Volunteer Programs and Projects in Peru
If you’re ready to embark on an adventure like no other, Peru should be on your must-visit list. Ancient ruins such as those at Machu Picchu - and a trek along the Inca Trail - are some of the most popular tourist attractions in the country, though there is so much more to see.
VOLUNTEER IN PERU
Peru has among the most diverse landscapes in the world: the country has 28 individual climates between the snow-capped Andes, arid deserts, Amazon jungles, gorgeous beaches and islands, and the deepest canyons in the world. You can explore remote villages, small towns, and bustling cities like Cusco, the gateway to Machu Picchu and the ancient Inca capital. Peru is a welcoming and beautiful country for travelers worldwide, with amazing culture, colorful history, and wonderful people - though it’s also a developing country that benefits from the support of volunteers who want to make a difference and build a better future for people and communities in need.
Nearly one-third of Peruvians live beneath the poverty line - that’s about 8 million people - and communities most affected are rural or remote villages largely comprised of indigenous families. Cities are affected by poverty as well: Lima in particular has experienced rapid growth in recent years, but is in great need of sustainable community development as well as support for those living in shanty towns and unable to afford proper education or healthcare.
Some of the best ways you can make a difference in Peru are through education, healthcare, community development, and construction and infrastructure improvement. Peru is an excellent place both to teach English and other subjects, and to pick up Spanish: Cusco has many Spanish schools, and some of the organizations highlighted in this article have Spanish immersion programs in Peru. If you’re a student or professional in the healthcare or medical field, there are clinics, hospitals, and community outreach programs you can work in to improve your skills and to teach people about proper nutrition, disease prevention, and hygiene. And if you want to help literally build communities, construction and clean water programs abound, particularly in small towns and villages.
If you’re ready to start exploring the many ways you can see Peru and give back to the communities welcoming you to this amazing country, read on!
7 GREAT PROGRAMS IN PERU
For more than 30 years, Global Volunteers has invited travelers to embark on internships, volunteer vacations, gap years, TEFL, and teach abroad placements in 34 countries worldwide.
This organization strives to make a lasting and positive impact through community service in more than 200 different locations: in 1999, Global Volunteers was granted Special Consultative Status with the United Nations, and in 2008 formalized a relationship with UNICEF.
As a volunteer, you can be sure safety is Global Volunteers’ priority as well, with CPR and first aid certification provided to team leaders, emergency medical evacuation insurance provided for volunteers serving outside of the US, and emergency contact available 24 hours per day.
Through Global Volunteers, you’re invited to teach, mentor, volunteer, and learn in Peru. On this program, you’ll be able to choose from several different project focuses, all of which support children by teaching, supporting, and helping them build bright futures for themselves. For one to two weeks, you can take on the following:
English teaching: Practice conversational English with schoolchildren as well as with university students
Early childhood education: Support children aged 1 to 5 years old through arts and crafts, storybooks, playtime, and more
Healthcare and hygiene education: Teach how to prevent the spread of infectious disease, assist with medical and dental screenings, provide direct care through lice treatments and eye exams, and much more
Numeracy tutoring: Depending on your Spanish language ability, work one-on-one or in small groups to develop math comprehension for students of all ages
To learn more about volunteering in Peru with Global Volunteers, please click here.
Since 2004, Global Leadership Adventures has provided impactful travel opportunities for teens and high schoolers by combining community service with hands-on learning and adventure. Emphasizing safety (as outlined in GLA’s five-point safety system), this organization sends thousands of travelers to 23 different countries every year on projects ranging from public health, to community development, and much more. And as a leader in youth development, Global Leadership Adventures’ co-founder was recognized by President Obama for making a positive impact in Africa. GLA currently offers three programs in Peru: Service in the Sacred Valley, Spanish Service Adventure, and Amazon Service Adventure.
This amazing trip invites you to help alleviate rural health issues, trek to Machu Picchu, go river rafting, and immerse yourself in Peruvian culture. As a volunteer, you will help with public health projects for women and children by constructing greenhouses, building communal fish farms, and much more. You also will learn about culture in the Sacred Valley are through dance and music workshops, visiting a local llama and alpaca farm, talking with a traditional shaman, and shopping in a local market. And for adventure, you’ll explore the city of Cusco, hike to Machu Picchu, and even go whitewater rafting. This program lasts two to three weeks, with a tuition starting at $3,499 - learn more and sign up here.
