The Amazon Rainforest. Galapagos Islands. Mayan ruins. Latin America (comprising Central and South America) has endless opportunity to explore, discover, and immerse yourself in vibrant history and culture – and along with it, an enormous variety of impactful volunteer projects for travelers from all walks of life.
My first volunteer abroad experience was with a sea turtle conservation project in Costa Rica in 2005 – and I’ve been hooked on volunteer-traveling around Latin America ever since. And can you blame me? With rainforests, volcanoes, beaches, and plateaus, Latin America is one of the most gorgeously diverse regions of the world. It’s also one of the most diverse in terms of development: for example, Brazil is the seventh-richest country in the world, though 35 percent of its population lives in poverty. A Google search for “travel to Honduras” returns travel warnings among the first results, but between those links are inspirational and adventurous stories about snorkeling, zip-lining, and archaeological exploration.
So – as a volunteer traveler, what can you expect to take on in Latin America? It depends on what you’re looking for.
General International Volunteering Projects
Latin America can be an affordable option for students and other volunteers looking for short-term projects (especially for those flying from the United States and Canada), or those that allow you to explore your surroundings while taking on work that still benefits the community that’s hosting you. Start with International Volunteer HQ’s programs in Argentina or Colombia, or the Honduras volunteer program offered by Love Volunteers, or Maximo Nivel’s program in Costa Rica.
Skills-Based Volunteering and Internships Abroad
For volunteers and interns looking for an opportunity to sharpen your skills or gain hands-on experience in your major or career path, look no further: from A Broader View’s radio journalism internships in Argentina, to Love Volunteers’ healthcare and medical program in Honduras, there is no shortage of adventurous-yet-educational programs to take on to build your skill sets (and fine-tune your Spanish language) in Latin America.
Family and Group Volunteering Abroad
Not all volunteer abroad programs are meant for solo travelers and backpackers! Families, couples, and groups are welcome to take part in short-term service projects that allow you to get a taste of Latin American culture while benefitting social, environmental, and community-based projects alike. Check out IVHQ’s many Brazil volunteer programs, or Love Volunteers’ projects in Bolivia.
Read on for detailed information about just a few of the many volunteer opportunities available to you throughout Latin America!
International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) is one of the largest volunteer abroad organizations in the world, offering placements in more than 40 destinations with a dozen project types ranging from conservation to sports, to medical and health, and beyond. Founded in 2007, IVHQ has placed more than 80,000 volunteers – individuals, groups, and families – in affordable programs worldwide.
IVHQ’s Argentina Volunteer Abroad Programs
This one-week to 24-week program takes place in the center of Cordoba Province in the town of Villa Allende, a popular tourist spot in Argentina known for its university and cultural attractions. Through this program, you’ll have to option to volunteer in a range of projects including health care, where you’ll work in community clinics; community development; teaching; childcare (kindergarten and preschool); elderly care; special needs care (young adults); construction and renovation; and sports programs for children. In all of the care programs, placement is dependent on your level of the Spanish language, particularly for elderly and special needs care.
You’ll also have the option of taking Spanish language classes (recommended unless fluent) for an additional fee. The program includes two meals per day – breakfast and dinner – and housing accommodations. On the weekends, you’re encouraged to explore the Cordoba Province and the surrounding area. There are numerous cultural activities right in the area including museums, sports events, flea markets, and nightlife. Additionally, there are many outdoor activities such as horseback riding, mountain climbing, paragliding, trekking, and abseiling. And if that’s not enough, Buenos Aires is just a short flight or overnight bus ride away!
Pricing for this volunteer program starts at $325 for one week. All volunteers must be at least 18 years or older to participate. Click here to learn more and to sign up.
IVHQ’s Brazil Volunteer Abroad Programs
This program offers one-week to 24-week programs in Santa Teresa, a neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. The special one-week opportunity allows participants to volunteer on multiple projects while giving you a taste of Brazilian culture, which includes surfing, visiting local art exhibitions, and visiting the Corcovado mountains. Volunteer projects include working in a community garden, refurbishing local buildings (schools, community centers, etc.), and participating in sports programs.
For those wishing to stay for a longer period of time, volunteer programs include community development, teaching, sports programs with children, childcare, and costume/decoration design for Carnival. Volunteers who work on Carnival projects will work with local schools to create decorations and costumes for children.
You’ll also have the opportunity to take Portuguese lessons each week for an additional fee. The program covers breakfast and housing, plus a kitchen for you to cook in. On the weekends, volunteers have the chance to explore Rio de Janeiro and the surrounding area. Popular activities include relaxing on the beach, climbing Corcovado Mountain, visiting the statue of Christ the Redeemer, going to Sugar Loaf Mountain, exploring Iguaçu Falls, and trekking through the Amazon.
Pricing for this program starts at $380 for one week. All volunteers must be at least 18 years or older to participate. Click here to learn more and to sign up.
