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 center and helping bring the Christmas spirit to Cusco.
- Only available the weeks of Christmas and New Years
- Affordable fees from CA$574 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
Who is this program suited to?
What to expect and how you'll make an impact
For those wanting a special and unique way to volunteer over Christmas and New Years, the Holiday Experience project provides the opportunity to participate in a variety of projects and activities in the local community. The project was designed by our local team as an alternative to the standard projects which have frequent public holiday closures over the Christmas and New Year period.
As a Holiday Experience project volunteer you will assist with a wide range of tasks so you’ll need to be open to contributing wherever your help is required. In 2021, the Holiday Experience project activities include:
Sunday – Arrival and Orientation
Monday - Children’s Holiday Party Help throw a Christmas Party at a Working with Kids project and show local children a great time for the holidays! Celebrate by bringing gifts and food to the project.
Tuesday – Eco-Environment Beautification Project Work to rehabilitate a part of Cusco with native foliage! Transplant, relocate, and plant organic and local vegetation in previously green areas.
Wednesday – Alpaca and 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 – Community Development Paint, garden, work on light repairs or construction work. Work varies depending on community needs.
Friday – Healthcare Project Work side-by-side with local staff caring for patients and residents in a local nursing home or special needs facility. Bring holiday cheer with arts and crafts, sports, and other light recreation.
Sunday – Arrival and Orientation (for new volunteers)
Monday – Andean Immersion Cultural Day Work in a rural Andean community and learn about their daily lives–help with weaving, farming, cooking, or other tasks.
Tuesday – Community Animal Campaign Assist at a dog shelter providing baths, grooming, walking, and general care for the animals.
Wednesday – Working with Kids Field Trip Depending on the weather, accompany kids to a local park to get fresh air and have a little holiday fun.
Thursday – Construction Project Help restore a shelter that homes and supports teenage mothers and their kids. Assist with much needed painting and repairs–and enjoy lunch with the residents.
Friday - New Year Party Help lead activities and fun for refugees from multiple countries who are seeking asylum. Lots of entertainment, food, and fun!
Please note, the order of this work may be subject to change based on local requirements. In 2021, this project is only available to volunteers who begin the weeks of 20th and 27th December - volunteers should arrive in the morning the day before your project starts.
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 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.
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”IVHQ is a great, safe, dependable organization if you want to travel and make a difference at the same time. They offer a variety of volunteer opportunities AND destinations. After doing my two week project, I can attest that everything is as it’s written in the program guide and preparations. There wasn’t one moment where I thought “I didn’t know that” or “IVHQ didn’t notify me of this.” I am super pleased with my experience with IVHQ :)”
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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
The program orientation begins every Monday and volunteers need to arrive in Cusco on the Sunday before orientation. Orientation will be held within 24 hours of your arrival.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ) in Cusco. 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 homestay. 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 begins on Monday morning and 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
On your first day of volunteering, typically Tuesday, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.
Volunteers will have a morning, afternoon or evening shift which will last about 3 to 5 hours. Volunteer roles and hours are dependent on your project and placement. A typical morning schedule might be as follows:
|8:00 AM||Breakfast with your host family.|
|9:00 AM||Leave the homestay and travel to your placement, where you will be given a structure sheet and a plan for your work.|
|12:00 PM||Lunch at a local restaurant.|
|1:00 - 6:00 PM||Work at the placement usually ends. You are free to travel back to your accommodation, go sightseeing or take Spanish lessons.|
|7:00 PM||Dinner with your host family.|
On weekends volunteers have spare time to relax or take the opportunity to explore other parts of Cusco and Peru. Sunday is a religious day of rest and most stores and restaurants are closed on Sundays, as most Peruvians devote the day to spending time with their families. If you like, 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.
Cusco is a lively metropolitan city with a fascinating history and lots to see and do. There are places where you can learn about the Mayan and Incan culture and traditions, see ancient ruins, a beautiful central square bordered by restaurants and cafes, cooking classes, a chocolate museum offering all kinds of tasty delights or dance the night away in some of Peru’s best nightclubs. It is also an outdoor-lovers paradise with plenty of horseback riding, ziplining and hiking opportunities, including Rainbow Mountain.
Long weekends can be taken to travel further afield to visit other parts of Peru, such as Lima.
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 CA$83 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.
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 CA$4) and US$10 (approximately CA$13) 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||CA$574 Equivalent to CA$82/day|
|2 weeks||CA$1027 Equivalent to CA$74/day|
- Breakfast and dinner
- 24/7 in-country support
- In-country program orientation
- Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
- Airport pick-up
- Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
- Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
- Discounts on language lessons
- Certificate of International Volunteering
- All programs attract a Registration Fee of CA$404 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 CAD.
- 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:
- Cusco city tour
- 1-day Sacred Valley + Moras/Moray tour
- Machu Picchu overnight trip with Vistadome Train
- 2-day Lake Titicaca tour
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.
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 CA$87 per week
- Private Class: 1 hour a day - starting at CA$101 per week
- Private Class: 2 hours a day - starting at CA$202 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 within 72 hours of travel
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.