How to Volunteer in South America

South America is one of our top choices if you are thinking about volunteering abroad, each country is different and will offer new experiences. There are also some of the most exciting and rewarding programs where you can help wildlife, communities and conservation. Give back and make a real difference, if you are totally new to this idea or if you have thought volunteering in South America we hope our website will inspire you to do it.

Applying is a great way to do more than just your normal holiday, where you can mix and live alongside local people, improve your language skills, meet new people and try to have a positive impact. Placements can be challenging but allow you to be more than just a tourist. You will get to see the world with new eyes. Most organisations recommend you stay for a period of 4 weeks and longer, this is to give you time to really get to grips with a program and have the best impact.


Best Places to Volunteer in South America


Top Reasons to Apply

During your time in Latin America, you’ll gain fantastic knowledge and hands on experience helping incredible charities and local organisations. You’ll:

  • Gain experience combining sustainable tourism and volunteering
  • Enjoy the thrill of making a difference
  • See exotic wildlife
  • Make a lasting one-off contribution to the preservation of endangered species
  • Experience local cultures first hand
  • Explore the picturesque islands and also get to join tours and sightseeing in your spare time
  • Have time off every day to relax and unwind during your volunteer post
  • Make lifelong friends with people from around around the world


Ways to Help

One World 365 features volunteer projects from top rated organisations in South America. You can find a range of different programs from top rated local and international companies offer opportunities to international participants. Thousands of people book with these organizations every year and they have very good reviews.

You can find rewarding projects in a diverse range of areas including community development, conservation and wildlife programs, humanitarian projects, educational and healthcare placements and more. Projects vary depending on country but some popular options include helping street children, preserving animals, working on sustainable projects in the Amazon.


Conservation Projects 

South America is one our favourite conservation destinations and this continent is home to stunning species and biodiversity, South America has a vast range of wildlife, however they’re becoming more and more endangered as the years go by. You can get involved with numerous wildlife and environmental projects in order to keep these precious species living for longer.

There are various projects available where you can work with remote indigenous communities, these trips are great if you are passionate about traveling and the environment. You might be working in teams researching and monitoring certain locations. Conservation programs are a really special way to help wildlife and the environment. 


Community Development & Educational Programs 

Consider joining programs where you will be able to help people and communities. You could teach in South America and lead English lessons and help at schools, communities centres or at colleges, on some placements you will be able to work and live with a host family and in your spare time you will be able to help them improve their English skills. You could literally help anywhere in South America, children will enjoy having you to help and if you have a passion for foreign languages and cultural learning experiences you will love these placements. Children in this continent are always eager to learn more and will really appreciate your help.



Most organisations will require you to be aged 18+ but there are opportunities for younger people including volunteering with your family or joining a specially organized trip. Depending on the placement you might also need to be in good shape and health, for example when working on building, construction or programs which are in hot and humid places like the Amazon. The majority of programs do no require any previous experience but if you are joining a medical, healthcare or dental program you might need qualifications, a degree and work experience.



Some people choose to stay with a local community and live with host families who provide accommodation, this is where you can enjoy the real South American experience but please know living conditions will probably be basic. You can also book shared housing with other participants or request private accommodation.


How to Apply

There is a lot of choice and you can either apply direct with local projects and organisations which offer free opportunities or apply through an international sending agency who will charge a fee but provide placements, accommodation, transfers, meals and 24 hour in country support. Ensuring volunteer´s safety is of the utmost importance and booking with an agency is highly recommended. Prior to your departure, a program coordinator will work with you to plan and prepare for your trip.

Upon your arrival, you will receive a detailed orientation and last minute questions will be addressed. Additionally, you will be given a 24 hours emergency contact number. You might be surprised to learn a lot of volunteer organisations in South America will charge a fee to participate, this includes grassroots projects and NGO's. Usually this fee or donation helps keep programs running which have no funding and also sometimes includes accommodation and meals. All placements are different so please research all before applying.

Search our structured, low cost and free volunteer opportunities in South America with NGO's, local charities, non-profits and international organisations. If you need any help arranging a trip get in touch. You might also like to view our guide to the best volunteer programs in Central America.


How to Volunteer in South America for Free

We list over 100 volunteer organisations in South America and a lot of which offer free or low cost volunteer programs. Usually you will need to apply direct to local NGO's and charities to get a free/cheap job but please note you will usually need to pay for flights, transport and accommodation separately.

Most organisations are run on shoe string budgets and finding paid volunteer jobs in South America can be difficult. Some Spanish language schools in South America can make arrangements for volunteer opportunities free of charge to people who are taking Spanish classes. Usually if a student is enrolled for a period in less than 4 weeks there is a nominal fee to cover the costs of making the arrangements.


Reviews & Testimonials

If you have ever volunteered in South America and would like to write about your experience, review an organisation/project or share any recommendations please contact us.

"I was treated like a member of the family and felt safe at all times during my stay. When I arrived, members of the family offered to show me where the bank was and accompany me to town to assist with shopping as my Spanish is very basic. Through having the lessons for this time and learning sentences for the children I was able to improve my Spanish immensely. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and the single most rewarding aspect is the children and their overwhelming affection and enthusiasm for life. I enjoyed all aspects of my time here and would recommend it to anyone considering volunteering." - Kate Meyer