Your Ultimate Guide to Volunteering in Zimbabwe: Volunteer with Wild Animals, Teach English, Provide HIV/AIDS Support & More

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A volunteer trip to Zimbabwe is a journey you’ll never forget. From the laid-back towns and diverse food dishes to flaming msasa trees and awe-inspiring Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe delights at every turn. As a volunteer in Zimbabwe, you not only get the chance to help address key issues the country faces, but you’ll also get to the heart of the country as you make lasting connections with locals and get an up-close look at incredible nature. 

A landlocked country in Southern Africa, Zimbabwe is known for its unique African wilderness, ethnic diversity, tasty cuisine, and rich history. In one trip, you could: 

  • See Victoria Falls (one of the world’s largest waterfalls)
  • Tour the ruined city of Great Zimbabwe
  • Learn some Shona (a Bantu language)
  • Try delicious dishes like Mupunga Une Dovi (peanut butter rice)
  • Discover UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Gonarezhou National Park and Matobo National Park

Zimbabwe has experienced tumultuous times in recent history. The country gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1980 — a huge moment for the nation. But the era of President Robert Mugabe had its issues and contentions. While a revolutionary hero, Mugabe’s rule saw human rights abuses, widespread food insecurity, education system inefficiencies, hyperinflation and other issues. As Zimbabwe moves forward after Mugabe, the country has taken great strides to improve the economy and quality of life, address human rights, and protect the environment. However, obstacles remain. As a volunteer in Zimbabwe, you can help the country address these crucial challenges.

Today, Zimbabwe provides a variety of volunteering options, including wild animal conservation, teaching English, HIV/AIDS support, community development and more. No matter what your interests are, you can find a program where you can contribute to local communities and enact positive change.

In this article, we explore all you need to know about volunteering in Zimbabwe. Read on to plan your trip!

Visa Requirements to Volunteer in Zimbabwe

For individuals who plan to volunteer in Zimbabwe, obtaining the appropriate visa is a crucial step. Thankfully, chances are you can get your visa upon arrival if you’re staying less than three months. Just make sure your passport has at least six months of validity remaining. 

What visa you need and its cost vary depending on your home country. We recommend checking the Embassy of Zimbabwe website for your home country first. Here’s a summary of visa requirements for visitors to Zimbabwe:

  • No Visa Necessary: Visitors from certain countries are not required to have a visa to travel and volunteer in Zimbabwe. Countries and regions include Hong Kong, Malaysia, South Africa, and Kenya, among others. 
  • Visa Upon Arrival: Visitors from many countries can conveniently obtain their visa at point of entry into Zimbabwe. Countries and regions include the United States, Australia, Germany, Japan, China, India, Indonesia, United Kingdom, and Canada, among others. 
  • Obtain Visa Before Arrival: Visitors from certain countries must pay for and obtain a visa before departing for Zimbabwe. Countries and regions include the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, Nigeria, and Pakistan, among others. 

For a full list of visa requirements for visitors, see Zimbabwe’s visa website here: https://www.evisa.gov.zw/regime. You can search your home country to quickly see requirements. 

Also, before you go, make sure to read your government’s travel advisory. This will help you know how to stay safe while you volunteer in Zimbabwe. 

How to Prepare to Volunteer in Zimbabwe

When preparing to volunteer in Zimbabwe, here’s a list of things to consider: 

  1. Language Preparation: While English is widely spoken, learning some basic phrases of a Bantu language can be beneficial and will show your respect for local culture. We recommend studying some of the Shona and/or Ndebele languages. 
  2. Vaccinations and Health Precautions: Before you depart to volunteer in Zimbabwe, consult your healthcare provider for necessary vaccinations and health precautions. For a handy resource, use the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list of recommended vaccinations and health advice for travelers to Zimbabwe. 
  3. Travel Insurance: See if your volunteer program provider offers insurance first as part of the volunteer fee. If not, the organization may offer a good price on insurance. For instance, International Volunteer HQ has low fees for volunteer travel insurance
  4. Financial Preparation: Ensure you have sufficient cash with you. While credit cards are accepted in some places, having US dollars on hand is necessary, especially in smaller towns and for everyday expenses. Zimbabwe currently uses a multi-currency system, with the US Dollar being the most widely accepted. The Zimbabwe Dollar, South African Rand and Chinese Yuan are also widely used. 
  5. Maintaining Communications: Communicating with family can probably be done with a messaging app and/or email. Getting a prepaid international SIM card for Zimbabwe ensures you can make important calls or emergency calls easily and quickly. 
  6. Cultural Awareness and Respect: Take time to learn Zimbabwe’s culture, history, and customs. If offered by your volunteer organization, take a cultural sensitivity training course to better prepare yourself for volunteering in Zimbabwe. 

