Volunteer in Peru and make an individual and unique difference to the children’s lives. Here’s everything you need to know including what to expect, how to get there, what to pack and advice on your free time, health and safety.
If you have a question about volunteering in Peru, current availability or would like some suggestions on free time activities, please contact us and we will get back to you as soon as we are free!
About the Project
What are the aims of the project?
Opened in 2005, the children’s 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 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.
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.
The springs at Aguas Calientes, waters hot in Spanish.
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 Lost Incan city of Machu Picchu near Cusco.
The deserted city of Machu Picchu
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.
Trek to the deserted city of Machu Picchu.
Classic Inca trek to Machu Picchu
With guide from £180
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!
Small boats help you explore the jungle.
Explore the jungle by boat
Tour £200 – £300
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-fuelled 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.
The only oasis in South America.
Desert Oasis in the sand dunes
£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).
Volunteer at a floating village.
Uros floating reed islands
£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.
Jacks, a popular backpacker 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
Luxury between Cuzco and Puno.
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!
Carly treated the boys to a match.
Watch the football!
Price £2 .15
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.
The Muse is a popular bar.
Muse cafe bar
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.
Ancient terraces above Pisac 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.
Peru Volunteer – A typical schedule
Here’s how you could spend a two week visit based on previous volunteers suggestions and their experiences although be warned – no one will drag you out of bed each day and tell you what to do, you will be expected to pop in and put yourself forward and make friends with the children naturally. This is to avoid -over-organising the children just for the sake of keeping volunteers occupied. Might benefit you but not the children. In addition, each one of us has different interests and different ways of connecting with the children so each volunteer’s input and experience will be at least slightly or incredibly different.
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? 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 – more information for budding trekkers
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!
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.
Volunteer organises after school activity at the boys home
The children love to go swimming.
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 pick pocketing.
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.
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.
Spending time with the children
Colourful national costumes.
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.
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
Lunch time with the children
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!
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.
If you feel under pressure before travelling to speak Spanish think of it this way – children want to play and have fun, especially the younger ones. From our experience, even if you did speak fluent Spanish, they would rather you play and organise an activity that discuss the details of your family or theirs or what’s going on in your home country!
You will be pleased to know 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.
How to apply
It is quick and easy to book with Original Volunteers. You can book online or call us now on 01603 280702 and book over the phone. See related video ‘How to book’.
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 Peru. 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!
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 price. 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 apartment 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
Volunteer Andrea puts her nursing skills to good use performing health checks.
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.
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.
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
View across Cuzco rooftops from the children’s home.
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 £95pw 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 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 and you probably won’t want to miss out!
At the football match.
Guided cycle tour in Andes mountains.
What happens after you have booked?
As soon as you have booked with the once-only £125 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.
We are available for any pre trip advice you may have on 01603 280702 or by email: [email protected]
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 August 2018
At anytime : After you are registered with us and received confirmation by email, 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 flight
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.
Want to know more?
If you have any questions big or small on any aspect of our most popular project in South America or would like to check dates please contact us at the earliest opportunity.Alternatively complete an easy enquiry form with your contact details and we’ll be in touch! On a budget? If you like the sound of Peru but might not be able to stretch your budget to long haul flights this time round, take a look at our Morocco programme where flights from the UK and Europe start at as little as £50 return with Easyjet and Ryanair.
Placement at a glance
Volunteer in Peru Options
General informal one to one care, support and activities at two orphanages in Cuzco.
18 years on arrival
Pre-departure helpdesk, in-country coordinating team and 24hr emergency support in Peru.
Volunteer apartment shared with volunteers usually in twin-bedded rooms, shared lounge and basic kitchen.
Flexible after school hours Monday to Friday
Spanish not needed to be a successful volunteer. Spanish classes: can be arranged after arrival
2 - 3 weeks is the average length of stay in Peru, although longer and shorter stays are possible. The second or third week is often spent trekking or travelling in neighbouring Bolivia.
When and how to apply
Complete a Reserve Now form now and we'll get back to you with available dates and help with any questions from how to organise your free time and what to do next to get organised!
£95* per week (weeks 1 -2) extra weeks £85. For all new bookings from 6th July. This is a special offer. Usual programme fees £125 per week.
Airport Pick-up Service
Organised automatically for all volunteers, £10 From Cuzco airport. Transfer time is approximately 10 minutes. To avoid touts who target the many backpacking tourists it is simpler for the co-ordinator to send one of the team to meet you. Transfer time is approximately 10 minutes.
Want to find out more?
Visit the Trip Info area (tab above) for more detailed information on what you will be doing including popular free time trips taken by volunteers with prices.
