VOLUNTEER IN PERU
Volunteer in Peru and get the chance to travel around and experience some of the country’s spectacular scenery. This could include a glimpse of the famous “Lost City of the Incas”, Machu Picchu, or Lake Titicaca – one of South America’s largest lakes, often referred to as the “highest navigable lake in the world”.
Peru’s weather is extremely diverse. In fact, 28 of the world’s 32 climates and microclimates can be found in Peru. This diverse range of climates is largely due to the existence of the Andes mountain range as well as the cold waters of the Humboldt Current that passes close by Peru’s shoreline.
Peru is also known for its fusion cuisine as a result of its storied cultural history, which can be traced back more than ten centuries. Today, Peruvian food is a fusion of its own Inca roots combined with a mix of Spanish, African, Chinese and French influences, to name a few.
When you choose to take part in volunteer travel in Peru with GVI, you’ll be working to address challenges identified by local NGOs, and contributing to government-run initiatives in and around the city of Cusco.
As a volunteer in Peru you can be a part of projects that focus on:
Cusco is the tourist capital of Peru, bringing in close to a million visitors to its uneven cobblestone streets each year. Cusco can be found high up in the Peruvian Andes Mountains, at around 3,339 metres above sea-level. This, paired with Cusco's close proximity to the tropical Manu rainforest, is what makes this city’s location unique.
Cusco was once the centre of the historic Inca Empire. This South American city has been inhabited continuously for over 3,000 years, which is why it has become known as the “oldest living city in the Americas”.
The reign of the Inca Empire lasted between the 13th and 16th centuries, until the colonisation by the Spanish, whose occupation ended in 1821. As a participant of volunteer programs in Peru, you can be sure that you’ll learn all about this history, and better understand the fusion of cultures that Cusco has to offer.
As a result of how well the city’s past has been preserved, Cusco was officially declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. And this, paired with its close proximity to Machu Picchu, is what attracts the majority of Peru's tourists from all over the world.
GVI is committed to upholding ethical best practices and constantly reviewing our programs to ensure they align with these. This commitment to ongoing reflection and improvement is illustrated by our badge of ethics, and is the reason why GVI no longer supports orphanage volunteering.
For more information, see our stance on orphanage volunteering. We also support ChildSafe, a global child protection initiative, and regularly review our comprehensive Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection policy. All GVI staff and participants on our volunteer programs in Peru are required to complete a police background check before arrival on the program, and on-site child protection training is provided once they arrive in Peru. We also protect children from cyber and real-world threats by ensuring that our marketing follows child protection best practices.
WHERE CAN I VOLUNTEER IN PERU WITH GVI?
GVI operates in one location in Peru.
Cusco is an Andean city where the 13th and 21st centuries merge into one. Think fast food restaurants wedged in between the impressive stone architecture, and archeological sites from the Inca period. Cusco is full of contrasts, and is a captivating place both to visit and volunteer.
But adventure also awaits volunteers, with the famous ruins of Machu Picchu.
Cusco is a hotspot for treks to Machu Picchu, so don’t forget to pack your walking shoes to join in on a three to four day hike to these weathered city ruins.
If hiking isn’t for you, don’t worry. You can still get a taste of the action on a day trip by taking the train to Aguas Calientes and then a bus on to Machu Picchu.
But Machu Picchu is not Cusco’s only drawcard. As a city teeming with culture and stories, Cusco may as well have been made for the history-enthusiast. It’s the perfect place to take your knowledge of the Inca Empire to the next level.
Volunteering in Cusco
Your role as a volunteer in Cusco will be to assist local Peruvian communities to work on development projects that they have identified as important. This could involve tasks such as teaching, or assisting with environmental education and the conservation of Cusco's natural resources.
One of the best volunteer programs in Peru for business-savvy individuals is the micro-enterprise and business volunteer program in Cusco. As a volunteer on this program you can assist in empowering entrepreneurs with the skills and resources they need to help their businesses reach their full potential.
No matter which area you choose to support when you volunteer in Cusco, you can be sure you’ll be contributing towards one or more of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).
