• Colombia
    • Medellin
1 to 12 weeks

Program Details

Spring Break Summer Winter Year Round
Host Family Hostel
Small Group (1-15) Medium Group (16-30) Large Group (31+)


Starting Price
Price Details
Fully hosted experience from only $345 for 1 week - this includes accommodation, meals, airport pick-up, orientation and 24/7 in-country support.
What's Included
Accommodation Some Activities Meals
What's Not Included
Airfare Travel Insurance Visa
May 01, 2024
Aug 05, 2021
21 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

Trusted by 136,000+ volunteers, IVHQ offers the world's #1 rated volunteer programs in Colombia and 50+ destinations worldwide.

For the past 6 years, we've won the "Top Volunteer Abroad Provider Award" from GoOverseas, so you can trust that you're in the safest hands with IVHQ in Colombia.

Our affordable projects start from $37/day for your accommodation, meals, airport pick-up, project placement and local support. Projects run year-round, with durations from 1-12 weeks. Choose from 4 projects, ranging from Childcare & Youth Support, Environmental Conservation, Special Needs Support and Elderly Care in the beautiful city of Medellín. Plus, you’ll stay with other like-minded, impact-focused travelers from around the world (private room options available).

With IVHQ’s superior pre-departure support services, you’ll gain exclusive access to your own Volunteer Travel Specialist, comprehensive preparation tools and volunteer training before you leave home.

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • Cheapest volunteer programs from $37/day for your accommodation, meals, airport pick-up, project placement & local support.
  • Volunteer for 1-12 weeks, year round start dates most Mondays.
  • 16+ years experience & only B Corp certified volunteer travel organization.
  • Get free changes up to 14 days before you start with our flexible booking policy.
  • Affordable way to earn college credit - gain 5 credits for only US$500!

Program Reviews

4.86 Rating
based on 35 reviews
  • 5 rating 91.43%
  • 4 rating 5.71%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 2.86%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Impact 4.8
  • Support 4.75
  • Fun 4.85
  • Value 4.8
  • Safety 4.9
Showing 1 - 8 of 35 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Colombia Community Development Volunteering Program

I volunteered in Colombia for 3 weeks doing the Community Development program. This program was amazing and I can definitely say that I got a lot out of it! I worked with children building connections with them by doing arts and crafts and teaching them English. This also helped me to build my Spanish skills as well. I liked that this program allowed me to see all parts of the country, the good and bad, allowing me to appreciate it much more. I was able to connect with locals and see aspects of the culture more than I would if I were just a tourist in the country. My favorite part was that on my last day working with the kids, they wrote a letter for me and took the time to translate it to English since my Spanish is not the best! I 10/10 would recommend this program to anyone looking for a life changing experience!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
The country's national dish is bandeja paisa, which is a huge plate of many different food such as plantains, rice, beans, different types of meat, and more. Everywhere I went locals were always suggesting that I try it because they loved it. However, it was not my favorite but I totally enjoyed the experience of trying something new!
69 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Reuben Ming Gui
Yes, I recommend this program

Teaching English in the Colombian Capital

I had a fulfilling eight weeks on the Teaching English project in Bogota, Colombia. The stint was, in truth, more challenging than I had expected it to be. The vast majority of our students, all of whom endured difficult pasts and were placed in a rehabilitative home, spoke hardly any English and I had to conduct classes in my limited Spanish. There was also relatively little institutional knowledge we could work with and the unpredictability of our class configurations proved to be an obstacle. Our local team was, however, very supportive from the get-go and played an important role in ironing out certain issues. After navigating a steep learning curve, I found myself feeling a sense of fulfillment in teaching our students. It was hard work ideating and preparing our lessons but detecting a sense of achievement in the eyes of a few of our students, who found satisfaction in being able to construct English sentences, made all our effort worthwhile. In addition, I greatly appreciated the opportunity to teach and get to know our students and I was blessed by their warmth and respectfulness towards us volunteers. I was also blessed by the local team and fellow volunteers, and I'm glad to say that I've made friendships I will keep for life. The premature and abrupt end to my programme, however, brought about by the COVID-19 situation, left me feeling that I had unfinished business in Bogota. I'm nevertheless thankful for my time there and would happily return to serve on the project again in the future.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Although the ability to speak Spanish isn't an official requirement for the teaching programme, having at least an intermediate level of the language makes a huge difference in your programme experience. There is a palpable language barrier as the students start off with a very low level of English. Not speaking Spanish makes it difficult to communicate with them and to build meaningful relations. Pick up some Spanish and there'll be a world of difference!
77 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Teaching English at Emerging Voice Cartegena, Colombia

