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Holiday Experience Volunteer Program in Peru - Cusco

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 $470 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

Key information

Support communities over the festive season
Based in and around Cusco
Homestay accommodation
Volunteers aged 16+ and families
Fully hosted experience from $470 for 1 week
Durations from 1 - 2 weeks
Machu Picchu and other add-on tours available
Up to 5 hours volunteering a day

This program is ideal for:

Volunteers who are available over the Christmas and New Year period and want to try a wide variety of volunteer activities that will have an impact on the local community and especially those in need at this time of year.
Who is this program suited to?

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

The holiday period in Peru is vibrant, colorful, and exciting. This special project is designed to help volunteers enjoy the festive season while pitching in with valuable community initiatives. Many projects are closed at this time of year, but this provides an inspiring way to still do something meaningful and contribute to the local community.

Please note, the order of this work may be subject to change based on local requirements. In 2023, this project is only available to volunteers who begin the weeks of 18th and 25th December - volunteers should arrive in the morning the day before your project starts.

See the Holiday Experience Schedule for 2022 to learn more about what to expect.

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

Volunteer requirements

  • 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 18+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 16 and 17 will need to provide 2 character reference letters to participate
  • All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
  • All volunteers must speak fluent English.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

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Read reviews from Holiday Experience volunteers in Cusco

”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 :)”

Read reviews from Holiday Experience volunteers in Cusco

Volunteer Abroad in Peru, Cusco with IVHQ


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

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ) in Cusco the Sunday prior to your start date. 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 accommodation. 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 occurs within 24 hours of your arrival, depending on your arrival time. For example, if you arrive in the morning on Sunday you will be able to complete orientation that day. Alternatively, if you arrive late at night on Sunday then orientation will take place Monday morning.

The orientation 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

The Peru - Cusco Holiday Experience project is held during the weeks of Christmas and New Years and provides the opportunity to participate in a variety of different projects and activities in the local community.

Start dates are available on December 18th (for 1 or 2 weeks) and December 25th (for 1 week). The schedule for the 2023 Holiday Experience project is as follows:

WEEK 1: December 17th - 23rd

Sunday, December 17th Arrival & Orientation - Arrival, pick-up, transportation to housing and orientation
Monday, December 18th Animal Care project - 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.
Tuesday, December 19th Construction and Renovation project - Community Development - Paint, garden, work on light repairs or construction work. Work varies depending on community needs.
Wednesday, December 20th Childcare project - Children’s Holiday Party - Show the kids a great time for the holiday! Celebrate by bringing gifts and food to the project. Take part in games, songs, dancing and more!
Thursday, December 21st Eco-Agriculture Conservation project - Planting Trees & Beautification - Work to rehabilitate a part of Cusco with native foliage! Transplant, relocate, and plant organic and local vegetation in previously green areas.
Friday, December 22nd Elderly Care project - Local Nursing Home - Spread the Holiday Spirit at an elderly home by playing games, preparing a special holiday snack, dancing, and providing much needed company and conversation.
Saturday, December 23rd Departure

WEEK 2: December 24th - 30th

Sunday, December 24th Arrival & Orientation - Arrival, pick-up, transportation to housing and orientation
Monday, December 25th Christmas Day - No project work available due to the public holiday. However, there are lots of local holiday festivities to enjoy independently.
Tuesday, December 26th Animal Care project - Community Animal Campaign - Assist at a local dog shelter with general care, including bathing, grooming, exercise, and more.
Wednesday, December 27th Childcare project - Field Trip for Kids at a Local Park - Depending on weather, accompany children to a local park to get fresh air and have a little holiday fun.
Thursday, December 28th Childcare project - Celebrate the holidays with underprivileged kids by bringing them food and gifts that have been arranged by our local team!
Friday, December 29th Construction and Renovation project - Community Development - Paint, garden, work on light repairs or construction work. Work varies depending on community needs.
Saturday, December 30th Departure

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. Volunteers who continue on the program beyond these weeks will resume on a standard volunteer project of their choice.

Please note, itineraries are subject to change based on field conditions.

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 $62 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 $3 (approximately $3) and $10 (approximately $10) 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.


  • USD
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 $470 Equivalent to $67/day
2 weeks $805 Equivalent to $58/day
  • Accommodation
  • 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

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

  • 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.
  • 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.

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 $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 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 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 Lima
Population 32 million
Languages Spanish
Currency Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN)
Time zone UTC-05:00

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 rainfal​l​ and high temperatures, with the exception of its southernmost part, which has cold winters and seasonal rainfall.

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