is located about 30-45 minutes from Cape Town itself, with our South Africa program being located in the Muizenberg area, to the South of Cape Town; and our South Africa - Table View program located in Table View, to the North of Cape Town.
In the early 20th-century, Muizenberg was known as one of South Africa’s most fashionable seaside resorts. Today, with its laid back lifestyle, the abundance of eateries, coffee shops, surf shops and of course the beach, all within 5-10 minute walk of the volunteer houses, you can see why it is still a popular location today. Muizenberg is situated where the shore of the Cape Peninsula curves round to the east on the False Bay coast. It is considered by many to be the birthplace of surfing in South Africa and is currently home to a large surfing community and although Muizenberg is a small suburb of Cape Town, volunteers still have easy access to local shops, a supermarket, and local weekend markets.
Table View is a larger location than Muizenberg, with our volunteer accommodation set slightly back from the beach, and the area offering a stunning view of Table Mountain. Table View offers volunteers easier access to larger amenities, such as shopping malls, as well as a wide range of restaurants, cafes, shops, and bars to choose from, while still offering markets and local entrepreneurs selling items such as carved animals along the main beach road.
South Africa Volunteer Opportunities
The biggest difference between the two programs, besides the location within Cape Town, is the variety of projects that are available.
Sports Development: Both locations offer a Sports Development project, however; in Muizenberg, volunteers work in the morning at a local primary school, whereas on the Table View program, the Sports Development project is an after school activity, with volunteers helping out in the educational centers during the day.
In Muizenberg volunteers teach children for 45-minute classes, where they will work alongside the local sports coordinator, to keep the children active and learning, in line with the assigned school curriculum.
The Sports Development project in Table View operates to allow more children access to after-school sports activities, keeping them busy after school, improving their development and exposing them to new sports that our volunteers are passionate about.
In both locations, volunteers are encouraged to come with ideas and activities that they could teach the children, but it is also important to note that sports resources and equipment are limited.
Surf Outreach v Surf, Skate and Swim: In Muizenberg, volunteers can take part on our Surf Outreach project, which is an after-school activity, with volunteers also working a morning shift where they will help prepare the surf room, prepare food for the children and learn how to surf themselves. Attending the surf program is an extra activity offered to children who are performing well and attending classes, volunteers will help the children with their equipment, as well as helping them get the board into the water, onto the waves, helping with surf room clean up and generally being a positive influence in the children’s lives.
In Table View, the Surf, Skate, and Swim project is also an after-school project, with the aim to keep the children off the street and out of trouble after school, and volunteers spend their mornings helping out at the Childcare project or taking part in their designated surf/skate lesson. Depending on the skill you are assigned to, volunteers can expect to teach swimming, assist with water safety and teaching surfing to children who are already competent swimmers as well as teaching children how to skateboard.
Childcare vs Kindergarten: In Muizenberg, volunteers on the Childcare project work in local Childcare centers where the children can range in age from a few months to 6 years old. Volunteers work alongside the local placement staff to help with the day to day running of the center. Volunteers can expect to help with feeding, teaching, arts, and crafts, supervising play time, cleaning and generally spending time with the children.
In Table View, volunteers on the Childcare project work in pre-primary schools where the children age in range from 1 to 6 years old. Volunteers assist with teaching and helping the children develop their language skills and learning skills, and can also expect to assist with the feeding, supervising, feeding, assisting with nap times and cleaning around the placement.
Projects unique to Muizenberg
Animal Care Many locals in the Cape Town area enjoy the companionship of having dogs and cats, but do not have the necessary knowledge or cannot afford for proper animal care. Animals Welfare volunteers in Muizenberg work at the community-based animal shelter in Grassy Park. This project is perfect for anyone who is passionate about animal rights and providing care and support to cats and dogs that require dedicated support attention.
As a volunteer on this project, you’ll support the shelter to care for the large number of cats and dogs living there, and improve the conditions for them. Volunteers can be helping with caring for abandoned and lost animals, attending to the sick animals, assisting with general health care injections and medications, cleaning, feeding and helping with the general running of the shelter.
Teaching The Teaching project in Muizenberg is also based in local primary schools, and like the Sports and Computer Training projects, volunteers generally work with the children in 45minute class blocks. You can either be tutoring children one-on-one or in small groups alongside other volunteers, completing worksheets or problems assigned by the teacher. Volunteers can also be assisting a local teacher in a classroom and in those cases volunteers will have one class they work with, teaching a variety of subjects throughout the day.
Projects unique to Table View
Special Needs Care Volunteers on this project have the unique opportunity to work in a center that is the only one of its kind in the area. They will help the local staff in providing education and care for children with special needs aged between 18 months and 18 years. Please note this project has a minimum duration of 3 weeks.
Holiday Club project The Holiday Club project operates to help keep children off the streets during their school holidays. All of the Table View project volunteers will take part on this project during school holidays, and the activities vary depending on the time of year. The work is incredibly varied and can include sports days, beach days, hiking, arts and crafts days, field trips, baking and so much more.
Please note, while the Muizenberg program does not have a specific Holiday Club project operating, during school holidays volunteers on the Muizenberg based Teaching, Sports Development and Computer Training projects will assist on a holiday program run by the local team, and the Surf Outreach project will operate during the day. The Childcare project is not affected by school holidays and will continue as per normal.
What can I do in my free time?
In either location you will be spoilt for free time activities, whether it be lounging on the beach, visiting Cape Town, Table Mountain, Robben Island tours, or for the more adventurous there is also shark cage diving!
Not to mention that just outside of Cape Town, the Garden Route is amazing, there are game reserves for safaris and one of the worlds highest bungy jumps.
I hope this has helped answer a few of the questions you may have about the program but; if you can’t decide, we would love to have you join us for both! (you can also read volunteer South Africa reviews) You will need to submit an application for each city (checking that your dates don’t clash) and then register for each. As a multiple trip volunteer, you will receive a 10% registration fee refund from your second program onward! See the IVHQ Alumni Network page for more information.