Wildlife Conservation and Childcare in South Africa

Explore Cape Town and Limpopo while volunteering on valuable conservation and childcare projects!


Program Information

Experience two beautiful locations that South Africa has to offer with this multi focused programme! Provide disadvantaged children with much needed educational enhancement in Cape Town and help with the conservation of wildlife in Limpopo on a private game reserve. Explore the sights and sounds of both regions in your free time and soak up the rainbow nation atmosphere!  

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

Travel to South Africa and immerse yourself in a country known for its rich history, culture and natural beauty! Explore two provinces and volunteer on sustainable childcare and conservation projects, ensuring that you truly leave an impact on this beautiful country.

In Cape Town, you will be living in the coastal town of Gordon’s Bay, situated just outside of Stellenbosch, where you will be volunteering at a local educare centre. The children here are in desperate need of educational enhancement and development. With your help we can help create a safe, fun and creative environment for these children, giving them the opportunity to develop to their full potential.



You will be involved in planning and implementing a project which uses educational games, song and dance, arts and crafts, gross and fine motor coordination and storytelling to allow these children to have fun while learning and developing at the same time.

In Limpopo, you will be staying at the Karongwe Game Reserve, where you will be volunteering with an international team in order to collect vital data on reintroduced predators and large herbivores on the reserve. In order to assist with this vital conservation work you will be trained to use research equipment to help locate predators in the reserve and you will receive invaluable training in large animal identification, tracking and behavioural> study skills.

No special skills or qualifications are required to join this program, as all training will be provided by our fully qualified field teams. All we ask is an enthusiasm to learn and become fully involved and immersed in this unique opportunity.

Please note travel between Cape Town and Limpopo is not included, but please speak to your Country Expert who will be able to advise you on your options and costs involved.

Highlights

Experience two different but equally amazing locations in South Africa; contribute to the care and education of disadvantaged children; meet volunteers from all over the world; climb to the top of Table Mountain; visit the penguin colony in Simon’s Town; experience a unique African bush adventure; mater radio telemetry techniques and learning to track animals in the bush; gain new skills; learning from FGASA qualified South African Guides; experiencing breath-taking views from the Blyde River Canyon in the Drakensberg Mountains and be safe in the knowledge that you are making a sustainable contribution to the conservation of local wildlife and ecosystems for future generations.

Program Details

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Project Life

Cape Town

From Monday to Friday you will travel by minibus from your accommodation to the townships to work with the children. Training will be provided on arrival and includes teacher training, lesson planning, a local language lesson and class management.

A typical day will see you working with the kids from 9am to 4am with an hour break for lunch. Activities may include basic English lessons, educational games, art projects, sport lessons or simply just spending time with the kids out on the playground. After returning to your accommodation, you will have time to relax with your fellow volunteers while also planning and preparing resources for the next day’s lessons.

Accommodation will be in houses or apartments with shared rooms and bathrooms, access to hot water, electricity and the internet. Weekends will be yours to explore the local area with the many different side trips and activities available.

Limpopo

As you adjust to life in the heart of South Africa’s bush, you will undergo extensive training to give you the skills to carry out radio tracking, monitoring of all the collared predators of the reserve, mammal and bird identification, ecology and bush first aid.

A typical day on the reserve will see you tracking the wildlife and conducting research from the game vehicles for up to 12 hours. This is to develop a baseline and a holistic understanding of all aspects of the bush. Most of the research is on predators such as lions, leopards, cheetahs and hyena, but you may have the opportunity to monitor other wildlife such as elephants. Depending on the daily schedule, if you are not assisting on game drives you may be working on data entry or helping with camp cooking duties. Another aspect of life on the reserve, is our community work, where volunteers participate in educational days with local communities to help highlight the importance of conservation.

Accommodation will be basic but comfortable, with access to electricity and flushing toilets. Sleeping arrangements will be dormitory style with shared bathrooms, kitchen and outdoor social areas.

During your time off, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the surrounding areas and activities, including visits to local reptile parks and animal sanctuaries, as well as mountain trails.

Project Details

In order to attend formal school in South Africa students must be at a certain academic level and you will be helping the children we work with to reach this standard. For the children, a good understanding of English opens up many more opportunities in the future.

Sessions are intended to help the children develop their fine and gross motor skills as well as their English language ability.  You will help organize and run outdoor exercises and games, arts and crafts, storytelling, music and drama lessons and assistance with homework. Basic resources, art materials and games will be provided.

