NGO Taxi Info Pool
Do you have any questions? Here are our answers…
Passport, Visa, and Insurance
Everything you need to know about passport and visa regulations…
How much time should I spend abroad?
The time of your total stay abroad depends, on the one hand, on how much time you can spend abroad and, on the other, on the minimum of stay in our projects (please see the project descriptions on our website), and of course on the expiry date of your visa.
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your arrival date in South America. We suggest that you apply for a new passport in advance if you know that your passport validity does not cover this time period or does not cover your whole period of stay. Be sure to do this well ahead of time, as it takes around 6 weeks to get a new one; you can also apply for the express service, which will take just a few days (though this is much more expensive). In case of an emergency it is also possible to request a new passport abroad in the corresponding embassy; this should however be avoided if possible.
Do I need a work visa?
No. Although you are “working” you are not getting paid for the work. The difference between paid and voluntary work is often not distinguished between by South American officials (although legally unpaid work DOES NOT require a work visa). To avoid paying the $1000 for a work visa you don’t need, it is advisable not to mention that you are here to do a volunteer job, but to only say that you are here as a tourist.
Do I need to apply for a tourist visa in advance?
It is not necessary for EU and CH citizens to apply for a visa in advance. When you arrive in South America, you’ll get a tourist visa, which allows you to stay for up to a maximum of 183 days within a given year. But be careful, normally you only get a visa for 90 days; you must request the full 183 days when at the immigration desk if you know that you will be in the country for more than 90 days. If you wish to extend your visa after 90 days, you must make a short border crossing into Bolivia, Chile, or Brazil – it is recommended that you spend several days in the new country before you cross back over again.
US citizens must apply for a visa before departure. If you will be flying via the US to reach Peru, please be aware that you need to apply for an American ETSA in order to do so. This can be done several weeks in advance, please do not leave it until the last minute as it can take up to a day to process your application and you may be refused travel.
How much does a good insurance package cost?
We advise you to follow this link for more information: http://ngotaxi.org/insurance/
Choosing an insurance depends upon what type things you want to do during your trip, your trip’s duration, the value of your luggage, you medical history, and where you are going. These variables can greatly affect the cost of your insurance, so we cannot really give an estimation personal to you. Thorough research should enable you to find a provider which covers the correct things at the right price for you.
A few tips for your flight to South America so you can arrive relaxed, safe, and sound…
Do I need to have booked a flight back to my country of residence before I arrive?
Several South American countries (such as Colombia and Ecuador) technically require you to show proof of departure from the country upon arrival; however, this is almost never asked for and the vast majority of people who travel to South America do not have return/onward transport booked. If you do not know your return date this should not be a problem. It is however advisable to have accommodation booked within your city of arrival; this is often asked for at the immigration desk.
When should I book my flight back?
Planning your flight back depends above all on your personal obligations in your country and how much time you have available to spend abroad. If you already know the date on which you have to be back, it is recommended that you book the flight back in advance to reduce the price (for up to approx. 4 months in advance the flights should be cheaper); this also means that you can get a visa for the exact time of stay (see Visa Conditions). However, you can also choose to book your flight when you are already in South America, either online or through visiting a travel agency.
How should I plan my flight if I have to make connections or take more than one flight?
Planning connections between flights depends on the flight route and the number of stops you need to make. If you buy a through ticket with one company they will make sure that there is sufficient time between flights, and in this instance you will not need to go through passport control during your connections. If you buy flights separately and with different companies, make sure that you book the flights with enough time at each stop; at least 3-4 hours. You never know if there will be a delay or if you will have to spend more time at security than expected. Of course, the time needed is dependent on if the flight is national or international and if you have to collect and re-check in your luggage at each connection point.
Please remember that it is YOUR responsibility to make sure that you give yourself enough time between connections, and that NGO Taxi will not accept any responsibility for this, financial or otherwise.
Traveling in South America
Traveling in South America can be an adventure! Enjoy it as much as you can by not traveling blindly…
How safe is it to travel in South America, particularly alone?
In general, it is safe to travel in South America and our volunteers have only had positive experiences whilst traveling alone. There are of course places and situations that are dangerous, but they can easily be avoided by informing yourself about the current situation and dangers before you travel and taking precautions when there. For example, you have to be careful in choosing a safe place to stay overnight and we recommend, especially in big cities, that you find and reach your hostel before nightfall. But in general, there are no problems.
Local transport is for the most part very safe, but be aware if travelling at night that thievery is a problem. NEVER put your valuables in the storage area under the bus, nor in the overhead storage, and when sleeping make sure that your bag is on your person, either at your feet (with the straps wrapped around your ankles) or on your lap. Public transport in South America is in general well developed and you can reach any tourist attraction by bus without any problem. Rural areas are often safer than some districts of the big cities. Wherever you travel, inform yourself in advance. Here are a few tips for traveling safely, and some do’s and don’ts.
Tips for traveling safely when alone
- Do not wear conspicuous jewelry, expensive clothes, or a camera around your neck. This could make you a target of robbery.
- It is best to lock your valuable objects in the hotel/hostel safe and not take them out with you.
- Do not take out more money than you need for the day. Make sure your credit cards are insured in case they got stolen.
- Do not use cash machines at night and, when using them, put your money straight into a money belt.
- Do not walk alone at night through streets you don’t know and avoid deserted areas.
- If you are going out it is advisable not to take your cards with you.
- Inform yourself in advance about which districts you should avoid in general.
- If arriving in the evening/at night make sure that you have already booked a hostel/hotel so that you don’t have to walk around searching for a place to stay.
- The safest way to travel in the cities is in so-called ‘radio taxis’, which you can call in advance.
- When you travel on public buses, make sure to keep an eye on your belongings and, especially when you are alone, try not to sleep; this could make you vulnerable to robbery.
- For long overnight journeys you can book (special) night buses on the Internet, which are a safer way to travel.
- It always helps to speak a little Spanish, so you that can communicate with the local people, ask for advice, or, in case of a problem, ask for help. It will also help you to avoid difficult situations if you understand the context.
- Watch the locals and learn from them.
For more information about safety and do’s and don’ts go to the following websites:
Safety in South America: Top Tips from Travel Bloggers: http://www.indefiniteadventure.com/safety-in-south-america/
Safety Tips for Travel in South America: http://www.transitionsabroad.com/listings/travel/articles/travel_safety_tips_for_south_america.shtml
Women’s Travel in South America:
The Do’s and Don’ts of Peru:
A Cultural Guide to South America: http://www.thisboundlessworld.com/the-dos-and-donts-of-peru-a-cultural-guide-to-south-america
Which airlines and bus companies should I use in Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia?
