You are about to discover a new culture, accomplish something unforgettable, and explore what Peru has to offer!
Share your skills, your laughter, your curiosity and your heart. Volunteers in the Peru program will primarily be based in the ancient city of Cusco, but may also participate in projects in the Sacred Valley and the Pervian Amazon. You'll live with a local host family and have time to visit the legendary site of Machu Picchu and other historical landmarks.
I know it's been a while since our trip to Peru, but I wanted to let you know that we had an AMAZING experience, and I wanted to thank you for all the help you offered me and my mother throughout our volunteer experience. Thanks again for all of yalls help, and we look forward to working with GVN again in the future.
Megan | Peru Volunteer
My host family is very humble, modest, gentle people. In the evenings we sit around the dinner table and share our daily experiences, some of us working with the children in an orphanage, in a day care centre, in construction (building garden sheds in the orphanages), teaching English to children and young adults, nurses students assisting in medical centre or hospital.
Anna | Peru Volunteer
Just Choose a Project and Apply!
Our projects are located in and around Cusco, a city in south-eastern Peru near the Sacred Valley of the Andes mountain range. Cusco is at an altitude of around 3,500m (11,500 ft). Depending on your project choice, you will live in a homestay-type situation in a Peruvian home, with electricity, running water, and a western-style toilet. Conditions in the Andean Cultural Immersion project and Jungle project will be more rustic.
Are you able to give hugs, wipe away tears and smile and laugh until it hurts? Do you want to help give hope to some of the world's most impoverished children? Join up with one of our childcare placements and provide children with love and attention, where volunteers assist the children with their homework, organise educational activities and help take care of their basic needs. There are many different childcare placements available in Cusco, including working at orphanages, homes for abused children, daycares for babies, community centres, and at shelters. There is also the possibility to work at a program for kids with disabilities. If you have an area which you are particularly interested in please let us know, and will try to find the perfect place for you.
Do you crave the wild places? Are you passionate about conservation? With two Amazon locations available, vounteers may assist in orchid planting, bamboo removal, research projects, teaching at the local school, helping maintain trails and creating an inventory of species. A wide variety of ongoing projects means that there is always something interesting going on. Please note that Jungle volunteers will not be able to take part in Spanish lessons during their time in the jungle. However, we can arrange for Spanish lessons before or after your project, though this may include additional costs for housing.
Hablas Inglés? (Do you speak English?) There are few more valuable skills in this increasingly globalised world than to be able to connect and communicate with visitors to your region. With your help, more and more residents of Cusco will be able to access the opportunities and advantages that speaking English brings. At our Teaching English placements, volunteers assist the full time teacher with speaking, listening, writing, reading, grammar, and vocabulary lessons. Volunteers may also be asked to help with specific learners in terms of their pronunciation and for one-on-one tutoring. It's also a great way to improve your Español and enable both you and your students to share stories, jokes and life histories.
Are you medically trained or currently in training? Prepared to share your skills and knowledge? Do you feel inspired to help the most vulnerable Peruvians stay healthy? In our Healthcare Clinic program, volunteers will work at a clinic for impoverished families in Cusco. This project is for med students or currently qualified nurses or doctors. Volunteers for these projects require at least intermediate Spanish as the staff they will work with have limited English. Notarized documentation of your medical school, nursing school, or other medical credentials will be required.
Do you have a big heart? Can you provide care and support for some of Peru's most vulnerable children? In this program volunteers work at a clinic for mentally and physically disabled children. This project does not require any qualification or experience, but does require genuine empathy and heart-felt commitment. It is in a clinical setting but volunteers essentially help to look after the children, organise activities and help at meal times. There are also options at this project to assist in physiotherapy and to shadow a local doctor.
Are you an animal lover? Keen to learn about exotic species? If so, here's an opportunity to volunteer at a zoo in Cusco, assisting with cleaning, educating and feeding. This is a small zoo which also houses injured animals and volunteers are needed to maintain the facilities and support the staff in a variety of tasks (such as food preparation, cleaning of cages, hosting visitors). It's a great chance to get a taste of a zoology career and meet some of the the more exotic locals!