I volunteered along with my girlfriend to teach English at Emerging Voices in Cartagena, Colombia from Nov-Dec of 2019. The experience overall was amazing. We got to work with lots of different groups of people, from young children living in a poor neighborhood, to teenagers learning skills related to the hospitality industry, to adults who’s English was very good, but they just lacked the confidence to use it. I also enjoyed the ability to visit other projects at Emerging Voices such as the project to feed and spend time with the homeless and the sports development project that worked with kids living in a Drug Rehabilitation Centre.
One of the highlights was definitely meeting all of the other volunteers. Programs like these bring out great people and we had a ton of fun hanging out with people coming from all over North America. My other highlight was definitely the food! Sophie was our local Colombian chef and she made the most amazing meals every day. I was always excited for meal time! She also kept the house impeccably clean and even made our beds every day; what an amazing lady! I also enjoyed working with Monica who is the program owner. She is a very inspiring women and a kind soul. We happened to be there during a transitional time for Emerging Voice so that meant we had lots of different volunteers, but also lots of different coordinators. We had three different teaching coordinators during our 4-week stay. One consistent throughout though was Lao. He worked with the childcare program, but he was the only constant in the volunteer house for the entire time that we were there and he made our experience that much better with his kindness and light hearted nature. The last thing that I really enjoyed was the location of the volunteer house. It was located in the safe neighborhood of Crespo; it was only a 5 minute walk to the beach and only a 10 minute cab to downtown so it was truly perfect! All in it was an amazing experience and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to give back and also push themselves a little out of their comfort zone!

What would you improve about this program?
I think having more previous lesson plans prepared for the volunteers would be beneficial. I also think that having more information about the program specifics such as the different levels of teaching required, etc. before showing up would help the volunteers to better prepare lesson plans, if they are not readily available.
73 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

An experience of a lifetime

Volunteering in Cartagena, Colombia for the childcare program was an experience I’ll carry for the rest of my life. I went in there with an open mind and heart and came out with an abundance of love and gratitude. The children showed me more about appreciating the simple things in life than I could’ve ever taught them. I’ve gained some lifelong friends and got to experience some of Colombia’s beautiful culture and scenery and amazing food!

Below are just some helpful tips I gathered on this trip that might help in deciding for Cartagena.

-Be open-minded and you will enjoy it more than you think.
-Cartagena is extremely warm and humid, be prepared with sunscreen and mosquito spray.
-This is a learning experience so don’t judge too harshly.
-Check with your bank about international withdrawals. Many volunteers were complaining about the fees, could have been avoided if better informed.
-Don’t overthink or over-prepare for your program (specifically childcare), go where help is needed and be an extra hand. It is very much appreciated.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
If I were to do this all over again, which I'll most definitely come back, I would honestly stay longer and get involved in more programs.
74 people found this review helpful.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Isabel, thanks for your review of our program in Cartagena, Colombia. It's great to hear that you had such a rewarding experience and that our service exceeded your expectations! Your contribution to the community is greatly appreciated. We look forward to your next volunteer experience with IVHQ! ^ Kate - IVHQ Colombia Program Manager

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program


I volunteered with IVHQ's parter Emerging Voices in Cartagena, Colombia, for 8 weeks in February and March of 2019. I had a phenomenal experience - making new friends with volunteers from all over the world, meeting locals who I continue to talk with today, learning and practicing Spanish, and getting to try delicious food!

The volunteer project I chose was teaching English. We had 2 placements - one for 2 hours in the morning, in a neighborhood close to our volunteer house, and another for 2 hours in the afternoon, in a more impoverished neighborhood about 20 minutes drive. The morning class I taught was advanced, so my lack of Spanish was not a big deal. We worked on grammar rules and pronunciation for the majority of my 8 weeks. The afternoon class was very beginner, so it was difficult to communicate some of the topics to them, considering my own poor Spanish. The afternoon class was definitely more of a challenge for me, because due to their more impoverished neighborhood, it was clear their own education even in Spanish was lacking. So trying to explain the difference between adjectives and adverbs and nouns and verbs was relatively difficult, as they couldn't even identify the Spanish equivalents. Despite this, they were for the most part eager to learn, and had fantastic attitudes, and I made strong connections with many of the students. One thing I would recommend for the Teaching placement is to know some Spanish beforehand, and the more you know the better it will go. Also, since you are essentially planning the lessons yourself, make sure you know the topics and do some research beforehand. Just because you know English, doesn't mean you necessarily know every weird rule it has when it comes to grammar and spelling rules.

The volunteer house itself was spacious, air conditioned at night (thank God!), clean, and comfortable. We had an incredibly talented and creative cook, Sophie, who made us 3 meals a day from Monday to Friday. The house was a 5 minute walk from the airport, and a 5 minute walk from the beach, which was very convenient. The neighborhood was safe, with a reasonable selection of food and entertainment.

Evenings and weekends would often be spent in the Centro Historico, which was about a 10 minute taxi ride, usually costing 7,000 COP. The Centro had many more options for stores, restaurants, entertainment, partying, and sight-seeing. It was absolutely beautiful, from the colourful and brightly decorated buildings, to the old stone wall overlooking the ocean. Definitely busy and touristy though too.

