Volunteer in Peru with Maximo Nivel - Best Rated Projects

Video and Photos

Volunteers and I
Volunteers and I
Ashley Doherty, Pre-Medical Volunteer
Ashley Doherty, Pre-Medical Volunteer
Cusco Salt Mines
Cusco Salt Mines
Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu
Jumping photo
Jumping photo
Team work
Team work
Construction crew
Construction crew
Dog shelter
Dog shelter

About

Peru is one of the world’s richest countries in terms of natural resources. However, its social development has not kept pace with its commercial development, and Peruvians still wrestle with illiteracy and basic social justice. Peru works hard at self-improvement, making it an ideal place for international volunteers to get involved, contribute to sustainable programs, and provide help to vulnerable populations. There is no shortage of things to get done in Peru and international volunteers can truly learn to serve here.

Maximo Nivel provides volunteer abroad projects at our institute in Cusco, Peru, both in and outside of the city center. Projects are also available off-site in the Sacred Valley (mountains), the Amazon region (rainforest), and Quillabamba (rainforest), some of which are rural areas and offer a more “off-the-grid” experience than the city of Cusco. Volunteers always have the opportunity to serve in both urban and rural communities.

Highlights
  • New volunteer programs start every Monday year-round
  • All-inclusive—shared accommodations, meals, and many extras
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • Academic credit available
  • All-inclusive program fees from $645

Travel Grants Available for a Limited Time!

Ready to work as an English teacher abroad? Register today for our award winning TEFL Certification in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru and apply for a special travel grant.

Popular Programs

Homelessness and poverty have left many children in Latin America without access to proper education and a loving environment. Maximo Nivel’s childcare projects aspire to change children’s lives by providing caring and nurturing volunteers to work, study, and play with them.

Speaking English is a life-changing skill for people in developing countries, because the language opens both academic and professional opportunities, and provides a path out of poverty.

Your work may be focused on reforestation, organic gardening, wildlife and animal monitoring, trail maintenance, and educational workshops for local communities.

Maximo Nivel’s construction programs focus on community development. Construction projects may include building or repairing homes, adding classrooms to schools, or making structural improvements to clinics.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

96%
based on 128 reviews
  • Impact 9.2
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.4
  • Value 9.2
  • Safety 9.4
  • Program Selection 10
  • Pre-departure Help 10
  • In-program Support 10
  • Impact on Student 10
  • Value 10
Showing 61 - 75 of 128
Default avatar
Gidalti
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great time

I really enjoyed this experience. From being with the other volunteers to working for the community. It's always great to travel to a new country, it's even better when you meet awesome people who share the same goal: to help while exploring. It was great to see the progress we were making in a much needed obgyn. The Peruvian culture is awesome, and it's landscape breathtaking. It was a very fun experience. The staff at Maximo were excellent. They were very helpful, "down to earth", and I appreciated them having activities to do after your placements. So there was always something to do. Would definitely do it again.

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

Construction Program with Maximo Nivel

From the moment I arrived in Cusco, I was lucky enough to meet the nicest people. I was a little nervous to go to another country alone to volunteer, but that quickly changed once I met the friendly and super helpful people at Maximo Nivel. I was greeted with a warm welcome by the staff who were eager to answer any questions I had. The wonderful people who work at Maximo not only became who we all could depend on, but they also became our friends.

Throughout my construction program, I had the pleasure of getting to know our Field Manager, named Dom, who would make frequent visits to the work site. He made sure that I was comfortable and happy with everything that I was doing in peru. I felt so lucky to have such an amazing person from Maximo to work with who was always so helpful and friendly!

Having an atmosphere that is so comfortable and positive, like the one at Maximo Nivel, makes all the difference in any situation. I came to Peru a bit nervous about what to expect, but when my final days in Cusco came, I did not want to leave. It felt like I was leaving my family!

Words cannot express how fantastic my time in Cusco was.  From the food to my host family, to all the amazing people I've met and the friendships I developed, my three weeks in Peru were ones that I will hold close to my heart.  I cannot thank Maximo Nivel enough for everything they have done for me.  I cannot wait to start my next adventure with them soon!

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

I Loved It!!

