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Mayan Cultural Immersion Volunteer Project in Guatemala

Mayan Cultural Immersion Volunteer Project in Guatemala

Interested in a Mayan Cultural Immersion volunteer experience in Guatemala? International Volunteer HQ’s Mayan project is an exciting chance for volunteers to join an indigenous Kaqchikel family in rural Guatemala and assist them with business enterprises, domestic tasks and community responsibilities that help them maintain their authentic way of life. Volunteers will live with the family, work with them in the fields and learn to cook traditional Mayan food while getting a rich and rewarding cultural experience and making a meaningful contribution to the community.

Highlights:
  • Programs start every Monday
  • Affordable fees from AU$756 for 1 week
  • Includes accommodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
  • Live, work, eat and socialize with a traditional Kaqchikel family

  • Explore remote and beautiful parts of Guatemala

  • Get out of your comfort zone by staying in a Mayan village

### Surf School (7 days/6 nights) - AU$2002 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

Improve quality of life for traditional communities
Based in a Mayan village near Antigua
Homestay accommodation
Volunteers aged 18+
Fully hosted experience from AU$756 for 1 week
Durations from 1 - 24 weeks
Learn about Mayan culture and history
Up to 5 hours volunteering a day

This program is ideal for:

Physically active volunteers who are interested in immersing themselves in the Mayan culture and learning about their way of life. You’ll also need to be happy to stay in basic accommodation and eat traditional food. Knowing Spanish would be an advantage as there are no English speakers in the community, but it is also a great chance to learn the language or find other ways to communicate.
Who is this program suited to?

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

The Kaqchikel people are one of Guatemala’s indigenous Mayan groups and strive to keep their traditional way of life and culture alive. The aim of the Mayan Cultural Immersion project is for volunteers to share in everyday life with a local host family and their community.

As a Mayan Cultural Immersion volunteer you will live, work and eat with the family and assist them with business enterprises, domestic tasks and community responsibilities. It will be a rich and rewarding cultural immersion experience that will take you outside your comfort zone while you make a meaningful contribution to the community.

Volunteer activities on this project vary greatly, but can include:

  • Working alongside the family in the fields
  • Assisting with daily chores
  • Making textiles and hand-woven crafts
  • Helping families to learn English in an informal setting
  • Learning to cook Guatemalan dishes from scratch
Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #10: Reduced Inequalities

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #10: Reduced Inequalities

Covid-19 has deepened existing inequalities, hitting disadvantaged and minority communities the hardest. To reduce inequalities, we must provide better services and support to refugees, migrants, indigenous peoples and people with disabilities.

Why do Mayan Cultural Immersion volunteering in Guatemala with IVHQ?

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

  • Supporting indigenous people to maintain their traditional way of life
  • Gaining a range of authentic and unique Guatemalan experiences
  • Living with a local family in a farming community
  • Practicing your Spanish
  • Learning the Kaqchikel language
  • Developing your cross-cultural communication skills
  • Immersing yourself in Mayan culture
  • Discovering Guatemala off the beaten track

Volunteer requirements

  • Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate in this program. If you are under the age of 18, IVHQ offers alternative volunteer opportunities for teens. Visit our High School Volunteer Abroad page to learn more.

  • All volunteers are required to speak fluent English, have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ before departure.

Are you eligible to volunteer?

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

Apply For Free

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

AD
Anneliese Delgado-Cate
14 Feb 2024

There are always a million reasons not to go abroad – finances, time restraints, the unknown. But I would encourage anyone who is considering it to take the plunge and just say “yes.” Not only do I feel like I made a positive impact volunteering on an eco-farm in Guatemala, I also improved my Spanish, made new friends, played various sports in the evenings and experienced the rejuvenating tranquility that comes with traveling to a new part of the world.

...
GW
Greg Wendelken
25 Jan 2024

Just do it. The hardest step is the first one, these experiences are life changing and will soften your heart. If you take the perceived risk the reward will be 100 fold. This is my 2nd project with IVHQ. I always leave richer emotionally and spiritually then when I arrive. Thanks so much for the opportunity. 😎

...
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.

