South Africa Experience

From £979.00

Highlights

Incredible safari game drives in South Africa

Trip Highlights

  • Be a wildlife conservation volunteer on a Big 5 Private Game Reserve
  • Travel South Africa's stunning Garden Route
  • Learn to surf in Jeffreys Bay
  • Endless photo opportunities!
  • Explore Tsitsikamma National Park
  • Kick back and relax in Knysna
  • Visit South Africa's Mother City, Cape Town
  • The ultimate 2 week adventure

Trip Summary

The South Africa Experience is an action packed two-week adventure encapsulating the best that South Africa has to offer. Spend a week as a wildlife conservation volunteer on a fantastic Big 5 private game reserve near Port Elizabeth; then after all that hard work it’s time to kick back, relax and enjoy the ride… travelling along the stunning Garden Route there are endless memories waiting to be made; rounding it all off in Cape Town, one of the greatest cities in the world!

You’ll get an inside view on what life is like to volunteer on a South African private game reserve, which also happens to be home to the Big 5 and an abundance of other fascinating creatures! You’ll be helping out with a selection of activities at the project which may include important reserve maintenance such as fence patrols, eradicating alien plant species and re-introducing native plant species and helping out with some of the day to day care of the amazing resident animals at the reserve.

Week two is when things really get exciting… the Garden route is sure to be a highlight of any trip to South Africa, as there is so much to see and do along the way! Ride the waves on a surfing lesson in Jeffrey’s bay, wander through the scenic forests of Tsitsikamma National Park, chill out at Knysna Quays, pay a visit to Oudsthoorn – the Ostrich capital of the world, head to the top of Table Mountain (weather permitting) and sample some of Cape Town’s vibrant night life!
 

Interested and want to find out more? Download more trip information and detailed itinerary HERE!

Trip itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Port Elizabeth Airport, South Africa
Welcome to South Africa, gang! On arrival at Port Elizabeth Airport, you'll be met by the in-country team and taken to the awesome game reserve which you'll be calling home for the next week. Today, you'll also be given a detailed orientation by our team to let you know the ins and outs of the next 2 weeks. Got any questions? They'll be plenty of time to ask them here!
 
Day 2 – 8: Big 5 volunteering
For the first week of the South Africa Experience, you'll be volunteering at a private Game Reserve between Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown. The work is completely varied at the reserve, and you'll be doing everything from caring for the animals, going on game drives, eradicating alien plant species, game monitoring and helping with the maintenance. Trust us, after this epic week you'll know what life in the African bush is like and better still, you may have seen all of the Big 5!
 
In the evenings, we'll crack on with even more activities: expect for us to whip out the Braai (South African BBQ to you and me!), have close interactions with the resident wildlife experts, and star gazing (weather dependent). You're going to love it!

Day 9: Port Elizabeth
Hey up, Port E! Over the next two days we'll call Port Elizabeth our base - and with it's long sandy beaches and awesome nightlife, you're bound to have a wicked time!
 
During your time in PE, you'll be taken to the Port Elizabeth Oceanarium (weather dependent) as part of your trip. You'll also have a load of free time in Port Elizabeth, where you can take advantage of loads of the cool stuff the city has to offer. The Boardwalk is a really cool place to hang out (there are loads of great restaurants), a township tour or a boat trip out to the Indian Ocean. 

If you're feeling a bit lazy, you could just snooze on the beach! In the evenings we'll head out to the bars, so expect a lively night out!
 
Day 10: Jeffreys Bay – Surfers Paradise
Next stop, Jeffreys Bay or to the locals - Surfers Paradise! We can't really explain with words how COOL this place is - with ridiculously long sandy beaches, this is the perfect place to ride the waves and have a go at surfing. For all of you shopaholics, there will also be time for you to visit the Billabong and Quiksilver Factory shops to hunt out a bargain (swimwear galore here!). Another night out, anyone?
 
