PMGY volunteer in South Africa participants are based in the Observatory – better known as ‘Obz’ by the locals! Home to South African’s oldest Astronomical Observatory, this is Cape Town’s most bohemian suburb; an arty district. During the day, this road is home to various boutique shops, restaurants and cafes. However, at night, the street comes to life, with an awesome night life supplied by various bars and clubs, pubs and pool halls!
The opportunities in Cape Town during your time off are endless, you may well struggle to fit everything in! Whether you want to stay in the city or explore the Western Cape, there really is something for everyone.
Participants generally volunteer on a Monday-Friday basis and the weekends are free to relax or travel further afield. As our volunteers will testify, the wider travel opportunities are extremely important to the whole experience and it is something we certainly recommend. Our local team are able to arrange activities, transport and accommodation but please note this is usually an independent experience outside of the core program.
THE V&A WATERFRONT
Located in the heart of Cape Town’s working harbour, the Victoria and Albert Waterfront offers visitors an abundance of experiences. It is one of Africa’s most visited cultural and historical hubs, set on the edge of a natural, historic working harbour with the iconic Table Mountain as its backdrop. You will find a range of restaurants, shops and hotels surrounding the highly impressive marina. There is usually live music being played throughout the day. The Waterfront is close to Cape Town Stadium and is definitely worth a look!
Situated in the City Bowl, Long Street is the main hangout spot in Cape Town and is famous for its bohemian feel. Many of the backpacker hostels are located on Long Street and it’s the main place to go if you want to experience Cape Town’s exciting nightlife. Once the vintage clothing shops and designers alleys are closed, attention is turned to the plethora of bars, restaurants and clubs lining this iconic road. In the summertime locals and foreigners explore out onto the pavements at sidewalk cafes and party on the rooftops.
One of the most popular attractions in Cape Town is Table Mountain. It stands 1000m above sea level and the summit can be accessed via cable car. If you’re feeling energetic then you can always trek to the top! The journey takes around 1.5 hours. It is a challenging trek but the views from the summit are truly spectacular. The cable car is weather dependent so don’t rely on it to take you back down to the bottom! There is a restaurant at the top, it’s quite pricey but if you took the trekking option it’s a nice place to sit and relax.
Used as a prison right up until 1996, this Unesco World Heritage site is preserved as a memorial to those such as Nelson Mandela who spent many years incarcerated there. You can go on a tour which includes a walk through the old prison (with the obligatory peek into Mandela’s cell), plus a commentated bus ride around the island. You will see the lime quarry in which Mandela and many others slaved and the church used during the island’s stint as a leper colony. The ferry departs from the Nelson Mandela Gateway beside the Clock Tower.
HERMANUS - WHALE WATCHING
Hermanus offers some of the best shore based and sea based whale-watching opportunities in the world. Every year from July to November hundreds of Southern Right whales find their way to Walker’s Bay, making the town the whale-watching capital of South Africa. The whales, which spend the winter feeding on plankton in Antarctic waters, come up to the relatively warmer waters of the southern Atlantic to calve and breed. The holiday town of Hermanus has its share of boutique shops, art and craft studios and of course excellent restaurants.
CAPE OF GOOD HOPE
Also called Cape Point, this 77.5 sq km section of Table Mountain National Park includes awesome scenery, fantastic walks, great birdwatching and often deserted beaches. Some 250 species of birds have been spotted here, including cormorants and a family of ostriches that hang out near the Cape, the most southwestern point of the continent. There are many bus tours to the reserve but, if you have the time, hiking or cycling through it is much more rewarding. Bear in mind that there is minimal shade and that the weather can change quickly.
BOULDERS BEACH PENGUINS
Cape Town has no shortage of amazing beaches but Boulders Beach offers something extra special. Home to a colony of African Penguins, they have to be the most famous penguins in the world with up to 60,000 visitors a year! Penguin viewing is made easier by boardwalks that traverse the beaches and an information centre. The story of this penguin colony began in 1983 when a pair were spotted on Foxy Beach at Boulders. Abundant food and breeding sites meant the population has soared and visitors are drawn to their cute waddling ways.
The more popular and impressive wildlife safaris are located towards the north, near Johannesburg. If you have the time and budget to spare it is worth making the journey to Kruger National Park (the largest protected wildlife reserve in South Africa). You will need around 4 spare days to make the trip worthwhile and most trips include an afternoon safari, a sunrise walking safari and a night drive safari. If you want a cheaper and a more convenient option nearer to Cape Town then the Garden Route Game Reserve is a great alternative.
