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Becoming a Volunteer in Cape Town, South Africa: Sort out your admin

Canadian volunteer in the program holding a little girl

South Africa is a magical destination for volunteers from all over the world. Diverse combinations of landscapes, people, history and culture offers volunteers a unique and inspiring experience. Dreams to Reality (DTR) is a volunteer organisation based in Cape Town, South Africa. Home to Table Mountain, white sandy beaches and picturesque winelands, the ‘Mother City’ is a city of culture and activity that begs for your attention.

But before you can become a volunteer in Cape Town, you need to know and take care of a few things. We give you a guide to everything you need to know about making your stay in the Mother City as stress-free as possible.

Although Cape Town has busses, taxis and trains, its public transport system is not nearly as developed as Europe or the USA’s. Many volunteers feel that life in Cape Town is greatly simplified and more secure when they rent their own cars. The process is simple but remember to apply for an international driving permit before entering the country as you will not be able to rent a car without one.

Volunteer Visas
To obtain your volunteer Visa, you have to contact the South African Embassy or Consulate in your home country. Remember, if you arrive without one you will be denied entry into the country. Make sure that you have a valid passport before you apply.

Water and Health Issues
Cape Town is a clean and safe area – you do not have to take a vaccination to travel here. You can drink the tap water and it is malaria-free.

Currency and Foreign Exchange
The South African currency is Rands (R ) and Cents (c ). There are 100 Cents to a Rand. Notes come in R200, R100, R50, R20, and R10 and coins in R5, R2, R1, 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c. Foreign currency can be exchanged at any commercial bank, American Express, Thomas Cook, Rennies or Diners Club office or Bureax de Change which can be found at airports and most large centres. South Africa has a modern banking system and the majority of shops and hotels accept credit cards.

Travel Insurance
Make sure that you have sufficient holiday and travel insurance before travelling. South Africa has excellent private medical services but medical care can be expensive and the private facilities will want cash up front. Make sure your insurance covers medical emergencies.

Because it lies on the coast, Cape Town generally enjoys a temperate Mediterranean type climate for the most of the year. But it can get extremely hot in the summer and, in winter, snow often falls on the surrounding mountains. Whichever time of the year you choose to come to Cape Town, expect a surprise or two – Cape Town is known for having all four seasons in one day. Cape Town’s summer usually runs from late October to mid March.

Although Cape Town is generally a friendly city, you should take safety precautions. Due to poverty in certain areas, crime and theft can be a problem. Try not to carry large amounts of cash and be discreet with expensive cameras, jewellery etc.

Dreams To Reality (DTR)

Dreams To Reality offers placement for international volunteers who want to have fun while changing the world. DTR is based in Cape Town, South Africa and provides the opportunity for people from all over the world to visit this magical country, to immerse themselves in community project, to provide aid to those who are less fortunate than they are, and to have adventures and meet kindred spirits in a majestic setting.

DTR will assist you with your travel, accommodation and orientation arrangements to the various programs which they run. These include the Teaching Program, the Childcare Program, the Computer Training Program, the Sports Development Program, and the Surf Outreach Program. Your Program Fee includes airport pickup, orientation, program supervision, accommodation and meals during volunteer placement period. DTR also provides transport to and from your placements.

To find out more about what it takes to be a volunteer for DTR, click here.

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