Volunteer in Latin America

Experience community and adventure in Costa Rica.

Looking to make a positive impact in Latin America? Join GVI and experience a diverse land teeming with lush forests, pristine beaches and captivating history. From our community hub in Costa Rica’s central valley, our community development programs offer opportunities to contribute to teaching English, community projects, women’s empowerment and early childhood development initiatives.

Overview

If you’re looking to volunteer in a breathtaking location where you can connect with diverse and welcoming communities, Latin America is the place to be!

Feel the balmy humidity on your skin, inhale the dewy freshness of the jungle and listen to children giggling as you practise your new Spanish words. Join in vibrant Latin American festivals, sample tasty local corn dishes, and engage in conversations with locals. Through storytelling and exchange, you’ll soon discover that despite our diversity, we all share much in common.

When you join one of GVI’s award-winning community development programs in Latin America, you’ll work in collaboration with locally-led organisations that implement sustainable projects aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, creating real social impact.

Whether you’re on a gap year, a volunteering holiday, a career break or completing an internship, you’re guaranteed to have a meaningful experience when you participate in one of our people-focused volunteer programs in Latin America. 

With GVI, you get to make a difference and connect with people from all over the world. Plus, you’ll level up personally and professionally, gaining skills and experiences that are truly life-changing.

Our programs

Volunteering
Teaching English and Community Development Projects in Costa Rica
Internship
Teaching Internship in Costa Rica
Internship
Community Development Internship in Costa Rica
Professional Apprenticeship
Community Development Professional Apprenticeship in Costa Rica
Volunteering
Women’s Empowerment Program in Costa Rica
Volunteering
Volunteer with Children in Costa Rica
Included in your program, at no extra cost

Make the most of our unique programs with these exclusively curated local adventure and wellness experiences.

Offered once a month, expand your adventure with GVI Experiences. These are just some of the activities offered on your program!
Learn to cook Costa Rican food
Learn to cook Costa Rican food
Visit a botanical garden
Visit a botanical garden
Summit Irazu Volcano
Summit Irazu Volcano
Enjoy a Costa Rican breakfast
Enjoy a Costa Rican breakfast
Experience Costa Rican culture
Experience Costa Rican culture
Practise a yoga class
Practise a yoga class
Paint your own pottery souvenir
Paint your own pottery souvenir
White-water raft down the Pacuare River
White-water raft down the Pacuare River
Location

Our Latin America community volunteer programs are based in Cartago, a mid-sized city located approximately 45 minutes outside of San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica.

Cartago offers a blend of urban convenience and serene countryside landscapes. Located just a short distance from San Jose, Cartago provides easy access to modern amenities while retaining its historical charm. Volunteers will find themselves immersed in a community known for its warmth and hospitality. 

Cartago’s surroundings boast lush greenery, picturesque mountains and stunning vistas, creating an ideal setting for meaningful volunteer work. Our community hub in Cartago serves as a base for various projects focused on education, community development and environmental conservation. Volunteers will have the opportunity to engage with local residents, learn about Costa Rican culture and contribute to sustainable initiatives that benefit the community and environment alike.

While speaking Spanish isn’t necessary for volunteering in Cartago, having some knowledge of the language will be useful, and it’s a great opportunity to practise your Spanish skills.

Programs

Costa Rica community development programs

With our Latin America community development programs, you can choose from a range of focus areas, including teaching English and community development, women’s empowerment and early childhood development.

Our teaching English and community development volunteer program offers an opportunity to engage in teaching English in local schools and contribute to community projects. It’s a chance to develop valuable teaching and leadership skills while making a positive impact in Costa Rican communities.

Our women’s empowerment program in Costa Rica is all about shaking up the status quo. Through education, skill-building and community support, we work in collaboration with local partner organisations to empower women in Costa Rican communities. 

Join our children’s volunteer program and make an impact on young lives. Collaborate with GVI staff and fellow volunteers to provide free English classes to the local community. Tailored to individual needs, our engaging lessons cover vocabulary and sustainability topics, while boosting conversational skills. 

Teen volunteer opportunities

For teens looking to make a difference we offer a community development and rainforest exploration volunteer program specially designed for teens between the ages of 15 and 17. At GVI, safety is our top priority, and our teen programs are carefully overseen by seasoned staff for a secure and fulfilling experience.

Wildlife conservation programs in Latin America

Looking to make a difference in wildlife conservation across Latin America? In Costa Rica, Mexico and Peru GVI offers exciting opportunities to protect biodiversity and explore vibrant ecosystems. 

In Costa Rica, you can join our wildlife conservation projects in the Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve, where you’ll encounter species like frogs, sloths and toucans. 

In Mexico, join marine conservation efforts off the coast of Puerto Morelos, contributing to sea turtle conservation and coral reef restoration while earning PADI diving qualifications. 

Meanwhile, in Peru’s Tambopata National Reserve, immerse yourself in the Amazon rainforest, working hands-on to safeguard species like jaguars, sloths and harpy eagles.

Why Latin America?

Top reasons to volunteer in Latin America

  • The people: Connect with local communities, fostering meaningful connections and friendships during your volunteer journey.
  • Culinary adventures: Experience authentic and fresh Latin American cuisine, offering a taste of the region’s diverse flavours.
  • Vibrant festivals: Immerse yourself in celebrations and festivals that honour the history, culture and traditions of Latin America.
  • Impactful projects: Partner with locally-led community development initiatives, and make a tangible difference on the ground.
  • Cultural heritage: Dive into the fascinating history of ancient civilizations like the Inca, Aztec and Maya, exploring awe-inspiring archaeological sites.
  • Natural beauty: Take in the breathtaking scenery of Latin America, from the lush Amazon rainforest teeming with biodiversity to remote cloud forests.
  • Unique experiences: Enjoy exclusive opportunities to engage in activities led by locals, such as mindfulness hikes and discovering traditional practices and medicinal plants.
Ethics and safety

Ensuring ethical volunteering in Latin America

At GVI, we take great responsibility to ensure that all our programs are run ethically and safely to benefit everyone involved. 

We have more than two decades of experience in running community development volunteer programs, and have refined our process greatly over the years to ensure optimum social impact that’s inclusive and sustainable.

We have the following measures in place to ensure that our programs are ethical and safe:

  • As part of our child and vulnerable adult policy, all team members and participants need to undergo a DBS check, get police clearance, or in some cases, a national background check.
  • All our programs and team members strictly honour our ten ethical commitments.
  • GVI supports The ChildSafe Movement – a global organisation protecting children and youth around the world.
  • We do not offer or endorse any volunteer programs anywhere with orphanages. Take a look at our stance on orphanage volunteering.
  • We prioritise the empowerment of local institutions, such as NGOs, schools and communities of individuals through our empowerment principles.
  • GVI has a set of stringent health and safety protocols in place, and is one of the most highly-respected sustainable development organisations in the sector for this reason. Read more about our health and safety processes and systems that ensure that you are supported during every step of your stress-free journey.

 

FAQs

What’s it really like volunteering in Latin America?

It’s one thing to read about an exciting new location on your screen, but nothing brings you closer to reality than talking to someone who’s actually been there.

Head on over to our testimonial page to read through first-hand reviews from participants who have been on volunteer programs in Latin America, and all over the world.

Check out our live stories on Instagram and TikTok to see what’s happening on base. Get in on the action and feel the vibes!