Free (or Cheap) Volunteer Work in Bolivia
With food and accommodation so cheap in Bolivia adding a sense of purpose to your travels can be the greater motivation for volunteering here than merely saving money.
Grassroots Volunteering in Bolivia
The organisations listed below have either got in touch with us to add their details to this or another of our websites, or we otherwise have reason to believe they are actively looking for international volunteers and charge reasonable or no fees to join in, live and work with them:
Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi
Who wouldn’t want to take a wild cat for a walk and work with monkeys? Parents can take their children too – the kids can help with the birds and turtles. If you wear glasses, take a spare pair as some of the monkeys like to play with them. A very popular animal sanctuary, CIWY now run three refuges. With less infrastructure at the newer sactuaries the work can include construction tasks. Minimum stay is 14 days, though working with felines and certain monkey groups requires a minimum of 29 days..
Where: One of three refuges in Cochabamba, Santa Cruz and north of La Paz.
Accommodation & Costs: Meals and basic accommodation is included in the fees, which vary at each park and by time committed. Think £12 to £15 per day and you’ll be about right.
Volunteers assist local guide with taking tourist on treks. When not hiking tasks include: promotion, teaching English to the guides, exploring new routes, translation, equipment maintenance, trip preparation, activities with the children from the projects they support and whatever new ideas you wish to introduce. Guiding and tourism experience is desirable but not required but basic Spanish is needed to communicate with the Bolivian guide.
Accommodation & Costs: Volunteers must pay their own way and for their first trek (around $72), and must find their own accommodation. A rented room in a shared house starts at around $90 to $150 per month. Whilst hiking, all costs are covered by Condortrekkers, including vegetarian/vegan meals.
Hostel Work Exchanges
Wild Rover are most active in Peru but they have a hostel in La Paz too where, a few years ago, they had foreigners working there who all seemed to be Irish – or putting on the accent. Some of their more recent TripAdvisor reviews are written by guests that went on to volunteer and seemed to have a great time – presumably including the two volunteers having noisy sex in the bunk below one guest. Try Loki Hostels too.
Other Opportunities to Volunteer in Bolivia
Many Spanish language schools are happy to pass on their foreign students to local organisations in need of a volunter or two. Some will act like a voluntourism company and charge a fee but many won’t. Sucre Spanish School have links with two schools where the kids get help from volunteers with their homework or keeping them busy with other activities. Megusta, in the same city, also offer volunteering.
Help Exchange Networks in Bolivia
Volunteer Latin America – https://www.volunteerlatinamerica.com/volunteer-abroad/bolivia
Workaway – https://www.workaway.info/hostlist-BO.html
Hovos – https://www.hovos.com/host/South-America/Bolivia/
Other Ways to Travel or Stay for Free in Bolivia
Stay for free in return for caring for local residents’ homes or pets. Join Trusted Housesitters to live rent free as a house sitter (Americans may prefer this link). You can also get a free Airbnb credit from us here.
Wild Times with Balu: Volunteering at ‘Inti Wara Yassi’ Wildlife Preserve in Bolivia – It is neither too hot nor too cold for Andrew and the one bear.
How to Walk a Bear – Before you slip into your rubber boots and plunge head first into the jungle to walk your first bear, perhaps it might be best to check out Andrew’s survival tips.
Volunteering Abroad Near Sucre, Bolivia: A Rural Adventure – One of most important skills Steph Dyson has learned while being abroad is how to deal with any situation without panicking. This came in handy when she was placed in front of a year 7 biology class in Bolivia.
Tigres Jungle Bootcamp – While volunteering in Bolivia with Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi, Chelsea develops a bond with a leopard so strong she thinks about buying land in the country.
Volunteering In Bolivia: Back To Bartending – Finding herself unable to function without volunteering Trisha Velarmino gets behind a La Paz bar.
What It’s Like to Volunteer at an Artificial Limb Clinic in Bolivia – Flora Baker has volunteered all around the world but this was one of the strangest volunteer projects she’d ever taken part in.
Volunteering With The Working Children of Sucre – Brigid volunteered with Inti Magazine, a now defunct magazine written and sold by street kids in Sucre.
Volunteer in Bolivia at a Children’s Center (Interview Part I) – The founder of a children’s centre in Bolivia answers questions about her project.
* not all these volunteer experiences are with grassroots NGOs or low cost organisations
Image courtesy Amaury Laporte