Day 11: Tsitsikamma area – Trekking and adventure
Prepare to have your socks blown right off, the Tsitsikamma National Park is absolutely incredible! You will be staying just outside the National Park in hostel accommodation- but your park entrance fee will be covered for you and as a group you'll be taken on some of the best forest walking trails (remember to bring some decent footwear for this bit!). There are a number of optional activities available in the park, you could take part in one of the really cool tree top safaris or you could try white water rafting, or jump along the famous suspension bridge trail?

Day 12: Knysna – Chill out on the Quays
The next point of call is Knysna, a really pretty town along the Garden Route and a real highlight. Home to the famous Knysna quays and picturesque lagoon; as a group we will take a boat trip (weather permitting) out to ‘The Heads’ which are two sandstone cliffs marking the point where the Noatzie River meets the Indian Ocean, and we'll travel through the lagoon. Smartphones and cameras at the ready; it's time to go Instagram crazy!
 
After the boat trip, you'll have free time to explore this cute town, visit the famous quays and get involved with some amazing optional adventure activities - why not try your hand at paragliding (and get a bird’s eye view of this stunning section of the Garden Route!); snorkelling, guided nature walks, horse riding. If you're looking for somewhere awesome to eat, we recommend the East Head cafe - it's sat near one of the heads and the view is incredible!
 
Day 13: Oudtshoorn – Lots to explore
From Knysna, we travel inland to Oudtshoorn, the Ostrich capital of the world - wahay! The group will have the choice of a spot of cave exploration in Cango Caves or taking a trip to the local Wildlife Ranch where you'll have the chance to get to know these crazy birds! Please note that, as we're always incredibly fair at Real Gap Experience, the majority vote on the day will decide which of the two places we visit (with the trip co-ordinators advice of course)!

Day 14: Cape Town – The greatest city on Earth?
Today we leave Oudtshoorn and re-join the amazing Garden Route on our way to Cape Town. It's a pretty long drive but the views are out of this world, so there's no way you'll get bored on this trip! The Garden Route is known as one of the best road trips in the world, so the journey is definitely something you should tick off of your bucket list!
 
A trip up Table Mountain is a necessity when you visit Cape Town, and today we'll go up the cable car and get to see the gorgeous Cape Town in all its glory. (Please note that this excursion is subject to the cable car being operational - in the event that the cable car is closed an alternative excursion to Robben Island will arranged or a visit to Cape Point).  
 
The food in South Africa is out of this world (but you'll already know that by now!) so on your last night, the group will all go out for one final meal. This is usually followed by a night out, South African style! Wahay!
 
Day 15: Cape Town – The final day
Today is your last day. Boo! We recommend you pack your last day with loads of activities... we massively recommend a walk along V&A waterfront (there's a Topshop and Zara in the massive shopping centre there!), take a trip to Robben Island, visit the Two Oceans Aquarium or  travel a little further afield and visit the Cape of Good Hope (a National Park with amazingly good views).
 
A transfer back to the airport is not included as you may like to stay on in Cape Town for a few more days to make the most of this impressive city has to offer. If you are travelling home today though, we can arrange something for you - just let us know! 

Destination Information

If you're looking for an absolutely MASSIVE adventure, then we reckon this is it. During your two weeks in the incredible South Africa, you'll go on safari and work on a Big 5 game reserve, travel along the Garden Route, stay in some incredible places (Surfers Paradise, anyone?) and visit one of our favourite cities in the world - Cape Town!

From amazing food to white sandy beaches, cities like Cape Town to incredible wildlife on Big 5 reserves, SA has everything, and we want to show you as much as we can in 2 weeks!

