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Animal Care Volunteer Project in Guatemala - Antigua

Animal Care Volunteer Project in Guatemala - Antigua

Eager to help look after abandoned pets and exotic creatures as an Animal Care volunteer in Guatemala? International Volunteer HQ’s Animal Care project empowers volunteers to gain experience caring for animals in Antigua. Placements include a cat and dog shelter, a veterinary clinic, an exotic animal rehabilitation centre which caters to crocodiles, snakes, lizards and turtles, and a horse rescue and rehabilitation centre. The animals have often been neglected and abandoned or suffered injury or illness. Volunteers will assist with a range of tasks that will help the animals to recover and regain their health, as well as teaching the domestic animals to socialise with humans through obedience training and companionship.

Highlights:
  • Programs start every Monday
  • Affordable fees from AU$600 for 1 week
  • Includes accommodation, breakfast and dinner, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
  • Help animals recover from suffering and neglect

  • Explore Guatemala’s amazing natural beauty

  • Stay with a local family or at a volunteer house in charming Antigua

### Surf School (7 days/6 nights) - AU$2018 The Surf program is either in El Paredon in Guatemala or in El Zonte, El Salvador. Transportation to/from Antigua/El Zonte + housing for 6 nights in family-stay in Antigua and in dormitory-style housing at Surf School. Meals are NOT included, except with family-stay nights in Antigua, but there are various restaurants participants can choose from. Participants are led by expert instructors 2-3 hours/day. The surfboard is provided.

Key information

Care for & rehome abandoned animals
Shelters or vet clinics in Antigua
Homestay or volunteer house
Volunteers aged 16+ and families
Fully hosted experience from AU$600 for 1 week
Durations from 1 - 24 weeks
Spanish language lessons available
Up to 5 hours volunteering a day

This program is ideal for:

Volunteers who love animals and want to help them in their time of need. A veterinary background would be an advantage but is not required as you’ll be working closely with qualified local staff.
Who is this program suited to?

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

In Latin America, animals are often not held in the same high regard or considered part of the family as they tend to be in western societies. This leads to animals being neglected or abandoned, and greatly increases their chances of becoming injured or ill. By volunteering with animals in Antigua, you can contribute to the high demand for support to aid in their recovery and development.

As an Animal Care volunteer you will assist at either a dog and cat shelter, a veterinary clinic, an exotic animal rehabilitation centre or a horse rescue and rehabilitation centre. Specific placements depend on where your help is most needed, but you are welcome to indicate a preference.

Animal care volunteer work varies but is likely to involve:

  • Cleaning cages
  • Bathing and grooming animals
  • Helping with obedience training
  • Assisting with veterinary care
  • Walking and playing with the animals to help socialise them
  • Grooming, feeding, and cleaning the horse stables
  • Small construction projects
  • Educational workshops
  • Marketing and fundraising initiatives
Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #15: Life on Land

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #15: Life on Land

Human activity has altered almost 75% of the earth’s surface and around 1 million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction. Nature is critical to our survival. We must promote kindness to animals and use regenerative techniques to combat deforestation, conserve biodiversity and protect wildlife.

Why do Animal Care volunteering in Antigua with IVHQ?

When you volunteer with animals in Guatemala you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Improving the health and wellbeing of animals
  • Practicing your Spanish
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Gaining animal care experience
  • Acquiring a cross-cultural understanding of animal care
  • Immersing yourself in Guatemalan culture

Volunteer requirements

  • Volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program
  • Volunteers aged 16 or 17 on their program start date are required to provide IVHQ with parental consent in order to participate on the program, and may be asked to provide additional document to the local team.
  • All volunteers aged 13+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 13-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
  • All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
  • All volunteers must speak fluent English.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

KG
Kelsie Gagner
06 Mar 2024

I would say just go for it, and embrace the unknown. There are so many things I've done at each of my placements that I never would've done had I never taken the opportunity to travel with IVHQ. I've loved every volunteer trip I've done and I'm so happy that I've done them! I always learn about a new culture, a new part of the world, and I learn just how much is out there to be seen and learned.

