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Become a conservation volunteer in South Africa with IVHQ

Volunteer in South Africa - Conservation

Become a conservation volunteer in South Africa with International Volunteer HQ, the world's most affordable and trusted volunteer organization. IVHQ has a Coastal and Biosphere Conservation volunteer abroad project available in South Africa.
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Watch IVHQ volunteers abroad in South Africa

At a glance…

  • Available year-round
  • 1 meaningful conservation project
  • Projects based in Langebaan, 90 mins from Cape Town
  • Accommodation in a volunteer house
  • Between 5 and 10 volunteers start on our South Africa Conservation program each month
  • Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
  • Program fees from $300 for 1 week
  • Opportunities for weekend safaris and travel
Volunteering abroad was one of the best decisions I've ever made and I'm glad that I had IVHQ to assist me with the experience. Going to a place I knew little about and trying things I'd never even dreamed of before was what made it all so worthwhile. I definitely feel as though I've grown in my knowledge of the world as well as of my capabilities. To future volunteers who feel nervous about volunteering in a completely different part of the world, I say go for it. You'll definitely come out of it with a smile on your face and some amazing stories to tell.
Olivia Estes
Nationality: Canadian
Age: 18
Country: South Africa - Conservation
  • 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 Conservation Program is located on the West Coast of Cape Town, the legislative capital city in South Africa. Volunteer placements are located in the town of Langebaan and surrounding areas. Volunteers travel to their placements from the volunteer accommodation via provided transport or by foot.

Volunteer programs begin on the second and fourth Monday of each month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 1 week to 12 weeks.

Coastal and Biosphere Conservation

The coastal and terrestrial environments along the Cape West Coast are diverse in species and ecosystems. Long beaches, lagoons and islands provide habitats for many species such as birds, seals and sharks. The Cape West Coast is also part of the Cape Floristic Region, a region incredibly rich in flora and fauna and home to numerous endemic species. Pollution, resource depletion and other impacts affect habitats and species, with human activities in the area also influencing the ecosystem and putting biodiversity at risk.

Volunteers on the Coastal and Biosphere Conservation project will have the opportunity to join a variety of activities which focus on the protection of the coastal and terrestrial ecosystems of the Cape West Coast, as well as educating the public on environmental matters. Volunteers work in collaboration with a number of governmental, research and conservation organizations to gather vital raw data through a number of initiatives, including:

  • Bird monitoring - identifying nesting sites, population counts, behavioral studies
  • Indigenous species monitoring - species identification, camera trap implementation, abundance and location of important species, population dynamics, species management
  • Marine pollution - beach clean-ups, identifying types of litter, abundance and location of litter, sources of pollution, dynamics of pollution
  • Small scale fisheries surveys - establish regional survey, conduct interviews, intensity of fishing, assessment of species fished and human behaviour
  • Environmental awareness - establishing a regional survey, conducting interviews, raising awareness of environmental matters
  • Marketing & publicity - support partner organizations in marketing, creation of educational material, enhance publicity of organizations and activities
  • Invasive species control - identification of impact species, regional maps, long- term monitoring and effect on surrounding ecosystem

Volunteers will receive methodological, species identification and interview training to prepare for carrying out research-based activities and for engaging with the public. Volunteers conducting specific research projects or independent research are welcomed and our experienced team will work alongside you to make your project a success. If you do have a specific research project you wish to conduct, please notify your IVHQ Program Manager after you have applied for the program, to ensure feasibility.

Volunteers will also work with local schools and education centers to improve local understanding of the surrounding environment, biodiversity conservation and the need for sustainable development. Volunteers will assist with educational activities and community projects which aim to educate communities about their local biodiversity, develop an awareness of their environment and motivate them to make a change. In addition, volunteers will help run after school classes at local schools which support learning in a variety of subjects.

Orientation is hosted by our local team at the accommodation in Langebaan. It begins on your chosen start date and lasts for a ​half day. The orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program – Introduction to South Africa, Culture and Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities, Introduction to Project as well as a tour of the local area. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers with whom you can swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.​

After the initial orientation, you will work for approximately 3 to 5 hours per day. Please note that start times and daily workload depends on the projects that are currently being undertaken. A typical schedule is as follows:

8:00 AM Breakfast at the volunteer house.

9.00 AM Volunteers travel to their placements either via provided transport or by walking.

12.30 PM Volunteers break for lunch. Volunteers either travel back to the volunteer house or eat a packed lunch at their placement. After lunch, you will continue your volunteer work (where applicable).

4.00 PM Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to travel back to the volunteer house, go sightseeing, do some shopping or study/plan for the following day’s activities.

7.00 PM Dinner at the volunteer house. After dinner you will have the remainder of the evening free to relax and use as you wish.

Volunteers are accommodated in a volunteer house in Langebaan. Bedrooms are comprised of single bunk beds and volunteers can expect to share a room with 2 to 5 other volunteers of the same gender. Volunteers are required to bring their own towel and sleeping bag as these are not provided within the accommodation. The house is safe and secure and located in a safe suburb. Living is comfortable and the volunteer house has electricity, running water, Western toilets and limited Wi-Fi.

Volunteers will receive 3 meals per day, Monday through Friday. Breakfast and Dinner will be provided on the weekends, with volunteers also being provided with basic supplies to make their own lunches. Meals are served at the volunteer accommodation and are typically Western-style. Breakfast consists of self-serve tea, coffee, toast and cereal. Volunteers will either travel back to the accommodation for lunch or be provided with a packed lunch to take to their project. Dinner consists of a variety of dishes from Western favourites to local specialties. Bottled water is readily available in South Africa and volunteers should budget approximately US$5 per week for this (2 litres 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 our local team can make arrangements for you.

“Volunteering abroad was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I’m glad that I had IVHQ to assist me with the experience. Going to a place I knew little about and trying things I’d never even dreamed of before was what made it all so worthwhile. I definitely feel as though I’ve grown in my knowledge of the world as well as of my capabilities. To future volunteers who feel nervous about volunteering in a completely different part of the world, I say go for it. You’ll definitely come out of it with a smile on your face and some amazing stories to tell.” – Olivia Estes (Biosphere Conservation in South Africa Conservation)

Read more reviews from IVHQ volunteers in South Africa here

Volunteers have the weekends free and South Africa is a melting pot of cultures, experiences and activities. There is absolutely no shortage of things to see and do while in the Cape Town are or further afield in South Africa! Volunteers can fill their weekends by taking part in water sports, visiting Robbin Island, dining on the amazing local cuisine, travelling into Cape Town (about 90 minutes away) to experience Cape Town’s cosmopolitan night life, beaches, markets and various other attractions including the iconic Table Mountain or a tour around the peninsula.

See our South Africa Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in South Africa!

Capital Pretoria (Executive), Bloemfontein (Judicial), Cape Town (Legislative)
Population 52.98 million
Languages Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Swati, Tswana
Currency South African Rand (ZAR)
Time zone UTC+02:00

Weather and climate: Weather in Cape Town, where the IVHQ volunteer program is based, has a Mediterranean style climate, with warm summers and mild, quite wet winters. Because of the surrounding mountains, Cape Town has many microclimates, and some parts of the city receive dramatically more rainfall than others. The warm season (December to March) has temperatures between 17°C and 27°C (62°F to 80°F). The cold season (May to September) has temperatures between 7°C and 19°C (44°F to 66°F).

Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate, unless volunteering with a parent or guardian. Volunteers must speak fluent English and have a fair level of fitness and agility to participate as many projects involve outdoor activities. 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.

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.

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