Volunteer Program Location

Chintsa | South Africa

Volunteer Africa is based in the beach town of Chintsa on the gateway to the wild coast of South Africa

Location

Chintsa is a beach town in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, situated about half way between Cape Town and Durban and approximately 25 miles from East London (the nearest large town). Sitting on the Indian Ocean with a 5.5 mile stretch of white sandy beach Chintsa is a volunteer’s paradise; a great starting point for ongoing trips to the buzzing city of Cape Town and right on the doorstep of the rugged and untouched Wild Coast. Chintsa is a malaria free area.

Chintsa is a small village with all the essentials; a general store, ATM, local restaurants and bars, public telephones and an internet cafe in the VA32 office (red pin). There is a small strip mall approximately 9 miles towards East London where there is a supermarket, post office and pharmacy amongst other necessities. The volunteer house (blue pin) is situated just 3-4 minutes’ walk from the beach and the same distance from the shop and other amenities. 

A short walk across the beach takes you to fun and funky Buccaneers Backpackers which offers VA32 volunteers a place to relax and spend the weekend as well as discounts on surf schools, free rental of body boards and canoes, use of their swimming pool and the opportunity to take part in free afternoon activities.

Weather

South Africa enjoys hot summers (November - April). The temperature in Chintsa can reach up to 96- 100 degrees Fahrenheit at times and nights are hot and humid. Summer is rainy season in South Africa but rainfall in Chintsa is minimal even in the summer months. Winters (May - October) are much more temperate with temperatures between 54- 77 degrees Fahrenheit, little wind or rain and cool mornings and evenings.

Activities

Chintsa has a wide range of adventure activities available locally such as cultural tours, surf school and kitesurfing, zip lining, beach horse trails and a local game reserve just around the corner. All activities are bookable at the VA32 office. Plus the beach is right on the doorstep!

The Little Village with the Big Heart...

Chintsa has a real community feeling that many find irresistible. Buccaneers brings an eclectic mix of travellers and backpackers into the village, Chintsa's permanent residents are a diverse mix of older city dwellers who have moved out to the coast to retire and young travellers who fell in love with the village and have returned to settle here.

Non-profit organization Friends of Chintsa is a reflection of this close-knit community where local people help to address local issues in self-driven initiatives such as the UNSTRESSED Surf School which is run by the Chintsa surf community every weekend and teaches young children from the township about the ocean as well as how to surf and swim. This is just one example of the many initiatives which run in Chintsa. To find out more about Friends of Chintsa visit their website www.friendsofchintsa.org.

To find out more about the history of Chintsa read our article “Chintsa Then and Chintsa Now

 

Volunteer Program Location

Mangouchi District | Malawi

VA32 work in partnership with a volunteer organisation in Malawi offering a range of projects based at the southern-most tip of Lake Malawi

Location

Malawi really is the Warm Heart of Africa; the people are incredibly friendly, kind and welcoming. However, it is listed as one of the least developed countries in the world based on life expectancy, literacy, and standards of living. The average daily income is about 50p and that figure is not representative of the extreme poverty in more rural areas.

Malawi is possibly best known for Lake Malawi, described as ‘The Lake of Stars’, with its sparkling, crystal clear waters and golden sand beaches. At almost 30,000 km2 and reaching a depth of over 700m the lake comprises nearly 20 percent of Malawi’s total area and is more like an inland sea. It contains about 600 endemic species of fish and is reported to have a greater diversity of species than any other lake in the world.

The lake is also a lifeline for many rural communities, with numerous fishing villages dotting its shoreline.  Approximately 40% of the dietary protein intake of Malawians is comprised of fish.  However, this does not represent wealth for these communities, many of which are among the poorest in Malawi. There is a significant inequality in the distribution of wealth throughout the country and most of it is concentrated around the major cities, such as Blantyre and Lilongwe.

The vast majority of Malawians rely on subsistence farming for their food and livelihood. Along the lake, declining fish populations, unreliable rainfall and occasional flash floods can often make it difficult for families to produce enough food for themselves alone.

The extreme poverty in rural areas also results in a high incidence of diseases, such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and bilharzia. Access to primary health care and advice is often very limited for these communities and there is still a stigma attached to certain diseases, as well as unusual superstitions and traditional beliefs, regarding treatment and prevention.

Weather

Malawi’s rainy season runs through the summer months of December – March. During the months of April and May most of the rainfall is over and things start to dry out as temperatures fall slightly during the evening and night time. The “winter” months of June, July and August see cool evenings when you will need to pack layers for the evening – during July – the coolest month you can expect temperatures from 45 – 73 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures rise again from September through November which is the most variable time of the year and you can see all seasons in one day! Maximum temperature’s during November which is the hottest month range from 63 – 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

Activities

The volunteer house is right on the edge of Lake Malawi. During  free time, volunteers relax at the volunteer house, swim in the sparkling waters of Lake Malawi and explore the local area.

Weekend trips can be organised by the project staff enabling you to visit:

- Liwonde National Park with its variety of wildlife and large herds of elephant, where you can enjoy the combination of a vehicle safari, walking safari and boat safari looking for the numerous hippo in the rivers.

- Cape Maclear, a popular tourist village at the edge of the lake. Enjoy snorkelling, boat rides on Lake Malawi, exploring the craft stalls and sunbathing on the beach during the day. In the evening there are a couple of lively bars to choose from.

- Zomba Plateau where you can relax in the cool forest, take in the great views, trek and horse ride if you wish.

Although organised weekend excursions are not included in the programme cost, we would recommend doing a couple of these groups trips during your stay to see a little more and make the most of your time in Malawi.