One of the joys of traveling abroad is the opportunities it presents to interact with local people, from the women at the market stalls to the families you encounter in a rural community. But sticking around and opting to live in a community for an extended period can be even more rewarding: imagine being welcomed into a town and spending each day interacting with local people.
Volunteering in Peru allows just that. We’ve put together this guide to volunteering programs in Peru that sets out everything you need to know about finding and organizing projects where you lend a hand.
For many people, volunteering is an add-on to a trip abroad, while for others, it’s the sole purpose of going in the first place. To have the greatest impact, volunteering in Peru beyond two weeks is highly recommended, particularly as it not only allows you to be more effective in the work that you do by granting you the benefit of experience, but it allows you to build relationships with the local community and your fellow volunteers.
What’s more, a longer-term volunteer opportunity in Peru is a recipe for honing your Spanish language skills, and you can find plenty of volunteering options that are combined with Spanish instruction.
The cost of volunteering can range from free to upwards of USD 1000 per month. Bear in mind that free volunteering in Peru is generally only available through work exchange websites (see at the bottom of this website) that normally have a focus on environmental or hospitality work.
Those charging a large fee normally include accommodation and sometimes even Spanish language lessons, although this very much depends on the volunteering program.
Although there are plenty of international websites that advertise volunteering in Peru, if you’re looking to find small, locally-run programs, you’re better of finding those located directly in Peru, where you won’t have to go through a large company that charges fees for placing you within a volunteering project.
The following websites are locally-based volunteer projects that charge a fee for programs, but this generally goes towards accommodation and the support of a volunteer coordinator, in addition to some basic training.
AMAUTA offers one month to three-month-long placements in volunteer projects in and around Cusco and the Sacred Valley and is unique in that they include affordable Spanish instruction in advance of volunteering – therefore helping you to feel more prepared for when you start your volunteer placement.
All volunteer programs include airport pickup, accommodation, meals, activities and guiding and start from $950 for the first month with Spanish language instruction included, and $525 per month for the second and third month.
The NGO Skip Peru operates charity work along the Northern Coast of Peru near the city of Trujillo. They operate two distinct types of programs:
Volunteer programs include only accommodation and start from USD 520 per month.
Based in a remote part of the Amazon Basin, Esperanza Verde operates environmental programs for volunteers. These include:
Prices start at USD 499 per month and require a six-week minimum commitment.
Many smaller NGOs and volunteer programs in Peru can also be sourced through directory websites that include direct links to information for getting in contact with the specific project.
This website collates information about volunteering in different parts of the world and has detailed information and the contact details of a few dozen Peruvian NGOs and volunteering projects located across many cities and rural parts of Peru. These include:
Time commitments and cost range depending on the organisation.
The website True Travellers also has a wide selection of small, local volunteer opportunities across Peru. Bear in mind that most of these are a lot less structured than the projects mentioned previous and rarely involve the assistance of a volunteer coordinator. So you are basically on your own here, no one to turn to for assistance of if the project is no what you expected or hoped it to be. If you are an experience traveler looking for some adventure and you speak Spanish, this should not be a big problem.
Time commitments and cost range depending on the organisation. You may be required to organize your own accommodation.
The organization Volunteer Work in Latin America offers more organized volunteer placements, offered by organizations that have a volunteer coordinator and take care of your accommodation, pickup and others. There are interesting options in Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica, Colombia and others. The money you pay goes 80% to your accommodation and includes a small administrative fee and a donation for the project where you will be placed.
For those looking to volunteer for free in Peru, programs are generally limited to environmental projects or work exchanges such as in hostels.
Volunteering with Workaway is free and generally offered in return for food or accommodation (or sometimes both) and time commitments can be as little as one night.
The annual fee to join is USD 38 per person or USD 50 for a couple, which allows you to reach out to hosts and organise volunteering this way. It’s mostly small, informal companies or private people putting up their posts here.
Helpx is very similar to Workaway in that an annual fee (this time USD 23 for two years) is required before you can reach out to a host to begin organizing volunteering. They have marginally fewer projects than the other website.