Holiday Experience Volunteer Program in Peru - Cusco
Want to spend Christmas making a difference in Peru - Cusco? International Volunteer HQ’s Holiday Experience project enables volunteers to participate in a variety of projects that benefit the local community during the festive season when other volunteer projects take a break. Volunteers can assist with activities like running holiday parties for disadvantaged children and the elderly, helping a rural village with cooking, weaving and farming, or renovating a local community centre and helping bring the Christmas spirit to Cusco.
- Only available the weeks of Christmas and New Years
- Affordable fees from AU$736 for 1 week
- Includes accommodation, breakfast and dinner, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
Help with festive activities for children, the elderly and others in need
Take part in Peru’s vibrant celebration of the holidays
Experience Christmas and New Year with a local family in Cusco
This program is ideal for:
What to expect and how you'll make an impact
The holiday period in Peru is vibrant, colourful and exciting. This special project is designed to help volunteers enjoy the festive season while pitching in with valuable community initiatives. Many projects are closed at this time of year, but this provides an inspiring way to still do something meaningful and contribute to the local community.
Please note, the order of this work may be subject to change based on local requirements. In 2022, this project is only available to volunteers who begin the weeks of 19th and 27th December - volunteers should arrive in the morning the day before your project starts.
See the Holiday Experience Schedule for 2022 to learn more about what to expect.
The Holiday Experience project requires an extra cost of US$95 per week for supervision, materials and the logistics involved in this project which will be included in the Program Fee quoted to you by IVHQ when you apply.
Why do Holiday Experience volunteering in Cusco with IVHQ?
When you volunteer during the holidays in Peru - Cusco you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:
- Helping disadvantaged communities celebrate the holidays
- Volunteering while many community initiatives are closed
- Developing your communication skills
- Gaining a wide range of volunteer experiences
- Immersing yourself in Peruvian culture
- Experiencing the vibrant festive season in Peru
- Volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program
- Volunteers aged 16-18 are required to provide IVHQ with parental consent in order to participate on the program, and may be asked to provide additional documentation to the local team
- All volunteers aged 18+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 16 and 17 will need to provide 2 character reference letters to participate
- 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.Apply For Free
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Academic course credit
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”The meals were fantastic; IVHQ, the local team and my host family were lovely and supportive.”
Read reviews from Holiday Experience volunteers in CuscoSee more reviews
Cusco is one of the oldest cities in South America and situated in the stunning Peruvian Andes. The city is close to famous Inca trails, ruins and temples, such as Machu Picchu. It’s a hive of culture, adventure and culinary delights - all of which makes it a prime destination for visitors to Peru.
The IVHQ Peru - Cusco volunteer program has volunteer placements located in Cusco and surrounding valleys. Volunteers are important to Cusco because despite the thriving tourism industry and government investment in the region, many local people make little money and struggle to access food, water, shelter, healthcare and education. Volunteers can make a difference by supporting local initiatives that aim to help people improve their quality of life by making sure they have the basic necessities and opportunities to help them improve their futures.
Arrival and orientation
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ) in Cusco the Sunday prior to your start date. 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 local team’s main office and then to your accommodation. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation. If you are traveling in Peru prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up in Cusco on the day before your program orientation.
Orientation is hosted by our local team at their offices in Cusco. Orientation occurs within 24 hours of your arrival, depending on your arrival time. For example, if you arrive in the morning on Sunday you will be able to complete orientation that day. Alternatively, if you arrive late at night on Sunday then orientation will take place Monday morning.
The orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Cusco – introduction to Peru, Peruvian customs, language lesson details, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Cusco, 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 socializing.
Volunteer schedule example
|Sunday, December 18th||Arrival & Orientation - Arrival, pick-up, transportation to housing and orientation|
|Monday, December 19th||Children’s Holiday Party - Show the kids a great time for the holiday! Celebrate by bringing gifts and food to the project. Take part in games, songs, dancing and more!|
|Tuesday, December 20th||Eco-Environment - Work to rehabilitate a part of Cusco with native foliage! Transplant, relocate, and plant organic and local vegetation in previously green areas.|
|Wednesday, December 21st||Alpaca & Llama Day - Spend the day grooming, feeding, playing with Alpacas, Llamas, and other cute, fluffy animals. Work in a community that depends on and cares for these animals.|
|Thursday, December 22nd||Community Development - Paint, garden, work on light repairs or construction work. Work varies depending on community needs.|
|Friday, December 23rd||Healthcare Project - Work side-by-side with local staff caring for patients and residents in a local nursing home or special needs care placement. Bring holiday cheer with arts and crafts, sports, and other light recreation.|
|Saturday, December 24th||Departure|
Please note, due to the public holiday arrival will take place on Monday, and your project will run Tuesday through Saturday. Your final night in the accommodation for week 2 will be Sunday with departure Monday morning.
