Volunteering

Knysna – sheer magnificence!

If you travel 73km from the George Airport along South Africa’s Garden Route, you’ll find Knysna, one of the Western Cape’s most popular coastal attractions. Historically known for its gold mining and wild elephants roaming the forest in the 1800s, it continues to be an area of extreme beauty and versatility today. Arguably, the most famous of its landmarks are the Knysna Heads, two awesome cliff faces that seem to be guarding the mouth of the Knsyna Lagoon.

Majestic Knysna Heads. Photo credit: www.southafrica.net

Majestic Knysna Heads. Photo credit: www.southafrica.net

There are many attractions that centre around the Lagoon including the bustling waterfront precinct where you can sit and watch the drawbridge rise to allow the yachts to moor as you nosh on a delectable meal with matched wines at 34 South. You can also opt to stay on the lagoon in a houseboat which can be equally romantic and adventurous and, either way, create a holiday to remember! And a particularly fun pastime at Knysna Lagoon known mainly to the locals, is to go wading knee-deep in the water at the changing of the tide to look for pansy shells. They’re such a warm bunch, just ask them where to go and what to do and they’ll share their secrets.

Sunset over Knysna waterfront. Photo credit: www.nightjartravel.com

Sunset over Knysna waterfront. Photo credit: www.nightjartravel.com

Knysna is also filled with outdoorsy things to do if you’re the adventurous type. Think bungee jumping, abseiling, quad biking, paragliding, scuba diving, power boating, kloofing (also known as canyoning), mountain biking, canoeing and hiking. There are heaps of non-adventurous outdoorsy things to do too like checking out the castles on Noetzi Beach. This is one of the reasons why Knysna is such popular destination: you can live it up, go wild or just chill. It’s a sublime mix of adventure and relaxation.

Take a heart-thumping ride in the Knysna RIB! Photo credit: www.tripadvisor.co.uk

Take a heart-thumping ride in the Knysna RIB! Photo credit: www.tripadvisor.co.uk

One thing you can definitely expect however, is to indulge in all things foodie. You can’t go past the annual Oyster Festival in July that attracts thousands of people from all over the country as well as overseas. There are other more low-key places to visit like Mitchell’s Brewery where you can sample their natural craft beers and cider, or the quirky and quaint Spookasem Tea Gardens in Rheenendal where you can sip on a cup of traditional roobios tea.

Sample some of the freshest oysters at the annual Oyster Festival in Knysna. Photo credit: www.oysterfestival.co.za

Sample some of the freshest oysters at the annual Oyster Festival in Knysna. Photo credit: www.oysterfestival.co.za

The wonderful thing is that, as rich as Knysna is in things to do and see, your accommodation doesn’t have to break the bank. Yes, you can book in to one of the Milkwood Collection of Resorts, but you can also choose to stay at wonderful guesthouses like Be My Guest, or a backpackers like Knysna Backpackers in a magnificent heritage house. All of them show you a slightly different side of this bustling town.

Knysna Backpackers for those on a budget. Photo credit: www.knysnabackpackers.co.za

Knysna Backpackers for those on a budget. Photo credit: www.knysnabackpackers.co.za

And if you’re someone who likes giving back to the community, join Experience Knysna! through Love Knysna Projects and help unite kids from all local communities through field trips promoting social unity and a sense of belonging.

Knysna boasts some of the oldest forests in the world. Photo credit: www.theapricity.com

Knysna boasts some of the oldest forests in the world. Photo credit: www.theapricity.com

So, if you’re after a stunning holiday destination that offers you a whole range of things to do, or not to do (as the case may be), put Knysna at the top of your list. Join the conversation on our Australian or New Zealand Facebook page for more travel inspiration and the latest news and tools to plan your perfect South African holiday.

Knysna – sheer magnificence!

If you travel 73km from the George Airport along South Africa’s Garden Route, you’ll find Knysna, one of the Western Cape’s most popular coastal attractions. Historically known for its gold mining and wild elephants roaming the forest in the 1800s, it continues to be an area of extreme beauty and versatility today. Arguably, the most famous of its landmarks are the Knysna Heads, two awesome cliff faces that seem to be guarding the mouth of the Knsyna Lagoon.

