Volunteer in South America

A Guide To

Volunteering Abroad in South America


1004 Volunteer Abroad Programs in South America


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International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) is the world's leading volunteer travel organization, providing affordable, safe and responsible volunteer programs in over 30 different destinations around the world. With program fees starting from just USD 10 per day, IVHQ is the volunteer organization of choice for thousands of volunteers every year. Established in 2007, IVHQ has supported over 55,0...


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Volunteer in South America and earn international work experience with Projects Abroad. Stay for a minimum of two weeks and gain an understanding of the language, customs, and culture of this country. This program is available in countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru.


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Volunteer in South America with Gapforce and learn more about the local way of life. With two program options to choose from, participants may either volunteer with the International Red Cross in Ecuador or work on projects involving Animal Welfare, Conservation, and Wildlife Surveying while traveling through the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu. Interested individuals must be at least 17 yea...


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GoEco offers meaningful volunteer projects in South America. Work with animals, children, and the local community in protecting nature. Worldwide volunteers can make a difference in Peru and Argentina.


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Become a Love Volunteer in South America and get a truly memorable experience whilst helping those in real need. Love Volunteers has provided meaningful volunteering abroad programs to thousands of volunteers seeking safe, responsible and affordable ways to help needy communities! Check out our exciting programs and sign up now!


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Make a difference volunteering in South America. Cross-Cultural Solutions has developed a number of placement options for volunteers from any country. Programs are located in Peru and Brazil, offering programs related to Orphanage Assistance, Social Work, and Teaching.


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Dive into the South American culture by volunteering with Maximo Nivel. Volunteers take part in community building, childcare, and teaching projects in Peru, Guatemala, and Costa Rica. The programs are available all throughout the year with a maximum length of six months. Volunteers can earn academic credits.


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Travel to South America as a volunteer. Kaya Responsible Travel offers programs teaching English to children in local communities, helping with wildlife conservation activities, and assisting in rural hospitals and clinics. Placements are available in many countries, including Bolivia, Peru, and Brazil. South American programs are available to independent or groups of participants at least 18 y...


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Volunteer with Connect-123 in one of Latin America’s most exciting cities, Buenos Aires! Explore Argentina, improve your Spanish and give back to the community! Connect-123 offers hands-on projects in fields such as community service, economic development, health care, youth development, among others. Programs have flexible start dates and durations, and are available to worldwide volunteers.


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Join microfinance, journalism, legal, wildlife, orphanage, HIV, and medical projects worldwide with CrossContinental. Locations include Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Gain hands-on experience; Improve your resume; Build global network; Stay with a host family to enhance cultural understanding.


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ELI - Experiential Learning International offers an assortment of volunteer programs in South America, from nutrition and working with special needs children in Ecuador and community development in Rio de Janeiro, to environmental conservation and tourism in Chile. Some programs require intermediate to advanced Spanish. Language classes are available in Portuguese-speaking countries.


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Transform children's lives - mentor, teach, volunteer, and learn in Peru! Read books in English, help them with art projects, assist teachers with recreational activities, work on light labor projects, help with gardening assignments, and more. This is a great opportunity for students, families and enthusiastic individuals of all ages! Global Volunteers works very closely with local host par...


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Choose from a range of volunteering opportunities that Frontier offers in South America. Volunteers can help monitor big cats, work with primates, or assist with the release of sea turtle hatchlings. They can also join a 10-week group tour that provides a blend of conservation, history, and culture.


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Immerse in the lively South American culture in a volunteering program from Global Volunteer Network. Placements are available in the fields of Healthcare, Construction, and Education. Program is available in Brazil, Peru, and Argentina.


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Contribute to community volunteer projects based in rural villages located around Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire. Volunteers can also get involved in projects held around Huaraz, the Adventure and Trekking capital of Peru. Program participants work on various building projects, including basic housing, community halls, clinics, school classrooms, water storage tanks, and sanitati...

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Volunteering Abroad in South America

Individuals looking to volunteer abroad in South America will find no shortage of opportunities. From local villages in Peru to the poverty stricken favelas in Buenos Aires, in large cities and rural areas alike, international volunteering is in high demand. If you’re looking to truly make a difference, this region will allow you to conduct volunteer work in all types of projects. Not only is South America one of the most affordable places to volunteer abroad, it’s also arguably one of the most beautiful. Those who volunteer in South America can explore the Amazon rainforest, trek the Andes, hit the Argentine ski slopes, or sunbathe in sunny Rio de Janeiro in their free time.


Almost all the nations of South America offer multiple opportunities to volunteer abroad, including those not listed below, however the following tend to have the most prevalent and wide-ranging program options.