Trip Notes

What's Included

  • Airport pick-up
  • Scheduled Airport pick-up
  • Accommodation
  • Breakfast every day
  • Lunches and dinners from day 1 to 6
  • Ticket for Table Mountain Cable Car or Robben Island ticket
  • Transport from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town
  • Elephant ride
  • Services of a tour co-ordinator
  • Evening entertainment in Port Elizabeth
  • Cap and t-shirts
  • Surf lesson
  • Activities is stated in itinerary (some may be substituted due to weather or time of year)
  • Boat trip in Knysna
  • 24 hour emergency support

What's Not Included

  • All flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Lunches and dinners from day 7 to 15
  • Items of a personal nature
  • All visas
  • Transportation not related to the programme
  • Optional activities

Additional Information & FAQ's

Minimum Age & Eligibility

Minimum age 18 years, maximum decided on participants health.

 

Accomodation & Meals

During the first week of your programme you will be staying in a comfortable volunteer lodge at the project site, in shared single sex dormitory bedrooms with bathrooms. The lodge is fully furnished and has a number of communal facilities including lounge area, kitchen, table tennis, table football, tennis court, cricket field and an entertainment room with satellite television.

After your volunteer placement you will be touring the Garden Route, throughout the journey from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town you will be staying in Backpackers Hostels, in shared dormitory rooms.

Throughout your first week you will be provided with 3 meals each day. Breakfast is on a self service basis and items such as milk, jam, eggs and bread etc will be provided for you. Lunch and dinner will be prepared for you and normally consists of rice, vegetables, pasta dishes, pap, beans and curries.

Vegetarians can be catered for on request. Please note that during the first week the project is an alcohol free environment.

Lunches and dinners are not included during the second week of your programme, but this is a great opportunity to sample the food in the local cafes and restaurants along the way.

FAQs

What Are The Typical Group Sizes?

Groups sizes vary depending on the time of year, but can be anything between 5 and 20 fellow travelers.

How Much Spending Money Would You Recommend I Take?

If you are on a tight budget you can get away with £80 Per week. If you want to do lots of extra activities along the way then you will need a bit more.

What Are The Average Ages Of Travelers On This Trip?

The majority of participants on this program are aged between 18-30, however it is popular with travelers of all ages.

I Am A First Time Traveler, And A Bit Apprehensive About Travelling On My Own. Do Many People Do This By Themselves?

The majority of our participants are solo travelers, so you will be one of many in the same position. We e-mail out a buddy list 2-3 weeks before you start, so you can begin to get to know one another beforehand.

Do I Need To Take A Sleeping Bag?

No, all bedding is provided however if you wish to take one for extra warmth then you can.

Do I Need To Take A Mosquito Net?

No, you will be in a malaria free area.

Will There Be A Safe/safety Deposit Box Available?

You will have lockable chests as well as boxes in your room where you can lock your valuable items in.

Extra Notes

Flights

Your flight to South Africa should arrive at Port Elizabeth airport before 5pm on your programme start date, and your return flight should be arranged to depart from Cape Town airport for your programme end date.

To receive the included transfer from Port Elizabeth Airport to your accommodation your flight will need to arrive before 5pm on the programme start date.

Please note: This programme requires a minimum number of participants to run. Please contact us to confirm whether the minimum numbers have been met for your start date, we recommend that you do not book your flights until we have confirmed these numbers and the programme will be running.

To book your flights, please contact our flights team on 01892 277037 who can find some great flight prices for you! Please provide them with your full name as it is stated in your passport. Before you make the call please make sure you have your required departure dates, return dates and other details you may require.

It is important that once you have booked your flights you add these details to your online account or alternatively you can contact us with your departure date, the flight number and arrival time at your destination.

Visa Information

Real Gap Experience are not visa experts and it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct travel documents before your trip starts. We advise you check the visa and general entry requirements with the relevant embassy before travel.

Visa courier service

If you prefer to use a specialist visa courier service to apply for your visa on your behalf, we recommend Visa Central who can offer you assistance and advice, making your visa application straight forward.

To investigate costs for this service click here to select the country or countries that you wish to travel to.

Reviews

Overall Rating: (9/10)

31 Reviews

I've done this trip

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Rhianwen Jones

How would you rate your overall experience?

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How do you rate your arrival overseas and orientation (if applicable)?

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What were the highlights of your trip?

