Volunteer in South Africa
At a glance…
- Available year-round
- 5 meaningful project options
- Projects based in Muizenberg, 30 minutes from Cape Town
- Accommodation in volunteer houses
- Between 20 and 50 volunteers start in South Africa each month
- Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
- Affordable program fees
- Opportunities for weekend safaris and travel
- Most affordable fees - as the world leader in affordable volunteer travel, we’re able to keep our fees low by partnering with a local organization in South Africa to support meaningful community projects and local employment.
- Superior support - your experienced IVHQ Program Manager, teamed with our local team in South Africa will ensure you feel supported every step of the way - from planning to volunteering.
- Responsible projects - we’re dedicated to ensuring that our projects are responsibly run and have sustainable positive impacts that are supporting local needs.
- Online training - as soon as you register on an IVHQ program, you will gain access to our interactive volunteer training to ensure you’re well prepared for your program.
- Safety-first - volunteer safety is a top priority for IVHQ and we have clear standards for risk management on each program. You can feel confident that you are placed with trustworthy institutions, organizations and families that have been screened by our local teams.
- New friendships - as an IVHQer, you’ll always be in the company of friendly locals and like-minded volunteer travelers who will quickly become your life-long friends.
- Epic weekend adventures - you’ll have your weekends free to explore South Africa with your new-found friends.
The IVHQ South Africa volunteer program has volunteer placements located near central Cape Town. These placements are based in the Capricorn/Vrygrond community in Muizenberg, which is approximately 30 to 40 minutes from the Cape Town city center. Volunteers are required to fly into Cape Town, which is a 16 to 21 hour flight from most major airports in Canada.
Volunteer programs begin on the first and third Monday of each month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 1 week to 24 weeks.
A number of small towns and communities in Cape Town have computer facilities available for public use, however very few locals are computer literate and therefore are unable to utilize these facilities. The Computer Training project allows volunteers to make a valuable contribution to these communities by teaching basic computer skills, providing local children with access to the Internet and the opportunity to up-skill and improve their future employment prospects. The Computer Training project is run through a local school, with school holidays running in January, April, June, September and December. If you apply for the Computer Training project during the school holidays, you will be switched to the school holiday project. Towards the end of each school term, exams will be written and computer training is limited during the exam periods. Computer Training volunteers can therefore assist with the Teaching project to ensure they have sufficient work each day. Please note, volunteers on this project must be computer literate and ideally have some relevant qualifications.
Volunteers on the Teaching project in South Africa are placed in one of three public schools, where they tutor struggling students and work alongside local teachers or other volunteers. Typical subjects taught at these schools include English, Mathematics, Life Skills, Social Studies, Art and Physical studies however there is a heavy emphasis on English. Volunteers tutor for one hour blocks and follow a set timetable. Volunteers work follows a set curriculum and work books. Volunteers may also be asked to help organize other activities for the students, including sports. The schools run throughout the year and a typical school year has holidays during January, April, June, October and December. Towards the end of each term, exams will be written and teaching work is therefore limited during these periods. As volunteers work with the support of IVHQ’s local team and placement staff, they do not need to be qualified or experienced teachers to participate. However, we encourage volunteers to come prepared by completing some relevant training, like a teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) course. Visit our Online TEFL course page to learn how to gain an internationally-recognized TEFL certification at a discounted rate. Please note, if you apply for the Teaching project during the school holidays, you will be switched to the school holiday project.
Providing care and education for children from disadvantaged backgrounds is the top priority of volunteers on the Childcare project in South Africa. Volunteers on this project are placed in day care centers attended by children from poor backgrounds and broken homes. Some of the children have lost their parents to crime, alcohol or drug abuse, and HIV/ AIDS, forcing them to live with their relatives or neighbors, who often do not have the means to take proper care of them. In addition to teaching and caring for these children, volunteers on this project are also involved in organizing games and activities, and helping with general duties of the center, including cooking and feeding the children.
Our Sport Development project operates in the same schools as our Teaching and Computer Training projects around the Western Cape region and focuses on developing both the physical skills and general life skills of the children as these schools do not have PE Teachers. Volunteers generally work with children from Grade 1 to Grade 7 and are responsible for the planning and delivery of creative and innovative Physical Education lessons which link directly to the Learning Outcomes and Curriculum set out by the Western Cape Education Department. During the school holidays, a holiday project is organized for the children by volunteers and the local coordinator, which involves a variety of activities aimed at promoting physical, social and personal development.
