Cape Town and its volunteering opportunities

Volunteering in South Africa for many international visitors means going to Cape Town or somewhere in the bush if they join a wildlife or conservation project. We know there is a lot more to South Africa than Cape Town and throughout the last 10 years Khaya always has a small presence in Cape Town by providing 1 or 2 projects.

Times change however and Khaya is currently redeveloping projects in Cape Town that create a win-win situation for all involved. As you might know from our company; we take pride in looking at how everyone involved works sustainably and ethically together. Projects need to gain as much as individual volunteers and we believe that financial support to projects is as important as the extra hands to help.

After spending the last 2 weeks in Cape Town and having a full agenda for next week to visit exciting new programs some things have come to the foreground again concerning Cape Town and how the volunteering industry, which in my opinion sounds negative but that is what it is in this famous city, works:

  • ·The same projects are offered by many providers, most rename it and call it ‘the children of the Cape’ or similar terms and all providers use different fees and charge different amounts. If you compare these fees you will see there are huge differences here.
  • ·Many providers use backpackers hostels as ‘volunteer accommodation’ which is far from what we believe in. Staying in a backpackers lodge or hostel brings in a very different energy to your stay and crowded dorm rooms with drunken travellers is not a space we believe any serious volunteer should be exposed to during their volunteering weeks. We believe that host families or a dedicated volunteer house without normal travellers passing through is the only way to take volunteering seriously and luckily some providers do offer these options.
  • ·Some providers are in principal just a hostel or backpackers lodge and use volunteering to fill up their beds. Would you put your trust in a place that uses volunteering as a form of income only and to keep beds filled? Well, unfortunately it seems to be quite accepted in Cape Town and supported by some of the biggest international providers from Europe.
  • ·Host families that are being used by providers are horribly underpaid. A very small percentage of the total fees go to certain families who provide accommodation, meals and support 24/7 while the organization only picks you up from the airport, shows you around the city for 2 days and pours some shooters down your throat on the occasional social meetings. I am quite shocked to learn about what they are being paid by some providers who call themselves ‘ethical’ and it should not be like this is my opinion.
  • ·Several well-known projects are so overcrowded with young volunteers that it defies the purpose of this already sensitive way of experience travel. How can 20 young girls from Sweden or Germany (just to name some countries) really make a difference at a home for 30 children? I don’t see it but maybe that is just me.


cape town beaches


So all in all some real good reasons to do this differently and to continue to provide projects and volunteering opportunities in Cape Town where the focus is on a good support system with a dedicated Volunteer Coordinator who is there for the duration of your stay (and not for drinking games on the weekend), providing projects that truly have a need for volunteers and a clear policy about how many volunteers they comfortably can take.

Khaya is currently looking at new partnerships with non profit organizations in Cape Town who truly have a need for extra support and we are excited to bring this to you in the next month.

After some great meetings with our new Volunteer Coordinator Devin Isaacs, who is a Capetonian born and bred, and our selected host family who has successfully hosted volunteers for many years from a variety of providers we are excited about what lays ahead.

The way forward for Khaya is a clear focus on affordability and fair pricing for projects to receive a donation from the volunteering fees, a host family who gets paid a fair amount for their services and a Volunteer Coordinator who is there to look at how we make the most out of your experience. And I don’t mean just your experience as a volunteer but the most for all involved where the projects needs and a host family are taken into serious account. I strongly believe that in the long run Khaya will rise and shine in this sometimes-ugly industry of abusing poverty to make money and for some it is lots of it.


cape town city


It is however up to you as the potential customer to make that choice and to critically search and compare providers and to ask questions about where your money goes because however misleading some agencies can be; the choice to keep them running as they are is because of your decision. Time for change we believe so if you are serious about making a difference we advise you to choose consciously and that your choice takes more into consideration then your party needs or FB profile pictures. It is truly up to you!

See you in Africa.



FREE Volunteer Travel Guide

Get our Volunteer Travel Guide for absolutely FREE!

Volunteer Travel Guide Cover Pic

Send My FREE Guide!


Have any questions?

Let us call you and we can have a chat!

trust badge
volunteer project khaya
provincial visitor experience