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Mayan Cultural Immersion Volunteer Project in Guatemala

Mayan Cultural Immersion Volunteer Project in Guatemala

Apply now. The next available start date for this project is Aug 2, 2021

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 $405 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
Apply Now

Who is this program suited to?

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?

Key information

Improve quality of life for traditional communities
Based in a Mayan village near Antigua
Homestay accommodation
Volunteers aged 18+
Up to 5 hours volunteering a day
Fully hosted experience from $405 for 1 week
Durations from 1 - 24 weeks
Learn about Mayan culture and history

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.

”There is no greater way of knowing a people of a different culture than to see how they live each day - what they do and how much they do with their hands and feet, what they engage in emotionally, mentally and spiritually.”

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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 homestay designed to give you a full and immersive cultural experience. You’ll be staying in a rural farming village so accommodation and living conditions will be basic.

Wifi is not available at this project due to the remoteness. Volunteers will receive a basic Nokia phone during orientation to use to contact the local team, in case of emergency.

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

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.
1 week $405 Equivalent to $58/day
2 weeks $720 Equivalent to $52/day
3 weeks $1,000 Equivalent to $48/day
4 weeks $1,275 Equivalent to $46/day
5 weeks $1,520 Equivalent to $44/day
6 weeks $1,765 Equivalent to $43/day
8 weeks $2,255 Equivalent to $41/day
10 weeks $2,745 Equivalent to $40/day
12 weeks $3,235 Equivalent to $39/day
16 weeks $4,215 Equivalent to $38/day
20 weeks $5,195 Equivalent to $38/day
24 weeks $6,175 Equivalent to $37/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
  • Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Certificate of International Volunteering

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

  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of $299 in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • 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.

We believe that no volunteer adventure would be complete without experiencing the natural wonders of your host country. That’s why we offer volcano and coffee plantation tours, surfing lessons and mini adventures, exclusively available to IVHQ volunteers in Costa Rica 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.

Your half-day Volcano Tour will take you to Pacaya Volcano, an active volcano within a national park with exciting thermal activity and stunning scenic views. Enjoy taking amazing photos and even roasting marshmallows over warm lava rocks.

Want to make sure you tick off all the must-see sites in Guatemala? The Mini Adventure combines the major hot spots in Guatemala 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 Antigua as your home base between tours. The 6-day adventure complements your volunteer experience, without the stress of trip planning!

The Mini Adventure includes:

  • Pacaya Volcano Hike
  • 3 days/2 nights on the beach in El Salvador (surf lessons included)
  • 2 days/1 night in the Mayan Ruins of Tikal (airfare to and from Tikal included)
  • Zip-line tour

Enjoy a challenging 2-day trek and camping adventure on the active Acatangego Volcano. You’ll hike 11 miles (8 kms) round-trip up this active volcano with an elevation gain of 5,150 ft (1,500 meterss). Be sure to pack your camera to capture the stunning views with neighboring volcanoes spewing lava while camping at 13,000 ft (3,963 meterss).

Spend a full day trekking up Acatenango Volcano, an active volcano in Guatemala with stunning views of neighboring volcanoes.

Enjoy a half-day tour of the Yalu Coffee Farm or Philadelphia Coffee Plantation, both working coffee farms, led by your own expert guide. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about the coffee production from plant to cup, and enjoy a coffee tasting at the end of your tour.

How to book IVHQ’s recommended add-ons:

When you apply for an IVHQ volunteer program, make a note of which tours and add-ons you’re interested in on your application form so we can check availability and prices for you.

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.

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 or Holiday Experience project. Volunteers on these projects can arrange lessons before or after their projects if they wish to stay longer in Antigua.

  • 1-hour Private Classes: from $60 per week
  • 2-hour Private Classes: from $120 per week
  • 2-hour Small Group Classes: from $55 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

Fill out the quick form below to find out what the Covid-19 restrictions and visa requirements are for Guatemala, based on your country of residence.

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.
Safety and support with IVHQ

Protecting against COVID-19:

Volunteers tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel

Volunteers tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel

Health & safety information provided during orientation

Health & safety information provided during orientation

Strict disinfecting standards for programs & accomodation

Strict disinfecting standards for programs & accomodation

Greater physical distance between volunteers

Greater physical distance between volunteers

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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