Through this Spanish immersion program, you will have the chance to improve your language skills, volunteer on local community projects, and much more. For the community service portion of your trip, you will help with development projects that benefit children and families in a rural area. Through cultural exchange, you’ll improve your Spanish speaking skills through talking with locals during service and cultural activities - plus you’ll be able to attend Andean music and dance workshops, listen to talks about cosmology, and even meet with traditional healers. For the adventure side of your trip, you will go hiking to Machu Picchu, and go rafting, biking, and much more. This 21-day trip is open right now for summer travelers - learn more and register here!
On Global Leadership Adventures’ Amazon Service Adventure in Peru, you’ll have the amazing opportunity to learn about wildlife and the Amazonian ecosystem while going on an adventure like no other. To start, you’ll volunteer with a community service project that directly impacts the education and health of people living in this region, through planting trees, starting a school arboretum, and even providing computer lessons for local children. Through hands-on learning, you will learn about environmental protection by exploring Iquitos, shopping at the Belén Market, and visiting a wildlife rescue center. You also will go hiking through the jungle, compete in a wilderness survival challenge, and take part in a raft-building competition and race on the Mazan River. This 14-day program has a tuition of $3,399, and is open right now for summer break travelers - learn more and sign up here!
With many programs throughout Latin America, Maximo Nivel offers several opportunities to visit Peru, learn about the country and its culture, and impact the lives of people you’ll meet. Through Maximo Nivel’s placements in Peru, you can learn Spanish, volunteer, pursue an internship, teach English, and study abroad for university credit. Maximo Nivel’s volunteer programs start from $595 for your first week abroad, and includes airport pickup, housing, two meals per day, program orientation and management, classes, and much more.
Maximo Nivel invites you to help protect Peru’s landscape and ecosystems through its jungle conservation volunteer program. As a volunteer, you’ll help with several different tasks depending on the needs of your program, including:
Reforestation, including planting trees and shrubs, and removing invasive species
Wildlife and animal monitoring, including observing and counting birds, insects, amphibians, and primates
Leading workshops for the community to educate about environmental protection
You’ll work four to six hours per day, Monday through Saturday, and you’re asked to stay at least two weeks. Your work is incredibly important to ongoing efforts to research, understand, and protect one of the world’s last primary forests, and to protect the plants and wildlife that live in it. To learn more, click here.
If you’re interested in social work, international development, or another related field, check out Maximo Nivel’s human rights internship in Peru. Through this program, you’ll work with a community organization, NGO, or government agency to help drive positive change through social justice and human empowerment. You’ll work alongside social workers and other professionals to help with community outreach, education, research, and fundraising while learning about Peru’s culture, social values, and much more. This internship starts from four weeks, and you must have intermediate Spanish language skills to sign up. If you’re not a Spanish speaker, Maximo Nivel has an online Spanish class or a Native Spanish Program to help prepare you for your internship in Peru. Click here to learn more.
One of the best ways to make a positive difference for people in need is through education - and Maximo Nivel has an amazing English teaching program you can sign up for right now in Peru. Most public schools in Peru don’t teach high-quality ESL to their students, and private schools that do have better classes can be unaffordable to many people in poor communities. As a volunteer, you’ll help develop people’s educational and professional prospects through teaching in a public school, community center, after-school program, shelter for street children, or at other locations by creating lesson plans, teaching courses, tutoring students, organizing games and activities, fundraising, and much more. While this program starts from one week, Maximo Nivel encourages you to stay longer to learn as much as you can from your project, and to help your students as best as you can. To learn more and to sign up, visit this page.