In South Africa, we have regular contact with our partners, reserve managers and other members of the broader conservation and research community to determine our areas of focus. Depending on the weather conditions, time of year and game movements, volunteers can expect to be a part of the following: detailed monitoring of predators (lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena); herbivore sex/age ratio and its effect on predator movement; elephant impact vegetation surveys; darting/fitting radio collars to predators; monitoring of sensitive areas; invasive vegetation species eradication; and community projects focused around conservation.

How this project makes a difference

GVI have partnered up with educare centres and nurseries in townships across Cape Town to implement and deliver educational programs to underprivileged young children.

Prior to our involvement, these children had a minor, to no exposure to English in the school environment. Being a multicultural country like South Africa, skills and understanding of other languages can be the key reason for success. GVI work with nursery aged children that have not yet been place at a local primary school. With our support the children receive the bridging education and developmental stimulation that they need to enable them to continue their mainstream government education. We have seen a remarkable improvement in the children, but there is still a need for extra hands and skills to help deliver and run these educational activities.

We have a very strong child protection policy, implemented across our sites. Staff who take photos are required to ensure they are up to a standard approved by a social worker. We do not use faces or children’s names on social media or in any public domain. We have strict expectations of volunteers as far as how they interact with the children. We also give no information to the volunteers about the children’s backgrounds.

In Limpopo, GVI spends up to 12 hours a day collecting data on large predators such as lions, leopards and cheetah at our South Africa hub. The information gathered is used to give an accurate picture of the predators’ impact on prey populations, determine social structure, genetics, and spatial movement. This vital information helps maintain a healthy balance of these natural resources and ultimately conserve some of Africa’s most important ecosystems.

*During the holiday time all participants will join Cape Town’s Holiday Library program, which focuses on providing educational and interactive activities for students in the townships around Gordon’s bay. Depending on the needs of the community, you will assist with educational, sports and health related workshops aimed at improving or maintaining high educational standards. SDG 4 – Quality
Education.
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Limpopo's short, mid, and long-term objectives

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualize their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfill our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Learn about the long-term objectives you will be contributing to in Limpopo:

1. To provide long term and consistant data for Karongwe Reserve Management to assist with Reserve Management decisions based on scientific data
2. Increase local awareness of GVI's purpose and impact on Karongwe PGR
3. Increase scientific output
4. Contribute to three large scale reserve management projects alongside the Warden in accordance with the Reserve's Management Plan
5. Increase our in-country capacity by providing environmental and conservation education and training
6. Increase our in-country capacity through community upliftment projects

What's It like?

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.


Our 10 Ethical Commitments

 

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


 

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


 

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


 

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


 

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


 

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


 

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.


 

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conduct, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


 

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


 

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.


Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.


However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.


What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • Airport transfers (before 10pm on scheduled days only)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Daily transport to and from project sites
  • First Aid & CPR training
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Research training
  • Reserve fees and permits
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Telemetry training as relevant
  • Travel advice
  • Welcome meeting
  • Wildlife identification techniques

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs (where necessary)

Support & Safety

We won’t sugarcoat it — Traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.


Support

Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.


Safety

Upon arrival at the airport participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. Our minimum staff to participant ratio is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. Once returning from our programs, participants will be contacted by their enrolment manager to provide feedback on their program.


Health & Safety Case Studies

19 Nov

HOW GVI UPHOLDS HEALTH AND SAFETY

It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.


1 Nov

GVI’S COMMITMENT TO SAFETY AND SECURITY

As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.


6 Nov

HOW GVI REMAINS PREPARED FOR NATURAL DISASTERS

The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.


5 Nov

HOW GVI MANAGES PARTICIPANTS EXPECTATIONS

Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.


Exploration

Volunteering with GVI not only allows you to participate on programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems, but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield either before or after your program. Many decide to travel after volunteering, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on the programme.

Our long term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with GVI. Our field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in South Africa!

Side Trips Included

While at the Karongwe Base, volunteers will visit the renowned Khamai Reptile Park as part of the training. Later on during the phase, volunteers are also taken to a local curio market where a variety of quality carvings and other gifts are sold.

Optional Side Trips


Cape Town

Volunteering with GVI not only allows you to participate on programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems, but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield either before or after your program. There are many local tour operators offering a wide variety of excursions; or alternatively, many of our volunteers like to team up in country to plan weekend trips together.

Here are some of the exciting local sights and activities that you might want to check out during your stay:

Scenery:

  • Take a cable car to the top of Table Mountain.

  • Go hiking in Table Mountain National Park or the many other nature reserves.

  • Travel to Cape Point, noted for its natural beauty, where you can see baboons, antelope, and zebra.

  • Make the trip to Cape Agulhas, Africa’s Southernmost point.

