THE BLOG

Volunteer Stories: Experiencing South Africa

25/03/2014 11:54 GMT | Updated 24/05/2014 10:59 BST

I wanted to travel to Africa because my dad is South African and had lived there for most of his life. He talks about the things he'd experienced which made me want to go! The South African experience, for me, looked perfect! Doing voluntary work, but also travelling combined with a set route made me at ease because I like to have a plan.

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All images courtesy of Frontier volunteer Brydie Adams

We started at the game reserve, which was incredible! All the staff were so welcoming and lovely. We stayed in the camp next to the food hall so we got all the leftovers brought to us at the house which was great!! We did a lot of voluntary work which felt very rewarding, although at the time we didn't think it!

Chopping down [invasive] trees with machetes was one of my most memorable voluntary activities because it was just so hilarious - my parents didn't trust me to be alone when carving the pumpkin for Halloween this year and here I was being trusted with a machete! We also helped count game which was fun, dug up a road to help the water flow from the reserve and built a new pipe for it to flow through. It wasn't all hard work however as we got to experience incredible things such as Cub Sitting and riding Elephants! Both were equally as amazing and it is definitely a memory I will carry with me for a long time.

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The house mates you stay with are more like your family rather than friends, including the staff. You are all so close and the friends I made at camp will definitely be friends I have for life. Originally, there were only 4 of us signed up to do the experience, but when it came to leaving day our friends didn't want us to leave so they decided to pay a little extra and all 7 of us went on the Garden Route tour! I was so happy! This part was one of the most memorable parts for me, with Jeff, the most amazing tour guide we could have been given! He never failed to make us smile, especially with his new found favourite song which he had on repeat 'Call Me Maybe'. We felt so safe with Jeff, and he acted as our adopted Dad on the trip.

The Garden Route was non-stop as we travelled to new destinations every day. One of my favourite memories of the trip was on the Garden Route when we had a surfing lesson at Jeffreys Bay, the surfing mecca! The whole experience was one I know I will never forget!

From the trip the biggest gain in my eyes, are the wonderful friends I have made. I couldn't have been asked to travel with better people! I have learnt to try new foods, sleep in accommodation that isn't always fantastic, but you make the most of it because everyone's in the same boat and its all part of the experience, to attempt to overcome my fear of heights when we went zip lining through the trees in Tsitsikamma, and most importantly how to wake up early! One of the biggest things I learned was that in South Africa everything starts early, including the drive to Cape Town which began at 4:30 in the morning! In our spare time we went to the beach, went shopping, went to bars and restaurants (a lot of bars!) and spent time together as a group.

The piece of kit I found most valuable was my first aid kit. I have very bad luck when it comes to my feet and as it happened I lost two toenails in the first week! One piece of advice I have is about travel towels. They take up little room which is fab!... but they're also useless. I hated mine and was the only one to bring them. If you do however decide to take one, always check the size because using one the size of a hand towel didn't help either!

Next I would love to go to America and travel around parts of Europe I haven't yet been too.

Volunteer Brydie Adams took part in Frontier's South Africa Experience project.

Frontier, an international, nonprofit volunteering NGO with over 300 dedicated conservation, community development and adventure projects worldwide. To find see more from projects please visit Frontier's Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest, or see photos shared by volunteers in the field by searching #frontiervolunteer on Instagram.