There are a plethora of bus companies to choose from in these countries, each with varying degrees of quality in terms of reliability, safety, value, and service. In general they are all safe to take, though it is advisable to take a look at the bus before you buy the ticket; take care to inspect the condition of the windows, wheels, and general body of the bus. You will also find that every bus company hires people to advertise their routes (very loudly) at each terminal; these people can be quite aggressive in the sense that they may steer you towards the bus or assume you have agreed to travel with them if you hesitate or sometimes merely make eye contact with them.
Do not let them intimidate you; you are not obliged to say yes by any means, and they are used to people walking away from their offers. Take the time you need to ask around as to prices, leaving times, and bus quality before you make your decision. You can also ask other travelers or hostels about the best companies to take.
Recommended companies in Peru are:
Cruz del Sur, Ormeño, Oltursa, Línea, Tepsa.
Recommended companies in Ecuador are:
Cooperativa de Transportes Ecuador, Flota Imbabura, Cooperativa Libertad Peninsular, Reina del Camino, Coactur.
Recommended companies in Colombia are:
Expreso Palmir, Berlinas, Copetran, Flota Magdalena.
There are only a few airlines in Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia, many of which have only specific domestic routes. Many airlines cover all these countries.
The three most established which offer the best quality are
LANTAM, Avianca, and Amazsonas.
Will it cost me more to bring more than one piece of luggage?
If you are planning a longer stay in South America, you may find that one piece of luggage and one piece of hand luggage is not enough. All airlines offer the option to add extra luggage into your flight ticket, although this will cost you more. There are the practicalities of travelling on local public transport with more than two or three bags – this is quite a weight! An alternative would be to send your luggage on ahead, especially if you are starting your trip with us, via international shipping. Costs will vary, but it could be a cheaper and easier option for you. Please bear in mind, however, that most luggage needs at least 6 weeks to be delivered, and any new goods included in the luggage (including the suitcases themselves) may be subject to customs duties.
Your Stay in South America
Well, now that you have arrived…
What type of credit card is recommended for South America?
In general, a Visa or Mastercard is the best option, as they are accepted in many stores, restaurants, and ATMs. A Travel Cash Card is also an option for withdrawing money, although you might not be able pay directly at stores or restaurants. International money transfer is always possible via Western Union or Moneygram (these can be found in many small towns too).
If you have an account and credit card from the “Deutsche Bank”, Scotia Bank is the only bank that does not require to pay ATM withdrawal fees in Peru.
Should I get a local sim card? What is the local mobile coverage like and is it expensive?
A local sim card with access to the internet is always useful. However, in cities and many large towns there is access to WiFi in most restaurants and cafes, and even public places such as train stations and airports. In general, the coverage is good, but of course less so in rural regions. A prepaid sim card isn’t expensive nowadays and you can buy one for a few dollars.
How hard is it to find vegetarian food in South America?
In general, in rural regions – as the local people need the energy for the hard work of farming – traditional dishes are composed of potatoes, rice, and meat. However, awareness and knowledge of nutrition has changed in recent years. At our project sites there is in general no problem in eating vegetarian food, and most of them have restaurants nearby offering vegetarian options. In cities there are a lot of options, including a rich variety of local vegetarian products at the markets.
A tip to easily find a vegetarian restaurant:
The app “Happy Cow” has listings of vegetarian restaurants in South America (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela).
For further information visit the following website:
Vegetarian Travel Tips for South America: http://www.bootsnall.com/articles/09-06/vegetarian-travel-tips-for-south-america.html
What vaccinations do you recommend?
You should be up-to-date on routine vaccinations when traveling to any destination. Some vaccines may also be required for travel. Routine vaccinations that you should be up-to-date with are:
- measles-mumps-rubella (MMR).
It is advisable to also get hepatitis A and typhoid vaccinations as there is some risk throughout the continent of these diseases. Additionally, although it is not a requirement to have a yellow fever vaccination, yellow fever does exist in some areas of South America. It’s best to book an appointment with a travel nurse or doctor and speak to them about your trip; they can help you decide which vaccinations will be best. Travelers with underlying medical problems are strongly advised to consult a travel health clinic or medical practitioner to ensure that their potentially complex health requirements will be met.If you will be working with animals we would definitely recommend getting a rabies vaccination as well.
Malaria, zika, dengue and chikungunya are also risks, especially if you’ll be going to the jungle where mosquitoes are a big problem. When traveling in South America, you should avoid mosquito bites to prevent all of these. You may need to take prescription medicine before, during, and after your trip to prevent malaria. Unfortunately, there are no vaccinations or preventative medicines for the other viruses. Talk to your doctor about how you can prevent mosquito-borne diseases while traveling.
Can I volunteer during the rainy season?
Yes, you can. The rainy season runs approximately from November to February in the Amazon and until April in Cusco. Bear in mind, however, that everything has shifted somewhat because of climate change. In any case, the rainy season does not usually signify constant rain or storms. During this season you tend to get just 2 or 3 hours of heavy rain followed by blue sky and sunshine.
Language Skills and Spanish Course
Life is all about communication…
Do I have to be able to speak Spanish to work at one of your projects?
As it is too expensive to provide a translator at the project sites, you must be able to speak a minimum of a basic level of Spanish, in order to communicate with the local community and the people you work with. Language barriers can be an obstacle for the progress of the project, which is not satisfying for the project leaders nor you. Trying to make an effort to understand and to communicate with the people you are supporting with your work as a volunteer is also a sign of respect and politeness. If you are able to speak Spanish you:
- won’t depend on others to translate for you.
- will be able to ask for information, advice, or even help.
- will broaden your horizons and get to know different cultures in the most authentic way, by communicating with the local people
(see ‘Advantages of Speaking Spanish’).
If you struggle with Spanish, however, you can apply for a project which requires a lower level. We also provide a range of courses which you can sign up for, either as part of your project and before project start, or as an additional extra.
As a beginner, how many hours of Spanish do I need to complete to reach the level required for a project?
The number of lessons required is different depending on the person and the personal situation. For those who do not know Spanish at all, we advise that they spend about 80 hours on a group intensive course, which is necessary in order to express themselves orally. When in South America, of course, it is faster, because you are fully integrated into what you have learned and can apply your knowledge on a daily basis. If you learn at home, it is certainly a little more difficult and you should compensate with about 50% more hours, so 40 hours on top of the recommended 80. Of course, this also always depends on one’s own personal performance and discipline. Some individuals are linguistic and learn faster. Others do not. Some are more focused, others are more distracted. The personal situation also plays a role. We cannot judge this, and so every volunteer has to be able to estimate this for themselves.
