There are lots of options to volunteer for a few days, a week or several months in Africa that can all be added on to your vacation. The very nature of these programs means you will automatically be eating, sleeping and shopping locally. Africa does not lack labor, and unemployment is extremely high, so expect to pay a program fee for your experience. Find out more about volunteering in Africa and family volunteer vacations.
In both Southern and East Africa you are likely to meet members of traditional tribes, especially when you are on safari. The Maasai, Samburu, and Himba are all nomadic pastoralists whose traditional land use has been affected by the establishment of wildlife parks and reserves. The relationship between the two is complicated to say the least, and will become more so if they do not see any benefits of having tourists drive around gazing at lions who tend to eat their cattle. So, spend at least an afternoon with traditional Maasai, visit their kraals, buy some necklaces, support a clinic.
In Southern Africa, the Kalahari is home to various hunter-gatherer tribes, collectively known as "San" or "Basarwa". Tanzania's Hadzabe tribe follow a similar lifestyle. These traditional hunter-gatherers have also lost land to farms and wildlife reserves. They are seen as "backward" by their own governments and have little power. You can help. As a tourist, the more interest you show in wanting to learn about these cultures, the stronger their voice will be.
Dig a Little Beyond the Surface
It took me just a few hours after landing in Morocco to discover that Arabic was not the first language of my taxi driver, but Tamazight. And referring to his culture as "Berber" instead of Amazigh, basically meant I was calling him a barbarian. When you dig beyond the surface in Africa, you discover a hugely rich tapestry of language, arts and culture. There are thousands of linguistic groups and unique cultures in Africa, it's not just limited to traditional tribes. South Africa for example is filled with fascinating cultures that you will only begin to comprehend if you get out of your hotel or safari lodge and head into the townships and rural countryside. Taking a craft tour or culinary vacation is a wonderful way to get a taste of cultural variety.