Volunteer in Peru
Volunteer work in Peru and assist at a children's home in Cuzco, known as the backpacking Mecca of South America and set against the spectacular Peruvian Andes. Peru is an ideal starting point for first time volunteers and anyone considering a starting point and base for further travel in the region.
- Work alongside the staff at two busy children's homes
- Organise after school activities
- Visit a rural village to help prevent children becoming street kids
- Take the children on trips in the area
- Medical and health students: Work shadow at a clinic whilst helping staff practice their conversational English
- Take the children on trips in the area
- Trek along cobbled Inca trails in the rainforest to the deserted Machu Pichu ruins
Placement at a Glance
Peru placement map
Click to expand
Book now on 01603 280702 and contact people travelling to the same project!
Trip info for Peru
Book your placement with £145. Then pay £125 per week (weeks 1 and 2) and only £85 per week onwards to volunteer in a busy children's home.
Change lives and volunteer in Peru 2015 - 2016
Peru Placement Details
Here's everything you need to know about our volunteer project in Peru, including placement information, how to get there, what to pack and advice on your free time, health and safety.
About the Project
What are the aims of the project?
Opened in 2005, the childrens homes provide a home for children whose parents can no longer support them. It is always hoped that the home will be a temporary solution and that the children will be able to return to their families shortly although this is not always possible.
Do the children have families?
Most of the children have family somewhere. Some parents move to the industrial cities or mines for work and are unreachable for long periods. Sometimes children choose to stay at the children's home. This may be due to abuse or lack of support at home. Some children have learning difficulties or behavioural challenges the family struggle with. Some of the children are happy to make regular visits to their family which can provide a healthier and safer arrangement.
What is the need for volunteers?
The home provides daily meals, a bed and schooling but the children also need attention on a one-to-one basis as the staff can often be busy with domestic chores. Volunteers are free to get involved as much or as little as you like here. You may supervise the children doing their homework, another day organise your own activity or simply watching TV with them. Because the volunteer accommodation is self-contained you can come and go as you like during your visit.
A limited number of spaces (2 weeks maximum) are also available for Dentistry students to get involved with local surgeries alongside helping at the orphanages. Please book early as demand exceeds supply. A one-off contribution of £100 is required for dental placements which covers organisation, supervision and materials.
A typical schedule
Here's how you could spend a two week visit based on previous volunteers suggestions and their experiences.
Monday morning head over to the boy's home to play football or supervise them doing homework. In the afternoon, head into town to check out a Museum or enjoy a surreal experience at an Irish pub, but don't drink more than one or you might start to feel the effects of the altitude!
Tuesday, lazy morning, then in afternoon arrange tickets for a weekend trip with other volunteers to the Machu Pichu ruins.
Wednesday morning, spend some time with the staff around the girl's home and help prepare the lunchtime meal. Staff really enjoy volunteers helping out and it's a great opportunity to pick up or improve Spanish when you are working alongside them. Find out about how to get to the mountain village Poroy for outreach work with the children. Wednesday afternoon when the girls get back from school, get out the art and craft resources you have brought from home (or bought in Cuzco) followed by being taught Peruvian dances by the girls (they love dancing), a true cultural exchange!
Thursday head up to Poroy to have fun and games for a whole day with the children who are at risk of becoming street kids. Many of the very poorest children outside of Cuzco who suffer neglect will often come in Cuzco to beg. Give them some happy memories they won't forget and will want to stay in their village for.
Friday take the train to Aguas Calientes for a weekend visit to the Machu Pichu ruins.
Monday, ask if you and another volunteer can take a small group to the municipal swimming pool or a museum. You may need to offer to cover entrances if the home cannot cover the costs though but it won't break the bank. Afternoon, teach the girls some phrases in English they can practice with volunteers (some ideas may include what's your name? Where are you from? Have you been to ...yet? But check on arrival because by the time you arrive they may know these already if a volunteer has spotted this and taught them before!) It is worth pointing out that a good lesson plan is essential and is the best way to encourage interest in English. It's not that they are not interested but they have seen their fair share of numbers, alphabet and colours taught over the years. Check out the Headway TEFL series for ideas for content (no need to buy the books - as they can be expensive and getting the right book for the right level can be tricky but they can be useful to have a look at to get the general feel). For an idiot-proof way to teach new phrases if you have never taught before check out our guide.
Tuesday morning, head over to the boy's home to teach the same lesson building on what you learnt teaching the girls then back to the girl's home to help with lunch and supervise their after school homework.