What are the advantages of speaking Spanish or another language?
- not being dependent on others to translate for you.
- being able to communicate with local people (for information, advice, or help).
- getting to know people and learning about their culture in the most authentic way.
- showing respect to the people in charge of the projects or working with you.
- broadening your horizons and gaining open mindedness and cultural tolerance.
- enhancing your language skills by daily communication with native speakers (the best way to improve your Spanish!).
- becoming multilingual and a citizen of the world, which is particularly important in today’s globalized society.
- improving your CV and your chances of getting a good job, an internship, or the university program of your choice.
I already speak Spanish but I have to/I’d like to improve my skills. Can I do this with NGO Taxi?
Yes you can. You have the option, besides the one week language course already included in your program period, to book additional weeks of Spanish lessons at our language school. Most of our volunteers book 2 or 3 additional weeks in order to learn about the local differences and peculiarities of the Spanish in South America. During your time at the project site you will improve your Spanish daily through talking to your project leader and the local people; your Spanish should improve rapidly.
Can I do the Spanish course during rather than before my project period?
This is only logistically possible with some projects; for example at our school projects or if you are a long-term intern staying for 6 months or more. It is not possible on the hospital project, the Amazonas projects (child care facility, animal shelter, and jungle camp), or if you are a short-term intern. Experience has shown that it is better to concentrate fully on one thing. If you take your Spanish course right at the beginning of your project period intensively, then you are really prepared for your project and can get the most out of your time there, as well as being able to make a real difference to the projects. However, if there is no means by which you can do the course before your project, then please get into touch with us to discuss your options.
If I don’t speak any Spanish at all do I have to fill in the Spanish test?
No. In this case you don’t have to fill in the Spanish test because you will obviously need to start learning the language from scratch.
Can I hand in my Spanish test shortly before project period?
The sooner you can hand in your Spanish test the better, as it gives us more time to organize the course that suits your needs, but, at the VERY LATEST, you can hand in your test 4 weeks before your project start.
Can I learn Spanish on my own before I come to my project?
You are welcome to learn Spanish and prepare yourself at home, either online through one of the courses we offer or in any other way before project start. We know from experience how many hours of Spanish you need in order to be able to fluently express yourself at conversational level and work at a project site. If you prefer to do your Spanish course at home, learn on your own, or choose another Spanish school, you are welcome to do so, but please be aware that we remain the right to not allocate you to a project if your Spanish skills are not sufficient.
We know our teachers methods and how quickly they can help you advance in Spanish compared to what you would learn at home, which is why we encourage our volunteers to study with us.
If you want to learn Spanish by yourself you can hand in the test up to 4 weeks before project start. Please be honest and do not look for help filling the test.
How expensive is the online Skype Spanish course that you offer?
The Skype online course is only €14.99 per hour. We have introduced online courses primarily for professionals and for those who have less time on their project but who want to prepare themselves well from home.
You can book the courses in blocks of 10 hours. The minimum number of course hours on each project is 20 hours per week. We would recommend you take at least 10 hours if doing a Skype course. After that, you can decide whether you would like to prepare yourself further by continuing the online course or taking a few weeks of language lessons on your project.
More detailed information about the different language courses can be found here: http://ngotaxi.org/language-course/
How many hours of the online Spanish course do I need to take for the internship at NGO Taxi?
Some applicants already speak Spanish, or include a language course into the beginning of the intern project. They can also take an online course before they arrive if they don’t have much time on the project. For the internship with us you do not need absolutely fluent Spanish skills, but you can of course be much more involved in different things if you speak good Spanish. Our last trainee Stephi, for example, had studied Spanish in Switzerland and therefore could liaise with our project partners on the ground, gaining deeper insights into her work and participating more with the local people who are involved in our organization.
At the end of the day it’s up to you. We would personally suggest that you take 40 hours of online language lessons, depending on your time and your finances, and if you cannot take a language course on the project. During the project, as you will be living in Peru, you will speak a lot of Spanish and be surrounded daily by the language. We think that after finishing your stay, your Spanish will be at a possibly shaky but still very good level, which will allow you to dive into the language, travel, build on it, and perhaps take a job in which Spanish is required. Life with another language is an adventure! Good luck!
When attending the Spanish course where do I stay?
Standard accommodation for all projects is a hostel with breakfast as described in the Volunteer Placement Registration Form (VPRF). Accommodation with us at our HQ (modern apartment with 2 bathrooms, hot showers, living room, fitted kitchen with kitchen equipment etc, in-house security staff) requires that you pay a small surcharge; however, this option includes full board (3 meals per day, though please note that cooking and food shopping is SHARED RESPONSIBILITY).
NB: Please note that our HQ is ONLY an option for those who are volunteering or have booked tours with us in Peru. You can also opt to stay with a host family, again for a surcharge, in any country where we have projects. Please contact us for more information.
What happens if I do not meet the required level of Spanish for my project?
Please be aware that our project leaders rely on you and your ability to speak Spanish. We retain the right to pull you out of a project if our project leader tells us your level of Spanish is not sufficient for the project’s goals and objectives. In the case where your Spanish skills are not sufficient, but you are supposed to start your volunteering program or if you have already started your volunteer work, there will be no refund for the the payment of your program fee if we cannot allocate you to or have to pull you out of a program for the reasons mentioned above.
However, do not fear if you do not speak any Spanish. Our language school is a highly trusted partner with years of experience, and therefore with commitment and hard work you will be able to reach the necessary level.
What to think about when you are at the project site…
What nationalities will my fellow volunteers be?
Most of our volunteers come from Germany, but in recent years we have also received volunteers from over 15 other countries, both European and international. We will only be able to tell you more about your fellow volunteers when you begin your stay abroad.
What pickup service do you offer?
The standard arrival day is a Sunday, in which instance your pickup is included in the cost of your project. However, if you wish to be picked up on any other day or outside of standard arrival times (between 9am and 5pm), you will be charged an extra €30; this is however sometimes worth the extra cost if flights are cheaper at other times.
For non-scheduled, premature pickups, a pickup fee of €15 is generally charged plus €30 for pickups outside the standard pickup times.
For late pickups, i.e. your arrival after the agreed start of your program, a pick-up fee of €30 will always be charged, no matter what the pickup time.
Where exactly is the project I’ve chosen located?
As we can’t publish confidential details about our projects or our partners, you will only receive specific information about the project site, your local contacts, addresses, and phone numbers in your pre-arrival pack. It contains a lot of other interesting country information and useful tips for your stay with us.
What are my working hours and can I plan my weekends without needing to ask anyone’s permission?