Right now, Maximo Nivel is offering fall and spring semester, winter term, and summer term study abroad programs where you can study part-time or full-time in Peru for university credit. There are several programs available, including:
Service learning, where you can specialize in animal care, construction, medical care, and more
Internships specializing in education, hospitality and tourism, human rights, and more
Spanish studies, with several courses for beginner and intermediate speakers, composition, advanced grammar, and much more
Medical studies, where you can learn about community medicine, medicinal plants, public health, and other topics
Conservation and science, where you’ll take courses in ecology and conservation, tropical coastal marine systems, and other areas in conservation and biology
Interdisciplinary studies, where you can learn about international development and business
Specific courses may vary from term to term, and some programs may qualify for financial aid. Depending on your program, courses may be taught in English or Spanish, and Maximo Nivel strongly recommends you add courses from their Native Spanish Program and Tandem Conversation Program. Throughout your stay in Peru, you’ll live with a host family or in a private apartment or student residence, and on your weekends, you’re free to explore the area, take a tour (either arranged by Maximo Nivel or scheduled on your own), or just relax. To learn more about studying abroad in Peru, click here.
What Volunteers Say: Review from Alexa
I went to Cusco, Peru on a one-way ticket back in 2009 and had the time of my life. Maximo was a big contributor to my positive experience. I volunteered with underprivileged kids and helped paint a battered women's shelter. I also took inexpensive Spanish lessons with them.
The accommodation they provided was great (I recommend Arcopata Family House). I lived with fellow participants of the program in a house and was provided really good meals. When I got sick, they had a doctor come to the house to check on me and give me medicine too.
After volunteering, I became TEFL certified with them during a 4-week course.
All in all, I was very impressed, and I would recommend them to anyone. The experience changed my life.
If you’re looking for an affordable, impactful volunteer opportunity, check out International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ). Since 2007, IVHQ has sent more than 62,000 volunteers around the world on 150 projects spanning from childcare, to community building, to medical care, and beyond. With programs in North and South America, Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Pacific, IVHQ has no shortage of opportunity for travelers who want to make a difference and pursue adventure. And depending on where you go, your program fee starts from just $180.
IVHQ offers a wide variety of volunteer projects in two different locations in Peru: in Lima and in Cusco. In Cusco, you can choose from 10 different programs to sign up for, with each hosting between 20 and 60 volunteers each month. And in Lima, IVHQ offers four different placements, with anywhere between 5 and 20 volunteers signing up each month. Depending on which project you take part in, you can stay with a host family, in a volunteer house, or dormitory-style accommodations, and your program fee in Peru starts from $180, plus a registration fee of $279.
One of the many volunteer projects you can sign up for with IVHQ in Peru is a Special Needs Care program in Cusco. As a volunteer, you’ll work in a home for mentally and physically disabled children, and will assist in the children’s personal care by providing specialized attention, helping with feeding, assisting with clothing and bathing, and organizing crafts and games for playtime. The children in this care center have a range of disabilities, so you may need to help them with basic functions and skills depending on the severity of their needs. Learn more about this program here.
If you’re more interested in volunteering with wildlife, definitely check out IVHQ’s Jungle Conservation Project. Through this program, you’ll have the opportunity to live and work at an Amazonian jungle conservation base while learning about and experiencing this unique ecosystem. Some of the tasks you’ll take on throughout your placement include research, reforestation, monitoring of animals, and organic agriculture. Your work will vary depending on the needs of your base at the time. Because you’ll be placed where your help is needed the most, you may not be able to choose your specific project location, and you must be flexible and willing to take on different types of work depending on program requirements at the time. During your weekends and free time, IVHQ encourages you to explore your community, take side trips, and learn about Peruvian culture to gain the most from your amazing experience abroad. Click here to learn more and sign up.
What Volunteers Say: Review from Annalise
I spent two months in Cusco Peru volunteering with IVHQ it was hands down one of the best experiences of my life. I meet so many amazing people from volunteers to locals who made my trip who I wouldn't of normally met if I hadn't gotten out of my comfort zone. I highly recommend IVHQ for anyone who is a first time volunteer the support is great as well being the most affordable that I have come across.
Love Volunteers hosts volunteer and intern abroad programs in more than 30 countries worldwide, with programs such as teaching, conservation, childcare, medical care, and lots more. More than 20,000 volunteers have traveled with Love Volunteers so far, with another 4,000 expected to embark on meaningful trips this year. You’re welcome to sign up for short-term or long-term projects based on your interests and availability, and if you’re ready to travel to Peru, a two-week stay with Love Volunteers starts from just $355. Love Volunteers offers six different programs in Peru for volunteers 18 years of age or older, for a minimum of two weeks. For these projects, you must have at least intermediate English language ability, and there are Spanish lessons available if you’d like to boost your communication skills in-country.