Are you handy with a hammer? Skilled with a screwdriver? A dab hand at painting? Then sign up to help build a better future for our Peruvian friends. At our construction projects, volunteers assist with construction and/or renovation - usually at a childcare project. Tasks on the construction program may include: renovation, labouring, painting, decorating, and carpentry. Volunteers will assist with cement mixing, sand sifting, cutting wood, and transporting building materials. The building projects are to help the community improve their schools and community centres. Be prepared to be patient and flexible, and to leave a tangible legacy of your efforts.
Andean Cultural Immersion
Do you love the simple life? Are you searching for a deeper cultural experience? At the Andean project, volunteers will live with a host family in the mountains of the Sacred Valley. You will assist the family with their agriculture and textiles practices. You will live like they do, eat what they eat, and be exposed to centuries-old traditional life-styles. You will also provide some educational opportunities to members of the local community; for example teaching English or reading and writing skills. Please note that due to the remote location of this program, volunteers in the cultural immersion program will not be able to take part in Spanish lessons during their project. However, we can arrange for Spanish lessons before or after your project, though this may include additional costs for housing.
Christmas and New Year
Do you want to create some truly lasting memories this Xmas? This weeklong adventure will invite you into the hearts of the Peruvian people and allow you the chance to bring smiles and laughter to underprivileged children and adults in Cusco, Peru. The Xmas project, starting on December 22, will focus on children’s programs and will also involve volunteers in a medical campaign for rural residents. The second tour over the New Year, starting Dec 29, will also offer opportunities in a variety of volunteer projects where you will be warmly welcomed. Do one or do both, but Xmas will never feel the same again.
Our vision is to connect people with communities in need, with a particular focus on vulnerable women and children. We do this by supporting the work of local community organizations in countries through the placement of international volunteers.
We are excited to get your placement under way where you will:
Be a part of GVN's efforts to inspire learning, innovation and action to unlock the potential of vulnerable communities around the world. Work with exceptional grassroots projects in community development, conservation and wildlife, personal development, fundraising and physical challenges.
Have the 24/7 support of a non profit with 12 years experience in placing 19565 volunteers that will provide you with an affordable and rewarding placement.
Volunteer with a world-class organization which is recommended by Bill Gates and CNN.
Be a part of progressive non profit that has raised over $2 million to help women and children in need.
Have the comfort of knowing that GVN staff have collectively flown over 1 million miles to ensure you get a quality placement.
Make a long-term impact in your community of choice - it's not just a vacation.
How GVN works...
The first step is to fill out an application to see if we have a place for you. Then if your application is successful you will be accepted and we will then get to work organizing your placement.
GVN is a registered Charitable Trust, so volunteers finance themselves, or can fundraise online with our unique GVN platform, with US donors receiving tax receipts. The Program Package provides you with all that is listed below, along with personalized support from our expert staff and the knowledge that you'll be working with a reputable and registered charity with over 12 years experience in the field.
At the heart of our work is the communities our volunteers work to support - we ensure that these communities truly benefit from your time in Peru and that the Program Package fully supports you financially while you're volunteering.
The Program Package also includes a project donation, which supports the work the GVN Foundation does in addressing nutrition, education and healthcare needs, as well as supporting longer-term development approaches, including income generation activities and microfinance.
Your program package includes:
Personal support from your Program Specialist throughout the preparation process.
Your Program Guide, with all the details on Peru and your placement.
Fundraising strategies and access to our crowd funding platform where you can raise up to 100% of the cost your trip, with tax receipts for your US based donors.
Access to Your Own Online Journal: which helps you to communicate effectively and easily with your family and friends back home.
Opportunities for Preferred Pricing and Personalized Service when booking Airfares: through our travel partner GYT Flight Centre who go the extra mile to support GVN volunteers.
Accommodation: Home Stay
Meals: 3 meals daily. (In 2015 this will change to two meals, breakfast and dinner)
Project Donation: Included.
Airport pickup: On arrival date.
Training: In-country orientation and training.
Supervision: In-country staff supervision.
Support: Pre-departure personal support from your volunteer coordinator, 24/7 in-country support from partner, and 24hr emergency line.
Extra: Spanish lessons (one week), weekly Salsa lessons, internet usage at our partner's headquarters, a monthly volunteer party, and a certificate of completion from our partner organisation.
