FAQs and other helpful information
Health and Safety
Health and Safety
Our main objective is to provide you with an unforgettable travel experience, where you will go to fantastic new places, learn amazing things and help to make a real world difference to conservation and the community you will be working with.
But not at the expense or risk of your health.
Please read the below information where we try to address any potential health and safety issues.
If you still have questions email us and we’ll get back to you promptly. If you are already enjoying your trip speak to a member of staff who will be happy to help.
During your time volunteering you may encounter minor health and safety mishaps - this could mean anything from being bitten by an insect or an accident with a tool during project activities.
In all of these situations, the best advice is to listen to the instructions and advice given by staff members, on how to avoid any potential issues hopefully before they occur.
For the most part, common sense really does go a long way – eg, not playing with equipment or going for a solo night walk off site! Otherwise, please follow the general guidelines that Hamba Africa has put in place to ensure the fun never stops.
You will be staying in communal facilities in a hot country. It is essential to practice good personal and communal hygiene. This means cleaning up after using the kitchen, bathroom or any shared room facilities and leaving everything as you would like to find it..
With the heat and the close living quarters at base camp, germs and illnesses can easily spread. It is especially important to take care to prevent spreading germs with children in the area.
You’ll be sharing a room with another volunteer.
Please keep it clean, out of respect for those you’re sharing it with but also to help keep any critters away!
Food lying around in your room or piles of dirty washing left on the floor can attract all sorts of creatures that could find your pair of trousers on the floor a fantastic place to hide away. This could mean anything from bugs and spiders to snakes - do not risk it!
If anything ever does come into your room, a mess of clothes on the floor provides a lot of cover and can make it more dangerous for staff to find and remove it.
It goes without saying, we hope all of you are able to appreciate the need for good bodily hygiene. No one enjoys sharing a room or working with someone who hasnt showered in 3 days during 30 degree heat - we hope this will not be a problem!
Ladies will be shown on arrival where to dispose of any sanitary products.
Stocks are held at the base camp for emergencies and you will be able to buy whatever you need from town on weekend shopping trips.
If you have any problems or issues you need to discuss urgently during your stay please feel free to speak to any of the members of staff.–and if you would prefer to speak to a woman please just ask.
Insects, Bugs and other iritations.
Insects, bugs and other irritations
In addition to all the fantastic animals in the area (elephants, lions, eagles and baboons), the bush is also home to other, less popular creatures.
Although vitally important to the overall health of the ecosystem, bugs and insects can prove an irritation at times.
Different types can irritate in many different ways but the main 4 to watch out for are ticks, mosquitoes, spiders and scorpions.
The following tips may help you out!
These 8 legged arachnids are common in the savannas and grass lands of South Africa. Thankfully the South African variety is not a carrier of Lyme disease but they do carry Tick Bite Fever and can still give an itchy bite!
The best way to safeguard against them is to wear long trousers tucked into your boots during any walking activities - this will also protect against thorns. Alternatively, use any insect spray with a high concentration of Deet.
It also helps to stay vigilant and pat your legs down every 5 minutes or so!
Insect repellent is essential, especially during the summer months of September – January Malaria, although rare, can be found in the area.
Keeping doors closed when not in your room goes a long way to keeping out unwanted bugs..
Additionally mosquito nets are available in the town of Hoedspruit.
Please consult your travel clinic or doctor regarding anti-malaria medication prior to your trip.
Spiders and scorpions
There are many species of spider and scorpion in South Africa. Luckily around the community none are deadly, but they can still give a nasty nip.
Prior to putting on shoes or any clothes that have been hung up outside to dry, remember to give them a good shake to get rid of anything that might be hiding inside.
Although malaria is endemic to South Africa, the area where you will be staying is classed as a Low-Medium Risk Zone.
This means that every now and then, a species of mosquito that carries malaria might be present, but it is not very common.
We can give advice regarding anti-malaria tablets but we do request that before you travel, you consult with your doctor or medical professional for their professional advice..
For those staying with us for 4 weeks or less, malaria tablets are advisable to be on the safe side. However, they are costly and can have possible adverse long-term effects. It should be noted most locals in the area do not take these drugs, instead opting to minimise the risk by using barrier methods which include the use of bug sprays and rubs.
We also advise wearing long sleeved clothes (trousers and shirts/tops) during wetter months to shield you at night when mosquitos are more prevalent.
Water born diseases
For the most part the water quality across South Africa is good. All the water on site where you will be living during your stay is safe to drink although it might be quite hard so some of you may prefer to drink bottled water instead.
Depending where you are travelling from, you will probably be required by law to get a rabies vaccination. This is the case for British and European citizens.
