Volunteer in Latin America

Community and adventure on the Caribbean coast.

Volunteer in Latin America with GVI and experience a land endowed with lush forests, pristine beaches, significant archaeological sites, flavourful food and wonderful, welcoming local communities.


If you’re looking to volunteer in an Instagrammable destination where you’ll live and work alongside multicultural, warm-hearted and friendly communities – Latin America is calling your name.

Feel the balmy humidity on your skin, inhale  the dewy freshness of the jungle and hear children giggle as you practise your new Spanish words. Attend vibey Latin American festivals, try tasty local corn dishes and sit down to learn from locals as they share their wisdom and peaceful ways of living. By exchanging stories, you’ll soon realise that although we’re diverse, we all have so much in common.

When you join GVI’s award-winning community development programs in Latin America, you’ll empower and support locally-led organisations who run sustainable projects in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, ensuring actual social impact.

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

With GVI, you have the unique opportunity to create a lasting impact, while having a great time with fellow global-citizens. You’ll also grow on a personal and professional level, gaining skills and experiences that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

Our programs

Teaching English and Community Development Projects in Costa Rica
Under 18
Community Development and Rainforest Exploration Teen Volunteering in Costa Rica
Teaching Internship in Costa Rica
Community Development Internship in Costa Rica
Professional Apprenticeship
Community Development Professional Apprenticeship in Costa Rica
Women’s Empowerment Program in Costa Rica
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
Visit a Cabécar village
Discover local medicinal plants
Kayak in a hidden lagoon
Hike through a riverbed
Visit a working fruit plantation
Hike through virgin rainforest to a waterfall
White water raft down the Pacuare River
Location Programs

Latin America volunteering locations and programs

Cartago, Costa Rica 

About the location

Costa Rica is known as the paradise of Central America, and is the most popular tourist destination in the region. The main reason for this? The country’s remarkable variety of endemic wild animals, insects and birds; its national parks with rich biodiversity; and the picture perfect beaches make it an ideal place for your next – or first – volunteer program. 

Costa Rica is also one of the most literate nations on the continent, being the first in the world to make primary education obligatory and free.

When you volunteer in Latin America and join us in Costa Rica, you’ll be staying in our hub in Cartago, which is located in the Central Valley of Costa Rica. Because of the unique history of Cartago, including being the original capital of the country, and the proximity to the capital of San Jose, Cartago is home to a mix of cultures, languages, backgrounds, and things to do. 

Spanish is the main language that we speak in our volunteer programs in Costa Rica. If you’re keen to join us in Cartago, you’ll need to be proficient in Spanish.

Program types in Costa Rica

With our Latin America community development programs in Costa Rica, you can choose between two different focus areas – teaching and women’s empowerment.


Join local education-focused organisations in Cartago who run various after-school and complementary educational activities, including English teaching programs and sports programs. You can support children in their after-school programs or assist the teachers during their classes.

If you’re into sports, why not grab your cap and whistle, and help our partners to coach a variety of sports and activities to benefit children’s physical and mental wellness. Take a look at four reasons why sport is important in child development.

Women’s Empowerment

Support the GVI team and our partners on the ground to present English classes to women looking to learn a new skill that will help them be more competitive in a tough job market.

Why Latin America?

Top reasons to volunteer in Latin America

  • The people – connect with locals in Latin America who are friendly and passionate. The communities are warm-hearted and welcome volunteers with open arms.
  • The food – get the opportunity to taste authentic and fresh Latin American cuisine prepared by locals. Get to know Latin American food culture – popular Peruvian dishes and medicinal uses.
  • The festivals – joining celebrations and festivals is a highlight of volunteering in Latin America. Get immersed in colourful displays honouring history, culture and traditions. Take a look at eight of the best festivals and celebrations in Peru.
  • The projects – GVI is honoured to partner with renowned locally-led community development initiatives in Latin America, who are integral to all our programs on the ground. You get to join experienced, sustainable initiatives. Take a look at our list of global partnerships.
  • The heritage – learn more about the history of the majestic Inca empire, Aztec and Mayan cultures, and stand in awe of significant archeological sites.
  • The nature-scenery – breathe in the fresh air, take in the sights and sounds of a natural area that has some of the richest biodiversity in the world. This is thanks to the mighty Amazon tropical rainforest which has 390 billion individual trees, offering a thriving environment for countless species.
  • The unique experiences – get rare access to enjoy special experiences hosted by locals, like taking a mindfulness hike in a remote cloud forest, discovering Peruvian dyes or discovering local medicinal plants.



Ensuring ethical volunteering in Latin America

At GVI, we take great responsibility to ensure that all our programs, including those in Latin America, 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.



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.

Get in touch with our alumni – you can choose to talk to someone from a specific region, age group and GVI location (like Costa Rica) to make sure they get where you’re coming from.

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.

You can also check out live stories from our hubs on Instagram, or take a look at TikToks by participants to get a feel for what it’s like on base.