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Become an eco volunteer in South Africa with IVHQ

Volunteer in South Africa - Conservation

Join the Eco Volunteer project in South Africa with International Volunteer HQ, the world's most affordable and trusted volunteer travel organization. Volunteers are based in the Western Cape province of South Africa and work together to support environmental and wildlife conservation volunteer initiatives.
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Watch IVHQ volunteers abroad in South Africa

At a glance…

  • Available year-round
  • Environmental and wildlife conservation volunteer opportunities
  • Coastal location, 90 mins from Cape Town
  • Accommodation in a volunteer house with a pool
  • Between 5 and 10 volunteers start on our Eco Volunteer program in South Africa 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, whale-watching and exploring Cape Town
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 - Eco Volunteer Program is located in the Western Cape province of South Africa, just 90 minutes from Cape Town. Volunteer placements are located in the coastal town of Langebaan and surrounding areas. Volunteers travel to their placements from the volunteer accommodation by transport provided by the program or walking.

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.

Eco Volunteer

If you want to join an eco volunteering project that combines conservation work with the chance to volunteer with animals, this project is for you. With a focus on protecting the local coastal environment and providing care to neglected horses and dogs in the area, you will have the opportunity to support a diverse range of eco volunteer initiatives along the Cape West Coast of Cape Town.

In collaboration with a number of governmental and conservation organizations, you will play an important role in gathering raw data through bird monitoring​,​ indigenous species monitoring​,​ marine pollution​ clean-ups and monitoring, small-scale fisheries surveys​, as well as supporting invasive species control and ​environmental awareness campaigns.

When volunteering at the animal shelter, your tasks will involve feeding, grooming and walking the animals, and assisting with maintenance at the shelter where required. Depending on your previous experience, there is also the opportunity to work with horses on a lunge line, or to spend time with them to help regain their trust in humans.

Volunteers on the Eco Volunteer project are also involved in engaging with the community through environmental education programs within local schools and education centers. These programs are designed to educate communities about the biodiversity of Western Cape with the goal of raising awareness of environmental issues, and motivating locals to support the protection of their environment. Volunteers may also assist with after-​school classes at local schools which support learning in a variety of subjects.

There are no prerequisites to join this project as all volunteers will receive training to prepare for carrying out research-based activities and for engaging with the community for education campaigns.

If you are conducting a specific research project or independent research, our experienced team will be happy to 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 in advance to ensure feasibility.

Orientation is hosted by our local team at the volunteer house 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 your Project, as well as a tour of the local area. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers so 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 depend on the projects that are 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, volunteer work continues (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 and 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/bedding, as these are not provided within the accommodation. The volunteer house is safe and secure, located within a safe suburb with almost all of the amenities of home located nearby. Living is comfortable and the volunteer house has electricity, running water and western toilets. The accommodation also has a pool which volunteers can relax beside during their weekends and free time. Access to Cape Town for weekend activities is also easy to arrange.

WiFi is available at the volunteer house, however the connection can be slow so we recommend bringing an unlocked mobile phone and purchasing a local SIM card when you arrive in South Africa. The local team can assist you with purchasing a SIM card during your program orientation. You can also access WiFi from cafes and restaurants located within walking distance of the volunteer house.

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 house 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 favorites to local specialties. 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 house 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, whale-watching, visiting Robbin Island, dining on the amazing local cuisine, traveling into Cape Town (about 90 minutes away) to experience the cosmopolitan night life, beaches, markets, and the iconic Table Mountain.

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 62°F to 80°F (17°C and 27°C). The cold season (May to September) has temperatures between 44°F to 66°F (7°C and 19°C).

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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