Skip to main content

What Makes Our South Africa Expedition Incredible for Volunteers

According to our volunteer Erin, “Everything is incredible here” in South Africa

Erin, 17, from Ballyclare in Northern Ireland began her South Africa Expedition in June 2023 in the summer before starting her final A-level year at school. Now two thirds of the way through her Raleigh Expedition, Erin has completed a community project and conquered an adventure trek through incredible South African landscapes. Below is her reflection on her experience on Expedition in South Africa with us so far.

“My dad did Raleigh Namibia in 2001, so I have known about Raleigh from when I was young. Growing up I heard all the stories, so since this is the first year that I could do a Raleigh Expedition then I decided to go for it this summer. I liked the sound of the South Africa one as I thought it would be a really good experience.”

Erin on community project in South Africa

My Community Project in South Africa

“It was incredible to see something go from nothing to a physical structure that would be used”

Erin spent the first three weeks of her Expedition working on a community project in the community of Seville B, based on the very edge of Kruger National Park. Here, Erin and her team worked with the project partner Nourish on a projects providing facilities for a local school to help improve education for people in the community.

“We built a playground in Seville B. At the local creche we built vegetable patches. It was incredible to see something go from nothing to a physical structure that would be used. We saw the kids that would be using them and how happy they were that they were getting this in their community. It was really rewarding for me to do that.

There were lots of times where we walked around the community and got to know the local people, we played football and netball with the local ladies. The project partner Nourish will work in this community for years to come. In the long term they are planning to bring a lot into the community to benefit everyone there. They want to make a communal space so people can learn more and play and provide a safe place for them to be.”

Erin community project in Saville B South Africa

The Conquering Trek in South Africa

“I feel so proud now that I’ve done it”

Following the community project, Erin and her team of volunteers took on a 19-day trek through South Africa’s incredible Drakensberg Mountains.

“Trek was definitely tough, mentally more than physically. Walking every day, taking on big hills, it is mentally tough. But I definitely enjoyed it and it was an amazing experience. While it’s hard, the views were insane and there were so many incredible moments, we saw giraffes and lots of animals, and we were able to spend a night out under the stars, so there were so many amazing experiences as once…

I feel so proud now that I’ve done it. I’ve learnt a lot through it. I learnt a lot, that I’m capable of a lot more than I thought I was. There were things that I thought I couldn’t do, then I actually I realised that I can when I put my mind to it. So you learn a lot about yourself.”

Erin on South Africa Expedition adventure trek

What I have learnt on Expedition in South Africa

“You are always growing, improving and learning new things about yourself”

As Erin prepares to go back to school in September for her final A-level year, she believes the Expedition will help her and give her skills which will be valuable for the future.

“I think being here it gives you a sense of discipline. Over trek you don’t have your phones and things, it gives you so much time to think about everything. It helps gives you building blocks for what to do in your life and skills to move forward. It’ll give me skills for my last year of my a-levels, pushing me to put more work in…

Everything we do here pushes us out of our comfort zones, but not too much so you are still comfortable, but you are always growing and improving and learning new things about yourself and how to deal with things.”

Rest moment on trek in South Africa

What I will take home with me from Raleigh

“It teaches you to appreciate and value what you have”

“It’s opened my eyes. It’s made me a lot more appreciative of what we have at home. Especially on the community phase, you see people that maybe don’t have very much but they are also very happy with what they have, and I think it teaches you to appreciate and value what you have. A lot of that I will take home and there’s a lot of lessons I have learnt already.”

Learn more about how volunteering will impact your personal growth.

Team picture South Africa

A message to others thinking of joining a Raleigh Expedition

“To others thinking of doing an Expedition, absolutely do it! It’s an amazing experience, it’s such a beautiful place. The animals you see, the views you see, the scenery is amazing, everything is incredible here. It’s amazing, I would recommend it!”

Erin is now preparing to go on the third phase of her Raleigh Expedition, where she will be travelling to the Sawong Reserve in the Greater Kruger Area to do an environmental project involving the tackling of invasive plant species and protecting local flora and fauna.

Build your confidence, discover your passions, grow your skillset on an adventure with purpose, and find out exactly how volunteering can change you. Join your Raleigh Expedition in South Africa or Costa Rica in 2024.

Download Expedition Guide

Need more information about Expedition?

Consultation call

Whether you have a specific question or want to discuss which Expedition is right for you, schedule a call with a member of the team at a time convenient to you. 

Join an info event

On our monthly online info events, we’ll tell you all about Expedition. Have your questions answered, meet other volunteers and find out what Expedition is really like from an alumni.

Download a guide

Find out all about Raleigh International and Expedition in our helpful information guide.