|Monday, December 26th||Arrival & Orientation - Arrival, pick-up, transportation to housing and orientation|
|Tuesday, December 27th||Andean Immersion - Work in a rural Andean community and learn about their daily lives–help with weaving, farming, cooking, or other tasks.|
|Wednesday, December 28th||Community Animal Campaign - Assist at a local dog shelter with general care, including bathing, grooming, exercise, and more.|
|Thursday, December 29th||Field Trip for Kids - Depending on weather, accompany children to a local park to get fresh air and have a little holiday fun.|
|Friday, December 30th||Construction - Help restore a shelter for teenage mothers where kids and their mothers live and thrive daily. Assist with much needed painting and repairs–and enjoy lunch with the residents.|
|Saturday, December 31st||New Year Party - Help lead activities and fun for refugees from multiple countries who are seeking asylum. Lots of entertainment, food, and fun!|
|Sunday, January 1st||New Year’s Day - No volunteer work - lots of local holiday festivities to enjoy independently.|
|Monday, January 2nd||Departure|
Accommodation and WiFi
Volunteers on Cusco based projects will be accommodated in either a dorm-style volunteer house or a homestay with a local host family.
You will find living conditions are comfortable in both types of accommodation, and all homestay families have been approved by our local staff. Bedrooms have single and bunk beds with bedding provided. You will share a room with up to four other volunteers of the same gender.
The volunteer house can accommodate up to 30 volunteers, whereas the homestays can host up to 6 volunteers at one time. If you prefer a private room, these are available in our homestays and you will need to arrange this through your Program Manager once you’ve secured your spot on the program. Private room upgrades cost AU$97 per person, per week.
You can expect the homestays to have electricity, drinkable running water and western bathrooms. Low pressure showers are common and the water is not always heated.
Please note, homes in Peru are not typically heated but your hosts can provide you with additional blankets upon request. We also advise wearing layered clothing as the temperature tends to drop at night, due to the altitude.
WiFi is available in the majority of homestays and you will have access to computers and WiFi at the local team’s office in Cusco.
Please note, volunteers under the age of 18 who are travelling 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.
In Cusco, volunteers are provided breakfast and dinner at their accommodation.
A typical Peruvian breakfast consists of bread, spreads, fruit and eggs accompanied by tea or coffee. Dinner commonly consists of meat (often chicken), soups, pastas, starches and vegetables. We recommend budgeting between US$3 (approximately AU$4) and US$10 (approximately AU$15) per day to purchase lunch. Local staff will give recommendations on economical places to eat in Cusco.
Please let us know of any dietary requirements you have so we can make special arrangements for you.
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
|1 week||AU$736 Equivalent to AU$105/day|
|2 weeks||AU$1261 Equivalent to AU$90/day|
- 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 AU$515 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 Cusco generally find US$100 per week to be sufficient for expenses, such as lunches (except for Jungle Conservation, Andean Immersion, and Eco-Agriculture Conservation volunteers), in-country tours, and Spanish language lessons.
Recommended activities and tour add-ons
We believe that no volunteer adventure would be complete without experiencing the natural wonders of your host country. That’s why we offer Machu Picchu tours, Rainbow Mountain treks and a popular Mini Adventure, exclusively available to IVHQ volunteers in Cusco as affordable add-ons.
Please contact us or your IVHQ Program Manager to book or get more information about any of the following activities and tours.
Be sure to see all the sites in Peru while you are in-country - the Mini Adventure combines the major hot spots of Peru into a 1-week excursion that can be added at the beginning or end of your volunteer program. You will be accompanied by a certified, bilingual tour guide for each trip, using Cusco as your home base between tours. The 6-day program compliments your volunteer experience, without the stress of trip planning. It will begin on Sunday and finish the following Saturday morning, and accommodation is included from the Saturday before your adventure begins. Please note that your meals are not included on this trip.
The Mini Adventure includes:
SACRED VALLEY You visit the beautiful ‘Valle Sagrado’ and the town of Pisac with its famous artisanal market and Inca ruins. You continue on to Urubamba for a buffet lunch and then hike up and down the Inca fortress of Ollantaytambo. Lunch is included.
MACHU PICCHU You take an early morning train from Ollantaytambo to the village of Aguas Calientes at the foot of Machu Picchu. Enjoy the evening in Aguas Calientes with nice shops, good restaurants, and natural hot springs. Very early the next morning you head up to Machu Picchu for a guided tour of the Lost City of the Incas.
CUSCO CITY TOUR See the highlights of Cusco—“the navel of the world” and the center of the ancient Inca Empire. You visit Q’oricancha, the Inca Temple of the Sun, and tour Cusco’s 15th-century Cathedral as well as other amazing ruins around the historic city.
