Volunteering in Peru: A Comprehensive Guide
There are many ways to travel through Peru and enjoy its riches and unbelievable beauty. One of the most unique and rewarding ways to travel is by volunteering in Peru. Not only do you get to see the best of Peru, you also get to know it more profoundly and give back to the local community.
It is a great way to travel and we cannot applaud you enough for being willing to invest your time and energy into making Peru a better place. However, it can be tough choosing a programme or picking a place to volunteer. To help you figure it out, we’ve provided you with our guide to volunteering in Peru.
What kind of programmes are out there?
Peru is one of the most popular countries to do volunteer work in worldwide because of its flexible immigration policy, its socio-economic fragility and its capacity to offer something for everyone. This in turn means there is a wide range of volunteering opportunities out there. To help you get through the enormous amount of information available, we have listed our pick of some of the big and small volunteer organisations throughout Peru.
When you choose a project it’s important to decide really well what you want from the whole experience before diving in so you do not get tempted too much by something that wasn’t meant for you. We’ve made a checklist of questions that can help you get a better idea of what type of option you should be looking for when volunteering in Peru.
- How much time do you have?
- Is location important to you?
- Are you volunteering to travel or travelling to volunteer?
- Are you volunteering to learn a certain skill or do you want to help on a project that moves you?
- What is your budget for the entirety of your trip?
- What draws you to Peru?
- Do you want a lot of free time?
Once you know what you’re after, we wish you the best of luck in plowing through these providers to find the project that suits you best!
- Big, international and paid volunteering
- Local and paid volunteering
- Almost free volunteering
- A Special mention
- Help Exchange Websites
1. Big, International and Paid Volunteering
These organisations are internationally renowned but require high fees. In exchange, they offer all-inclusive packages with everything organised for you. They also provide assistance and support.
Their website: http://www.projects-abroad.org/volunteer-destinations/volunteer-peru/.
Projects Abroad started in 1992 to allow students to combine travel and work experience. Although it initially started with a few students teaching English in Romania, the organisation has grown and now offers many different kinds of projects. Currently, they have over 600 staff and so far they have helped more than 100 000 volunteers find a project. It is the biggest and most well-known volunteer organisation and whatever project you’d like to do, they probably have an answer.
Let’s have a look at the different types of programmes they offer:
- Volunteer and intern projects in Peru
Archaeology, general care projects, conservation, medicine & health care, sports, teaching and language courses in Qeuchua (the language of the Incas) and Spanish.
- High School Projects
Care projects and community & medicine.
- Projects for professionals
Archaeologists, dietitian, doctor, math teacher, midwife, nurse, physical education teacher, teacher trainer, vet.
- Global GAP
This programme lasts 27 weeks, spans 3 continents and five countries. Its programme has projects in Ghana, South Africa, Nepal, Thailand and Peru. You would spend 8 weeks in Peru teaching in the Sacred Valley. This programme costs a whopping $29,995!
Regular projects cost between $2300 and $4000 per month. Their programmes usually also have a registration fee between $50 and $600. In the total price of your project, the following is included:
- airport pick-up and drop-off
- necessary work-related transportation
- travel insurance
- medical insurance
- in-country induction with a staff member upon arrival
- support and 24 hour back-up from both our local and US/Canada staff
- pre-departure support
They do not include your flight or Visa fees.
Their website: https://www.volunteerhq.org/volunteer-in-peru-cusco/
Volunteer HQ offers volunteer programmes in Cusco or in Lima. They are partners with a local Peruvian organisation to support their community projects and provide local employment. Like Travel Abroad, they offer all-inclusive packages. Volunteer HQ however does not provide international insurance.
They have projects in childcare, special needs care, construction & renovation, jungle conservation, teaching English, medical assistance and animal care. Some projects you can combine with a Spanish learning course.
You can also apply for a project called Andean Immersion, which lets you volunteer in a small village in the Andes Mountains outside of Cusco. You would be staying with a local family that only speaks Quechua and a little bit of Spanish. Volunteering involves agricultural jobs, construction, wildlife-related tasks and they can also teach you traditional weaving skills.
If you are travelling during the Christmas Holidays, you can opt for their Holiday experience. All volunteer projects will be connected to the holidays. You can start the project on 25/12 or 01/01.
The prices of a normal volunteering project in Cusco are $295 and for Lima $180. Their holiday programme follows the general volunteering fee plus $75 extra per week. After the holidays, you can switch to a normal programme at a normal fee.