IVHQ’s Ecuador Volunteer Abroad Programs
The IVHQ Ecuador program ranges from one week to 24 weeks and is located in the country’s capital city of Quito and its surrounding urban and rural areas, depending on the project. Volunteer programs include assisting Ecuadorian teachers with kindergarten classes; providing school support (tutoring, extracurricular activities, etc.); providing administrative support to local schools with record keeping, fundraising, and grant writing, working with partner NGOs, public relations, and more; teaching; and other projects with children to keep them active and learning.
The program includes housing and two meals per day. Volunteers also have the option to participate in Spanish language classes for an additional fee. On the weekends, you can enjoy the art, history, and culture of Quito, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful cities in South America. You also can travel to the Galapagos Islands, horseback ride, hike, snorkel, and take on a variety of other activities.
Pricing for this program starts at $270 per week. All volunteers must be at least 18 years or older to participate. Click here to learn more and to sign up.
IVHQ’s Colombia Volunteer Abroad Programs
This program ranges from one week to 24 weeks and is located in Colombia’s capital city of Bogota and its surrounding suburbs. Volunteer programs include teaching, caring for the elderly, assisting in daycares, construction, and renovation of schools and community centers, and providing support to a food program, including preparing and distributing meals to those in need. Placement in care programs depends on your level of Spanish.
This program includes housing and three meals per day, Monday through Friday. Additionally, volunteers have the option to take Spanish language classes if you choose, for an additional fee. On the weekends, you’ll have time to relax and explore – popular activities include visiting museums, enjoying the culture and colonial architecture of the city center, listening to live music, and traveling a bit further outside of Bogota to hike in the mountains and experience the natural wonders of the Orinoquia region.
Pricing for this program starts at $270 for one week. All volunteers must be at least 18 years or older to participate. Click here to learn more and to sign up.
What Volunteers Say
IVHQ’s volunteer reviews speak to the quality of the organization – here’s what Danielle, who volunteered with IVHQ in Costa Rica, has to say:
What can I say about my time in San Jose, Costa Rica? I initially chose to go to San Jose to see a different rhythm of life. I chose IVHQ because of their great ratings for support. I’ve traveled before, and I can attest that I will be using IVHQ again! First, they have an orientation, and and the in country NGO that has super friendly staff ready to help out with anything and everything you need. Having the right support and preparation, in and out of country, is critical. IVHQ did an incredible job in that area. The placement was perfect for me. I’ll never forget a moment of my time teaching English in La Carpio. My host mom truly became my MOM over my two weeks in San Jose, and by the 2nd week, I truly felt like I hit my stride with the city.
Founded in 1997, Global Vision International (GVI) places more than 2,000 volunteers and interns abroad each year – and is one of the highest-rated and most-reviewed organizations on Volunteer Forever. GVI offers a variety of programs, from short-term volunteer projects to internships, to one-week adventure challenges. GVI’s Latin America programs are based in Mexico and Costa Rica.
Community Development Internship in Mexico
This 24-week program takes place in the picturesque town of Playa del Carmen and invites interns to assist with three core community development projects:
- Helping with therapies and activities for children who have special needs, and empowering children to know and apply their rights
- Assisting local veterinarians
- Raising awareness of pet care practices
Interns work in centers operated by project partners such as Save the Children, Equine Therapy Center, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and Coco’s Cat Rescue.
In addition to developing leadership and role model skills, you’ll also take 40 hours of Spanish language class with a native speaker. In your free time, you’re encouraged to explore the beauty and culture of the region. There are endless opportunities to snorkel, dive and relax by the sea, or to discover the ancient culture of the Mayans in the archaeological sites nearby.
This program starts at $8,590. Click here to learn more.
GVI’s Veterinary Project in Mexico
This program ranges from one week to 12 weeks and provides hands-on assistance to veterinarians in Playa del Carmen. As a volunteer, you’ll assist with neutering and spaying cats and dogs, help with the animal’s’ recovery, support animal welfare awareness, pitch in with fundraising efforts, and increase awareness of animal population control. Volunteers are provided with all necessary training prior to carrying out any activities in the program.
This program also offers optional Spanish lessons. All volunteers have off two days per week where you can enjoy Playa del Carmen’s white sandy beaches or travel to other regions.
This program starts at $1,690 per week. Click here to learn more.
GVI’s Jaguar Conservation in Costa Rica
Whilst living and working in Costa Rica’s rainforest, volunteers spend two weeks to 12 weeks assisting in the protection of endangered jaguars. You’ll search for signs of jaguars and their prey species by setting up remote cameras and surveying a 16-mile stretch of turtle nesting beach. Additionally, you will gain a holistic understanding of the Costa Rican rainforest and its ecosystem by conducting research on turtles and aquatic birds. This program is truly a unique opportunity for volunteers to contribute to the development and management of long-term wildlife conservation efforts along Central America’s Caribbean coast!
The Jaguar Conservation project starts at $2,100 for two weeks. Click here to learn more.