FRANSCHHOEK & STELLENBOSCH - WINE REGIONS
The area is exceptionally beautiful and the quality of wine and food in the wine estates is stupendous. Franschhoek is one of the loveliest towns in the cape, one of the world’s gastronomic capitals and the centre of one of South Africa’s main wine growing regions. Only an hour from Cape Town it’s a great place to chill out, relax and of course wine-taste. Neighbouring Stellenbosch is only half an hour away with its vast array of wine estates to visit. There are an approximate 160 wineries in the Stellenbosch area alone.
SHARK CAGE DIVING
Approximately 2.5 hours out of Cape Town is Gansbaai. This small town has been made famous as one of the only places in the world where you can dive with Great White Sharks. Tours to Gansbaai depart daily and it is usually an early start! Once you have arrived and had some breakfast it’s time to grab your wetsuit, get on the boat and head across the bay to ‘shark alley’. The next few hours will be spent ‘interacting’ with the sharks in the special cage or on board the boat. This is a once in a lifetime experience and is definitely not to be missed.
PMGY ORGANISED WEEKEND TRIPS
PMGY operate a number of amazing weekend trips in South Africa. Everything is planned for you by a PMGY member of staff who knows the country inside and out, which is the ideal way to travel. As with everything in life though it pays to be organised, so if you have your heart set on any of the trips below and would like to be guaranteed a place please book well in advance of travel.
If you’ve already signed up to one of our programs and would like to book, click the book button below. If you haven’t signed up already, you can add the weekend tour onto your trip during the online application form. Please note places on weekend tours are non-refundable and non-transferable.
GARDEN ROUTE WEEKEND TRIP (INDEPENDENT) - ZAR 4,200 pp.
INCLUDES - PRIVATE TRANSPORT, ACCOMMODATION, BREAKFAST & ACTIVITIES
For those looking to explore the Garden Route on an action packed itinerary, stopping at all the best highlights the area has to offer; you’ve found your match! Wander along the Garden Route – a piece of paradise on the Southeastern coast of South Africa. Search for members of Africa’s Big 5, walk along forest footpaths, canoe and interact with African wildlife, all in one exciting itinerary.
DAY ONE - CAPE TOWN - OUDTSHOORN
It’s an early morning departure from the volunteer house as we set off from Cape Town along with the rugged landscapes of Route 62, the longest wine route in the world! Along this famous country road, you’ll capture the beauty of high mountains, twisting passes, vast Karoo plains, vineyards and orchards. Stop at one of the many farm stalls along the way to sample local delights before arriving in Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of the world and home to the fascinating Cango Caves where your next adventure awaits.
Delve deep underground to the magical Cango Caves’ limestone chambers, alive with drip formation stalactites and stalagmites and remnants of Khoikhoi paintings. The easy-going Heritage Tour you will embark on will allow you to test the cave’s acoustics and gain insights your guide provides into the formation and dripstone evolution. You’ll spend the evening in the quaint town of Oudtshoorn where you could try local delicacies such as ostrich kebabs.
DAY TWO - OUDTSHOORN - SEDGEFIELD
Those seeking a meaningful experience can rise early and join rangers on an optional Elephant Bush Walk. You’ll have the opportunity to walk alongside three rescued elephants, in their own natural environment. These gentle giants were orphaned when their parents were poached in the north of South Africa, they were then transferred to Buffelsdrift, bringing their boisterous personalities with them. During your walk, you are free to take pictures galore and ask your rangers any questions you wish.
Then, you’ll take to the water for a leisurely afternoon canoe along reed-lined river banks in Wilderness. It’s not until you stop paddling and let the gentle current guide you, that the abundance of birdlife becomes apparent. Thereafter, you can take a visit to the lush forests of the Tsitsikamma area which provides picturesque photo opportunities. The evening is your free time to soak in the slow town ambience of Sedgefield.
DAY THREE - SEDGEFIELD - CAPE TOWN
Your journey today will begin as you leave the silhouette of Table Mountain behind and trade it for the lush green scenery of the Garden Route. You’ll soon understand where the area gets its name from, and why it is one of the most loved areas in the country. On your first stop of the day, spot some of Africa’s wild animals from the back of an open 4×4 vehicle in a malaria-free private game reserve. Search for giraffe, white rhino, kudu, lion, elephant, zebra and wildebeest, to name a few. An experienced game ranger will be on hand to lead the game drive.
WESTERN CAPE WEEKEND TRIP (INDEPENDENT) - ZAR 5,200 pp.
INCLUDES - PRIVATE TRANSPORT, ACCOMMODATION, BREAKFAST & ACTIVITIES
Day tripping simply does not do South Africa’s Western Cape justice and, like all good tasting plates, this weekend trip delivers the very best of the region – from Cape Point, Winelands, Whale Coast and to the Tip of Africa; Cape Agulhas. You will taste local MCC and pair wines with biltong and chocolate in the wine regions, enjoy an optional kayak among marine life, meet penguins at Betty’s Bay and meander along Clarence Drive.
