Food, Lodging & Travel
Volunteers have two accommodation options when volunteering in Cusco. One is home-stay with a local family with private bedroom, internet and full board. The other is a private bedroom in a shared apartment that includes only internet and no meals. No smoking or pets are allowed inside any of the accommodation options. Please note that the volunteering opportunity at the Archaeology project in Huyro provides different accommodation from described below, as this is outside of Cusco. There volunteers will be in shared dorm style rooms.
Home-stay with a local family in Cusco
A local guest family is the best option if you want to practice your Spanish and get a better understanding of Peruvian culture. The host families are middle class families. They can give you a good idea of everyday life in Peru in a nice and safe environment. You will have your own bedroom and you will share the rest of the house with the family. Mostly, the family do not speak English or only at a very basic level. So that way you will be ‘forced’ to practice your Spanish in this way. Normally you will eat three times a day with the family. However, you have the liberty to go wherever you want, and are not obliged to share every meal with the family. Please let us know if you have a preference (e.g. non-smoker, no pets, dietary requirements etc.), and we will try to arrange accordingly. Staying with a host family is the most popular accommodation option for short and medium term (2 weeks to about 2 months) stays in Cusco.
Shared Apartment in Cusco
It is also possible to stay in a shared apartment while volunteering. The apartments are located in Lucrepata and Limacpama, which are both safe neighbourhoods close to the centre, where the Spanish School is also located.The apartments are completely furnished. The living room has cable-TV, DVD and a dining area and a fully equipped kitchen (refrigerator, stove with oven, microwave, etc.). You will share the apartment with some fellow students/volunteers, but you will have your own private bedroom. The volunteers would be responsible for their own meals. Staying in an apartment is the most popular accommodation option for mid and long-term stays.
Free Time in Cusco
Activities are arranged for volunteers that also study Spanish every week. Sometimes you will learn something new, visit a new place or do a new activity, while meeting new people who are also studying and volunteering in Cusco. Some examples of the activities include; Salsa classes, Fruit sampling nights, Dinners, Cooking classes, Trivia nights, Workshops, introduction to Quechua (the original language of Peru), Walking tours or visits to any interesting events in Cusco, such as a football matches, a festival, a concert and so on.
The majority of volunteers opt to explore the beauty of Cusco and Peru in the weekends. You will have plenty of places to explore such as Machu Picchu, Colca Canyon, Lake Titicaca and the South Coast of Peru to name a few. These trips can be arranged directly with our project partner in Peru once confirmed on the programme. Please be aware that in some cases, like treks to Machu Picchu, the trip preferably needs to be booked well in advance to secure a spot.
Visa to Peru
Volunteers are able to arrive in Peru without a pre-arranged visa, and can obtain a free tourist visa on arrival which is valid for up 6 months (do ask for 6 months if you want it). Anyone staying longer than the stated visa expiry date granted on arrival in Peru will accumulate a daily penalty fine – this is not recommended. Please always check the latest visa requirements applicable for your nationality, as these might change without notice.
As volunteers will partake in some manual labour on most projects, it would be recommended to have at least your tetanus and diphtheria vaccinations up-to-date. Other vaccinations might be needed depending on whether you are travelling to other parts of Peru before/after volunteering, including the Amazon. Thus it is best to consult your own GP to find out about current recommended vaccinations based on your itinerary.
Altitude Sickness. The altitude of Cusco can be an issue, as the city centre of Cusco is located at 3400 meters. Most people don’t have any problems with the altitude, or just have some minor symptoms. Few people get sick. If you have never been at higher altitudes, you don’t know if you will get altitude sickness. It doesn’t depend on your physical fitness, age or gender. Most people have minor symptoms the first few days like breathing faster, heart pumping faster and less energy. This goes away after a few days. If you get a headache, nausea or even vomiting you have altitude sickness. You can take pills for the altitude, which you can get in any pharmacy in Cusco. Best advice is to take it easy the first few days and drink enough liquids as dehydration is an issue at high altitude as well.