Volunteer Abroad Programs—Costa Rica | Guatemala | Peru
95% Rating
(36 Reviews)

Volunteer Abroad Programs—Costa Rica | Guatemala | Peru

Maximo Nivel is a locally based organization in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Volunteer abroad—get involved, make an impact, and learn to serve by working at local projects.

Since 2003, Maximo Nivel has been a leader in educational travel and study abroad. We are a professional, ethical, and hard-working organization that is completely dedicated to providing a great experience to every participant, student, traveler, and client!.

In your volunteer abroad program at Maximo Nivel:
- Field Managers work side-by-side with volunteers to ensure integration at project sites.
- Great home-base facilities, open 7 days/week, including holidays.
- Special add-on programs: Surf School, Scuba Certification, Yoga Certification, and more
- Earn university credit via our School of Record: California State University-Monterey Bay

Here are some of our popular volunteer abroad projects:

South America » Peru » Cusco
South America » Peru
North America » Guatemala » Antigua
North America » Guatemala
North America » Costa Rica » San José
North America » Costa Rica
1-2 Weeks
2-4 Weeks
1-3 Months
3-6 Months
6-12 Months
Host Family
Starting Price
Price Details
Along with Maximo’s professional program management, multi-lingual team, and great 24/7 support, our volunteer abroad programs include:
- Airport pick-up
- Host family accommodations (shared room)
- Breakfast and dinner, 7 days/week
– 3-4 hours/day volunteer work
– Program and safety orientation
– Walking tour
– Official certificate of volunteer service
– Letter of recommendation
– Free Tandem Conversation Program
– Free office-wide WiFi and computer lounge
– Free Salsa dance classes
– Free cooking classes
– Free coffee and tea and on-site snack bar
– Institute is open 7 days/week
– Emergency contact number 24/7
– Program management
Other Locations
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Impact
  • Support
  • Fun
  • Value
  • Safety

Program Reviews (36)


Bebitos Childcare Program- LOVED it!


Hi everyone,
So awesome you are interested in volunteering and leaving an impact in a new and different place. I had very little expectations when I signed on and really just decided to jump in with the best of intentions explore and have fun. Certainly that mentality helped and wow did I ever learn a lot about Costa Rica and myself.

I was at a daycare and although I have very minimal Spanish language skills it worked out great! If you have no Spanish language try Duolingo for a few weeks before going for the basics. The kids did not care- high fives, hugs and a whole lot of play went a long way. The staff was so friendly, engaged and really helped us set up activities for the kids. Sometimes I would translate things in wifi areas and take a screen shot to them so they could explain.

My host family and accommodation was great too. They are so inviting and warm. You can tell they really do it for the love of their country and unifying people.

The staff of Maximo were amazing as well. Thank you to all of you for your support. My luggage was 4 days late arriving and they were on the phones, calming me down and then some. Their smiling faces really made my day.

My advice to all future volunteers is go for it! Jump in! Any and all things you do make a difference. For example, one day at the daycare it was overwhelming and the kids were fighting over the pencil crayons. I noticed that most were so dull too so they really couldn't use them effectively. Jump in time- sharpened ALL (I got a huge blister) the pencil crayons. Was it a huge deal- NO but the teachers didn`t have to do it, they could plan lessons and help the kids in Spanish, etc.

How can this program be improved?

Although we are given a list of items that we could bring to donate to the programs it would be nice to have advance warning of the types of lessons or activities we could be planning so that we could bring materials from our home countries. I brought stickers, pipe cleaners etc but in hindsight nothing created a full craft so we went out and bought some stuff there.

26 years old
Washington, DC

Building a Kindergarten in Cusco


I spent 3 months with Maximo Nivel building a kindergarten in an impoverished area of Cusco. Starting upon arrival to the airport, it was all a wonderful experience. They were waiting for me at the airport as soon as my flight arrived with a packet of information. They drove me to the Maximo Nivel office where I saw the space and met some of the staff, and then took me to the lodging they had arranged for me. I was staying in a great modern house with other volunteers, and a delicious breakfast and dinner was provided every day! I am a vegetarian and they always made sure to prepare me something special that still filled me up (something that doesn't always happen, especially in South America where being a vegetarian isn't all that common). My second day in town I had an orientation where they gave me useful information on the city, and prepared me to start at my project the next day.

