Medical Volunteer Program in Peru - Cusco
Interested in being a Medical volunteer in Peru - Cusco? International Volunteer HQ’s Medical project is an exciting opportunity for volunteers to learn about the Peruvian healthcare system and gain hands-on experience in hospitals and clinics for low-income communities, as well as assisted living facilities.These facilities are often underfunded and understaffed so medical volunteers are an important source of assistance for local doctors and nurses and help to improve access to these vital health services for local people.
- Programs start every Monday
- Affordable fees from CA$673 for 1 week
- Includes accommodation, breakfast and dinner, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
Assist local doctors and nurses in low-income communities
Discover Peru’s incredible natural beauty
Experience life in Cusco by staying with a local family
This program is ideal for:
What to expect and how you'll make an impact
Clinics, hospitals and assisted living facilities for low-income communities in Cusco tend to be underfunded and understaffed. As a result, medical volunteers have an important role in assisting local nurses and doctors in a range of specialist departments, while also learning about the healthcare system in Cusco.
As a Medical volunteer you can assist in a range of tasks depending on your prior experience. Pre-medical and less experienced students are able to help local staff with routine jobs like:
- Weighing and measuring patients
- Taking blood pressure, heart rate and temperature
- Talking with patients
- Preparing materials
- Sterilizing equipment
- Administering vaccinations
- Making beds and cleaning
Qualified medical professionals and students in their third year of study or above are able to help with more hands-on tasks including:
- Cleaning wounds and suturing
- Giving injections
- Assisting doctors with physical exams
- Taking patient histories
- Giving vaccinations
- Drawing blood samples
- Basic physiotherapy assistance
You’ll also need to bring your own scrubs when you join this project.
Why do Medical volunteering in Cusco with IVHQ?
As a healthcare volunteer in Peru - Cusco you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:
- Helping low-income communities access healthcare
- Assisting local doctors and nurses at understaffed facilities
- Observing clinical practice in a different cultural setting
- Developing your communication skills
- Gaining hands-on medical experience
- Immersing yourself in Peruvian culture
- Exploring the stunning mountains and ancient ruins of Peru
- To join the Medical project in Cusco you’ll need to be qualified medical professional or a medical and nursing students at any level of training, with some experience in a clinical setting. Volunteers in other medical professions may also be eligible for this project, but can’t be guaranteed work in their specific field.
- You’ll need to provide evidence of your education and qualifications to our local team in Cusco once you have registered for the program, as per Peruvian Ministry of Health requirements.
- Volunteers need to bring their own scrubs.
- It is strongly reccommended that volunteers on this project know how to speak Spanish or learn as much as they can before the program.
- 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.
Peru photo gallery
This is an excellent project for those who want to specialize in a certain medical field. You’re able to state a preference for the department you’d like to volunteer in, but while your preference will be a strong factor in allocating your placement, it does not guarantee it. You may be able to volunteer in:
- General medicine
- Maternity/family planning
- Mental health
- Occupational therapy
- Public Health
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!Learn about course credit
Read reviews from Medical volunteers in Cusco
”This was an experience of a lifetime! The support we received from IVHQ was great, and the local team ran a great orientation when we arrived, with lots of detail. I learned a lot in a short period of time, and wished I had more time on the program. The family we stayed with was awesome. We enjoyed our stay and were very grateful for their hospitality. It was such a cool thing to do with my family. My son and I love it and would do it again. ”
Read reviews from Medical volunteers in Cusco
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$88 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 CA$4) and US$10 (approximately CA$14) 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$673 Equivalent to CA$96/day|
|2 weeks||CA$1153 Equivalent to CA$82/day|
|3 weeks||CA$1547 Equivalent to CA$74/day|
|4 weeks||CA$1933 Equivalent to CA$69/day|
|5 weeks||CA$2320 Equivalent to CA$66/day|
|6 weeks||CA$2707 Equivalent to CA$64/day|
|8 weeks||CA$3480 Equivalent to CA$62/day|
|10 weeks||CA$4254 Equivalent to CA$61/day|
|12 weeks||CA$5027 Equivalent to CA$60/day|
|16 weeks||CA$6574 Equivalent to CA$59/day|
|20 weeks||CA$8121 Equivalent to CA$58/day|
|24 weeks||CA$9668 Equivalent to CA$58/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
- Discounts on travel and tour add-ons
- Certificate of International Volunteer Service
- All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately CA$471) 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 Amazon 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:
Day 1 (Sunday): 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. Hotel accommodations in Machu Picchu town included.
Day 2 (Monday): 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. Host family accommodations in Cusco included.
Day 3 (Tuesday): 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. They will be picked up that night and be in an overnight sleeper bus to Puno. (About 6-hours)
Day 4 (Wednesday): Lake Titicaca 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. They will take the overnight sleeper bus back to Cusco. (About 6-hours)
Day 5 (Thursday): Free-Day They will be picked up from the bus station and taken to their host families. They have a free day to rest, explore the city of Cusco or book a half day excursion. Host family accommodations in Cusco included.
Day 6 (Friday): Moray Salt Mines 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. Host family accommodations in Cusco included.
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, Amazon 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$93 per week
- Private Class: 1 hour a day - starting at CA$107 per week
- Private Class: 2 hours a day - starting at CA$214 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 Amazon Jungle Conservation projects due to their remote nature, however volunteers will have plenty of opportunity to practice with locals.
Check what's required to visit Peru
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.
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.