Quest Overseas - Villa Maria Gap Year Program in Peru
100% Rating
(13 Reviews)

Quest Overseas - Villa Maria Gap Year Program in Peru

Quest Overseas is devoted to giving their participants amazing Gap Year opportunities. Their program in Peru surpasses all expectations. The 13 week program involves a number of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Participants learn Spanish in Ecuador, intimately contribute towards uplifting a deprived community in Lima, and adventure through several parts of South America!

Quest leaders are the best around- you won't believe what can show you in South America in just 3 months! Both the Andean expedition and the Villa Maria project as separate programs over the summer, for those whom it would suit better.

If any of the above interests you, learn more on the Quest Overseas website.

Do something amazing during your Gap Year!

3 weeks of intensive, one-2-one Spanish lessons in Quito!
4-6 weeks of volunteering and working with children in Villa Maria, a Peruvian shanty town
6 weeks of trekking, sandboarding, rafting and much more!

Locations
South America » Peru » Lima
South America » Peru
Program Tags
Adventure Travel
Language Immersion
Volunteer Abroad
Length
1-3 Months
Accommodation
Hostel
Primary Language
English
Age Max
17
Starting Price
$2,000.00
Currency
USD
Other Locations
Quito, Arequipa, La Paz, Cusco, Machu Picchu

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Housing
    84%
  • Support
    99%
  • Fun
    99%
  • Value
    100%
  • Safety
    92%

Program Reviews (13)

Default avatar
Molly
Female
19 years old
New York City
University of Chicago

Life-Changing Experience

10/10

This winter I was a participant in the Villa Maria Gap Year Project. Upon arriving in Villa Maria, myself and the other volunteers were immediately welcomed into the community. Each day we went to different districts within Villa Maria and organized games for the children or brought them to the pool. In my opinion, this work is as vital to the health of the community as a food bank. By an act as simple as throwing a ball around we allowed these kids, many with unimaginable burdens, to be kids; a right that I took for granted before coming to Villa Maria. I will never forget the way the younger kids ran to us giggling and wrapping their arms around us the first day we went to play. We soon realized how much this project meant to so many people and how dedicated the Peruvian project staff were to giving these children unforgettable memories. In addition to playing with the kids, we lived with the incredibly warm Peruvian staff. From spontaneous water fights to late night barbeques to ping pong tournaments, I laughed harder and smiled wider than I have in a very long time. When the four weeks were up, my group and I could say that we had found a home both in Villa Maria and with each other, a rare gift. The four-week expedition that followed was equally as unforgettable; each day wilder and more fun than the last. From boating in the jungle to biking on the infamous death road to parading through not one but two Carnavals to trekking to Machu Picchu, there was never a dull moment. We had a fantastic leader who ensured we got to do and see the most possible with the allotted budget as well as ensuring our spirits were always high.

After completing four stress filled years focused on getting a college acceptance, this trip was exactly what I needed. Not only did I have more fun in two months than I previously knew possible but through all the amazing people I met and all the different ways of life that I experienced, I was forced to question my own values and think about the kind of adult that I want to be. One of the numerous values in cultural immersion.