What Volunteers Say
I was in need of a career break, and was looking to do something out of the ordinary. I was looking to get far away and do something worthwhile. After some heavy research GVI continued to be the organization that ticked all the boxes. They were incredibly helpful when I was choosing my location, and the onsite assistance and support through out the entire journey was fantastic. I was so lucky to be involved in the Community development program of El Cocal, the children were amazing, I made some friends for life and hopefully one day soon I’ll return for a visit! It really was an unforgettable experience!
-Amelia, GVI Volunteer, Costa Rica
Maximo Nivel has offered a variety of volunteer programs, TEFL/TESOL certification programs, and native Spanish and native English programs since 2003. This organization partners with local NGOs to assist with eco-agriculture, teaching, construction, and lots more. With over 60 reviews on Volunteer Forever, Maximo Nivel maintains its five-star rating by offering quality placements that truly engage its volunteers in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru.
Maximo Nivel’s Volunteer Adventure programs are perfect for those who want to make the most of their service trips by volunteering and exploring but are unable to dedicate more than a few weeks to the project. These programs are 13 days long and include one week of volunteering and one week of travel and culture tours. All projects include housing and meals – volunteer program pricing starts at $585 per week.
Maximo’s Peru Volunteer Abroad Programs
Volunteers who wish to participate in the Peru program stay in Cusco, the historical capital of the Inca Empire located in the southeastern Andes Mountains. You’ll spend five days volunteering in the program of your choice, coupled with taking two hours of Spanish class per day. The remainder of the trip includes excursions to Machu Picchu, tours of Cusco and the Sacred Valley, and two days in Lake Titicaca and Puno. Click here to learn more.
Maximo’s Costa Rica Volunteer Abroad Programs
Volunteers in Maximo Nivel’s Costa Rica program stay in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica and a gateway to both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts and the country’s rainforests. You’ll spend five days volunteering in the program of your choice, plus take two hours of Spanish class each day. The remainder of the trip includes excursions to Poas Volcano, La Paz Waterfall, and Manuel Antonio National Park, as well as tours of San Jose, coffee farms, and Catamaran Tortuga Island. Click here to learn more.
Maximo’s Guatemala Volunteer Abroad Programs
Volunteers who participate in the Guatemala program stay in La Antigua, located in the central highlands of Guatemala. La Antigua is the most popular destination in the country for both tourists and locals alike due to its famous colonial architecture and spectacular ruins. Like the programs in Costa Rica and Peru, you’ll spend five days volunteering in the program of your choice and take two hours of Spanish class per day. The rest of the trip is dedicated to a variety of cultural activities including a hike to Volcano Pacaya, surf lessons on the beach in El Salvador, a zip line tour, and a few days in Tikal (airfare included). Click here to learn more and to sign up.
Maximo’s Intern Abroad, Medical Abroad, Study Abroad, and Gap Year Programs
In addition to the Volunteer Adventure Programs, Maximo Nivel offers a variety of internships – including a program for medical students – TEFL/TESOL certification and career support, study abroad opportunities for college credit, and long-term volunteer/gap year programs. All international programs are hosted in Peru, Costa Rica, or Guatemala.
What Volunteers Say
I came to Maximo Nivel with the intention of acquiring the skills needed in order to start a career in teaching English. Taking the Maximo Nivel TEFL course has solidified my intentions of becoming a TEFL teacher and has opened a door in my life, for me to start my new career. I will always be grateful and thankful to Maximo Nivel and to my trainer, who made our experience so special and was there right from the beginning, guiding us, being our mentor and keeping everything interesting and fun. I have learnt so much this last month and can not thank everyone enough. This TEFL course has been amazing and has given me foundations in which to build, grow and become a successful TEFL teacher anywhere in the world. I would recommend this TEFL course to anyone interested in teaching English abroad 🙂
-Julianne, Maximo Nivel Volunteer
Love Volunteers partners with NGOs in 35 countries in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, The Americas, and Asia to provide safe, affordable opportunities to volunteers worldwide. Projects include community development, environmental conservation, teaching and education, women’s empowerment, and more. Specialized programs are also available for volunteers with background or interest in law, media, engineering, and other skilled fields. Individuals, families, and groups are all welcome to join Love Volunteers. Love’s Latin American programs are based in Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, and Peru.
Love’s Galapagos Islands Volunteer Abroad Program
This spectacular program lasts two weeks to 12 weeks and is located on Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, the famous islands that inspired the work of Charles Darwin! The program includes housing and two to three meals per day. Participants of this program can choose to volunteer in a variety of areas including:
- Conservation: Develop methods for restoring the native species of the islands, reforestation, habitat restoration, organic agriculture, environmental education in local schools, and center maintenance and development.
- Teaching: Assisting a local English teacher with classes for children and teenagers.
- Childcare: Support daycare centers by playing with children, feeding those in need, assisting with the acquisition of social skills and language development, as well as helping children to do their homework.
