FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Health Safety and Security
How do I apply for a volunteer placement?
1) You choose one or more projects and submit your application form
2) We confirm receipt of your application and send an itinerary for approval.
3) You secure your placement by faxing a signed enrollment/indemnity form to +1.310.359.0269 and making a non-refundable, non-changeable, non-transferable 50% deposit by either wire transfer or credit card. You may also transfer your entire volunteer contribution (deposit and balance) to save on your personal banking fees.
4) We confirm receipt of your paperwork and deposit and send you an Information Document for your program.
5) You book your flights, and organize your passport, vaccinations, medications and travel/medical insurance.
6) You transfer the balance of your volunteer cost at least 60 days before arrival.
7) You join your project team in the field!
How far should I book in advance?
As projects have limited availability, we advise you to submit your application as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. The sooner you apply, the better your chances of securing your placement! However, it is sometimes possible to join a project at the last minute so please contact us if you are interested in travelling in the near term.
Do I need to have experience to volunteer?
Absolutely not. Enkosini Eco Experience programs are open to anyone with a love of adventure, travel and the great outdoors! Whether you bring specific skills or good old-fashioned elbow grease and enthusiasm, you will perform important work on conservation projects in South Africa.
A great volunteer is:
1. Open to experiencing new cultures and meeting people from around the world
2. Tolerant and respectful of others, no matter what their beliefs or backgrounds.
3. Flexible and adapts well to new situations and environments.
4. Self-disciplined with a sense of independence.
5. Eager to develop their own personal qualities and character while giving something back to the planet.
6. Pro-active and looks for opportunities to experience their new surroundings.
Can I join more than one project?
Yes, many people choose to join a mixture of projects over the course of their stay. We can give you advice on your internal travel arrangements as well as other activities in South Africa outside of Enkosini Eco Experience as well.
Can I travel before/after my volunteer placement?
Of course! Many volunteers arrive early to start exploring South Africa or join an Enkosini Eco Experience project halfway through a longer trip round the world. An Enkosini Eco Experience can also offer volunteers the chance to meet potential traveling companions or to slowly acclimatise before heading off alone in South Africa.
Can I volunteer with friends, groups or as a couple?
Yes, we welcome individuals, friends, couples, families and groups to participate in our programs. But you must book in advance so that we can ensure availability and arrange private accommodation (where possible). Again, the earlier you book, the better your chances!
Will I have any free time?
Projects tend to be reasonably flexible, and free time is available most evenings and weekends. While the main responsibility is to our project partners and to do the work we have been requested to carry out, we always try to allow volunteers at least 1 day off a week to relax or explore the surrounding environments.
What are the living conditions?
Volunteers will be provided with clean, modest accommodation in rock chalets, timber cabins, tented camps or homestays depending upon each project (shared occupancy rooms are the standard). Lodging arrangements have basic amenities like linens and running water, usually including hot water. Food is healthy and safe, and volunteers always have plenty to eat. Nearly all volunteer projects can provide for special dietary requirements.
How will I keep in touch with friends and family at home?
You can buy international phone cards from airports, certain stores and post offices which will allow you make a call from local land lines or cell phones. To make an international call from South Africa, dial 09 followed by the country code of the country you wish to call, followed by the relevant area code and phone number. You will find internet cafes in even the smallest of towns in South Africa!
What kind of support, services and benefits can I expect?
The very best! Enkosini Eco Experience prides itself on its local knowledge and its network of enthusiastic and well informed staff and representatives. Our aim is to make sure you are fully briefed, prepared and well equipped before you go. Offering a comprehensive support structure will ensure peace of mind for you in the field, and for your family and friends back at home!
1) A wide choice of locations, arrival dates and trip durations
2) Options to travel with friends, partners, groups or solo.
3) Detailed information on your chosen project
4) Counsel concerning safety issues and arrival/departure details
5) Visa instructions and forms
6) Vaccination and inoculation recommendations
7) International travel advice
In the Field:
1) Transfers to/from projects (depending on project)
2) Food and accommodationâ€¢ Support from our in-country coordinator
3) 24 hour emergency support team in South Africa and the USA
4) Fully comprehensive on site training
1) Personal satisfaction from making a direct contribution to a worthwhile cause
2) Lifelong, like-minded friends from all around the globe
3) Impressive and unusual addition to your resume/cv
4) Lasting memories of a character-building experience that went far beyond tourism!
Why pay to volunteer?