Default avatar
Emily
Female
19 years old
France
Other

Best 2 months of my life

10/10

I was on a gap year and looking for an organisation that would allow me to travel and do some kind of volunteering. I looked at many agencies but found that Quest Overseas really offered the right balance between these two aspects. I signed up however not really knowing what I was in for, just basing myself on a Skype interview and a few friendly emails exchanged between the team and I. I had no idea I was signing up for the best experience of my life.
Between the British staff who is incredibly involved, friendly and helpful and the Peruvian partners who have been working with the Villa Maria project for over 20 years and care about it like nothing else, I realised that this project isn't only about giving disadvantaged children the best summer of their childhood by providing them with the basic right to play, it's about carrying on 20 year long work and becoming part of a huge family.
When I first walked into the bedroom I was going to be living in for the next 5 weeks in Villa Maria, I, like many before me, got to read all the messages that previous volunteers had left on the walls - names, dates, inside jokes, advice - and immediately knew these 5 weeks would be unforgettable, and I was right. I made friends for life, with the other volunteers as well as with the Peruvians who worked with us, I discovered a new culture, I had the time of my life playing with children, I improved my Spanish skills, dancing skills (oh yes!), and everyday was a memory I will keep forever.
Up to the standards of the Villa Maria fun, the 4 week-long expedition that followed was as hectic and unforgettable. We had a great expedition leader who managed the whole thing and made sure all our money was being spent in the best way possible, not letting us worry about anything, all the while keeping our spirits up with a great personality and sense of humour. One small problem: you'll have to give up on sleeping for the next 4 weeks (it's all worth it though) ! Indeed, between sand boarding in the Peruvian desert, trekking in the Andes, kayaking on Lake Titicaca, climbing a mountain, parading in La Paz carnaval, mountain biking, crossing a border at 6am, and much much more, you quickly learn the importance of napping and knowing how to sleep on a bus.
All in all, I'm incredibly grateful for finding Quest Overseas and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for something different and fun to do on their gap year (or later on!). I can't stress enough how much Quest and all it's staff is involved, trustworthy and friendly.

You should also visit the Quest Overseas / Quest4Change facebook page as there's lots of photos and videos on there !

Default avatar
Isabella
Female
24 years old
Lund, Sweden
Other

Volunteering in Villa Maria summer 2014

10/10

When my and my friend searched for a volunteer trip we were determined to find a trip where we could make a real difference. Quest Overseas stood out in that point and it felt very professional that we had to make an application. But even though we got a good first impression from Quest by just reading and talking with the staff it's still hard to know how it will be until you're there. And I was not disappointed. Quest have a close relationship with the local community which I think is very important since it's they who have the best knowledge of where help is needed. Our help felt needed and the experiences and memories I got were all worth the work I did.

Although it was quite overwhelming to arrive in VM (as a small town girl from Sweden who never travelled outside of Europe before) I adjusted very quickly and learned to love VM. Even the dogs who barked all night, the chilly damp weather (since I was there in their winter) and the endless stairs. The people in the Quest team were all amazing and the local staff and the children we met was the best! They made me (and the rest of the team) feel very welcomed.

I would strongly recommend this to anyone who wants to volunteer in South America. You will not regret it!

Default avatar
Zoe
Female
22 years old
Amherst, MA
Amherst College

Once in a lifetime experience

10/10

The only reason my housing rating was somewhat low was because this is not a "glamping" trip. I went on the Quest Overseas gap year program in Villa Maria, and it was one of the greatest experiences I feel I'll ever have. When else will you have the opportunity to mount a Bolivian peak, get to know some amazing Peruvians, and build your Spanish skills in a cloud forest? I was pushed to limits I didn't know I had, but it was one of the most fun and gratifying experiences I'll ever gain. GO QUEST!

Default avatar
messycowboy
Male
24 years old
Uk
Nottingham University

I had the time of my life

10/10

After much deliberation I chose to taken part of my gap year with quest overseas. I did a lot of research and what clinched it was two things. The first was the fact it is part of fair trade volunteering the other was because it was recommendation by my schools careers advisor.

Of all the options with quest I chose their villa maria project. It gave me the opportunity to learn a bit of Spanish in Ecuador in addition to coming to terms with a very different cultures. That country really moves to salsa and football.

I then spent a month with my team volunteering my time in a shanty town we arranged lots of activities for street kidstores and assisted I the construction of basic but necessary accommodation for single parent families. It was very tough both physically and mentally but without a shadow of a doubt my favourite part.

We then went on a mental 6 week expedition. Nailed a few must sees like the Inka trail and salt pans but what I really enjoyed was the experiences we had a way from the gringo trail like the north side of titi kaka or Ice climbing in Bolivia.

It was amazing from start to finish. We started together at Heathrow as a team. We traveled together for three months with our leaders. We saw things you would not believe, met some increadible inspiring people and came home with some of the best mates.

How can this program be improved?