  • Visit a private game reserve, two hours outside Cape Town, where you can spot lions, leopards, cheetah, rhino, hippo, and buffalo.

  • Book a Garden Route tour, traveling along the lush Indian Ocean coast and visit the beautiful Tsitsikamma National Park. From June to November this is the ideal location for spotting whales.

  • Travel to the Cederberg mountains, to hike the mountain trails and admire San rock art.

  • Visit the vineyards of Costania, under the shadow of Table Mountain, or Stellenbosch, about one hour outside Cape Town.

  • Explore Kirstenbosch botanical gardens, where many of the indigenous plants unique to the region can be seen.



Adventure:

  • Surfing at one of the many beaches.

  • Diving or snorkeling.

  • Sea kayaking.

  • Shark cage diving.

  • Rock climbing and abseiling on Table Mountain or the many other ranges in the area.

  • Horse riding on the beach.

  • Skydiving.



History:

  • Robben Island, which use to function as a jail for notable political prisoners including Nelson Mandela.

  • Castle Of Good Hope, the first colonial building in Cape Town.

  • The District Six Museum, which honours the forcible removal of residents from the area during the apartheid era.

  • The Bo Kaap Museum, which reflects on the Islamic traditions in the area since colonial times.

  • The Slave Lodge, creates awareness around the past influences of slavery on the city.



Further Travel In South Africa:

  • Kruger National Park, South Africa’s largest wildlife park, in the North of the country.

  • The Drakensberg Mountains, the ‘Mountain of Dragons’, and its famous river canyon.

  • Addo Elephant Park, a refuge for African Elephants.

  • The desert habitats of the Karoo and Kalahari.

  • The historic and verdant Zululand region.


Limpopo

Volunteers at base have one day off per week. For longer duration volunteers, at the end of each 4 week cycle, there may be the opportunity to take 3 or 4 consecutive days off. Independent travel from Karongwe is best done by renting a car, something volunteers usually do in groups to make more economical. Bear in mind there is an additional cost associated with pickups or drop-offs at the reserve gate. Hoedspruit, the nearest town is about 45 minutes’ drive away. In the area around Karongwe Game Reserve you can visit the Kruger National Park, with entry gates no more than an hour drive away. There’s also the ‘panoramic route’ which takes you on various scenic drives along the edge of the Drakensberg escarpment, the Blyde River Canyon and to the historic towns of Pilgrims Rest, Graskop (where Harry’s Pancakes will serve you the best pancake on the planet!) and Sabie, where you can also book onto a variety of adventure activities such as zip-lining, quad biking, canyoning and hiking, or just chill out with a picnic lunch at one of the many nearby waterfalls.

Further Travelling Opportunities


South Africa has such a wealth of fantastic opportunities for further travel. In Cape Town, you have easy access to the famous Garden Route, chances to explore the Cederberg Mountain range or take more time to enjoy the vibrancy of Cape Town. From our Karongwe base, other opportunities include the spectacular Drakensberg Mountains, the beautiful Kalahari Desert, the historic Zululand, the world-renowned National Parks of Kruger and Hluhluwe-Imfolozi and many more highlights that will leave you wanting more from this amazing country!

The Team

Shayle Havemann

Director of Programs
Meet Shayle, our innovative and driven director for all our projects around the world. She has two honours degrees, one in Industrial and Organisational Psycology, and another in Developmental and Education Psycology. Shayle also has over 10 years experience in setting up, managing and evaluating environmental and community programs across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

She is well-practiced in facilitating meaningful and effective intercultural engagement and this makes her the perfect person for overseeing our operations in the multicultural country of South Africa.

When not attending meetings or planning her next endeavour, Shayle can be found spending time with her family or taking part in some or other exciting outdoors activity!

Katelin Ryan

Service Learning Manager Cape Town

A sustainable development extraordinaire with a great commitment to create sustainable solutions for local communities. Katie has worked in South Africa for many years before her role with GVI and after completing her Master's degree in International Education she joined our team of professionals.




Her credentials include over eight years of volunteering, teaching, managing, and leading international education programs around the world. This includes working in zero-waste policy communities in New Zealand, and in an orphan bear refugee center in Croatia.




As our Service Learning Manager she is excited to use her experience designing experiential education programmes and managing community programmes.

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  • 2019
  • 2020

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Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Herritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

live base updates

Follow GVI Cape-Town's Facebook page for live updates straight from the field. Get an idea of the types of projects you might be involved in, meet our staff and participants, experience life on this GVI base, hear about free time activities, and learn about the local culture and environment.
 
GVISouthAfricaCapeTown