Volunteer in Africa

Walk on the wild side as you help to protect some of the world’s rarest and most vulnerable species.

From the grassland savannahs of South Africa to the ancient rainforests of Madagascar and the island beaches of the Seychelles, Africa offers you not only some of the world’s remotest places, but also some of the most significant opportunities to contribute to the global fight against habitat loss, species extinction and marine pollution.

Overview

Volunteer in Africa 

Picture Africa. You’ve probably pulled up images of sun-baked deserts, grassy plains and large animals lounging in pools of sun. Yes, volunteer work in Africa offers you ample opportunity to experience all of this, but in reality, there’s so much more to the African continent. 

Volunteer in Africa and you could see firsthand how rainforests creep out in every direction on the islands of Seychelles, where the year-round rainfall is high. You could assist in safeguarding endangered and critically endangered lemur species on the tropical island of Nosy Be in Madagascar. Or travel to a private game reserve in South Africa, home to lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino. Here you’ll work alongside an international research team and contribute to critical wildlife conservation work.

All of GVI’s volunteer programs are closely aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Our programs focus on creating positive change through a variety of locally-led initiatives, including conservation and environmental sustainability, community development and education. We work in collaboration with a number of partner organisations and non-government organisations (NGOs) on the ground, including:

  • Lemur Conservation Network, Madagascar National Parks and Ampasipohy Lokobe (the locally managed protected conservation area) in Madagascar.

 

We offer sustainable and ethical volunteer programs in Africa with a focus on:

 

In addition to our Planet-focused programs, you can also contribute to community-focused volunteer programs in Ghana, Madagascar, or South Africa. Here, you can contribute towards achieving the UN SDGs by participating in programs focused on:

 

In Ghana we work with various stakeholders, such as governmental bodies, community-based organisations, schools, and groups that focus on the empowerment of women and girls. We also support ChildSafe, a global child protection initiative.

GVI’s volunteer programs in Africa are community-led. This means that volunteers work in collaboration with the local community on projects identified by the community as important. By supporting on-the-ground partner organisations, GVI’s volunteer programs focus on addressing global issues in a sustainable way. 

As a continent, Africa has the second largest population in the world. In spite of that, many African countries have a history of making their resources go further. Volunteer projects in Africa will get you working closely with local communities and learning from them. This is an opportunity to find out about Africa from those who live there, and experience the wide variety of countries and cultures that make up the African population.

Our programs

Volunteering
Wildlife Research in South Africa Expedition
Volunteering
Marine Conservation Expedition in the Seychelles
Volunteering
Island Conservation Expedition to the Seychelles
Volunteering
Island Biodiversity Surveying Citizen Science Project in Seychelles
Volunteering
Madagascar Lemur and Wildlife Conservation Expedition
Internship
Wildlife Conservation Internship in Madagascar
Internship
Wildlife Conservation Internship in South Africa
Internship
Coastal Conservation Internship in Madagascar
Research Fellowship
Wildlife conservation research fellowship in Madagascar
Research Fellowship
Wildlife research fellowship in South Africa
Volunteering
Coastal Conservation Volunteering in Madagascar
Research Fellowship
Wildlife conservation research fellowship in Seychelles
Professional Apprenticeship
Wildlife Conservation Apprenticeship in South Africa
Internship
Marine Conservation Internship in Seychelles
Internship
Island Conservation Internship in Seychelles
Professional Apprenticeship
PADI Divemaster and Marine Conservation Apprenticeship in Seychelles
Internship
Professional Field Guide Course in South Africa
Research Fellowship
Marine conservation research fellowship in Seychelles
Volunteering
Climate Change and Coral Bleaching in Seychelles
Internship
Big Cat Conservation Internship in South Africa
Internship
Bushwise 60-day Safari Guide Course
Volunteering
Island Nations Climate Change and Biodiversity Volunteer in Seychelles
Volunteering
Big Cat Conservation Research in South Africa
Professional Apprenticeship
Wildlife Conservation Apprenticeship in Madagascar
Volunteering
Elephant, Rhino and Buffalo Research and Conservation in South Africa
Internship
Coral Reef Ecology and Conservation Internship in Seychelles
Professional Apprenticeship
PADI Divemaster and Marine Conservation Apprenticeship in the Indian Ocean
Under 18
African Wildlife Conservation Teen Volunteering in South Africa
Volunteering
Rhino Poaching Awareness in South Africa
Volunteering
Cheetah Conservation and Research Project in South Africa
Included in your program, at no extra cost

Make the most of our unique programs with these exclusively curated local adventure and wellness experiences.

