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Off The Beaten Track: The Magic of Raleigh International in South Africa

South Africa’s diverse landscapes, wildlife and cultures put it at the top of many traveller’s bucket lists. Yet tourists often miss out on experiencing authentic local life beyond the expensive hotels, safaris and getaways. 

At Raleigh, we take pride in pulling back the curtain and showing Venturers a glimpse of the real South Africa.

Here’s How We Do it!

1. Conservation Efforts in Kruger National Park 

From far-reaching plains to giraffes nibbling on acacia trees and lions bathing in the sun, South Africa’s national parks are a nature enthusiast’s dream! 

Kruger National Park, located in northeastern South Africa, is renowned for its natural beauty and being one of Africa’s largest game reserves. The vast park is home to the “Big Five” wildlife species: African lions, leopards, rhinoceros, elephants, and Cape buffalo and covers an area larger than 7,000 square miles. 

Our Venturers take part in important conservation work along the borders of this legendary national park. During the Environmental phase of Expedition, you will be removing alien plant species, planting indigenous trees, combating soil erosion and clearing roads to accelerate the restoration of this vital habitat. The team will also set up camp in the Greater Kruger Area, next to the Oliphants River. 

That’s right! Not only will you be working day to day next to one of the most impressive nature reserves Africa has to offer, but you will also be living, sleeping and eating in the South African countryside. 

Volunteer sitting on the grass field.

2. Authentic Cultural Exchanges

As with all Raleigh Expeditions, our team works closely with local communities to ensure our projects meet local needs. We take our partnerships seriously and keep an open line of communication and collaboration throughout our projects, so that local knowledge is incorporated into our work.    

Through this meaningful engagement, you will learn the needs of local people. You will have the opportunity to make a lasting positive change to communities while also being immersed in an authentic South African way of life. 

From playing football to learning local languages, you will spend time in the community, share stories and make friends. In the evenings, you will be invited to take part in campfire discussions where you will learn more about local culture from a community member. From cooking traditional food to learning about traditions, stories and cultural practices, you will see how these communities live. 

Men in traditional attire perform a cultural dance with sticks

3. Trekking and Sleeping in the Wilderness

During the Adventure Leadership phase of your Expedition, you will venture through the breathtaking Drakensberg Mountains, Blyde Canyon and Magoebaskloof. These landscapes are renowned for their natural beauty, which you will have the opportunity to experience up close and personal. 

This section of your Expedition is the epitome of an adventure ‘off the beaten path’. You’ll experience wild camping and spend long days trekking through untouched wilderness, fully immersed in the natural beauty sought after by travelers from around the world. 

This trek will take you cross country via cattle trails, through forests, canyons, mountains, along rivers and dams and rural villages. As you journey through the South African countryside, you’ll expand your comfort zone and test your stamina and teamwork, all while experiencing pristine natural beauty. 

Hikers trek through a mountainous landscape.

4. No Phones Policy

There are few tourist locations free of selfie sticks, phones and influencers. In today’s world, it often feels like we spend more time online than experiencing the real world. 

Our ‘No Phones on Project’ policy allows Venturers to fully enage in the self-reflection, confidence building and interpersonal connections our Expeditions offer. By taking a break from the digital world, you will have the chance to completely immerse yourself in the present moment and absorb the culture surrounding you. 

 Without the distraction of technology, you’ll have the opportunity to establish deeper connections with your fellow Venturers, appreciate nature, and interact with the local community on a more meaningful level.

Three volunteers paint together.

Opportunities 

Are you ready to experience the real South Africa?

We have a range of Expeditions available to suit your time constraints and priorities!

Find out more here

Need more information about Expedition?

Book a call

Not decided yet and need help? Arrange a call with us at a time that works for you and we’ll answer your questions.

Join an online info event

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.