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Volunteer in Peru - Cusco

Volunteer Abroad in Cusco, Peru with International Volunteer HQ
Volunteer in Peru with International Volunteer HQ! IVHQ has a wide range of volunteer abroad projects available in the ancient Peruvian city of Cusco and surrounding valleys, including Teaching English, Childcare, Medical, Construction and Renovation, Animal Care, Jungle Conservation, Special Needs, Andean Immersion and Spanish Service Learning Course.
29.99 million
Official languages: 
Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN)
Time zone: 
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 mountainous region, rain is frequent during summer and temperatures and humidity diminish with altitude up to the frozen peaks of the Andes. The Jungle is characterized by heavy rainfal​l​ and high temperatures, with the exception of its southernmost part, which has cold winters and seasonal rainfall.

About the Peru - Cusco program


The IVHQ Peru - Cusco volunteer program has volunteer placements located in Cusco and surrounding valleys. Cusco is one of the oldest cities in South America and situated in close proximity to the tourist mecca of Machu Picchu. 


Volunteer programs begin on every Monday of each month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for any duration from 1 week to 24 weeks.


Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate, unless volunteering with a parent or guardian. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ's local team on arrival in Cusco. Additional requirements apply for Medical volunteers, please read the project description below.


Fluency in Spanish is not a prerequisite for the IVHQ Peru - Cusco volunteer program, however on certain projects, such as Teaching English, Medical, and the Andean Immersion project, 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 ​local team 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 local ​team once in Cusco. Please note that Spanish lessons are no​t​ available to volunteers on the Jungle Conservation and Andean Immersion projects. 


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.


Between 25 and 60 volunteers start on our Peru - Cusco volunteer program each month. What does this mean for you? More people to socialize and travel with, more people to meet from different cultures, more people to volunteer with, more projects to work on, more staff support, better infrastructure for volunteers and lower fees!

Peru - Cusco volunteer reviews

"I was so impressed with my entire Peruvian experience, and feel like I really had the opportunity to immerse myself in Peruvian life and to help out in a small way. I am so grateful to the IVHQ team for making my adventure possible and giving the the most rewarding experience of my small lifetime. I look forward to volunteering with IVHQ in the very near future." - Genevieve Rogan (Teaching English Volunteer in Peru - Cusco)
Visit our Volunteer Abroad Reviews page to read more reviews from IVHQ volunteers in Peru - Cusco.

Peru - Cusco volunteer project descriptions

Teaching English

Cusco is the tourism capital of South America and many local children will tell you that they want to be tourist guides when they grow up. They are also aware that this dream requires a high level of English and are therefore very excited to learn English. As tourism forms an integral part of the local economy, the ability to speak English gives locals a genuine opportunity to support themselves and find work. Volunteers work in local schools, community and rehabilitation centers. Work varies but generally consists of providing tutoring to local students, setting up small workshops, assisting local teachers, and organizing educational games and activities. As volunteers work with the support of IVHQ's local team and placement staff, they do not need to be qualified or experienced teachers to participate. However, we encourage volunteers to come prepared by completing some relevant training. Visit our Online TEFL course page to learn how to gain an internationally-recognized TEFL certification at a discounted rate.

Special Needs Care

Compassionate volunteers looking to make a real difference can join our Special Needs Care project in Peru - Cusco. Volunteers work in homes for mentally and physically disabled children where the levels of disability can range from moderate to extreme. Volunteers assist with the personal care of the children, providing specialized attention and helping with feeding, clothing, bathing, and organizing crafts and games for playtime. The range of disabilities found among the children is wide, so volunteers must come prepared to help with both basic life functions and engaging the children in imaginative games.


The aim of the Childcare project is for volunteers to provide individual attention and assistance to children from diverse backgrounds. Many children at the placements we work with do not receive the level of affection and education that they deserve, volunteers therefore play an important role in working alongside local staff to improve the educational, emotional and hygiene conditions of the children. Volunteers work in orphanages, community centers, schools and kindergartens. Work varies but generally consists of providing individual attention, playing with children, organizing games and activities, assisting with homework, English classes and educating children about hygiene.