One of the many different volunteer programs you can sign up for in Peru with Love Volunteers focuses on women’s empowerment. On this placement, you’ll support women who have suffered from domestic violence - and as many of them have children, you may help with childcare as well. Volunteers like you are needed to guide these women through the emotional healing process, and to help them regain control of their lives through teaching English, supporting them in workshops, and lending a hand with basic tasks at the women’s shelter. During your stay, you’ll have the chance to organize skill-oriented training and activities that incorporate your experience and insights into the subject area. While in Peru, you’ll have accommodations provided with a host family, who will prepare breakfast and dinner for you each day. To learn more and to apply, click here.
Love Volunteers also offers a healthcare and medical program to volunteers who speak at least intermediate Spanish and have an educational background or career experience in a medical field. On this project, you’ll have the opportunity to assist with local medical staff at a clinic, with tasks such as helping with laboratory work, conducting health campaigns, and performing routine hospital tasks such as making beds, cleaning, talking with patients, preparing equipment, and more. Your independence on Love Volunteers’ medical projects is dependent on your training and expertise, Spanish language ability, age, ability to take initiative, and how long you’re staying on the program - you’ll also need to be able to bring a few basic supplies, including a white coat, scrubs, and stethoscope. To learn more and to apply, click here.
What Volunteers Say: Review from Ariella
I had no idea what to expect before I came to Cusco. It turns out that coming was one of the best things I've done. Working with the kids was eye-opening. A little overwhelming at first, but you quickly adapt. They are so kind and friendly, always greeting me with hugs, which never ceased to fill me with joy.
The homestay was very important to me as I wanted to be culturally immersed and practice my Spanish. I was so lucky to have a brilliant family and will no doubt stay in touch with them in years to come. I felt part of the volunteering family too, which was great as I also wanted to make long-lasting friendships with people from all over the world. The coordinators were always helpful and very welcoming. I would 100% recommend Love volunteers to anyone who is thinking of volunteering. Do it!
Another excellent organization to check out for your adventure in Peru is Volunteering Solutions, or VolSol. Since its founding in 2006, VolSol has organized volunteer and intern abroad opportunities for travelers interested in wildlife conservation, teaching, sports coaching, women’s empowerment, and much more. More than 10,000 volunteers have signed up to make a difference in 25 different countries with VolSol - and their programs are incredibly affordable, starting from just $200 depending on where you’d like to travel.
Right now, Volunteering Solutions is offering several different placements in Peru, including teaching, disabled care, childcare, and more. For any program you sign up for, you must be flexible and open-minded, and be able to bring energy and enthusiasm to your project. VolSol’s projects costs for Peru last two to 24 weeks, starting from $775, plus an initial application fee of $225 - fees cover 24-hour support, comprehensive pre-departure information, airport pickup, orientation, housing, and meals.
If you’re interested in teaching abroad, VolSol’s kindergarten teacher assistant program may be the perfect opportunity for you. On this project, you’ll work in a rural kindergarten run by mothers within the community, helping with different activities to develop the children’s cognitive, motor, affective, and social skills. The classrooms you’ll work in may have between 30 and 40 students per class, with children aged three to five. You’ll help teach spelling, basic directions, and other skills that will help prepare your students for elementary school - a few tasks you’ll take on include:
Checking homework and tests
Distributing meals at break time
Organizing activities for the next day
Cleaning and decorating the classroom
During your stay, you can expect to work Tuesday through Friday in morning and afternoon shifts depending on your placement and you’ll have weekends free to explore the area. On this project, you’ll stay with a local host family, and be provided with three meals each day. Learn more and sign up here.
If you’d like to learn about medical work and healthcare in a developing country, take a look at VolSol’s Medical and Healthcare Volunteer Program in Peru. As a volunteer, you’ll help staff at hospitals, health clinics, and medical centers that provide care and treatment to those living in poorer areas of their city. Depending on your medical background and Spanish language skills, you can take part in a variety of tasks, including suturing wounds, giving vaccinations, helping with taking vital signs, and being involved in the daily procedures of the medical centers, which can include observing or directly providing assistance to local doctors and nurses. You’ll also have the opportunity to shadow doctors on critical surgeries and operations, conduct hospital rounds alongside local doctors, maintain files, and perform routine checkups for patients. Similarly to VolSol’s teaching program in Peru, you will work Tuesday through Friday in morning or afternoon shifts depending on the requirements of your placement, with the weekends free to explore or relax. To learn more and to sign up, click here.
