- Back to homepage
Volunteer in Cusco, Peru, the gateway to Machu Picchu. Stay in the centre of town and help this enchanting but impoverished community by improving schools, working with children and local homes.
Cusco is a small town at an elevation of 11,150 feet. It's kind of in the middle of nowhere (a few hours by plane from the capital, Lima) but that by no means implies that it's a boring place to be. Before the westerners discovered Machu Picchu and the area, it was an important place for the Incan natives as Cusco was the capital of the Incan empire. There is still some debate about what Machu Picchu was used for but Cusco was always an important city and the Spaniards certainly took that on and put their stamp on it, clear with the Plaza de Armas smack dab in the middle of town as well as with the Catholic cathedral and church. It may be small but Cusco is teeming with life, from the indigenous women who come down from the mountains to sell sweets and cocoa leaves on the street, to dreadlocked backpackers passing through to hardcore hikers looking for a natural high. It is a truly enchanting place and once you visit, you will be trying to find the right words to describe it to family and friends back home for years to come - but it won't be easy, it's a unique and inspirational place that should be on everyone's "bucket list".
Children in the Cuzco area sometimes do not have things we assume everyone gets like an education, clean clothes and books to read. It's a sad truth to confront but once you meet these kids you will be amazed at how much joy they give you in the week you spend with them. By being a volunteer in Cusco, you will be doing many activities alongside these kids and will really get to see how something simple like making a photo album with them or helping them prepare dinner influences their lives in a positive way. Yes, the work might be challenging but when you are making repairs to the children's home (or Albergue) you won't notice the thin air or even that you might not speak Spanish. The majestic mountains, the brightly coloured ponchos, the local people so eager for you to try a Pisco Sour or Ceviche will inspire you to help out as much as you can while hopefully learning about this ancient and beautiful place.
This one is not for the faint of heart. It's certainly not luxurious (no hot water at the accommodation) but Cusco is a rugged town in the middle of a beautiful but harsh environment. You must not be afraid to get dirty, live a spartan week and confront some possibly upsetting truths about rural Peru. You will be surrounded by a high level of poverty, which is not pretty, but if you want to do something positive with your free time, then you will love this volunteer vacation in Cusco.
You will be in a group, living dorm style so it's not for anyone seeking privacy. You do not need to speak Spanish (in fact for many locals Spanish is not their first language but rather they still speak Quechua). One very important piece of advice is that Cusco is at a very high altitude. It is a good idea to get there a few days before you start this tour to get used to the thin air. Do not underestimate this, you will feel it as soon as you step off the plane and taking a few days to do nothing but get used to it could be the difference between a great trip or being ill during the duration.
We select specialist operators who are experienced, qualified and most importantly passionate about what they do. Your enquiry will be passed straight through to the experts who will be able to give you the best advice.