Clinics and hospitals for low income families in Cusco tend to be under-funded and under-staffed. As a result, volunteers play an important role in assisting local nurses and doctors, dentists and specialists while also learning about the healthcare system in Cusco. It is important that Medical volunteers have realistic expectations with regard to the activities that they will get involved in. Pre-medical students, first year or second year medical and nursing students can participate in the following areas within the clinic and hospital placements: taking weight, height, blood pressure, heart rate and temperature, making beds, cleaning, talking with patients, preparing materials, administering vaccinations and sterilizing equipment. Third and fourth year medical and nursing students, as well as fully qualified medical professionals can also participate in the following areas: cleaning wounds, giving injections and sutures, consult rooms and specialized departments, assisting doctors taking physicals and histories, giving vaccinations, taking records, drawing blood samples, and basic assistance with physiotherapy. Please note, volunteers need to be training or qualified in a relevant medical field. The level of placement will also be dependent on the volunteer’s level of Spanish, as a basic level is required, but a higher level preferred. All volunteers must bring evidence of their level of education and scrubs and any basic medical equipment or medications they may have. The Medical project has an extra cost of US$65 per week for supervision, materials and the logistics involved in this project. This amount will be included in the Program Fee quoted to you by IVHQ when you apply.

Jungle Conservation

The Jungle Conservation is located at a biological research station in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, where volunteers live and work in one of the most bio-diverse forests in the world. Volunteers assist with a range of tasks including working in the greenhouse, trail maintenance, reforestation, wildlife catching, recording and researching practices and working in the fields at a local farm. Please note, the Jungle Conservation project is remotely located 10 hours from Cusco and we strongly recommend committing to at least 2 weeks for this project. Please note, the Jungle Conservation project has an extra cost of US$65 per week for supervision, materials and the logistics involved in this project. This amount will be included in the Program Fee quoted to you by IVHQ when you apply.

Animal Care

This project offers volunteers the opportunity to work with an organization dedicated to rescuing and caring for street dogs. Culturally speaking, in Latin America dogs are not often integrated into families the way they are in many other countries. This often leads to dogs being neglected and left to live on the streets, where they suffer from neglect, illness and abuse. The aim of this project is to assist in the protection of these animals, providing human company, medical treatment, and playtime. Alternatively, there is scope for a limited number of volunteers to work at a small zoo, which is run by a local university. Both placements are roughly 40 minutes from central Cusco by public bus. Volunteers who are placed at the dog shelter should come prepared for physically demanding work. Tasks include bathing and brushing the animals, providing basic obedience training, cleaning cages, helping during feeding time, maintaining the shelter grounds, and walking and playing with the animals (please note, all the dogs are vaccinated). Other activities may include some small construction projects (i.e. building dog runs and creating fences), along with photography, administration, and fundraising for the shelter's operations. Placement in the zoo is limited and subject to availability, therefore volunteers may state a preference for this placement but it cannot be guaranteed. The zoo has limited funding and is home to some different species from the jungle and the Andean highlands, such as condors, eagles, monkeys, felines, bears, llamas, deer, various birds, and turtles. Volunteers work with professors and students from the local university’s Zoology and Biology departments. Tasks involve general maintenance, preparation of food for the animals, cage cleaning and conservation of the various animal species. The zoo receives approximately 30-40 visitors a day (mostly children) and volunteers may sometimes be involved with hosting visitors.

Construction and Renovation

One of the ways we provide support to the different placements we work with in Cusco is through our Construction and Renovation project. Many of these placements are under-funded, run-down, and in need of renovation work. Volunteers work alongside a local construction worker who provides them with direction and motivation. Volunteers work on a variety of buildings, including schools, orphanages, community centers and clinics. Volunteer work varies but generally consists of renovating buildings, re-painting community centers, and building new institutions such as orphanages. Volunteers do not need to have experience with construction work, however, having good energy levels, a reasonable level of fitness and good dedication will go a long way to ensuring you get the most out of your volunteer project. Please note, the Construction and Renovation project has an extra cost of US$65 per week for supervision, materials and the logistics involved in this project. This amount will be included in the Program Fee quoted to you by IVHQ when you apply.