Best Volunteer Programs in Zimbabwe

If you wish to volunteer in Zimbabwe, choosing the right organization and project can greatly influence your experience. To help you find the right volunteer program in Zimbabwe, we explore reputable volunteer abroad organizations below. See which projects catch your eye and apply. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to volunteer in Zimbabwe.

Volunteer in Zimbabwe with International Volunteer Headquarters (IVHQ)

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International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) began in 2007 and is now regarded as one of the world’s best volunteer travel organizations. To date, IVHQ has placed 133,000+ volunteers on affordable projects abroad to date — a testament to the quality and reputation of their programs. What’s also great is that project fees include various essentials and conveniences, such as airport pick-up, accommodation, meals, and in-country support. Having an organization take care of everything for you enables you to focus on what matters: Making an impact and having the volunteer experience of a lifetime. 

If you’re looking to volunteer in Zimbabwe, IVHQ should be among your top options. You can make a difference while enjoying the cultural richness and natural beauty of the country. Read about the amazing volunteer opportunity below.

Wildlife & Conservation Volunteering in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Ready for a volunteer adventure in Victoria Falls? IVHQ’s Wildlife Conservation Project offers you the thrilling opportunity to volunteer in Zimbabwe at a private game reserve. As a volunteer, you’ll help with research projects, reserve maintenance and upkeep, and monitoring of lions, black rhinos, buffalo and elephants. If you want to volunteer with wild animals, then this is the program for you.

What’s also great is the location of this project: Victoria Falls. By day, you’ll work to protect endangered animals and the environment. When you have free time, you can enjoy the wonder of Victoria Falls, one of the world’s waterfalls and most beautiful natural areas. 

Interested in this opportunity to volunteer in Zimbabwe? Sign up here.

Volunteer in Zimbabwe with GoEco

GoEco began in 2006 and now offers more than 150 volunteer programs across 40+ countries, including Zimbabwe. Known for emphasizing sustainability and responsible travel, GoEco has been named a Top Volunteer Organization by GoAbroad, and has been recommended by media platforms such as The Guardian and Boston Globe. They’ve placed more than 20,000 volunteers in projects abroad to date. 

When it comes to volunteer options in Zimbabwe, GoEco is among the best. By joining a GoEco project, you’ll have the chance to volunteer with wild animals at an animal orphanage. Read more about their wonderful programs below!

Volunteer at an African Wildlife Orphanage in Zimbabwe

Work with a range of animals, from lions to monkeys, helping to rehabilitate and provide them with a better quality of life. Many of these animals have been rescued from illegal wildlife traffickers. Volunteer duties include caring for the animals, participating in educational outreach, and assisting with research of the animals. You may even get to witness some animals being released back into the world. The orphanage has successfully released hyenas, tortoises, vervet monkeys, hedgehogs, leopards and more. 

Ranked as one of GoEco’s best projects, you’ll be based in Bulawayo during your volunteer time. When you’re not working at the orphanage, explore the city and make the trip to Matobo National Park. 

Interested in this opportunity to volunteer in Zimbabwe? Sign up here

Family Volunteering at the African Wildlife Orphanage in Zimbabwe

Bringing the whole family? The wildlife conservation project listed above is available for families or groups. GoEco ensures families get what they need to enjoy the volunteer vacation, from a private cabin with mosquito nets to three meals per day. 

What’s also great is that volunteer duties are tailored to the interests and capabilities of the family. Children and parents alike will love the opportunity to get up close with some of the world’s most amazing wildlife. Typical duties include feeding the animals, cleaning enclosures, and educating local school children about conservation. 

Interested in a family volunteer trip to Zimbabwe? Learn more here.

Volunteer in Zimbabwe with African Impact

Founded in 2004, African Impact aims to provide the best international volunteer experiences in Africa. The organization develops projects hand in hand with local communities, focusing on long-term objectives that deliver sustainable, measurable improvements. African Impact also takes great care of their volunteers, offering airport transportation, three meals daily, 24-hour emergency support and more to travelers. 