You’ll work approximately eight hours per day, including Spanish classes if you wish to take up lessons, Monday through Friday. On the weekends, you can relax on the islands, travel to the capital, Quito, to enjoy the arts and culture of the city, horseback ride, hike, snorkel, and take part in a variety of other activities.
Pricing for this program starts at $770 for two weeks. All volunteers must be at least 18 years or older to participate. Click here to learn more and to sign up for this program.
Love’s Bolivia Volunteer Abroad Program
This two-week to a 24-week program is located in Cochabamba, the fastest-growing city in Bolivia, known for its Mediterranean-like climate and open-air markets. The main focus of this volunteer program is working with children and community development, including preschool education, English teaching, after-school care, and soccer coaching. You will also assist with preparing lesson plans, organizing and assisting with fundraising events, and other marketing activities to improve the outcomes of the project.
Housing and two meals Monday through Friday are included in this program, plus optional Spanish lessons. While Saturday hours may occasionally be required, most weekends are left to the volunteers to enjoy as you please. Popular activities include visiting cultural sites and other cities in Bolivia. Staff are happy to make recommendations if needed!
Pricing for this program starts at $220 for two weeks. All volunteers must be at least 18 years or older to participate. A basic understanding of Spanish is required. Click here to learn more and to sign up for this volunteer program.
Love’s Honduras Volunteer Abroad Program
This one-week to 24-week program is located in La Ceiba, Honduras and offers a variety of volunteer opportunities, including:
- Working with Children: Assist local staff in basic English lessons, organize games and art activities, supervise sports, and provide general classroom support.
- HIV/AIDS Program: Volunteers assist in carrying out the work of educating people about HIV and AIDS, in Spanish, through workshops in schools and in the community under the direct supervision of local experts. Additionally, you’ll work with specialists, give advice on disease prevention, and provide overall compassion and support.
- Healthcare and Medical: Volunteers who are registered nurses, medical students, or medical professionals have the option to participate in this program. You can choose from several specialties: general, emergency, maternal, and pediatrics. Requirements include equipping oneself with a medical textbook, white shoes, a stethoscope, gloves, scrubs, and masks, plus at least a beginner level of Spanish.
- Dental Program: This program is offered to those studying the field or those who have a relevant degree. Depending on experience, volunteers usually assist dentists in their work, prepare and sterilize equipment, carry out cleaning and maintenance duties, and visit public schools to educate children about oral hygiene.
- Special Education: Volunteers help at an elementary school in La Ceiba catering to children from kindergarten to the end of primary school who have minor physical and mental disabilities, including Down syndrome. A basic understanding of Spanish is required.
- Teaching and Assisting in Schools: You’ll work alongside English teachers to give lessons to students of all levels and ages. Additional duties include helping children with their homework, arranging games and activities, cleaning the classroom, and assisting teachers with administrative duties.
This program includes housing and three meals per day. Spanish classes are available if desired. On the weekends, volunteers are encouraged to explore the surrounding area, and enjoy outdoor activities such as canoeing and rafting, zip-lining, and visits to butterfly farms.
Pricing starts at $190 per week. All volunteers must be at least 18 years or older to participate. Click here to learn more and to sign up.
Love’s Panama Volunteer Abroad Program
This eight-week to 24-week program takes place in Mamoni River, located in the heart of the Panamanian rainforest, and focuses on environmental protection. The mission of this project is to create a healthy and productive ecosystem in the Mamoni River valley that promotes responsible environmental practices while incorporating Panamanian traditions and the needs of the local community. Volunteers talk and collaborate with local farmers, pitch in with the construction of new facilities, learn about the local flora and fauna and tropical forestry, and assist visiting researchers with their studies at the Mamoni Bio-tropical Centre (MaBiC).
This program includes housing in eco-friendly cabins and three meals per day (strictly vegetarian), five days per week. On the weekends, you’re free to explore the local area and towns, go hiking, swimming, whitewater rafting, or simply relax at the campsite.
This program starts at $720 for four weeks, and it is recommended that volunteers have a basic understanding of Spanish. All volunteers must be at least 18 years or older to participate. Click here to learn more and to sign up.
What Volunteers Say
Love Volunteers is such an amazing organization. I can’t stress enough how kind and helpful they were doing the whole trip process. They were happy to answer any question I asked, and made the process as smooth as possible. I would recommend Love Volunteers to everyone. I can’t thank them enough for helping give me this opportunity. It easily was the greatest experience of my life, and I can’t wait to do it again.
-Delaney and Jordan
It goes without saying that you want to find a high-quality volunteer program. For volunteer projects in South America and Latin America, look no further than Abroadly, Volunteer Forever’s booking platform. This is where you’ll discover the most suitable programs in minutes. You can search based on program type, location, budget, and other preferences.
When you apply through Abroadly, not only is the application fee 100% refundable if you’re not accepted, you also get free access to Volunteer Forever’s crowdfunding platform and the chance to win a $500 scholarship. That could make your trip to Argentina, Peru, Guatemala or elsewhere much more affordable.