Wednesday, make a visit to the Sacsayhuaman ruins above the city, almost as spectacular as Machu Pichu. They were added to the UNSECO World Heritage List in 1983. After the ruins, buy some gifts for family at home and perhaps something for the home or the children in Poroy now that you know what everyone is in need of. You might want to pick up a classic Llama wool jumper, perfect for snuggling up in over a UK winter if you are coming from the UK!
Thursday, make a second visit to Poroy to check up on the children and perhaps take a newly arrived volunteer with you to introduce and who will hopefully take over after you have left. Friday, football morning with the boys and afternoon with the girls going over the English taught. Get an early night before you fly home tomorrow!
This placement has it all - you just need to have the confidence to plan carefully to take full advantage of everything that is on offer! Obviously you can stay longer than 2 weeks, the above is here just to give you an idea of how you may decide to spend your time in Cuzco over a 2 week period to maximise your experience.
Inca trail trekking
Most volunteers at some stage of their visit will make a trek on one of the many Inca trails in the region. These can be organised with local trekking agencies after arrival and a basic no frills-carry-your-own-rucksack-type with trek guides will cost in the region of £180. If you can't stretch to an organised trek or don't have time, there are plenty of cobblestone Inca trails surrounding the city which can be explored easily. In fact any cobblestone path built by the Incas in the Andes is an Inca trail. For those not into trekking and camping, did you know that Macchu Picchu (the ruins up on the green hill) can be visited without the need to trek for days, just take the tourist bus up from the little town of Aguas Calientes!
Health, safety and support
Is Peru safe?
With super-friendly people who love their foreign visitors you could not be in a safer more humbling location. Cuzco is a very popular tourist destination so do leave your important bits and pieces tucked away safely at the accommodation and wear a money belt for larger amounts of money. The most common annoyance is leaving your bag at a cafe with everything in it rather than actual pickpocketing. Do be careful when taking the busy train up to visit Machu Pichu, take the smallest day bag you can even if staying overnight in Aguas Calientes. That way you can have your bag on you at all times. There are reports of bags going missing on trains although this tends to affect backpackers and locals who have to leave their larger rucksacks on the overhead racks whilst they sleep or pop to the toilet.
OV volunteer organises after school activity at the boys home.
What level of support is provided?
9 in 10 volunteers stay at the self-contained volunteer accommodation next to the girl's home. This places you in a good position for support you may need from the staff as they are only a stones throw away. Other accommodation owned by the home is also used at busy times, but you are never more than a walk away from the children's homes if you need anything. The English speaking manager used to work in tourism before working in social care and will be more than happy to help you organise all the tours and treks for you at the best prices. It is also a good idea to learn a few Spanish phrases in case he is not around and take advantage of the Spanish speaking staff to help you improve or learn conversational Spanish! It can be surprising how much you can learn when you are in a non-English speaking environment. However, many of the older children are used to English speaking volunteers and will know basic phrases.
We consider this project ideal if you...
- Are looking for a small and friendly family-run project where you can live-in.
- Would like an opportunity to get some dental practice experience (dentistry students only - optional).
- Want to learn or improve your Spanish by working alongside Spanish speaking staff.
- Are travelling alone and want to make new friends amongst the other volunteers and perhaps travel together afterwards around Peru or Bolivia.
Will I have free time?
Volunteers normally spend Monday to Friday at the children's homes but equally you can hang out at the weekends and take trips to explore during the week.
What can I do?
Known as the backpacking Mecca of South America, Cuzco offers the visitor plenty to see and do. From the Machu Picchu ruins, Urpicha Park to taking a dip in the hot springs at Aguas Calientes. Plenty of museums, shops, cafes and bars including a growing number of Irish Pubs, but remember to take it easy with the altitude! A popular break is an Inca trail trek and the volunteer co-ordinator will help arrange a trip or trek for you after arrival.
What local facilities are there?
Cuzco is a large city and has all the local facilities that are needed and most are within walking distance, including shops, supermarkets, banks, doctors, cafes and other amenities.
The girls at the girls home love dancing and will be happy to show you!
What to take
What do I need to take with me?
Once you have applied and registered with Original Volunteers, you will receive an Information Pack via email that will have further details on the project in Peru; in this email there will be a list of items to take. In the meantime, although the sun is strong at this altitude, once the sun drops behind the mountains, the temperature can drop suddenly too. Bring layered clothing; jumpers, scarfs, hat and fleece and anorak to keep out the wind. Bring swimwear if you want to enjoy the hot springs at Aguas Calientes or take the children swimming, a popular activity. You will also need to bring a travel adaptor, as sockets are the two pronged type found in the US, 220 volts.
Communication with home
How can I keep in touch with family?
