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Live, Work & Travel in Latin America


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Gap Year & Voluntary Work in Latin America Continued...

Unpaid Positions & Adventure

Caledonia Languages Abroad - Voluntary work in Cuba, Costa Rica, Peru and Argentina and Spanish language courses.

Camino Seguro - Camino Seguro's mission is to empower the children of families working in the Guatemala City garbage dump. Volunteer positions, of varying length and skills required, are posted on their website.

Canadian Organization for Tropical Education and Rainforest Conservation - COTERC offers volunteers the opportunity to live and work in the Caño Palma Biological Station set within the northeast Caribbean lowland rainforest of Costa Rica. The work is with trained staff on biological monitoring surveys and a community based conservation programme.

Teach English Abroad


Cape Eleuthera Institute - Spend your gap year in the Bahamas broadening your knowledge of tropical marine ecology, climate change, lionfish research, shark conservation and research, aquaponics, aquaculture, permaculture, or sustainable systems and alternative energy sources.

Cartagenitos - Cartagenitos provides free information for anybody who wants to help under privileged children in Cartagena without paying a cent.

Casa Amelia - A small hostel located right at the seafront in the village of Huanchaco in Peru. They try to collect as much information as they can on volunteering options in and around Huanchaco, including smaller, local projects less likely to ask for fees.

Casablanca Hostel - Work four days and stay for seven in Medellin.

Casa de los Angeles - A safe haven for street children in San Miguel de Allende, in central Mexico, Casa de los Angeles welcomes volunteers that can cook, build things, teach basic hygiene or that are just good with children.

Casa Guatemala - A home for 250 orphaned, abandoned, or abused children, located on the banks of the Rio Dulce. Long term volunteers must be over 24, prepared to live in the jungle, have basic Spanish and pay a one off fee of around $200 no matter how long they stay.

Casa Verde - Artists can add to their funky atmosphere, outgoing people are needed to promote their activities centre and the green thumbed are welcome to love their plants. In return for 20 hours’ a week doing these things Casa Verde will allot a free bed and discounts in Bocas del Toro.

Casa 579 - Volunteers work three eight hour shifts each week on reception at this Rio hostel and also contribute a minimum of six hours at a nearby community centre. To apply, fill in the travel ambassador application on their website. Minimum three month commitment required.

Castle Tam - Always looking for friendly, customer service oriented volunteers who can do construction, website design, online marketing, massage therapy, yoga instruction and IT, among other things. The job, in San Jose, Costa Rica, includes working reception, going to the bus stop to find backpackers, laundry and assembling and disassembling bunk beds. They also state on their website that if you think you are too good to scrub the occasional toilet then you need not apply.

Che Lagarto - There are numerous hostels across South America in this franchise, in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Peru and Chile. If you are interested in cultural exchange and meeting people from around the world you are invited to stay for free. The work is in reception: helping customers, selling tours, handling bookings, and opening and closing the cash register. Applicants should be aged 18 to 28, flexible, mature and have experience in customer service. There is also a Work and Travel Programme where participants move to a new hostel every three months for one year.

Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad - CIS supports education and social justice in El Salvador. They are looking for people committed to solidarity and social justice to participate in their programmes. During elections CIS seeks volunteer election observers but generally are looking for English teachers and a grassroot organising intern.

Cloud Forest Adventure - A community run organisation in Ecuador, where any profits are paid direct to local people, and the long term intention is to slow down deforestation by providing an alternative, sustainable source of income for people living in the area. There are three main types of placement: teaching, farm work, and ecology/conservation. Fees for volunteering are very low and paid direct to the family that you are staying with. The cost includes all meals and accommodation.

CloudHead Art - An art and education NGO looking for people to teach photography, design and video to students between the ages of ten to 18 in at risk communities. This can mean anything from an underserved neighbourhood on the outskirts of Salta or a small indigenous village in the campo.

COINED Argentina - Spanish courses, volunteer work and intercultural programmes in Argentina and Chile.

Colonial House Quito - Volunteers working in reception are provided with a bed and food.

Community Hostel - Founded by five college friends, this Quito hostel keeps three or four volunteers on at a time to cook, clean and help around the place.

Connections English Institute - Foreigners have the opportunity of teaching English as a foreign language in Colombia. In exchange for two hours' teaching per day Monday to Friday, teachers receive a bed and a meal. The lesson plans for every class are already made and no teaching experience is required. Teachers only have to worry about having fun in class.

Conservation Project Utila Iguana - A popular destination for divers, Utila is also home to the Utila Spiny Tailed Iguana. Most volunteers are biology or veterinary students but those handy with their hands are also made welcome. Living at the station costs €150 per month, falling to €100 after three months.

ContactChile - Offers a number of interesting working holidays, internships and Spanish courses including a learn Spanish and ski in the Andes package.

Cobanacopa Hostel - The chance to live three blocks from Copacabana Beach is offered here. To apply you should be aged 18 to 28, flexible and experienced in customer service.

The Cornerstone Foundation - Non profit humanitarian organization offeing volunteer opportunities in Belize.