It’s important to note that you need to be proficient in Spanish to take part in any of our volunteer programs in Peru. This helps our participants to engage more meaningfully and respectfully with our local partners, and maximise impact.
But if you're not already fluent in Spanish, there's no need to worry. You can request Spanish lessons when you book onto a Peru volunteer and travel program. You'll also be surrounded by Spanish speakers every day, which is the best way to learn a new language.
Peru volunteer and travel: When’s the best time to visit Cusco?
As a volunteer in Cusco you might experience the country's dramatic difference between its wet and dry seasons.
The dry season in Cusco usually occurs between June and September. With its bright and sunny conditions, the dry season can be the best time to join volunteer programs in Peru, especially if trekking to Machu Picchu is also on your to-do list!
However, these summer months do bring large volumes of tourists, so if you’d prefer to avoid the crowds, or want to avoid contributing to tourism’s demand on Cusco’s resources, you can choose to volunteer in Peru during the less congested wet season.
Cusco’s wet season occurs during May or between late September and early November. It brings about a significant amount of rain and cooler temperatures of around 18 degrees Celsius during the day and a milder 9 degrees Celsius in the evening.
WHY VOLUNTEER IN PERU?
Festivals in Peru
Peru is well known in Latin America for its many festivals. These festivals are a colourful display of the country’s history, culture, and traditions. If you’re travelling to Latin America to volunteer in Peru, you should consider attending one of the popular Peruvian festivals before your volunteering stint is over.
Based on Peru’s diverse influences, as a result of colonisation and various settlers over the years, their traditions and festivals vary greatly. However, they do all have a few things in common – they involve dancing, singing, and plenty of pride in Peruvian culture. An example of this type of festival is Carnaval. Carnaval is a week of celebrations in February leading up to Lent. This festival has its roots in Catholic traditions and was first introduced to Peru by Spanish colonists.
The celebrations of Carnaval take place all over Peru, but Cusco is central to the action. The festivities here are unique to Peru, as Peruvian and Catholic traditions have been combined. The celebrations usually involve bright colours and traditional Peruvian dress, which are put on display during street parades.
Things to do in your free time as a volunteer in Peru
There are also a number of opportunities to see more of what Cusco and its surrounds have to offer when you volunteer in Peru. The most obvious of these is to take a tour of Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu stands proud, just 75 kilometres from the city of Cusco, at 2,430 metres above sea level.
For the outdoor enthusiasts, why not enjoy a hike up the Cordillera Blanca? This is the highest tropical mountain range in the world, and Peru’s leading destination for hiking activities. With varied levels of difficulty, anyone can enjoy the challenge presented by these remote mountains and marvel at the turquoise lakes dotted in between towering peaks.
If indoor activities are more suited to you, why not visit the Cusco Cathedral? This is a Roman Catholic cathedral partially constructed from hard stone blocks taken from the nearby Inca site of Saqsayhuman.
To learn even more about the history of the Inca Empire you can visit the “Museo Inka”, a museum that boasts an impressive collection of metallic jewellery, pottery, and hand-woven textiles from the time of the Inca Empire.
WHICH TYPES OF VOLUNTEER PROGRAMS ARE AVAILABLE IN PERU WITH GVI?
FIVE QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE YOU CHOOSE TO VOLUNTEER AND TRAVEL IN PERU
Before beginning your journey as a volunteer in Peru, you may have some questions you want answered.
Q: Which volunteer program can I join in Peru?
A: GVI offers a range of different volunteering programs in Peru. Choose from a variety of programs focused on either childhood education, women’s empowerment, or environmental conservation and development.
Q: How do I know if the volunteering in Peru that I’m doing with GVI is ethical?
A: GVI is committed to a high level of ethics in our operations. That is why, as an organisation, we have developed ten ethical principles that we are committed to. In addition to this, we have also outlined five human empowerment principles. Our badge of ethics illustrates our dedication to uphold, revise and improve our policies on a regular basis. Any improvements to our policies are made together with our ethics officers and outside experts.
Q: How long do the volunteer programs in Peru last?