The likelihood of getting bitten by any animal is low, however, and the likelihood of getting bitten by an animal with rabies is even lower.
Regardless it is better to be safe than sorry.
Please keep your distance from any wild animal and in the unlikely event that we do see an animal displaying signs of infection during any practical activity, be particularly cautious and pass on any information to staff who may need to contact vets.
AIDs and HIV
Although you will be travelling through places where there are relatively high rates of AIDs and HIV, there is absolutely no need to be concerned by this.
For those that are unaware, HIV / AIDs can only be passed on via sexual intercourse or direct bodily fluid transfer. So meeting new people and exchanging handshakes, hugs and crisp high fives will not put you at risk.
On that note, we do ask anyone who finds themselves having a “holiday romance” to always practice safe sex.
As a volunteer on site at the community and working closely with the charity you will be safe and welcome..
Appreciation for your commitment and care to the community will be naturally embraced and rewarded with great friendships and mutual respect and consideration of everyone you encounter.
Be mindful however that the wider community area and village are not as well known – we advise caution when out and about – the golden rules are:
Do not accept lifts from strangers nor go with them to unknown places.
Do not walk around on your own at night.
What to bring
What Should I Bring
Here are our suggestions to help you have the best time possible.
As a community volunteer, most of the essential tools and equipment needed for all the projects will be provided for you by the community and charity, but there are still a few things you should bring yourself.
You will be sent a checklist with your booking with more information.
Clothing during projects
The temperature in South Africa typically is 15-35°c in the summer (September to March), and 5–25°c in winter (April to August). However, bring warm clothes that you can wear during the evening and at night-time when the temperature drops.
We recommend bringing layers, as activities that begin early mean starting before the morning sun has had a chance to warm everyone up. By early afternoon it will most likely be very hot, so clothing that you can put on and take off quickly is best.
For activities and projects we recommend wearing comfortable and casual clothing that you are happy to work in..
During bush work or long walks, jeans or leggings are not advisable as they could begin to chafe. Combat trousers or other forms of outdoor wear are ideal.
Outside of activities, feel free to bring and wear whatever you like; shorts, trousers, dresses! Bear in mind you will want to be comfy, especially for long drives!
And don’t forget your swimwear!
Closed shoes with a flat sole, such as trainers, are essential. Hiking or work boots are advisable. No high heels!
For your protection and to comply with health and safety procedures, closed shoes are required when using most tools such as spades or pick axes to provide protection.
Additionally rural Africa has many thorny plants - attempting to work and explore in sandals or flip flops could prove a painful experience.
For leisure time, sandals / flip flops are fine, especially on hot days and when relaxing by the pool.
Other Brilliant things to bring
Go pro’s / Action cameras
Although your volunteer placement will provide you with food and accommodation, travel money is a good idea.
Trips into town, toiletries, luxuries or souvenirs are your personal expenses, as are optional meals or extra activities during your free days. .
There are ATM facilities throughout the area but please remember to notify your bank prior to travelling. Alternatively, register for a Post Office pre-paid travel card which you can top up in the local currency (Rand) before you leave.
Keeping a personal notepad or journal is a great way to reflect on your experience and remember precious moments. It can be also be a great communication tool when working with children. Or simply an aide-memoir. Bring one along. You’ll love to look back and reminisce.
Please bring your own towels, toiletries and bathing supplies. You will have an opportunity to re-stock these periodically on the weekends.
You will be sent a full description of all the equipment you will need and a comprehensive kit list for your trip when your booking has been confirmed.
Items the community can use
If you've any space left in your suitcase the community would really benefit from the following items: feel free to bring these along – all donations are welcome..
Craft supplies – any materials that could be useful in making art, jewellery, woodwork, leatherwork or clothing.
Stationery - The children are always in need of pens, pencils, paper, colouring books, crayons.
Clothing – Items of clothing can always find a home or be repurposed. Any size, adult to child is welcome.
Toys - The children will love stuffed and soft toys, or sports bats, balls and rackets. Nothing goes to waste.
Tools - Tools you no longer have a use for can still be used for DIY and building projects or to carve and shape wood or pottery. .
Projects and Activities
You will be fully briefed before starting work on any of the projects or activities and their respective goals and mission as well as and guided through all health and safety notices by community and charity staff.
If you want to familiarise yourself in advance, the key points are in the following FAQ’s:
During your stay at the community their is always the chance to encounter various animals. From the more domestic chicken, dog or donkey to the occassional wild intruder such as monkeys, snake or insects like spiders and scorpions. Please keep your distance with these animals if you feel it might be potentially dangerous as to not antagonise them.
We require that all those joining us are vaccinated as required by law, but please check out the T&Cs as well as our requirements for more info. It is especially important to have your Rabies and Tetanus jabs up to date before you come.
