The Many Shades of Voluntourism in Peru

Given that Peru is home to a diverse range of cultures, and an equally diverse range of natural environments, it should come as no surprise to learn Peru is also home to a diverse range of voluntourism opportunities.

Voluntourism, the practice of participating in some form of volunteer work while traveling, has been growing in popularity over the past few decades. More and more travelers are embracing the idea of “giving back” to the destinations they visit.

In Peru, there are literally hundreds of voluntourism opportunities, spread across every region of the country. Here is just a sampling.

Lima

Peru’s capital city has no shortage of voluntourism activities and organizations. Cross Culture Solutions has been providing volunteer opportunities for visitors since 1998. Travelers can volunteer as individuals, or as groups, and work on projects for anywhere from one to 12 weeks.

Cross Culture Solutions offers education volunteer opportunities in which you help improve the day to day education for children through activities, instruction, and individual support at daycare centers and pre-schools. Or you may select an activity that’s related to children’s health. You can improve access to water by creating a WASH station in schools and community centers, run a vision project for children to receive eyeglasses, and participate in dental hygiene initiatives to ensure children have access to proper supplies.

Cross Culture Solutions even provides a “Home-Base,” where volunteers live and take their meals. It’s located in the Chorrillos district with access to vibrant markets and cozy neighborhood eateries. The Home-Base is on the second floor of a Peruvian family home and offers a rooftop terrace and a lovely patio garden.

For more information, click here.

Tropical Hills of Northern Peru

Does spending time off the grid sound good to you? If so, this sustainable social development project offered through Otra Cosa Network could be just the ticket.

Sícchezpampa is a little farming community where families grow sugar cane and organic coffee to support themselves. Located in the tropical hills of northern Peru, this remote village is accessible via 1-hour donkey ride from the nearest town. As a volunteer, you’ll work alongside locals tilling the land, preparing the soil, participating in the harvest and otherwise working the sugar and coffee farms.

Of course, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the surrounding beautiful hills, improve your Spanish, and experience the local culture. The minimum commitment for working on the farm is one month. The busiest and most interesting time to volunteer on the farm is during coffee harvest from June or July through December.

For more information, click here.

Andes

Many of the companies that take hikers trekking through the breath-taking Andes Mountains of Peru offer the opportunity for visitors to help out in some of the villages along the way. World Wide Trekkers, for example, has its Santa Cruz Voluntourism Trek.

Offered every August, this 10-day trek not only takes you through the stunning Cordillera Blanca range with its staggering peaks and pristine alpine lakes, you’ll also participate in outreach projects in two of the local villages. Along the trek, you’ll spend one day in the village of Pashpa and two days in the village of Huaripampa, assisting with the completion of the two solar-powered computer centers.

For more information, click here.

Amazon

The vast, pristine Amazonian forests of northeastern Peru are home to an incredible array of wildlife. Pink river dolphins and caimans still swim these waters, while extraordinary birds fly through the canopy. Uakari monkeys abound along the Yavari River and manatees swim in the lakes of Samiria. Rare giant river otters can sometimes be seen hunting and playing in area lakes and rivers.

If you take the 4-day Amazon Riverboat Exploration from the Earthwatch Institute, you’ll help to survey the area’s wildlife to develop conservation strategies for the region and the people who inhabit it.

You’ll journey aboard a restored, remodeled, air-conditioned ship from the Rubber Boom era. You’ll travel for two days along the Samiria River into the heart of Peru’s fabled Amazon region.

For the next two days, you’ll also have the opportunity to meet and work with the Cocama people from a nearby village. With your help, Earthwatch and the Cocama will develop management plans to protect both the needs of the Cocama people and the wildlife of the Samiria River basin.

For more information, click here.

Coast

Are you a surfer, or would like to be? Grab your board and venture to the northern coast of Peru to unite your passions for wave riding and making a difference.

In 2004, a group of local and international surfers created Waves for Development to connect the dots between travel, surfing, and voluntourism. The nonprofit organization is active in Lobitos, a small town in northern Peru that’s known by surfers for breaks like La Punta and Piscinas. For at least one week, you’ll kick back and enjoy the slow pace of beach life, surf to your heart’s content and give back to the seaside community. You can teach surfing and/or English to the locals, and attend workshops in eco-construction and sustainable tourism.

For more information, visit here.

No matter how you may want to participate in voluntourism in Peru, you’re bound to find an organization that can align you with your ideal experience. And by giving back, you’ll enjoy your visit to Peru that much more.