All volunteer programs in South America listed on Abroadly have been inspected for safety, quality, and ethical commitment. So, when you find a program you like, apply! Start your search here.
Join Maximo Nivel on a trip to Costa Rica, where you’ll work to protect endangered sea turtles. The country is home to five of the seven sea turtle species, making it a top destination for those who want to see this precious creature not just survive, but thrive. Main duties include nightly patrols of nesting grounds, egg counting, nest relocation, tagging, and more.
You can choose to volunteer on the Caribbean or Pacific Coast. Either way, you’ll be staying at a volunteer house or with a local family near the ocean. How amazing does that sound? You’ll pay $1,105 for two weeks, and can stay up to 12 weeks. Interested? Get more details and apply here!
Created to provide essential healthcare services to Quito’s most vulnerable and impoverished residents, this internship program offered by Love Volunteers allows you to shadow local doctors and staff at a hospital, clinic, or care facility. You’ll gain an understanding of the country’s medical system as you help with medical care as needed. This is a great program for aspiring doctors and nurses.
Please note that this is mostly an observational and supportive role. Depending on your education and experience, you may be able to have more hands-on involvement.
During free time, check out all Quito has to offer. The city is known for its rich colonial and indigenous architecture, as well as natural sites like Pichincha Volcano. You’ll pay $848 for one week, and can stay up to 12 weeks. Interested? Get more details and apply here!
Go on the adventure of a lifetime with Bamba Experience in Peru. If you’re looking to combine volunteering and travel, this is a great program. First, make a difference by working to protect the amazing biodiversity and beauty of Amazon, which makes up more than half of the world’s remaining rainforests. You’ll volunteer at the Taricaya Ecological Reserve, where you’ll engage in biodiversity research, wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and release, turtle repopulation and building and trail maintenance.
After the volunteer project concludes, you’ll head off to Machu Picchu, the most magnificent creation of the Inca Empire. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and absolutely a must-visit for anyone in the world.
The program fee is $2,194 for two weeks. Interested? Get more details and apply here!
Since its start in 2007, A Broader View has placed volunteers in more than 20 countries throughout Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. Projects range from one week to three months, with placements customized to your interests and background. A Broader View partners with local NGOs, private institutions, and community organizations to support and guide volunteers on carefully selected projects. Volunteers may choose from programs spanning education, healthcare, wildlife, childcare, and beyond. A Broader View’s Latin America programs are based in Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.
A Broader View’s Nicaragua Volunteer Program: Women’s Support Center
This program ranges from one week to 12 weeks and is located in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. You’ll spend Monday through Friday volunteering at a women’s support center that aims to provide opportunities for girls, teens, and adult women of low-income backgrounds. All teaching at the center has the overall objective of facilitating economic independence, dignity, and the discovery of one’s own abilities. Volunteers help teach English and provide vocational support in handicraft training, herbal medicine, and cooking.
This program includes housing and three meals per day. Volunteers have the weekends off and are free to sightsee as you wish. This program starts at $995. Click here to learn more.
A Broader View’s Cordoba, Argentina Program: Animal Reserve
Located in Cordoba, Argentina, this one-week to eight-week conservation program offers volunteers a hands-on experience at an animal rescue center. Participants are trained in areas such as nutrition and wild animal handling, tourism, managing native seed bank, conservation, and more! Typically, you’ll spend six to eight hours per day working five days per week.
Housing and meals are included in the program fee. On the weekends, volunteers will be able to explore as you wish. Intermediate Spanish is required for this program and the age limits are 18-45. The program starts at $895. Click here to learn more and to sign up.
A Broader View’s Cordoba, Argentina: Radio Program
This one-week to eight-week program is perfect for volunteers looking to make great use of your communications skills! Geared toward journalists and aspiring journalists, the goal of this program is to promote and exchange cultural ties with volunteers while giving you the opportunity to improve your Spanish language through interaction with various broadcasters and producers. You’ll also have the opportunity to work on several radio programs and help sound check for musicians. This program is located in the heart of Cordoba.
Housing and meals are included in the program fee. You’ll volunteer Monday to Friday and have the weekends free to explore. The age limits are 18-35 and pricing starts at $895. Click here to learn more.
A Broader View’s San Jose, Costa Rica: Paramedical & Rescue Program
This four- to eight-week program offers you the unique opportunity to support the work of professional paramedics. Volunteers accompany the medical team and provide emergency medical support throughout the city of San Jose. Additionally, you will gain knowledge and experience in stabilizing patients, first aid, rescue scenarios, fire prevention, and evacuation. This program may also be combined with A Broader View’s Spanish language immersion program, giving you the opportunity to improve upon your Spanish speaking skills.
Housing and meals are included in the program fee. Participants volunteer Monday through Thursday for 10 hours each day and have the remainder of the week free to explore. All volunteers must be 18 or older and be proficient in Spanish. Pricing starts at $1,295 plus $400 per month for medical equipment expenses. Click here to learn more.
