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Flights & Visas
Coming from the UK?
You can book your placement with or without flights. If you are based in the UK, we can include return flights from London Heathrow to Johannesburg with your placement. That way you are guaranteed to arrive in time for the transfers in South Africa, and if there are any other volunteers on the same flight we will send you each other’s contact details beforehand (with your permission) so that you can already hook up at Heathrow.
You do not need to take these flights though. Maybe you have other travel plans or want to use a Round-the-World-Ticket or air miles? That’s fine as well - you can always arrange your own flights.
Coming from somewhere else?
We have volunteers from all over the world join our projects. African Conservation Experience are not a travel agent though, so unfortunately we can only arrange flights departing from London at present. We are currently working on setting up flights from other destinations as well, so watch this space. In the meantime, if you start your journey from anywhere other than the UK, you have two options:
- Join in London: You can opt to take our flights from London Heathrow as part of your placement and organise the connecting flights from your point of departure to London yourself. This tends to work well for European volunteers, as the flights depart for South Africa in the evening, giving you all day to make your way on a low cost flight from your country of origin to London. A useful website for finding regional flights is www.skyscanner.net. It is also worth checking out this option if you are coming from the US or Canada, as you can sometimes pick up good deals on flights to London, making this the cheaper option overall.
- Arrange your own flights: You can arrange your own flights directly to the starting point of your project. Most of our projects start at Johannesburg Airport (ORTI - O. R. Tambo International Airport). You need to look for flights that tie in with the group meeting and transfer time, as our South African operations manager meets all volunteers in the arrivals hall at the airport on Tuesday morning. From there, the transfer to your project is taken care of and included in your placement. Please liaise with us about suitable flight times if you are arranging your own flights. The only current exception to these arrangements is the Mauritius Dolphin Conservation Project. If this is the only project you are taking part in, you need to fly to Mauritius instead of Johannesburg and you will be met by a local transfer on arrival there.
As you will not be paid while volunteering at a project, but will finance your stay yourself, a visitor permit is sufficient. To the best of our knowledge, holders of UK passports from most EU countries, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand can obtain a 90 day visitor permit for free on arrival at the airport. It is your responsibility to check whether you need a visa before departure, so please check with the nearest South African embassy or the South African Department of Home Affairs. They have information about visa on their website on http://www.home-affairs.gov.za/
If you do need to arrange a visa before departure, we can assist you with a letter confirming that you have a place on a programme with us. Please note that we can only do this for confirmed and fully paid placements.
If you are going on a placement for longer than 90 days you will need to extend your visa in country. This needs to be done at least 1 month before your visa runs out - so don’t leave it to the last minute. You will need to travel to one of the administrative centres that issue visa extensions, so you need to plan in the time and expenses involved. Our ground manager will be able to assist you with making arrangements, but please don’t spring this on him at the last moment. If you let him know a couple of weeks in advance, he will be sure to help you.