Working hours are different at each project (see each project description), but in general you won’t be working more than 6 hours a day. During weekends you always have time for yourself; however, some projects ask you to work on Saturday mornings too. If a project task should require working on a weekend (when the project DOES NOT specify weekend work), you will get the corresponding number of days off during the week.
Can I extend my stay once on the project?
Planned project extensions should be known before your arrival, so that we can ensure the transition from one volunteer to the next, and from one work assignment to the next, goes smoothly and accords with the project goals involved in the project plan. The project management must be able plan ahead with sufficient time, as to who will work on which task when, and to be sure that there are enough spaces available. We hope you understand this.
How variable will my tasks be?
This entirely depends on the current priorities of the project and is ultimately the project leaders’ choice. All tasks listed in our project descriptions are examples of the most common tasks you will be asked to do. Please bear in mind, however, that you may not have the chance to do all of them, and in some instances will be asked to do something related but not specified in the project description. Our project leaders always try to match the tasks with our volunteers’ skills and abilities; however, sometimes people have to work together on one or more tasks if the the project requirements demand it. We usually work as a team as we love team work, but we need volunteers who can also work autonomously on their own for some tasks.
What are my tasks as an intern?
As you might have seen already in the description on the websites freiwilligenarbeit.de, idealist.org or ngotaxi.org, there are different areas in which you can work as an intern. The exact tasks you carry out depend, on the one hand, on your experiences and preferences, and on the other hand the current needs of our organization. There are always tasks which need to be completed in the field of social media (Facebook posts and work on the project descriptions of our website). You will also work with the material produced by other volunteers from their project sites (reports, pictures, project diaries, etc.). Very early on in your stay you will usually have a meeting in which we inform you of which tasks need to be done and where we decide which tasks are best for you (according to your skills). This might be, for example, finance (work with excel, our accounts, etc.) or marketing (working with social media). Visiting our projects is sometimes possible, although only for volunteers who are staying for a longer period of time. Working as a project scout is only possible for people who have experience of working with NGO’s or charity projects and are familiar with the life, the culture, and the language of South America. Additional tasks you are likely to carry out are running errands, accompanying our coordinator to meetings with local partners, or doing pickup services at the airport or bus station. As you can see there are a variety of tasks waiting for you!
I have no prior knowledge in the medical field but am very interested in the clinical project. Can I participate despite the lack of previous knowledge?
You can apply for this project without prior medical knowledge; in fact, giving enthusiastic people the chance to gain experience in their interests in order to decide upon their career paths is one of the things we take pride in offering! Many of our applicants for this project are those who have not yet begun to study medicine and want to gain experience beforehand.
Others, on the other hand, are already studying medicine, but are pursuing an internship abroad within their field of study. Of course there are also doctors who want to work in a hospital in South America. However, the clinic with which we work is very happy to support of those who have no experience at all – in fact the onus of this project is on training volunteers – and its staff will be by your side whenever you need help!
Ecuador Surf and Help Camp - are there a maximum or minimum number of participants?
There is no minimum number of participants. We have limited the maximum number of participants to 20. The surfing competition will only take place if there are a minimum of 15 people.
Peruvian jungle projects - are there supermarkets nearby?
There are no supermarkets but there are small markets with lots of basic groceries (unfortunately, mostly packaged) and a bigger communal market which sells a wide variety of fruits, fresh produce, and regional products from the Amazon.
Peruvian jungle projects - transport costs whilst on the projects
You depart for the jungle after your language course (if you need one) and come back when the project period is over. Costs for traveling into and back from the jungle in these instances are covered. All on-site transport is at your own cost. If you stay 2 months or more in any of our projects in the jungle you can come back to the city in which we are based for an extended weekend as an option. Travel expenses for interim visits are not covered as they are voluntarily.
NGO Taxi HQ - can I book an extra night before the standard arrival day?
When staying with us at our HQ for your language school or project, your arrival day will, as standard, be a Sunday. However, if you request it during your application process, you can extend your stay by one night or several. Each night will cost an additional set price; please contact us for more information.
Can I combine different projects? If so how do I apply for them?
Yes you can. There is the option on our registration form to register for up to three projects; please fill in the necessary parts. If you wish to apply for more than three then please contact us directly. If you want to combine two or more NGO Taxi projects in one and the same country and where no flights are included in between project sites, there is no additional charge, because our administrative efforts at logistical and organisational level are fairly minor.
If you prefer to combine projects in between two or more countries however, please understand that we will charge an additional fee of 150€, because we have to arrange and meticulously plan everything with our project partners, tour agencies and operators, public transport companies, language schools, hostels or hotels, homestay accommodations, airport or bus pick service providers, etc.
Volunteering During National/School Holidays
There are times to work and there are times not to work…
Can I volunteer in schools between mid-December and mid-March (the South American school holidays)?
Most schools in South America are closed from mid-December until the end of February or beginning of March. This period is the equivalent of our summer holidays, for while it is winter in the northern hemisphere it is summer in South America. During this period we cannot, therefore, offer the Peruvian Teaching Project (as stated in its project description). There are, however, other alternatives which can be just as rewarding. For example, we support extracurricular projects for both pupils and young people and adults who want to improve their language skills. Tourism is the main source of income in South America and most young people chose a career related to tourism in one way or another, whether as guides, in tourist agencies, hospitality or gastronomy, or management and administration.
In any of these careers there is great competition, and having a proficiency in various languages as well as better customer service skills can give individuals an edge, and significantly improve their future prospects and the welfare of their families.To get to the desired level, they must acquire better linguistic and general knowledge skills than the state school curriculum allows for. The English skills of Peruvian school teachers are usually below average. We at NGO Taxi therefore support the pupils who show commitment, zeal, and the motivation to continue studying during their holidays.
Languages as well as general subjects are taught in these holiday lessons. That is why all volunteers who speak English, German, French, Italian, or other languages are welcome. We also organize language courses for young people and adults who want to learn or improve their skills. At the moment, for example, there is high demand for German classes in Peru. If you choose to volunteer in holiday educational programs, therefore, you will have a different project layout and be subject to different requirements, as you will need to have the confidence to be able to lead and prepare your own classes as opposed to assisting a teacher with their classes during the school year. You will also have more freedom as opposed to strictly following the school curriculum. The accommodation and catering situation, however, remains the same, whether you chose to stay with other volunteers at our Headquarters, in a hostel, or with a host family.
Are there many volunteers over Christmas and New Year’s Eve?
Our HQ during Christmas and New Year’s Eve 2015/6 was full with about 10 volunteers. We don’t know yet how many people are going to stay this year; it could be more, less, or as many people as last year. In any case you can be sure that you won’t be alone, as we work with another volunteer organization here. Our volunteers often meet them for trekking or hiking tours, pizza nights, or nights out.