What Volunteers Say
A Broader View has more than 80 reviews on Volunteer Forever and a five-star rating overall. Here’s what Ana has to say about her experience in Chile:
I volunteered to gain a better understanding of day to day Chilean life, improve my Spanish and learn traditional children songs and games. I achieved all three and will have a pen pal relationship between the nursery school in La Serena and my Spanish speaking pre-k in Minnesota I wanted to thank A Broader View for your flexibility in letting me extend my stay in service. I am deeply grateful and I want to thank Lone for arranging my volunteer-ship at the nursery school. It has been a valuable experience and I have formed lasting ties with the teachers there. Sincerely, Ana Louise Miranda.
A leading ecotourism company, GoEco launched in 2006 with the goal of giving volunteers unique experiences and the chance to make a real impact. Known for their transparency and affordability, GoEco successfully placed more than 15,000 volunteers abroad in their first 12 years. Recommended by the likes of the Boston Globe, USA Today, and the Today Show, GoEco offers many excellent service opportunities in South America and Latin America. Whether you want to be a medical volunteer in Peru or help out at a monkey sanctuary in Ecuador, GoEco has a program to suit your needs. Check out a few below.
Ready for an adventure? This program takes you deep into the Belizean jungle, where you’ll help Mayan families with sustainable farming initiatives. The goal is to create sustainable agricultural and food processing jobs for the local community. Specifically, you’ll assist farming families in and around the town of Punta Gorda with harvesting cacao and making chocolate for export.
During free time, you can enjoy river sunset cruises, cave explorations, snorkeling, and more. Sound like the perfect volunteer trip? Find out more and apply here (from $880 for one week).
Head to Santiago to work with therapy horses and assist in the therapy of disabled individuals. This program focuses on physical and emotional therapy for patients with autism, down syndrome, and other developmental disabilities. As you assist with therapy classes, guide horses, clean stables, and play games with patients, you’ll see the impact you’re having immediately.
When you’re not volunteering, have fun in Santiago, a happening cosmopolitan city with sites like Santa Lucía Hill and La Moneda Palace. To learn more about this wonderful project, check out GoEco’s site. Fees begin at $1,720 for four weeks.
Want to teach art in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro? This amazing project gives you that opportunity. Paint staircases, walls, sidewalks, and other structures with local children. By teaching art, you’ll not only be helping the children learn a useful skill, you’ll also be giving them a fun and safe way to spend time with friends and make their neighborhood more beautiful.
What’s also nice about this program is that you get the chance to experience bustling Rio and all its entertainment and culture. If all that sounds awesome, click here to learn more and apply (from $800 for one week).
Another wildlife program possibility is the Animal Rescue and Conservation program! This particular one works with three different sanctuaries in Costa Rica -all which rescue and rehabilitate sloths and other native species.
Founded in 2009, Global Nomadic provides volunteer adventures and teach abroad programs, as well as internships to young professionals and those wishing to change their career paths. Programs range from veterinary science to community development, to education and beyond, and volunteers and interns work in partnership with NGOs, charities, and community-based organizations to make a difference locally and personally. Global Nomadic’s Latin America programs are based in Costa Rica, Argentina, Nicaragua, Brazil, and Belize.
Global Nomadic’s Brazil Program: Health Education and Awareness
This program is offered for a minimum of three weeks in the vibrant city of Rio de Janeiro. Geared toward those studying public health, education, and/or community welfare, this program provides you with the opportunity to work full or part-time with at-risk youth. Volunteers help develop and implement health care strategies and activities throughout the city while working with local community partners and NGOs. During your free time, you are encouraged to explore the city and surrounding area.
This program starts at $910 and includes housing, breakfast, and Portuguese lessons. All participants must be at least 18 years old. Click here to learn more and to sign up.
Global Nomadic’s Brazil Program: Home Construction
Similar to the Health Education and Awareness Project, this program is also offered for a minimum of three weeks in Rio de Janeiro. During your stay, volunteers will help build better and safer homes for residents in low-income communities. No background in construction necessary! All participants will be trained during your stay.
This program starts at $910 and includes housing, breakfast and Portuguese lessons. All participants must be at least 18 years old. Click here to learn more.
Global Nomadic’s Amazonian Peru Program: Wildlife Rehabilitation
Located in the Amazon jungle of northern Peru, this three-plus-week program is perfect for those looking for hands-on experience with animals! Volunteers will have the opportunity to work closely with scientists and professionals in the field, work in reforestation, rehabilitate wild animals, create and maintain cages, and learn about conservation education and categorizing fauna and flora.
This program starts at $75 per week and includes housing and meals. Note, housing has neither electricity nor hot water. Participants must be at least 18 years old. Click here to learn more and to sign up.
Global Nomadic’s Nicaragua Volunteer Program
This program starts at one week and offers a variety of volunteer opportunities. Participants can choose to volunteer at schools (if you have TEFL certification), on a small organic farm, animal rehabilitation, or at a library. This program starts at $250 per week and includes all housing and meals. Click here to learn more.