So many highlights, the game reserve, shark cage diving, skydiving, the food!! Definitely recommend the bungee jump, never said id do one but when the opportunity was there i took it and did not regret it, amazing feeling! Climbing lions head in cape town was also great, the views are incredible, especially those of table mountain!

Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?

more time in cape town! i stayed a few extra days but that wasnt enough. a trip to cape point and boulders bay would have been good!

Tips for other travellers?

do the bungee, stay longer in cape town, theres so much to do there, and definitely climb lions head!

Any other comments?

The itinerary isnt exactly correct on here, but in the second week, thats because Jeff (the tour guide) will ask you what you want to do and does his absolute best to make sure everyones happy and gets what they want out of the trip!

Glen Brown

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What were the highlights of your trip?

Theres so many... Voluntering at the reserve was so diffrent to anything ive ever done but it was a great experience, helpping with the upkeep of the reserve. Really appreciate what they do there to look after the animals from day to day.. Then when we left there to drive the Garden Route it was amazing the views the whole way are epic. Having Jeff as our tour guide aswel was fantastic, really made the trip that extra bit special. Tsitsikama national park is beautiful especially is you hike up to the lookout point. The bungee jump off boulkans bridge was just insane but something I really recommend while there and the staff are a great laugh..Shark cage diving in Mossel bay was an awsome experience. Then theres Cape Town, wow... Such an amazing place, and i really do sugest you stay a few days after the trip ends as I did. Theres so much to do and see.. A hike up Lions Head was very well appreciated when i got to the top and saw the stunning views, in my opinion which are better than the views from Table Mountain. Paragliding off signal hill was mint. Also if you can scuba dive, South Africa is great. I had some belting dives while i was there, saw sharks, dolphins and seals aswel as diving thru a kelp forest. I also did a predator tank dive at the Two Oceans aquarium in Cape Town with 3 big ragged tooth sharks, which was a cracking experience... The food market on the VA waterfront is a must aswel, theres loads to try. Theres also some great restaurants in Cape Town and compared to England are amazingly well priced..

Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?

Yes... Definetly an extra day in Tsitsikama is needed as theres so much to explore and the hostel there is great, 1 day is not enough..

Tips for other travellers?

Book extra nights in Cape Town when the trip finishes. Go on a whale watching trip in Port Elizabeth. Try everything, trips, experiences and food. Theres some very tasty food..

Any other comments?

Do as much as you can while your there, you'll only regret it later if you dont do something, Make sure you do the bungee jump : ) .. Respect Jeff, if your right with him he will go out of his way to make your trip the best he can.

haseem shah

How would you rate your overall experience?

Please rate the service received from our team before departure

Please rate the service provided by the team in country

How do you rate your arrival overseas and orientation (if applicable)?

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What were the highlights of your trip?

Table Mountain, Horse Riding, Bungee Jump, Shark Diving

Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?

Extra day in Cape Town in stead of Port Elizabeth

Tips for other travellers?

Pack for winter if you're going in winter, don't overpack on t-shirts, pack appropriate footwear that doesn't get wet

Any other comments?

Liaise more with Kwantu to give more accurate descriptions of volunteer work e.g. telling us we'd be able to feed the lion cubs is misleading. Give more information about the reserve and accommodations before hand, I had no clue what to expect.

lizzie barker

How would you rate your overall experience?

Please rate the service received from our team before departure

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What were the highlights of your trip?

Cape Town, Cango Caves, J Bay, shark cage diving and safari drives.

Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?

More time in Cape Town. More hiking.

Tips for other travellers?

1. If you are going in June/July/August make sure you pack loads of winter clothes - including gloves, hats and scarves - it's really cold at night. 2. Get involved and try everything. 3. Go shark cage diving - definitely worth the extra cost!

Harriet Hughes

How would you rate your overall experience?

Please rate the service received from our team before departure

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What were the highlights of your trip?