Most non-profit organizations that run international volunteer programs are funded entirely by your contributions. In return for the opportunity to work within the organisation, you not only pay for your own room, board, support and training, a portion of your contribution becomes a donation to the project, thus ensuring the project of your choice can continue doing its good work. In the words of How to Live Your Dream of Volunteering Overseas: "The process of preparing, training, transporting, housing, feeding and supervising volunteers is not cheap." Volunteers have the satisfaction of knowing they give to a worthy cause with hearts, hands and pocketbook.
Can I raise funds towards my placement?
Yes, with prior planning and hard work you can raise all the money for your project. Fund-raising should be seen as part of the challenge in getting to South Africa, as many people believe the more they put in, the more they get out of the African experience. Because a large portion of the funds you generate goes back into conservation it allows to you capitalize on this opportunity. Past fundraising projects include sponsored runs, swims, raffles and parties; letters to companies and charities; as well as general work. When approaching companies, friends, family, foundations and trusts for possible sponsorship, inform them that their contribution will be going to conservation of wildlife in Africa, as well as education of under-privileged communities about conservation. There is a lot of money to be earned out there!
What is your age policy?
The minimum age requirement for most of our programs is 18 yrs old, however certain programs will accept younger volunteers at the discretion of the Program Manager. Some project accept families with a parents or parents providing supervision for underage children. Please contact us for further details.
What languages will I need to speak?
There are 11 official languages spoken in Southern Africa, namely: Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga. However, English is preferred as a common language because it is seen as neutral and prevents the favouring of any one particular dialect. It is advisable to have a basic understanding of the English language should you come from a foreign speaking country.
What should I pack?
Head torch and extra batteries
Pocket or sheath knife (in your checked luggage)
Sunblock, sunblock sunblock!
A good camera (preferably with a good zoom lens)
Notebook and pensâ
CDs and extra data cards
Warm clothes for cold nights (fleecies, long pants, light raincoat)
Cool clothes for hot days (t-shirts/tanks/shorts/swimsuit)
Sunglasses and sun hat
Sports watch/alarmâ€¢ Hiking boots/sandals/sneakers
Cash/credit cards/travelers chequesPassport
Copies of any other important documents including your volunteer placement
School supplies/clothes you may wish to donate to locals
*Tent is only necessary if you are joining the Kruger camping safari as part of the Lapolosa Wilderness Volunteer Program.
How much should I budget for everyday expenses?
Your meals and accommodation are included in most volunteer contributions, so not much spending money is required unless you want to buy gifts or curios. South Africa represents great value for money for visitors and you can survive on surprisingly little day to day. We recommend that you bring cash, an ATM card and a credit card for emergencies (Visa or Mastercard are the most widely accepted). South Africa has plenty of banks in every town and you will find a "Bureau de Changeâ€ in the airport, convenient to change money to rands upon arrival in South Africa.
What is the current exchange rate for my currency?
Visit www.xe.com for the latest rates...
What are the health risks in Southern Africa?
While certain parts of Southern Africa fall within malaria areas, we are fortunate that most of our conservation placements fall in malaria-free areas. However, for those projects that do fall in malaria areas (check individual projects for details), it is incumbent upon each person to decide whether or not to follow a prophylactic programme. Additionally, you must ensure that your vaccinations are up-to-date prior to arrival (hepatitis A/B and tetanus) and that you have adequate medical/travel insurance for the duration of your stay in South Africa. Tap water can be drunk in South Africa; however it is advisable to consult with the coordinator at your selected reserve before doing so. South Africa has very good medical emergency facilities in cities and larger towns â€“ our private hospitals are clean, efficient and professional. Rural clinics and hospitals are definitely more basic than private hospitals, however if a situation does arise medical attention is never far away! The most serious health risk you are likely to face is from the South African sun so please come prepared with adequate sunscreen, UV filter sunglasses and a hat. For further information relating to health issues: www.tripprep.com or http://www.hostelbookers.com/article/travel-tips/health-guide/
What is safety and security like in Southern Africa?
Your safety and security are of paramount importance to the Enkosini Eco Experience team. Enkosini has strict systems and procedures for the introduction of project partners, as well as for the day to day running of volunteers in the field. Experienced conservation managers, appointed by the individual projects, are responsible for each volunteer during their placement - from the time of arrival until departure. Volunteers are constantly surrounded by other volunteers and/or volunteer coordinators, to ensure volunteers are in the safest environment possible. Each project has staff qualified in first aid and other emergency procedures as well as on-site communication systems (telephones, radios, cell phones, etc). We are always apprised of the most up-to-date local and regional developments. You and your family will have the assurance of a safe and meaningful project, developed by professionals and supported with a global network.
What are some safety tips for travelling in Southern Africa?
When traveling in South Africa, tourists should follow a few simple rules of safety so that you can enjoy our beautiful country without incidence. If you are alert to potential problems, you are already halfway to avoiding them!
