Go off the grid when you volunteer in Peru, living and working in the heart of an Amazonian cloud forest paradise near the city of Oxapampa, where we assist Peruvian communities with development projects focused on environmental and English language education.
Peru is a country in South America that’s home to part of the Amazon rainforest as well as Machu Picchu, an ancient Incan city high in the Andes mountains. The region around Machu Picchu – including the Sacred Valley, Inca Trail and colonial city of Cusco – is rich in archaeological sites. On Peru’s arid Pacific coast is Lima, the capital, with a preserved colonial centre and important collections of pre-Columbian art.
Oxapampa is the capital of Oxapampa District and Oxapampa Province in Peru in the eastern part of the Pasco Region. Oxapampa belongs to the natural region known as Selva Alta, meaning high jungle.
When you volunteer in Peru, you’ll work to address challenges identified by local NGOs, community members and local government organisations, and contribute to several education-based initiatives in and around the town of Oxapampa.
These initiatives include:
GVI works in collaboration with our partner, the Centre for Sustainable Development (CDS), and focuses on three pillars: conservation, sustainable development education and research. CDS is a non-profit, family-run organisation headed up by PhD biologists. In 2011 they bought the land where our base is situated and have been working in the cloud forest in Oxapampa ever since. Our shared objectives are to recover and protect the cloud forest, and create working examples of sustainable ways of living in order to educate and train members of the local community.
Located 500 kilometres northeast of Lima, Peru’s capital city, the town of Oxapampa is surrounded by verdant cloud forests, set in the highlands of the Amazon basin. It’s from this base that we operate our Oxapampa community development programs.
This is one of our most remote bases, and offers a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live in close proximity to several special and spectacular habitats, most of which can only be found in this part of the world, and are home to dozens of unique species of animals and plants. These fragile ecosystems and all the biodiversity they support are under threat, as climate change and deforestation threaten to destabilise them – which is why the climate and environmental education efforts in the local community are so crucial. Sustainability needs to be at the core of how we live in – and are supported by – habitats such as this one.
Some of the many spectacular sights our volunteers in Peru have access to include:
Further afield, our volunteers in Peru often spend their weekends or other time off visiting the city of Cusco, where you can enjoy:
Our main focus in Peru is creating awareness in the community around why the environment is worth protecting and educating the community on how to create a sustainable relationship between farming and naturally occurring forests.
Peru is also known for being a popular cultural and adventure destination among international visitors. Due to this, the country has a thriving tourism industry which provides members of the local communities with employment opportunities. The ability to speak English is often a vital skill needed to access these jobs.
The fact that a large portion of the community lives in areas with limited resources and infrastructure often impedes their access to education. Our programs in Oxapampa also focus on assisting in the socio-economic development of the region by supporting English language learning and community development.
Community development volunteers in Peru can either choose to join a general volunteering program or complete a community development internship:
The community in Oxapampa has highlighted English language skills as an area of growth that’s important to them. This is because being fluent in conversational English creates greater opportunities for more community members to succeed in Peru’s booming tourism sector. Because of this, local communities in Oxapampa are keen to welcome English-speaking volunteers in Peru to support the teaching of English to local children.
Communication with community members on this program is conducted in Spanish. If you’re not fluent in Spanish, Spanish lessons will be required. These can be requested when you book onto the program. Simply speak to your enrolment manager to learn more.
In partnership with CDS, we create working examples of sustainable living to demonstrate that community members can enjoy a good life while making use of alternative resources and income streams – in a way that respects and protects the local environment and wildlife.
This volunteer program focuses on improving access for people from Oxapampa, and surrounding communities, to tools that will allow them to improve their education as well as increase the overall sustainability of their community with the primary aim of ensuring the protection of the cloud forest habitat and all life – including human life – that it supports. Depending on the needs of the community at the time of your participation, you could be involved in a range of activities, including:
The intersection between community development and conservation is the major focus point of our Peru internship program. Interns on this project will:
GVI is committed to upholding ethical best practices and constantly reviewing our programs to ensure they align with these standards. This commitment to ongoing reflection and improvement is illustrated by our badge of ethics.
One of our core projects in Peru is centred around volunteer teaching and working with children, the ethics of which we take very seriously. All GVI staff and participants on our volunteer programs in Peru are required to complete a police background check before arrival on the program, and on-site child protection training is provided once they arrive in Peru. We also protect children from cyber and real-world threats by ensuring that our marketing follows child protection best practices.
For more information on our approach to volunteering with children, please read:
There are a couple of things to take into account before deciding what time of year you’d like to volunteer in Peru:
The weather: The dry season in Oxapampa usually occurs between May and September, with bright and sunny conditions during the day. However, these summer months coincide with large volumes of tourists, so if you’d prefer to avoid the crowds, then why not visit during the less busy wet season – between early November until late March/early April.
The school holidays: If you’re looking to volunteer as a teacher in Peru, keep in mind that school holidays run from the middle of December to the middle of March, with another two-week winter break at the end of July.
GVI is committed to a high level of ethics in our operations. We’ve developed and committed to ten core ethical principles. And all our work is additionally guided by our five human empowerment principles. Our badge of ethics illustrates our dedication to uphold, revise and improve our policies on a regular basis. We also have ethics and impact officers who regularly revise our policies in close collaboration with our local community partners.
As long or short as you’d like. Peru volunteer programs generally range anywhere from one to 24 weeks.
No specific qualifications are needed to be a GVI volunteer in Peru. Any necessary training required will be provided on base.
However, to take part in any of our volunteer programs in Peru it can be helpful if you are proficient in Spanish. This helps our participants to engage more meaningfully and respectfully with our local partners, and maximise impact. But if you’re not already fluent in Spanish, there’s no need to worry. You’ll also be surrounded by Spanish speakers every day, which is the best way to learn a new language.
As with all GVI-run programs, in order to join an adult volunteering in Peru program, you need to be at least 18 years old. If you’re between the ages of 15 and 17 and passionate about making an impact as a volunteer in Peru, you can join our under 18 volunteering projects or enquire with your school about the possibility of organising a school group trip to volunteer in Peru.
Your accommodation will be shared dorm-style sleeping areas and shared outdoor bathrooms.
We firmly believe in the power of community, and we’re committed to building a global community of like-minded volunteers from all over the world. Your volunteer experience will include these people who have different cultural and historical perspectives to share. We don’t doubt that you’ll leave this experience having made friends for life. If you are in any doubt, why not speak with some of our alumni?
We’d love to have you! You can apply here.
Learn to make Peruvian food
Discover the natural dyes of Peru
Take a mindfulness hike through the forest
Try a tree climbing and canopy adventure
Explore waterfalls in the rainforest
Hike through a remote cloud forest
Climb a mountain in the Andes range
Camp in untouched cloud forest