Scraps, Cuts and bruises.
You’ll be working in and exploring the African bush, home to 101 different types of spiky plants - a few cuts and scrapes when getting your hands dirty is inevitable.
Putting on a brave face is great, but correct first aid is really important to ensure no infection sets in. You will have access to first aid equipment on site so if you do have any injuries please make sure to talk to the community and charity’s staff to get appropriate treatment asap so any infection or associated health problems are avoided.
Some of your activities will involve manual labour, using tools and equipment such as spades, pickaxes, machetes and pitchforks. Please be mindful when using equipment.
Charity staff will usually be present but occasionally volunteering means working independently on site as a group.
You will find willing, smiling and enthusiastic subjects for your photographs in South Africa. But always check before snapping, and as a courtesy, ask peoples permission first.
During your time as a volunteer you will have the opportunity to enjoy external activities and get to know South Africa and the surrounding area.
It’s important to listen to the guides or instructors leading these activities particularly regarding any appropriate health and safety regulations at these locations, both for your own safety and to ensure correct respect is given to each location..
Town Trips and Shopping
It’s important to stay within areas specified by the charity staff when out in town, and always travel with one or two others. Keep alert and protect your valuables at all times; opportunists looking for unattended bags or purses are in South Africa as much as they are everywhere else in the world.
Working with children
The charity works with a broad age group of children so please remember to be respectful, caring and supportive towards any children you will be living around and working with.
The kids usually have boundless amounts of energy so you will have a great time getting to know them, helping with any homework or other activities and no doubt playing, dancing and singing with them.
Developing your own ideas
We hope your time as a volunteer will give you the opportunity to develop personal skills and we are keen to encourage you to follow your passion.
Talk to Hamba Africa staff and the charity team if you have ideas you want to pursue that you feel may benefit the rural community.
Food and Drink
Due to the remote location, let us know at least two weeks in advance of any specific dietary requirement you may have, allowing us time to source and stock your particular foodstuffs.
Vegetarians, vegans and pescetarians preferences can all be catered for with sufficient notice.
Weekend trips to town will include the opportunity to dine out in a local restaurant
Expect to pay between £4-8 for a basic burger to a top quality steak.
Please note these are not included in your placement.
Hoedspruit (the closest town to the community) and its shopping centres are well stocked with most items you might need including international brands and some local equivalent produce.
Alcoholic drinks are available to purchase; please drink in moderation and responsibly in and around the community and whilst working with the charity.
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
Food is varied and balanced and you will be served 3 nutritious meals a day!
Breakfast choices: cereals, yogurts, fruit, muesli, toast, jams and the occasional fry up.
Lunch choices: sandwiches and toasties, to pasta dishes and salads.
Dinner choices: African soul food! BBQs (locally known as braais) are common as well as roasts, stews, casseroles, grilled meats or burgers all usually served with an assortment of vegetables, side salads with rice, potato or pap (a local dish made of maize meal).
Most meals will be cooked by the charity and community members although volunteers will be given the chance to cook too which can be a fun social activity.
Wi fi and Phone signal
You’ll be living and staying in the remote African bush. As you’ve probably guessed this comes with a few sacrifices - wi-fi and internet signal.
Although there is phone signal at camp, specifically MTN and Vodafone, it may be limited. You may wish to buy a South African sim card (these can be purchased at the airport as well as in town.)
Wi-Fi is available in the nearby town of Hoedpsruit in restaurants and cafes. We recommend you upload, contact and connect with friends and family during your weekend town visits.
Please be respectful of the community and refrain from littering.
Weapons and Fire arms
Any firearms or weapons such as bows, slingshots, air rifles or other ballistics will be not be allowed on site.
Small knives, leathermans and multi-tools that may help activities are allowed and must be used appropriately and with care.
All breakages will need to be replaced. This includes any Hamba Africa property or items as well as any community and charity items or items belonging to onsite guests.
For this reason we do require you to have your own insurance.
Please don’t feed any animals found at the community unless specifically instructed to do so.
This also includes any wild animals visiting the community.
Feeding them habituates them and changes their natural behaviour, meaning they could lose their fear of humans and vehicles and end up injuring themselves, you or others (including the children).
Bedding such as pillows and blankets will be provided but please bring your own towel.
We do advise you to bring sleeping bags for offsite visits and any spontaneous camping trips.
You will be sharing a 2-person traditional African round hut (Rondarvel), during your time as a volunteer.
Each hut comes equipped with power supplies for fans and to charge cameras, laptops and phones, cupboards and storage space for your clothes and other belongings and communal bathrooms as well as outdoor showers and bathrooms.
You will need an adaptor for UK or European plugs, available at the airport or from electrical shops in town.