Andean Immersion

This unique project is very different from the other projects offered on the Cusco program. You will be volunteering in a small rural village in the Andes Mountains outside of Cusco, Peru. Volunteers have the opportunity to live with a Quechua-speaking family (Quechua and limited Spanish - no spoken English), where the pace of life is slower and the standard of living is very basic.​ The goal of this project is to share in everyday life with the host family and community, this means that schedules and work can vary greatly. Village life is often affected by harvest seasons, the needs of the community, weather and family events. Andean culture often includes some division of labor by gender, so your assigned tasks may vary. Volunteers are encouraged to be self-motivated and activities could involve helping with construction and agricultural jobs (planting, harvesting, storing and transporting crops. Also animal related tasks, such as herding, pasturing, feeding, cleaning pens, and collecting food). Volunteers may also have the opportunity to learn about traditional weaving skills and natural dyes by working with the women who create traditional textile products to sell at local markets. There is also scope to assist in teaching English classes. Volunteers are required to speak Spanish at an intermediate level at least, but can still expect to encounter a language barrier. The houses are made of adobe with no central heating and the altitude makes for very cold nights. Volunteers on this project must be packed and prepared for basic accommodation and eating traditional Andean-style food. There is running, unheated water (occasional shortages), limited electricity and no internet. On weekends, volunteers commonly make the 90 minute trip back to Cusco to socialize with other volunteers and enjoy tourism activities. Working hours vary according to the needs of the project, but you can expect to work an average of 4-6 hours per day, Monday to Friday. You may also work some weekends. ​Please note, the Andean Immersion project has an extra cost of US$65 per week for supervision, materials and the logistics involved in this project. This amount will be included in the Program Fee quoted to you by IVHQ when you apply.

Spanish Service Learning Course

Students from around the world have an opportunity to gain university credit while volunteering in Cusco, Peru through the Spanish Service Learning Course (SPAN203SL), which is accredited by California State University, Monterey Bay. The purpose of the Spanish Service Learning Course is to foster a sense of civic responsibility and community, to expose students to local culture and language, and to create an opportunity for students to broaden their global perspective and identity. For further details, see our Spanish Service Learning Course page.

Students attend 5 guided reflections, write a daily journal and then complete a final reflection paper. The Spanish Service Learning Course and optional language lessons are offered in conjunction with the volunteer work and can all be included in your daily schedule as an IVHQ volunteer. The workshops and written assignments are conducted in English, however the remainder of the course and the entire volunteer experience offer total Spanish immersion. Volunteers choose their​ ​​work​​ from a range of options including: Teaching English, Childcare, Special Needs Care, Animal Care, Construction and Renovation and Medical and arranging the course accreditation is done​ ​through your​ IVHQ Program Manager and​ ​the​ local​ ​​tea​m​​ ​in​ ​​Peru​ ​after​ ​​you have registered. When applying online, please apply for the Spanish Service Learning Course project and indicate your volunteer​ ​work preference in the 'Comments' section of your application.

​​The course fee is US$880 and​​ ​​​is paid directly to IVHQ's ​local​ ​​team​ ​​to​ ​cover all aspects of the course and accreditation. This course fee is​ ​​in ​addition​ ​to the IVHQ Registration Fee and the Program Fee which​ ​​volunteers pay to cover the volunteer section of the course requirements.​ ​Volunteers can join the Spanish Service Learning Course any time of year and​ ​it​​ ​requires a minimum duration of 4 weeks. Attendance for the whole duration is mandatory.


Accommodation is typically provided in home-stays with a local host family. Volunteers can expect to share a room with one or two other volunteers of the same gender. For individuals or couples who want more privacy, private/matrimonial rooms are available as an accommodation upgrade, for an additional cost. Living is comfortable and all central Cusco-based accommodation has electricity, running water and western bathrooms, however showers can be low pressure and unheated. Bedrooms are comprised of single beds or bunk beds with bedding provided. WiFi is not guaranteed in all accommodation placements, but is always available at the local office. Accommodation on the Jungle Conservation project is typically in an open, dormitory-style lodging with limited electricity and basic amenities. Volunteers accommodated in home-stays on the Andean Immersion project should be prepared for a more basic standard of living. 