Most visitors take an old unlocked mobile and buy a SIM on arrival which costs £2. If you need to use the Internet, the closest cyber cafe/phone booth is next to the girls home and charges 1 Sole per hour (20p). There is also public phone in the shop at the end of the alley that usually charges about 50 Cents a minute for International calls.
Children, volunteers and staff on day trip.
Can I travel with other volunteers?
Although some volunteers travel with friends, the bigger majority travel alone. We will Buddy you up with others travelling around the same time and if you are travelling in the same month, are flexible and have not bought flights yet you should be able to fly out with another volunteer without any difficulty. In addition, create a profile on the Travel Buddy List for other volunteers to find you and post a message on the main Facebook page.
If there is a gap between departing and arriving volunteers, simply hang out with the staff, the best way to make friends. You'll probably be taken under their wing and have unique experiences you might not have had you been staying within a larger volunteer group!
Lunch time with the children.
How will I get around?
Cuzco, although called a city, is not large and you can walk from one side to the other in an hour. With the steep cobbled streets most volunteers take a taxi to and from the main square (Plaza de Armas). Taxis are 40p during the day and around 60p although the main square can be walked in about 20 minutes.
Do I need to speak Spanish?
With the children it is preferred that volunteers only speak English to provide an additional skill for the children even if you are not teaching English and are only spending time with them. With the staff and when out and about most volunteers without Spanish manage well with a Spanish phrasebook. The Spanish spoken in Peru and Bolivia is a simplified version of that spoken in Spain and many visitors find it easier to pick up. It is not uncommon to feel fairly fluent in the basics within 2 or 3 weeks. Spanish lessons can be organised if you would like to learn more formally. Allow £5 to £7 per hour depending on group size and frequency of classes. Let us know if you would like lessons to be organised for when you arrive.
View across the Cuzco rooftops from the childrens home.
How to apply
It costs £125 to book. Once booked you can go to as many placements as you want within a year without having to pay the booking fee of £125 again.
The booking fee instantly books and reserves your place for any month you choose. We are very flexible. Just let us know if your plans change and spaces permitting we will put you on another list.
How and when do I need to pay for my project?
An invoice for the weekly project costs and airport pick up will be sent by email shortly after we have received your flight to Marrakesh. We calculate project costs for the volunteer programme based on your flights This is the easiest way to pay. Email us if you are travelling soon and have not received an invoice. And don't worry if you forget, if we have your flights already - we'll send you a reminder before you go!
At the football match.
Guided cycle tour through mountains.
The children love to go swimming.
Will I need a visa before travel?
British passport holders do not require a visa before travel and you can stay for up to 6 months. Other nationalities should check with their nearest Peruvian Embassy/Consulate for requirements.
What happens on arrival?
The nearest airport to the project is Cuzco. As soon as you land there will be someone waiting to take you to the volunteer accommodation. Half of all volunteers buy separate flights to Cuzco, the first flight from their home country as far as Lima, then a short internal flight from Lima to Cuzco. This can, depending on the time of year save a third off the total flights cost. Preferred airlines from Lima and Cuzco are lan.com and taca.com. It is possible to get the onward flight to Cuzco after landing in Lima but this can be more expensive. It is recommended to buy online as early as possible for the best proce. Do make sure you allow enough time between flights to allow your luggage to come off the Lima flight and be moved to the next. Pack all your essentials in your hand luggage just in case it's delayed!
Are meals provided?
Peru is a self-catering project, there are many cafes nearby and a kitchen in the volunteer appartment if you prefer to cook. The average cost of a meal at a local cafe is £1.50, a beer 60p to £2 depending on the brand and bar. A popular tourist supermarket is Gatos on the Plaza de Armas. There is also a chain of supermarkets called Mega, the largest of which is on Avenida Culture (5 minutes by taxi). Closer to the accommodation and childrens homes you will find the Ttio market selling vegetables,eggs,bread and meat.
OV volunteer enjoys a birthday party with one of the girls.
What happens if I get ill?
There is a doctor close by and a hospital should you need the use of one, the co-ordinators will help you with your transfer there.
What do I need to be aware of?
The altitude! You should take the first few days easy to acclimatise and avoid alcohol on an empty stomach as the effects of altitude can be triple that at sea level. However it is quite normal whatever precautions you take for anyone to experience some symptoms of altitude regardless of your level of fitness before travel. A couple of days bed rest usually helps. Machu Pichu is at lower altitude and some volunteers find a short trip helps ease symptoms when they return to Cuzco slowly by train.
Volunteer Andrea puts her nursing skills to good use performing health checks on the girls.
Anti-malarials are not needed in Cuzco. It is too high for malaria-carrying mosquitoes. If you plan to take a trip to the rainforest anti-malarials are needed and must be taken before, during and after any trip to ensure protection.