Probably Bungee jumping - I would definitely recommend it as even though I didn't love it like some of the others, it was something I will never forget! Another highlight was surfing in Jeffery's Bay despite being a complete beginner.

Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?

We didn't get a chance to go diving with the crocodiles in Oodsthorn due to their inactivity between May and September, I think which was a shame.

Tips for other travellers?

Volunteer for everything! Get involved. Don't let fear stop you from doing something you might never get the chance to do again.

emma wrigley

How would you rate your overall experience?

Please rate the service received from our team before departure

Please rate the service provided by the team in country

How do you rate your arrival overseas and orientation (if applicable)?

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What were the highlights of your trip?

Working at the reserve, going on game drives! Bungee jumping, Shark cage diving, Zip lining, Caving, Cape Town, Meeting new friends :)

Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?

Having more time in Cape Town!

Tips for other travellers?

Book more time in Cape Town after the trip, do all the activities at Game reserve and on the garden route, make sure you go when the weather is nice, went in autumn and most of the second week was cold and cloudy.

Gemma Davis

How would you rate your overall experience?

Please rate the service received from our team before departure

Please rate the service provided by the team in country

How do you rate your arrival overseas and orientation (if applicable)?

Please rate the accommodation during your stay

What were the highlights of your trip?

Volunteering at the game reserve, night game drive, bungee jump, shark cage diving, table mountain

Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?

Longer time in Cape Town

Tips for other travellers?

Get involved with everything both at the game reserve and on the garden route, book more time in Cape Town (1 day is definitely not enough), you get the weekend off during the first week at the game reserve so make sure you take enough money for booking an excursion like shark cage diving (as well as all the other activities during the second week).

Joanne Page

How would you rate your overall experience?

Please rate the service received from our team before departure

Please rate the service provided by the team in country

How do you rate your arrival overseas and orientation (if applicable)?

Please rate the accommodation during your stay

What were the highlights of your trip?

Everything! Meeting new people, volunteering at the game reserve and all the staff! Jeff our tour guide was brilliant, he couldn't have done a better job and all of the activities in the garden route were amazing!

Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?

Maybe an extra night in Tsitsikamma to do scuba diving, Shark cage diving (as it was really hard trying to fit it in!) and Boulder's beach and Robbin Island were unmissable too!

Tips for other travellers?

1. Book extra nights in Cape Town 2. Hand sanitiser is like gold over there, bring plenty! 3. Don't wimp out on the bungee and an extra one.. 4. If you go shark cage diving make sure you take travel sickness tablets.. even if you don't usually get sea sick - trust me!

Any other comments?

Before we left it would have been nice to know the accommodation and what kind of volunteering we were going to do as we didn't really get much information when we asked. It did all work out and sometimes the accommodation can differ between each trip but it would have put me at ease a bit more if we'd have known.

emma atkinson

How would you rate your overall experience?

Please rate the service received from our team before departure

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charlotte gee

How would you rate your overall experience?

Please rate the service received from our team before departure

Please rate the service provided by the team in country

How do you rate your arrival overseas and orientation (if applicable)?

Please rate the accommodation during your stay

What were the highlights of your trip?

Going on Game Drives and seeing the Big 5 Cage Diving with Great White Sharks Cuddling a Tiger Cub

Is there anything else you would have liked to have added to your itinerary?

An extra day in Cape Town as part of the package instead of visiting Port Elizabeth.

Tips for other travellers?

Everything is South Africa takes time so add 30mins plus onto any expected timings especially with meals. Take clothing for all weather especially if travelling in May. Take more money than you expect as then you won't have to worry about costs and you can do everything you want to.

Any other comments?

You need to alter your pre-trip itinerary. In order to prevent further confusion with future travellers you need to add into the money matters section information regarding the 2nd week on the garden route about how much additional activities will cost. Also you need to make it clear that at the game reserve official activities at the reserve are not run on the weekend but you can arrange additional activities i.e. a trip to Addo Elephant Park or visit Port Elizabeth. Our driver and guide for the 2nd week Jeff made the trip.

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