Weekends were also very popular for excursions and tourism. Over the 8 weeks I was there, I went to Parque Tayrona, Isla Grande (a part of the Islas del Rosario), Playa Blanca, Barranquilla for the Carnaval, and El Totumo - a mud volcano to bathe in that makes your skin feel fantastic.

All around, I had a great experience. The staff at the volunteer house were all amazing and easy to talk to, the students had wonderful attitudes and were just as excited to teach me Spanish as they were to learn English, the other volunteers were fun and friendly, and the food was to die for.

76 people found this review helpful.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Thanks for making the time to write such a in-depth review, Claudia! It's a great tip around learning Spanish - while it's not a requirement to join the program, it certainly helps to have a little bit of Spanish learnt before you arrive. Great to hear that you had a fantastic experience overall and that you felt well supported by IVHQ's local team and the community in which you assisted. We hope to have you travel again with us soon! ^Kate - IVHQ Colombia, Cartagena Program Manager

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Beautiful Cartagena

I participated in the volunteer program as part of the Sports & Development team and absolutely loved the work that we did. Working with the children in recovery from drugs and alcohol was a very profound experience and after a month, it was very bitter sweet leaving the program. Cartagena itself was absolutely magical and on the very first day our host took us out to the walled part of the city and talked to us about the surrounding area which made me feel really comfortable. The house rules were rather strict but understandably so, that seemed to bother volunteers. Food was tasty but a bit heavy and unaccommodating if you’re a vegetarian so prepare to spend some money on veggies and protein alternatives! Overall a great experience!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Make sure that you go and explore the beautiful surrounding areas in your spare time! Make the most of it!
73 people found this review helpful.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Jasmin, thanks for taking the time to complete a review! It is so great to hear that you enjoyed your placement and it sounds like you made a strong connection to the people you met on the program. It's great to hear that you felt safe and well supported by the local team. Thanks for the information you have shared as well, this is always very useful to for future volunteers. We hope to have you volunteer with IVHQ again in the future! Grace - IVHQ Program Manager

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

A unique and life changing experience

My name is Ulyana and I volunteered for 2 weeks in Cartagena in February 2019 in Community Projects. It took me some time to leave a comment here... As I came back from this unforgettable experience, I was a kind of "upside down", so many emotions, memories, mixed thoughts... This is for sure a life changing experience for me and one of the best ones, that has left its impact forever. As s volunteer on community projects, I helped at the kitchen in the hospice, did some activities for the kids in poor quarters, taught some simple English to vulnerable seniors and even did some gardening - we helped some really poor family to clean the garden and that was great. Organizing afternoon activities for the kids was a lot of fun! Kids are so sweet, and you get attached to them easily:) Teaching English for the seniors was also quite exciting and fun and I liked the fact that I could always propose my ideas for a class to the program coordinator.

Going to the hospice is morally more difficult, as it just breaks your heart when you see those elderly people living there...
We often here about poverty and sick kids, but it's completely different when you face it with your own eyes, when you interact with these kids… I had a chance to go on the projects, where there are kids struggling with cancer and drug problems. That was hard and, frankly speaking, I wasn't ready for that... and I find it really amazing that Emerging voices work on such projects, it might be not easy, it might be tough sometimes, but that’s for sure one of the best things to reach a hand to a needy person and bring smiles on the kids’ faces! Believe me, you’ll be back home another person and you’ll look differently on simple things in life.

What would you improve about this program?
Participation in the program doesn’t require the knowledge of Spanish and it was my case… but sometimes it was a major barrier for me as I wanted to interact more with the kids and people on the projects, but every time you need smb’s help in translation. I would recommend at least a beginner level in Spanish should be required..
76 people found this review helpful.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Ulyana - thank you for sharing your experience volunteering in Cartagena with IVHQ! I am glad to hear you felt so well supported by the local team. It sounds like you made some incredible connections with your fellow volunteers while on the program and we would love to have you volunteer with us again anytime! Grace - IVHQ Program Manager.

Yes, I recommend this program

Bogota was incredible!

The area I stayed was safe and clean and I made amazing friends volunteering feeding the homeless. My heart was full when I returned home and I can't wait to go back again. The house felt like a second home and the facilitators felt like family. Lily and Gloria felt like my aunt and cousin. I love them so much! I stayed for a week and wish I had stayed for at least one month. The people we helped made it so much more inspiring because I got to hug and greet each and every person in the cafeteria and hear their thanks for the meal. If I were you I would pack my things and leave for Colombia as soon as possible. The weather was awesome, the food was great and the housemates became fast friends and went out on the town together! This program was the perfect mix of social, cultural experiences, and volunteering. By the end my Spanish was WAY better and I felt confident enough to travel alone as a woman again.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would stay for at least a month so I could work on more projects!
81 people found this review helpful.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Avery - it sounds like you had an amazing experience in Bogota and made some incredible connections. Thank you for spending your time volunteering with IVHQ and supporting an important community project. We really appreciate all of your hard work! Grace - IVHQ Program Manager.

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Questions & Answers

Yes the accommodation is included. Normally 3-4 people share one room in the same gender.