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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 $465 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

'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

### Surf School (7 days/6 nights) - $1244 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 $465 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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'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

AM
Annette Morgan
23 May 2024

I gained a lot from this experience, an appreciation of the things we take for granted in the western world, an appreciation for what’s really important, it was humbling to see how important family is in the Mayan culture, a time to reflect and gain insights into your own intrinsic motivations and what’s important to you in life, so many great things came from this experience.

My advice would be to “just do it”, it’s the best way to experience a culture, it’s super well organised and life is short, so experience the world before it might be too late.

...
KR
Kylie Raynor
16 May 2024

I feel like I gained a more well-rounded perspective on the medical standards of third world countries. This was an amazing experience that I would 100% do again. Not only was I able to help individuals in various communities throughout the week, I was able to interact with different age groups and provide much needed and much appreciated medical support. I could tell that our service meant the world to them and I wish I could express how much of an impact that they made on me as well. I would recommend this trip to anyone and everyone. I feel like everyone could pull something valuable out of this trip.

...
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. 😎

...
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 traveling 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 socializing.

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 $465 Equivalent to $66/day
2 weeks $820 Equivalent to $59/day
3 weeks $1,107 Equivalent to $53/day
4 weeks $1,378 Equivalent to $49/day
5 weeks $1,668 Equivalent to $48/day
6 weeks $1,958 Equivalent to $47/day
8 weeks $2,538 Equivalent to $45/day
10 weeks $3,118 Equivalent to $45/day
12 weeks $3,698 Equivalent to $44/day
16 weeks $4,858 Equivalent to $43/day
20 weeks $6,018 Equivalent to $43/day
24 weeks $7,178 Equivalent to $43/day
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately $329) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Guatemala generally find US$80 - US$100 per week to be sufficient for expenses. Please note this budget is for general expenses and does not include money you will need for any weekend activities you plan to do.
  • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Airport pick-up
  • Transportation Antigua - Village - Antigua
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • 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

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

  • Return to the airport when your program finishes
  • Flights
  • Visa (if required), travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Personal spending money for snacks, laundry, public transportation, drinks and leisure activities during your free time.

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

$79
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.

$1110
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.

$49

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 $65 per week
  • 1-hour Private Classes: from $80 per week
  • 2-hour Private Classes: from $150 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

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
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Pay the Registration Fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
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