What is the money in Peru?
The currency in Peru is the Nuevo Sol. It is divided into 100 centimos (cents). You can obtain Nuevo Sol before travel from a bank, bureau de change or in the UK from a Post Office. You may need to order in advance. Cuzco airport has a money exchange if you prefer to change money on arrival.
Where can I change money during my visit?
Cuzco has ATMs which accept major cards. If you run out of money or lose your bank card there are plenty of Western Union agents where you can collect cash in minutes from family at home. Simply take your passport and the reference code from family.
Group of OV volunteers take a stroll outside of the city
After my placement
What do people do when they backpack around afterwards?
Bolivia is not far away and is a popular backpacking destination. It is considered the jewel in the crown alongside Peru. The popular route to explore is to La Paz slowly via Puno, the reed villages and Copacabana at Lake Titicaca. From Bolivia's capital La Paz choose either the jungle route down (if you can manage the sheer drops on the winding roads) or stay up on the high plains and head to the silver mine at Potosi and the famous Salt lake of Uyuni. You can leave everything you don't want to take round Bolivia with you, in Cuzco. This makes it easier to travel lightly and simply pick everything up on your way back.
You should allow about £300 for backpacking around Bolivia for 2 - 3 weeks including coaches, basic hostels and meals. A guided tour for about the same can be arranged in Cuzco, this way you can travel in a group which is more fun!
OV volunteers at the famous 12 sided Hatunrumiyoc stone in Cuzco.
Peru Project costs
What are the costs after I have registered and booked my space?
After you have booked your space and registered with us, (volunteers travelling within 12 months of their first project abroad with us do not need to pay the registration fee again) the weekly project costs for Peru are £125pw for weeks 1 and 2 and £85 pw from week 3 onwards. The weekly costs include accommodation and support from the staff at the children's home. The airport pick up is £10 and is organised for you before arrival. All volunteers purchase a return flight to Cuzco (skyscanner.net is the preferred comparison site to find flights) and travel insurance. Travel insurance is required and should cover medical bills and repatriation. A visa is not needed if you have a British/European passport. For eating out or shopping and cooking at the volunteer apartment allow between £30 and £50 a week. We recommend taking extra should you decide to go trekking, £250 - £350 should cover a trek and one other activity, although as with any holiday it is always a good idea to take as much as you can extra. There are lots of backpackers bars and cafes where prices can be higher than local ones but you probably won't want to miss out!
Spending time with the children.
Colourful national costumes in Peru.
Free Time in Peru
All the popular activities and excursions below can be organised for you by your volunteer coordinator. It can be helpful for him to know before travel on your final form as it may be possible to organise a group trip which can be more fun if shared with other volunteers. It is always best to finalise and pay after arrival in Peru.
Inca trail trekking
Inca trails are everywhere in the Andes. They are cobbled paths which were built by the Incas. You can walk on inca trails just outside the city easily without a guide at a no cost. The 'classic' inca trail trek typically refers to the 4 day trail which ends at the deserted mountain-top city of Machu Picchu, although there are a few great treks on other mountains nearby. If you want to visit the Machu Picchu ruins without the trek, this can be done easily on a day's visit. Take the train from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes (translates Hot Waters) early or the day before and take the tourist bus up to the entrance.
If you would like to trek the classic trail and prefer to book this in advance with an agency outside of Peru you need to be aware of the following: The local Peruvian authorities provide the permits for the classic trek on a monthly first come first serve basis to keep visitor numbers manageable and help prevent erosion on the historical route. Foreign tour agencies are not given preferential consideration for their pre-booked tours. And neither is there preference given to Cuzco-based agencies. If you are booking from outside Peru, check what alternative trek is offered if the classic trek is not available at the time of your visit. The usual two alternatives, just as good are the Choquequirao trek and the Salcantay trek.
The springs at Aguas Calientes (trans. waters hot)
Natural Hot Springs
The springs are definitely a visit worth making even if reviews are mixed, it is still one experience to be ticked on your list.
The location is pleasant and it is a great place to relax and practise your Spanish with Spanish speaking visitors. Most visitors are backpackers who have completed the trail and need some relaxing relief. Take your swimming gear although towels can be hired for 20p.
The deserted city of Machu Picchu
Price £30 entrance to ruins
Contrary to a common misconception, you do not need to trek to the spectacular deserted city of Machu Picchu, most visitors take a bus from the little town at the bottom called Aguas Calientes. Tickets can also be purchased separately to visit the museum and to walk to the peak called Huayna Picchu.
The deserted city of Machu Picchu, the highlight for most visitors to Peru.