What Volunteers Say
This experience was probably the hardest and most memorable thing i have ever done. I met the greatest people from all over the world who gave me great laughs and support through the whole month. I learned a lot from myself Coming out of this experience i am more independent and open to more things that i never thought i could do. A big thanks to Paul and Zoey who have opened their house, lives and hearts to all the volunteers coming in as well as all the animals they care about dearly. The project is a diamond in the rough. I would also like to thank Global Nomadic for helping me find them and giving me the experience of a lifetime.
-Tara, Global Nomadic Volunteer, Belize
Lead Adventures invites solo travelers, couples, and families to volunteer and travel throughout the Ecuadorian Amazon, Andes, and Galapagos Islands. Programs focus on environmental conservation and animal welfare and include adventure tours, educational activities, and sightseeing. Customized trips and trips for those aged 35+ also are available through Lead Adventures.
Lead Adventures’ Andes Animal Welfare and Rescue Project
This program starts at two weeks and is located in northern Ecuador, about 2.5 hours away from the capital, Quito (by bus). Volunteers work at the Andes Lakes region Animal Center for wildlife animal protection. Participants of this program spend the bulk of your time working to help the center maintain its animal enclosures. The most important job of each day is preparing the animals’ food and cleaning their cages. Projects are varied, but they usually involve physical work such and maintaining and building new habitats. Animals that live at the center include oncillas, lions, sloths, spider monkeys, cusumbos, boas, turtles, and a variety of birds.
In your free time, you can explore the many lakes in the region, the colonial towns, or travel to the larger Quinto for a taste of Ecuadorian city life. This program starts at $880 and includes housing and all meals. Click here to learn more.
Lead Adventures’ True Galapagos Experience
This 10-day to three-week program combines excursions and wildlife interaction with volunteer activities on several different islands. During your time on the islands, participants will assist scientists in various conservation projects. Additionally, there will be ample time to see all that the Galapagos Islands have to offer – planned excursions include snorkeling, visiting Charles Darwin Station, observing giant turtles and white tip sharks, hiking, and more! Pricing starts at $2,100 and includes housing, some meals, and planned excursions. Click here to learn more and to sign up.
Lead Adventures’ Family Volunteering Program
This unique program in Ecuador offers the opportunity to take your family vacation up a notch by volunteering in a variety of locations, including the Andes, the Galapagos Islands, and the Amazon. You can customize your trip by mixing and matching different opportunities including volunteering at an animal rescue center, coaching sports, tutoring kids, and so much more! Of course, there will also be plenty of time for fun: popular include snorkeling, hiking to volcanoes, rafting, and visiting the capital.
Pricing ranges depending on the length and location of the trip. Contact staff for more info, and click here to learn more about this program.
Lead Adventures’ Amazon Animal Welfare and Rescue Program
This program offers you the opportunity to help improve animal welfare while living in the Amazon Rainforest! Spanning two weeks or more, volunteers will help with the center’s day-to-day tasks. These activities include:
- Build, improve and maintain enclosures
- Prepare and distribute food to the animals
- Clean enclosures
- Clear and maintain access paths
- Assist with botanical studies in the Amazon
During your free time, volunteers are encouraged to explore the surrounding area. Popular destinations include Banos, a town known for its many adventure activities; tour the jungle, and visit the National Park Yasuni.
Pricing starts at $880 and includes housing and meals. Click here to learn more.
Crees Manu offers two-week to 12-week volunteer programs in the Amazon rainforest, where you’ll assist with community education, community development, and environmental conservation. Six-month internships also are available. 100% of Crees Manu’s profits benefit the conservation efforts in the Manu Biosphere Reserve.
Crees offers volunteer programs ranging from one week to 12 weeks, all with a focus on biodiversity and conservation. The one-week program is ideal for families and groups, with tasks like data collection, animal tracking, and survey recording. Crees’ most popular volunteer program lasts four weeks, where participants will take part in biodiversity monitoring, data collection, jungle treks, reforestation, community work, education, and cultural exchange.
For those interested in pursuing a career in conservation, community development, or project management, Crees Manu offers six-month internships. Participants stay at the Manu Learning Centre research station and receive three meals per day during the duration of your internship. Internships are split into three parts: a 10-week volunteer program, a two-week stay in Cusco, and a 12-week work placement. Work placements vary depending on interns’ skills and background and may focus on geography, environmental sciences, agriculture, zoology, animal behavior, ecology, or conservation biology.
What Volunteers Say
I undertook a six month internship with the crees foundation at their research centre – the Manu Learning Centre – in the Peruvian Amazon. I had an amazing time and learnt so much. As a volunteer you get experience of all the conservation research projects at the MLC – including monitoring endangered blue headed macaws, camera traps, butterfly traps, mistnetting, pitfall traps and nocturnal surveys of amphibians and reptiles. Volunteers also go to the nearest small town – Salvacion – to participate in community projects such as agroforestry and biogardening. It is hard work and not without its challenges, but it’s very rewarding. At the end of each month the volunteers go on a 4 day expedition for a well deserved break. The expeditions are great and involve visiting indigenous communities, and other fun activities such as white water rafting and trips to waterfalls.
