To some, 2018 might be the time for a gap year, career break, or even just your dream holiday. Traveling, or traveling more, may have been one of your New Year’s resolutions (it’s definitely on our list). Have you considered volunteering abroad? It’s such a unique way to explore a destination, truly understand the culture and vibe of a place, and of course, actually leave a positive impact on the people and wildlife you encounter along the way.
Here are our top 10 best volunteer abroad programs:
- Girl Empowerment, Zambia
- Vulnerable Childcare & Community Support, Zululand
- Big Cat Wildlife Research & Conservation, Maasai Mara
- African Big 5 & Wildlife Conservation, South Africa
- Early Childhood Development, Cape Town
- Eco-build Project, Victoria Falls
- Dolphin Research & Marine Conservation, Zanzibar
- Education & Community Support, Kilimanjaro
- Chimpanzee Sanctuary & Wildlife Orphan Care, Zambia
- Maasai Tribe Empowerment, Kilimanjaro
We want to inspire you to change gears this year, re-think the way you travel and join the impact travel movement by volunteering in Africa on one of our top 10 volunteer projects for 2018.
In partnership with the African Impact Foundation, African Impact launched The Girl Impact initiative to support, educate and encourage adolescent girls as they become empowered young women in their community. The project includes young boys in the conversation to support the gender equality movement and overcome male/female stereotypes.
“Overall, my time in Livingstone doing the Girl Impact project was an amazing life experience! There were many instances where I could see that participating in the empowerment of girls and women was really making a difference to them. ”Romina
If living in a tropical paradise that is warm almost all-year round wasn’t enough, how about volunteering in the home of South Africa’s largest population of hippos and crocodiles? This is Zululand, a region of South Africa that sees you working with our team in rural Zulu villages still run by the community chiefs. Hard-hit from the HIV/AIDS epidemic, volunteers work with entire families to help empower and educate in homes, after-school centers, orphanages and pre-schools.
If getting off the grid, living among wild animals and spending your days in a research game vehicle is on your 2018 vision-board, you can’t get better than our volunteer project in the world-famous Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. Volunteers prioritise the research of the reserve’s big cats, however equally as important is the physical conservation of the park and the education of its local Maasai population. If you time it right, you could even witness one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on planet Earth, the Great Wildebeest Migration. (Bucket list: TICK).
A term originally coined by hunters, the ‘Big Five’ – the lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo – were known as the most dangerous animals to hunt on foot. Now, they are thought of as the top 5 animals to see while on safari in Africa.
At our volunteer base in the Greater Kruger region of South Africa, you can get up close with Africa’s ‘Big 5’, helping to monitor and study them to ensure future generations get to see these magnificent animals in the wild. As these animals are often targeted by poachers, and their movements and behaviors are largely undocumented, be prepared to sweep for snares, help track and identify individuals and experience Africa’s wilderness at its best. Welcome to next level safari-ing and citizen science.
“My experience volunteering on African Impact's Big 5 Wildlife Conservation Program was the best thing I've ever done. I really had the time of my life and fulfilled my life-long dream of experiencing Africa's wild in person...”Pablo Bickenbach
CAPE TOWN DROUGHT: THIS PROJECT HAS A SECURE SUPPLY OF WATER
There is no doubt that Cape Town is one of the world’s most beautiful cities (scratch that, officially it is the world’s most beautiful city), so we are very lucky to have a project base here. When you’re not exploring this incredible destination at the weekend (we recommend shark-cage diving, skydiving or learning more about Nelson Mandela), you can work in the impoverished township communities surrounding the city, helping to educate and empower disadvantaged children. Through early childhood development focused activities at pre-schools, emergency foster care homes and after-school centers, you can help us give children a positive head-start in a city still suffering from the effects of Apartheid.
Have you heard of eco-bricking? It’s an innovative way of using plastic waste as building blocks. Think plastic bottles filled with every day wrappers that are constructed together to form walls. This is how we are radically changing the way a rural village in Zambia views waste, and how we are providing the local community with self-sustaining structures. We’ve won numerous awards for this amazing initiative that is based within a stone’s throw of one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls. If you like getting your hands dirty and are pretty nifty at DIY, we could use your help.
“This was a once in a lifetime experience that I would recommend to anyone. Life changing in all senses. A great organisation that I would love to carry on being a part of and making a real difference!”Lucy Dobinson
If you haven’t read our previous blog, 10 Reasons to Visit Zanzibar, do so before reading this to understand what a paradise Zanzibar is. Now, add to that the chance to swim with one of the world’s most intelligent animals. While volunteering abroad on our marine conservation project in Zanzibar you will not only get to do this, but also contribute to the sustainable future for Zanzibar’s dolphin tourism – a key contributor to Zanzibar’s economy.
Monitoring human-dolphin interactions, promoting ethical dolphin tours and monitoring coral reefs are a part of the volunteer experience, as is interacting with the local children at Conservation Club. Help us raise a generation of Swahili children who love and respect their ocean and its inhabitants! Ready to book your place?
If climbing Africa’s highest mountain is high on your bucket-list (or just seeing it is enough, no pressure), our education project in the town of Moshi is your best bet. We are incredibly proud to work with both children and adults on this award-winning project, offering free education classes for those who want it. From mornings spent in nursery schools to afternoons spent working with Maasai warriors, no two days are the same in this breath-taking destination.
“It is quite difficult to capture in words just how special my month volunteering with African Impact in Moshi was. An organization who went at their work not with sympathy and a coin purse, but impassioned understanding, respect, and a belief in education.”Thomas Reid
Using your gap year to monkey around (‘ape’ around doesn’t have quite the same ring to it)? Well, here you can use it productively to help conserve one of the world’s largest primates at one of the world’s largest chimpanzee sanctuaries in the world – Chimfunshi Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Zambia. This project has a special place in our heart, as it does for the legend Jane Goodall, who once called Chimfunshi “the most wonderful place on Earth”. Volunteers help with the day-to-day running of the sanctuary, assist in creating fun, behavioral enrichment activities for the chimps, and get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with a handful of the chimpanzees on a personal level.
Experience African culture at its best while you work closely with members of the iconic Maasai tribe in the town of Moshi, Tanzania. With support from our staff team who live and work alongside you, you will provide literacy and English tuition to adult members of the tribe and get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to understand their traditional way of life. Did we mention that we live in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa? A one-of-a-kind African adventure if you ask us.