LAKE TITICACA You take an overnight bus from Cusco to the city of Puno. You have a couple of hours to freshen up and then head out on the lake to visit the floating, man-made, Uros Islands. Next, you visit Amantani Island and two Inca temples. Finally, you visit Taquile Island and head back to Puno.
MORAY & MARAS You visit the Moray archaeological site, which is an ancient experimental station for growing different crops. Next, you visit the Maras salt mines, where salt has been mined for hundreds of years through a unique method of evaporation. If you would like to add a Mini Adventure to your trip, you can arrange this directly with your Program Manager once you are registered for the program.
Visit the illustrious Machu Picchu in just one day! This tour includes a round-trip basic “backpacker” train from Ollantaytambo station, bus tickets up/down from Aguas Calientes to Machupicchu, and guided tour of Machu Picchu. Meals are not included.
The 2 days/1 night Machu Picchu tour includes round-trip via upgraded “vistadome” train from either Poroy or Ollantaytambo station, a private room in a 2-star hotel, bus tickets up/down from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu, and guided tour of the incredible Machu Picchu site. Meals are not included.
Enjoy a challenging, high altitude trek to the top of Rainbow Mountain, part of Ausangate Mountain in the Peruvian Andes. Also known as “Vinicunca,” “Winikunka,” “Painted Mountain,” and “Mountain of Seven Colors” due to its multi-colored mineral deposits, participants may elect a horse-riding option, instead of hiking. Breakfast and lunch is included.
Enjoy a leisurely half-day horseback riding tour with an expert guide. No previous horseback riding experience is required, and you will spend 2-3 hours riding through the Cusco region in the Andes mountains and visit several lesser-known Inca sites.
Zipline adventure tour is led by professional guides in the pueblo of Chinchero overlooking the beautiful Sacred Valley. Participants zip along 4 lines across mountain rivers and between ridges with amazing views! This tour takes 4 hours approx.
An amazing river adventure on the Chuquicahuana River led by professional rafting guides. The total rafting experience is approximately 2.5 hours with rapids ranging from Class II and III (dry season) and class IV and V (rainy season). At the end of the river, a hot sauna and showers are available. There is also an optional zipline activity across the river. Expert river guide, all rafting equipment, and lunch included. This is a Full-Day / Moderate tour.
A tour of the unique archaeological site of Moray and the adjacent Maras Salt Mines. Moray was used by the Incas as an agricultural experimental station; and Moras is an ancient salt mine still in production today. Bilingual guide and all entrance tickets included. This tour is only available on the weekend as it begins in the morning and runs from approximately 8:00 AM until 3:00 PM.
Enjoy a day of sightseeing by visiting the San Pedro Market where you can sample local food, San Francisco Church, Catacombs, and the Incan Museum or other local museums (based on availability). Bilingual guide and entrance tickets included. This is a walking tour that can be enjoyed during the week or on the weekend. It begins at the local team’s office and takes 2 - 3 hours.
This tour takes place in the mountains outside of Cusco. The tour includes amazing views of snow-capped mountain peaks, a scenic lagoon, and visits to rural villages. There is also a stop at the Moras salt mines. Helmet and ATV-driving instructions are provided. Bilingual, expert guide and entrance tickets included. There are two sessions to choose from: 7:00AM to 1:00PM or 1:00PM to 7:00PM. 6 Hours / Moderate difficulty.
A tour of the main cultural and archaeological sites in and around the city of Cusco: Plaza de Armas, Cathedral, Q’oricancha, Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Pucapucara, and Tambomachay. This tour includes a mix of walking and transport by van. Bilingual guide and entrance tickets included. This tour typically runs from 12:30PM to 6:45PM.
The Alpaca Farm tour includes transportation and an explanation about the different animals from farm staff. Volunteers will be able to see different types of Alpacas, Llamas, and Vicunas and how their fur is used for textiles/clothing. For the most part, this is a self guided tour that lasts for approximately 2 hours, including transport there and back.
This combo tour takes place in the mountains overlooking the Sacred Valley. The tour includes amazing views of snow-capped mountain peaks, a scenic lagoon, and visits to rural villages. There is also a stop at the Maras salt mines. Helmet and ATV-driving instructions are provided. The zipline activity takes place in the pueblo of Chinchero, where participants zip along 4 lines across mountain ridges. Bilingual guide and entrance tickets included. Pick up is at the local team’s office at 7:00AM and the tour finishes at the same location around 5:00PM. 8 Hours / Moderate difficulty.