As an intern during my volunteer phase I had weekly meetings with a mentor, where was given feedback on my progress and also given weekly objectives. The staff ensure that you are prepared for your work placement and have the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed.
The 12 week work placement went so fast. You are kept busy leading specific projects that are assigned to you but also working on other projects as well. By the end of the six months you are effectively an expert in your field – whether it’s frogs, snakes, butterflies or birds! Highlights of my time with crees include camping in primary rainforest, climbing up a 30m tree, catching a rainbow boa and watching tadpoles develop into beautiful frogs.
Overall I had an amazing experience and made friends for life. The community at the MLC is friendly and welcoming and it is more like a home than a workplace. My time in the Peruvian rainforest totally transformed my view of the world. I learnt so much about the rainforest and conservation research. – Liv, Crees Volunteer, Peru
Founded in 1996, Quest Overseas offers a variety of adventurous programs for travelers worldwide. Participants may sign up for Gap Teams, which incorporate a volunteer project or expedition – or a mix of both – or you can sign up for Challenge Teams, which incorporate sporting events and short-term adventure travel opportunities. Volunteers embarking on Gap Teams travel in small groups of other gap year travelers and receive full support from Quest Overseas to ensure safety – a top priority for gap year travelers, many of whom are traveling abroad without family for the first time. Quest Overseas offers Latin American placements in Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia.
Quest’s Villa Maria Summer Project
This Lima, Peru program starts at four weeks and offers a hands-on opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. Volunteers will work to build housing for those who need it the most and help with community building by organizing sports, games, and stage shows to help engage children in positive activities.
At the end of this program, you’ll have the option to join a two-week expedition through the Andes biking, rafting, hiking, and visiting the Inca trail to Machu Picchu.
This program starts at £1,100. Click here to learn more about this project.
What Volunteers Say
I traveled with Quest Overseas to Villa Maria in 2011, it wasn’t a hard decision for me when choosing who to take my gap year with, Quest just stood out as a transparent, genuine company who truly care for each of their projects and have been working a long time to build up their reputation overseas.
We organised and ran games and holiday activities for the deprived children of Villa Maria, a large slum on the outskirts of Lima, Peru. face-painting, dance routines to backstreet boys, you name it! Each day ended with an hour in the local pool being used as human climbing frames by dozens of excited kids.
The language phase in Ecuador before we went to Villa Maria also helped massively just with basin conversation with the children and when you were out in the town and things. There was great nightlife which our Spanish tutors took us out on so we got to see the REAL Ecuador as opposed to the tourist trail.
I would definitely go back and recommend Quest Overseas gap year trips to anyone looking for a gap year trip that involves volunteering and lots of fun. The Quest Staff and local staff were great creating the right balance between providing advice, support and direction and allowing us freedom and independence.
-Hannah, Quest Overseas Volunteer, Peru
Volunteer Eco Students Abroad (VESA) partners with local, community-based initiatives to engage student volunteer groups in education, sanitation, and water supply activities. In addition to volunteering work, students take part in eco- and adventure tours such as white water rafting, hiking, and more. While volunteers of all ages are encouraged to join VESA, most participants are 18 to 25 years old. VESA is a fantastic organization to check out if you’re looking to combine adventure and volunteering abroad with a group of fun, like-minded participants.
Volunteer Eco Students Abroad’s Amazonas Explored Program
This two-week volunteer program invites you to Ecuador, where you’ll spend your first week helping with a variety of projects, including restoring schools, providing remote villages with access to clean water, and building the infrastructure for basic necessities such as toilets. The second week is filled with adventure! You’ll explore the Amazon, hike, canoe, white water raft, and visit the Andes Mountains.
The starting cost for this two-week Ecuadorian program is $1,895. Click here to learn more.
What Volunteers Say
VESA has a five-star rating on all counts: quality, value, support, and overall. Check out this review from Brittanie, who volunteered with VESA in Ecuador:
What an amazing opportunity. VESA made the entire process super easy and I would recommend this program to anyone, I am even looking at participating in another program this year! I volunteered in the Ecuador program and although it was a lot of physical work, at the end of the day, it was the best feeling to see the locals smile as I knew I had done something great for their entire community.
Ready to Volunteer Abroad in Latin America?
If you’re ready to take the Latin American volunteer trip of a lifetime – and hopefully this list of amazing opportunities gave you just a few ideas!
And as you start preparing for your travels, be sure to read through a few other articles right here on Volunteer Forever! Here’s how fellow volunteers raised more than $20,000 to volunteer abroad, and here’s how you can make sure you sign up for an ethical volunteer project that makes the best use of your skills and interests. If you’re still weighing your options in Latin America, check out this list of Volunteer Forever’s best programs for 2015.