An opportunity to debrief and provide feedback
Free access to GVN Changemakers program which alerts you to future internship/job opportunities at GVN.
A Letter of Completion in Volunteer Service.
The opportunity to stay connected with your project.
Global advocacy and fundraising campaigns to continue your part of the movement for social change with an international non-profit that has granted over $2 million to our partner organizations.
The program package does not include: Flights, insurance, visas, vaccinations, project transportation, departure from the program.
We recommend you allow a weekly budget of US $25 for your other expenses such as bottled water, personal items, beverages, transportation and entertainment.
Your Program Package
Calculate the price of your individualised program package. Details on longer placements may be available on request.
Select A Project
Then: Select A Length
Your Program Package
For those securing far enough in advance, there is a possible US$300 discount. Confirming your placement early on allows us and our partner communities the ability to plan in advance with confidence in terms of volunteer numbers and funding for the months ahead.
Is there opportunity to take classes such as language or cultural activities while on the program?
All volunteers will receive two hours of group Spanish classes each day for the first week of their project. All the Spanish teachers are professional teachers - either certified in teaching Spanish as a foreign language or with a Masters in Education. Volunteers will also be provided with a course book. After their first week of classes, volunteers will switch to a Tandem Exchange Program, which involves being matched with a Peruvian who is studying English with our partner organisation. They will meet for one hour conversations practice each day. Volunteers may also opt to extend their Spanish classes for an extra charge. Please note that the Tandem Exchange Program is not available for volunteers on the Jungle or Andean projects and that volunteers at these placements will NOT be able to take part in Spanish lessons during their time in the jungle/remote village. However, we can arrange for Spanish lessons before or after your project, but this will include additional costs for housing.
What is the climate like in Peru?
Peru is divided up into three distinct geographical regions: the coast, the mountain highlands, and the jungle:
The Mountain Highlands (Cusco): Mid April - October is the dry season, with hot, dry days, and cold, dry nights, often hovering just above freezing, particularly in June and July. November - Mid April is the wet season with most rain in January and February. It's usually clear and dry most mornings with outbursts of heavy rain in the afternoons. The daily temperatures are typically mild with only a small drop at night.
The Coast (Arequipa): December - April is summertime on the coast where the weather is hot and dry. Temperatures on average range from 25 - 35°C. There is little or no rain during these months. May - November the temperature drops a bit and you'll find blankets of sea mist engulfing the coast from the south right up to about 200 km north of Lima.
The Jungle: April - October is the 'dry' season with daily temperatures averaging 30-35°C. However cold fronts from the South Atlantic are common when the temperatures can drop to 15°C during the day and to 13°C at night. November - March is the wet season, hot and humid, when you can expect heavy rain at anytime.
What hours am I expected to take part in the program?
The schedule for each project is different but most volunteers work for 3-4 hours either in the morning or the afternoon. The only project with unusual hours is the teaching English to street children project, which runs from 6:30pm - 9:30pm as this is when the children are not working. A typical schedule would be: 7:30am wake up and breakfast, 9:00am Spanish Lessons, 12:00pm lunch, 1:30pm take bus to project, 2:00-6:00pm work at project, 6:00pm return to accommodation, 7:00pm dinner.
What kind of volunteer work is available?
Childcare - including orphanages, community centers, daycares, and street children. Teaching - local state schools in Cusco and the surrounding area, and Arequipa. Construction Projects - in Cusco or the surrounding area, usually at a childcare project. Healthcare - at a clinic which provides assistance to low income families. Conservation/Wildlife - help at the Cusco zoo or at one of two Jungle Conservation programs in the Peruvian Amazon. Cultural Immersion - live with a host family in the Sacred Valley and help with agriculture and textile practises.
Tell me more about Peru?
With an area of 1,285,215 square km, Peru is the third-largest country in South America after Brazil and Argentina. Divided into 24 departments, Lima, situated on the coast, is the capital. Peru has a population of 27.million inhabitants and, as part of its rich cultural tradition, features many different languages. Although Spanish is commonly spoken across the country, Quechua is a major legacy of the Incan empire, and is still spoken with regional dialects in many parts of the country. Peru is a democratic republic - the president and members of Congress are elected every five years by universal suffrage. Religion plays a large role in Peruvian life, with almost 90% of inhabitants Roman Catholic.
