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Apply now. This project is accepting applications for 2021

While many students in Colombia receive English lessons at school, a significant proportion do not. English is increasingly being seen as a valuable language to know, so by contributing your time you can provide lessons for those who wouldn’t otherwise have them.

Volunteer English teachers are in demand to help with classes in schools, daycares, foster homes and community centers. Students can range in ability and age from schoolchildren to the elderly. Volunteers also have the opportunity to give further lessons in mathematics, science, humanities, music, sports, dance and art.

Teaching English volunteer in Cartagena Colombia with IVHQ

This is a project that has great need, and there are many placements that you can assist on. It’s best suited to those with a flexible approach to helping where the need is greatest - whether it’s tutoring a small group before a test or being the lead teacher of a larger class.

Your volunteering is generally for a few hours each day, with time to allow for lesson preparation. Volunteers often work together to create lesson plans and are encouraged to be creative and bring new ideas to their placements.

As you’ll work with the support of IVHQ’s local team and placement staff, you don’t need to have prior teaching experience. However, we encourage you to come prepared by completing some relevant training, like a teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) course. Visit our Online TEFL Course page to learn how to gain an internationally-recognised TEFL certification at a discounted rate.

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Project Highlights
What you need to know
  • Affordable fees from £369 for 2 weeks
  • Help to teach English to locals in low income communities

  • Students range in age from 8-80

  • Suited to volunteers interested in education and teaching English

  • Minimum duration of 2 weeks

  • Volunteer for up to 5 hours per day

Destination Highlights
Colombia at a glance
  • Based in the city of Cartagena, on Colombia’s northern Caribbean coast

  • Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, three meals each weekday and 24/7 in-country support

  • Accommodation in a volunteer apartment

  • Between 5 and 20 volunteers start in Cartagena each month

The IVHQ Colombia - Cartagena volunteer program has placements located throughout the historical city of Cartagena on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Volunteers are required to fly into Rafael Núñez International Airport, which is a 10 hour flight from most major airports in Britain.

You can start volunteering on the IVHQ Colombia - Cartagena program on the 1st or 3rd Monday of every month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 2 weeks to 12 weeks.

The program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of every month. Volunteers need to arrive in Cartagena the day before orientation.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Rafael Núñez International Airport (CTG). British travellers do not require a visa to enter Colombia for a duration of 90 days. Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee.

When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation in Cartagena. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.

If you are travelling in Cartagena prior to your volunteer program, you will need to make your own way to the volunteer accommodation. Please contact the local team for more information.

Orientation begins at 8.30 am and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Colombia – Introduction to Colombia, Colombian Customs, Language Training Details, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities in Colombia, 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 socialising.

First Day: On your first day of volunteering, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with. Volunteers typically work in morning and afternoon shifts that last around 3 to 5 hours each.

Weekdays A typical volunteer day is as follows:

7.15 AM: Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.

8.40 AM: Volunteers leave home and travel to their placements.

9.00 AM - 11.00 PM: Volunteer work at projects.

12.30 PM: Lunch at the volunteer house.

1.50 PM: Volunteers leave to travel to afternoon projects.

2.00 - 4.00 PM: Volunteer work at projects.

6.30 PM: Dinner at the volunteer house.

Please note, this is an example schedule as work hours are dependent on the project and placement. Volunteers on the Cartagena program can easily take part in a range of the projects if they would like to, this can be arranged with the coordinators.

Evenings: To ensure the safety of our volunteers and respect of others in the volunteer apartment, a curfew of 11:00 PM has been put in place from Sunday to Thursday and a 2:00 AM curfew for Friday and Saturday. This will be strictly enforced.

Volunteers are accommodated in a volunteer apartment with other volunteers in the safe neighbourhood of Crespo. Bedrooms are comprised of bunk beds and you can expect to be sharing a room with three to seven volunteers of the same gender. For couples or those wanting more privacy, private rooms in the volunteer apartment are available for an additional US$25 (approximately £19) per night, subject to availability. Living is comfortable and the volunteer apartment has electricity, running water and western bathrooms (generally with hot water). Sheets and pillows are provided, and you will just need to bring your own towel and toiletries. All volunteers help with cooking and clean up on a roster system, so be prepared to help out.

WiFi is available for volunteers to use at the volunteer apartment in Cartagena. You can also purchase a local SIM card with data for an unlocked mobile phone to keep connected.