One of the world’s largest and most trusted volunteer travel organizations, Projects Abroad sends more than 10,000 volunteers each year to take part in impactful programs in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Pacific, and Europe. You can choose from volunteer programs, internships overseas, under-18s trips, and lots of other programs fitted to your travel style. Placements with Projects Abroad start from $1,720 for your first week overseas, depending on your program, and you’re welcome to stay as long as you’d like to gain the most from your experience.
Projects Abroad offers a multitude of volunteer opportunities within Peru - one that you may want to take a look at is the Amazon rainforest conservation program, where you’re invited to assist in wildlife research and animal rehabilitation at the Taricaya Ecological Reserve. The main focus of this research is biodiversity studies and rehabilitation, and as a volunteer, you will be able to assist with research supported by local staff. Some of the activities and projects you will be working on include:
Taking part in biodiversity studies and wildlife observations
Observing birds from a canopy platform
Studying mammals with motion-sensitive cameras
Researching reptiles, amphibians and butterflies
Working on animal release programs that include feeding the animals and building and maintaining enclosures
Helping to grow crops such as coffee, cacao, and chillies on a pilot farm
Helping staff work with the butterfly and turtle breeding programs
Assisting with trail maintenance
Throughout this project, you’ll be able to attend talks and presentations that provide valuable insights into animal behavior, local ecosystems, and topical issues relating to the world of conservation. During your stay, you’ll have housing at the Taricaya Ecological Reserve, which consists of basic, four-person bungalows, private bathrooms, a large kitchen and dining area, research laboratories, and an animal hospital. To learn more about this program and to sign up, click here.
Another excellent volunteer opportunity to check out with Projects Abroad is their After School Sports Project, where you’ll teach soccer, volleyball, or basketball to students between the ages of eight and 15, helping improve their fitness, confidence, communication, and other skills. For two weeks or longer, you’ll be able to work alongside coaches at a local sports academy or on your own (with supervision), and while you don’t need any background experience to sign up, you should have a love of sports and fitness. A few projects you can take on include organizing fitness sessions, coaching advanced soccer skills to teenagers, setting up a basketball competition, or educating children on sporting principles - and you can choose which sport you’d prefer to highlight during your trip. To learn more about sports coaching with Projects Abroad, visit this page.
What Volunteers Say: Review from Jillian
I spent a week with Projects Abroad as an alternative spring break. This week was spent in a hospital shadowing doctors, in the community raising awareness of diabetes, at an anatomy museum and dissecting a cadaver. This week was an amazing experience. The other volunteers I met were extremely kind. The coordinators I worked with were all incredibly helpful and kind. Any question I had pre-departure was answered quickly and completely and as well as while I was there. They understand that you are in a foreign place and feel it is their obligation to make you as comfortable as possible which I was very thankful for since it was nerve-wracking at first. The city is beautiful as well! It overall was an amazing learning experience that I would never take back. If anyone has any hesitations I think you should just go for it! You will not regret it.
A nonprofit organization based in the US, A Broader View invites you to join any of their more than 240 volunteer placements in 25 countries around the world. And they have a wide variety of projects for you to choose from: in Peru alone, A Broader View has a language immersion program, English teaching placement, special needs center support, animal rescue center volunteering, and so much more. Your Peru placement with A Broader View starts from one week at $910, and you’re invited to stay longer to truly immerse yourself in the community and make a positive impact through your work.
Right now, A Broader View is offering many different volunteer opportunities in Peru in multiple locations, including Cusco, Arequipa, and Ayacucho. One such project is looking for your support at a soup kitchen in Arequipa, where you’ll help to connect families, seniors, and low-income individuals providing healthy, balanced meals. The community dining room you’ll work in provides food to nearly 600 children from a local school, and is staffed by the students’ mothers. As a volunteer, you will help in the kitchen, serve meals, clean off tables, wash dishes, and help with general upkeep. This program lasts from one to 12 weeks and is offered year-round. To apply, you’ll need to know basic Spanish and will need certain vaccinations. Throughout your stay in Peru, you’ll live with a local host family who will provide you with three meals a day. Click here to learn more and to apply.