I absolutely loved Peru. I met some of the most amazing people while there. I have life-long friends because of this. The employees at Maximo Nivel are so caring and sweet. They are there to help. They took my friend to the hospital and got her stuff from our host family's house to help her out.
I did two projects while there. One was at a police station with youth that were either in trouble or ran away. We got to meet some pretty amazing kids that unfortunately went down the wrong path a little bit. We played games, learned some spanish, and even taught the kids some English!
The other project I took part in was at a women's shelter. While the mothers were learning skills, a few volunteers and I watched their children, helping them with school work and doing fun activities.

What would you improve about this program?
I think Maximo Nivel needs to establish stronger relationships with the community they are working with. A lot of places I volunteered at is more about quality and not quantity. This place seems to be a little different. They have tons of sites for everyone to go to, which is pretty amazing. The fact that they aren't as close with the sites means that volunteers working for the site get to establish a new, unique relationship, which is very unique in its own way. I do however feel that establishing stronger relationships with their networks and sites would allow them to be able to make an even bigger impact on the community.
Default avatar
Emily
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Lots of Fun

Let me start off by saying Cusco is an amazing place. There is so much culture and so many different activities to do there you will never be bored. The Maximo staff was extremely helpful and was always there if you had a question or just wanted to talk to someone. I also really enjoyed how they offered salsa classes, cooking classes and other activities to help you get to know other volunteers and to have fun. My living situation was also really nice and clean. We had one issue of not having hot water for about three days but we just talked to Maximo and they solved the problem for us. For volunteering, I volunteered at a childcare project called Juana de Aza. The kids here were super cute and the moms were really nice. Me and usually two other volunteers would watch the kids while the moms were down stairs cooking, doing laundry or other daily activities. My only recommendation would to not stay more than three weeks. I stayed for a month and had a great time but I was ready to go to another place after the second week. If I were to do it again I would stay in Cusco for two weeks and then travel to another country for the rest of my time. Overall I had an amazing time in Peru!

What would you improve about this program?
I think the program could do amazing things if they had plans and goals set up for each project. I completely understand that it is up to the volunteers to make the most out of the experience and to put in as much effort as possible, but most of the volunteers are young and honestly dont know what to do. If there was a plan to follow and a goal to strive for then all the volunteers would be on the same page. For example, in Juana de Aza there was absolutely no discipline for the kids. If there was a plan that all the volunteers and even the moms followed then the kids could learn structure and how to follow rules. If only one or two volunteers try to implement something like that they will get nowhere because as soon as they leave the kids will revert back to their old behavior.
Default avatar
Ana
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible!

I volunteered in Cusco, Peru for 3 weeks in the childcare project along with Maximo Nivel. I can without a doubt say that my time there was incredible! I appreciate that my placement was chosen according to my interests stated in my application because I was able to learn more than I expected! Everyone at Maximo was so nice and invested in helping you make the most of your time volunteering. Anytime I had a question or concern they were available to help. I wanted to start a fundraiser for the program I was working with and when I approached Maximo about it, they helped me every step of the way from creating the gofundme page to buying the donations! I highly recommend working with this organization!

Tracy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An Experience Second to None

I am a young professional working full time and I participated in the Holiday Experience Program with Maximo Nivel in December 2016. The organization has a team of very supportive and friendly staff, as well as many meaningful projects.

With the Holiday Experience Program, we went to a local school which is in the underprivileged area. There we built a roof, painted the wall, and played with the kids. In addition, we were brought to a hospital that's located at about an hour outside of the city. While we were there, we helped out with the health check up process, such as measuring blood pressure and heart rate, distributing medicine, preparing the patients for the doctors and dentists, etc. We were given lots of responsibilities and hands-on opportunities to interact with the local Peruvians, which has been one of the greatest experiences I had in Peru.

At Maximo, volunteers were also given the opportunity to take advantage of the affordable Spanish classes. The price I paid for a week course is not even 1/10th of what I would have been paying if I were to take the class in the U.S. The outcome of the course was also impressive! I had zero experience with Spanish before going into the course, and after that I was able to hold a basic conversation with a local person.

The host family that Maximo placed me at was also phenomenal. The host's name is Monica Pilares, and she is such a lovely Peruvian lady! Despite the fact that she spoke almost zero English, I was able to communicate with her through Google Translate and my Spanish class at Maximo. She treated me and other volunteers as part of her family and we spent a wonderful time together. If I were to go back to Peru one day, I'd make sure I visit Cusco and visit Monica and her family.