How does GVN choose volunteers for this program?
Each GVN program has different criteria depending on our partner's requirements. Every application is reviewed to ensure that the minimum requirements (as set out on the program page) are met. Next we look to see what skills or experience you have that relate specifically to the program. We are also interested in any previous volunteer experience you may have (either local or international), travel experience, and your particular interest in the program.
After reviewing your application, should we require any further information from you, we will email you to request this.
How safe is it to volunteer in Peru?
As in many countries, foreigners are perceived as wealthy in Peru. Although the people are generally warm and friendly towards foreigners, as well as appreciative of the work done by volunteers, not every individual is the same. We work extremely hard to ensure you are placed in safe environments while volunteering and security policies are in place to achieve this. However, as in any situation at home or abroad, there is no way to erase all potential threats.
In Cusco and other major cities in Peru it is important to be wary of pick pocketing, especially in crowded areas. You should also avoid extremely remote areas where you will be alone. Furthermore, you should be aware that there are active volcanoes in Peru and minor earthquakes are relatively common. Volunteers will be given further safety advice, including for the case of natural disasters, in their orientation session.
Can I bring my family/children to this program with me?
Yes, you are able to bring you family, including children, on some programs - please enquire for more details. Babysitting can also be provided at a cost.
Can you accommodate specific dietary requirements?
Please indicate any dietary restrictions on your application form. Vegetarians can be catered for but you need to let us know beforehand.
What age do you have to be to volunteer?
You must be 18 years or older to volunteer. There is no upper limit for volunteers; we only require that volunteers are in good health.
Are we able to do any sightseeing while volunteering?
Yes. Volunteers have their weekends free for travelling and we do recommend that you take advantage of being in Peru to see some other places of interest. Our partner organisation is able to book tours of Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca and the Sacred Valley for you.
What clothing is appropriate for the program?
Volunteers should dress conservatively at all times, according to the custom in Peru. Volunteers need warm clothing for the nights - Cusco is at an elevation of 3,400m (11,154ft) and therefore the nights are very cold - and also light, loose clothing for the day, when it can hot.
Can groups participate in this program?
Yes, we are able to accommodate groups for this program - please contact us for details.
Are there holidays or festivals I should be aware of when travelling?
The major holidays to be aware of in Peru and Cusco are: Holy Week: (movable) Cusco Anniversary: June 23, 24 Independence Day: July 28, 29 Saint Rose Day: August 30 Day of the Dead: November 1, 2 Christmas: December 24, 25
Holidays in Cusco are perfect dates to go on trips and combine volunteer programs with travel and other activities. There are some projects that are always open, so if volunteers want to work these days it is still possible.
What resources will be available?
Each project will provide you with the resources you need. However, for the teaching, childcare and street children programs you may like to bring teaching resources, toys or games to help you. Our partner organisation also has a selection of resources including games, books, pens and paper etc. You will also have the use of a photocopier for making worksheets.
How do I pay my fees?
Your program fee is payable to Global Volunteer Network 10 weeks prior to the 1st of the month you wish to volunteer. Please note, your placement is not confirmed (ie secured) until your program fee has been received. Please note that all charges incurred by the payment of the program fee are at the volunteer’s expense, e.g. if a bank transfer incurs a bank fee at the point of origin, that is at the expense of the volunteer. Seventy percent (70%) of the program fee is refundable until two calendar months before the 1st of the month you are due to begin your program. For example a volunteer with 15 July 2012 as their start date would need to submit their refund request form by the last day of April 2012 to be eligible for a refund. Refer to GVN's legal terms of service for full details.
Is the program available year round?
All programs are available year round. Some of the teaching projects are not available from December - March; however there are alternate placements available during this time.
When will I know specific details on the placement?
After you have joined the program, you will be sent the program guide with more details about the program and your Volunteer Coordinator will begin making arrangements for your placement. Once you’ve confirmed your placement, you’ll be put in touch with our partner organization.
Where will I be located?
The projects are located in Cusco, the Sacred Valley and the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest, depending on which project you choose.
What languages do I need to be able to speak to become a volunteer?