Programme fees include:
- airport pick-up
- breakfast and dinner during volunteer program period
- in-country 24/7 volunteer support
2. Local and Paid Volunteering
These programmes are local but require a decent investment from the volunteer.
Their website: https://skipperu.org/
For those who want to go off the beaten path and would prefer an entirely different kind of volunteering experience, there is always SKIP- Supporting Kids In Peru. SKIP is a non-profit organisation helping economically-disadvantaged children realise their right to an education. SKIP mostly work on the north coast of Peru in impoverished districts around Trujillo. Unlike the previously mentioned organisations, this non-profit exclusively organises projects in Peru.
They can offer volunteers either a 4-week or 9-month programme. These programmes can be extended of course.
Their 4-week programmes offer the following positions:
- Maths Teacher
- English Teacher
- Skatepark Volunteer
- Primary Programme Teacher or Assistant
- Fashion Designer
- Assistant Sports Coach
- Psychology Assistant
- Creative Arts Volunteer
- IT Teacher or Computer Specialist
- Communications Officer
- Youth Worker
- Holiday Club Volunteer
- Economic Development Volunteer
- Volunteer and Learn Spanish Programme
- International Social Work and Psychology Placements
- Library Volunteer
Their 9 month programmes offer the following positions:
- Creative Arts Leader
- Sports Coach Leader
- Finance Planning Coordinator
- Communications Leader
- Psychology Coordinator
- English Leader
- Social Work Practice Educator
- Volunteer Leader
You can tell from their programmes that this is entirely different. Here they are looking for people with experience in a very specific field, which can be a very interesting opportunity if you are looking to learn specific skills.
SKIP Peru is slightly more expensive than Volunteer HQ but allows volunteers to train more specific skills and you would exclusively be supporting a local organisation and community.
- Month 1-2: $480/month
- Month 3-5: $360/month
- Month 6-8: $250/month
- Month 9-12: $170/month
ENTERTAINMENT TIP: If looking for fun at night, or to watch sports during the day, or even a taste of home, visit the Wild Rover Hostels for great food, sports and beer! Entrance to their bars is free even for non-guests
Their website: https://proyectoperucentre.org/
Proyecto Peru was founded in Cusco in 2005. They prepare internships, volunteering opportunities with local projects and customise language programs – and they provide accommodation with homestay families!
Their volunteer programmes are in education, social work, medicine, marketing & communication, management & organisation, animal care, website & IT and they have environmental projects.
Although their projects are free, they require you to either pay for Spanish classes or take accommodation with them and make a $50 donation per month (you donate material etc.).
- Spanish classes go from $133/week
- Accommodation in a homestay (includes all meals) for $18/day
- Shared apartment (no meals included) for $12/day
So that would be minimum 540-$1150 per month, making this project pretty costly in the end. It is a great project if you want to combine your volunteering with a homestay and Spanish courses.
3. Almost Free Volunteering
Not everyone has thousands of dollars to spend, so for those who can’t, there are great alternatives. Here is our list of interesting programmes that require almost no financial contribution.
Their website: www.esperanzaverdeperu.com
Esperanza Verde is a wildlife rescue and rainforest conservation project in the Amazon basin of Peru that works together with the local community for sustainable management of the rainforest. The project owns 140 hectares of rainforest and needs volunteers.
The Wildlife Rescue Centre of Esperanza Verde provides shelter for dislocated native animals, most of them confiscated from illegal trade, and some have been abandoned by previous owners.
You would help with ongoing construction, such as building enclosures for the quarantine and veterinary clinic. You would participate in the reforestation project by replanting trees that originate from the area. Taking care of the animals is one of the most important daily tasks, along with ensuring that they are all kept fed and the enclosures kept clean and healthy. There are no qualifications needed.
You would stay at their volunteer house that can accommodate up to 12 volunteers, with shared rooms of 2 to 3 persons per room. There is a kitchen building with a living area and running water. There are cold showers and flushing toilets. There is no electricity or hot water.
The biggest city nearby is Pucallpa (about 3 hours away), but the town of Curimana is closer, about 1 hour away and you can find most necessities there. There you can find an internet place and make international phone calls. The village of the local community Bello Horizonte is just across the river. You would need to be able to stay for at least 6 weeks.