The staff members at Maximo all spoke fluent English (many of them are native English speakers) and Spanish, and were extremely warm and welcoming. They will help you with anything you need help with, from recommendations for places to eat and hang out, to breaking large bills and navigating to a bank. It made me want to become a part of the Maximo staff team by the time I left.

All in all, I would highly recommend Maximo Nivel to everyone, whether you want to volunteer in meaningful ways to assist the local community like I did, or simply would like to just experience a different culture and language. You won't regret the decision of going to Peru and doing it with Maximo Nivel.

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns as I'd love to share my experiences with you and give you my advises. Dream big and make your dream come true.

Good luck!

Tracy Cui
Cleveland, Ohio, USA

What would you improve about this program?
Find more host families that are younger and more dynamic
Dallas
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My week in the Peruvian Amazon

I did 3 weeks total of volunteering with Maximo and I was fortunate enough to spend a week in Tierra Linda in the Peruvian Amazon in January 2017. This week was my favorite part of the entire experience. Maximo arranges all your travel and provides you with a list with everything you need. I lived in a guest house in the jungle with the project manager who stays there year round. You live like a family there; you cook together, work together, clean together, and have fun together. You have no electricity , wifi, cell service and it was great. You don't even realize it when you're there the lack of modern conveniences because of the beauty of living simply. As far as volunteer work, you have to be flexible because the weather is unpredictable. In my short time there I replanted bananas trees in attempts to build an orchard, built a new path, cleaned all the tools, and did basic garden upkeep. My only regret is that I wasn't able to stay longer and work on longer term projects. If you're wanting to reconnect with nature, have some time away from the modern world, and volunteer in a beautiful place then you should do the jungle conservation program.

Default avatar
Lily
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Gap Year in Cusco

I spent three months in Cusco during my gap year volunteering at an after school program for children in a poor neighborhood. The establishment provided students ages 4-15 with help from teachers and access to computers with wifi. I went not knowing what to expect in terms of teaching English classes. It was hard to organize formal classes because children's main priority was finishing homework. This meant the classes had to be entertaining to capture their attention or sometimes they simply did not have time to devote to learning English. However I would help out in whatever capacity I could - lending a hand with English homework, reading with them, helping the staff with things that needed to be done around the building. All this to say that although I wasn't doing exactly what I had pictured I was still able to form connections with the children and to work with them in a meaningful way - something that was most valuable to me. I would definitely advise keeping an open mind, striving to be flexible and being active in offering to help in whatever capacity you can. If you are able to do that you will no doubt walk away with a meaningful experience to carry with you for the rest of your life.

What would you improve about this program?
More support in terms of English class curriculum and subjects to teach.
Default avatar
Jennifer
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Awesome Experience

I had so much fun in Peru volunteering in the Madre Teresa orphanage. I met wonderful people and felt so good about the work I did. I would go back in a heartbeat, and I hope to continue communicating with my friends that I made. I highly recommend Maximo Nivel as an organization, and the program coordinators there are truly amazing people who go out of their way to help in any way that they can! I got time to visit the sights and saw many wonderful places.

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

Volunteer Work at Local Orphanage in Cusco, Peru

I was nervous. I was out of my comfort zone. But that all dissipated once i stepped into the casita with the kids. They changed my life without me even knowing it was happening. I would like to say that I changed their life for the short time I was with them, but in all honesty, they helped to shape my experience into being one of the best experiences of my life. I thank them for their sweet smiles, their non-judgmental souls and their energy.

I participated with IVHQ for the first week in December (with no volunteer experience), I thrived in being in such a loving and energetic environment. Even though there was a language barrier, body language and positive energy played a huge part in breaking that and I connected with the kids. Whether it was helping them with their homework or teaching them "Pato, pato, ganso...", I felt alive. And I will forever be grateful for the children and the support and safe environment that IVHQ provided for me.

I will never forget this memory. I was sick as a dog one day...all day (stomach sick...), but I knew I had to go see the kids. I arrived. Pale, sick, no energy. I walked into the Casita, the children surrounded me. The sickness left my body as if I was healed. I ended up playing soccer, tag and pushing the kids on the swings that day..it was the most fun, beautiful day. To this day, I will never understand how I was instantly healed, but it happened...

I have never done something like this and I am grateful and will return soon. Words can not express the transformation that has occurred...whether it be the children..the Peruvian culture..the energy in Cusco...but I do know one thing is for sure. I will return.

