Volunteer Abroad FAQ Conservation Volunteering in South Africa

Wildlife protection in South Africa's province Western Cape

Prior to departure

Do I need specific requirements or abilities to apply for this project?

To participate in this project, you should be at least 18 years old and have good English skills. Moreover, it is important that you are in a good physical state, since you will need to hike the reserve for full days in all terrain – in often high temperatures – while carrying your own drinking water for the day, your provided lunch, and research equipment in your packs. You do not need any specific knowledge or requirements – it is more important to be flexible, open-minded and enthusiastic about nature and species conservation as well as to be motivated to work actively and to obtain new knowledge. Before departing to South Africa, you should get information regarding visa requirements at the Foreign Office or feel free to contact NATUCATE directly.

Which services does the price include?

Before starting your volunteer adventure in South Africa, we will support you with the information you need regarding how to plan your journey. Furthermore, we will secure a place in the project for you and help you choose appropriate travel insurance and book your flight – if requested. Transfer from the airport to the accommodation and vice versa will be organised by our partner. During the time in the project the accommodation (which provides a pool, 24/7 security, housekeeping and numerous leisure time opportunities) and most of the food will be provided. During the project you will take part in daily excursions to the bush and training sessions in different fields which all are included in the price. Flights, travel insurance, visa (if needed), drinks, daily dinners and weekend lunches are not included.

Do I need certain medical precautions or requirements?

In general, it is not necessary to have special vaccinations before departing directly from Germany. In general, you may want to get or refresh vaccinations against measles-mumps-rubella, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis when planning a journey. Furthermore, it is advisable to take medication from your home country you need since medical treatment in South Africa might sometimes be insufficient. Above all this, we recommend getting vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B (if you are staying for a longer period), typhus and rabies. Especially medication against infectious diseases like malaria should be considered – we would like to point out, though, that our project takes place in a region which is considered malaria and rabies free. In order to prevent a malaria infection there are different kinds of protective measures. Before departing to South Africa, you should visit your doctor and get advice on potential dangers, vaccinations and protective measures. In addition to that, you get information about travel alerts and safety information at the Foreign Office. Don’t forget to bring along medicine against diarrhoea, pain/headaches and travel sickness in your first-aid kit. It is obligatory for you to get foreign health insurance to be able to participate in the project.

How long can I participate in the project?

In this project we provide volunteer stays with a duration of two or four weeks.

What kind of equipment should I take with me?

For the time of your stay you should pack sturdy shoes, a backpack, light (long) pants for daytime, a sun hat and enough sun screen. We recommend taking warmer clothes for cold seasons and cooler morning/evening hours as well as rainproof clothing. We ask you to pay attention to the colour of your clothing which should have appropriate “safari colours”: khaki, ochre or beige. Do not forget to pack a refillable drinking bottle, towels, insect repellent, a laptop, an adapter, pens and paper and binoculars.

Arrival

How do I arrive at my destination? Do I have to organize it myself?

The day your project begins, you will arrive at George Airport and will be picked up by an employee of the project who will take you to your accommodation (the ride takes about 30 minutes), a hostel in the city of Mossel Bay. We help you organise your arrival at the airport; although you need to take care of the final booking.

During the project

How is the project structured?

After arriving at the hostel, you can familiarise yourself with the accommodation and meet your team members and instructors.
The following day you will have an orientation and safety meeting which will introduce you to the project’s work and goals and specific security rules for your work in the African bush.
The third day after your arrival you will start doing the actual project work. It is a mix of theoretical and practical units.
In most cases, your day starts around 7/7:30 AM with a satisfying breakfast in your accommodation. Around 08:15am you will head out to the reserve together to dedicate yourself to research activities or to join specific training units. The research units support different species conservation initiatives and impart basic skills in techniques of data collection, analysis and storage. Training units are crucial to teach you essential theoretical knowledge regarding topics like conservation biology, wildlife management, coexistence of human beings and animal, animal behaviour and animal ethics or to improve your “bush skills” which are highly important for living and working in the African wilderness.
After finishing the project work, you will be drive back to the accommodation in the afternoon where you are free to use the rest of the time for your own activities.

How big is the group?

The maximum amount of people participating is 4 people.

Life on site

What is the accommodation like?

Together with other volunteers you will live in a hostel in Mossel Bay, a coastal city in South Africa’s province Western Cape. In the hostel you will sleep in dormitories and use shared bathrooms – in general, you will be separated by sex. The hostel provides 24/7 security, gated security and restricted access and a daily housekeeping. It is just a short walk to various restaurants, take-aways, supermarkets, stores, hiking paths, beaches, museums and other cultural activities. In the hostel, you can use a swimming pool, snack stalls, an “adventure centre” for various free time activities and free Wi-Fi.

