10 Questions about Volunteering in Africa
- Can I drink the water?
Yes absolutely, the water in the cities and where you are staying in ANY of our projects is safe to drink out the tap. And some of it is the best in the world! There is of course bottled water for sale at all shops throughout the country. However, we urge you do “DITCH THE PLASTIC BOTTLES” and use your GHV aluminum water bottle over and over again! Save the planet! Think Green! Stay Hydrated! Don’t let anymore plastic water bottles end up in our ocean!
- Will my cell phone work and should I buy a local SIM card?
For our Cape Town volunteers and the Garden Route volunteers we will provide you with a registered Cell C SIM card in your welcome pack on arrival. All you need to do is put this card in your cell phone and you are connected! Top-up data and airtime for these cards is available everywhere! For those of you arriving to projects outside of Cape Town and the Garden Route, we recommend buying a SIM card on arrival to stay connected to your family and friends at home. Please make sure your international cell phone is unlocked for use in South Africa.
- Will I be able to speak the language?
Yes and NO, South Africa has 11 national languages, and its an incredibly interesting mix of cultures and speech. English however is the most widely spoken national language, and with English you will be able to get by pretty much everywhere. Be patient with other dialects and accents, and give yourself time to get used to it! Learn some phrases and greetings of the local languages in your area, you will be embraced like family if you do!
- Will there be elephants and other wildlife in the city?
We wish! Unfortunately not, South Africa’s wildlife is now confined to the nature reserves and game parks around the country. Take some time and go and see them if you have a chance. It’s a life changing experience to see elephants in their natural habitat! South Africa is a mix of third and first worlds. Our cities are very advanced, but the rural areas are surprisingly different. Worth diving right in and seeing it all!
- Should I bring a sleeping bag?
Generally no, all the bedding is provided in all our volunteering projects. If however you are coming in Winter, you might prefer another layer to keep warm, your own sleeping bag would be a great thing to bring!
- What vaccinations should I get?
South Africa requires no vaccinations and immunizations. HOWEVER, if you are travelling from some countries like Brazil, or Tanzania. You will be required to bring your yellow fever vaccination card, and proof of your inoculation against yellow fever. You are however NOT required to get any further vaccinations for travel in South Africa and Namibia. And all our projects have very easy access to first class medical facilities should you need.
- Will there be power to charge my laptop/phone and camera?
Yes there will. The South African electricity supply is 220/230 volts AC 50 HZ. Most plugs are 15 amp 3-prong or 5 amp 2-prong, with round pins. US-made appliances may need a transformer. You can EASILY pick up an adapter for your appliances at the airport on arrival, and it will be MUCH cheaper to buy it here, and easier to find than in your home country
- Can I swim in the sea, because of the sharks?
Yes absolutely. South African waters, although they have a bad reputation, are glorious to swim in! Most popular beaches will have “shark spotters” so please make yourself aware of the flag coding on the beaches and always follow lifeguard instructions. Sharks are more active at dawn and at dusk, so avoid those times, if you are nervous. Also never swim in the sea at night.
- Is GHV a real company, what if this is a scam?
We are 100% a real company and have been in business for over 8 years. Our sister company Good Hope Studies has been helping foreign students for nearly 20 years! We have seen thousands of international candidates through our doors, and are looking forward to welcoming you! Please follow our testimonials or ask us for one of our volunteer alumni contacts, or if you have any further questions, or would like an outsiders opinion.
- I’m enjoying it so much, can I stay longer…. please?
Of course you can and we would LOVE it if you did! Most international passport holders can stay in South Africa on a tourist visa for up to 90 days. If you would like to extend your 90 day visa, we can help with this in Cape Town. It does require you to apply for this extension, within the first 90 days of your arrival however. And this extension is only allowed once. If you have any questions about this, please feel free to reach out to us, we are here to answer any questions you have.
To be part of our amazing volunteer community, please contact us.