The deserted city of Machu Picchu, a highlight for most visitors to Peru.
Classic Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu
Price from £180 with guide
The classic trail ending at Machu Picchu lasts for 4 days. The guided route takes you from sub-tropical leafy cobbled pathways, past deserted houses, the 'Dead Woman's Pass' and look out posts up to the spectacular deserted city of Machu Picchu. 3 nights are spent at designated campsites/hostels along the route. The last day is an early start at 04:30 to reach Machu Picchu to see the sun come up. Permits for the route are tightly regulated, pre-booking with an expensive agency at home is no guarantee and they will often have small print warning you of this. There are Inca trails all over the region offering guided tours if you do miss out on this one this time!
Explore the jungle by boat
Price £200 - £300 escorted tours
Take a flight (50 mins, approx £250 return) to Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon jungle and join an escorted tour staying at a jungle lodge. The project manager will help you organise at discounted local rates so there is no need to book before you arrive.
An adrenalin-fueled alternative to flying to the jungle is to take a coach down the winding road, but only worth attempting in the dry season May-October.
Small boats help you to get up smaller tributaries and into the heart of the jungle.
Visit the desert oasis of Huacachina, the only one of its kind in South America.
Desert Oasis in the sand dunes
Price £8 per night in hostel
The desert oasis of Huacachina is at a small natural lake near the town of Ica. It is a popular quirky stop over on the Lima - Arequipa backpacking route. You can also sand board and take a dune buggy ride over the dunes which can be easily organised by your hostel or an agency in Ica town. A few volunteers have enjoyed a weekend break here and recommended and even though it is a 6 hour trip from Cuzco, it is a little closer than Puno and the reed islands (below).
Uros floating reed islands
Price £12 excluding travel
The floating reed villages are unique in the world. Stay with a host family for a night in a floating village and feel like you are on another planet. Organised tours from Cuzco are available or for more adventure and to save the pennies and middle man go to the port where you can find offers for a ride (£6) to a host family (£6). That way you you can pay your host family directly. Take warm clothes, a sleeping bag and drinks. The families usually provide all meals. You can also take a day's tour from the port if you don't want to stay the night. Getting there: train or bus from Cuzco, approx 10 hours.
Volunteer at a floating reed village.
Jacks cafe, a popular backpackers friendly cafe.
Price £2 - £4
Jacks cafe offers all day breakfasts with caramelised banana pancakes, toasties, vegetarian options, soups and salads together with the usual hamburger and fries.
When Jacks is discovered, which is often by accident, backpackers often return to eat daily. Volunteer Laura Rogers recommends! Location Choquechaka 509, English spoken, Tel: 51 84 254606
Andean Explorer to Puno
If your budget can stretch to it take a train ride on the Andean explorer train for spectacular scenery. The train departs at 8am for a breathtaking 10 hour journey down the mountains ending at Puno at Lake Titicaca. With viewing platforms, near first class service (for Peru) complete with entertainment, it can feel like being in a historical Royal train or the Orient Express. Not cheap at £155 for the one way journey (the return fare is slightly cheaper £95) but nearly everyone who has done it recommends!
The Andean Explorer train offers luxury between Cuzco and Puno.
Carly and volunteers treated the boys to a match.
Watch the football!
Do something different and catch a game. In Peru, football matches are great fun. You may like to offer some tickets for the children, or you could run a competition or English test and offer tickets as a prize as incentive. Tickets can be bought online or from the window at Inca Garcilaso stadium, and like at home, avoid buying from hagglers outside the gates as they can be more expensive, and in Cuzco, fakes.
Muse cafe bar
Price £2 - £6
There are two Muses - one just off the main square, perfect for the evening and a quieter day time version in San Blas (pictured).
Head upstairs at Muse off the main square for balcony views. The alpaca (llama) steak is a popular dish at both establishments and both have a good reputation for cocktails.
"Best place to hang out and socialise was Muse, lots of live music and circus acts" - Tom Driscoll, volunteer.
The Muse bar is a popular hang out.
Terraces at Pisac above the village.
Terraces at Pisac
Price £6 - £15
A popular Sunday excursion from Cuzco are the terraces and deserted complex at Pisac together with the bustling market. It is a big draw for hundreds of tourists from Cuzco and the views down from the top of the terraces are spectacular. With less visitors at Pisac than Machu Picchu, some visitors find it more atmospheric. It is also lower down than Cuzco so if you are feeling the altitude in Cuzco you can visit Pisac and still climb the terraces. Allow 2-3 hours to see the main attractions.
What happens after you have booked?