Volunteers in Cartagena are provided with three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) Monday through Friday, served at the volunteer house. Breakfast is varied and can include pancakes, fruit, eggs and arepas (corn bread). Lunch and dinner include a balanced range of traditional Colombian and western dishes.

Tea, coffee, juice and toast are available in the volunteer house throughout the day. Tap water is fine to drink in Cartagena and we recommend bringing a reusable water bottle to fill at the volunteer house and bring with you to your placement. Alternatively, bottled water can be purchased for around £0. If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know when you apply for the program so we can make arrangements for you.

Please note volunteers are not provided with meals on holidays.

“Volunteering in Cartagena was an eye opening experience that left me with a whole new perspective on life and the world. Teaching English to pregnant teens and teen mothers was especially life changing. Building relationships with and teaching these young women was empowering for me and them. There are many opportunities in Cartagena for volunteering. It is a beautiful city with much to enjoy but also has a lot of areas where help is needed. This combination creates an awesome place to spend time and visit but also volunteer.” - Leslie Polster (Community Development Volunteer in Colombia-Cartegena)

Read more reviews from IVHQ volunteers in Colombia here

Colombia - Cartagena

Duration Program Fee
USD GBP
2 weeks $470 £369
3 weeks $650 £511
4 weeks $790 £621
5 weeks $960 £755
6 weeks $1,125 £885
8 weeks $1,500 £1,180
10 weeks $1,875 £1,475
12 weeks $2,250 £1,770
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee from US$299 (approximately £235) on top of the Program Fee (partially refundable until 60 days before your program start date*). A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in GBP.
  • * Terms and Conditions do apply
What extra costs will I have?
  • Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, souvenirs, in-country trips or tours, transport to and from your placement if required.
  • Transfer back to the airport at conclusion of the program
  • Spanish lessons (optional)
  • Spending money - Volunteers in Colombia - Cartagena generally find US$100 to be sufficient for weekly expenses
Registration Fee
What it covers
  • Most affordable program fees
  • Expert support from a program specialist
  • Full MyIVHQ account access
  • Online volunteer training
  • Comprehensive preparation tools
  • IVHQ alumni rewards
Program Fee
What it covers
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • Airport pick-up
  • Program orientation
  • Volunteer placement
  • Accommodation
  • Meals

During the weekends, volunteers have free time to relax or take the opportunity to explore Cartagena or other parts of Colombia, such as the picturesque Tayrona National Park and the capital city of Bogota.

See our Colombia Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in Colombia.

Capital Bogota
Population 48.3 million
Languages Spanish
Currency Colombian Peso (KES)
Time zone UTC-5:00

Weather and climate: Given Colombia’s proximity to the equator, the country experiences little variations in temperature throughout the year. However, the climate does vary greatly with changes in altitude, creating various climatic zones from hot coastal lowlands to freezing mountainous peaks. Cartagena has a tropical climate that is generally characterised by hot winds. Humidity averages around 90%, with the rainy months extending from May through to November. Throughout the year temperatures remain constant with an average high of 31°C (89°F) and an average low of 24°C (76°F). The driest months are November through to April.

Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate on 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 have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ’s local team on arrival in Cartagena.

While Spanish is not a prerequisite for the IVHQ Colombia - Cartagena Volunteer Program, please keep in mind you will be in a Spanish speaking country and translation is not readily available. We recommend volunteers take advantage of the very affordable language lessons offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers by our program staff in Cartagena. Past volunteers feel that taking these lessons can help you immensely with your day to day volunteer work and communicating with local people. Volunteers interested in taking classes can arrange these directly with the local staff once in Cartagena.

Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.

Spanish language lessons are available for all volunteers regardless of their ability. IVHQ recommends these lessons for all volunteers unless they are fluent in Spanish. Volunteers with a basic level of Spanish should strongly consider these lessons to allow them to work and communicate more effectively during their program. These language lessons are organised upon your arrival in Cartagena during your program orientation. The language course is tailored to each volunteer’s current level of Spanish. The cost is very affordable and offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers at US$15 per hour. There is also ample opportunity to participate in conversation exchanges if your Spanish is at a more advanced level.

How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
Meet your personal volunteer travel expert
Pay the registration fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
Get ready to volunteer abroad, we’ll support you every step of the way!