1)Avoid walking alone at night.
2) Don't wear flashy jewelry or expensive cameras around your neck.
3) Never leave valuables unattended.
4) When travelling in a car, keep your doors locked and windows halfway up.
5) Always use reputable transport services, and avoid driving or using public transport at night.
6) Be alert when drawing money from ATM machines, and avoid drawing money in the evenings.
7) Don't carry large sums of money.
8) Never get out of the car to view wild animals in game reserves.
When is the best time to travel to Southern Africa?
Due to South Africa's favorable climate, it is great to visit Southern Africa all year round! We have a mostly temperate climate, with lovely warm sunny days most of the year. As Southern Hemisphere seasons are the reverse of those in the North, winter peaks over June and July and summer over December and January in South Africa. Temperatures in winter generally range from 15-25 degrees centigrade. The days are warm but the evenings get very chilly! Temperatures in summer generally range from 25-35 degrees centigrade. Summer days are very hot with cooler nights. As with all things there is a trade off, expect to queue for major attractions during the summer, and be prepared for the odd storm during the winter. Whatever time of year you arrive, you can be sure to find a wonderful variety of activities and attractions available to you, together with dramatic sunsets, great food and wonderful South African hospitality!
Will I need a visa when entering South Africa?
At present, volunteers from the EU, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand do not require a visa to enter South Africa and will be granted a temporary visitors permit valid for 90 days on presenting their passport on arrival. If you are intending to stay longer than 90 days, you can apply for an extension in your home country or at the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa. Volunteers from other countries should apply for tourist visas (not work visas) at the nearest South African Embassy, High Commission or Consulate at least 4 weeks before your departure for South Africa. It will take about 10 days to process the application, and you will need to supply two passport photos, a valid passport, necessary visa fees, and details of your travel arrangements. We do advise that you consult with your South African Consulate as the visa regulations are subject to change!
Do I need insurance?
It is always a good idea to have adequate travel/medical insurance before you travel anywhere, and Africa is no exception! We recommend that you have fully comprehensive isurance when joining an Enkosini Eco Experience project. Travel insurance doesn't have to be expensive. There are always great deals available for backpackers, gap year students and other travelers (www.endsleigh.co.uk, www.statravel.com). It is important that your policy covers you for theft, loss, illness, injury and repatriation in the event of a medical emergency. Check your policy to see if medical benefits are paid 'as you go' or on your return home. You may not appreciate having to pay for medical costs out of your own pocket if you are unlucky enough to need long-term treatment of any kind.
Where can I get good deals on international airfare?
The agents below provide the best ticket prices year round, especially for students!
Australia & NZ
www.cheapflights.com.au www.travelshop.com.au www.uniquetravel.com.au www.flightcentre.com.au www.bestflights.com.au
UK & Ireland
www.expedia.co.uk www.cheapflights.co.uk www.travelbag.co.uk www.apextravel.ie www.ebookers.com www.flynow.com www.northsouthtravel.co.uk www.fly.co.uk
www.expedia.com www.cheapflights.com www.cheaptickets.com www.priceline.com www.edtravel.com www.capecairo.com www.flightnetwork.com
What are the different ways to travel around Southern Africa?
South Africa is a relatively large country with an amazing diversity in landscapes, including sandy beaches, arid deserts, lush subtropical vegetation, wilderness plains and mountain ranges. And, luckily, traveling is simple in South Africa due to its wonderful infrastructure and transportation network.Car HireMost car hire companies stipulate a minimum age limit of 23 years. Foreign licenses printed in English are valid for up to 6 months in South Africa, failing that you will need to obtain an international drivers license prior to arrival. The major rental companies are Avis, Budget, Tempest, Imperial and Hertz.RoadsSouth Africa primarily has good quality tarred roads, however the more rural areas may have poorer quality roads with potholes. When driving through rural areas, watch out for animals and drive at a slower speed. Petrol stations are frequent on the major routes, but much less frequent on the quiet roads. South Africans drive on the left hand side of the road.BusesBuses are inexpensive and convenient. South Africa offers a variety of bus companies - check out Intercape (www.intercape.co.za), Greyhound (www.greyhound.co.za) or Translux (www.translux.co.za). The Baz Bus (www.bazbus.com) offers a hop-on, hop-off door-to-door service between backpackers hostels in South Africa.
Domestic Flights within Southern Africa
South African Airways, SA Airlink, SA Express, Nationwide and British Airways (operated by Comair) fly between all the major South African cities and some of the smaller ones. For cheap flights on the more popular routes, such as Johannesburg to Cape Town try www.kulula.com, www.flymango.com or www.flyexpress.aero