Give the option of a longer expedition.

Default avatar
Jessica
Female
22 years old
Manchester, England

The Time of My Life

10/10

The Villa Maria programme has three distinct sections to the trip, Spanish lessons in Quito, volunteering in Peru and exploring South America. When starting the trip I was quite shy I wont lie, but I promised myself that I would throw myself into it from the outset.

As a team we completely clicked, we had a large group of 9, boys and girls. We were accepting university places while we were away, as well as sorting accommodation but we supported each other throughout the whole trip and still occasionally chat now 2 years later on! I made some of the closest friendships while travelling and we crossed sadness, stress, and the greatest joy I could have ever experienced! I miss them everyday!

Some of the situations I found myself in while travelling I didn’t expect I ever would in my life. From climbing one of the highest mountains in Bolivia, to swimming with wild dolphins, creating JESS across the salt flats posed a problems when it came to the S, and weirdly pushing a bus out of mud.

You celebrate the littlest thing and learn a lot about yourself, your own values and life at home. Who knew a clean pair of socks could bring so much joy! I cannot express to you through words the amazing things I saw and learnt. The experience has made me a more mature person, my time management and organization is now impeccable!

If someone were to offer me the experience again tomorrow I would not honestly think twice about it. The chance to gain a wider understanding of the world and the people within is a chance that you cannot miss!

How can this program be improved?

More programmes to do with the children in villa maria, apart from swimming everyday.

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Hannah
Female
22 years old
Durham
Durham University

Quest Overseas Villa Maria Review

10/10

The Quest Overseas Villa Maria Project changed my life. It made me open my eyes to new experiences; a completely different culture and has given me friends for life. I honestly could not recommend it more highly to anyone! I had the best six weeks of my life!"

The Peruvian community opened their doors and their hearts to us as a group of people. We had so much fun doing dancing shows, kids fairs, building houses for the people who live there and immersing ourselves in their way of life. They were such wonderful people and Peru will always have a place in my heart as a result of this experience.

This trip was also coupled with a two week action-packed adventure which consisted of mountain biking down death road; white water rafting; canoeing across a lake; trekking up Maccu Piccu and challenging yourself. It has helped me build my confidence and I would trade anything to do it all over again! Thank you for listening!

How can this program be improved?

Prior training/ information guide available as to the experience of the project.

Default avatar
Harry
Male
22 years old
London

Fantastic

10/10

The the trip to Peru&Bolivia with Quest was absolutely fantastic. Very well organised and full of amazing experiences!

Volunteering in Villa Maria- something I will never forget. It was extremely heart-warming and made me realise how fortunate I am. This experience was certainly made unforgettable due to the friendliness of all the staff involved. In Particular our guide/Project leader, Matty Sowinski-Brown.

Working with the other volunteers, was great.(we all had completely different backgrounds) We all got on really well and are still in touch on a regular basis!

Witnessing both the Touristic side of Peru and the harsh reality of the living conditions of the less fortunate Peruvians was really mind-blowing.

The mini-expedition was great fun! Being an aspiring wildlife & landscape photographer, the Inca trail was definitely a highlight. The views are simply breathtaking.

Overall the trip has left me with some wonderful memories that I will never forget and therefore I recommend Quest Overseas to absolutely anyone!

I hope to travel&volunteer with Quest again in the future.

Default avatar
Matty
Male
25 years old
Wimborne, Dorset
University College London

Better than I could ever have imagined!

10/10

This programme gave me with everything I needed so I could go and travel throughout Argentina and Chile. I really didn't want to go on a 'school trip' and thought that Quest looked like the real deal in terms of getting the most out of the experience!

The Peruvian project staff are INCREDIBLE. I don't think I have ever laughed so much! They welcome you into their family and you never look back.

I organised an open air cinema night for a community really struggling due to lack of electricity and access to water. The children were absolutely transfixed! This is the kind of social volunteering that can, in my opinion, really make a difference!

How can this program be improved?

