Work and Travel in South Africa

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South Africa is an African culture filled with native, Dutch, German, and English cultures all in one. Its colourful people are matched only by its colourful history. If you want to travel in South Africa think about making a real difference to this country. It can be done just by deciding to work and travel in South Africa instead.

Challenge yourself, learn new skills, and leave with memories that will last a lifetime. This travel guide for South Africa is going to introduce you to everything you need to know about volunteering opportunities in South Africa.

1. Medical Support in Rural Zululand

Zululand is one of the most diverse regions of South Africa. But it has a problem with a lack of medical care and the problem of AIDS. As a medical support volunteer you’ll be helping trained medical staff assist in public clinics and home visits.

If you work and travel in South Africa and you already have medical qualifications you may even be able to take a paid position whilst you make a real difference to these communities. But paid positions for professionals are not as easy to come by as they’re often oversubscribed.

2. Wildlife Conservation in Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park is one of the top safari destinations for visitors to South Africa. Travel in South Africa and work as a wildlife conservationist. One position that volunteers can fulfil is as a wildlife photographer. Volunteers are needed to take pictures of individual animals for the purposes of ID kits.

You’ll be shown how to take pictures and which part of the animal to take pictures of. Additionally, you’ll be helping the rangers and scientists carry out their duties of protecting the animals in Kruger.

3. Teach People to Surf in South Africa

South Africa’s coasts are some of the best in the world for surfing. There’s a reason why part of the World Surfing Championship is held here. You can join in with programmes that teach young people how to surf for the first time. You’ll be there to show them how to be confident in the water and how to perform the basic techniques of surfing.

If you’re already a surfer, or you just know how to swim well, this could be the project for you as you travel in South Africa.


Those who work and travel in South Africa will find it to be one of the easiest African countries to enter. To start with, UK citizens and EU citizens are able to enter for 90 days without a visa. The same goes for anyone from Russia, the US, and Canada.

You should be aware of the fact that Mexican citizens and citizens of New Zealand require a formal visa to enter South Africa. This is in contrast to Australia, whose citizens don’t need a visa.

Japanese citizens are able to enter the country for 90 days without a visa. But South Korean citizens are only able to enter South Africa for 30 days without a visa.



Being in the southern hemisphere, the South African spring takes in the high temperatures of the last vestiges of summer and the storms of the beginning of the cold period of the year.

This is the time to look to the cities in preparation for the rainy season. Look into teaching English in Cape Town or joining a hostel in Johannesburg. You may also want to pick up a job in the wine lands as this is when the main harvest is coming in and roles as grape pickers are available.


The summertime is considered to be the worst time to work and travel in South Africa. Cold fronts from the Atlantic Ocean bring cold days and the majority of the year’s rainfall in just a couple of months. There are no specific backpacker skills required at this time of year as most of the tourism industry shuts down.

Many volunteers who travel in South Africa use this time to explore more of the country, especially the cities.

This is the least desirable time of year to work in South Africa.


The autumn is actually the springtime in South Africa. This is the time to look into conservation projects as the majority of them are hiring at this time of year. Whether it’s working in a national park or working in a lesser known area on a local project, you’ll find plenty of places hiring.

You may even want to look into construction projects. Just after the rains end is the time for many construction projects restart and they’re always looking for someone with a good level of fitness and some handyman skills to help out.


Winter is the height of the tourist season as this is when the South African summer takes hold. Work and travel in South Africa at this time of year and you’ll have the pick of the tourist trade. Find work in hostels, work in one of the surf camps near Cape Town, or look into handing out fliers for clubs and other events.

Another option is to work at a safari lodge. These projects will give you an opportunity to see more of the country and get off the traditional tourist trail as you enter rural South Africa.


South Africa is one of the biggest tourist gems on the whole continent. But you also have to understand that in the townships there’s a high level of racism against both whites and blacks. You should research exactly where you’re working before accepting any job as racially-motivated violence isn’t uncommon.

Generally, the tourist areas are perfectly fine. It’s just when you go off the beaten track that it becomes a problem. But your host will take care of all the arrangements and ensure you have everything you need to stay safe in the country.

Are you ready to enter the wilds of South Africa?

Recent Contributors

  • Edited on Jan 15 2018 by Yara

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