Offered once a month, expand your adventure with GVI Experiences. These are just some of the activities offered on your program!
Learn to cook Malagasy cuisine
Learn to cook Malagasy cuisine
Handcraft your own canoes
Handcraft your own canoes
Forage for local medicinal plants
Forage for local medicinal plants
Visit the island of the lemurs
Visit the island of the lemurs
Snorkel in a marine wonderland
Snorkel in a marine wonderland
Gaze and wonder at the southern constellations
Gaze and wonder at the southern constellations
Watch the sunset at Banyan tree
Watch the sunset at Banyan tree
Sleepover on a remote volcanic archipelago
Sleepover on a remote volcanic archipelago
Locations

Where can I volunteer in Africa with GVI?

Volunteer in Madagascar

The landscape of Madagascar is incredibly diverse and unique, shaped by millions of years of isolation from the African continent. The island is known for its lush rainforests, vast grassy plains, rugged highlands and stunning coastline. Some of the most notable geographic features of Madagascar include the Tsingy de Bemaraha – a labyrinth of sharp limestone formations that form a striking landscape – and the Avenue of the Baobabs – a row of towering baobab trees that have become an iconic symbol of Madagascar. The island is also home to a rich array of wildlife, including lemurs, chameleons and a wide variety of bird species. 

Located off the northwestern coast of Madagascar, Nosy Be is a volcanic island. Our research station is situated in Lokobe, which is one of the national parks in Madagascar and is located on the southeastern coast of the island. This park is home to numerous unique species, such as the Hawks’ sportive lemur, dwarf frogs and chameleons that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. It contains a diverse range of ecosystems, including both marine and terrestrial areas, which provide habitats for an astonishing variety of species.

In Madagascar, we offer volunteer programs in wildlife conservation that involve gathering and analysing data on reptile, bird and mammal species native to the island. Our primary focus is on lemurs and chameleons.

Volunteering with lemurs in Madagascar involves working with the Lemur Conservation Network on various projects. One of these projects is conducting species surveys in Lokobe, which has not been fully surveyed since 1993. Our goal is to quantify the population of the Hawks’ sportive lemur, which is endemic to Lokobe, and conduct density studies of the mouse lemurs, both of which have not been widely studied in the area.

In addition to lemurs, we also run a wildlife conservation program focused on the panther chameleon, an endangered species in Madagascar. The Nosy Be panther chameleon, found on Nosy Be island, is under threat from illegal poaching. Our project aims to establish and monitor current population levels of the chameleons, which will inform necessary conservation strategies.

Overall, our wildlife conservation programs in Madagascar offer volunteers the opportunity to contribute to important research and conservation efforts for endangered species while gaining valuable experience and knowledge in the field.

In Madagascar, we also offer several community development projects in various communities on Nosy Be, which focus on teaching English and empowering women.

The goal of our community development programs in Madagascar is to provide English language education, which can expand the job prospects of local community members. Our women’s empowerment projects aim to provide support and resources to women, such as education and training, to help them gain financial independence.

Overall, our community development projects in Madagascar offer volunteers the opportunity to make a significant impact on the lives of local community members while gaining valuable experience in teaching, leadership and cross-cultural communication.

Volunteer in South Africa 

South Africa is situated at the southernmost tip of the African continent. Here you’ll get to experience savannah grasslands, rugged mountain terrains, and a long coastline of sandy beaches that is lapped by the waters of the warm Indian Ocean on one side and the cold Atlantic Ocean on the other.  

There are a wide variety of Africa volunteer programs to get involved in if you’re eager to travel to South Africa. Volunteer jobs in Africa could take you to the capital city of Cape Town, or the less-populated province of Limpopo. These two locations offer programs in wildlife conservation, teaching and community development, public health, women’s empowerment, and even sports volunteering.

In the province of Limpopo, you could work alongside wildlife conservationists. Africa volunteer programs in Limpopo offer you the chance to experience the wilds of Africa while contributing to wildlife conservation in a meaningful way.

At our research station located in a private game reserve, grassy plains lay claim to the land. The distant peaks of the Drakensberg mountain range overlook the savannah, where lone trees and clumps of thorny bush are strewn across the wide-open space. This type of terrain is where you’ll find rhinos, buffalos, lions, leopards and elephants; also known as the Big Five animals. Look a little bit closer and you’re bound to see small mammals, reptiles and insects scurrying about too. 

In Limpopo, volunteers can experience wildlife conservation in all its forms. Imagine going on a research drive on a route frequented by lions and cheetahs, while assisting with the monitoring of big cats. Picture spending each day raising awareness around rhino poaching and working to safeguard South Africa’s rhino population. 

Now stop imagining and take a look at the variety of wildlife conservation and wildlife research programs that GVI offers from our research station in Limpopo.

When you join a volunteer program in Cape Town you’ll experience myriad cultures, since this city is home to one of the most culturally-varied populations in the world. From here you could spot fine-leafed fynbos flora, the craggy flat-top of Table Mountain, and even take a trip to the southernmost tip of Africa, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. 