Costa Rican Language Academy (CRLA) - Spanish language school for foreigners in San Jose, Costa Rica. They offer programmes with homestays and without. Among the list of free services and activities are daily free dance, cooking, and conversation classes as well as a computer lab for free internet use. The CRLA is also glad to help their students with information, assistance, telephone calls, setting up appointments, legal documents, letters of recommendation and other arrangements necessary for finding volunteer work.

Cranky Croc - We have heard mention the Aussie owned Cranky Croc takes in work exchange volunteers in Bogota.

CREES Foundation - Volunteering with CREES means total immersion into the rainforest, in the Manu Biosphere Reserve, in Peru, as they work to connect you with a deeper understanding of conservation, climate change and poverty.

Cuba Solidarity Campaign - Organises work brigades of paying volunteers to Cuba twice annually and is for people who wish to experience the real Cuba and be more than just a tourist.

Discovery Hostel - A medium to long term commitment is necessary to unlock the free accommodation available at this Rio de Janeiro hostel in return for working three or four nights a week on reception.

Earth Lodge - Work exchange possibilities in Guatemala.

El Retiro - A hostel in Guatemala said to take in volunteers.

Eco Volunteer UP Ecuador - A non profit composed of a group of Ecuadorians who work through volunteers to conserve the forests of Ecuador, to improve the community economies and to give Ecuadorian children a better life. They state that they offer volunteers real immersion in the various Ecuadorian ecosystems, and real opportunities for learning and sharing Ecuadorian cultures, customs and traditions, all the while helping different projects promote their development and changing lives through a better place to live.

Ecuador Volunteer - A non profit organization that offers volunteer work opportunities in social, environmental, educational and community areas around Ecuador. Donate only one month's work and truly make a difference.

ELEP - Experiential Learning Ecuadorian Programs encourage intercultural exploration and understanding through volunteer work, internships and Spanish study programmes in a wide range of fields. Programmes are open for all ages and nationalities.

El Puente - An expat started non profit that offers educational assistance, food, and microloans mainly to indigenous people in Costa Rica. There is no fee expected from volunteers who want to pitch in for a while.

El Sol - Language courses and volunteer work available.

English Opens Doors Program - Sponsored by the United Nations Development Program and the Chilean Ministry of Education, English Opens Doors seeks highly motivated individuals to work as English teaching assistants in public and semi private schools throughout Chile. The programme provides the following: home stay with a Chilean family, meals, a participation bonus of 60,000CLP for each month of completed service, health insurance, TEFL training, and access to an online Spanish course. The programme does not charge volunteers a fee for participation.

EntreMundos - Over 150 volunteers use their services every year in Quetzaltenango to find volunteer placements with roughly 100 different organisations in Guatemala, the majority of which are based in the Western Highlands.

Erupcion Hostal & Restaurant - Friendly people planning an extended stay in Ecuador are welcomed by Erupcion. Here, there is room for your ideas along with your body - which will be accommodated in the staff room and given a couple of meals a day. Volunteers work six hours a day, five days a week.

Escuela Futuro Verde - An international school in Montezuma, Costa Rica, founded by two expat mums when their daughters were reaching school age. Volunteers assist with classroom instruction, organising after school programmes, or lead outreach efforts with educational organisations in the region.

Esperanca - Medical professionals are required to share their skills and experience with Peruvian staff and to participate in fieldwork of maternal and child health in rural communities. Esperanza is a US based organisation with 35 years health experience.

Esperanza Verde - A wildlife rescue and rainforest conservation project under construction in the Amazon basin of Peru, Esperanza Verde's aim is to work closely with the local community to offer alternative sources of income so that the forest can be managed in a sustainable way. The project currently owns 58 hectares of rainforest and needs volunteers to help with establishing the wildlife rescue centre.

Establo San Rafael - This farm and equestrian centre in Costa Rica practices natural horsemanship techniques and offers horse riding vacations. Volunteers help with the animals and fix things around the farm. They also welcome volunteers with good internet skills to help promote the farm.

Estancia Ranquilco - Describe themselves as "a five month de-wimping course." Activities include permaculture, alternate building, soft touch horse training, holistic land and livestock management, organic gardening, country crafts, outdoor skills and wilderness survival.

Excel Spanish Language Centre - Spanish programmes and English language tuition in Cusco, Peru.

Expand Peru - A non profit organisation, concerned with the improvement of the quality of life of people living in extreme poverty in Peru. Volunteers need commit for a week and can work in Andean Huancayo or in the city of San Ramón, in the Amazon.

Fast Forward Language Institute - Learn Portuguese in Brazil and complement your language studies with volunteer and internship programmes. Some paid internships are also available.

Favelatour - A small company operated 100% by residents in the favela of Rocinha, in Brazil. Volunteers are welcome to help organise and execute their projects. DJs who want to help by offering courses in music production or DJing skills are especially needed. There is no fee to volunteer.