The project itself was very well organized, and run by Maximo Nivel's foreman Marco, a local Cusquenan. Marco doesn't speak much English, but he is very friendly and able to communicate what is needed- and I learned a lot of Spanish from him! I got the opportunity to be involved in all types of the construction, from laying bricks to mixing cement to making the ceiling, and got to see the differentkinds of building techniques that they have in Cusco. We also had the opportunity to visit some of Maximo Nivel's other volunteer sites to help with repairs (such as fixing the roof of a school) and upkeep (such as painting the bedrooms at an orphanage).

In addition to volunteering with Maximo, I also took spanish classes, and participated in their free weekly salsa classes. All the classes were well organized, and taught me a lot!

Through my participation with Maximo Nivel I have had an unforgettable experience, made life long friends, and created a second home for myself in Cusco. I cannot recommend their programs enough!

37 years old
Miami Beach, Florida

Fantastic Volunteer Time Off with my Work Colleagues


In October, 2015 I volunteered with 7 other members of my company in Cusco. We participated in an after school program for underprivileged children in the mountains outside of the city. They did a great job with orientation, preparing us the experience, and making sure we were comfortable and taking full advantage of all the various opportunities (including learning Spanish) along the way.

At the end of the week, they put together all the plans and tickets for us to go to Machu Picchu, where we also climbed Huayna Picchu mountain, which has limited tickets available. It was a smooth and awesome end to the trip.

The professionalism and effort the staff took was immense and resulted in a fantastic volunteer experience that I will carry with me the rest of my life. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in taking advantage of it.

57 years old
Queensland University of Technology

Great experience


I chose teaching English in Cusco to experience cultural immersion which ordinary travel usually doesn't provide. I also wanted to be part of a global community which raises awareness about the unconscionable divide between rich and poor and which works to remedy this situation. All of our contributions may be small drops in the ocean of change required to make the world a fairer and just place to reside but every drop counts. I loved the students and thought the support provided by Maximo Nivel was outstanding.

How can this program be improved?

Teaching English materials should be culturally sensitive and appropriate. I downloaded material about Peruvian history which the students responded to very positively. I hope the materials I provided can be used by others. Advice about making resources culturally sensitive eg even using Peruvian or Spanish names would be useful for prospective teachers in the future.

home stay food could be greatly improved for vegetarians and those who have to work at night. I had to fend for myself food wise for the whole time I was on the program. B'fasts were mostly of a good standard but no dinners whilst I was teaching was not helpful. I had about 5 good meals, usually lunch, during my stay.

home stay hygiene could also be greatly improved. No new towel was provided for 3 weeks! not sure if bed sheets were changed either but as I wore pyjamas this wasn't a major problem but the towel situation was appalling. 24 hr external laundry cycle meant the towel couldn't be washed. I had to get another towel to make do.

24 years old
Hanover, IN
Hanover College

Great Experience!


I have visited all three of Maximo Nivel's international sites and I can honestly say that they are one of the best companies that you can choose! They have absolutely wonderful staff and were extremely helpful with everything that we could possible need. All of the host families that I have ever stayed with were incredibly welcoming and nice. They definitely do everything they can to make sure that we have the best experience abroad.

How can this program be improved?

If I had to change one thing, I would probably change the pricing. It can get pretty expensive if you wish to take Spanish classes, work construction and go on a separate adventure. For college kids- this can really add up!

24 years old
Notre Dame, Indiana
University of Notre Dame

Have fun abroad and have an impact!


I usually don't fill out reviews, but I felt like I needed to for this one. After 15 days with Maximo Nivel, I feel like I am good friends with every one of their employees. This is a well organized, safe, and very social organization that will cater to the needs and desires of anyone looking to go abroad. Never before have I felt such a great mixture of community impact and vacation-like good times. You need to try out Maximo Nivel!

How can this program be improved?

Can't think of anything.