Peru – Located on the northwest coast of the continent, Peru is bordered by five countries and home to Incan ruins, Machu Picchu, and Lake Titicaca. Its chief industries are mining, manufacturing, fishing, and agriculture. Volunteer work in Peru is common in urban centers like Lima and Cusco, with volunteer opportunities in education, medicine and community development, or choose a more rural experience volunteering with indigenous peoples high in the Andes. With several National Parks, Peru is also a great place to help volunteer in conservation and wildlife. 

Argentina – This country makes up the southeast tip of the Americas, home to world-renowned regions like Chaco and Patagonia. Cities like Buenos Aires and Cordoba offer many volunteer programs in community development, medicine, working with at-risk youth, the homeless, orphans, and the elderly. Volunteers can also find opportunities for volunteer work in conservation, farming and agriculture, and ecotourism.

Brazil – As the region’s largest country in terms of population, metropolises like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo struggle with inner city poverty and have a high need for volunteer projects focused on community development, education, and construction and renovation. These large cultural centers offer more volunteer opportunities in the arts too, like music, dance, and photography. Outside the cities, in the vast Amazon basin, are some of the best volunteer programs in Brazil, specifically in conservation and wildlife biology.

Chile – This long strip of land on the southwestern coast of the continent is full of National Parks and volunteer opportunities in agriculture, sustainable living, ecotourism, summer camps, and trail maintenance. With such a long coastline, Chile is a particularly great location for marine conservation and biology. Popular cities for volunteering in Chile include Santiago, Vida del Mar, and La Serena.

Volunteer Placements

Education – English teachers are in high demand all over South America, in both urban and rural areas. Individuals can choose to volunteer in public or private schools, specific language schools, or even opt for living in homestays with local families where volunteers help teach the family English. While teaching English in South America is more common, there are volunteer opportunities in other subjects, such as math, science, and sports coaching.

Community Development – Most countries in South America are developing nations, and consequently many countries have a specific need for carpenters skilled in home construction and renovation. In addition to basic housing projects, there are many volunteer programs in South America focused on working with disabled children, orphans, and at-risk youth, as well as the homeless and elderly.

Conservation & Wildlife – Whether it’s aviary biology in the Amazon rainforest, marine conservation off the coast of Ecuador, or working with sustainability and ecotourism in the National Parks of Argentina, opportunities to volunteer in South America in the realm of conservation and wildlife are located all over the continent. As one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, these type of volunteer programs can be quite an adventure too.

Costs & Affordability

Most volunteer programs in South America charge a program fee, which typically includes accommodation, meals, transportation, visa assistance, and other amenities during the duration of your placement, and helps the local organization continue to run their programs and projects.

The cost of living will vary depending on where you choose to volunteer in South America, but in general you will find living costs in South America to be much cheaper than the U.S., and definitely lesser than Europe. Volunteering in national capitals and other major urban centers will likely be more expensive than volunteering in rural areas of South America, when it comes to accommodation, food, and especially entertainment.

Accommodation & Visas

Accommodation can vary greatly depending on the volunteer program you choose, but the most common option for volunteers in South America is shared housing in volunteer quarters, such as a house or an apartment. Homestays are also an excellent and widely available housing option, and an especially good choice for those who want to improve their Spanish skills while volunteering in South America. Volunteers who stay in rural homestays, for example in a village in the Andes, should be prepared for simple living conditions. A significant lack of electricity, limited bathing facilities, and access to consistent clean water are all common in more rural areas of South America. The benefits of living and volunteering in these rural areas will most definitely outweigh the minimal challenges associated with adapting to a new lifestyle though. 

Visa requirements for volunteering in South America will vary depending on country you choose. Some may have specific visas for volunteers, while others countries, like Peru, allow volunteers to enter the country on a tourist visa, provided they are not receiving compensation for their volunteer work. If the duration of your program exceeds the tourist visa timeframe, you may need to apply for a different kind of visa, an extension, or a work permit. Be sure to check visa requirements for your country of choice well before departure so you have time to apply for the correct visa, if required.

Benefits & Challenges

Giving Back to the Community – Whether you choose a South American volunteer program in education, community development, conservation, or medicine, you can be sure that your service is needed, and you will make a tangible difference in the lives of South Americans. Both poverty and an overall lack of access to resources are huge obstacles for most countries in South America, so locals often depend on international volunteer organizations to implement projects that can help improve their quality of living.

Adventure – The Pacific, Atlantic, Andes, Amazon, Patagonia, Chaco – with an incredibly biodiverse atmosphere, opportunities for adventure and exploration are literally everywhere. Those who volunteer in South America can really take advantage of the region’s natural beauty and participate in all the outdoor activities each country has to offer, from hiking and biking to sailing, surfing, and skiing.

Poverty – It can sometimes be difficult for volunteers to adjust to witnessing heightened levels of poverty or unsanitary conditions. Volunteers should research the country of their choice and be prepared for new experiences they may encounter while volunteering in South America, including unreliable technology and impoverished street beggars.

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