Our vision is to support and develop sustainable self-reliant communities around the globe
Three years, three trips down and we're already thinking about trip number four. This coming August/September, you're invited to join the Botshabelo Volunteer Experience. Our mission, bring the Botshabelo Community Development Project to life. From creating and upgrading infrastructure to making friends with a loving community of children, women and men, we promise a trip of a life time. While a project like this takes a great deal of hard work, we believe it's important to play just as hard. And we're positive there will be lots of time to do that too.
This year, we are looking for 8 volunteers to join us for a one-of-a-kind experience from September 1 - 18, 2020. Do you love to volunteer? Do you love to travel? Do you love giving back to those most in need? Are you always planning your next trip? Are you passionate about making difference? If you answered "hell yeah" to all of these questions, then this trip is the perfect fit for you.
Check out the itinerary below for a sneak peak at the Botshabelo Volunteer Experience. Registration for the 2019 Volunteer Experience is now closed. Interested in learning more or joining in the future? Click "learn more" below to drop us a line.
Duration: 17 days
Dates: September 1- 18, 2020
Departing: Vancouver International Airport (YVR) or Toronto International Airport (YYZ)
Cost: $3000 CAD per person
Cost Includes: flights, accommodations (Botshabelo & Safari), transportation to & from airport, driver gratuities, full board at safari, groceries at Botshabelo. (extra personal groceries are not included)
Optional Activities: market trips, Apartheid Museum, Cradle of Humankind, extras at Pilanesberg or Madikwe
Days 1-3: Travel
Your first two days will be spent in the air and perusing airports. Whether you're departing Toronto or Vancouver, the journey is certainly a long haul and can take up to 36 hours depending on your flight path. While this might be longer than you're used to, this is the perfect time to read a new book, catch up on the latest movies or sleep!
Since parties will be arriving in Jo'burg at different times, we'll be meeting at one of the many airport hotels for a good night’s rest before we head to Botshabelo. It’s likely that we’ll spend the night at the OR Tambo Premier Hotel. Room assignments will be determined closer to the trip.
The next morning we’ll officially be waking up in South Africa. But before we head to Botshabelo, we’ll be making a stop at the Apartheid Museum for a look at the rich history of South Africa. This is an important stop as it sets the tone for understanding why Botshabelo exists and why it’s important that it does.
While we’re at the Apartheid museum, Matt and George (our driver) will head to the grocery store to collect all the food we’ll need for the week ahead. Following the Apartheid Museum, we’ll meet Matt and George and head straight for Botshabelo. It’s about a 1.5 hour drive. This year we’ll be arriving at Botshabelo on Spring Day, so if we’re lucky, we’ll unpack and head for a lovely golden hour walk up the mountain.
In the evening we’ll cook a family-style meal and enjoy the evening in good company. Together, we’ll do a brief orientation and review the basic Botshabelo rules to make sure everyone is safe and secure for their stay.
Day 4: Welcome to Botshabelo
Wake up call is around 7:30am. The day starts early when there's work to be done. We'll meet for a team breakfast, get to know each other and take a tour of the community. Get ready for hugs, high fives, and lots of stares from curious village children as we cruise around.
We’ll head back to the cottages for a briefing on the project work and the week ahead. During this time we’ll game plan what work needs to be done, who is needed where, and exactly what you’ll be doing for the next few days.
After lunch we’ll begin to tackle some major project work, spend some time with the kids and regroup for dinner together. Each evening we'll meet for team "downloading." There’s a lot happening at Botshabelo, and we recognize that it’s important to hold the space for one another to share and process the experience. So together we’ll use this time to discuss how our day went, what we accomplished, what the next day is going to look like and ultimately, how the experience is going for everyone.
Days 5 - 10: Project Time
Wake up call is around 7:00am, work begins at 8:30 am sharp. Each morning we'll
meet for breakfast and gather what we need for the day. Our strategy is divide and conquer, so we'll break into groups to take on the various tasks on our project list as we planned. We'll break for lunch mid-day and take some time to rest and recuperate before we head back to work.
Curious about what we'll be getting up to this year? Visit the Botshabelo Project Page here.
Evenings aren't complete without a walk, and the kids won't let us miss out. At
Botshabelo we like to wind down the night with an evening stroll through the
graveyard, the healing circle and community village. Get your cameras ready
because golden hour on this walk is beautiful.
Each day brings exciting opportunities we simply cannot plan for, so our schedule will offer lots of room for free time and optional activities. A trip to the Cradle of Humankind, a trip into town, a soccer game with the boys, song and dance in the crèche, either way there's room for fun every day. We'll wind down the night together with dinner and downloading. After a long day, lots of fresh air and so many laughs, you'll probably want to head straight to bed. But for those night owls, a clear night at Botshabelo offers a look at the stars like you've never seen before.
Days 11-12: Selfies, Songs, Soccer and Dance Parties
It doesn't matter what day it is at Botshabelo, everyone is up early and that means us too. During this weekend, we’ll be hosting a family portrait day for everyone in the community. That means we’ll need all
hands on deck for a little photoshoot action.