24 years old
Oakland, California
Carleton College

Medical Placement in Umasbamba


I spent two weeks volunteering at Manco Capac in Cuzco and then five weeks in Umasbamba, a rural community just outside of Chinchero. When I first asked to make the switch into the rural community, Maximo bent over backwards helping me make a Medical Placement there happen. The support from the in country staff was unbelievable throughout my two months in country and I definitely felt pampered.

How can this program be improved?

My biggest criticism is that as a pre-med student, seven weeks with Medical Placement felt a bit long. Although I have a solid foundation with Spanish, I felt that I could not do much in the clinic environment and that after a few weeks, I began to worry that my presence was bothersome. I may have benefited from asking Maximo if there was a medical campaign or different clinic that I could become involved with.

24 years old
Eugene Oregon
University of Oregon

Unforgettable Experience


I came to Guatemala very excited but very nervous, it was my first experience traveling outside of the United States and I had no idea what to expect. Although there were of course some hard moments and struggles it was the best time of my life. There were days when I just wanted to be home, missing family and friends or feeling overwhelmed by being in a new place where things were so different.Those aspects are part of the experience and I really wouldn't change anything about my time there. I loved getting to know a new culture and language while volunteering . I met so many amazing interesting people, and I truly learned a lot, just being immersed in such a different culture, you are forced to step outside of yourself and look at things in a new way and that is just what I wanted. Maximo was a great venue for me to do what I wanted to do.

I loved my placement, I was doing construction and renovation. I was in Antigua for 10 weeks and was able to participate in three different projects. The work was sometimes challenging, I would get frustrated with myself when I could't do something very well. Then I had to remind myself that I had never done the work before , and was learning, and helping people and all I could do was my best. It was amazing to work and be able to see what we had done as a group. It was also awesome to be able to step into the world of the people who lived/ worked at the projects were we where working and interact with those people a bit. I really liked that part.

I loved my life during those ten weeks, I was in a home stay with an incredible warm friendly family, who cooked delicious food every day, three times a day. I had the chance to disconnect from my life at home, slow down and be in the moment with all of these new things. I loved the schedule I was on. I would wake up to an amazing breakfast, I always had other volunteers in the house to enjoy the meals with. Then I would head of to work on the chicken bus which I loved so much. It was such a fun way of traveling around the city. The work was tiring, fun, hard and awesome. By the time lunch came around I was so excited to eat. Lunch is the most important meal there, and in my opinion the best. After lunch I enjoyed relaxing a little, walking around town, to the market, the park, It was great to just enjoy the city. I had class from 4 to 6 pm.Coming to Maximo in the Afternoon was great, it was like home base. you could always connect with other volunteers, use the computers, study in the beautiful courtyard. I felt very lucky to have the chance to work on my spanish, the more spansih you know the more fun your experience will be. You can connect with the people and learn more about the culture, it's fun and exciting! I was able to practice a good amount of spanish during my placement with our director/ foreman, and of course in the home stay. One of the most challenging parts was the language barrier. You are forced to make yourself try, it is scary sometimes. My host family was so patient and spoke slowly. I was absolutely intimidated sometimes, and often If I was feeling tired or down it was exhausting to try and speak Spanish.
My evenings were spent either relaxing, reading/ studying or going out with friends, there is great night life and tons to do in Antigua!

This program is an excellent way to travel, experience a new culture, volunteer and practice spanish, while having a good amount of free time to really enjoy the place you are visiting. I felt very supported the entire time, if you ever need anything the Maximo team will do their best to really help you out.

I am so happy I chose this program and came to Antigua. It opened up my mind and got me excited to do more volunteer work and travel more as well!!!

How can this program be improved?

The only critical feedback I have is that I think it would have been nice to know where I was staying before I got there. I was pretty anxious about that, It would have made me more relaxed to know that detail.

The only other thing I didn't like was that there wasn't the option to double up on volunteer placements for no extra charge. I think it would be amazing if there was the option to work two shift in a day for people that wanted. It could be a great way to make more of a differeence with some of the projects that could really use the help.

24 years old
New York, NY

Best Spring Break Trip


I wanted to do something different since it was my last college spring break and Antigua was the perfect choice.

You wake up every morning to a hearty breakfast before you get on a "chicken bus" to get to your placement. I worked at a day care for kids aged 1-5 years old in the outskirts of Antigua.