Majestic Knysna Heads. Photo credit: www.southafrica.net

Majestic Knysna Heads. Photo credit: www.southafrica.net

There are many attractions that centre around the Lagoon including the bustling waterfront precinct where you can sit and watch the drawbridge rise to allow the yachts to moor as you nosh on a delectable meal with matched wines at 34 South. You can also opt to stay on the lagoon in a houseboat which can be equally romantic and adventurous and, either way, create a holiday to remember! And a particularly fun pastime at Knysna Lagoon known mainly to the locals, is to go wading knee-deep in the water at the changing of the tide to look for pansy shells. They’re such a warm bunch, just ask them where to go and what to do and they’ll share their secrets.

Sunset over Knysna waterfront. Photo credit: www.nightjartravel.com

Sunset over Knysna waterfront. Photo credit: www.nightjartravel.com

Knysna is also filled with outdoorsy things to do if you’re the adventurous type. Think bungee jumping, abseiling, quad biking, paragliding, scuba diving, power boating, kloofing (also known as canyoning), mountain biking, canoeing and hiking. There are heaps of non-adventurous outdoorsy things to do too like checking out the castles on Noetzi Beach. This is one of the reasons why Knysna is such popular destination: you can live it up, go wild or just chill. It’s a sublime mix of adventure and relaxation.

Take a heart-thumping ride in the Knysna RIB! Photo credit: www.tripadvisor.co.uk

Take a heart-thumping ride in the Knysna RIB! Photo credit: www.tripadvisor.co.uk

One thing you can definitely expect however, is to indulge in all things foodie. You can’t go past the annual Oyster Festival in July that attracts thousands of people from all over the country as well as overseas. There are other more low-key places to visit like Mitchell’s Brewery where you can sample their natural craft beers and cider, or the quirky and quaint Spookasem Tea Gardens in Rheenendal where you can sip on a cup of traditional roobios tea.

Sample some of the freshest oysters at the annual Oyster Festival in Knysna. Photo credit: www.oysterfestival.co.za

Sample some of the freshest oysters at the annual Oyster Festival in Knysna. Photo credit: www.oysterfestival.co.za

The wonderful thing is that, as rich as Knysna is in things to do and see, your accommodation doesn’t have to break the bank. Yes, you can book in to one of the Milkwood Collection of Resorts, but you can also choose to stay at wonderful guesthouses like Be My Guest, or a backpackers like Knysna Backpackers in a magnificent heritage house. All of them show you a slightly different side of this bustling town.

Knysna Backpackers for those on a budget. Photo credit: www.knysnabackpackers.co.za

Knysna Backpackers for those on a budget. Photo credit: www.knysnabackpackers.co.za

And if you’re someone who likes giving back to the community, join Experience Knysna! through Love Knysna Projects and help unite kids from all local communities through field trips promoting social unity and a sense of belonging.

Knysna boasts some of the oldest forests in the world. Photo credit: www.theapricity.com

Knysna boasts some of the oldest forests in the world. Photo credit: www.theapricity.com

So, if you’re after a stunning holiday destination that offers you a whole range of things to do, or not to do (as the case may be), put Knysna at the top of your list. Join the conversation on our Australian or New Zealand Facebook page for more travel inspiration and the latest news and tools to plan your perfect South African holiday.

A Beginner’s Guide to Voluntourism…

Mandela Day calls on all of us to play a part in making the world a better place every day.

It is a global call to action that celebrates the idea that we all have the power to transform the world.

Voluntourism is a meaningful way of celebrating Madiba’s legacy by volunteering in one of the many conservation and community-based programmes that can benefit from your time and assistance while you are in South Africa.

At the same time, voluntourism gives travellers the opportunity to interact with the South African landscape, people and culture in a personal and meaningful way – providing a new perspective and deeper understanding of South Africa. This can provide travellers with the sense that they have received far more than they have given to the destination and its residents.

What is Voluntourism?

voluntourism

Broadly speaking, South African volunteer work falls into two main categories − helping to uplift impoverished communities, or nature conservation.

