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Volunteering in Africa – where to begin and how not to get ripped off

Spending time in Africa and volunteering on a wildlife or marine conservation project is one of my top items on the list.

From a young age I’ve had a strong love for the wild, will escape to the seaside at any given opportunity or visit the local zoo where ever I happen to be visiting.

Come October when I begin my around the world travels, Africa will be my first port of call. Having only travelled to the North African country of Morocco my knowledge of the continent was limited to what I had read in books. The great thing about Africa is the diversity it offers from country to country, from the Masai Mara migration between Tanzania and Kenya to diving with whale sharks in Mozambique.

However, the area I wish to invest my time in the most, is on conservation projects, volunteering for local charities and hopefully immersing myself into their culture.

Like most of my generation, research began on google. What quickly became apparent was the huge business that is layered in front of these conservation projects to the potential volunteer like myself. There are a whole host of agencies that can arrange your volunteering abroad, taking all the “hassle” out of planning it yourself. This does, however, come at a hefty cost. For example a two month volunteer project working with Turtles in Ghana can cost around £1500 – that doesn’t include flights!

Don’t get me wrong, these are by no means “illegal”, but all this money is going to the middle man and not the charities (in most cases). Time for Plan B.

I wanted to contact the charities directly, if I was going to pay to volunteer (at the very least I would expect to cover any expenses plus a donation to the charity) then I would rather the charity saw that money. Thats when I found www.volunteer4africa.org – a non profit organization that offers a variety of opportunities to volunteer in Africa.

For only £5 you get instant access to information on a wide range of volunteer opportunities in Africa and enables volunteers to find various types of volunteer programs: community service, gap year volunteer programs, teaching, volunteer work with animals, volunteering with children, wildlife conservation etc etc.

The great thing about this website is that the charities themselves are the ones that are listed, this does mean in some cases you have to arrange your own food and accommodation, although in others that is all included with the cost – and the price is much more reasonable – for example 2 months working on a Primate Reserve only costs £600 and that includes accommodation and food.

So there you have it, the answer to the question, how can I volunteer in africa and not be ripped off, visit www.volunteer4africa.org, pay the £5 access fee and browse the hundreds of listings – I already have almost 10 offers to volunteer on a number of conservation projects across Africa and I am now, in true “Planner Joe” style – putting them all in a spreadsheet to decide which ones I would like to get involved with.

I’ll let you know how I get on and which ones I choose…

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