If Cusco calls you and reaches your soul and you feel a desire to give back, please act on it and see where it takes you. You only have one life...appreciate the beauty of this magical place and the people. It will change you. I will be forever grateful for this change in me and for all that Cusco has shown me...GO!!!!!!!!!!! Let this journey take you....

Much love and gratitude,
Emily

What would you improve about this program?
N/A
Default avatar
Yijia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Four weeks in Cusco

I must recognize that I had a great month in Cusco, involving the volunteer program of English teaching. The children I work with were really impressed. They are kind, passionate and strong in their hard lives.

I will never forget those children were always proactive to clean the classroom after hard raining. I will never forget those little teasing smiles animated their faces, and always repeated what I was talking about in class. I will never forget when I taught them the English word "flower" and "soil", they made a sweet sentence: "I is flower, Yijia is soil. Flower gusto soil."

On my last day, a little girl asked me, "Yijia, can we play chaba on Christmas Day?"
"Oh... I won't be there on Christmas Day... "
"Porque!!!"

I couldn't control my tears at all at that very moment. Seriously.

What would you improve about this program?
if the price could be cheaper!!!!!
Default avatar
Jacques
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering in Childcare Maximo Nivel Peru

Volunteering with Maximo Nivel working in childcare was easily one of the highlights of my life.

My name is Jacques Touzeau, I am from Victoria, Australia and I am 22 years old. From May 2016 to mid August 2016 I worked with Maximo Nivel volunteering in childcare for 12 weeks. I worked at the Familia de la Policia (FdlP) which is a detention center for children who have either committed minor offenses, for children who have been abandoned or children who have run away from home. The FdlP is a temporary placement for children until the police can either find them an alternative placement (if they are homeless) or until their service time is up (if they have committed minor offenses).

The detention center where the children were held consisted of a few beds, a bathroom and the children were sometimes permitted to watch the TV. Other than that there was nothing and the children were not able to leave the detention cell. My job required me to be detained with these children and help them pass the time by playing games and giving them warmth and affection that they so desperately need. Maximo Nivel has a heap of games and activities in their storage system so it is very easy to find activities and games that the children will enjoy.

A lot of these children were forced to mature beyond their years due to their family and life circumstances. For this reason it is very easy for the children to form attachments to volunteers as they are not used to the kindness and generosity that we volunteers provide. This alone is one of the many reasons why volunteering in childcare is so rewarding.

In relation to the volunteer company Maximo Nivel they were the closest thing to perfect that is humanly possible. They help you when you need help. They provide ample opportunities and advice when you need it. They strive to accommodate the needs of their volunteers and they understand that even though we are volunteers we are still travelling and sometimes we want to take days off in order to visit certain attractions. The Maximo Nivel in Peru had free coffee and tea, free salsa lessons and free cooking lessons. They have an English speaking doctor if you need it as well. I got sick when I was over there and the doctor prescribed me with the right medication and I was as good as new.

To conclude this review. When I rated this program I literally gave everything a 10 (the highest mark) however this was not cliche. Maximo Nivel were incredible. Nothing is perfect however the help and opportunities that Maximo Nivel provide and the overall experience they help you create is the closest thing to perfection in my eyes. I am back home in Australia now and I am currently applying to work as a Child Protection Practitioner. My supervisor at Maximo wrote me a lovely recommendation letter and is one of my references on my resume. The volunteering I did helped me mature and develop exponentially. If I get a job my plan is to save as much money as I can and volunteer with Maximo Nivel again in a different country.

Maximo Nivel Cusco Peru provided me with the best experience of my life so far. For that I am forever grateful to them. If you are thinking about volunteering with Maximo DO IT. Hands down the best decision of my life. I got to travel, party, eat new and beautiful foods, experience an enriching culture, make friends from all over the world and enjoy one of the most rewarding volunteering experiences that life has to offer.

The photo attached is of me and one of the niñas (girls) at the FdlP detention center. She was an absolute angel and so kind.