The kids are adorable and the best part is you actually have a chance to make a meaningful impact. From helping them brush their teeth to feeding them, you are given a lot of responsibility. On our last day, we even had a splash day with the kids.

The city of Antigua itself is a beautiful place. Good nightlife, everything is cheap and there's a lot to explore. I lived in a volunteer house with about 10 other volunteers so it was nice to have a community of individuals that were from diverse backgrounds.

How can this program be improved?

The travel agency that they're partnered with really needs to be changed; unreliable and unprofessional.

24 years old
Madison, WI
University of Wisconsin- Madison

Maximo Nivel-Cusco


I participated in a medical campaign, placement in a clinic, and placement in a physical therapy setting. The medical campaign was great to get lots of experience quickly and impact HUNDREDS of patients in a day. The clinics were good for shadowing but I did not feel that my help was needed much. Intermediate-advanced Spanish is probably best in clinics. The physical therapy placement was eye-opening and I definitely felt that my help was both needed and appreciated.

How can this program be improved?

There should be a predetermined list of volunteer tasks set with clinics as far as what volunteers can do, keeping in mind their Spanish speaking abilities and healthcare experience.

24 years old
Buena Vista, Virginia

Maximo Nivel-Peru


It was Great!!! WE learned a lot while in Peru about the Culture and Spanish. I took a Peruvian culture class and a grammar class. I learned a lot!!! Week end trips are soooo much fun!

How can this program be improved?

Better communications with the Travel Agency

24 years old
Montreal, Canada
McGill University

Amazing experience!


These past four weeks with Maximo have been amazing! They are very supportive, friendly and are always ready to help. Their office is open everyday and the computer lab is accessible to all volunteers. I took spanish lessons for 2 weeks and my teacher was great! All spanish teachers (that I know of) are locals and very friendly. I taught english at an elementary school in the mornings, which allowed me to walk around Antigua (where I was staying and volunteering) and explore Guatemala during the afternoons and weekends. There are beautiful things to see in Guatemala, but also a lot to do in Antigua!

A regular day during the week for me was: waking up around 6:45 and eating breakfast with other volunteers I was staying with, walking to school and teaching pre-k and grades 3 to 6, going back home to eat around 12:45, take some time to explore Antigua and go to Spanish class.

I highly recommend Maximo to anyone! Have fun!

How can this program be improved?

I would have liked to know the details of my housing before arriving to Guatemala. But my host familly was great!

24 years old
Lancaster, PA

Lovin' Life


Every beautiful morning here in Antigua, Guatemala I wake up around 6:45 to a hearty breakfast made by my volunteer house's cook. Then, off to placement! My placement was my safe haven. A school nestled high in the mountains is where I was an assistant English teacher for grades 1st through 3rd for two months. The kids were so well behaved and taught me so much! I had no idea what I could learn about myself in two months but i can assure you I exceeded all of my expectations. Maximo Nivel was such a help to my self discovery. It was a place to learn spanish, plan excursions, book shuttles, use wifi and make friends. I lived in a volunteer house called Casa Shekina, with anywhere from 10 to 24 other volunteers (depending on the week). Three meals a day were provided for me by our house cook, and beds were changed and made once a week by our house keeper. I never had any complaints when it came to my home stay or placement! Antigua is beautiful! There is so much to do and so much to see. Restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and boutiques line the streets. The town's famous artisan market is a great place to shop for handmade Guatemalan souvenirs and bargain your prices as low as possible! Keeping busy here was not a problem. My experience in Antigua, Guatemala has been unmatched. I can't wait to come back again!

How can this program be improved?

I have heard complaints about people who have asked to be placed in a host family who were placed in a volunteer house, and, people who asked to be placed with other volunteers who were placed alone in a host family. I think I would try to tailor to the initially needs of the volunteers before they arrive as to avoid the stress of switching things around later.

24 years old
University of Calgary

An amazing experience!


