Thanks to its diverse ecosystem, South Africa is home to a phenomenal array of wildlife species. As well as the famous 'Big 5' (lion, rhino, elephant, leopard, and buffalo), the following animals can be found across the country:
- Great White Sharks
- The endemic black wildebeest
- The chacma baboon
By becoming a conservation volunteer in South Africa, you will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with some truly remarkable animals. Of course, the protection of the country's wildlife is paramount, so whether you're working to educate locals about the importance of marine conservation, educating children on the concept of harmonious living (alongside their native wildlife), or combatting issues such as poaching, your time spent on a project could not be more valuable.
South Africa is well-known for its ethnic and cultural diversity, with numerous demographics having their own language (no less than 11 exist throughout the country) and, of course, their own roots and traditions. While South Africa's history is peppered with major issues such as colonialism, apartheid, and financial disparity, populations across the nation had held on dearly to their unique ways of life and beliefs. A great way to experience this rich culture is by becoming a volunteer in South Africa, where you can immerse yourself in the local community and gain a deeper understanding of the country's history and customs. A few examples of cultures and traditions that continue to remain (and that the country's citizens remain incredibly proud of) can be seen below:
- Art - few people are aware of the fact that the world's oldest art pieces hail from South Africa: dating back to over 75,000 years ago, a series of dried snail shells were discovered in a cave and determined to have been strung on a string for use as a necklace. As well as being the 'birthplace' of ancient arts, South Africa is also a pioneer of upcycling, with materials such as plastic and bicycle spokes being used for craft, and contemporary art from South Africa is actively showcased throughout the world today.
- Performance and media - cinema, poetry and music are all popular forms of media in South Africa - but did you know that the country is the motherland of one of the world's most revered writers? J.R.R Tolkien, otherwise known as the author of Lord of the Rings, was actually born in Bloemfontein in 1892! In addition to literature, South Africans can be very proud of their rich, diverse musical spectrum, from the unique style of Kwaito to internationally-known rockstars Seether.
- Food and drink - finally, it goes without saying that South Africa is a mecca of divine cuisine! From the traditional, meat-oriented braai to African-Indian specialities such as 'bunny chow', you're never far from a good meal in South Africa. One of the best parts of being a tourist is the ability to discover a country through your stomach, so dig into some tasty local dishes and wash them down with a glass of world-famous Stellenboch wine!