What would you improve about this program?
n/a
Default avatar
Indiana
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

T.E.F.L. in Peru (Totally Enjoyed Flying Llamas)

In the past, I had volunteered with Maximo Nivel in Costa Rica. This was about a year ago and I really enjoyed it. And recently I saw they had an institution in Peru and decided to do the TEFL (teach English foreign language) program in Cusco. The course itself goes on for 4 weeks and is a 150 hour intensive course. And although the course can be at times a lot of prepping and work, it is totally worth it and a great experience! The TEFL course in Peru has been one of my favorite parts about this trip. I went in November (off-season) and as such my class size was quite small (only 6). All of the classmates and I connected instantly and we all got along during the course of the course. But it's not just my classmates that I enjoyed, but our instructors for the course and the Maximo Nivel staff. Everyone at this school is very personable and a joy to be around. Our TEFL instructor was very thorough and knowledgeable about the subject and was very helpful throughout the process. She makes teaching English fun and explains the art of "explaining" English to learners. Everyday had something new in concept and theory to teaching English, as well as some fun activities incorporated into the class. There was quite a bit of practical teaching as well. Every week you'll be teaching in front of actual learners and gradually build up to the final week (5 - 1 hour lessons for each day of the week). Be prepared to work though! The course is enjoyable but they will emphasize that it is not a vacation. There will be a lot of work at times, so be prepared for that (particularly the final 2 weeks). Overall though if you are interested in teaching English don't pass up this course! It's very valuable to have practical experience and everyone at Maximo Nivel is wonderful!

What would you improve about this program?
Incorporate automatic bacon serving robots for the students. It's the bacon that keeps me going man.
Default avatar
Jake
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Jungle Review

Expect Thoreau at Walden Pond, except a guy named Pablo living in the Peruvian jungle. The lodge is as much about conservation as it is about living humbly and appreciating the tranquility of nature. Pablo decided to live where he does to help heal the forest and to live freely, at an arms distance from our contrived society. He also chose the specific location because the altitude is not muggy or buggy and its above the towns so the river is prestine. He's at peace there, as was I. After six weeks I felt mellow and perfectly content in silence, reading and self reflecting. Almost to a flaw because more people came the last two weeks and I had noticeably lost some social skills, but they also dislodged my introverted inertia which I think was healthy for me at the time. The best experience there, or anywhere, is a happy medium of engagement with society and detatchment from it.

The answer to every question imaginable in the jungle is "whatever you want." Or wherever, whenever, and however. Expect total freedom and lack of structure based on the shared understanding that when people have the right to do what they want, they want to do what is right. Whether that be help cook, work purposefully, do the dishes, swim in the river or anything else that may be happening. It all runs smoothly. No need to ask questions about what the plan is for today because nobody knows until it happens...a sort of functional chaotic order. You might go to the town or work or nap or read all depending on the circumstances but Pablo doesn't make plans and pretty quick you'll lose track of the date and the time, living in rhythm with the sun.

Everything I could say about logistics and what not you would find out soon enough upon arrival and find yourself perfectly comfortable with it. Only truly required thing to know ahead of time is bring peanut butter. Or any kind of breakfast spread would be greatly appreciated by all. Of everything I'm writing that's by far the most objectively valid statement I can make about Tierra Linda: bring peanut butter.
...and plenty of reading materials for bedtime and the midday siesta when its too hot to work(Btw Pablo would appreciate any books in Spanish-he ran out a while ago). In terms of any gifts or bring-and-leave-behind type stuff: infinite books, any foods from the city, a portable hammock would be cool, and Risk would be perfect for rainy days if someone could come through. There's plenty more I want to say, but words don't do it justice. Some experiences are better had than told.

Oh yea, effectively limitless bananas.

What would you improve about this program?
Find more sustainible ways of handling logistical problems, for example requesting that all volunteers bring as much trash with them back to Cusco as they can because aas is it has to be burned.
Default avatar
Rachael
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A life changing, eye opening, and fully engaging experience

As a first time international traveller, I could not have chosen a safer program than with Maximo Nivel. I truly felt supported by the staff during the 6 weeks I spent in Peru, and quickly established a connection to them and my host family. I volunteered with the Special Needs program, and while there were moments that were emotionally straining, I found many opportunities to engage with the residents and grew close bonds during my time there. I also practiced my Spanish, and worked through their tutoring program with an amazing instructor. There are plenty of opportunities to explore Cusco, and the staff can give advice or information when you feel concerned or unsure.
I strongly suggest this program, and if you are like me and have never travelled abroad by yourself before, the Peru program is a great place to start. Thanks to the wonderful staff and program, I will be returning to Peru and work with Maximo Nivel again in the future. For the price, you get every pennies worth, and many stories to tell for the rest of your life.