South Africa is a diverse and captivating destination that offers many opportunities for young travellers to explore, learn and have fun. Whether it’s hiking in the mountains, surfing on the beaches, volunteering with wildlife or experiencing different cultures, South Africa has something for everyone. In this article, we will share the story of Kenneth Decker and William Dias Morias, two students from Belgium who travelled to South Africa in 2019 and had a great youth travel experience along with their internship.
Why South Africa?
Kenneth and William are both studying tourism management at a university in Brussels. They have always been interested in traveling and learning about different countries and cultures. When they had the chance to do an internship abroad as part of their course, they chose South Africa as their destination. “We wanted to go somewhere that was different from Europe, but also safe and accessible. We had heard a lot of good things about South Africa from friends and online. We were curious about its history, nature and people. We also wanted to do something meaningful and contribute to the local community,” Kenneth says.
What did they do?
Kenneth and William applied for an internship program with Youth Tourism South Africa (YTSA), a non-profit organization that represents youth in tourism. YTSA helps young travellers find affordable and quality accommodation, activities and transport in South Africa. It also promotes responsible and sustainable tourism practices and creates opportunities for cultural exchange and social impact. Kenneth and William joined YTSA as marketing assistants for three months. They helped with creating and managing social media content, developing partnerships with local businesses and organizations, and organizing events and workshops for youth travellers.
“We learned a lot from working with YTSA. We gained valuable skills in digital marketing, communication and project management. We also met many amazing people who shared their stories and perspectives with us. We felt like we were part of a big family,” William says.
Where did they go?
Besides working with YTSA, Kenneth and William also had plenty of time to explore South Africa on their own. They visited several places across the country, including Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Kruger National Park, Drakensberg Mountains and the Wild Coast.
They enjoyed a variety of activities such as hiking, whale-watching, wine-tasting, safari, surfing, bungee jumping and volunteering. They also experienced the rich and diverse culture of South Africa, from its cuisine and music to its art and history. “Some of our highlights were seeing the penguins at Boulders Beach, watching the sunset from Table Mountain, learning about Nelson Mandela at Robben Island, spotting the Big Five at Kruger National Park, surfing at Jeffrey’s Bay, jumping off the Bloukrans Bridge, planting Spek boom trees at Elliotdale and dancing with locals at a township party,” Kenneth says.
What did they gain?
Kenneth and William say that their trip to South Africa was one of the best experiences of their lives. They not only had fun and adventure, but also learned a lot about themselves and the world. “We grew as individuals and as friends. We became more confident, open-minded and adaptable. We also became more aware of the challenges and opportunities that South Africa faces as a developing country. We realized how much we have in common with people from different backgrounds and how much we can learn from each other,” William says.
They also say that their trip to South Africa inspired them to pursue their passion for tourism and make a positive difference in the industry. “We want to continue traveling and exploring new places. We also want to use our skills and knowledge to promote youth tourism in South Africa and other destinations. We believe that youth tourism is not only a way of having fun, but also a way of creating social change,” Kenneth says.
What do they recommend?
Kenneth and William highly recommend traveling to South Africa for anyone who is looking for a unique and rewarding youth travel experience. “South Africa is a beautiful country with so much to offer. You will never get bored or run out of things to do. You will also meet some of the most friendly and hospitable people in the world. You will have an unforgettable time,” William says. They also advise young travellers to plan ahead, do some research, be flexible, respect the local culture and environment, and most importantly, have fun. “Traveling to South Africa is an opportunity that you don’t want to miss. It will change your life for the better. Just go for it and enjoy every moment,” Kenneth says.