A: Peru volunteer programs range anywhere from 1 week to 20 weeks of participation. It is important to note that the base in Peru does not operate over the Christmas period.
Q: Do I need any special qualifications to become a volunteer in Peru?
A: No specific qualifications are needed in order to become a GVI volunteer in Peru. As with all GVI-run programs, in order to join an adult volunteering in Peru program, you need to be at least 18 years old.
If you are between the ages of 15 and 17 and still passionate about making an impact as a volunteer in Peru, you can join our under 18 volunteering projects or enquire with your school about the possibility of organising a school group trip to volunteer in Peru. Any necessary training required for the Peru volunteer program you have chosen will be provided on base.
Q: Where will I be staying while I volunteer in Peru?
A: When you volunteer in Peru’s popular Cusco region, you will stay in an apartment only five blocks from the Plaza De Armas, the main city square in Cusco. Your accommodation will be in a shared, three-bedroom apartment, where each bedroom has capacity for two volunteers at a time. The house has access to wifi so you will be able to stay in contact with your friends and family back home. Drinking water will be provided to you by GVI staff.
Q: Who will I be volunteering in Peru with?
A: GVI volunteers come from countries all over the world. This gives you the opportunity to make friends with people who have different cultural and historical backgrounds from yourself. Because of this, you will probably find yourself leaving this volunteer in Peru experience with friends you never imagined yourself having
GVI VOLUNTEER PROGRAMS IN PERU
The community in Cusco has highlighted English language skills as an area of growth that’s important to them. This is because being fluent in conversational English creates greater opportunities for more community members to succeed in a career in Peru’s booming tourism sector.
Because of this, local communities in Cusco are keen to accept english-speaking volunteers in Peru to support the teaching of English to local children.
It is important to note that school holidays in Peru run from the middle of December to the middle of March, with another two-week winter break usually at the end of July till the beginning of August. So if you are planning to volunteer in Peru during this time you will take part in alternative activities such as coming up with fun summer school programs for school children, or reforestation initiatives.
Business volunteers in Peru participate in a range of activities all aimed at supporting local entrepreneurs as they empower themselves with the skills and resources needed to run a successful business. The day-to-day activities of business volunteers will be determined based on the needs of community businesses at the time of their program.
Possible activities could include identifying challenges that local businesses may run into, and suggesting solutions. They might also support businesses in holding workshops to discuss sales and marketing strategies.
In some cases, volunteers may hold English classes designed specifically for aspiring local entrepreneurs, business owners, or professionals looking to improve their conversational English. By improving their English abilities, business professionals will be able to extend their reach to the tourism market
It’s important to note that although knowledge and experience in the fields of business management and administration may help, they are by no means a requirement for joining our programs and contributing to the work of the local community.
Volunteer in Peru on a women’s empowerment program to support the goals of local girls and women.
The program focuses on improving access for women and young people from Cusco, and surrounding communities, to tools that will allow them to improve their businesses, lifestyles and to support their overall sustainable development.
Depending on the needs of the community at the time of your participation, you could be involved in a range of activities to support women and girls. This might include English lessons to improve their employability prospects, or business development workshops to encourage entrepreneurship within the community in Cusco.
The local Cusco women are happy to have volunteers around and sometimes even show the volunteers their everyday life. Through this, volunteers get the opportunity to learn about and assist in activities like weaving, planting potatoes, and cattle raising.
Community development and conservation are the major focus points of this volunteer in Peru program. Volunteers on this project can get involved in initiatives like environmental education workshops at local schools, lake cleanups, and reforestation projects.
The main aim of this Peru volunteer and travel program is to create greater awareness in the region of Cusco on the importance of conserving natural resources, particularly the Piuray basin and Sacred Valley.
The reason why the resources in these places need to be protected is that an increase in tourism in Peru comes with an increased demand and stress on Cusco’s natural resources. For example, the Laguna Piuray, a lake in the region, needs to be protected, as it is currently responsible for supplying the city of Cusco with 40% of its drinking water.
Meet the team - Senior Field Management
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