...
MF
Michelle Fox
18 Jan 2024

It was wonderful in many ways - the work I did was impactful, the people I worked with were friendly and welcoming. They became my good friends. Antigua was beautiful and safe. The local team provided many opportunities beyond volunteering - Spanish classes, excursions, and local activities like dance and cooking classes. I will give a huge thumbs up for IVHQ and the local team.

...
RT
Ronnie Townsend
27 Dec 2023

Volunteering in Guatemala really and truly changed my life for the better! I met amazing people, was forced out of my comfort zone which enabled me to grow and become a better person! My Spanish skills have improved majorly, and I feel challenged in a positive way.

One of the big impacts that I generated from volunteering was cross-cultural collaboration and understanding. I was able to learn and pick up new things about the Guatemalan culture, and I was able to share elements of my culture as well. This helped me to grow and work together with the team at my volunteer site. I implemented new ways for cleanliness for the animals, and also emphasizing the importance of both speaking and communicating with the animals.

Volunteering with animals and being aware of limitations present when attempting to provide them with the best care possible made my work all the more meaningful. Volunteering is a very special thing to do. Giving back to the world in ways that cannot be put into words! Getting out of your comfort zone is 100% worth it!

...
MG
Michaela Giddy
03 Nov 2023

Volunteering with IVHQ was perfect for wanting to do solo travel while also making a difference. It was easy to make friends with a broad range of people and everyone was really like-minded. I was pushed out of my comfort zone, gained confidence and grew as a person, made a difference by changing the lives of struggling animals, and was able to visit a new part of the world, learn a new language and be immersed in a new and wonderful culture. I would recommend any one who is thinking about joining to go ahead and do it, there are no down sides!

...
KT
Kylie Thomson
21 Oct 2022

The biggest impact my volunteering trip had on me was figuring out its good to be out of my comfort zone in order to learn and grow as a person. It's hard at first but you will learn so much about yourself that you thought you never would. You can help in a variety of different fields that can really help to make a positive impact. You will gain so much knowledge and wisdom even if you're there for a short amount of time.

...
RM
Rowan Mckinnon
08 Aug 2022

Go for it because you will meet amazing people, it's the easiest way to meet new people and have people to do things with because you're working together. It's an experience like no other, you can't describe the personal growth that comes from it until you do it yourself.

Each place, and people are so different from country to country. They have a way of doing things differently. I learnt a lot about different animals and the way they are treated compared to my home country. I was able to offer a helping hand to feed and keep animals clean and safe during my exotic animal placement.

...

To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

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Volunteer Abroad in Guatemala with IVHQ

Location

When you walk the cobblestone streets of Antigua it is easy to see why it has been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Baroque architecture, Spanish colonial churches and brightly painted buildings can be admired on nearly every corner. The urban environment speaks to the rich history of the city which dates back to the 1500s and includes a number of destructive earthquakes which have seen it repaired and rebuilt over a long period of time.

IVHQ’s Guatemala program is based in Antigua with placements in the city and surrounding areas. At these placements you’re likely to see the struggle faced by many Guatemalans living with limited resources. Despite the beauty of the place and its busy tourism industry, Guatemala is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. Its citizens can benefit greatly from the support volunteers can give local initiatives which strive to improve their lives.

Antigua is located approximately 30 minutes from Guatemala City.

Arrival and orientation

The program orientation begins every Monday and volunteers need to arrive in Guatemala City on the day before orientation.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the La Aurora International Airport (GUA) in Guatemala City. Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee. We recommend that volunteers under the age of 18 travel internationally with a notarized letter from their parents to support their documentation.

When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation in Antigua. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.

If you are travelling in Guatemala prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up in Antigua on the day before your program orientation.

