Go further in Peru

Volunteer in Peru

Live and work in a rare cloud forest ecosystem famed for its biodiversity and beauty.

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.

Positive<br/>impact

Positive
impact

Build a better world by contributing to vital, locally-led project work that strives for a more just and equitable future.
Ethical<br/>work

Ethical
work

In line with the UN’s SDGs, we are committed to ethical and sustainable engagement with our local partners and communities.
Beautiful<br/>community

Beautiful
community

Learn from the world’s most unique and significant cultures, in breathtaking remote locations.

Peru Volunteer Projects

Overview
Location
Programs
FAQs

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: 

  • Environmental education – we facilitate community education projects and environmental sustainability initiatives as well developing learning resources and infrastructure for the local community, such as a community centre.
  • Teaching English – we conduct English language classes and teach English to children, adults and National Park rangers.
  • Reforestation – we focus our reforestation actions on forest enrichment and recovery of degraded areas.
  • Composting and recycling – we manage an organic waste treatment system and produce liquid or biol fertiliser with natural ingredients. 

 

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.

Volunteering in Peru – the GVI base

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:

  • Yanachaga-Chemillén National Park
  •  El Tigre waterfall, which comes to a height of nearly 30 metres
  • Cordillera Blanca, the highest tropical mountain range in the world, and Peru’s leading destination for hiking 
  • The ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu

Further afield, our volunteers in Peru often spend their weekends or other time off visiting the city of Cusco, where you can enjoy: 

  • Taking part in one of Peru’s many festivals. These festivals are a colourful display of the country’s history, culture, and traditions. Attending at least one of these should definitely be at the top of your bucket list if you’re volunteering in Peru. 
  • Tasty Peruvian cuisine, which can be traced back more than ten centuries to the Incas, and today has borrowed inspiration and spices from Spanish, African, Chinese and French influences. 
  • The Cusco Cathedral. This is a Roman Catholic cathedral partially constructed from stone blocks taken from the nearby Inca site of Saqsayhuman. 
  • The Museo Inka, a museum that boasts an impressive collection of metallic jewellery, pottery and hand-woven textiles from the time of the Inca Empire.

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 in Peru

Community development volunteers in Peru can either choose to join a general volunteering program or complete a community development internship:

Volunteer teaching in Peru

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.

Community development volunteering in Peru

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: 

  • English lessons to improve their employability prospects, or environmental education workshops to encourage wildlife and habitat conservation within the community in Oxapampa and further afield. 
  • Promoting sustainable examples and prototypes that the community can replicate, like sustainable sanitation, developing and improving greywater systems, and the production of compost.

Peru community development internships

The intersection between community development and conservation is the major focus point of our Peru internship program. Interns on this project will:

  • Facilitate environmental education workshops at local schools and the local community centre. Conservation starts with education, and the aim of the community centre is to become a resource for all community members to have access to information and skills development training in areas like sustainable development, climate change, and habitat restoration.

Volunteering in Peru – our ethics 

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: 

When’s the best time to volunteer in Peru? 

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. 

Is volunteering in Peru ethical? 

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. 

For how long can I volunteer in Peru?

As long or short as you’d like. Peru volunteer programs generally range anywhere from one to 24 weeks.

Do I need any special qualifications to become a volunteer in Peru?

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. 

What kind of accommodation is available in Peru?

Your accommodation will be shared dorm-style sleeping areas and shared outdoor bathrooms. 

Who will I be volunteering with in Peru?

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

I want to volunteer in Peru! What now? 

We’d love to have you! You can apply here

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New and Exclusive: GVI Experiences

A locally curated selection of extra activities are now included across our programs.

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