Volunteering in Africa is becoming increasingly popular. As a result, there are more volunteer organisations on the internet than you can shake a stick at. Here’s the lowdown on volunteering in Africa.

A typical stint as a volunteer lasts an average of two to four weeks, but some programmes can take up to six months or even a year. 

While many are good-intentioned and accredited, many others are downright scaly and opportunistic. 

“With any wildlife game park thinking they can start a volunteer programme, a big problem is emerging in the industry,” says Earl Smith, owner of Volunteer Southern Africa. But they have no idea how to work with volunteers, or where and how to recruit them.” 

It can also cost a pretty penny, with most two-week programmes charged at an average of $2000 (excluding flights).

Earl recommends doing your homework thoroughly to choose the most reputable company – and the right fitWith that in mind, here are five African volunteering programmes that fit the bill.  

A volunteer bonding with a tame zebra

Love Volunteers 

This organisation has an unbelievable average volunteer rating of 96%. It places special emphasis on partnering with local communities in a safe, socially responsible and impactful way.

Love Volunteers works with organisations in more than 10 African countries to fill needs through quality projects.

Whether you are teaching Ghanaian youth creative arts or supporting Rwandans in farming initiatives, Love Volunteers is a fantastic choice.  

Located in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, their volunteer projects range from childcare and community development to construction and special needs.

They also include the environment, health, sport, the arts and music, so there isomething for everyone. 

Helping a rhino

Cheetah Conservation Botswana 

Would you like to save cheetahs in Botswana without actually cuddling them? Then Cheetah Conservation Botswana (CCB) is for you.

This NGO aims to preserve the nation’s cheetah population through scientific research, community outreach and conservation education, working with rural communities to promote coexistence with Botswana’s rich diversity of carnivore species. 

Botswana hosts the world’s largest population of cheetahs, with approximately 1 700 individuals. This accounts for about 25% of the world’s remaining wild cheetahs.

CCB, which currently only operates in Botswana, has been working alongside the government since 2003 to help facilitate coexistence between rural communities and carnivore species. You can contact CCB directly if saving cheetahs is your passion. 

Who said volunteering can't be fun.
Who said volunteering can’t be fun.


GoEco makes sure it dots its i’and crosses its t’when it comes to properly vetted African volunteer projects. It has a reputation as a top eco-tourism company and wants it to stay that way – which is why every project you get placed in is carefully screened. 

An added bonus is that GoEco is not keen on exploitation, so its programmes are kept as affordable as possible.  

GoEco operates in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia, Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi, Madagascar and the Seychelles.

The most popular projects are youth empowerment, wildlife, conservation, education, and health, with weeklong programmes starting from $600. So, if you want to volunteer in the Masai Mara or at a Zimbabwean health clinic, choose from a list of projects and leave a meaningful mark on the developing world. 

Rhino Feeding

Volunteer Southern Africa  

These programmes offer foreigners an opportunity to explore southern Africa as more than a tourist: the volunteers become immersed in the people, animals and African way of life. The programmes provide an environmentally responsible, affordable and incredibly fulfilling working holiday.  

Volunteer Southern Africa currently places volunteers in South Africa and Mozambique. The organisation is in talks with Kenya to place volunteers there too. The focus is mainly on animal care and conservation in Africa, with rhino conservation projects being the most popular. 

A volunteer giving a giraffe water
A volunteer giving a giraffe water

Projects Abroad 

If you have a few extra bucks, join Projects Abroad – one of the most established and reputable volunteer organisations in the world, with more than two decades of volunteer experience.  

Projects Abroad offers a huge variety of flexible volunteer and humanitarian trips to Africa, ranging from one week to a year. 

You will live with a host familywhich means deep insight into local life – and because Projects Abroad holds its projects to United Nations’ sustainable development benchmarks, the success of your volunteer project will start with a strong foundation.  

The organisation has programmes in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and even Togo, with a focus on childcare, conservation, teaching, construction, sports coaching, agriculture, performing and creative arts, culture, and community work. 

Good Advice 


  • … expect five-star treatmentYou are there to work, help and learn, and even though you pay to be here, you might have to make do with basic accommodation and shared living arrangements 
  • … pack too much or bring valuables such as laptops, jewellery and expensive clothes. Pack light and for comfort. 
  • … splash cash. It is advisable not to give money to the local community as charity. You already paid to be there, and your presence and hard work will help in more intangible ways. 
  • … have preconceived ideas about Africa. Come with an open mind and heart, and accept Africa on its own terms.  


  • … your homework! Do as much research as you can beforehand about your destination country and its people 
  • … learn the local language, customs and traditions. Don’t be a nuisance about it, but learn by observation and asking questions if you are not sure about the right course of action.  
  • … get your shots. Make sure you know exactly what vaccinations are required, and be sure to take the hard-copy certificate with you.  
  • … take your prescription meds and organise insurance. Take a large enough supply with you – and remember to take out enough travel insurance to cover any emergency. 
  • … protect your skin. Bring loads of industrial-strength sunscreen. The African sun is not a joke! 

Words by Jo Kromberg