Volunteer Abroad Programs -- Costa Rica | Guatemala | Peru

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About

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:

Impact

Questions & Answers

Hi, great question! We recommend looking at testimonials and reviews from past participants to get a feel for the program experience. This link has tons of info on what to expect during your time abroad and links to user reviews: https://maximonivel.com/volunteers/what-to-expect/ .
It's easy to register for our programs! If you are ready to sign up, please fill out the registration form in https://maximonivel.com/registration/ . If you have questions about any of the programs, you can contact our Program Advisors using the form in https://maximonivel.com/contact-us/ , who will be happy to help! Maximo Nivel is one of the least expensive international program providers, and...

Reviews

95%
based on 36 reviews
  • Impact 9
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9.1
  • Value 9.4
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 1 - 15 of 36
Tara
10/10

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.
Yes, I recommend
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Kristin
10/10

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!

Yes, I recommend
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Katherine
10/10

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.

Yes, I recommend
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Eli
10/10

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.
Yes, I recommend
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Nicole
9/10

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!
Yes, I recommend
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Nick
10/10

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.
Yes, I recommend
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Larissa
7/10

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.
Yes, I recommend
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Anne
10/10

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.
Yes, I recommend
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YP
9/10

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.
Yes, I recommend
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Chelsea
9/10

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.
Yes, I recommend
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Samuel
9/10

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
Yes, I recommend
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Claire-Marine
10/10

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!
Yes, I recommend
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Esther
10/10

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.
Yes, I recommend
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kleavitt
9/10

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
Yes, I recommend
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Steven
10/10

Experience

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.
Yes, I recommend

About Maximo Nivel

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...