Most Affordable & Trusted Volunteer Programs in Cartagena from $450

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Street Crafts @ Santa Marta
Street Crafts @ Santa Marta
Jenga @ Funvivir
Jenga @ Funvivir
Moonlight @ the Wall of Old City
Moonlight @ the Wall of Old City
Volunteer programs in Cartagena with IVHQ
Volunteer programs in Cartagena with IVHQ
Volunteer programs in Cartagena with IVHQ
Volunteer programs in Cartagena with IVHQ
Volunteer programs in Cartagena with IVHQ
Volunteer programs in Cartagena with IVHQ
Volunteer programs in Cartagena with IVHQ
Volunteer programs in Cartagena with IVHQ

About

Trusted by 90,000+ volunteers, IVHQ offers the most popular volunteer programs in Cartagena and 40+ other destinations around the world.

You can choose from 4 volunteer project options in Cartagena and give back for periods ranging from 2 to 12 weeks. Your Program Fee includes airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support. You’ll be accommodated in a volunteer apartment, with other like-minded, impact-focused travelers from around the world.

IVHQ is trusted to support the meaningful adventures of thousands of volunteers every year, so before you even depart for Cartagena, you’ll receive outstanding personalized service from your expert Volunteer Program Manager and exclusive access to superior pre-departure volunteer training.

With IVHQ, you can expect to establish real connections within the local community while supporting projects that make a genuine difference.

Current IVHQ Volunteer Programs in Colombia:

  • Teaching
  • Childcare
  • Sports Development
  • Community
Highlights
  • IVHQ’s Colombia Cartagena program is available year-round, starting on the 1st and 15th of every month
  • Highly affordable program fees starting from $450 for 2 weeks - IVHQ provides the most affordable and top-rated programs
  • You’ll be joining between 5 and 20 other IVHQ volunteers who start in Cartagena each month
  • You’ll be traveling with IVHQ, the volunteer travel experts, and joining a network of 90,000+ volunteers. Our outstanding safety systems and track record set us apart, we are the world’s safest organization
  • Your efforts will have a positive impact because our programs are community-driven with a focus on supporting long-term local needs

Questions & Answers

Reviews

97%
based on 10 reviews
  • Impact 9.6
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.4
  • Value 9.2
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 1 - 10 of 10
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isabel
10/10
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.
Default avatar
Claudia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Cartagena

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.

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
Jasmin
9/10
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!
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
Ulyana
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A unique and life changing experience

Hi!
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..
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.

Isabela
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing!

I spend 2 weeks there and I was able to participate in different programs. Most of them, teaching English to children's. But they also have programs with elder care, cancer victims that need a moment of joy and kindergarten assistance.
It was a immersive experience and we could connect with the communities and get to know the people who live there. For me, this was the top 1 reason why I loved this experience.
The children's were kind and respectful, eager to learn. So the teaching was natural and easy.
I felt home in our volunteer house. We had dinner together every day and spend weekends travelling together as well. I felt welcome by the city and by all the Colombians I met.
If I had the time, I would stay there at least 4 weeks. Two weeks was enough for me to leave with tears.

What would you improve about this program?
I would recommend the program to require Spanish speaking from volunteers, or at least intermediate level. Being able to communicate and connect with the community is what make this program so special for me, and it can be frustrating for the volunteers who can't.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Isabela - thank you for giving your time to a great program with IVHQ. We really appreciate your valuable contribution to the important work of the local team in Colombia. Acacia - IVHQ Program Manager.

Default avatar
Georgia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteer in Colombia

The Cartagena program was fantastic. Good food, comfy accommodations, the nicest staff. The programs were very meaningful. I was only there for 2 weeks but felt like I was part of the family by the time I left. Monica the director of the program is the nicest, most caring woman. Our weekly meetings added value and a bond that is hard to describe. Colombia is a place of nice, warm people and the staff is a direct reflection of that. On the weekends, volunteers were allowed to travel to other parts of Colombia, and the staff helped us book flights and hostels, as well as give us safety tips on how to travel through Colombia. On my last night, Monica took us out for dinner and thanked me for my time down there. She made every volunteer feel special, as well as valued. For that, I am grateful.

What would you improve about this program?
Healthier food should be made available
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Georgia, Thanks for taking the time to share about your volunteering experience in Cartagena. It's great to hear you were able to explore further afield in Colombia during your weekends and that you were well looked after by the local team! Until next time!