Orientation is hosted by our local team at their office in Antigua. Orientation begins on Monday morning and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Guatemala – an introduction to Guatemala, Guatemalan customs, language training details, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Guatemala, and an introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socialising.

Volunteer schedule example

First Day

On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.

Weekdays

Volunteers will have a morning or afternoon shift, which will last around 3 to 5 hours. Work and hours are dependent on the project and location. If a volunteer is taking Spanish language lessons, they will usually volunteer for half the day and spend the other half in lessons. A typical schedule is as follows:

7:30 - 8:00 AM Breakfast with your host family.
8:30 AM Volunteer leaves home and travels to the project. The volunteer meets with the local staff. You will be given a duty roster and a plan for your work.
12:00 PM Lunch at a local restaurant.
1:00 - 5:00 PM Work at the placement usually ends. Volunteers are free to travel back to the accommodation, go sightseeing or do some shopping.
7:00 PM Dinner with your host family.

Weekends

During the weekends, volunteers have spare time and usually just relax or take the opportunity to explore Antigua and other parts of Guatemala. Hop on a chicken bus and discover the beautiful architecture and sights of the charming city of Antigua, or jump on an ATV and go exploring at a coffee plantation, on a volcano or through small countryside villages. You’ll also find a great selection of markets selling everything from fruit and vegetables to locally-made handcrafts and cooking classes that can teach you how to make Guatemala’s tasty national stew - Pepian.

Long weekends can be taken to travel further afield to destinations, such as Tikal, Belize, Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras.

Sunday is a religious day of rest and many shops and restaurants are closed. Most Guatemalans devote the day to spending time with their family. If you wish, you can accompany your host family to their local church, as a Latin American church service is a unique and special experience for many volunteers.

Accommodation and WiFi

Volunteers who are under the age of 27 are accommodated alongside other volunteers in a large, dormitory style volunteer house, and those over the age of 27 are accommodated in smaller local homestays. If you are traveling as a family, the local team will place you in a home-stay.

Living is comfortable with electricity, running water and western bathrooms. Low pressure showers should be expected and the water is not always heated. You will need to bring your own towel and toiletries, but bed linen is provided.

Bedrooms have single beds and bunk beds with bedding provided. You can expect to share a room with 2 - 6 other volunteers of the same gender. Private room upgrades are available in Antigua and cost $62 per person, per week.

WiFi is available at the volunteer houses and homestays. However, the connection may not be as reliable as what you are used to at home. You will also have access to computers and WiFi at the local team’s office in Antigua.

Please note, volunteers under the age of 18 who are traveling solo will be accommodated separately from those over the age of 18, in a homestay. If there are other volunteers under the age of 18 participating at the same time, the local team will do their best to ensure they are accommodated together.

Meals

Volunteers are provided breakfast and dinner at their accommodation. Breakfast will be bread or tortillas, spreads, fruit and eggs with tea or coffee. Dinner commonly consists of meat, beans, starches and vegetables.

Lunches are not provided to Antigua-based volunteers as they are usually away from their accommodation around midday. We recommend budgeting between AU$4 and AU$8 per day to buy lunch at local restaurants recommended by staff. Tap water in Guatemala is not potable and drinking water is not provided for you in your accommodation, however bottled water is easy to purchase and inexpensive throughout Guatemala. Tap water can be used for showers and brushing your teeth.

When you apply for the program, please be sure to notify us of any special dietary requirements so we can make arrangements for you.

