We would like to thank you for the work that you are about to embark on. It is appreciated that you are giving so much with your contribution of time and funds to the program.
We have developed a partnership with a local organisation in order to supply international volunteers to assist with the development of local communities in need in Peru. You will be working directly with our partner organisation in Cusco, Peru.
Peru is a land of contrasts, where from one end to the other you will have quite different experiences, not only with regards to the environment and climate, but also with culture and food, for example. We have made this guide as specific to the program as possible to give you an accurate and useful picture of how the volunteer program operates. If you wish to travel further within Peru this would be an opportune time to do so; however, we recommend that you look into purchasing your own guidebook for travel as this guide will not provide you with enough detail to assist you outside of the volunteer program.
Program Schedule and Location
Volunteers need to arrive on the Sunday before any Monday of the month. You can choose which start date suits you best. On your arrival you will be picked up by a member of the in-country staff at the airport and taken to your accommodation.
The next day you will have an orientation session at our partner organisation's headquarters. This includes a PowerPoint presentation about our partner organisation, the program, and general information about living in Peru. You will also be given an info sheet relating to the meeting, which includes information on your volunteer project (schedule, contact person, location, how to get there etc.) and your Spanish class schedule. All volunteers are provided with a pocket-sized card with our partner's emergency telephone numbers. You will then visit your project with a staff member, who will show you how to use public transportation. You will be introduced to the staff at your project (who will have your details), and you will be able to discuss your role at the project in more detail with the staff.
Volunteers in Cusco will help at their project for about 3-4 hours every day (Mondays to Fridays).
For all volunteers involved with off-site conservation projects, you will return to Cusco on the Friday of your final week and will spend your final night in a homestay family in the city.
Cusco is a city in south-eastern Peru, near the Sacred Valley (Urubamba Valley) of the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cusco Region as well as the Cusco Province. The city has a population of about 300,000 and an altitude of around 3,500 m (11,500 feet). Cusco is the historical capital of the Inca Empire and is the gateway to "the lost city" of Machu Picchu. There are still remains within the city of the palace of the Incas, the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Virgins of the Sun. The Sacred Valley of the Incas is located about 10 miles north of Cusco and extends northwest through Pisac and Ollantaytambo.
The Peruvian Amazon covers roughly 60% of the entire country and ranges from the foothills of the Andes to the lowland rivers of the Amazon Basin, ranging between 80m-3800m above sea level. It is considered one of the most bio-diverse regions in the world.
Accommodation and Food
Volunteers based in Cusco will be accommodated in a traditional homestay, living with other volunteers in a Peruvian home. The host families have been carefully selected with volunteers in mind and have almost all had experience hosting volunteers in the past. All houses have electricity, running water, and a western-style toilet but usually have no central heating. You may want to bring a sleeping bag or blanket for extra warmth at night. You will eat meals with the family. Your laundry can often be done by the host family for a small fee (charged $5 per kg).
Our partner organisation asks all volunteers to observe the following rules at the homestay accommodation:
1. Breakfast is served at 7:00am; lunch at between 12:00 and 1:00 (NB: lunches no longer included from 2015 onwards); and dinner at 7:00pm. If you are unable to attend one of the meals please tell your host family. Meals can also be wrapped for take-away or saved for late arrival.
2. Please note that meals are included, however snacks are not. Please do not 'raid the fridge' or prepare your own meals independently. If you would like to store some of your snacks please let us know.
3. Please do not smoke in your room or anywhere else in the house. 'Insistent smokers' will be asked to leave the accommodation immediately without refund.
4. Drugs are strictly forbidden. Guests consuming drugs or with drugs in their possession will be reported to Peruvian authorities and will be asked to leave the program immediately without refund.
5. Overnight guests are strictly forbidden.
6. Friends are not permitted in your room.
7. Please do not use the washing machine. Laundry service is provided in-house including wash, iron & fold for a small fee.
8. Please do not remove anything from the house including towels, blankets, pillows, etc.
9. Your keys must be returned in-person. If they are not returned you are charged a $25 (USD) replacement fee and any certificates and/or letters of appreciation related to your program with us will be delayed.
Important to note: Details on the homestay family you have been allocated will be given after you have arrived in-country. We are unable to confirm this with volunteers prior to their arrival in-country for a couple of reasons. Firstly, our partner organization has a confidentiality agreement with each of the local homestay families which means that for privacy reasons, they are unable to give out details of the homestay families prior to volunteers arriving.
The second reason is that the family you have been allocated is subject to change. Often volunteers will choose to extend their stay while on placement. This means the staff need to quickly adapt to the change and it could mean that a volunteer yet to arrive needs to be placed with a different family.
Each of the families are middle class, local Peruvian homes and they will be providing your breakfast and dinner. There have been great reviews about the families from past volunteers and it’s going to be a great cross cultural experience!
Volunteers at homestay accommodation are provided two meals daily. This will be typical Peruvian fare, simple but hearty. If you have any special dietary requirements (vegetarian etc) please let us know well in advance so we can inform your host family. We cannot guarantee a Kosher diet.