Since Cape Town is a major city with easy access to the sea and other natural environments, volunteer opportunities here are a good way to experience adventure while taking part in diverse volunteer programs.

Volunteer in Seychelles

Volunteer work in Africa could also take you to a country made up of more than 100 islands, dotted across the western Indian Ocean. Seychelles is one of the world’s smallest countries, but its wealth of coastline and tropical terrains means that this travel destination is big on attractions. You could start out by just having a look around while walking through the forests of Seychelles, since 80 of the 200 species of plants found here are unique to these islands. 

Seychelles is also bursting with marine life, with more than 900 identified species of fish, not to mention the sea turtles and sharks that call these island waters home. Its jungle vegetation provides shelter for a variety of life on land too, like tortoises, frogs, bats and an incredible array of birdlife.

When volunteering in Seychelles, you could travel to the island of Mahe, and get involved in projects that monitor and report on the effects of climate change on island communities and their natural environments. Projects focused on marine life, wildlife and environmental conservation can take you into every type of environment that Seychelles has to offer, and have you contributing to conservation efforts in a meaningful way.

Volunteer in Ghana

Volunteer work in Africa will take you to our community hub in Kokrobite, near the city of Accra. Here, volunteer programs focus on community and economic development. This might involve skills development workshops to help women on their journey of self-empowerment, or teaching programs that increase educational capacity in the region and contribute to the employability of local participants.

Central Ghana is draped in some of the world’s largest rainforests. Along the coast of the Gulf of Guinea, the landscape gives way to stretching sandy shores where traditional sailboats come to rest at the end of a long day at sea. The rest of the country is made up of plateaus overlooking low-lying plains. Here, large lakes and rivers nestle between the tall grasses and short trees of the savannah.

This combination of terrains means that Ghana is a country with a wealth of natural resources. Working with these resources, Ghana has made a name for itself as one of the top ten economic hubs of Africa. 

No matter the program focus, these types of volunteer programs in Africa contribute to community development in Ghana, and make a positive impact that’s relevant to the African context.

Program types

Which types of programs are available when volunteering in Africa with GVI?

Volunteer projects in Africa in wildlife conservation

Volunteer work in Africa that gets you involved in wildlife conservation is a meaningful way to alleviate some of the current global issues. But the benefits of wildlife conservation go beyond what it means for animals. Our well-being is intertwined with the well-being of ecosystems on land and in the sea, and these ecosystems depend on a wide variety of life. Our Africa volunteering projects in Limpopo focus on:

  • Preparing volunteers with the skills they need to work in wildlife conservation. 
  • Contributing towards rhino anti-poaching efforts.
  • Tracking and monitoring the behaviour of elephants and big cats.
  • Conducting wildlife research in the field.
  • Contributing towards conservation efforts aimed at a variety of African animals.

 

Volunteering in Africa in marine conservation

Africa has the right coastal temperatures to support masses of marine life. But with marine pollution, overfishing and the over-development of coastlines there’s lots to be done in the way of marine conservation. 

Marine conservation volunteer projects in Africa are focused on maintaining healthy marine environments, and monitoring and reporting on vulnerable or endangered marine animal populations – like green sea turtles and sicklefin lemon sharks. It also involves keeping an eye on, and finding solutions to, the effects that climate change has on these marine environments together with local governments and NGOs.

Women’s empowerment and community development volunteering in Africa

Africa is home to the world’s second largest population. With so many people dependent on the continent’s natural resources, African countries have had to adapt the way they make use of these resources. 

Many African countries also have a history of environmental, social and economic challenges. Addressing the issues that are relevant to these communities is at the heart of community development volunteer work in Africa. These efforts aim to assist the people of Africa in ensuring the well-being of all who live here.

Volunteering in Africa means that you could get involved in programs with a focus on women’s empowerment, economic empowerment and international development. You’ll be contributing towards improving the education and employability of the local community. 

All of these volunteer projects in Africa take a sustainable approach to development. This means assisting local communities in using their resources efficiently, and focusing on cultivating local expertise. 

Volunteering in Africa in teaching and early childhood development

With 70% of sub-Saharan Africa under the age of 30, Africa has the youngest population in the world. This means that the majority of its population is either of school-going age or old enough for tertiary education. So, it makes a lot of sense that education is a big focus in African countries. 

When taking part in volunteer projects in Africa that are focused on teaching and early childhood development, you can be a part of projects that make quality education more accessible to local children. 

These activities speak directly to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) 4: Quality Education. You could assist teachers at local schools with carefully crafted lessons designed to make learning as fun and engaging as possible, and to support both the fine and gross motor development of young learners. This means that you could contribute towards a positive long-term impact in the lives of African children, and assist in improving their access to employment opportunities in the future.

GVI follows a strict Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy. Because of this, we no longer work with orphanages. Read our stance on orphanage volunteering for more information.