Shop 2 minutes
Bars 5 minutes
Closest 5 minutes
Until 22:00 2 minutes
Taxis 24/7 5 minutes
Cash machine 5 minutes
Bank 5 minutes
Pay phone 2 minutes
Internet access 2 minutes
Laundry 5 minutes
Basics, what to take?
Volunteers in Peru stay at one of 4 volunteer houses/apartments in Cuzco and volunteers are grouped together until the accommodation is full.
The main volunteer house is only 7 min drive from the airport and a 10 min walk from the co-ordinator’s house. All the local facilities you need from corner shops to buses into town are within walking distance.
More information about the accommodation in Cuzco
A – Girls orphanage Pasaje Mariscal Gamarra As of December 2013, 14 girls. There are 3 volunteer apartments here with usual facilites, hot water etc. Chemist1 minute Busfrom 4 in the morning to 10 at night – are minibuses used locally but volunteers tend to use taxis more. Taxisare 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 Machinesand ATM 5 minutes walk Phone booths2 minutes Cyber cafes2 minutes 1 sol per hour Laundry5 minutes 5 or 6 soles per kilo Barsplenty 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 close by at Las Garderias. Occasionally volunteers stay in a 4 bed apartment here with hot water. It is centrally located with all the usual 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/Rural mountain project 100 metres from the Estacion de Poroy; (Poroy train station) next to the Panamericana motorway . In contrast to the orphanages, this daycare 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 02/12/2013 1 Peruvian Sol = 0.27 pence.
The coordinating team consists of a volunteer coordinator who is also the manager of the children’s home,
The manager used to work in the local tourist organisation for many years so you are in good hands for any help you may need to organise trips and treks during your stay. In fact many volunteers are able to take advantage of local prices if they book through the manager than with a local agent.
At over 6 foot, he is a gentle giant and is more than happy to help with any aspect of your stay and support you with an ideas you may have.
The benefits of your local in-country team
What is a volunteer coordinator?
Every project has a volunteer coordinator. This is the person responsible for organising your volunteering and looking after your welfare needs during your stay and they are all English speaking.
What experience do volunteer coordinators have?
All our coordinators are local people with knowledge and experience gained over many years of supporting volunteers. They have a deep knowledge of their local community, providing an invaluable source of information.
9 in 10 coordinators at our destinations have between 5 – 7 years experience and 7 in 10 of our coordinators have supported more than a thousand volunteers each (current as of August 2013).
If they don’t know where to buy Parmesan cheese when the shops are shut, no one will!
Who are volunteer coordinators?
At some destinations the volunteer coordinator will also be the manager/director of the project you are volunteering if you are based in one location. Examples of manager/coordinator projects will be Kenya-Mombasa/Peru/Cambodia/South Africa/Argentina/Uganda/India.
Some destinations require an independent volunteer coordinator because there are many projects volunteers go to. Independent coordinators will organise a variety of placements at many different projects in the local community throughout your visit. He/she will liaise with all the projects/schools/hospitals on your behalf to organise schedules for your volunteer group. Examples of volunteer programmes are: Morocco/Ghana/Tanzania/Kenya-Masai/Malawi/Mexico-Merida/Ecuador.
Thailand and Nepal offer a mix of both.
Is there only one volunteer coordinator?
Coordinators have other staff supporting them, from drivers to housekeepers, and cooks and assistant coordinators.
Support team size varies between project type and time of year. The typical size of any support team will be 5 – 7. There may also be a long stay volunteer helping out
The Uganda school project had at last count 15 local staff supporting volunteers which ranged from security to water carriers!
What do coordinators do?
Airport pick up
Your in-country coordinator will organise your pick up and make sure you get to the volunteer house as smoothly as possible. If your coordinator does not meet volunteers from the airport, their trusted regular driver will be sent to meet you.
Liaise with local projects
If you are on a mixed volunteer programme (Morocco/Ghana/Tanzania/Kenya-Masai/Malawi/Mexico-Merida/Ecuador) your coordinator will be regularly liaising with the projects you will be going to today, this week and next, organising suitable times and communicating schedules to the volunteer group.
Help organise specific placements
Coordinators will also ensure that volunteers with special preferences eg. medical/building can get involved as fully as possible in their preferred area of work.
Show you around and help you to locate things
Need a Sim card? Want to buy some paintbrushes for an art session tomorrow? Speak to your coordinator – they will advise on where, how to get there and prices.
Provide an orientation on arrival
Your coordinator or their local team will provide an orientation on arrival of what’s where and how to get started. This may take the form of a more formal meeting for all new arrivals by your coordinator or through informal advice for new arrivals from staff, long stay volunteers, handouts, information on the noticeboard as per needs dictate.
This will usually include any important cultural awareness if this may affect your stay. For example bare tummies should be covered in Ghana for example otherwise the children won’t stop giggling!
