African Impact Volunteer in Africa

African Impact

About

African Impact pioneered responsible volunteer travel in Africa back in 2004 and have since grown into the largest provider of volunteer projects on the continent. Proudly African, they work hand-in-hand with local communities to establish, develop and monitor initiatives that contribute to community empowerment and wildlife conservation. Their dedication and commitment to authentic and sustainable practices has earned them numerous awards throughout the years, including becoming the only organization to ever win Outstanding Volunteer Project twice in the Global Youth Travel Awards, and being named the Top Volunteer Abroad Organization by volunteers in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

They invite you to join their passionate teams on the ground and to experience projects that take you to a place that leaves you awed, inspired, able to do more, to discover more, and to make a real impact.

Website
Founded
2004
Headquarters

153 Main Rd, Muizenberg
Cape Town
7950
South Africa

Reviews

Default avatar
Sylke
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My time in Livingstone, Zambia was unforgettable! I volunteered at the teaching project during school holidays. African Impact organised a holiday club for the children in Libuyu for keeping them busy during school holidays and keeping them off the streets. The children were divided in two groups: 1-4th grade and 5-7th grade. However, the groups were very big (40 children each) it was really fun to work with the children. Annie, the teaching and sports coordinator, did such a good job! During the first days you can choose to assist her to get introduced and used to the teaching methods, and if you're ready for it you can take up more responsibilities. There is also the opportunity to switch between teaching and sports. The sports project is organised together with a local staff memeber, Chiza, who is doing an amazing job with the children. Everyday there is another subject, for instance history, geography, maths, english, eco-art, etc.

In the afternoon, there is a wide range of community projects and Sjeel, the project manager, makes sure that you can get a taste of each of them. If you have any preferences you can just let her know. I really enjoyed reading club, art club and the stretching exercises we've implemented at the old people's home.

During the weekends you're free to do some travelling or activities. The staff of the hostel will give you the information you need and will help you by booking these activities as well. A visit to Victoria Falls is obviously a must do, and they arrange a free shutte every morning. The volunteering staff as well as the hostel staff are such lovely people and I'm so glad I got the chance to get in touch with them all. Same for the volunteers! Everyone comes with the same goal and mindset, so you will definitely make some friends from all around the world.

This is definitely a life-changing experience!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
There is a plausible chance that I will join the program in Livingstone again. If there is one thing I would change is that I would stay longer! Two weeks is a good time if it's your first time volunteering, because in this way you will get a tast of it. But at the same time it's also way too short!
Default avatar
Mark
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

When I was 21, I made ventured out overseas for the first time to make my very first impact with the African Big 5 Wildlife and conservation project in South Africa. that experience stuck with me for the rest of my life. and ever since then, I have made my impact with the project another three more times throughout the years.
for each time I have work in the project, I've had the pleasure of working with like minded people from over the world with a passion of wildlife conservation such as myself. being surrounded by that atmosphere enriched my experience even more then I hoped.
the staff at each location were always welcoming and supportive with my time at each project. with the guidance and field guides we would set out on game drives where we could have a chance to see anything such as the Big 5, Giraffes, Kudu, Impala, Nala, Aardvarks etc, from which each drive was always different which made it even for exciting.
I have also gain many skills such Data collection and entry, conservation work such as evasive plant removal, litter pickup, fire break and erosion control. we also took part in bird surveys, presentation on wildlife topics and also helping out in the community such as teaching children how to read and with business skills with running their own vegetable farms.
I would highly recommend this organization to anyone with a passion with wildlife conservation.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
your not going to get life experince with just staying at home. you go out and see the worldjoing a program or project that apeals to you and go for it. you will meet like minded people such as your slef with the same passion as yourself and form encredable friendship that will last through the ages and again experince that you only see on TV
Driving around with African Impact!
Noëlle
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This whole experience will be something I will remember for the rest of my life. It felt like I was home with a beautiful family. I learned so much as a photographer but also as a person. The staff was so kind and so nice and they always put our safety first. I was so happy there, that I will be returning as soon as I can. The opportunities I received to grow as a photographer were way more amazing then I could've ever imagined and it always made me so happy! We always had something to do and the schedules were always filled with interesting things to do. The cooking was amazing!! Not only did they thought about allergies, but they always had something for everyone to eat. This was so nice and I appreciated it so much. The sleeping accommodations were very comfortable and my roommates were always the sweetest!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
When I arrived at the lodge I told them I would love to see a leopard. They told me it was super rare to see them, so I kept my expectations low. When we went out on one of my first drives, we had to stop at some point, due to a leopard tortoise crossing the road. I thought it would be very funny if we would see a leopard at that time. Suddenly I felt a chill down my spine and I felt something big was staring at me. I thought it would make sense, since we were in a reserve, but I looked around. As my group was singing the theme of the A-team, since the tortoise was walking very fast, I looked at my fellow passenger sitting next to me to laugh at her. And there he was. Up in a tree, a beautiful male leopard was staring at me. I felt my heart stop for just a second, as I grabbed my friend and our driver. And as I whispered "Leopard!" as soft as I could, they could all see the hard core enthusiasm on my face. It was truly one of the most amazing animals I've seen there.
Response from African Impact