You don’t need to be a pro surfer to appreciate the thrill and excitement involved in the sport of surfing and surf enthusiasts of all abilities are welcome to join our Surf Outreach project in South Africa! This is an after school project, in which volunteers facilitate local children in learning how to surf, while teaching them valuable life skills. Volunteers on the Surf Outreach project work with children aged between 9 and 15 years old, who come from disadvantaged backgrounds where poverty, abuse and violence is not uncommon. Surf Outreach volunteers provide a positive influence to these children and help build their self-confidence by providing them with an opportunity to spend their free time in a healthy and productive way. Examples of volunteer duties on the Surf Outreach project include; planning activities and teaching the children how to surf or play beach games, cleaning wetsuits, cleaning the Surf Development Center, preparing sandwiches for the students. Volunteers on this project spend three days per week surfing and one day per week teaching beach games. Volunteers can also spend one morning per week taking part on the Teaching or Childcare projects, if they wish. During the school holidays, a holiday project timetable is organized for the children by volunteers and the local coordinator. Volunteers have the opportunity to learn how to surf with an instructor and have access to the surf equipment in the morning, while the students are at school. Please note, volunteers on this project must be competent swimmers, however you do not need to know how to surf.
The program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of each month and volunteers need to arrive in Cape Town on the day before orientation.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Cape Town International Airport (CPT). Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee.
When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by the local team’s shuttle company and transported to the volunteer accommodation in Muizenberg, where you will be greeted by a member of the local team. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.
If you are traveling in South Africa prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up within the Cape Town CBD area on the day before your program orientation.
Orientation is taken by our South Africa team in Muizenberg, Cape Town. Orientation begins on the morning of your chosen start date and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in South Africa – Introduction to South Africa, South African Customs, Language Training Details, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities in South Africa, Introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing. Once your orientation is complete you will take a trip in Cape Town for lunch before returning to your volunteer accommodation.
First Day: On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.
Weekdays: A typical volunteer day would be as follows:
7.00 AM Breakfast at the volunteer house.
8.00 AM - 8.30 AM Volunteers leave home and travel to their placements. Work and hours are dependent on the project and placement that each volunteer is working at.
12.00 PM - 2.00 PM Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to travel back to the volunteer house for lunch, go sight seeing, or do some shopping.
7.00 PM Dinner at the volunteer house.
Volunteers are accommodated in volunteer houses and can expect to share a room with one to five other volunteers. Bedrooms are comprised of single beds and bunk beds with bedding provided. You will just need to bring your own towel and toiletries. The accommodation is safe and secure with the volunteer houses located in a safe suburb near the community where volunteers work. Living is comfortable and the volunteer houses have electricity and running water with Western toilets.
To access the internet during your program, we recommend bringing an unlocked mobile phone and purchasing a local SIM card when you arrive in South Africa, as WiFi is not available in the volunteer accommodation. Alternatively, you can access WiFi from local cafes and restaurants in the area.
Volunteers in South Africa receive three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and meals served in the volunteer house are typically Western-style. Breakfast consists of self-serve tea, coffee, toast and cereal. Lunch and dinner consists of dishes containing meat, vegetables and a starch, such as potatoes, bread or pasta. Bottled water is readily available in South Africa and volunteers should budget approximately US$5 per week for this (2 liters per day), however tap water is fine to drink in the volunteer houses and most other areas. If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you. However, we need to stress the point that you should not expect to eat as you normally do at home. We will do our best to see that you are well taken care of, but also as a volunteer, there is a need to be flexible.
“When I arrived for my surf outreach program the lodge itself exceeded my expectations, it was very comfortable and nice. The surf program was so much fun. The surf instructor was amazing and I was surprised how quickly I learned to surf. I enjoyed working with the children very much and my only complaint was that I was only there for two weeks and just when I was starting to get to know the kids I had to leave.” - Brianna Weeks (Surf Outreach Volunteer in South Africa)
On the weekends, volunteers have spare time to relax or take the opportunity to explore Cape Town or other areas in South Africa. Long weekends can be taken if volunteers wish to go on safari, or travel to places further afield, such as the Garden Route. Although there are no cooks on staff during the weekend, food supplies are stored in the kitchen at the volunteer houses for volunteers to use to prepare their own meals.
See our South Africa Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in South Africa!
|Capital||Pretoria (Executive), Bloemfontein (Judicial), Cape Town (Legislative)|
|Languages||Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Swati, Tswana|
|Currency||South African Rand (ZAR)|
Weather and climate: The subtropical location, moderated by the Atlantic and Indian Oceans on three sides of the country and the altitude of the central plateau, are responsible for the warm temperatures typical of South Africa. Across much of the country, summer (December to February) is characterized by hot, sunny weather with temperatures averaging around 25°C (77°F). Winter (May to September) is cooler and drier with evening temperatures averaging around 10 °C (50°F). In Cape Town, sporadic showers and chilly winds are common during the winter months, but with daytime temperatures can average around 15°C (59°F).
Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate, unless volunteering with a parent or guardian. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ’s local team on arrival in South Africa. Additional requirements apply for Surf Outreach and Computer Teaching volunteers, please read the project descriptions below.
Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.