Another volunteer option you can sign up with through A Broader View invites you to work with an elderly care home in Ayacucho. The elderly can be among the most vulnerable members of their community, with many being abused or neglected by their families. By volunteering at the care center, you’ll be able to improve people’s health and restore their sense of dignity by providing companionship and support. The home you will be working in is run by a religious organization and accommodates 120 residents - and while the staff provide care for their residents around the clock, they’re in need of extra support from caring volunteers like you to assist with preparing meals, helping with daily tasks, and more. To sign up, you should be able to speak Spanish, though language lessons are available if you’d like to improve your language skills while in Peru. This program ranges from one to 12 weeks and is offered year-round - to learn more and sign up, visit this page.
What Volunteers Say: Review from Micaela
I LOVED my experience in Peru! It was really the people in Peru, including my host family and fellow volunteers, that made my experience. We all get along so well it’s magical! I have had an amazing time exploring Cusco with them and learning about the public services in the city. If I could I would do it all over again and I would do it with ABV. ABVs design allowed me to personalize my experience so that I could go where and when I wanted to go and I could volunteer in a place that was perfect for me. ABV and Peru were truly magical!
Global Nomadic may be the perfect opportunity for travelers who want to do good while furthering their education and career prospects. With internships and volunteer placements throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and Oceania, Global Nomadic is an excellent way to learn more about your studies and career path. Placements include journalism, paid teaching opportunities, wildlife rehabilitation, human rights and law, and more. Global Nomadic’s internships in Peru start from $1,408, and are in partnership with carefully vetted and trusted NGOs within your host community. To sign up for an internship in Peru, you must be able commit to at least two weeks onsite, be at least 18 years old, be fluent in Spanish (depending on the program), have a genuine interest in sustainable development, have a relevant academic background, and be motivated and able to work in a team environment.
One of Global Nomadic’s internships in Peru focuses on reforestation, where you and a local team will lead Peruvian communities to develop a more sustainable way of living and improve their quality of life. Through this program, you’ll work with a local NGO as they develop educational, infrastructure, environmental, social, and economic productivity projects along with the community and other volunteers and interns from around the world. This work is being performed at a household level to impact each family more directly, as the project aims to raise environmental awareness through in-house waste and water reuse methods. As an intern, you will help teach the families how to reuse plastic bottles and milk cartons as pots and planters for new seeds, and help the family to designate an area for the creation of organic compost, which is made using wild horse dung and the organic remains of household consumption. This program takes place in north Peru, and you’re encouraged to stay up to six months to make the greatest impact in your host community. If you’re studying environmental sciences or conservation, or have an interest in ecological and sustainable development, click here to learn more and to apply.
If you’re more interested in NGO management or would like to work with an NGO later, Global Nomadic has the perfect internship in north Peru, where you’ll help a local NGO with managing several different projects and initiatives. Projects you may be involved with include:
Tide and Swell Charts Project
Monitoring and Evaluation
Permaculture Project Maintenance
Marketing, both traditional and digital
Each of these projects has their own focus and need - for example, the Tide and Swell Charts Projects provides local fishermen with scientific information about their labor on a weekly basis, which helps them plan ahead and optimize their productivity. If you’re managing Workshops, you will discuss current and new projects on a biweekly basis. As part of the Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation program, you’ll survey and interview, and perform data analysis and write reports. On the Permaculture project, you will help teach sustainable techniques within the community such as water reuse and gardening to reduce the negative impact on the environment. And if you’re placed with Logistics or Marketing, you will assist at the NGO headquarters to help run and promote the organization. To learn more about this internship and how to get involved, please click here.
READY TO GO?
Not only is Peru a gorgeous country with a colorful history, but there are also so many ways you can do good for its people and environment while you explore and immerse yourself in Peruvian culture. From rural communities to bustling cities, and from jungles to mountains to beaches, Peru is an incredible place that’s wonderful for travel - and that’s in need of volunteers like you.
For more information about the different opportunities available to you in South America, check out Volunteer Forever’s volunteer abroad, teach abroad, and intern abroad sections. And be sure to take a look at these articles as well for even more inspiration to plan your travels in Latin America:
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