- As soon as you have booked with the once-only £145 registration fee (this covers one or more projects within a year), you will receive a welcome email confirming your booking and explaining in more detail how to get organised for you trip. For Peru there is limited availability in the volunteer accommodation so please book early to ensure your name is on an arrival list so your space can be held for you. We do not need exact dates and you can stay into the following month, we only need the month you plan to arrive in at the time of booking. You can confirm your exact dates with us later closer to travel or when you send your flights to us.
- We will Buddy you up with another volunteer going to the Peru volunteer programme arriving around the same time so you should have a good chance to travel together if you wish to.
- You will also receive a Welcome Pack with some useful information which will include project specific advice on what to take, how to prepare and travel health recommendations.
- We will handle all your documentation sent to us, forward this to your project and ensure your airport pick up is organised for you by the local team.
- An invoice will be sent by email to pay for your project which can be paid easily online.
- We will provide comprehensive contact details of your local team before travel
Below is an example timeline for a volunteer travelling in July 2015
- At anytime : get flights to Cuzco airport, this will often require a change of planes in Lima airport as there are few direct flights to Cuzco from the UK, but is straightforward, simply follow the 'transit passengers' signs when you get off the plane in Lima. Remember that flight prices for a two week return and a two month return will be roughly the same so if you have the time, you may want to stay longer in Peru. Many volunteers regret not staying longer and even if you do not want to spend all your time at the children's home you can always leave your gear there and travel further afield with new friends you've made, getting a longer stay ticket just gives you a few more options. For most volunteers they say 3 to 4 weeks is ideal with a week or two's travelling before returning home. There are no fixed start dates or preferred times to arrive, the local team can meet flights regardless of time of arrival. When tickets are expensive many volunteers buy one return as far as Lima then buy an internal flight separately between Lima and Cuzco with taca.com or lan.com Make sure you leave enough time between landing in Lima and catching the second flight, if you have two unconnected flights bought from different agents you may need to come out completely, collect your luggage from the carousel and then check in again for your second flight. 4 hours should be more than enough time to allow for delays to your first flight, immigration and collecting baggage if you need to check in again.
- Add yourself to the Buddy List to meet other volunteers, travel together or simply find a familiar face when you arrive.
- Join the volunteer community on Facebook to see recent pictures from projects and other interesting stories and updates.
- May: contact your travel nurse or travel clinic to make appointments for jabs and boosters. You may want to take some tablets to help with the altitude, but taking it easy for the first few days can usually help with this and not everyone is affected. If you will be travelling to the jungle for an extended period in your free time you may want to take some malaria tablets. Visit our travel health section for more.
- June : Arrange suitable travel insurance – further advice is provided in your emailed welcome pack. Make sure your policy includes repatriation and medical bills. 1 in 15 volunteers require an overnight stay in a clinic (usually at Clinica O2) for acclimatisation or for stomach upsets and private treatment in Peru is not cheap, good insurance will mean less worry and cover the bills but before you check in make sure you call the telephone numbers on your policy details if you need medical attention as they will be able to advise which hospital you need to go to in Cuzco, as different insurers have different arrangements. See our travel health section for more detailed information.
- No visa is required before travel to Peru for UK passport holders and most nationalities. If you require a visa - contact us if you require letters of introduction which we can prepare for you.
- As soon as you have flights to Peru Cuzco: Email us your flight to organise your pick up.
- At anytime: pay for your volunteer support contribution - we will send you an invoice by email to pay online – don’t worry we will send you a reminder if you forget! We will organise your pick up and transfer from Cuzco airport automatically when we receive your flights
The ruins of Machu Pichu, discovered in 1911 are visited by all volunteers on day and weekend trips by train from Cuzco.
Peru at a glance
Peru is in western South America. It is bordered by Ecuador and Colombia from the north, Brazil from the east, Chile from the south and the Pacific Ocean from the west. Peru is divided into 25 regions. Peru is multiethnic and its population is an average of 29 million. The earliest sign of human presence in Peru dates back to approximately 10,560 BC. Peru is a presidential representative democratic republic. Under this constitution, the president is head of state and government.
Peru has more than its fair share of wildlife, history, landscapes and culture which means there is something for everyone in this ancient land. From ice blue lakes and glaciers in the sierras to tropical rainforest in the Amazon basin Peru has it all and every imaginable habitat in between. In Cuzco there are plenty of museums, shops, cafes and bars including a growing number of Irish pubs. Not to be missed before leaving are Machu Pichu, Inca Trail, Nazca Lines, Chan Chan, The Cordillera Blanca and Lake Titicaca.
Festivals: Inti Raymi, 24 June, Candelaria, February, Senor de los Milagros, October
Time difference from UK: GMT -5hrs
Peru's climate is very diverse from subtropical on the coast to the Equatorial climate present in the eastern lowlands.