Within these categories, however, are endless possibilities, depending on your own skills, time limitations or inclinations. You could find yourself helping to identify resident and migratory schools of bottlenose dolphins. Or you may turn your hand to fixing mountain bikes so that children in remote areas can get to school.

You could tutor primary school children in rural areas in, say, mathematics or English. What about getting behind the scenes at a game reserve and helping with game capture or animal rehabilitation?

The best voluntourism operations funnel most of the money to the host community or project, have a structured and positive relationship with the host community, and are transparent about how their funds are spread. They also have specific insurance covering volunteer work.

Before you start…

Before you even start looking for a reputable operator, give your voluntourist dreams plenty of thought. Define for yourself where you think you can most benefit other people or projects. Skills transfer, for example, is very highly prized.

But you should also be clear about what you want to gain from the experience.

Bear in mind that the longer you stay, the better your chances of making a meaningful difference. Most responsible volunteering operators recommend four to six weeks. More is better. If you have only two weeks to share, you will have to tailor your expectations, but can still make a valuable contribution (and have fun).

Volunteer teaching

TeachingMusic_960_472_80auto_s_c1_center_center

Volunteer teaching is one of the most popular forms of voluntourism worldwide.

Volunteer teaching opportunities in South Africa exist across the age spectrum and extend far beyond the classroom. Education needs in historically disadvantaged communities range from pre-school tots needing developmental stimulation and job-seekers needing to learn conversational English, to old age pensioners for whom literacy is a long-awaited gift.

Wildlife volunteer projects

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Wildlife conservation is a major focus of these volunteer programmes and often includes the opportunity to assist in the research of endangered species.

From marine projects which focus on learning about the behaviour of sharks, whales, dolphins, seals and the endangered African penguin to monitoring tracking, feeding and caring for the ‘big 5’ volunteer wildlife projects offer authentic, responsible voluntourism experiences where you can actively contribute to research and conservation programmes.

Find out more…

Fair Trade Tourism, Southern Africa’s leading responsible tourism NGO has implemented a certification program for all volunteering projects and their website is a great first step to planning your perfect voluntourism adventure. Alternately, visit our Facebook or Twitter pages where we would love to hear any questions you might have about responsible voluntourism.

A Beginner’s Guide to Voluntourism…

Mandela Day calls on all of us to play a part in making the world a better place every day.

It is a global call to action that celebrates the idea that we all have the power to transform the world.

Voluntourism is a meaningful way of celebrating Madiba’s legacy by volunteering in one of the many conservation and community-based programmes that can benefit from your time and assistance while you are in South Africa.

At the same time, voluntourism gives travellers the opportunity to interact with the South African landscape, people and culture in a personal and meaningful way – providing a new perspective and deeper understanding of South Africa. This can provide travellers with the sense that they have received far more than they have given to the destination and its residents.

What is Voluntourism?

voluntourism

Broadly speaking, South African volunteer work falls into two main categories − helping to uplift impoverished communities, or nature conservation.

Within these categories, however, are endless possibilities, depending on your own skills, time limitations or inclinations. You could find yourself helping to identify resident and migratory schools of bottlenose dolphins. Or you may turn your hand to fixing mountain bikes so that children in remote areas can get to school.

You could tutor primary school children in rural areas in, say, mathematics or English. What about getting behind the scenes at a game reserve and helping with game capture or animal rehabilitation?

The best voluntourism operations funnel most of the money to the host community or project, have a structured and positive relationship with the host community, and are transparent about how their funds are spread. They also have specific insurance covering volunteer work.

Before you start…

Before you even start looking for a reputable operator, give your voluntourist dreams plenty of thought. Define for yourself where you think you can most benefit other people or projects. Skills transfer, for example, is very highly prized.

But you should also be clear about what you want to gain from the experience.

Bear in mind that the longer you stay, the better your chances of making a meaningful difference. Most responsible volunteering operators recommend four to six weeks. More is better. If you have only two weeks to share, you will have to tailor your expectations, but can still make a valuable contribution (and have fun).