Roll on up, one and all…
What do I need to volunteer / What is required of me for volunteering?
- long-term commitment (optimum time period is at least 3 months).
- ability to speak the local official language to at least the basic level (see: ‘Advantages of Speaking Spanish’ under “Language Skills and Spanish course”).
- flexibility and openness to new experiences.
- respectfulness and willingness to learn about the life and culture of the local people.
- openness to meet and work with new people from different countries.
- taking the initiative and commitment to the work.
- respectfulness and willingness to work and help where you are needed.
- being prepared to live abroad alone.
- being prepared to deal with new, unknown, and maybe unexpected situations and probable cultural or communicational barriers.
- being aware of the different living standards and political/social/economic situations in the country you will be living in.
What is the minimum and maximum age of volunteers that NGO Taxi accepts?
We welcome volunteers of all ages from 18 years upwards (in rare cases of 16 upwards – please contact us if you are under 18 and want to volunteer with us), as long as they fulfil the project’s requirements as stated within the project description on our website (see section ‘prerequisites’ for each). Your age doesn’t matter. We work with people from 18 to 90 years old, as we believe age should not be a limitation. Of course, you would have to be able to fulfil the physical and mental requirements for living and working abroad. We appreciate people with professional experience as well as young people, as they can bring a different and fresh point of view to the projects.
In any case, we discuss your suitability with you during our first interview contact, and from there decide if the project matches what you are looking for with what we offer, and vice versa, on an individual basis.
Can I volunteer if I am under 18?
In general, the answer is yes. But is important to contact us directly so that we can arrange a skype conversation to get to know you better, see if you are mentally and emotionally prepared for volunteering abroad, and decide which project would suit you. After this you need the consent of your parent or legal guardian, as they have to sign the volunteer agreement and agree to our exemption from liability.
Who can volunteer?
Our only restriction, due to legal reasons and the requirements of our partner’s projects, are minors of 16 or under. We welcome everyone else of any age, background, nationality, religion, and sexual orientation. We are also very happy to receive applications from people with special or specific physical or mental requirements, although please be aware that there may be some tasks or living arrangements on the projects that will not suit all people with particular needs. In this case please contact us to arrange a Skype meeting to discuss these requirements in more detail.
Can I volunteer as a local resident in the countries where you work?
Of course! We welcome all applicants and think it is particularly important to support local residents who wish to help in social or environmental projects in their own communities – our ultimate aim, after all, is to give local initiatives the support to build their projects to a self-sustainable level (financially as well as logistically), and one of the best ways to do this is to enlist help and raise awareness within the communities.
Of course, we can consider a discount for Peruvian, Colombian, or Ecuadorian applicants wanting to volunteer in their own countries. We recognize that you may not need all the services that we offer, as you will be working within your own culture and country, whereas most of our overseas volunteers do not speak Spanish and may need more assistance than you.
Please understand however that you will need to go through the same thorough application process as our other applicants, because we don’t choose applicants only on their willingness to volunteer or financial abilities, but rather on what kind of skills they can bring to the table and the requirements of our project partners that both need to match.
Who needs to talk to NGO Taxi? Parents or volunteers?
It is very important that you, the volunteer, communicate with us, as we do not have the time to communicate with both you and your parents. Since you are 18 and will volunteer with us alone, you have to take responsibility for yourself and your actions. You are the one who needs the information and needs to be prepared. Communicating with us directly, and not through your parents, is an important part of volunteering with us.
Can I volunteer with my parents?
In general yes, but two scenarios must be distinguished: parents who want to volunteer with their daughter/son and parents who simply want to accompany their daughter/son. In the first scenario, both of you must apply for a project. It is possible to apply for the same project, although we cannot guarantee this. In the second scenario, as the parent will only accompany their child, it is necessary to discuss the details with us, especially if they wish to visit their daughter/son on the project site. This is possible, although only for a few days, as we think the presence of a parent might distract not only their child, but also the other volunteers working at the project site.
Regarding the accommodation for both scenarios, if parents and volunteers wish to stay together at HQ, we can make an exception, IF there is enough space. But in general we advise parents to stay in a host family, a hostel, or a hotel, either with or without their daughter/son. This is because the HQ is where most of the volunteers are living; volunteers have chosen to pay for a unique experience far from their home and their parents.
A lot of them are only 18 years old and are enjoying their first experience abroad alone, which means they need to learn and develop independence. It is important for any parents who visit to respect this and not treat them as a child. If these conditions can’t be kept, it can cause uncomfortable situations on both sides. In any case, alternative arrangements can be made. It is important to contact us directly, therefore, so that we can discuss the circumstances and find the best option for everyone.
Can I volunteer and bring my children?
In general, the answer is yes, although it depends on the chosen project, as not every project site is child friendly. Whereas projects like the hospital project or the Amazon jungle camp aren’t suitable for children, the child care facility project would be a good option if you wish to bring your children. Please contact us directly so that we can discuss it in person and find the best option for you and your children.
There are a few things that need to get done…
Is there any obligation to volunteer when I fill in the Volunteer Application Form on your website?
The application form on our website (the VAF) is totally non-binding. It’s purpose is only to get to know you a little before our subsequent Skype interview. After the Skype call, all participants who have been accepted by NGO Taxi will receive our volunteer placement registration form (VPRF). There, important information for your registration on your project is required (e.g. passport number, address, etc.), forming the second step in the application process. The filling in and returning of the VPRF form by you constitutes a legally binding commitment to the project; as in, it confirms your place on the program or project and constitutes a legally binding promise by you to pay the 35% down payment. If you subsequently change your mind, this will fall under the category of a cancellation by you and any repayment to you will be in accordance with our cancellation and changes policy (see below).
Is the initial Skype/telephone interview a binding commitment? What is asked in the Skype/telephone interviews? What language is spoken during interviews?
No, the Skype/telephone interview is not a binding commitment. This is an initial chat, quite informal and non-committal. We can do the interview in either German or English, whichever you prefer. We talk a bit about your motivation, why you want to be a volunteer, what you do at home (i.e. work, school, or study), what hobbies you have, etc. In principle, we talk about and expand upon the things which you have already told us about yourself in order to get to know you better; therefore it would be great if you have already filled out our Volunteer Application Form. However, it also possible for you to fill it out after the interview.
How do I secure my placement on my project?
For successful placement on a project we require a deposit of 35% along with the submission of the signed registration form and a photocopy of your passport. The balance is due no later than 8 weeks before the start of the project.
What additional things do you need for my application?