For the Healthcare (clinic) Program volunteers must have at least an intermediate level of Spanish (i.e. be able to hold a relevant conversation, understand and follow instructions, and so on). For the other programs there is no language requirement, but we do recommend that you learn some basic Spanish before you start volunteering. The staff at our partner organisation speak English, but the locals at your specific project may have very limited English. All volunteers are entitled to one week of Spanish lessons and then for the duration of their stay can practise with a Spanish speaker wanting to learn English, as part of a language exchange program. Please note that volunteers at the Jungle and Andean Cultural Immersion projects will NOT be able to take part in Spanish lessons during their time in the jungle/remote village. However, we can arrange for Spanish lessons before or after your project, but this will include additional costs for housing.
Do I need travel insurance?
All GVN Volunteers must have insurance. You are free to take out insurance cover through any provider of your choice. However, as some policies do not cover volunteering, we recommend you check you are covered during your volunteer placement.
For your convenience we have arranged a comprehensive package specially designed for volunteering. It includes excellent medical and accident coverage as well as “loss of deposits” cover which covers fees paid to GVN, airlines etc. If you would like to learn more just follow this link: http://www.globalvolunteernetwork.org/insurance/
Can you tell me more about your partner in Peru?
Our partner organisation was founded in Cusco, Peru in 2003. In addition to international volunteer programs they also have TEFL/TESOL Certification programs in Peru and Costa Rica, and offer English and Spanish courses at their headquarters in Cusco.
What is the course content of the training?
Volunteer orientation takes place on the first Monday following arrival on Sunday. This is a 2-hour meeting which includes a power-point presentation about the program, the partner organisation, and living in Peru. Volunteers are also given an info sheet relating to the meeting, which includes information on their volunteer project (schedule, contact person, location, how to get there etc.) and their Spanish class schedule. All volunteers are provided with a pocket-sized card with our partner's emergency telephone numbers and any questions they may have will be answered. Volunteers first visit their project with staff members, taught how to use public transportation, introduced to the staff at the project (who will have the volunteer's details), and discuss their project in more detail with the staff.
Who organises my visa for my volunteer placement?
If you need one, you will need to organise your Visa through your travel agent before you leave for Peru. The Program Guide which you will receive when you are accepted on the program includes links to Peruvian Embassies throughout the world. Volunteers from the majority of countries are automatically given a 90-day tourist visa on entry into Peru. If volunteers wish to stay longer than 90-days, they have the option of crossing the border into Bolivia or Chile and re-entering Peru, where they will be given an additional 90 days. Alternatively, our partner can take volunteers to immigration in Cusco where they can extend their visa for 30 days up to 3 times (at a cost of approximately US$30 each time).
Tell me more about flying into Peru.
Volunteers need to fly to Cusco airport, Alejandro Velazco Astete. All volunteers will need to fly through Lima to make a connecting flight. If you need to spend the night in Lima because of your flights, our partner can arrange an airport transfer and night in a hotel for you.
How many volunteers are there on site at any one time?
This will depend on the time of year and the project you choose. Volunteers are almost always placed with at least one other at their placement.
Are there any specific starting dates?
Volunteers need to arrive on the Sunday before the Monday they are planning to start their placements.
May I choose which project to volunteer in?
May I volunteer in a combination of projects?
We recommend that you spend your time on one project as our experience shows that between one volunteer project and Spanish lessons, volunteers are kept very busy.
What are the living arrangements when volunteering?
Volunteers will be accommodated in a traditional homestay in Cusco. You should expect to share a room with at least one other person. 3 meals a day will be provided at your accommodation. For volunteers on the Andean Cultural Immersion program you will be housed at a home stay in the Sacred Valley. Conditions for this program will be more rustic then for those in Cusco. For volunteers on the Jungle Conservation program you will be housed in bunkhouse or dorm-style accommodation depending on the location.
How do I get to the project?
You must catch a bus ("combi") to their project each day. This will be explained during the orientation when you first arrive in Cusco. The cost for the bus will be around US $0.40 each day. You can also choose to take a taxi which will cost around US $1.40 per day.
What immunizations/vaccines will I need?
Hepatitis A & B Typhoid Tetanus Malaria - recommended only for those visiting areas below 2000 m (6,561 ft). Yellow Fever - recommended only for those who intend to visit any jungle areas of the country below 2,300 m (7,546 ft) or those who come from an infected area.