The rainy season is from November- April and the average higest day time temperature in Cuzco is 21 Clesius between October and March.
Accommodation in Peru
Book your placement with £145. Then pay £125 per week (weeks 1 and 2) and only £85 per week onwards to volunteer in an orphanage.
More information about the accommodation in Cuzco
A - Girls orphanage - location
The main volunteer house and girls orphanage: Pasaje Mariscal Gamarra A1 28 28.
As of December 2011, 14 girls. There are 3 volunteer apartments with usual facilites, hot water etc.
Chemist 1 minute
Bus from 4 in the morning to 10 at night – are minibuses used locally but volunteers tend to use taxis more.
Taxis are available 24/7 a short journey costs around 5 soles (soles is the currency of Peru), during the night from 10pm - 5am 1 or 2 Soles extra is charged
Cash Machines and ATM 5 minutes walk
Phone booths 2 minutes
Cyber cafes 2 minutes 1 sol per hour
Laundry 5 minutes 5 or 6 soles per kilo
Bars plenty around
Distance from Cuzco Airport: 7 minutes by car
B- Coordinator's house
Your English speaking coordinator who is also the orphanage founder and manager lives closeby at Las Garderias casi Parque Las Palmeras
Occasionally volunteers stay in a 4 bed appartment here with hot water. It is centrally located with all the usuall facilities on your doorstep.
C –Boys orphanage
Address: Pasaje Mariano Melgar K-12 Urbanizacion Mercados Unidos, Zarzuela, distrito de Santiago Cusco. This house is also known amongst the children as La casa de mi padre, my father's house. As of december 2011, 18 boys reside here.
There are also 13 rooms for volunteers to stay, all with private bathrooms
With less doorstep facilites than the girls orphanage, volunteers tend to do their main shopping once a week
Taxi: 3 or 4 Soles
D -Casa Rural de Poroy/New
100 metres from the Estacion de Poroy; (Poroy train station) next to the Panamericana motorway .
In contrast to the orphanages, this daycentre looks after and provides activities to some of the city's most deprived children to prevent them begging on the streets of the city and leaving their families.
The volunteer house is 30 minutes by bus from Cuzco (1.50 Soles) and 15 minutes by taxi (10 to 15 Soles). Facilities are limited at this rural village, although there are plenty of bars, there is no bank or ATM
Currency exchange on 02/12/2012 1 Peruvian Sol = 0.24 pence.
See locations on Google Map: http://g.co/maps/9w3g4
If you would like to book over the phone or simply ask more questions please call us on 01603 280702
If you know where you want to go, then you can book online.
You can also change your date of arrival or country at any time.
Media from Peru
Book your placement with £145. Then pay £125 per week (weeks 1 and 2) and only £85 per week onwards to volunteer in a children's home in the Andes
Images of Peru
Many of our returning Peru volunteers send us photos of their positive experiences in Americas. Click on the images below to get an idea of what to expect volunteering at this project.
Photo Album by volunteer Cassie Brown
Photo Album by volunteer Laura Rogers
Photo album by volunteer Calum Hill
Photo album by volunteer Fiona Robertson
Photo album by volunteer Melanie Stevenson
Meet The Team
Book your placement with £145. Then pay £125 per week (weeks 1 and 2) and only £85 per week onwards to volunteer in a children's home in the Andes.
Your friendly local support team (pictured above).
The support team also manage the children’s home and have supported many hundreds of volunteers over the years.
The Team - Peru
The coordinating team consists of a volunteer coordinator who is also the manager of the childrens home and even better still, used to work in the local tourist organisation for many years so you are in good hands for any organisation of trips and treks during your stay. A over 6 foot, he is a gentle giant and is more than happy to help with any aspect of your stay from volunteering to your free time.
Frequently asked questions - Peru
Book your placement with £145. Then pay £125 per week (weeks 1 and 2) and only £85 per week onwards to volunteer in a children's home in the Andes.
Peru Specific Questions
Do I need any experience?
Not at all. Volunteers are needed to acknowledge the children, give praise and spend time together, anything else is a bonus! Volunteers always volunteer together so you will never be on your own. The staff are very friendly and love having volunteers around.
Will I be met on arrival?
All volunteers are met at the airport in Cuzco on arrival.
Where will I be staying?
Most volunteers stay in a shared volunteer apartment at the girls childrens home with its own access. When busy, additional volunteer apartments are also used.
Are visas required for Peru?
Visas are not required for UK/European passport holders on short visits.
What are the start dates?
There are no start dates but Monday to Wednesday is recommended so you can get over your journey, make some friends before your first weekend when volunteers are often out and about visiting museums or off to Machu Pichu.