Is it possible to share rooms with a partner?

In general, it is possible to share rooms with a travel partner, but it depends on the size and structure of the group. We ask you to let us know if you would like to get accommodated with a partner as soon as possible so that we and our partner organisation have enough time to arrange everything accordingly. It cannot be guaranteed that you can share rooms with a partner, though.

How is the food provided?

The hostel provides breakfast which consists of eggs, toast, cereal, porridge and/or yogurt. While being out in the field you will be provided with a light lunch which is mostly salad or sandwiches, together with chips and fruit. You are in charge for your daily dinner and weekend lunches– for these meals you can either go to one of the numerous beach restaurants or use the self-catering kitchen in the hostel. After your arrival as well as once or twice a week you will stop at a supermarket after coming back from reserve work to purchase the groceries you need. Drinks are not included in the price – but the tab water of the region can be consumed without any concerns.

Is it possible to receive vegetarian meals?

The meals provided allow a vegetarian diet. Nevertheless, we ask you to inform us about any special diets you prefer.

How can I spend my free time?

Evening hours and weekends are free. You can spend this time using the offers of the hostel – such as the swimming pool or the adventure centre – or you can visit a close beach to relax, get to know the city with its stores, museums and other cultural sights or you can go on day or weekend trips to explore the region. You can book dozens of free time activities, which include: surfing lessons, whale watching tours, sand boarding, horseback safaris, wine tours, bungee jumping, hiking tours and trips to some of South Africa’s beautiful national parks.

Do I have a contact person on site?

During your time in the project you will always have a contact person to talk to. Feel free to contact NATUCATE at any time if questions or problems arise.

What kind of cost do I have to expect during the project? Can I withdraw cash on site and do I have to pay in local currency?

The currency in South Africa is the South African Rand (ZAR). You can use an online currency converter to check the current exchange rate, e.g. Oanda (https://www.oanda.com/currency/converter/). Changing U.S. dollars or Euros is much easier and cheaper than exchanging travelers’ checks in South Africa, although it is also somewhat less secure when traveling. It is also easier to exchange any cash in ZAR (South African Rand) whilst in your international airport (such as Heathrow or JFK). It can also be done in South Africa, but the process tends to be quicker in the airports. At many locations, it is possible to pay for services directly with bank cards, though the easiest method is to withdraw denominations of the local currency from the increasingly more common ATM machines. Some smaller shops and street stalls will only take cash, though. The ATM machines will automatically calculate the current exchange rate, but will also charge your account a foreign transaction fee (depending on your institution). We highly recommend using such a debit or credit card when dealing with money, as it is far easier to have cash on hand than finding a bank with regular business hours that will exchange U.S. dollars or Euros. Check with your bank well ahead of time to ensure that your card will work in South Africa, and will not expire while traveling abroad.

Keep in mind that you will need to pay for daily dinners as well as the weekend lunches and might also want to take part in some leisure activities – that’s why you should bring enough money for your volunteer stay.

How can I contact family and friends at home?

The hostel offers free WiFi, so don’t forget to bring along your laptop or smartphone to contact friends and family at home. Moreover, you can purchase a South African SIM card / a South African phone with a calling plan.

What’s the weather/climate like?

At the Mossel Bay Site, it is quite mild year-round. Day temperatures in winter (May to August) are usually between 14and 18°C and summer temperatures (December to March) are usually between 25 and 30°C. Evenings are cooler, especially in winter, but never below freezing. Since having the ocean on one side and mountains on the other you are subject to winter winds from both side which can add to the chill.

Is there a prohibition regarding alcohol?

In general, there is no prohibition regarding alcohol. Since we would like to provide a profound educational experience for you, you should consume alcoholic beverage – if necessary – only moderately. It is not allowed to consume it during the working week. Excessive alcohol consumption leads to termination of the programme.

What happens in case of sickness or an emergency?

If you have a general cold you can get medication in one of the multiple registered pharmacies. In case of a more adamant flu there are several general practitioners in Mossel Bay where you can have medicine prescribed.

In case of a medical emergency, volunteers will immediately be taken to Bay View Private Hospital in Mossel Bay. Using the medical aid information given on the registration form the volunteer will be checked in and examined by hospital staff. The volunteer’s supervisor will phone the emergency contact provided on the registration form and notify them of the situation.

Do you have further questions that you did not find here?

Then call us at +49 241-91994357 or send an e-mail to info@natucate.com

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