Volunteer teaching

TeachingMusic_960_472_80auto_s_c1_center_center

Volunteer teaching is one of the most popular forms of voluntourism worldwide.

Volunteer teaching opportunities in South Africa exist across the age spectrum and extend far beyond the classroom. Education needs in historically disadvantaged communities range from pre-school tots needing developmental stimulation and job-seekers needing to learn conversational English, to old age pensioners for whom literacy is a long-awaited gift.

Wildlife volunteer projects

Shark volunteer project2_960_472_80auto_s_c1_center_center

Wildlife conservation is a major focus of these volunteer programmes and often includes the opportunity to assist in the research of endangered species.

From marine projects which focus on learning about the behaviour of sharks, whales, dolphins, seals and the endangered African penguin to monitoring tracking, feeding and caring for the ‘big 5’ volunteer wildlife projects offer authentic, responsible voluntourism experiences where you can actively contribute to research and conservation programmes.

Find out more…

Fair Trade Tourism, Southern Africa’s leading responsible tourism NGO has implemented a certification program for all volunteering projects and their website is a great first step to planning your perfect voluntourism adventure. Alternately, visit our Facebook or Twitter pages where we would love to hear any questions you might have about responsible voluntourism.

Book a holiday that makes a difference!

In conjuction with the Wilderness Foundation, we urge you to join the Shamwari Group, recognised as a leading conservation and hospitality group in South Africa, in the fight to save the Rhino.

Rhino Facts:

  • South Africa is custodian to over 90% of the world’s rhino.
  • In 2010 alone, 333 rhino were killed in South Africa by poachers for their horn. In the first six-months of 2011, 200 rhinos were killed.
  • It has been proven that the horn has no medicinal value and is not a cure for cancer. However it is still sought after and mainly in the East.

The members of the Wilderness Network, which includes the Wilderness Foundation (Africa), Wilderness Foundation UK and WILD are taking urgent action to address steadily increasing levels of rhino poaching in South Africa.

Be a part of the change!

Book a holiday that makes a difference!

In conjuction with the Wilderness Foundation, we urge you to join the Shamwari Group, recognised as a leading conservation and hospitality group in South Africa, in the fight to save the Rhino.

Rhino Facts:

  • South Africa is custodian to over 90% of the world’s rhino.
  • In 2010 alone, 333 rhino were killed in South Africa by poachers for their horn. In the first six-months of 2011, 200 rhinos were killed.
  • It has been proven that the horn has no medicinal value and is not a cure for cancer. However it is still sought after and mainly in the East.

The members of the Wilderness Network, which includes the Wilderness Foundation (Africa), Wilderness Foundation UK and WILD are taking urgent action to address steadily increasing levels of rhino poaching in South Africa.

Be a part of the change!

Volunteer Holiday in South Africa

Photobucket

Are you passionate about animal welfare and want the opportunity to make a difference? Often taking the time every week to volunteer to help our community isn’t feasible. Life can become crowded with responsibilities and obligations and it’s all to easy to forget the importance of looking after our planet.

 

Take a holiday this year to South Africa that makes a real difference. By choosing a ‘volunteering’ holiday you’ll get to explore a new culture, enjoy new culinary delights and experience another world and put your hand to a worthwhile cause. It’s a real luxury to be able to visit a new country and be the difference.

Here are our top 3 South Africa volunteer projects. All this information can be found at http://www.aviva-sa.com

Great White Shark Conservation

South Africa has the largest concentration of Great White Sharks in the world. Get up close and personal with these beautiful creatures in an exciting project in a passionate team of marine experts. South Africa is the breeding area for the endangered Southern Right Whale, and home to the threatened colonies of endangered African Penguins, as well as resident populations of dolphins, seals and thousands of seabirds.

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Wild Coast Horses

This is an amazing opportunity for you to experience the wonderful world of horse rehabilitation on South Africa’s beautiful and rugged Wild Coast. As a volunteer you will work alongside the team and will be actively involved in the rehabilitation of abused horses. The centre runs on a well structured routine, so you could find yourself preparing feed, grooming, examining horses, helping with exercising and schooling of the horses, cleaning and replenishing water troughs and, of course, mucking out!