Hey Noëlle,

We're so glad you had a wonderful time and were lucky enough to see a leopard! They're incredibly elusive and only the lucky few get to set their sights on one. We're having a bit of a chuckle at the irony of you spotting a leopard at the same time as spotting a leopard tortoise!

Welcome to the alumni squad!

The African Impact team

Read my full story
Camille
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Future Social Work Interns,
There will be good days and hard days (but I promise you there won't be any bad days). I had the moment a fantastic opportunity to work alongside South African Child and Youth Workers who spend their days looking after children in a foster care home. Although you've most likely read the Social Work and Youth Development package and expect to be doing what you have a go through at home, that honestly may not be the case. However, I will share with you what my case is...

I came here as a part of my studies for school to get my College credits for placement. This became the greatest thing that I am so glad that I am a part of! The children you work with on a daily basis and the Mama's, Drivers, Managers and people who are full-time staff on the project have become family. You learn wonders and experience what it means to be outside of your comfort zone. This program helps you gain a much greater perspective than the one you've arrived with.

So if you are ready for an experience that leaves you on fire to become a world changer than AI waiting for you... so step outside your comfort zone and live the best life you can live.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Save more money so I could stay here almost forever...
Response from African Impact

Hey Camille!

Thank you so much for this wonderful review! We're so glad you applied for this internship and it has aided in your studies. You're correct in saying that internships give perspective to what studies offer - and we're so happy we gave you that!

Welcome to the alumni squad!

The African Impact team

Default avatar
Ana Maria
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The fact that we get to interact with so many places makes everything worth it, you actually feel like your making an impact on these kids and it never becomes a routine. I would like to highlight the fact that African Impact is very organized, they have everything structured which makes it just more professional and easy going. I've been volunteering before and we didn't spend the whole day at the project which I think is totally worth it if you're traveling abroad for a volunteer experience.

What would you improve about this program?
The program itself I consider it's fine, maybe at the house the wifi connection should be better if we are paying for it. But the rest is just fine, was a great experience.
Response from African Impact

Hey Ana Maria,

Thank you for this feedback. Welcome to our Alumni Squad!

The African Impact team

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Programs

Alumni Interviews

Alumni interviews are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Noëlle Hamoen

Noëlle is a twenty year old Dutch traveler and photographer. She loves sunflowers, animals and culture.
Noëlle Hamoen

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I wanted to grow as a photographer in wildlife photography. African Impact was an organization who could give me not only a great place to stay, but also the help I needed. Being in touch with them made me realize that there would also be critiques at least twice a week, something I was looking forward to. Also the fact that we would be on many drives, having assignment and still be in a fun environment made me very happy.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I almost organized everything myself, since I am not a student. I was in touch with people from within African Impact who helped me find a good tourbus to take to Hoedspruit from Johannesburg. They also advised me which hotel to take, because I would arrive very late by plane. They also helped with my Visa, since it would be my first time getting one. Other then that, I got everything ready, booked everything and made sure African Impact knew exactly when and where I was arriving.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Check your phone bill! I came home and it was...high. I thought it wouldn't be so much, but sadly, I was very wrong. Other advice is, have fun! Sometimes things can go a bit wrong or you can get lost at the airport. Just stay calm and remember everything is going to be okey. Just find a information point or walk to someone that looks like you can trust them and just ask.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

You have some moments during the day where you can take a break, but other than that, you are always busy! Either on drives, editing your photos, doing assignments at the lodge, community work or you go on a small town trip on Friday. The drives last up to four hours and are always so much fun. Community work is also so much fun, since you help farmers or you will read with children at a local school.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I have been traveling since I was a very small child, so going back to South-Africa wasn't that big of a deal for me. When I arrived at the airpot, the only thing that gave me the creeps was walking through a dark area at the airport to my hotel, but that was it. I've been living abroad for over a year, so you get used to it.

