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 2017 and 2016.

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
Peter
10/10

I'll say this right off the bat - what you will see and experience in South Africa will be unlike anything you've ever seen. The cost for this program, just to witness the incredible majesty and life of the bush, is worth it alone. If you're looking for adventure, if you're looking for true exploration that goes past trite tourism and surface level traveling, you've found your place. Contributing to research was such a simple addition to the trip, yet made all the difference - never once did I doubt that I was genuinely helping a cause. We did a spot of anti-poaching that further cemented that belief, and at that moment I knew the volunteering was concrete. I can't say any more than the staff of African Impact - guides, house staff, project managers - being absolutely perfect and hugely a reason why I look back on the adventure so fondly. It's hard not to love South Africa. It's a country of the world, offering so much; the Rainbow Nation is too apt of a name. Bring a camera.

How can this program be improved?
I would like to see more community outreach. I'd be more than okay exchanging a few game drives for opportunities to engage in the community. I know it's a bush oriented experience, but we're so close to the community that it felt slightly disappointing. I'd also encourage sending photography volunteers out with research volunteers - it would be much more helpful to the research, and help consolidate the database for wildlife pics. That pairing would also tie both sectors of work together greatly, and allow for even greater contributions to research.
Response from African Impact

Hey Peter,

Thank you for such a glowing review. We're so glad you enjoyed your trip. The photos we've been seeing on social media that you took on project are beautiful! Welcome to the alumni squad!

The African Impact Team

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

I was pretty hesitant at first to volunteer in South Africa again, my first time with another company wasn't the best experience. However, volunteering with African Impact was one of the best decisions I have made.

I have been wanting to take the next step with my photography for a long time now, and finally biting the bullet and taking the African Impact Photography course was an awesome idea!

We got to do so many amazing things, and learnt so much about conservation photography.

I was stoked with the amount of opportunity we had to be out in the field and practising our skills. It really felt like we were true wildlife photographers and my photography developed so quickly over the 4 weeks, I was veeeeeeeery impressed!

My favourite thing was heading out for the over night camping trips to Klaserie and spending 24 hours in the bush looking at incredible animals - everything from elephant to leopards to wild dogs. We were very lucky to see the big 5, wild dogs, and a hyena kill all in the one day!

I also really love just chilling out at Dumela Lodge and kicking back with the other volunteers by the pool or to watch a movie together - Something that you really look forward to after the action packed weeks!

It was a very sad moment when my 4 weeks was up and I had to fly back home to Australia. I would have loved to have stayed to do it all again, but I have promised myself I will come back in the future!

How can this program be improved?
An advanced photography course would be awesome - If they had something that we could come back and do to further improve and develop our skills I would totally get around that!
Response from African Impact

Hey Hannah,

Thank you for this awesome review! We are so impressed with the photos and videos you took on project, as well as your blog! We can't wait to have you back with us in the near future.

The African Impact Team

Yes, I recommend this program
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Megan
10/10

I loved this experience so much! Met some incredible people and wish I could do it all over again. Sander and everyone else who helped run the program were extremely welcoming and we couldn’t have asked for better co-ordinators. I’d recommend doing at least 2 weeks, which is what I did, however I wish I had gone for longer! Not only was the volunteering amazing, we were also exposed to the culture of a local village and the people there. There was also time to explore Livingstone on the weekends and even go to safari at Chobe which was just one of the amazing things we were able to do there. The accommodation was nice and clean, we had no issues with it, and it was also very sociable. This program has impacted my friends and I significantly, we share our experience in Africa with everyone we meet and all hope to return at some point in the future!

Response from African Impact

Hey Megan!

Thank you for this lovely review! We're so happy to hear you enjoyed your stay and got to experience our rich African culture. We couldn't agree more - our Livingstone staff are phenomenal! We can't wait to have you back in the future. Welcome to our alumni squad :)

The African Impact team

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Katie
2/10

We chose to join the Big 5 research project in South Africa as a couple because we wanted to spend our money consciously on our vacation, hoping to be immersed in the region much more than we would as regular tourists. Our compassion for animals extends into our everyday life, so we also wanted to visit the game reserves with conservation in mind, learning as much as we could about different species, endangered or otherwise. What the project turned out to be was much more of a glorified summer camp that approaches research and conservation in an uneven and juvenile fashion. And if you choose to stay for the shortest minimum placement of two-weeks, you'll find yourself at a significant disadvantage.

From day one, within the communal space there was an atmosphere of exclusion from the younger solo travelers as well as little direction from staff when it came to building a community at the lodge. The same can be said about project work. The activities that were assigned on our second day of arrival should have been managed by those that were long-term interns, but the groups we worked with wanted nothing to do with any task they knew was difficult. If you can believe it, there were times when those long-term interns "called front row" of the safari vehicles when we went on game drives. It's crazy for an organization like this one where you are grounded in one place for an extended period of time to casually operate in a way that never addressed the clear segregation of people staying on property. To that point, and even worse, is that we had a mid-stay feedback session after our first week where the business manager heard our concerns, said they would do something to improve our second week, and then disappeared from view. We weren't even introduced to them until that session; though he had been on leave the first week, it was still many days after he returned before we knew who they were. My husband commented in the first few days that we literally didn't know who was in charge.