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Elephants & Safari

Spend time at one of South Africa’s top rated 4 Star game lodges and gain valuable experience working behind the scenes with elephants, horses and safaris. This stunning working holiday will give you access to a wide range of optional activities including the famous Cango Caves and Cango Wildlife Ranch, along with ostrich and wine farms in the Klein Karoo region, an adventure you will remember for all the right reasons!

Volunteer Holiday in South Africa

Photobucket

Are you passionate about animal welfare and want the opportunity to make a difference? Often taking the time every week to volunteer to help our community isn’t feasible. Life can become crowded with responsibilities and obligations and it’s all to easy to forget the importance of looking after our planet.

 

Take a holiday this year to South Africa that makes a real difference. By choosing a ‘volunteering’ holiday you’ll get to explore a new culture, enjoy new culinary delights and experience another world and put your hand to a worthwhile cause. It’s a real luxury to be able to visit a new country and be the difference.

Here are our top 3 South Africa volunteer projects. All this information can be found at http://www.aviva-sa.com

Great White Shark Conservation

South Africa has the largest concentration of Great White Sharks in the world. Get up close and personal with these beautiful creatures in an exciting project in a passionate team of marine experts. South Africa is the breeding area for the endangered Southern Right Whale, and home to the threatened colonies of endangered African Penguins, as well as resident populations of dolphins, seals and thousands of seabirds.

Photobucket

Wild Coast Horses

This is an amazing opportunity for you to experience the wonderful world of horse rehabilitation on South Africa’s beautiful and rugged Wild Coast. As a volunteer you will work alongside the team and will be actively involved in the rehabilitation of abused horses. The centre runs on a well structured routine, so you could find yourself preparing feed, grooming, examining horses, helping with exercising and schooling of the horses, cleaning and replenishing water troughs and, of course, mucking out!

Photobucket

Elephants & Safari

Spend time at one of South Africa’s top rated 4 Star game lodges and gain valuable experience working behind the scenes with elephants, horses and safaris. This stunning working holiday will give you access to a wide range of optional activities including the famous Cango Caves and Cango Wildlife Ranch, along with ostrich and wine farms in the Klein Karoo region, an adventure you will remember for all the right reasons!

Another Conservation Victory at Kwandwe

As part of their ongoing carnivore research programme, Beyond Kwandwe Private Game Reserve recently released two adult cheetah onto the 22 000 hectare wilderness area. Both cheetah were fitted with radio collars to enable Kwandwe’s conservation team to monitor them closely as they settle into their new habitat.

These cats are brothers and will play an important role in establishing the genetic diversity of Kwandwe’s cheetah population, as well as enhancing the exhilarating Big Five game viewing experience for our guests. Kwandwe has played a significant role in cheetah conservation since 2001, and has been responsible for establishing numerous cheetah colonies in other game reserves throughout South Africa.

 Website: www.andbeyond.com


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Another Conservation Victory at Kwandwe

As part of their ongoing carnivore research programme, Beyond Kwandwe Private Game Reserve recently released two adult cheetah onto the 22 000 hectare wilderness area. Both cheetah were fitted with radio collars to enable Kwandwe’s conservation team to monitor them closely as they settle into their new habitat.

These cats are brothers and will play an important role in establishing the genetic diversity of Kwandwe’s cheetah population, as well as enhancing the exhilarating Big Five game viewing experience for our guests. Kwandwe has played a significant role in cheetah conservation since 2001, and has been responsible for establishing numerous cheetah colonies in other game reserves throughout South Africa.

 Website: www.andbeyond.com


View Larger Map 

Turtle Safari
After recently studying about the Leather-back and Loggerhead turtles that nest off the shores of Sodwana Bay (an hours drive from Phinda Mountain Lodge) we headed out to witness first hand this once in a lifetime experience.

More →

Turtle Safari

After recently studying about the Leather-back and Loggerhead turtles that nest off the shores of Sodwana Bay (an hours drive from Phinda Mountain Lodge) we headed out to witness first hand this once in a lifetime experience.

More →