Can I stay with my friend?
All volunteers arriving with friends are placed together in the same accommodation.
I am worried about travelling on my own - can I buddy up with someone?
We can help you find someone to travel together - use our Buddy List or pop us a message on the main Facebook Group and we'll add you to our weekly round up of travel buddies.
Can you organise Inca trail treks?
Yes. Most volunteers will make a visit to the ruins of Machu Pichu at some point during their stay and this can be done on a day trip. There is no need to do a trek to see them, take the train and the tourist bus and enjoy the ruins for an afternoon at a leisurely pace. Most volunteers stay over in the little town of Aguas Calientes at the bottom of the ruins, then return to Cuzco the next day.
Treks are one of the biggest draws for visitors to Peru and there are many available within easy reach of Cuzco. Your coordinator will organise these for you after arrival. Most organised budget treks (budget being you carry most of your own gear), if booked in Peru, start at about £180 - £200. The classic Inca Trail trek is the one most people know and want to do. This ends at Machu Pichu, but if you have already visited Machu Pichu on a days visit it is worth trying another trail which offers something new, for example a snowcapped mountain pass might offer a new challenging experience. A word on permits for treks: Most treks require permits as they go through protected national parks. Visitor numbers are also increasingly being capped to help protect the trails. They can often close them at short notice to carry out emergency clean ups. The hardest trek to get onto is the Classic Inca Trail trek up to Machu Pichu. Your coordinator can arrange the permits and tours for this and any trek but it is not uncommon for trekkers with permits to be refused access onto the trail, even if booked in advance or booked in your home country at higher cost. If you decide to pre-book the classic one to Machu Pichu through a UK agent (starting price usually around £450) – do check the small print for what alternatives they offer should the permits not go through when you get to Peru. For those interested in reading more about the areas trails, check out Richard Danbury's Inca Trail Cusco and Machu Pichu guidebook, available from Amazon.
Will I need any jabs?
Few jabs are needed for volunteers staying in Cuzco or only visiting high altitude regions (including Machu Pichu). For volunteers heading into the Amazon proper, malaria tablets are essential. However we advise all volunteers to consult your trained travel health nurse a few weeks before travel for up to date advice as you may require some boosters (Taken from the nhs website fitfortravel 21/08/13).
Do I need to bring anything for the children?
Winter clothes, socks, coats and shoes for ages 10 to adult size. Winter coats are always in demand as these are costly in Peru and considered a luxury item. Where not needed at the time of your visit by the project, you can join the staff to distribute these to children and teenagers living rough.
Should I bring anything for me?
The streets of Cuzco are cobbled so sturdy shoes/walking boots are ideal. Casual clothes are ideal and bring lots of layers, hoodies/fleeces/anorak and for the evenings :warm pyjamas, slippers and a water bottle as you will be at high altitude so the minute the sun goes down behind the mountains the temperature can drop suddenly.
How can I keep in touch with home?
Signal is good so bring an unlocked phone from home and buy a sim card on arrival. Calls from home to you are free. Internet cafes through the city.
Contact us for specific questions
Book your placement with £145. Then pay £125 per week (weeks 1 and 2) and only £85 per week onwards to volunteer in a children's home in the Andes.
Skills and experience, no experience is required when volunteering in Peru. Most volunteers that teach English to the children have never taught before, as long as you can speak English, you will be fine. When giving the children general day-to-day care, you will quickly fit in and feel at ease as you see the children’s smiles and happiness from the attention.
I would say if you’re thinking about it then do it. It’s been the best experience of my life so far and i would want other people to feel the same way.
Absolutely fantastic experience, wish I had stayed for longer! Peru is a beautiful country and the children at the Orphanage are brilliant.
We made bracelets and danced with the girls during the day,and in the evenings the volunteers would go for dinner and a few drinks!
Book your placement with £145. Then pay £125 per week (weeks 1 and 2) and only £85 per week onwards to volunteer in a childrens home in the Andes.
Booking your Place
There are two ways of booking your place at our project in Peru:
Phone - Call us on 01603 280702 to reserve your place on the project.
Online - Apply online with a Debit or Credit Card using PayPal following the instructions below.
For more information on booking a place, read our guide to how Original Volunteers' applications work.
Other Volunteer Options
Planning Your Trip
Once you've booked your volunteering experience in Peru you'll want plan the trip, and Original Volunteers has lots of helpful advice for first-time travellers.
To find someone to travel with on your trip, browse through our Travel Buddy List.
To learn more about raising money for your travels, check out our Fundraising advice.
To discover the the qualifications you could gain from your volunteering experience, visit our Training and Certificates page.