Friday, 2 December 2011 9:49 AM
Africa is one of the best places in the world in which to get involved with helping underprivileged communities or taking part in conservation and wildlife initiatives. So, if you can't decide where you should visit, our guide to the three top destinations in Africa could help.
There are many opportunities to do voluntary work in Africa, as the projects vary depending on where you would like most to visit.
As well as giving your support to poorer communities, you will be able to get involved in initiatives that will see you care for rare wild animals - an experience you are unlikely to often get.
Tanzania could be a destination you might be interested in visiting, as the east African nation has spectacular landscapes and plenty of wildlife-spotting opportunities.
It is home to Africa's highest peak - Mount Kilimanjaro - but it is also well-known for its vast tawny savannah plains and beautiful coastline.
Becoming a volunteer in Tanzania could see you get involved in a variety of different projects, whether you want to work closely with big cats, help with community work or assist children in learning English.
As you will be able to take part in safari trips in the Serengeti National Park and N'gorongoro Crater, Tanzania is an ideal location if you wish to get close to the country's most precious species, including lions, elephants and hippos.
You could get involved in wildlife projects that will give you the chance to help protect indigenous creatures.
The national parks are brilliant locations to spot cheetahs, gazelle and rhinos, as well as lions, so it is worth including a safari during your trip.
Alternatively, you might prefer to get more closely involved with Tanzania's Masai community. In this case, you can spend time working with children and helping out in small, rural villages. This will give you an excellent chance to find out more about how this tribe lives, their traditions and customs.
Learn about a way of life that is totally distinct from your own and experience cooking, sleeping, eating and dancing with the Masai community.
Mozambique could be another interesting location for you to get involved in voluntary programs in Africa. Also situated on the eastern coast, a visit here will give you the chance to find out what it is like to help conserve some of the area's marine animals.
Indeed, you may never have the opportunity to swim with whale sharks again, which is something that you could do in Mozambique.
As well as jumping in the water next to these giant fish, you will be active in monitoring the activity and population of whale sharks that travel by the shoreline. By doing this, you will help conserve the creatures and aid their protection against potential threats.
A location that will give you the chance to get involved in community life is Swaziland. Visiting this landlocked country will enable you to really get to know sub-Saharan Africa, with its diverse landscapes and warm character.
Taking part in voluntary projects here is likely to see you caring for orphans and children suffering from illnesses including HIV/Aids, helping poor communities to build homes and teaching youngsters in order to improve their education.
By working with locals and, in particular, offering support and assistance to underprivileged children, you will be able to get to the heart of Swaziland and gain a greater understanding of what life is like on this extraordinary continent.