Behaviour and Ethics
Part of what is going to make this trip so magical is the people you will meet and the friendships formed.
Therefore your behaviour and attitude towards each other is important; you will be living and interacting together for long periods of time.
Please be aware that anyone found displaying any forms of aggression, abuse, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, or any type of discrimination may be asked to return home. At risk of ruining the trip for everyone else.
Drugs and Alchohol.
Anyone who is found using illegal substances or abusing drink or prescription drugs risks being sent home immediately
Tipping your guides and waiters.
We encourage you to tip guides (non-Hamba Africa) or waiters, provided they have of course delivered a good service. Even just the equivalent of one or two pounds / euro / dollars can make a huge difference for employees in this rural economy.
If in doubt speak to a community or charity staff member!
Visa's and Imigration
Traveling to South Africa as a British national.
Currently, any British Nationals traveling to South Africa will be granted a Temporary visitors permit upon arrival which is valid for 3 months.
Your passport is valid for 6 months uppon the date of entry.
You have 2 blank pages in your passport.
Please remember it is your resoncibility to ensure your visa documentation and permisions are valid.
Hamba Africa is happy to advise you prior to your travels but cannot be help accountable for any changes to visa requirements or regulations that prevent you from traveling. As such, we advise that prior to your travel you contact any relevant embassy or consulate to ensure that you are able to travel.
For the up to date requirments and information check out the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.
Traveling to South Africa as non British Nationals
Depending on your country of origin, your Visa and Immigration rules and requirements will change.
We advise that prior to joining us you contact your local South African consulate, embassy or immigration body to ensure you meet the requirements to enable you to travel.
Vaccinations and Medical Requirments
Prior to joining us, we advise you contact your GP or talk to a travel doctor well in advance to ensure you are up to date on all required vaccinations and medication required to travel.
Bear in mind, some vaccination courses may take a number of weeks to be completed.
Those traveling from the UK are required to be up to date on all locally recommended vaccinations such as Measles, Mumps and Rubella, but other vaccinations may be required.
It is your responsibility to ensure all required vaccinations courses are complete to enable you to travel.
Additional information can be found on the Travel Health Pro website.
Flights and Booking Requirments
Being over 18
It is a requirement for all those traveling with us to be above the age of 18 at the time of the start date for insurance and health and safety reasons.
Travel Insurance is a requirement for anyone wishing to join us.
We suggest uppon booking your place with Hamba Africa you purchase your travel insurance soon after to provide cover if you have to cancel your booking.
All those wishing to join us must provide proof of appropriate travel insurance booked through a reputable provider, a minimum of 30 days before the date of departure.
Insurance is not covered within the Hamba Africa package and must be booked and paid for by the individual traveling with us.
Please ensure you have familiarised yourself with what your insurance covers and its fine print. Please make sure it appropriately includes the activities you'll be taking part in during your time with Hamba Africa.
For further questions feel free to contact us.
Flights and getting to the meeting location
The pick-up point and departure location is Hoedspruit Airport. You will be informed of the exact timings once you have booked your place.
Connecting flights to Hoedpsruit Airport operate multiple times a day from Johannesburg O.R. Tambo Airport, which most international flights travel to.
Flights are not included and must be paid for and organised by those wishing to join us.
If you are planning to land in Johannesburg one day and catch a connecting flight or transport the next you may need to find accomodation. Please contact us and we will be happy to help you arrange it.
If you’re already traveling within South Africa and have your own transportation, or if you prefer to get to the meeting location through alternative methods rather than a connecting flight, this will not be a problem.
There are regular coach, bus and shuttle services that operate from Johannesburg, other South African airports and cities to Hoedspruit Airport. Again, booking and organising other transportation must be done by the individual but we are happy to help you arrange it.
Regardless of how you choose to travel we will require proof of your travel plans at least 30 days prior to your arrival.
Required Medical checks
Medical checks, vaccinations and other medication may be required by law in order to allow you access to South Africa.
It is the responsibility of all those traveling with us to ensure that you have completed any medical checks and vaccinations that may be required.
For more information please see our Vaccinations and Medical Requirements page, under our Visa and Immigration section of our FAQs.
Although Hamba Africa can give advice on what might be required to travel, we are not medical professionals. Please make sure you have spoken to your travel doctor or General Practitioner to make sure you are traveling safely and legally.
Passports and Visas.
We will require a photographic copy of your passport once you have made your booking, as proof of identification.
Additionally, those traveling with us will be required to provide a valid passport and have the appropriate requirements for a visa to be granted entry to South Africa.
Ensuring you have a valid passport and the correct visas and documentation is the responsibility of the individual.
For further information see our Visa and Immigration section of the FAQs.