What's your favorite memory of this trip?

I will tell you one of my favourite adventures that happened.

We were in a local reserve on a night drive when we decided we would photograph the stars. After our guides checked the area, we were allowed to get out of the car. We were sitting on the road with all our camera's as we all practiced on our star photography. At some point, our coordinator asked if we wanted to have a group picture. Of course we did!

As we were aligned and standing still something suddenly crossed the road. I remember thinking: "That is a big impala... That is a very muscular impala..." And suddenly it clicked and at that moment our guide said: "Hyena!" I was unbelievable happy, because I wanted to see hyenas so badly!

Some of our group got a bit scared and wanted to get back in the car, but our guide told us to stay calm, as the hyena was just curious. At some point, the hyena went behind us and, as we turned around, she was standing six meters away from us, while running away and hiding in the bush to look at us.

Being this close to such an amazing animal was unbelievable amazing and I was so happy.

Staff Interviews

Staff interviews are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

What position do you hold at African Impact? What has been your career path so far?

Natascha Pettit

Natascha: I am a Development Manager at African Impact. I started out as a project Manager at our Thanda Game Reserve projects in 2011 when it first opened. The projects grew quickly, with a Research & Conservation focussed project and an over 30's Community project added to the offering by the time I became Business Manager.

Our first year at Thanda saw 130 volunteers join us on project. This has grown to 200 volunteers in 2012, and it looks as though this year we’ll be beating our record yet again! 2013 is also our first year we’ll be open over Christmas, offering volunteers a festive season that is both unique and rewarding! What better way to spend Christmas than by giving back to conservation while celebrating the holidays in the African bush?! My recent appointment to Development Manager gives me the opportunity to work with new projects and to develop the African Impact portfolio, establishing lasting relationships in communities where help is needed.

Did you volunteer abroad? If so, where and what inspired you to go?

Natascha: I volunteered with African Impact in St Lucia several years ago. My time in South Africa was fantastic and I left knowing I had left a part of me behind and was destined to return.

I was inspired to experience more of Africa and had the chance to travel the continent solo, but safely and all the while experiencing Africa on a much deeper level than the average tourist. I had hoped to meet some like-minded people and be able to use my skills from my professional life in the UK, and when I returned to African Impact it was a dream come true.

What inspires you most on a daily basis?

Natascha: My inspiration comes from the volunteers who join us and the measurable successes they achieve each day. The accomplishments we see from their willing hands and minds is fantastic. I feel lucky to have experienced so many of our projects and to have seen the positive impacts of each, which can vary enormously.

Whether it’s a special community day supporting the local clinics, celebrating World Aids Day, a grandmother receiving a certificate for progressing through her reading levels, or data collection and analysis of the movements of wild elephant herds, every small victory is inspirational. But even beyond this, knowing that so many volunteers leave having learnt something about Africa, having tested themselves, grown as people and vowing to return is what keeps me going!

What should volunteers know about South Africa when considering it as their next volunteer destination?

Natascha: South Africa sits in a unique position. It’s often seen simply as an emerging first world country with a big mining industry, but dig a bit deeper and there lies so much more richness in heritage, culture and passion. Volunteers are instantly welcomed into peoples’ lives and homes. A country that has just emerged from a tangled history is open, warm and wanting to celebrate.

In SA you experience a mixture of beautiful landscapes, easy and safe travel, and English widely spoken. You also get up close and personal to wildlife as you never have before.

What makes the African Impact volunteer programs in South Africa so unique and special?

Natascha: This is a chance to meet people and become intrinsically part of daily life in Africa. Whether it’s people or animals you wish to meet you have the opportunity of a lifetime to do so and alter your perspective.

It's rare to be able to combine both these elements in one project, but African Impact offers just that – a chance to combine various experiences. We are also great at putting together weekend trips and add-on tours for volunteers who want to see the local sites or do a bit of adventure travel!

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