For your application we need a few documents from you, such as a foreign travel health insurance, a certificate of good conduct, etc. These can be submitted to us no later than two weeks before the start of the project. Please be aware that these documents can sometimes take several weeks to be requested and received, particularly if a holiday or office closure occurs within the waiting period.
We therefore ask that you collate and send us these documents several weeks before the deadline, so that there are no last minute panics for missing documents, saving both you and us time and worry. You’ll receive specific information about the documents we need from you at the beginning of the application process, as some projects require more documents than others.
Do I need to tell you about any health issues, even minor ones?
Yes! This includes any information about allergies, daily medication for any ongoing health problems, food intolerances, ongoing back or organ problems, psychological health issues such as mental illness or anxiety issues, epilepsy, etc. Basically, anything that will or could affect your time at your project. You must tell us the level of your illness or allergy, and any medication or medical procedures that you must take or must be carried out in the event of a problem. This is for your own safety – we do not want you putting your health at risk whilst volunteering for us! There are also may be instances where a particular task on your project will not be suitable for you, and your project leader needs to know this; we also want you to get the most out of your time with us, in accordance with your needs and abilities. Your medical condition will NOT be held against you when applying for a project with us. Please be as honest as you can in your application!
Do I need a medical/health certificate and what does it need to cover?
When we say we need a health certificate, we mean a medical certificate that merely certifies that you have no contagious diseases. You will receive this certificate after you request such an examination by your doctor. The only projects for which you will not need a medical certificate is the Animal Shelter and Jungle Camp projects.
Do I need to provide a police certificate or CRB check?
You will only need to provide a criminal background check if you will be volunteering at a school or hospital.
Do I need to provide a letter of recommendation?
You are not required to provide a letter of recommendation per se, but if you will be working in a school or hospital we do require that you provide two references (contact details, including email addresses and phone numbers, for two people who can vouch for your character).
When will I receive my Pre-Arrival Pack?
All applicants who have paid their balance for the project placement will receive an email with a link from us at the latest 6 weeks before departure, where you can download the project-specific, personal pre-arrival pack.
When is the latest that I can apply for a project?
It is best to apply 6 months in advance. Depending on the project, there may be a lot of documents that you will need to provide during the application process; for example a police clearance certificate or a medical certificate. In specific cases it may be possible to apply at short notice (ideally no less than 8 weeks before project start). This depends, however, on the project and on the case. Please contact us for more information.
Do I need to hand in my Curriculum Vitae for the application?
It is not necessary to send us your CV, but we do ask you to fill out an online form for the application. Through this document we will get an idea about you and your skills before we get to know you better in a personal Skype talk. In the online form we ask you to briefly describe your motives for volunteering and why you choose a particular project.
When do I need a police clearance certificate and medical certificate? And which type do I need, since there are several different types?
A police clearance certificate or criminal background check (CBC) and a medical certificate is required when you volunteer at a project that works with children or in a hospital with vulnerable people. In Germany there are three different types of police clearance certificate: private, expanded, or an official certificate of good conduct. To volunteer with us, only the private certificate is required.
For further information go to the following website: https://www.bundesjustizamt.de/DE/Themen/Buergerdienste/BZR/Inland/FAQ_node.html;jsessionid=61B8D392D9038C4FAE483605BAD3CFE6.1_cid377#faq5504812
During the application process you ask for a photo of me – is my passport photo sufficient?
Very often faces from photocopies of passport photos are very hard to recognize, and often the photos on the passports are not quite up-to-date. We need an up-to-date and clear portrait photo of you to carry out your pickup smoothly and reliably and to introduce you to our project partners.
Important to know when you want to register for one of our projects…
Program start: What do I have to fill in?
As your program always starts with one week of Spanish lessons at your language school (if included in the project description) – if you haven’t booked additional weeks – you will always begin on a Monday. Your first night’s accommodation is usually booked for the day before your project start: a Sunday. In this case, your arrival date equals the start date of your program. If you want to arrive before your program starts you can certainly do this, but please be aware that you need to inform us in time, so that we can book you accommodation for the days before your program start date (Sunday). There may be additional costs involved in this. What is important for you to know is that your program start date (the start of your language course) normally isn’t flexible, but your arrival dates ar.
Arrival date: What do I have to fill in?
As indicated, most of our programs start on the 1st and 15th of each month, including the week of your Spanish course. All Spanish courses begin on a Monday. Therefore, it would be good if you could book your arrival date for a Sunday, so that you can start your language school or your project on the Monday morning. Your accommodation with us starts when you start with your language course. In case you arrive earlier and need accommodation, let us know in advance so that we can try to accommodate you for the extra days. However, it is important to give us your program start date so that we can plan your whole stay. You can tell us your arrival date up to 6 weeks before you travel to South America.
Time of arrival; Place of arrival at destination country; Name of airline or bus company: When do I have to send you this information by?
As with the exact date of your arrival, you can also send us this information up to 6 weeks before your arrival.
Duration of project: What do I have to fill in?
The first month of your project includes a one week Spanish course (if listed in the project description) – if you haven’t booked additional weeks – and then 3 weeks on your project. This first week of language course is included in the program period. Therefore, if the duration of your project is one month, you will have one week of Spanish classes and three weeks on the project site. If you the project is two months, that will equate to one week of Spanish and 7 weeks on site; three months would be one week of Spanish and 11 weeks on the project, etc.
If you want to buy additional weeks at the language school these will always precede the project start (so a one month project with an extra week of Spanish would be two weeks of classes and three weeks on the project; two months with an extra week would be two weeks of classes and seven weeks on the project, etc). If you wish to combine two projects of a month each, then you can always move your Spanish course to be taken in between these two projects; if not, you would spend your first week in classes, the following three on project 1, and the following 4 on project 2, unless you specify otherwise
If I indicated that I don’t want to book Spanish lessons, do I still have this one week language course?
If it is listed in the project description, then yes. The one week at the language school is included in the program fee you pay for the first month. You are required to have at least a basic level of Spanish for every project; we therefore urge you to make use of this week.
Why do I have to tick 2 projects when filling in the registration form?
Please fill in the registration form for your first project selection (project A). Your project will normally be as you have chosen. However, we still need a second choice in case of unforeseen events from all participants.
For example, for some projects it may be that, due to unexpected extreme weather conditions (such as very heavy rain), rivers overflow and access to a project is blocked for 1 or 2 weeks. Of course, we do not want our volunteers to just sit by the river and look at the water, and so we find an alternative interim solution so that voluntary service can be continued immediately. Therefore, we always like to know your second choice of project.
Please note: situations such as this very rarely occur – but we think it important to have alternative solutions for our volunteers in case they do.
Who should I put as my referee?
A referee should be an adult who has known you in a familial or professional capacity, such as a parent or an employer.