Why volunteer in Africa?

If you’re excited about getting involved in volunteer work in a multicultural environment surrounded by towering mountain peaks and stretching beaches, Africa offers you all this and more. 

If you want to experience some of the world’s most well-known wildlife, and learn wildlife conservation from the best in the field, volunteer work in Africa can get you to where the action is. If you want to find out about Africa for yourself through voluntary work, Africa offers ample opportunity to do so.

Africa is a continent that is still sorting through the impact of its history. Despite this continent’s abundance of resources, it remains one of the least developed in economies and infrastructure. By volunteering abroad in Africa, you can contribute towards a positive impact in a meaningful way, and support people in Africa as they develop and implement sustainable solutions.

Many African countries experience extreme weather conditions like droughts and floods. This continent is also one of the most impacted by climate change, which has already had a significant effect on its environment, wildlife and marine life. By volunteering in Africa you’ll get a real-time glimpse of what’s already being done to try to address the challenges being faced by African populations. This will help you to understand how African countries adapt and manage environmental concerns, and the other factors that affect their communities. 

Through this experience, you can gain a better understanding of the African context, and broaden your perspective of global issues.  

Volunteer opportunities are not only a great way to be a part of impactful initiatives, but by joining a GVI volunteer abroad program you’ll get to experience Africa with a team that’s focused on providing a safe and supportive volunteer experience. This is also a chance for you to grow personally and professionally by taking part in experiences that aren’t always easy to come by back home.

In addition to all of this, volunteering in Africa promises some of the most diverse travel opportunities available today. This means that by choosing to volunteer in Africa, you’ll also get a top travel experience and memories that will last you a lifetime.

Health & Safety

Is it safe to volunteer in Africa with GVI?

GVI offers volunteer programs in Africa that provide a safe and supportive experience no matter the circumstances. Not only does GVI promise you support before, during and after your volunteer experience, we also have comprehensive health and safety policies that cover all the bases. These ensure that participant health and safety is maintained during all volunteer activities, and while volunteers are on base. 

For those under the age of 18 who choose to volunteer in Africa, our parent pack can fill your guardians in on what GVI’s volunteer programs in Africa are all about, and how your health and safety are prioritised throughout your volunteer experience.

FAQs

Can you volunteer in Africa for free?

Volunteering in Africa for free is possible, but it’s important to note that there are often hidden costs associated with these opportunities. While some organisations may not charge a program fee, volunteers may be responsible for covering their own expenses, such as travel, accommodation and meals. Additionally, volunteering for free may not always be the best option as it may result in limited resources and support for the project or community being served. It’s essential to research volunteer organisations thoroughly and read reviews from past participants to ensure the program is reputable and the work being done is ethical and sustainable. Ultimately, volunteering in Africa or anywhere else can be a rewarding experience, but it’s crucial to consider the financial and ethical implications before committing to a program.

How do I volunteer in Africa?

There are various ways to volunteer in Africa, ranging from wildlife and marine conservation efforts to education, women’s empowerment and healthcare initiatives. To begin, research organisations that specialise in volunteering opportunities in Africa. Look for reputable and established organisations that have a proven track record of successful and ethical volunteer programs. Once you have found an organisation that aligns with your interests, review their application requirements and ensure that you meet all the necessary criteria. You may need to provide a criminal background check, vaccinations and proof of travel insurance. Additionally, be prepared to cover the cost of your travel expenses, accommodation and program fees. Finally, familiarise yourself with the local customs and culture of the country you will be volunteering in to ensure a respectful and meaningful experience.

How much money do you need to volunteer in Africa?

The cost of volunteering in Africa can vary widely depending on factors such as the organisation you volunteer with, the length of your stay and the country you’re visiting. Some volunteer organisations cover certain costs, such as accommodation or meals, while others may require volunteers to cover all expenses themselves. Additionally, you’ll need to consider costs such as flights, visas, vaccinations and travel insurance. It’s important to do your research and budget carefully before committing to a volunteer program. You may also want to consider fundraising or applying for grants to help cover costs. Overall, the cost of volunteering in Africa can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, but with careful planning and budgeting, it can be an affordable and rewarding experience.

How can I contribute to conservation and community development initiatives in Africa?

There are several ways that you can contribute to conservation and community development initiatives in Africa. One way is to support organisations that are working towards these goals through volunteering your time, skills or financial contributions. Many organisations offer volunteer opportunities for individuals or groups to help with projects such as wildlife conservation, marine conservation, or community health initiatives. Additionally, you can support local communities by purchasing locally-made goods, which helps to promote sustainable livelihoods and economic development. Educating yourself and others about the importance of conservation and sustainable development can also contribute to these efforts by raising awareness and encouraging others to take action. Finally, you can support policy and advocacy initiatives aimed at protecting natural resources and promoting sustainable development in Africa.