Quest Overseas

Quest Overseas


Quest Overseas is back! Now that travel restrictions have been eased around the world, we are once again 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 over 20 years' experience of sending teams of young volunteers to provide their support to partnering communities through projects ranging from wildlife sanctuaries and forestry conservation to building sand dams and health clinics. QO also prides itself on its expert expedition leaders who take the teams on bespoke journeys through the Andes or East Africa.



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Yes, I recommend this program

Lifelong Friends

I travelled on the 6 week Andean Expedition through Peru and Bolivia in 2013. I was 21, straight from university, and we were an all girl group. Our bond was pretty much instant - nothing gets you closer than a mixture of amazing experiences and some unwanted bodily functions!! We are now lifelong friends and meet every year around the country and abroad and continue to talk about our time with Quest to this day. Such an amazing experience, from the landscapes to the culture and trying all the local foods (even if I didn't like much of it - I wasn't cultured at 21!)

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Hands down the dodgy overnight bus ride down Bolivia's death road in the dark. How I did I overcome it? Tried to text my mom that I loved her but it wouldn't go through! A very long and hair raising ride! We were glad for the plane for the return!
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Yes, I recommend this program

Life-Changing Experience

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.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Best 2 months of my life

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 !

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Yes, I recommend this program

One thing I've learnt...I can sleep anywhere!

This expedition was so jam packed with adventure after adventure, I was shattered, I came back and slept solid for 3 days. Everyday we were in a new location, new country, different bed and different activity just around the corner. Whether it was waking up in the snow to climb mountains at 1am or falling asleep on the longest most uncomfortable journey into the jungle or sleeping between 2 friends in a tiny tent who've stolen your role mat, you knew that the next day would have something exciting prepared to share with what became your family. And this happened for 6 weeks straight. But despite getting barely any sleep, unless you were lucky enough to get an upgrade to the sleeper bus section with real reclining seats, I wouldn't have changed it and would do it all again tomorrow. Now have the best stories at parties and met the greatest friends!

What would you improve about this program?
Just one thing...add food bags to the kit list, they were the most useful thing and I had to ration them to everyone else.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Bolivia Gap

I was part of the Bolivia Gap team in 2014, and I am so glad I made the decision to travel with quest. The trip was challenging at times, and required hard work during the treks and volunteering periods. But looking back on it now the tough times seem so insignificant, considering that this trip took me to the most beautiful places I have ever been to and gave me incredible memories, as well as a group of friends to share them with. I climbed to 5,000m, came face to face with a rescued jaguar and watched the sunrise come up over the salt flats - moments that will stick with me forever.
I thought that our 3 months were well organised - we fitted an amazing amount of activities into such a small time and i felt fully immersed into the countries we visited. Our leader Matty was fun and always tried to make our time enjoyable and safe, as well as taking into account what we wanted to do and being patient enough to put up with the 5 of us for 3 months!
I've since returned to the wildlife park we volunteered at twice, and this never would have happened without Quest introducing me to it, and giving me the confidence to continue on my own once our trip had finished.

Quest's commitment to ethical volunteering and tourism was the main reason I initially chose to travel with them and I think this is a very important part of what they do. We were also able to visit the Peruvian project in Villa Maria and I was impressed at the work that goes on there.


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Jacob Sandry

Jacob Sandry is from Minnesota, USA and attends Yale University. He is an avid runner, tree hugger, slam poet and musician. Check out what he's up to on

Highlights: Integrating into the South Lima community of Villa Maria was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. Traveling from Ecuador’s coast to Bolivia’s altiplano to Bolivia’s jungle was incredibly fun, varied and memorable. Truly what I gained most from my trip was learning how to be an independent person and travel on my own or with friends wherever I am in the world. I spent another month in South America and two months in Ethiopia after my trip and my experience with Quest gave me the confidence and the abilities to navigate my way through whatever tough and fun traveling situations I encountered.

A Group of Waldos Exploring

Ecuador Language Phase: Typically we'd wake up and eat breakfast cooked for us as a group at the Hostal, before having a few hours of Spanish instruction with a personal tutor. After eating, we each had a few hours everyday of personal instruction with a local Spanish tutor. We would often get in a large group to play games or walk to the park and use our Spanish outside of the classroom. That being said, much of the Spanish we learned would soon disappear when we were traveling because most of the group spoke English the whole time. We had the afternoons free to explore Quito, a vibrant city with far more to see than three weeks could possibly allow. On the weekends we took trips to different parts of Ecuador. My favorite trip was to Monpiche, a secluded beach town where we spent the weekend surfing, relaxing and eating fish. The most memorable part of my time in Quito however was nights exploring bars, dance clubs and restaurants out in the city.

Jacob volunteering in Peru

Peru Volunteering Phase: In a typical day we'd wake up and do chores around the school where we were all living. We'd cook breakfast as a group, tidy our space and prepare for the day ahead. The mornings were filled with building/painting houses. We all learned basic carpentry skills and with the help of the local workers would design and construct wooden houses for residents of Villa Maria, the neighborhood of the shanty town where we were living. It was sometimes challenging to do some of this work as a group. Being the only American (my group was all British except for me and an Irish girl) was always an interesting cultural experience not only with the place that I was in, but also with the cultural differences between the British kids and myself. It was difficult, hot but exceedingly rewarding work.

The time spent in Villa Maria was the most meaningful part of my entire trip with Quest. Beyond doing rewarding volunteer work, we actually had the opportunity to LIVE in a shanty town in southern Lima. I'm not going to pretend that we truly understood the life that residents of Villa Maria live, but we were welcomed and integrated into their community for a short time. The local guys and teachers who run the school are hilarious, fun, and incredible for what they do and I can't express how powerful it was to develop relationships with them. The highlight of my time in Villa Maria was putting on shows for the kids every Sunday. We choreographed dances and I got to be the magician and light stuff on fire. The whole community came out to watch and we were micro celebrities. The kids loved it.

Jacob and Friends

Expedition Phase: It’s impossible for me to explain how fun the expedition phase of this trip was. We went on three treks through the mountains of two different countries. We explored the salt flats of Bolivia. We swam with pink river dolphins and helped construct a puma cage in the jungle. We white water rafted through the sacred valley of Peru before trekking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. We went ice climbing. We navigated the world’s highest navigable lake. We sand boarded down sand dunes. We biked down the world’s most dangerous road and spent a night in paradise. We spent A LOT of time on buses. All in the span of 6 weeks.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Jonathan Cassidy

Job Title
Managing Director
Jon has been working with Quest since 1998, where he started as a project leader for our conservation teams in Ecuador, and has since visited every project site and expedition route on Quest's books. You may speak with him in the office before you depart overseas, or cross paths with him on a trek or project, be sure to say hello!

What is your favorite travel memory?

Being part of an impromptu fashion show at our children's shanty town project in Peru - parading in shorts and a string vest in front of thousands of people!

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I've been here for 18 years so I've certainly grown! Working for a company that genuinely cares for everyone we have contact with is only going to help make you a better person overall.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Too hard to pick one! We love to hear from you when you get back though, so do keep in touch.

Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?

Maybe not underrated, but more people should experience the wonder that is Bolivia.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Our recent #iwaspartofthechange Facebook challenge, where we asked Quest alumni to tag themselves in a photo with the hashtag and their memories of Quest. The response was inspiring and humbling, so many students and staff getting in touch with kind words.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Quest's philosophy has always been to give equal importance to our team members, the projects they work on, and the staff which look after them. If all three are happy, you can't go far wrong!

What unique qualities does your company possess?

Not a single negative report from our students in our 20 years of operation.

Professional Associations

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