Are there more expenses once I arrive?
The program costs cover accommodation, airport pick-up and all meals. If you plan on arriving early or staying on, then you will need to have spare money for this time. Also some money may be required for your days off depending on what you intend on doing. Other costs include buying bottled water, visa (only required in staying longer than 90 days), departure tax, and any shopping you will do personally. Volunteers also need to pay for the bus to their project each day - approximately US $0.40 per day. All visitors to Peru are required to pay approximately US $30 for departure tax (in cash) at Lima airport when they leave.
What happens if I get sick or have an accident while I'm in Peru?
You should contact our partner organisation who will take you to a clinic with an English speaking doctor. They will also give you an emergency number during your orientation session. If you are unable to contact our partner organisation, you may call GVN using our 24/7 emergency hotline.
Peru is a land of contrasts, where from one end to the other you will have quite different experiences, not only with regards to the environment and climate, but also with culture and food.
With an area of 1,285,215 square km, Peru is the third-largest country in South America after Brazil and Argentina. Located in western South America, it is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. The Andes mountain range runs parallel to the coast, dividing the country into three distinct geographic regions. The coastal region, to the west, is a narrow plain; the sierra is the mountainous region of the Andes; the selva (jungle) is the third region, a wide expanse of flat terrain covered by the Amazon rainforest that extends east, encompassing almost 60% of the country.
Development in Peru
In the 20th century Peru had been troubled by guerrilla groups, external debt, ever-growing inflation, a surge in drug trafficking and political violence. The seemingly intractable problems of poverty and unemployment remain, with more that half of the population living below the poverty line.
Peru is rich in copper, silver, lead, zinc, oil and gold. Despite this, Peru's progress has been held back by corruption and the failure of successive governments to deal with social and economic inequality. 51.6% of its total population is defined as poor, including 19.2% that is extremely poor.
Volunteers provide assistance to disadvantaged socio-economic groups within Peruvian communities, focusing primarily on orphaned children, animals, rural communities and school children.
As a volunteer in Peru you can provide love, affection, education and support to orphaned children. You will help to improve education in schools ensuring children learn and flourish. As a volunteer you can practice and teach preventative healthcare, and hygiene. Depending on your interests you can also contribute to building projects in impoverished communities, or in animal/environmental conservation projects. You will also provide education, inter-cultural exchange and understanding in Peruvian communities.
What else can I do in Peru?
Visitors to Peru will be delighted by the cultural sights and activities that are available.
Take on the challenge of hiking Machu Picchu (or catch the train!), take free salsa lessons and get some dance practice at one of the many happening bars, or take it easy posing for photos with local Llamas. Shoppers will enjoy hitting the Pisac markets for traditional textiles and jewellery, while nature enthusiasts can take a cycle tour through the Sacred Valley. And if all that’s not enough adrenaline for you there’s always bungee jumping!
Spanish Lessons and Tandem Exchange Program
For your first week you will take Spanish lessons provided by our partner. These are taught by professional teachers, either certified in teaching Spanish as a foreign language or with their Masters in Education, and you will have two hours of lessons per day, usually in the mornings, so that you spend the afternoons at your volunteer placement. Volunteers will also be provided with a Native Spanish Program book.
For the remainder of your stay you will take part in our partner's Tandem Exchange Program. This program pairs volunteers learning Spanish with a Peruvian student who is learning English at their headquarters in Cusco. This way you practise Spanish with your partner for one hour a day, as well as provide invaluable practice for the Peruvian student learning English. It's also a great way to get to know local students in Cusco. If you wish to extend your formal Spanish lessons beyond your first week, this can be arranged for an extra fee.
Please note that for the Andean Cultural Immersion and Conservation/Wildlife programs the Tandem Exchange Program is not available as for these programs volunteers are placed in the Sacred Valley.
Online Spanish Lessons
Global Volunteer Network has established a partnership with the Spanish school Instituto Exclusivo, which offers GVN volunteers a 5% discount off their online Spanish lessons. This is not like other courses which give you pages of web material or recordings of various phrases to repeat. You will speak to, and see your instructor as he/she is giving you a private lesson, tailored to your level of Spanish. Learn spanish before you go