The price is $100 per week which covers food, lodging and includes a contribution for materials for the continued development of the centre.
The AYNI Project
Their website: https://ayniproject.com/
AYNI is a very small organisation based in Piura, Northern Peru. The foundation was founded in 2001 by a high school teacher that wanted to do something small to make a difference. In the meantime it has developed into a group of dedicated volunteers from all around the world.
The organisation works with a small rural community of indigenous Peruvians in Alto de los Mores where people battle extreme poverty. Their work changes depending on the evolution of the necessity in the community and includes various education and development initiatives ranging from micro-credit loans to tree-planting initiatives, to educational scholarships, etc.
At the Ayni Project, you would be teaching ESL and running arts & activities in the classroom plus running sports activities during recess time. After school you would help out in the library. Although the main focus is education, you would also do some development work. Weekends are usually free. They ask for minimum 3 months of your time or a full semester if possible.
They require a $200 deposit (after completion of your volunteering you get half back). Other than that, you provide your own accommodation, which they will help you with. It should be $50-100 per month for rent in Piura and the cost of living is quite cheap. They do not require fundraising beforehand but donations are welcome.
Other next to free programmes
- Volunteers South America http://www.volunteersouthamerica.net/
This website has a huge list of free volunteering projects that might interest you.
4. Special Mention
Not really belonging in the last two categories (as this site is more of a search engine than an agent), Go Overseas will help you find the project you’re looking for.
Their website: https://www.gooverseas.com/
This comparison website for volunteer projects is unique in that it does more than just list different projects. Go Overseas make sure only reputable projects get listed. They are a small company of just 20-30 that did volunteer programmes of their own and understand the difficulties of finding a programme that is valuable and they understand the risks you take when you travel halfway across the planet. Their site includes listings and reviews of programmes from all around the globe and in any field. It’s definitely worth having a look.
They have the following options: volunteer abroad, study abroad, teach abroad, internship abroad and high school abroad. They also offer GAP year programmes and TEFL courses. Their website has an easy search engine that lets you search per country and per type of project.
A search for Peru will give programme options including teaching, childcare, medical and construction and renovation. Some will have you stay in a hostel while others provide accommodation with a host family.
Price ranges are more difficult to give since they offer all kinds of programmes from many different providers. To give an example, there is a programme in Lima that costs $180 per week (including meals and accommodation, etc.) or another that has a $200 registration fee and costs $7 per night for accommodation in Arequipa, but doesn’t include food.
In general their prices are lower than their competition and they provide good low-cost opportunities. They do have more expensive programmes but in general they give good value. Go Overseas is a search website and even if they provide some assistance, you will arrange everything with your direct partner.
5. Help Exchange Websites
These websites are created to introduce people that are looking for help with people willing to get to work! They require almost no funds at all and are a great way to travel low budget. You would be able to help local communities and stay with local hosts and families, while learning new and varying skills.
Their website: https://www.workaway.info/
Workaway allows you to access their databae in search of places to volunteer. This is often for smaller projects of individuals running a hostel or ecofarms, etc.
It is almost free but they do require you to pay a registration fee on their website of $29/year for 1 person and $38 if you want to sign up as a couple. The exchange itself requires only your work and effort. In exchange you can sleep and/or eat for free depending on the host.
Just think of it this way. If you do only one project via workaway that lasts lets say 3 weeks, you already saved on 3-7 nights in a hostel! Their website is modern and easy to use but they put a restriction on daily inscriptions. Currently (while writing) there are 338 hosts listed.
Their website: http://www.helpx.net/
HelpX is the less modern little brother of Workaway. Although they offer a bunch of interesting projects, the website is really old and can be annoying to use. The system itself works fairly the same. Via this website you can get in touch with people looking for help in Peru. As I’m writing this, there are 139 available projects in Peru. You can sign up for HelpX for free and hosts will be able to contact you, but you can’t reach out to them. If you want to actively search their website and contact hosts, you need to become a premium member, which costs 20 euros for 2 years for 1 or 2 persons. It’s a bargain really.
HelpStay – https://helpstay.com/
$19.99/year for 1 person – 26.99/year for group (limited number of hosts in Peru)
WWOOF – http://www.wwoof-peru.com/
$18/person for 1 year (limited number of hosts in Peru)
If you think we are missing links or interesting projects, please mention it in the comments. We’re happy to constantly update and improve our guide on volunteering in Peru.