For those looking to make a difference by volunteering in Zimbabwe, African Impact has two great programs for you. Read below!

Horse-Riding and Elephant & Rhino Conservation in Zimbabwe

Journey to the Imire Rhino & Wildlife Conservancy, which is about 120 kilometers from the capital of Harare. There, you’ll help with conservation of the endangered rhino and elephant populations. Designed for experienced horse-riders, this project involves riding around the conservancy to monitor Black and White Rhinos as well as elephants. In addition to monitoring animal behavior, you’ll partake in anti-poaching initiatives to ensure vulnerable wildlife remains protected. You’ll also educate local school children about the importance of conservation. 

If you want to live in and explore the beautiful Zimbabwe bush by horseback, this is the project for you. You’ll love your time here, and you’ll make a huge difference. 

Interested in this opportunity to volunteer in Zimbabwe? Sign up here

Endangered Black Rhino & Elephant Conservation in Zimbabwe

Not an experienced horseback rider? Don’t worry. You can still volunteer for rhino and elephant conservation at the Imire Rhino & Wildlife Conservancy. You’ll get to explore the game park on foot, helping with everything from wildlife monitoring and park management to anti-poaching efforts and community outreach. 

Interested in this opportunity to volunteer in Zimbabwe? Sign up here

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Get Certified to Teach English in Zimbabwe with International TEFL Academy (ITA)

If you wish to volunteer in Zimbabwe long term, consider teaching English. As an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, you can help the youth of Zimbabwe gain valuable language skills. Plus, you’ll make money to support your travels. 

To prepare yourself to teach English in Zimbabwe, consider International TEFL Academy (ITA) as your go-to resource. Founded in 2010, ITA provides the gold standard in TEFL certification, certifying more than 6,000 people each year to teach English abroad. 

To get certified to teach English in Zimbabwe, ITA offers high-quality, accredited TEFL courses both online and in-person around the world (from New York to Madrid to Hanoi). After taking the course and getting certified, ITA even offers job placement assistance. They can help you get a teaching job in Zimbabwe at a public school, international school or language center. 

Interested in teaching English in Zimbabwe? Learn more on how ITA can help here.

Volunteer in Zimbabwe with Love Volunteers

Founded in 2009, Love Volunteers is known for their transparent, affordable, and impactful volunteer projects. Past volunteers give Love Volunteers a 96% approval rating — a testament to the quality of their projects and volunteer support. 

If you want to volunteer in Zimbabwe, Love Volunteers has two great programs to help adults and children. Read more below.

Educational Support in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Help improve the future prospects of disadvantaged children in Zimbabwe! As a volunteer, you’ll teach students a variety of subjects, work with students on projects, and arrange games, sporting, and arts activities. Your help goes a long way in ensuring these children have an enriching educational environment. 

During free time, Victoria Falls, one of the most beautiful waterfalls on earth, awaits. Go rafting, bungee jumping, fishing and more. 

Interested in this opportunity to volunteer in Zimbabwe? Sign up here

HIV/AIDS Support in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

This program has a profound impact on children living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. As a volunteer, you’ll educate and support these children by helping provide a safe environment for them to learn, socialize, exercise and more. Activities include playing soccer with the kids and arranging games and activities, as well as assisting with schoolwork. While you spend time with the children, you’ll help educate children about HIV/AIDs, which helps reduce the stigma and give the children hope they can live fulfilling lives. 

Interested in this opportunity to volunteer in Zimbabwe? Sign up here.

Volunteer in Zimbabwe & Have the Adventure of a Lifetime!

Volunteering in Zimbabwe offers you the chance to contribute to the wellbeing of the country, as well as develop skills, form new friendships, and understand new cultures. Whether you’re protecting endangered animals, caring for injured wildlife, teaching English, or providing community support, each program offers a unique opportunity to make a positive impact in Zimbabwe and have an enriching personal experience. 

The programs listed in this article give you a variety of ways to volunteer in Zimbabwe. Find the program that matches your budget, interests, and skills, and sign up. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to Zimbabwe for a transformative and unforgettable volunteer adventure. 

 

Image Sources: https://unsplash.com/photos/herd-of-elephant-drinking-water-from-lake-I7KBqnjN9xM

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