...
MM
Malachi Murray
08 Nov 2023

I learned more about this culture than I ever would have outside of a volunteer program. If someone is considering it, you have nothing to lose! Go for a week and you’ll have a new understanding of yourself and how big the world is.

...
EF
Emmanuel Fernandez
16 Aug 2022

I'm very thankful for this experience. It will stay with me forever. Thanks for all the support.

...
BB
Bailey Bjorn
27 Oct 2021

My name is Bailey, and I left my home country (United States) for the first time ever with IVHQ. It was incredible!! It's really hard sometimes, but it's such a learning experience and I feel so confident and excited and refreshed after finishing my program! I met some of the coolest people in the world, tried so many new things, and learned how to handle hard situations and challenges. I feel like I can take on the world now and I couldn't be more excited to take another trip!

...

To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

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

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

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Volunteer Abroad in Guatemala with IVHQ

Location

Mayan Cultural Immersion volunteers will be based in a rural village 30 minutes outside of Antigua and an hour from Guatemala City. It is a remote location in a farming community where living conditions are basic. The village is known for its hand-woven crafts made from reeds from a local lake.

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

Weekdays

Due to the immersive nature of this project, volunteers should be flexible and fit in with the daily rhythms of their host family and village.

A typical day might look like this:

6:00 AM Breakfast with your host family and travel to the farm where you will spend the morning
7:00 AM Volunter work begins. You may be planting and harvesting sweet potatoes, peanuts, beans, and corn, or assisting with farm animals
11:00 AM Travel back to your homestay and help with lunch preparation
12:00 PM Lunch with your host family and take a break
3:00 PM Volunteer work continues. You may learn how to weave traditional textiles and teach English to community members
6:00 PM Dinner at your homestay

Accommodation and WiFi

You’ll be living with a local family in a rural farming village, approximately 1 hour from Antigua. You can expect accommodations to be very basic with flush toilets and cold showers. Bedding is provided but you will need to bring your own towel and toiletries. Bedrooms in the homestays have single and bunk beds and can typically fit up to 4 volunteers. As the villages are in rural areas where roads are not always paved, this can sometimes result in added dirt/dust in the accommodation which the host family will do their best to keep clean.

Although WiFi is available at the village, it may not always have a reliable and strong signal. Volunteers will still be able to contact their family back home, and get assistance from the local team if needed.

Meals

Due to the immersive nature of this project, volunteers may be able to help prepare and cook meals with their host family. It’s a great way to discover traditional Guatemalan food and learn to cook dishes from scratch. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided each day and food usually includes: rice, beans, eggs, fruit, vegetables, tortillas, and meat.

The water on this project is safe to drink.

Volunteers with dietary requirements may be better suited to another project.

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$755 Equivalent to AU$108/day
2 weeks AU$1293 Equivalent to AU$92/day
3 weeks AU$1735 Equivalent to AU$83/day
4 weeks AU$2169 Equivalent to AU$77/day
5 weeks AU$2603 Equivalent to AU$74/day
6 weeks AU$3037 Equivalent to AU$72/day
8 weeks AU$3905 Equivalent to AU$70/day
10 weeks AU$4773 Equivalent to AU$68/day
12 weeks AU$5640 Equivalent to AU$67/day
16 weeks AU$7376 Equivalent to AU$66/day
20 weeks AU$9112 Equivalent to AU$65/day
24 weeks AU$10847 Equivalent to AU$65/day
  • Accommodation
  • Breakfast, lunch 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$529) 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$127
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$1787
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$78
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$1787
Coffee Farm Tour (Half Day)
Coffee Farm Tour (Half Day)

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

AU$127
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$78

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$104 per week
  • 1-hour Private Classes: from AU$112 per week
  • 2-hour Private Classes: from AU$225 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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