Finca Ixobel - A hostel in Poptun, Guatemala that has had many volunteers and some have gone back over and over again. Their volunteer programme is available to anyone speaking Spanish and English who is able to spend at least six weeks with them. Room and board is given in exchange for work and on your days off can join in on one of the activities or tours that Finca Ixobel offers.

Finca San Antonio - Volunteers experience life in a remote Andean community in northern Ecuador, sharing their values, skills and lifestyle with local people, and learning about theirs. Placements are free and there are no administrative costs.

The Flying Doctors of America - Medical and non medical support volunteers wanted in central and South America.

Fox Language Academy - Either tackling a class on your own or alongside one of their professional language teachers, this Sucre based language academy doesn't charge a thing for your help. They may also be able to provide somewhere to stay or will help you look and, if you don't want to teach, help with volunteering at nurseries, orphanages or other organisations in the area.

Fundacion Jatun Sacha - Voluntary work in Ecuador.

Fundacion Mariposas Amarillas - A small Colombian grassroots organisation committed to supporting disadvantaged children and families around Santa Marta, Colombia. They provide services, supplies and information on nutrition, education, and childcare to families in Santa Marta’s under served neighbourhoods. They welcome both international and local volunteers to teach after school classes or work on social programmes. They also always need volunteers to help with marketing, publicity, social media and fundraising. Volunteers are responsible for their own accommodation, transportation, living costs, supplies, and visas, but otherwise FMA only ask for a small, one time donation. Basic Spanish is required.

Galileo Hostel - Want people who like other people and aren’t going to curl up into a ball every time something unexpected happens. Along with a free place to stay in Costa Rica they’ll pay too and bosh out a beer for each shift worked.

GIC Argentina - Spanish lessons Buenos Aires. Extracurricular and cultural activities are included. Volunteering and internship opportunities also available.

Graffiti Playa Hostel - Five six hour shifts unlocks free accommodation in Mexico's Playa del Carmen.

Green Life Volunteers - This Costa Rican non-profit offers volunteer abroad projects and internship opportunities throughout Costa Rica, but most are located in the Osa Peninsula. Projects include teaching English, turtle conservation, large parrot rescue, dog and cat rescue, hostel work, and solar panel installation.

Guadalajara Language Center - A school for English and Spanish study programs based in Guadalajara, Mexico. Foreign students who wish to learn Spanish can live with a Mexican family. They also employ English teachers and accept volunteers with an intermediate level of Spanish to help street children.

Helping Hands Cusco - HHC help children and single mothers who are in a state of poverty, abandonment, physical and emotional violence, malnutrition, and discrimination. Volunteers can lend their own hand to the project.

Helping Honduras Kids - A non profit rganisation that manages a children's home, caring for children who have been abandoned, abused and neglected on the north coast of Honduras, near La Ceiba. HHK appreciates volunteers that can share their talents and skills with the children, such as computing, karate, athletics, etc.

Helping Overcome Obstacles Peru - Volunteer English teachers can help their work to enhance the education of children (and parents) in a disadvantaged community on the edge of of Arequipa.

Hogar de Esperanza - An orphanage for orphaned, abandoned and abused children in Peru. There is both a short term, a week to a few months, and a long term volunteer programme. Short termers pay a fee while long term volunteers get their food, accommodation and other benefits for free.

Hospedaje Central El Indio Viejo - Staffed by local and international volunteers who are accommodated for all sorts of tasks including cooking, maintenance, housekeeping, gardening, DIY and decorating. Another project, in an Indian village on the other side of Ometepe Island, also welcomes helping hands.

Hostal/Cafe Tiana - Tiana, located in the colonial centre of Latacunga, capital of Ecuador's Cotopaxi province, accepts help in reception and for general duties for a minimum of one month. Good people skills and basic Spanish required.

Hostal el Refugio - Pucon, in the Lakes District, is known as Chile’s outdoor capital and, as such, volunteers helping with the day to day running of Hostal el Refugio are expected to be the outdoorsy type. Somewhere to sleep, tours, food and maybe commissions are the payback for your efforts.

Hostal Llullu Llama - Almost always has volunteers to help take care of their guests in Quito. The minimum stay here is two months and you need to speak Spanish and English.

Hostel Che - Will swap accommodation and breakfast for 20 to 25 hours’ work a week - providing you can commit to one or two months in Playa del Carmen.

Hostel Casa Del Parque - A San Jose hostel that has advertised for the past couple of years in July for responsible volunteers with sales and customer service.

Hostel Rincon del Viajero - Volunteers help this Mexican hostel run smoothly. They work as a community of artists, writers, scientists, construction workers, gardeners, etc, and all talents are welcome to help their goal to develop an ecologically sustainable, inspiring, and enriched living space.

Hostel 41 Below - Argentine hostel that takes on volunteers work for their keep.

Hosteria PapaGayo - A bed and food are offered in exchange for participation in three different volunteer roles. These are helping out at the Papagayo hostel, teaching in local schools, and working at a surrounding dairy farm.

Hotel Finca Tatin - This jungle accommodation in Guatemala takes on volunteer workers.