The history, hospitality and the sheer diversity of flora, fauna and cultures in the Western Cape, together with a landscape that dramatically transforms with every curve of the road will take your breath away!
DAY ONE - CAPE TOWN - CAPE POINT - STELLENBOSCH
It’s an early morning departure as we curve along the infamous Chapman’s Peak Drive to Cape Point. On arrival, we will hike to the lighthouse through Cape Point’s fynbos for views of Africa’s most southwesterly point. You will then have a chance to chill like a local in Kalk Bay and take some time to grab a drink at a seaside pub or check out some of the bohemian shops in the area.
We will then head on to the local neighbourhood of Muizenberg where you can witness the colourful beach-huts and some cool surf spots along the Western Cape. The day will finish with you tasting your way through historic Stellenbosch. From the age-old trading store to hip artisan foodie stops for a chance to taste local treats like ‘droë wors’, rusks and dried fruit, Stellenbosch will not disappoint.
DAY TWO - STELLENBOSCH
Kayamandi will be the first port of call for the day as we visit an elder’s home for a colourful slice of Xhosa culture and taste magwinya (vetkoek) and chakalaka. It will then be time to rehydrate as we raise a glass with an MCC tasting of the first bubbly ever produced in South Africa.
We will then make our way to Franschhoek to take in the farmers’ market and explore the charming streets dotted within the restaurants. It’s then time to hit the road for the last time of the day as we aim for sunset at Cape Agulhas – the southernmost tip of Africa where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet.
DAY THREE - CAPE AGULHAS - HERMANUS - CAPE TOWN
Listen to the sound of crashing waves as you hike the dramatic winding cliff paths in Hermanus. Look out for dolphins and the rich birdlife while surrounded by lush fynbos. This area is also known for spectacular land-based whale watching from June to November.
You can then take some time to explore Hermanus at your leisure or if you want to adventure a little further then optional activities can be arranged such as an optional whale-watching cruise (Jun–Nov) or sea kayak in search of marine life. The last part of the trip will see us take the coastal scenic route along Clarence Drive, stopping to visit the Betty’s Bay penguins and then reaching back to Cape Town by evening time.
DUBAI RETURN STOPOVER TRIP (INDEPENDENT) – 300 USD pp.
INCLUDES - PRIVATE AIRPORT TRANSFERS, ACCOMMODATION, BREAKFAST & ACTIVITIES
Maximise your time overseas with PMGY by finishing your trip with a long weekend in the glamorous Dubai. Plan your flight schedule to grab an opportunity to spend 4 days and 3 nights in this powerhouse of a city. There is no better city for a stopover trip on your way home than Dubai!
Dubai is a glamorous playground, full of innovative and ambitious projects. The world’s tallest building is found in Dubai standing at an impressive 828 metres. A feat of engineering, it won’t take you long to point out the Burj Khalifa. The world’s largest artificial island is another impressive landmark Dubai boasts. So impressive, the palm tree-shaped island can be seen from space!
Your trip includes a city tour, so you don’t miss any of the best bits of Dubai. Furthermore, you will enjoy an exhilarating 4×4 excursion across the deserts of Dubai. You’ll be sandboarding down huge dunes, taking a camel ride and getting a henna tattoo! The trip is topped off with a delicious barbecue dinner under the twinkling Arabian stars. Enjoy your final night feast whilst taking in a traditional Tanura dance performance.
DAY ONE - WELCOME TO DUBAI!
Welcome to Dubai! You will be met at Dubai International Airport by a PMGY representative. They will be holding a name sign and have a meeting point in place. The specific pick up instructions will be emailed to you a few days before you arrive into Dubai.
DAY TWO - DUBAI CITY TOUR
After breakfast, it’s time to hit the city and see what Dubai is all about! You will be collected from either the hotel itself or a common pick up point located close to the hotel. Across the day, there will be plenty of old and new Dubai city highlights to be visited! This will include Dubai Museum, Dubai Spice Souk, Dubai Mall, The Dubai Fountain and Jumeirah Mosque.
DAY THREE - DESERT SAFARI
The thrill-seeker inside you will come alive as we embark on a thrilling desert safari in an adventurous 4×4 vehicle. In addition, you will enjoy a range of other fun activities such as a camel ride, henna tattoo and sandboarding. As the sun sets on your final night in Dubai and the final night of your trip, we will enjoy an evening meal in the middle of the desert. A delicious BBQ dinner in a Bedouin-style tent awaits you. Enjoy your food as you take in a magnificent desert sunset and a traditional Tanura dance.
DAY FOUR - TIME FOR HOME!
Tuesday is your last day in Dubai and the final part of your trip with PMGY. We will arrange your return airport drop off in time for your flight home. Please note that this is included in your fees. Therefore, your PMGY representative on the trip will be in touch during your time in Dubai to arrange this.