Help you when things go wrong
We are often asked what happens when things go wrong. Your local team are the experts on getting you the help you need immediately. They have seen it all before (in a nice way) and are well experienced in looking after hundreds of volunteers each year with all the usual niggles from sunburn to upset tummies. Whether you need a doctor in the night for sickness or you want to try out a new project or move bedroom or volunteer house.
If you have remembered to print off your project contact details and leave them with family (these are sent before travel to all volunteers) – your family can also contact the coordinator directly. Or they can call us and we can put them in touch.
But if you need further assistance or advice we are here to help you. Contact us straightaway and we might be able to make the niggly issues go away.
For any country related crises which may occur which would require volunteers to return home, your coordinator and their team will ensure everyone is safely escorted to the airport or Embassy as per the advice provided by each volunteer’s government together with any additional support that may be required.
Help you when you feel unwell
Coordinators are the first port of call if you think you may need medical assistance. They will organise an escort to the local clinic/hospital and make sure you are well treated. They can also contact home and will be happy to speak to parents to explain how you are. If you are volunteering alone, they may also stay with you in the hospital or request that a member of their staff and a volunteer keep you company as it can be quite daunting to be in a foreign hospital, even if it is only an infected mosquito bite!
Most health problems are minor and with a day or two’s bed rest either at the volunteer house or the local hospital and plenty of water, most volunteers are back to their normal selves again.
While on the subject of hospitals – make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover local medical bills and repatriation. In developing countries and where medical care is mostly private, it is not uncommon to be admitted into a private room for something which would be treated as an out-patient back home. Without insurance, hospital fees can be as much as £200 per day.
For doctors appointments when you only need a prescription, your coordinator will help you to locate the nearest doctor/clinic. For these it is often easier to pay on the spot and not claim on the insurance. Expect to pay approx. £5 – £15 per consultation and £5 – £20 for basic medication.
Your coordinator knows all the best trips and best prices which volunteers over the years have participated on and recommended. If the options are not posted on a notice board ask your coordinator what is available and how to book. Typical prices across all destinations as a very rough guide: £30 – £40 for a day’s activity, £200 – £400 for a trek/budget safari for 3 – 5 days. Most volunteers go together in a group for more fun and get discounts. Additional trip discounts for volunteers are available in Ghana and Tanzania.
Return transfer back to the airport
Your coordinator can organise the return trip back to the airport for you, simply ask a few days before your flight. This is not automatically organised as many volunteers will have made friends and may leave the project a day or two earlier to sightsee before flying home, want to go shopping right up to the last minute or forget that the transfer was booked and have already jumped in a taxi!
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 £150 – £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
We are always happy to answer any questions you may have. We pride ourselves in the vast knowledge of our projects and are always willing to share. Give us a call for a quick chat on01603 280702or email[email protected]to get the answers you need!
Average Review Rating: from 6 reviews.
While in South America volunteer Gains Confidence and Improves Spanish
A Roofer from London who volunteered in Peru said that the experience had boosted his confidence, and improved his ability to speak Spanish.'He also praised the work of Original volunteers.'
Anthony Roberts, a Roofer from Southgate, London, spent 5 weeks volunteering at Orphanages in Peru, Argentina, and Brazil.
An Adventure Tourism student enjoyed volunteering in Peru so much that she left money behind for a young Peruvian band to record a C.D.
Sarah Hatwell spent 6 weeks volunteering at the Orphanage in Peru teaching English to, and playing games with the children.When it came to the time for Sarah, and her friend Hel...
WATFORD MAN ENJOYED VOLUNTEERING IN PERU SO MUCH THAT HE STAYS ON IN THE COUNTRY
A Watford man who went to volunteer abroad at an Orphanage in Peru in November had such a great time that he decided to stay in the country until September.Twenty One year old Phil Raymond went out to Peru with his brother Michael i...
YORKSHIRE WOMAN WHO HAD ‘FANTASTIC’ TIME IN PERU PRAISES ORIGINAL VOLUNTEERS
A Student from Yorkshire who had a ‘fantastic time’ volunteering abroad in Peru praised Original Volunteers for being ‘well organised’ and reasonably priced.Emma Burrett from Hull had wanted to volunteer abroad, but found t...
HAIRDRESSER WHO SPENT NEW YEAR 2008 VOLUNTEERING IN PERU SPENDS NEW YEAR 2009 VOLUNTEERING IN MOMBASSA.
A Hairdresser from Chippenham who spent the new year in 2008 volunteering at an Orphanage in Peru enjoyed it so much that she decided to spend this new year volunteering in Mombassa.Beverley Wilkins went to vol...
Whilst I was a volunteer in Peru I found that everyone was really nice and Cuzco in particular was a very easy place to meet new people, not only in the orphanage, but in town aswell. The orphanage was a good place to stay , because you´re surrounded by like-minded people who have all come for the same reason. Some ...