An amazing cultural tour of Peru’s Sacred Valley, approximately 1 hour from the city of Cusco. The tour includes the well-known Pisac archelogical ruins. Participants continue on to Urubamba and enjoy lunch. After lunch, there is a walking tour of the Ollantaytambo archaeological site. On the return to Cusco, time allowing, the tour stops at the traditional village of Chinchero which includes small archaeological sites, a traditional market, and textile shops. Bilingual guide, entrance tickets, and buffet lunch included. Pick up at our local team’s office takes place at 7:30AM and you will return by approximately 7:00PM. This tour is approximately 8 hours and the level of difficulty is considered easy.
On the way, you will pass through the beautiful landscape. You will have the chance to stop at beautiful scenic lakes and other lookout points and have the opportunity to take pictures and enjoy the sceneries.You will continue past Yanaoca until arriving at the Qeswachaka rope bridge (3,700 masl / 12,139 feet and approx. 33 meters long and 1.20 meters wide). This bridge every year is renewed by hand, using straw by the inhabitants of the area. You will have a chance to walk over the bridge and take photos (unless instructed otherwise). Lunch is provided and then you will have free time to enjoy the unique atmosphere. Mid-afternoon, you will begin your return trip back to Cusco. You will be picked up between 4:30 - 5:00 AM, and will return to Cusco around 5:30 PM.
This unique tour begins with a 6-hour overnight bus ride to the city of Puno located in the high plains of the Andes. In Puno, participants are transferred to a hostel where they have 1-2 hours to relax in the lobby area and eat breakfast before heading to the Lake. At 7:00AM participants are transferred from the hostel to the motorboat excursion on the pristine waters of Lake Titicaca. The Lake tour begins with a visit to the The Uros Islands - a small community that has lived on these man made floating islands for decades. The tour continues on to Taquile Island where there is a short 30 minute walk to town to explore the local sites and have lunch. The boat then returns to Puno where participants can explore the city and have dinner before the bus ride back to Cusco, which is at 10:00PM. The tour ends in Cusco the following morning at 5:00AM and participants are transferred back to accommodations. Bilingual guide and all entrance tickets included. 1 Day + 2 Overnight Sleeper Buses. Level of difficulty: Easy.
This overnight trip to the amazing Machu Picchu is a must-see for those volunteering in Peru! IVHQ’s 2-day & 1-night standard tour is an affordable and safe way to explore this unique Wonder of the World.
Transportation is on a backpacker train which leaves from either the Poroy station outside of Cusco or from the Ollantaytambo station in the Sacred Valley depending on availability. The train ride from Poroy is approximately 3 hours, while the train ride from Ollantaytambo is 75 minutes. Participants spend the night in the pueblo of Aguas Calientes at the foot of Machu Picchu Mountain. Early on Day 2, participants take the bus up to Machu Picchu for a 2.5-hour guided tour of the Inca citadel. After the tour, there is free time to explore Machu Picchu and to make the optional climbs up Waynapicchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. Note, these extra hikes must be pre-booked. Later in the afternoon, participants take the train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo or Poroy, where they are met and transferred back to Cusco by van.
Please note, this is not a private tour. On this trip you will be accommodated in a shared dorm-style hostel and will experience this tour with a group of volunteers and tourists.
If you’re seeking a more private tour option, please check out the Machu Picchu - 2D/1N Upgrade option where you can experience the tour as part of a smaller group, in a standard private hotel room, with private transportation to and from the train station, and an upgraded train.
How to book IVHQ’s recommended add-ons: When you apply for your IVHQ volunteer program, make a note in your application of the add-ons you’re interested in.
Once you’ve paid your registration fee, your IVHQ Program Manager will be able to book your place on the tour(s) you have chosen and help you organize your trip. Volunteers on the Eco-Agriculture, Jungle Conservation and Andean Immersion projects need to book these trips for before or after their program due to the remote locations they will be volunteering in.
Affordable Spanish language lessons
Fluency in Spanish is not a prerequisite for the IVHQ Peru - Cusco 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 Cusco. 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.
- Group Class: 2 hour a day - starting at AU$101 per week
- Private Class: 1 hour a day - starting at AU$117 per week
- Private Class: 2 hours a day - starting at AU$235 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 the classes you have chosen.
Spanish language lessons are not available on the Andean Immersion, Eco-Agriculture or Jungle Conservation projects due to their remote nature, however volunteers will have plenty of opportunity to practice with locals.
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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.
Protecting against COVID-19:
Volunteers tested for COVID-19 upon arrival
Health & safety information provided during orientation
Strict disinfecting standards for programs & accomodation
Greater physical distance between volunteers
Essential country information
|Currency||Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN)|
Weather and climate: Peru, unlike other equatorial countries, does not have an exclusively tropical climate; the influence of the Andes and the Humboldt Current causes great climatic diversity within the country. In the mountains, rain is frequent during summer and temperatures and humidity diminish with altitude up to the frozen peaks of the Andes. The jungle has heavy rainfall and high temperatures, with the exception of its southernmost part, which has cold winters and seasonal rainfall.