In Cusco, volunteers are provided breakfast and dinner at their accommodation. A typical Peruvian breakfast is provided and consists of bread, spreads, fruit and eggs accompanied with tea or coffee. Dinner commonly consists of meat (often chicken), soups, pastas, starches and vegetables. Lunches are not provided to Cusco-based volunteers as they are typically away from their accommodation mid-day. We recommend budgeting between US$3 and $6 per day to purchase lunch and upon your arrival, the local staff will provide recommendations on economical places to eat in Cusco. Jungle Conservation and Andean Immersion volunteers are provided with lunch, given the limited availability of restaurants in the rural settings these projects are based in. Please be sure to let us know of any specific dietary requirements you have so we can make special arrangements for you.


Orientation is given by our local team at our 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. On arrival you will be transported to your accommodation and introduced to your host, and the following day you will complete orientation.


First Day: On your first day of volunteering, typically Tuesday, you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.

Weekdays: Volunteers will have a morning, afternoon or evening shift which will last about 3 to 4 hours. A typical afternoon schedule would be as follows:

12.00 PM Lunch at a local restaurant.

1.00 PM Leave the homestay and travel to your placement, where you will be given a structure sheet and a plan for your work. Volunteer roles and hours are dependent on your project and placement.

4.00 PM Work at the placement usually ends. You are free to go sightseeing or do some shopping. If you are taking a Spanish language course, this will usually take place in the morning and will last 1 to 2 hours.

7.00 PM Dinner with the host family.


During the weekend, volunteers have spare time to relax or take the opportunity to explore other parts of Cusco and Peru. Long weekends can be taken to travel further afield to visit destinations, such as Machu Picchu. Sunday is a religious day of rest and most stores and restaurants are closed on Sundays, as most Peruvians devote the day to spending time with their families. If you wish, you can accompany your host family to their local church, as a Latin American church service is unique and special experience for many volunteers.


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. If you would like to add a Mini Adventure to your trip, you can arrange this directly with our local staff once you are in Cusco! The cost is US$850 and includes a Cusco city tour, 1-day Sacred Valley tour, Machu Picchu overnight trip with Vistadome Train, and a 2-day Lake Titicaca tour.


Fluency in Spanish is not a prerequisite for the IVHQ Peru - Cusco program, however on certain projects; Medical in particular, 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 local staff once in Cusco at the program orientation. 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.

2-Hour Small Group Classes: US$60 per week
1-Hour Private Classes: US$60 per week

Peru - Cusco Volunteer Fees: 
Volunteer periodProgram fee US$
1 Week285
2 Weeks460
3 Weeks645
4 Weeks795
5 Weeks930
6 Weeks1065
8 Weeks1335
10 Weeks1605
12 Weeks1875
16 Weeks2415
20 Weeks2955
24 Weeks3495
To convert these prices to your local currency click here.
Please note: All programs attract a Registration Fee of $279 USD on top of the Program Fee.
The Jungle Conservation, Construction and Renovation, Medical and Andean Immersion projects also have an extra cost of US$65 per week for supervision, materials and the logistics involved in these projects. This will be included in the fees quoted to you by IVHQ when you apply.

What do my fees pay for?

Registration Fee (refundable if you choose not to go*) – ongoing support from IVHQ staff, program marketing costs, information pack, administration costs, IVHQ Fund, travel costs to inspect programs and communication costs with volunteers.
Program Fee – airport pick-up, orientation, program supervision, accommodation, breakfast and dinner during volunteer program period, in-country 24/7 volunteer support and in-country administration costs.

What additional costs will I have?

Visa, flightstravel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, lunches while in-country, transfer back to the airport at conclusion of program, Spanish lessons (optional), souvenirs, in-country trips or tours and spending money. Volunteers in Cusco generally find US$55 to be sufficient for basic weekly expenses.

* - Terms and conditions do apply.

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