From taking a safari through the wild Kruger Park to the bustling cosmopolis of Cape Town, South Africa has something for everyone. We’ve listed below some of the popular sites and tours that past IVHQ volunteers have experienced while on the IVHQ South Africa or Table View programs.
In and Around Cape Town
The IVHQ South Africa program is based near the South African capital, Cape Town; heart of the country’s nightclub and café culture, as well as some of the most beautiful landscapes in the continent.
Table Mountain National Park, just ten minutes from central Cape Town, boasts not only the world-famous mountain itself, but also a huge collection of hikes and trails for any level of adventurer to explore. Take a return cable-car trip to the top for around $20USD, or for a more challenging venture try hiking or mountain biking to the top. However you get there, you will not regret the effort when you are rewarded with magnificent views across Cape Town. We recommend saving this excursion for a sunny day, as this mountain is notorious for gathering cloud (or “tablecloth”), which could spoil your views at the top. Try calling in advance to ensure the park’s facilities are operating that day.
Shark cage diving
Shark cage diving, though not for the faint of heart, is an exhilarating adventure for those thrill-seeking volunteers in Cape Town. Get eye-to-eye with a great white from the safety of a cage, or simply observe the sharks from the comfort of the boat; either way, this will be sure to get the heart racing! Most dives cost around $130USD, but be sure to shop around to ensure you’re getting a good deal for the season you’re in.
For those volunteers who are put-off by the idea of sharing the water with great whites, maybe a penguin tour might be a better option! There are several penguin colonies in and around Cape Town, perhaps the most famous of which is Boulders Penguin Colony, just a 45 minute drive from the capital. Here you can swim, kayak, or even sit with the penguins as they lounge in the sun and sea. A must-do for nature lovers!
Castle of Good Hope
For our history-buff volunteers, try taking a wander through South Africa’s oldest building, the Castle of Good Hope. Take a tour through this magnificent building, which contains displays of historical and military paraphernalia, an art collection, a restaurant as well as a history of the castle itself. Take a horse and carriage ride, offered three times a day and lasting approximately an hour.
While volunteering in South Africa, many volunteers choose to travel further afield together to gain a greater appreciation for the impressive landscapes outside of Cape Town. We’ve highlighted a couple of popular weekend activities, which our local staff can help coordinate when you arrive in country.
The Garden Route
The Garden Route spans the south-eastern coast of South Africa, from Mossel Bay in the south to Storms River in the east. This is a must-see for our nature-lover volunteers, as the Garden Route gets its name from the ecologically diverse vegetation, lagoons, and lakes. Bus, drive or train along this beautiful road, and be sure to allow some time for an ocean safari in Plettenberg Bay to catch a glimpse of whales, dolphins, seals, turtles, penguins and sharks. Also, for volunteers who are keen on surfing, there are some spots along the Garden Route that deliver the goods!
River Rafting on the Orange River
For volunteers with an adventurous streak, venture to the border between South Africa and Namibia and have a go at rafting or kayaking down the Orange River. Trips range from a few hours and up to a week, and most companies can arrange private tours-perfect for a small group of adventurous volunteers!
Join your fellow volunteers for a three to four day safari through one of the spectacular national parks in South Africa. Try Kruger National Park in the north to see if you can spot all of the Big Five (Lion, Elephant, Buffalo, Leopard, and Rhinoceros), the Mountain Zebra National Park to learn about the protection of the Cape Mountain Zebra, or the Addo Elephant National Park, home to the last of the elephant in the Cape. You’ll see lots of wildlife in a high-quality, fun-packed and affordable weekend adventure! Safaris take place over the weekend, starting on Saturday and finishing on Monday or Tuesday, and they are booked directly with the local staff at orientation.