During the mornings I took Spanish at Maximo Nivel. I would suggest taking classes, it makes it easier to communicate with people on your project and in the community. In the afternoons I went to Proyecto Genesis, an after school project. There we taugh english, basic spanish, computers, hygiene, helped with homework, and played games or soccer with the kids. Although it was difficult for me to communicate with the kids and the program director, they make every effort to accomodate you, and you learn to work with one another. The kids and Ricardo (program director) were amazing and it was very difficult to leave them! For me the hardest thing was communication, and feeling like I wasn't make a big enough impact. I came to realize though that it is a process and change doesn't happen over night. Every little bit adds up and is important.

How can this program be improved?

More specific tasks on the project in order to maintain consistency

24 years old
Ottawa, Ontario
Carleton University



Overall it was a great experience. Each day involved a good mix of fast-paced continuous work and relaxation time. At the school I was able to participate a lot with various significant teaching tasks. The Maximo Nivel staff ensures you are well informed regarding anything you may encounter on your trip and genuinely cares about your time with them. Highlights were the amazing people I met along the way and the numerous excursions. The biggest difficulty was the language barrier not knowing the native language, however there is usually always someone around to translate.

How can this program be improved?

To have someone who speaks english pick you up from the airport, to ensure as a new arrival you are aware of what/where you are going to be doing that day/night.

24 years old
San Francisco, California
University of San Francisco

Life Changer


First and foremost, I want to say this:
If you are considering this program, do it. Just do it.

Before my trip to Guatemala, I was in a slight state of confusion. I had just taken a leave of absence from my university with little to no idea of what my next moves would be. I decided I needed a change of scenery, but not just any change of scenery - I wanted to do something where I could both benefit somebody else and myself. I could not be more grateful that I ended up in Antigua, Guatemala volunteering with Maximo Nivel.

I spent two weeks in Guatemala working with the most intelligent, creative, and loving children I've ever come across in my life. I was placed at an after school program called Mi Escuelita in a very poor town just outside of Antigua. I've had several volunteer experiences in the last few years tutoring and mentoring kids in low income areas. All of those experiences combined could not amount to the experience I had at Mi Escuelita in terms of impact; an impact you feel, the people you work with feel, and the results of which you see. It was hands down the most beautiful experience I've ever had in my life.

The education system in Guatemala is, to say the very least, flawed. Education is free up through 6th grade, which is a strong factor in why many kids drop out long before then. Another reason the drop out rate is so high is due to the fact that many of the children's parents are illiterate and therefore there is no academic support in the home. There is no motivation, no stimulation for these young beautiful minds to experience. Additionally, many kids have alcoholic parents (which is often times accompanied by a broad spectrum of abuse) and their immense potentials are even further suppressed.

When I say that the kids I met at Mi Escuelita have immense potential, I mean it with every cell in my being. They are unbelievably intelligent, quick, eager to learn, beautifully creative, and the most loving and warm little human beings I have ever come across. The kids thanked the other volunteers and I over and over before we left, but they have no idea what they did for me: they woke me up.

In a developed country like the US (where I live), materials are so available that we often don't think of what it would be like if they weren't so available. In a less developed place like Guatemala, things as simple as pencils, notebooks, and crayons are scarce. I could write a novel about my experience in Guatemala, but what stayed with me the most was the fact that the kids I encountered have so little, yet are so incredibly happy. If they lost their soccer ball over the fence, they would find a soda bottle on the street to kick around. There were no complaints, no tears, no shouts - nothing but their lovely smiles. In a nutshell, they had the energy and playfulness of children, but the maturity of a full grown adult. Most of these kids have been forced to assume adult-like responsibilities from a young age: working with their parents to earn some money and tending to younger siblings are just a couple of examples.

I know I left an impact on these kids because they would not let me forget it. They were so grateful and so happy that the other volunteers and I were there. The impact they left on me was a million times greater. After getting to know the kids as individuals, as a group, and witnessing their potentials, it is so sad to me that they are not stimulated. They are not given the chance to excel and succeed. Such a simple concept, yet so far from being implemented in the Guatemalan education system. They want to learn, they want to be able to speak English, they want to be something, they want to do good, they want to be happy, and they want to love.

The experience I had in Guatemala was one I will never forget and it was one that left me wanting more. It made me want to continue this journey of improving, both myself and others. I have been back home for one day and cannot get these kids out of my mind. I still feel their warm embraces and can still so vividly see their wide and bright smiles. Although I was only there for 2 weeks, there will forever be a mark embedded in my heart, soul, and mind.

