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

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

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

Default avatar
Olivia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I volunteered back in 2013 in Victoria Falls at the Lion Conservation and Rehab. centre for ALERT. I still look back incredibly fondly on my experience with both companies and am still in love with everything about it. I follow on social media a lot and it just makes me smile every time I see the work being done on many projects across Africa. The teams were super supportive of the volunteers, and with me being only 18 at the time and travelling to a new continent alone for the first time, I felt incredibly safe and supported. The work that we did was so fulfilling and crucial and I would love to go back one day! I highly recommend getting in touch, they will point you in the right direction for the right project for you to get stuck into! I have also made friends for life and stay in touch with them - in Europe and Africa! We were incredibly lucky as well to be close to an orphanage project they were running and we integrated with the local community and visited and supported a local tribe. Community spirit is definitely at the heart of these projects!

What was the most nerve-racking moment?
Being inside an enclosure with a Lion for the first time - incredible experience!
Response from African Impact

Hey Olivia,

Thank you for such wonderful feedback. Welcome to our alumni squad!

The African Impact team

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

This was by far one of the most accommodating and rewarding volunteer trips I have gone on. From the welcome packet, orientation, child protection policy, and weekly topic based seminars, the program and staff go above and beyond to make sure everyone feels welcome and supported in the stay. The community partners that they pair with are top notch and each day is set up for success starting the day prior to ensure each program and project is set up for success. My one bit of feedback to the program was not to require experience but to possibly provide some incite prior to arrival on the weekly planning need and goals for each program so that each volunteer can bring some ideas to the table in advance (if desired).

My only disappointment was not staying longer.

Response from African Impact

Hey Sarah,

Thank you for such a glowing feedback report! We're happy to have you part of our Ambassador Program. Keep well!

The African Impact team

Jobs

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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!

Professional Associations

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