This programme was perfect for me as I loved the project and the mountains. Maybe the Spanish lesson phase could have gone on for a little bit longer, but this by no means stopped me enjoying my time away with Quest.

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Isabelle
Female
24 years old
Canberra, Australia

Amazing experience in Villa Maria

10/10

I did the Villa Maria mini project and exped this year from Jan to March. It was an absolutely incredible experience. Quest was everything I could have hoped for. The project was really worthwhile. We were working with a local organisation. We had a lot of fun while working hard. I felt as if I gained a lot out of it. The accommodation in Villa Maria understandably wasn't five star, but it was perfectly fine. The group got along really well, probably owing to the fact that quest doesn't just accept anyone. The three week exped was unforgettable. We managed to do so much and it was all really fun, a lot of it was challenging but it still felt really safe. I definitely felt as if I got value for money.

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Bikini
Female
24 years old
York
King's College London

One Craazzzy 3 months!

10/10

I traveled with Quest Overseas to Villa Maria in 2011, it wasn't a hard decision for me when choosing who to take my gap year with, Quest just stood out as a transparent, genuine company who truly care for each of their projects and have been working a long time to build up their reputation overseas.

We organised and ran games and holiday activities for the deprived children of Villa Maria, a large slum on the outskirts of Lima, Peru. face-painting, dance routines to backstreet boys, you name it! Each day ended with an hour in the local pool being used as human climbing frames by dozens of excited kids.

The language phase in Ecuador before we went to Villa Maria also helped massively just with basin conversation with the children and when you were out in the town and things. There was great nightlife which our Spanish tutors took us out on so we got to see the REAL Ecuador as opposed to the tourist trail.

I would definitely go back and recommend Quest Overseas gap year trips to anyone looking for a gap year trip that involves volunteering and lots of fun. The Quest Staff and local staff were great creating the right balance between providing advice,support and direction and allowing us freedom and independence

How can this program be improved?

Very little apart from the music on the bus journeys. bad music, bad bad music.

Default avatar
Anon
Male
32 years old
Berkeley, CA

Villa Maria Trip

10/10

I traveled with Quest Overseas to Villa Maria in 2011, it was an amazing experience, one which I will never forget.

Quest are a fantastic company to travel with, they are sustainable and have a great relationship with the communities they work with. The volunteering is full on, this way you can make a lot of difference in the short time you are in VM.

The last 6 weeks of travel are fantastic, with an activity for everyone, a combination of tourist highlights and some hidden gems off the beaten traveler track.

This is a trip of a lifetime, not to be missed!

How can this program be improved?

More time volunteering, leaving Villa Maria was very hard! We all felt so at home there.

Default avatar
Liv89
Female
24 years old
London, England
Other

Volunteering in Villa Maria was an amazing and life changing experience

10/10

We organised and ran games and holiday activities for the deprived children of Villa Maria, a large slum on the outskirts of Lima, Peru. We visited two communities a day, playing games and activities ranging from football and volleyball to jenga, colouring and painting. Each day ended with an hour in the local pool being used as human climbing frames by dozens of excited kids. Every Saturday we organised a feria (fair), which involve dressing up in costumes and running a range of games where children could win sweets as prizes. Sundays saw the group put on costumes and face paints and perform group dances at the Sunday show. During our last week we swapped toys and costumes for safety gear and power tools constructing a new classroom at the Quest school.

We lived in rooms above the Quest School. Living conditions were fairly basic and we were responsible for buying and cooking all our meals and keeping our accommodation clean and tidy.

It was a great experience. I would definitely go back and recommend Quest Overseas gap year trips to anyone looking for a gap year trip that involves volunteering and lots of fun. The Quest Staff and local staff were great creating the right balance between providing advice,support and direction and allowing us freedom and independence. The local staff and communities were very welcoming and by the end it felt like we were part of a huge extended family.

About The Provider

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Quest Overseas is driven by a desire to help its project partners and communities in South America and Africa, while providing valuable experiential learning opportunities for young people. QO has been running since 1996, with nearly 20 years' experience of sending teams of young volunteers

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