How can this program be improved?

Not a damn thing.

42 years old
Redlands, CA
Loma Linda University

A Terrific Experience overall!


I have only good things to say about Maximo Nivel, who I accidently discovered through GlobalVolunteerNetwork.com. After 2.5 weeks in their Antigua, Guatemala spanish classes, and 2 weeks in the volunteer program to work with children, I have had a wonderful experience learning more of this second language, and felt useful to the childrens' program. In a very "User-friendly" environment, and with well-organized, friendly, and helpful staff, I have had much success in learning as much as possible during my time here. In addition, the different volunteer programs that I have heard of, as well as the one that I was involved in, seem to be as well organized as possible, and once again, friendly staff walked me through the first day and provided resources and ideas throughout the rest of my volunteer time.

Centrally located in Antigua, with plenty of resources just around each corner, Maximo Nivel maintains an extensive schedule of group and private lessons, as well as tandem learning programs with native Guatemalan Spanish -speakers, and lots of extracurricular activities to encourage interaction with other native speakers and other students as well. The classes are small and manageable, and the teachers make the learning interesting and fun, and applicable to our daily activities with constant conversations and dialogue. I believe that my homestay is truly special with a family that has welcomed me and invited me to participate in family activities and meals. And everything has gone precisely according to the scheduling at Maximo Nivel! I appreciate the structure and the employees ability to maintain it! I am planning to travel to Cusco, Peru next year to enroll in more Spanish classes with Maximo Nivel, and to participate in another volunteer program. This was truly a trip of a lifetime for me!

How can this program be improved?

A little bit more specific information on what is expected of us in the volunteer program, and feedback regarding how well we are doing or ideas for improvement.

42 years old
La Coruña, Spain

Great experience. Totally recommended


I had a great experience at my program "Rosa de Amor" teaching English. I was on my own in the class so I had the opportunity to get to know all the girls in the orphanage. I had all support from Maximo and Guinness travel when I decide to organized an excursion to the zoo with some of the kids.

How can this program be improved?

Two weeks was too short for me. If you have the opportunity stay at least for a month.

32 years old
Greenville, North Carolina
East Carolina University

Practical Medical Experience


I had the opportunity to work in a free clinic in a small town. It was the perfect experience for me to practice my Spanish with patients. I was able to triage all the patients prior to seeing the doctor, including taking brief histories and physicals. Following, I would join the doctor during her visits. We would work together to make an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan. She was very helpful in pointing out interesting physical findings and explaining cultural differences in both lifestyle and medicine. I also had the opportunity to work in the pharmacy and vaccination clinic. Working in the pharmacy was a great time for me to learn about the different medications available, appropriate dosing, and common side effects. It was also great practice giving consultations to patients about appropriate use of medications.

How can this program be improved?

It would have been helpful to have more of an introduction with the clinic site so the staff was aware of my background and capabilities.

32 years old
San Diego, California

Life Changing Experience


It is amazing how one week can change your life forever. However, for me, it happened in one second. When I walked through the gates on day 1 and witnessed 3 young children SPRINTING into the arms of some young twenty-something, with the biggest smile I had ever seen, I was changed. They were running towards me. How important and big does this make one small person feel? The emotions running through my body in that one minute are indescribable.

I am home now, but that lightening bolt is still charged. I am applying to graduate schools-- I thought I would never want to go back to school. I am a already signed up for my next mission trip. I am going to help make this world a better place. I want to spread this electric feel-- this life changing experience has got me changing lives.

How can this program be improved?

I did not think pairing with Guiness travel agency helped the face of Maximo. I think their business strategy is less than satisfactory. I ended up using another agency to book my travel after experiencing some disturbing no-shows and hearing unfortunate stories from others in my program.

About The Provider


Máximo Nivel (Maximum Level)—The Intercultural Center of Latin America

Máximo Nivel is a family-owned, social enterprise founded in 2003. Our three intercultural centers are locally-based organizations focused on international education and cross-cultural experiences. Our programs include: Volunteer Abroad, International Internships, TEFL Certification, and Spanish Language