Andean Immersion Volunteer Project in Peru - Cusco
Excited to live with an ancient community as an Andean Immersion volunteer in Peru - Cusco? International Volunteer HQ’s Andean Immersion project is an exciting opportunity for volunteers to live with a Peruvian family in a Quechua-speaking community and help them with a wide range of tasks. Volunteers will eat traditional food and live day-to-day life the way the locals do while learning about their unique culture and lifestyle.
- Programs start every Monday
- Affordable fees from $445 for 1 week
- Includes accommodation, meals, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
Experience and learn about traditional indigenous life
Discover the remote and stunning countryside of Peru
Live and work with a local family in a rural Andean community
This program is ideal for:
What to expect and how you'll make an impact
High in the Peruvian Andes people live in small rural villages where the pace of life is slower and the standard of living is basic. These people often speak the local indigenous Quechua language and some Spanish, but little English.
As an Andean Immersion volunteer you’ll live with a local family and help them as they go about their daily tasks. Your help will make the family more efficient, both economically and around the house, while at the same time providing you with an immersive cultural experience. Volunteer duties can vary greatly but often include:
- Farming and agricultural work, including animal husbandry
- Domestic chores
- Learning about traditional weaving and natural dyes
- Helping make textiles for sale at a local market
- Teaching English classes
- Helping with educational activities
- Taking part in local festivals and gatherings
Why do Andean Immersion volunteering in Cusco with IVHQ?
When you volunteer with an Andean community in Peru - Cusco you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:
- Getting an authentic experience of life in the rural Andes
- Helping a local family with a wide range of tasks
- Developing your communication skills
- Learning about the Quechuan language
- Practicing your Spanish
- Immersing yourself in Peruvian culture
- Exploring the stunning mountains of 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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Academic course credit
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”Be prepared to get stuck in, even if you have no idea how to do something. The power of watch and learn is strong. The families are kind and always concerned for your welfare.”
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As an Andean Immersion volunteer you’ll live with a local family in a remote village nestled in the valleys of the Andes mountains in Peru. You’ll be about a 90-minute drive away from the city of Cusco and even closer to the ancient Incan site of Machu Picchu.
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 a homestay in Cusco where you will stay until you have completed orientation and are then taken to your placement 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
Due to the varied nature of this project, volunteer days may not follow a reliable schedule. Work times and daily routines will depend on the individual placement and host family. A typical schedule might be as follows:
|7:00 AM||Breakfast at your accommodation. This might be served earlier depending on the activities planned for the day.|
|8:00 AM||Volunteer work begins. Depending on the season you may be helping with the potato harvest, cutting alfalfa, sorting harvested plants, helping with planting, preparing food or tending the sheep.|
|12:00 PM||Lunch and break time.|
|2:00 PM||Volunteer work continues. This may include: learning how to weave and dye traditional textiles, teaching English or feeding farm animals.|
|6:00 PM||Dinner at your accommodation with other volunteers.|
Volunteers have spare time to relax in the village or venture back into Cusco at their own cost via bus to explore other parts of Cusco and Peru.
Sunday is a religious day of rest. But if you wish, 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.
Accommodation and WiFi
Volunteers stay onsite at the Andean Immersion farm with a local host family. Volunteers can expect to share a room with others of the same gender. Living is rustic but comfortable. There is cold running water, limited electricity and no internet.
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.
Volunteers are provided breakfast, lunch and dinner at their homestay. You’ll eat traditional food and live day to day life the way locals do.
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.
Please note any dietary requirements you have so we can make special arrangements for you. However, you’ll need to be somewhat flexible due to the limited resources in this location.
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||$445 Equivalent to $64/day|
|2 weeks||$780 Equivalent to $56/day|
|3 weeks||$1,055 Equivalent to $50/day|
|4 weeks||$1,325 Equivalent to $47/day|
|5 weeks||$1,595 Equivalent to $46/day|
|6 weeks||$1,865 Equivalent to $44/day|
|8 weeks||$2,405 Equivalent to $43/day|
|10 weeks||$2,945 Equivalent to $42/day|
|12 weeks||$3,485 Equivalent to $41/day|
|16 weeks||$4,565 Equivalent to $41/day|
|20 weeks||$5,645 Equivalent to $40/day|
|24 weeks||$6,725 Equivalent to $40/day|
- 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 $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 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.
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 $65 per week
- Private Class: 1 hour a day - starting at $75 per week
- Private Class: 2 hours a day - starting at $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 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.