Volunteer Abroad in Cartagena

Back to Programs

A Guide to Volunteering Abroad in Cartagena

Cartagena is the perfect Caribbean destination you’ve never heard of: surrounded by ancient ramparts, dotted with white sand beaches, and filled with large plazas and cobbled alleys, this Colombian city will make you wonder why it’s not already on the cover of every travel magazine. That said, Cartagena is also home to nearly one million colombianos, and its residents can and do experience real challenges. Volunteering abroad in Cartagena is a great way to assist locals while also learning about the Colombian way of life.

Life in Cartagena for Volunteers

Cartagena is no small beachside town, and life in the city isn’t always relaxing. But on the days you can’t escape to the beach, there are winding streets, tucked-away cafes, and colonial remnants just waiting to be explored. 

Grab a carimañola de queso (cheese-filled fritter) and follow the path along the stone-walled ramparts that surround the old town or check out the tunnels underneath the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas. For a fun night out with your fellow volunteers, head to Getsemani for ceviche, mojitos, and dancing. On the weekend, you can try out snorkeling in the nearby coral reefs of Parque Nacional Natural Corales del Rosario y San Bernardo. 

The cost of living while volunteering in Cartagena makes it an affordable destination for volunteers. Those who budget wisely and arrive with some savings should be able to stay for several months to complete projects. While food and lodging costs are relatively low, keep in mind that imported products, such as electronics and clothing, can be more expensive that what you’re used to.

GoAbroad Insider Tips

Once you’ve decided to volunteer in Colombia and you’ve found the perfect volunteer opportunity, it’s important to think about visas (paperwork may be boring, but it is also essential!). Depending on how long you’ll be in the country and what project you’re working on, you may need to apply for a volunteer visa before departing your home country. In other cases, traveling on a tourist visa might be an option, but you may need to extend it in Cartagena once you’ve arrived. Visas can be complicated, so it’s important to touch base with your volunteer organization to make sure you’ve checked all the boxes. 

After dealing with visa requirements, finding a place to sleep should be much easier. You’ll probably receive assistance finding housing from your volunteer organization, and in some cases, housing is even included in the volunteer agreement. In these cases, you’ll most often live with fellow volunteers in a shared house or with a host family. While you may not have all of the comforts of home, like wifi or cable TV, your lodging should be comfortable and allow you to get to know other volunteers and locals as you work on your volunteer projects. 

Cartagena can feel like a fairy tale, with its flowery balconies, leisurely boat rides to mangrove-lined beaches, and extensive tapas menus. Volunteering abroad in Cartagena will show you this side of the city, but it will also expose you to the challenges locals face in everyday life. Use this information to reflect on how you’ll move forward once your volunteer experience has finished. What will you do with the knowledge you’ve gained, and how will you ensure that you continue to travel meaningfully

Feeling mucho inspired? Read our comprehensive guide on volunteering abroad in Colombia for even more programs and info.

Read More

written by:

A Guide To
Volunteering Abroad in Cartagena


 Find Volunteer Programs in Cartagena Now


This listing has been saved 1 time

Volunteer and Teach in Colombia

The Teaching English project provides the opportunity for students from low-income communities in Cartagena and Bogota to learn English with the support of international volunteers. Volunteers can be placed in local schools, day care centers, foster homes and community centers and can teach a variety of ages from primary school through to elderly students. There is also the opportunity to provi...


This listing has been saved 298 times

Conservation, Community and Adventure Placements from $255

With more than 400 projects worldwide and with 25 years experience of providing ethical travel placements, Frontier can find you the perfect adventure whatever you want to achieve. We offer placements in more than 50 countries including Costa Rica, Madagascar, Fiji and loads more. Here are just some of the options available: Marine Conservation and Diving Travel to beach paradises, scuba...


This listing has been saved 3 times

Paid Teaching in Colombia

The Colombian government is actively seeking English teachers for its major education initiative. Native English-speakers are sought to team teach with local teachers. A modest stipend is provided. This is a great opportunity for those who would like to spend some time abroad, work on their Spanish skills, and get acquainted with one of today's hot travel destinations. Teaching experience and S...


This listing has been saved 2 times

Volunteer in Cartagena, Colombia through a Child Care Center

Child Care Center This is a public facility that provides daily child care services, pre-school and kindergarten classes to small babies and children in this Torices neighborhood in north Cartagena. This center is located close by to downtown and only 10 minutes from the airport. The program mission is the care and support of children ranging from 18 months to 5 years old. The children re...


This listing has been saved 69 times

Teach Your Language to Locals and Stay For Free

TalkTalkBnb offers the opportunity to stay for free with locals around the world in exchange for teaching your native language to your host. We are looking for travelers for whom traditional tourism is no longer satisfying. A “TalkTalker” has a real desire is to experience life from a different cultural perspective. Destinations are not chosen just to be crossed off a list, but because of th...


This listing has been saved 2 times

Colombia: Post Conflict Studies & Afro Caribbean Culture

Experience two different cities (Medellín & Cartagena) on IPSL’s Colombia program! Improve your Spanish Language skills while also learning the practical skills of community organizing & social activism (COSA) with courses on: • Race and Racism • Development in Post-Conflict Societies • Conflict, Peace & Reconciliation • Socio-Historical Perspectives on Colombia • Global Education and Dev...


This listing has been saved 4 times

Service Learning in Barranquilla, Colombia!

Make a positive impact in Colombia through this international volunteering program provided by Amigos de las Américas. Barranquilla is the fourth largest city in Colombia and is located on its Caribbean coast The city is known as the "Golden Gate of Colombia" because of its geographical location and because it is home to the most important maritime port. Students enroll in Universidad del...