Sean
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Cartagena is a MUST SEE

My fiancé and I did the Cartagena program for two weeks. I absolutely loved my time in Colombia and I feel that I made a difference in the kids lives that I worked with. Our coordinator Monica is an excellent leader and loves her volunteers. She even bought all of the volunteers ice cream one night.

My fiancé got hurt one night and needed to visit the hospital. Monica sat in the hospital with us for 8 hours and helped us pay a better fee for my fiancé’s procedures.

Overall, there is a lot of sights to see in Cartagena and other cities. The program and the volunteers make the price we paid well worth it!

What would you improve about this program?
The program can be improved by letting volunteers know about how much they will pay in taxis to and from work.

Also, we had a private room but it was a waste. We didn’t even get to sleep in the same bed. Would have been better off in different rooms.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Sean, Thanks for your lovely review! It's great to hear that you felt well supported by the local coordinator while on the program and enjoyed your time teaching sport to the children in Cartagena. We hope you will both join us on another program soon! ^Charlotte - IVHQ Colombia - Cartagena Program Manager

Default avatar
Kevin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Cartagena = Unforgettable

Where to begin? Although it is very cliché, the number of unforgettable moments and people we encountered in Cartagena is truly incredible. From teaching English in Granitos and Santa Rita, to playing games with the elderly at Granitos, to playing soccer (fútbol) with the children of Marea Turbaco and Marea Canopote (rehab facilities for children), to facilitating arts and crafts sessions with children, to spending quality time with the children of Funvivir, it becomes difficult to put a premium on just one specific moment. Not to mention this list of experiences completely disregards the equally as rewarding weekend adventures to Playa Blanca, Santa Marta, Taganga, and the Old City!

With that being said, one moment that is ingrained in me forever because of my background, is having the chance to play soccer with the children in the rehabilitation facilities. I played soccer competitively at the collegiate level and still occasionally play when I have time outside of work. My Spanish is poor so having the chance to communicate with all of the kids through a sport we share a mutual love for was an experience like no other. Through the language of fútbol, I could connect and create a good rapport with the kids, as well as earn the kids’ respect in a unique way. After playing for the first time for a few hours with the kids, I immediately sensed their interest in me and noticed that they were more open to me being there. I will never forget that feeling along with the overall energy and happiness of the Colombian people we met. The people were also a pleasant reminder that happiness is generated from within; not from money, materials, or other superficial means.

There are so many pros to visiting Cartagena: the Program Manager genuinely cares about the organizations we work with; the coordinators are local, young, some former members of the organizations we work with and allow you to use your own creativity when it comes to projects; the volunteer house is just a few blocks walk from the beach and a short cab ride to the Old City and Bocagrande; the variety of projects to work on provides a lot of different opportunities; the hot weather is great (the humidity takes some adjusting to); the nightlife and bar scene is great; the landscape combination of mountainous terrain and beach views… the list goes on and on.

It is very important to not let preconceived notions about a place in the world dictate your thoughts about that place (and whether you should visit). I say this as one of my concerns prior to going to Colombia was the safety of the country. There were so many internet articles that shunned the idea of going to Colombia because there are so many other “more safe” places in the world to visit. Now that I have spent time in Colombia and experienced it for myself, I can validate that the country is plenty safe. Just as you would in your home country – use common sense and refrain from putting yourself in a vulnerable position (out too late, drinking heavily, showing off money/jewelry – mostly the combination of all three). If you observe these types of rules just like you normally would, it is unlikely you will run into trouble. I will 100% be going back to Colombia. Knowing what I know now it would have been such a missed opportunity to learn about an amazing culture had I not gone.

This volunteer experience was unforgettable and I hope to have plenty more in the future!

What would you improve about this program?
One of the things that made the program difficult at times was the lack of structure. With that being said, Emerging Voices was going through some transition in team members and as the new team members continue to develop and mature the program will only get better.
Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Kevin, Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed review of your time in Cartagena - it's awesome to hear how much you enjoyed the program! Thanks for being such a dedicated and motivated volunteer. We hope to have you join us again soon! ^Clover - IVHQ Colombia Cartagena Program Manager

Default avatar
Phillipe
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Cartagena Colombia my Home away from Home.

Cartagena Colombia, who would have thought that this would have become the most life changing and epic experience I have ever had. I went with the intention of changing the world and Colombia changed me.

From the onset things seemed natural and flowed smoothly, Monica and her local are some the most awesome people I have ever met. They worked assiduously to ensure that we made the positive impact, that myself and fellow volunteers intended on leaving in Cartagena. Not only was this a high priority on their agenda, but also was our assimilation into the Emerging Voices and IVHQ family.