What you pay for…
Why do I pay for volunteering?
We take pride in tailor making your volunteering experience and additional tours, and in personally meeting and vetting our partners (language schools, local tour operators, transport operators, etc.). The money that you pay is how we provide you with the high standard of services, accommodation, and catering that we offer you, and to support our projects and maintain our business. Part of the money will go back into the social enterprise to support the business administratively.
Another part will go into paying for your food, accommodation, Spanish course, and project transportation once in South America. We also, of course, give to the project itself, to support the staff and owners and to provide money for the maintenance, upkeep, and improvement of the project.
Please see http://ngotaxi.org/terms-and-conditions/ for more information about where your money goes.
Can you reduce the price if I cannot afford my program period abroad?
Unfortunately, our hands are tied due to the cost of organizing and supporting our projects. Other organizations send volunteers to South America and demand far higher prices, sometimes up to triple the price. Only in the case of long-term volunteers from 6 months onwards can we make other arrangements with the project managers and reduce the costs for accommodation and meals.
I cannot afford volunteering for that price. Is there any chance that I can volunteer for free?
The prices of our projects are based on the prices for accommodation and catering as well as for making these projects heard. We also check the credentials of our project partners as well as collecting official documents from both our partners and volunteers before project start (police certificate, health certificate, vaccinations, insurance etc.) This is for the safety of all parties involved and guarantees that the right volunteers will also get into the right projects. Building this and managing takes a lot of work, time, and money.
We cannot ask for less than we charge, because if so we would not be able to work seriously or offer the standards that we do. For more information about this and why we can not offer our services for free, please visit our website at Terms and Conditions.
If you need some financial help, bear in mind that some volunteers also try to get financial support through private donations from their friend or family circle.
Why are the tours or language courses more expensive on your website than if I book them independently once in South America?
Please don’t be astonished if the prices you pay before your arrival are sometimes higher than what you will find once there.We have worked hard to find tour agencies and language schools who we trust to provide an excellent service. It took us a long time and many hours to find the right partners to make your trip safe and secure, and as enjoyable as possible for you Our tested and vetted partners (language schools, local tour operators, transport operators, etc.) are all personally checked and approved, including thorough health and safety checks, because we cannot allow any delays for your program abroad. We can personally vouch for our partners because we have used their services. We believe that their prices match the service that they provide.
We also need to pay staff to keep track of changes (traveling and monitoring expenses); invest in short documentaries; finance promotional and advertising activities for our project partners’ causes on the internet and other media channels; pay for translations to give their causes a voice in different languages; invest in IT and back office infrastructures to guarantee placements and handover; and continuously support and monitor our projects, language courses, tours and activities, to name only a few of the key criteria we need to be aware of to make a volunteering experience enjoyable for both our partners and you!
Our team members need to invest a substantial amount of time and money in order to make your stay abroad as safe and comfortable as we can, from the time you apply with us until the time you return from your project and land back in your home country. We hope you understand and appreciate the service we offer to you, which we continuously try to improve.
Please also bear in mind that our project partners depend upon our reliability as an organization as much as us on them, which creates a mutual bond of trust and a good working relationship. If there is any delay to a project start due to a tour or language course that has been booked through us we take full responsibility for the delay and all the administrative costs created by the rearrangement of your whole schedule, i.e. your program period.
You are more than welcome to book your own courses or tours, but we advise you that it may take time to find the right company for you, and you will have very limited time once your project starts. Please also be aware that if you find your own language school or tour operator but something happens whilst on the course/tour which causes your program or project start to be delayed, you will have to pay an administrative fee to cover the costs of reorganizing your schedule and all inconveniences caused for our project partners (please see question ‘Can I change or cancel my booking? If so, how far in advance must I do this? Am I entitled to a refund?’ for more information).
How to pay…
How long does it take to carry out a money transfer to NGO Taxi within Germany?
A money transfer within Germany usually takes 1 or 2 days, depending on the bank and the time of day that you pay. The earlier you initiate the transfer, the higher the chance that the transfer is processed the same day.
How long does it take to carry out a money transfer to NGO Taxi from outside of Germany?
A money transfer from outside of Germany (but within the EU) usually takes 1 or 2 days, depending on the bank and the time of day that you pay. Payments made outside of the EU may take up to several days more. The earlier you initiate the transfer, the higher the chance that the transfer is processed quicker.
When do I have to pay the deposit and the balance?
The deposit and balance only need to be paid when you book yourself onto our volunteer projects. Language courses and/or tours need to be paid fully by the time of booking. The deposit (35%) always needs to be paid by the time of signing the contract (Volunteer Placement Registration Form). The balance (65%) can be paid at the latest 8 weeks before project start. As soon as we receive the payment, we will send you a confirmation of receipt of the transferred money.
What do IBAN and BIC mean?
The International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and the Business Identifier Code (BIC, formerly Bank Identifier Code) have been setup to improve payment transactions within Europe. The IBAN replaces the account number and the BIC the bank sort code. You can find these details on your bank statements or on your debit card, or you can ask for your IBAN and BIC numbers directly at your bank.
Cancelleations & Refunds
If you drop out of a project…
Can I change or cancel my booking? If so, how far in advance must I do this? Am I entitled to a refund?
It is possible to cancel your project with us after you have signed your VPRF; however, please understand that we rely on the commitment of our volunteers to us and our projects. Our projects depend upon us and therefore you to provide them with a continuous flow of participants for their planned projects, and they would not be able to function without it. Additionally, if you decide to cancel, charges will apply (see below).
In the event of cancellation by the volunteer, the remaining program fee/deposit for the project and the placement that will be refundable is dependent on the date of receipt of written notice in line with the following notice of cancellation:
- More than 12 weeks before program start: 100% refund of the remaining program fee/deposit.
- 8-12 weeks before program start: 75% refund of the remaining program fee/deposit.
- 4-8 weeks before program start: 50% refund of the remaining program fee/deposit.
- Less than 4 weeks before program start: no refund of the program.
- If a volunteer cancels his or her placement after joining a program or prior to the agreed end date, no refund will be made.
All refunds will be made between 60 and 90 days.
Changing one date during your program period usually entails multiple phone calls and emails in order to re-arrange your entire program: If you want to change your projects after you have signed our Volunteer Placement Registration Form (VPRF) within the same country we will ask for a service fee of 100€. If you want to change your projects across borders after you have signed our VPRF we will ask for a service fee of 150€. There will be no refund on that changing fee.
Will I get my money back if I cancel my placement because of an accident or a sudden unforeseen change close to my departure date?