Pricing

  • USD
Duration
Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
1 week AU$600 Equivalent to AU$86/day
2 weeks AU$1022 Equivalent to AU$73/day
3 weeks AU$1333 Equivalent to AU$63/day
4 weeks AU$1618 Equivalent to AU$58/day
5 weeks AU$1935 Equivalent to AU$55/day
6 weeks AU$2251 Equivalent to AU$54/day
8 weeks AU$2884 Equivalent to AU$52/day
10 weeks AU$3516 Equivalent to AU$50/day
12 weeks AU$4149 Equivalent to AU$49/day
16 weeks AU$5414 Equivalent to AU$48/day
20 weeks AU$6680 Equivalent to AU$48/day
24 weeks AU$7945 Equivalent to AU$47/day
  • Accommodation
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Airport pick-up
  • Personalised preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Discounts on language lessons
  • Discounts on travel and tour add-ons
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately AU$533) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in AUD.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, public transportation to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Guatemala generally find US$100 per week to be sufficient for expenses, such as lunches (except for Beach and Turtle Conservation and Mayan Cultural Immersion volunteers), in-country tours, and Spanish language lessons.

Free-time experiences & tours in Guatemala

Take your volunteer experience to the next level with IVHQ's affordable activity and tour add-ons in Guatemala! Explore your options below and learn how to book them once you've been accepted onto the IVHQ Guatemala program.

Coffee Farm Tour (Half Day)
Coffee Farm Tour (Half Day)

Step into the world of coffee excellence in the lush highlands of Guatemala

AU$128
Mini Adventure (6 days, 7 nights)
Mini Adventure (6 days, 7 nights)

See all of Guatemala’s major hot spots on this 1-week Mini Adventure tour.

AU$1800
Volcano Tour (Half day)
Volcano Tour (Half day)

Trek up Pacaya Volcano, a fully active volcano and national park. Enjoy breathtaking views and learn about Guatemala’s natural history.

AU$79
Coffee Farm Tour (Half Day)
Coffee Farm Tour (Half Day)

Step into the world of coffee excellence in the lush highlands of Guatemala

AU$128
Mini Adventure (6 days, 7 nights)
Mini Adventure (6 days, 7 nights)

See all of Guatemala’s major hot spots on this 1-week Mini Adventure tour.

AU$1800
Volcano Tour (Half day)
Volcano Tour (Half day)

Trek up Pacaya Volcano, a fully active volcano and national park. Enjoy breathtaking views and learn about Guatemala’s natural history.

AU$79

Affordable Spanish language lessons

Fluency in Spanish is not a prerequisite for the IVHQ Guatemala program, however on certain projects volunteer work will be restricted with limited language ability. We recommend that volunteers take advantage of the very affordable language lessons offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers by our partner staff in Guatemala. Past volunteers feel that taking these lessons help immensely with day-to-day volunteer work and communicating with local people. Volunteers interested in taking Spanish lessons can arrange these directly with the IVHQ Program Manager prior to departure. The language lessons are tailored to each volunteer’s current level of Spanish and classes run from Monday through to Friday. The cost is very affordable and offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers. These lessons are not available for volunteers during the Beach and Turtle Conservation project, Mayan Cultural Immersion project, Eco-Agriculture project or Holiday Experience project due to the remoteness of these project locations. Volunteers on these projects can arrange lessons before or after their projects if they wish to stay longer in Antigua.

  • 2-hour Small Group Classes: from AU$105 per week
  • 1-hour Private Classes: from AU$129 per week
  • 2-hour Private Classes: from AU$243 per week

How to book IVHQ’s language lessons: When you apply for your IVHQ volunteer program, make a note in your application of the language classes you’re interested in.

Once you’ve paid your registration fee, your IVHQ Program Manager will be able to book your place on your chosen language classes.

Check what's required to visit Guatemala

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Capital Guatemala City
Population 15.08 million
Languages Spanish
Currency Guatemalan Quetzal (GTQ)
Time zone UTC−06:00

Weather and climate: Guatemala has a range of micro climates and the high altitude of Guatemala City results in a subtropical highland climate in this region. There aren’t distinct seasons in Guatemala and the temperature is typically mild year round. Temperatures range from 22°C to 28°C (72°F to 82°F) during the day, and 12°C to 17°C (54°F to 63°F) at night. The country attracts winds and rain during the months of May to October with the hottest month being April.

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How to get started

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