My first placement was at a rehab for at risk youth on the outskirts of Cartagena, where I thought football to both boys and girls. These kids went from total strangers to my brothers and sisters very quickly; they treated me with love and respect, all of which was facilitated by my coordinator Beto. Further to this, I also enjoyed a dance class where I learned both Salsa and Reggeaton choreography’s. This class was actually meant for the kids but I was allowed to join in, it was amazing. Thereafter, I thought basic English on the Grannitios project wow!!! this was so much fun. The kids on this project impacted my life in ways that they would never know, their willingness and excitement to learn was outstanding. They did not want me to leave but unknowingly to them neither did I. Looking back on it now I always refer to them as my kids remembering everyone of them by name. They gave me the most amazing thank you letter before I left.

Gardening in Grannitios was also epic, helping out the grandmas with their gardening which was facilitated by my passionate coordinator Jesus. Through doing this project I remember meeting a ten-year-old kid from Venezuela he so wanted to help us in the garden. However, we did not want him to get hurt. This young man even though he was not directly connected to any of the projects he made me reflect on my own life. Then it was the kids at Funvivir who were diagnosed with cancer, honestly, going in I was not sure what to expect but my coordinator Juan assisted me quite amply. These kids were so full life and joy even though they were diagnosed with cancer at no point did their love for life fade. They reminded me that life was meant to be enjoyed no matter what.

In good conscience, I cannot not, mention the salsa nights with my fellow volunteers. This was also quite a blockbuster experience, we thoroughly enjoyed each others company and interacting with the local people who are so amicable. I could continue to ramble on about this trip, from the beautiful streets of the walled city, to watching the sunset at Café Del Mar. However, one thing I would say is this is a must do trip, bucket list worthy type of trip. Hopefully, my review inspires you to do this.

In conclusion, I would end the same way I began, I went with the intention of changing the world and Colombia changed me.

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Phillipe, Thanks for taking the time to leave such a detailed review of your time in Cartagena - it sound like you had a truly life changing time! We hope to have you volunteer with us again soon!
Clover - IVHQ Colombia - Cartagena Program Manager

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Karen
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best experience..You will want to go back!

Let me start off by saying you will not regret this experience in Cartagena! If anything you will probably want to stay longer just like I did.

This experience definitely impacted and altered my world. It was one of a kind as it was really rewarding volunteering in different projects during the week, and having the opportunity to explore and learn about the city during the weekends.

The minute I arrived to the airport, Carlos our neighbor, was so generous and welcoming waiting to take us to the volunteer house. Soon after, I met Monica, Emerging Voices' director who was super helpful and kind. She makes you feel at home as soon as you get there and gives you information about important things you might want to know, as well as places you can visit. The house was spacious and simply beautiful. The staff and accommodations were great and soon after interacting with the other volunteers in the house, I felt like we were a family.

It was really nice of Monica to allow us to go to all the projects offered at the time for the first week, in order for us to pick which ones we wanted to stick to by the end of the week. I was able to do three different projects in one month which was amazing. I did childcare in the mornings Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and I taught an advance English class in the afternoons on Monday and Wednesday. I also worked with children who had cancer on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I fell in love with each project instantly and even more with the children I worked with. They were amazing and really impacted my life!

The social scene is ineradicable! You are able to explore the city, go dancing, have a few drinks, and meet and interact with other locals/foreigners. The best part is that if you get along with the other volunteers in the house, you will most likely be exploring with them and splitting costs in taxi rides! I suggest going to Tayrona Park which is Paradise. You can also take a tour bus which lets you learn so much about Cartagena. The beaches are amazing, and having a beach that is five minutes away from the house is a bonus! You will really create great experiences if you go with an open mind, and open heart and willingness to help others. You will also realize they will leave an impact in your life just like you leave an impact on their lives!

Response from International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Hi Karen, Wow! It’s so awesome that we were able to provide you with such an incredible and life changing volunteer abroad experience. It sounds like you got the most out of your volunteer trip because you had the right attitude going in to it; like you said an open mind, heart and a willingness to help others will go a long way. Thank for volunteering with IVHQ, we hope to see you on another of our programs again in the future.

About International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

IVHQ is the world’s most trusted and affordable volunteer abroad organization, offering the largest range of safe and impactful volunteer programs in 50+ destinations. Over 100,000 travelers have volunteered abroad with IVHQ over the past 12 years,...