Once our photoshoots are over, we'll take it easy and enjoy some well-deserved R&R. In the evening there will be lots of free time to hang out, play with the kids, catch some zZz's, journal or perhaps head to a grocery store for some shopping.
Weekend nights at Botshabelo are usually pretty hoppin' and that means you're invited to a dance party in the school yard. Dance, sing, laugh and learn some new moves. Can you say Mango Groove? If the mood is right, we might even get to enjoy a bonfire at the cottages.
On Sunday, it’s wash day so we’ll take turns getting our dusty threadscleaned for the next week.
Days : Work Hard, Play Hard
Monday morning means the kids are back at school and we're back to crossing off items on our project list. For the next few days we'll be hard at work completing the remaining to-do's, but not before we experience a little pre-class brain gym.
This week, we’ll take some well deserved time to head to the Bryanston Organic Market. Here we’ll sample some local organic treats and enjoy some one-of-a-kind shopping. This is a great place to pick up some souvenirs and select something special for you to bring home. If we haven’t already visited the Cradle of Humankind, you can be sure we’re doing it this week too. This excursion is optional of course, but highly recommended. We’ll visit the Maropeng museum and learn all about our ancestors Australopithecus Afarensis and Homo Habilis. Then we’ll get a chance to explore the Sterkfontein Caves where Little Foot was discovered.
In the evenings we’ll spend lots of time dining together and downloading with Leigh and Nicole. We might get to help with homework, hang with the girls, and perhaps do a little pin code with Marion.
Days 16 - 17: Oh What a Night
We’ll be shocked how quickly time has flown and that this is our last two days at Botshabelo. We’ll spend the weekend completing any last minute to-do’s for our projects. Best of all, we’ll spend these days hanging
out with the community. If we’re lucky, we’ll get a little “Showtime” performance put on by the community
children, maybe a bonfire if the weather is good, and some late night star gazing.
It will however soon be time to pack up and head to Pilanesberg for our Safari, so we’ll make time to get
organized for the next leg of our journey. Before we leave for Pilanesberg, we'll tidy up the guest houses, pack up our goodies and get ready to experience a true African Safari. It will be early to bed on our last night since our transportation will pick us up bright and early the next day.
Photos by Epic Existence Studios & CSW
Goodbyes are hard, and leaving Botshabelo will certainly be difficult. We'll take the morning to say goodbye to our new friends and family. Try not to cry, we dare you. Our driver will arrive at Botshabelo around 8:30 AM and drive us about 2 hours to Pilanesberg. Here we'll be greeted by the warm and friendly staff; brace yourselves, because you’re about to feel like royalty. We'll enjoy lunch and some optional amenities poolside before we head out for our evening safari. Take some time to swim, catch up on some reading or take a nap.
Evening safaris leave at 4:00 PM and last about 3 hours. After returning from our game drive, you'll have some time to freshen up for a delicious buffet dinner. Here you'll get to sample the local cuisine, share your game drive stories and enjoy the company. After dinner, sit by the fire for a night cap and marshmallows. It's early to bed at Pilanesberg since we're up at 4:30 AM, ready for our morning game drive at 5:00 AM.
Days 15-16: Animal Facts, Jaw-dropping Views and Delicious Meals with the Best Company
Morning wake-up call is early, but with an exciting day ahead of you, you’ll be up with no troubles! Grab a quick coffee and snack from the main house before heading out for your first Sunrise game drive. If you’re lucky you’ll get a chance to see some of the Big Five (lion, leopard, black rhino, elephant, buffalo). Following the morning game drive we’ll return to a beautiful buffet breakfast served on the patio overlooking the park. Maybe some zebras or elephants will stop by for a visit at the watering hole.
After breakfast, the day is yours to enjoy the optional amenities offered by the accommodation. Try out some drumming, hit up the spa, or head for a Segway tour (extra costs applied to your room bill). Our favourite thing to do is sit by the pool with a delicious smoothie and listen to the birds. Lunch is served out on the patio in the sun at 1:00 PM and goes until about 3:00 PM. We recommend indulging in any spa treatments before lunch. At 4:00 PM we'll meet for another evening safari and hopefully get a last glimpse of the big five. Upon our return, we’ll enjoy another delicious dinner together.
Days 17-18: Sweet Goodbyes and Plane Rides
We'll be up early again for the final game drive of our stay at Pilanesberg. Today you'll get to enjoy the sunrise with coffee and snacks in hand. It's a sight you won't want to miss. We'll all meet back at the main lodge for a poolside breakfast, and pack our things for the journey home. Our driver will meet us at the main house ready to take us to the airport around 11:00 AM pending our flight times, we’ll request a late check out, which means we’ll depart around 2:00 PM.
After such a great two weeks together it will be hard to say goodbye, but we'll check in at the airport and head to the gate for our flights home. The Jo'burg airport is a great place to pick up some last minute souvenirs for yourself, your family and friends. Rest assured, there'll be plenty to do while you wait to board.
After this visit to Africa, you'll soon realize this won't be your last.