It wasn't just the business manager that was an issue, other staff and guides came and went, because this time of year is apparently when everyone goes back home on leave for various reasons. Holidays are necessary and good, but when a volunteer is only here for two weeks and you never have the same manager or coordinator, and eventually are left with two assistants who are piecing together what they can as they go along, it leaves the short time we are here devoid of any connection or lasting impact, specifically for how we feel we helped with African Impact's conservation work.

Truthfully, when booking this trip, we thought it would be an eclectic group from all around the world, some younger, some older, but all ultimately interested in the same goals and interested in getting to know one another. This was so the opposite of what we experienced that I just don't know what we missed in our preliminary research of African Impact. There's really nothing wrong if parents want to send their kids here for gap years, or internship work, but when that group of travelers turns the lodge into a toxic environment of people constantly talking negatively about other volunteers or about how much they hate a guide or other staff member at African Impact, it corrodes the mission of the organization from the inside. We eventually stopped joining the group whenever we could because we just couldn't listen to the negative conversations anymore.

Even funnier and more poignant about the non-inclusive environment is that they had an event called Sundowner towards the end of our trip which we knew nothing about beforehand. Once we showed up, they asked each of us to pay 50 Rand to be in pictures shot by the photography volunteers, which you can then buy for more Rand afterward. To simply join the group or have some laughs in a photo, they wanted you to donate 50 Rand to a project called Farmers of the Future which we also knew nothing about and felt uncomfortable donating to. At this point we were so done with African Impact and the way the volunteers interacted with each other that we opted out. That left us by ourselves hanging out, while everyone else went out in a field to take photos. It was like we weren't even a part of the team.

Lastly, there are only two weekends to explore other parts of the country when you stay for the short placement time. I had asked many months in advance of our arrival if I should book tours on my own and was told that everything would be sorted on-site. What we discovered is that there have to be a certain number of people interested in a tour for it to run, the weather has to be perfect, and their tour operator has to be in town. As it turned out, literally 3 days before our scheduled tour the first weekend, the lodge manager performed so poorly at his job booking tours for us that he told us what we wanted to do was unavailable and that we had to go it alone and figure out tours for ourselves. The second week, another tour was cancelled less than 24 hours beforehand and many people had nothing to do on their last Saturday here. No other options are provided if your selected tour is cancelled.

Ultimately, the real winner here is South Africa because simply by the country being the country that it is, we were able to see the entire Big 5 and other stunning animals. I have to give major kudos to some guides from Africa on Foot in Klaserie for their passion and dedication; they allowed us to experience each animal and see their natural behaviors. I just wish there were more consistently good experiences during our time with African Impact and that the business manager had taken our feedback to heart with obvious action.

We loved South Africa and all of our experiences with the animals; it's a place not to be missed. But I would highly recommend that any young professional couples stay far away from African Impact and definitely this program in particular. Book a lodge in Kruger, rent a car for yourself, drive around the dirt roads to spend time with animals, or join one of Kruger National Park's many activities. You'll fly home with cherished memories minus the drama.

Response from African Impact

Hello Katie,

We are so sorry to hear that your stay on our Big 5 project in South Africa was disappointing and thank you for your honest feedback on this platform. We did get in touch with the project team there to follow up on what went wrong and apologize profusely that your two-week stay was not what you expected. While we cannot guarantee the ages or backgrounds of our volunteers throughout the year (volunteering is open to everyone), we understand that our Business Managers were on leave during the first week of your placement and believe this had a big impact on your experience.. Our teams work round-the-clock all year and rarely get time to take leave, but we felt confident in the remaining staff members to hold the fort and ensure the smooth running of the project. This did not happen, and the staff members in question have since been spoken to regarding their conduct and professionalism. We feel confident that this situation has been dealt with on-the-ground, but apologize once more that it affected your experience in South Africa. We would be happy to chat further regarding your stay and value any feedback you have to offer. Thank you,

The African Impact Team

No, I don't recommend this program
Default avatar
Shane
10/10

African Impact and the staff at Lion House (the house location in Cape Town) provided the unforgettable experience everyone should desire to achieve. The program helps support multiple sectors from a sports program, to foster homes, after school problems, etc;.
My time in Cape Town saw me in a Academy Volunteer role, which allowed the opportunity to experience each program and there ability to help the surrounding communities of the mother city. Creating memories that support the notion that the experience does more for you, then you could ever do to help the community.
You will be given the opportunity to leave your mark in what ever sector you chose to provide help for. From Monday to Friday you get to go on project and make a connection and a difference in the community. After 5, and on your weekends the freedom to experience and see the cape are endless. The staff is accommodating in helping you cross of your checklist so that you can live the entire volunteer-traveler experience. A must do experience all should invest in.

Response from African Impact

Hey Shane,

We couldn't agree more - our Lion House staff are amazing! We're so happy to hear you had an unforgettable experience in Cape Town. We hope to have you back one day. Until then, keep well and keep in touch!

The African Impact Team

Yes, I recommend this program

Professional Associations

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