As explained in the previous point, we cannot offer refunds for cancellations for the project cost made less than a month before project start. Therefore, what we recommend to most volunteers and what really makes sense for longer stays abroad is that, in addition to health insurance and liability insurance, volunteers take out a travel cancellation insurance. This does not cost much and covers you for such cases as when illness, accident, or sudden, unexpected occupational changes prevent you from leaving your country of origin to begin your trip, as well as (in some cases) an early return from your trip due to an accident or illness. These policies will leave you with a portion or even the total amount of your travel cost refunded .
It is also not only about your travel expenses, such as your accommodation and food, but also your flight costs, which make up a considerable part of your travel budget, especially if there are some domestic flights involved in addition to the international flight.
We would really suggest to take out such insurance. Then you’re on the safe side for only a few euros.
Questionnaires, Diaries, Photos, and Videos
Why we need your help in the form of photos and videos…
Why do I need to write a project diary and volunteer report’?
Diaries and reports mean that our administrative staff and interns can provide authentic and detailed information about our projects to potential volunteers, for example in our project descriptions. It also allows us as a company to monitor our projects and observe any chance or difficulties which arise, so that we can make alterations or improvements where necessary. Writing a diary about your time at your project doesn’t take much time. You can just write down the keywords about what you are doing daily on your project site if you like. You are also welcome to write a volunteer report at the end of your time of working at the project, including some pictures you took.
How much time am I expected to spend on reports, diaries, and questionnaires during my project?
Completing diaries, reports, and questionnaires for us during your project is NOT one of your main tasks but a minor one. However, as detailed above, your feedback – feedback from people on the ground who see the daily running of the project – is of vital importance to us in order to monitor and improve both our volunteers’ experience and the support our projects receive. Therefore, although it is small task, we do ask that you take it seriously. Ten or fifteen minutes of writing or note taking a day in your diary whilst at the project and a one or two page report when you leave, in addition to completing the two questionnaires you will be given during and after your time with us, would be ideal. Roughly this amount of input will be sufficient for our monitoring purposes whilst, we hope, not getting in the way of your enjoyment of the project. After all, you are volunteering to support good causes, learn new things, and have new experiences, not to spend time sat in front of a laptop completing forms!
VPRF – Why do I have to agree on appearing in pictures and/or videos?
We can only support our social projects with volunteers if we can show potential applicants what we are doing and how we support the projects. The publication of the work of our volunteers is often the only way for many of our projects to show their faces and their project objectives to the global community and get people’s attention, whether for work in hospitals, in schools, or in environmental, animal, or nature conservation projects. We only use photos from hospitals and schools which have been released by these institutions, and thus oblige us to follow international volunteer guidelines.
Many projects also depend massively on modern communication facilities, facilitated through third parties, to be able to find their volunteers, meaning that they would not have the opportunity to find helpers, supporters, sponsors, or donors without us. It is only through the dedicated cooperation of our volunteer service staff that these projects and their goals can be presented in the form of photos, videos, interviews, short contributions, posts on social media platforms, adventure reports, volunteer diaries, project evaluation questionnaires, and more.
You are a very valuable member of the NGO Taxi team, and one way in which you will support and promote the work we do is through the publication of your photos and videos. Your photos and videos help future volunteers get a better impression of the project work, and so you help to advertize the progress of the projects even after your volunteering commitment.
How do I send you my registration documents (i.e. my VPRF)?
Please send us your Volunteer Placement Registration Form (VPRF) and all other documents required through our Document Upload Link only. You will receive this link when you receive your VPRF from us.
What else you need to know…
Can I undertake volunteering with NGO Taxi as part of my FSJ? (GERMAN VOLUNTEERS ONLY)
The FSJ (in English: Voluntary Social Year) is a government-funded scheme offered in Germany for young people aged between 18 and 26, where participants can receive governmental support for undertaking voluntary social work in order to find their vocation. So-called ‘carriers’ are required to liaise between the voluntary project organizers and the government, to make sure that the FSJ is implemented correctly; that the interests and skills of the volunteer match the needs of the project; and to ensure the educational support of the volunteers. These ‘carriers’ must be regulated by the state.
In order to offer our projects as part of the FSJ, NGO Taxi would have to work with a legally recognized carrier who would take over the placement of the volunteers; this is not the case, and therefore we regret that we cannot offer our projects as part of the FSJ scheme.
When should I do Machu Picchu and/or trekking in the Andes?
Your first week of stay will always be your language course and, if you haven’t booked more course weeks, you’ll be at your project site during rest of the weeks that you are in South America. Most of our volunteers decide to go to Machu Picchu or do treks such as Salkantay during the week after their language school, as they are already acclimatized to the height of the Andes. But you can also chose to do it after your time at the project site. However, you will have to give yourself time to re-acclimatize to the altitude in Cusco (approx. 3300m) for 2 to 3 days before you go, as most of our projects are substantially lower and these treks will take you to 4000m above sea level or more.
I am not that sporty. Can I still do the trek to Machu Picchu?
Yes, no problem. Many people of all ages and fitness levels have trekked to Machu Picchu. The only thing that is important to remember is that you make sure that you are well acclimatized to the altitude before you start the trek, and therefore spend a few days in Cusco (over 3000m high) a few days beforehand. Your body then has time to get used to the height.
Do you offer multi-day river tours in the Peruvian jungle?
Such trips do exist, normally of a one or two week duration, and we can help you find one tailored to your needs. However, they tend to be quite pricey, as the boats have to fill up with enough petrol for the entire journey (there are of course no petrol stations in the Amazon!). Please contact us for more information.
Which mosquito repellent should I buy to use in the jungle?
This depends on your preference. Several of our volunteers have had a really good experience with 3M Ultrathon, which is 35% DEET, water resistant, and used by the military. However, keep in mind that DEET is very harmful to the environment as well as to you, and if you will be working with animals very high concentrations are not recommended. You can also use natural products and essential oils like citronella, tea tree, or lavender, which work fairly efficiently without harming you or the environment.
It is really up to you. If you want to stay on the safe side, use as a high concentration as you want, but be aware that no repellent will protect you completely and at all times.
On the Surf and Help Camp, can I rent a surfboard also just for a day or for a few hours?
With us you can rent a surfboard for 15 € a day. It is not possible to rent a surfboard in advance for only a few hours.
How do I donate?
You want to donate to our organization and its goals? That makes us very happy!
Does your organization belong to any religion?
No. As an organization we don’t belong to any religion. Our organization accepts people from any religion, so we have (and have had) volunteers and project partners belonging to a variety of different belief systems. In general, Christianity is popular in South America, due to the period of colonization in the past; an indigenous belief in ‘Pachamama’ (mother earth) is still however widespread.