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Volunteer and work in Guatemala - low cost travel abroad - Workaway!

Here at Workaway you will find 82 hosts and organisations for volunteer work in Guatemala.
Low cost travel without having to pay expensive agency fees.

Travel to regions in Guatemala

Latest from our community in Guatemala

Feedback from Workaway members

There are 835 reviews for 68 Hosts and organizations in Guatemala.
68 Hosts in Guatemala were rated at least 4.9/5!

We had a great time staying here with Bob (and Tako).

Day to day varies greatly, and you never quite know what the day (or Bob!), has in store for yo...


Wooow. What a magical place !!!
Due to my unpredictable schedules, I could stay only for 5 days. But these 5 days were equivalent to 50 days of experi...


This place was my first experience with Workaway and it was completely magical. I learned a lot from Emily and she gave me the freedom to maintain the...


We spent with Catalino and his family 2 wonderful weeks ! We made a lot of different tasks and there's more to achieve.
It was an amazing experience ...


Bryan and Sarah are amazing hosts. This was our first ever work away and we were blown away by the experience. They have set up a beautiful hostel rig...


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Popular Hosts and organizations in Guatemala

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Nestled between Mexico to the north with Honduras and El Salvador to the south, Guatemala is considered a hidden gem boasting lush jungles, ancient ruins, and vibrant traditions.

Beyond the incredible landscapes and traditions, Guatemala offers a unique opportunity for volunteering. Through Workaway, you can immerse yourself in local communities, make a meaningful impact, and create unforgettable memories.

So pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable journey to the heart of Central America - let's discover what makes Guatemala an unmissable destination!

Guatemala at a Glance

Bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the southwest and the Caribbean Sea to the east, Guatemala shares its borders with Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador. It is often overlooked by tourists due to its popular neighbours. However, the country boasts a population of over 17 million people, making it the most populated country in Central America! It is also one of the most welcoming, as friendly locals are eager to share their cherished heritage.

Guatemala is not only one of the best countries to visit for those backpacking Central America on a budget, but also for those short on time. It is less than half the size of the UK so you’ll be able to see so much even if you’ve just a few weeks to explore.

Guatemala boasts 33 volcanoes, among them the renowned Volcano Fuego, which still frequently erupts. It is located just 15-minute drive from Antigua, one of the country's most popular destinations. Another unmissable Guatemalan gem, is the excursion from Xela to Lake Atitlán. This three day hike involves staying in remote Mayan villages allowing you to immerse yourself in the incredible landscape and culture. After arriving at Lake Atitlán, you’ve endless opportunities to find a travel buddy as you’ll come across many other travellers in the charming towns dotted around the lake.

As a tip, it’s also worth spending some time in Xela (pronounced Shela.) Known officially as Quetzaltenango, it is not on the usual tourist radar. Not only is it cheaper and more authentic than the tourist hotspot of Antigua, it’s also ideal for those who want to learn Spanish as lessons are incredibly affordable and popular here.

As well as Xela, add the Ixil Triangle to your Guatemala bucket list. Made up of three towns - Nebaj, Chajul, and Cotzal - the Ixil region is renowned for its rich Mayan traditions where locals still use the traditional dialect and dress.

Do you want to know the best part? We have hosts dotted all over Guatemala so it could not be easier to live like a local and explore this epic destination first hand! It’s a dream destination for coffee connoisseurs as Guatemala grows some of the best coffee in the world. This means there are many volunteer opportunities to learn about the coffee farming process. As well as coffee, you can get involved with permaculture projects as well as volunteering on macadamia and avocado farms.

If you’d prefer partying over permaculture, perhaps volunteering in a hostel is for you? As tourism is on the rise in Guatemala there are many hostels in need of volunteers. Volunteering in hostels is the perfect way to gain hands-on experience in the tourism industry. It’s also an insightful way to learn how to run a business and provide you with the skills to land your dream job on your return.

Reasons to volunteer in Guatemala

  1. Make a positive impact: Guatemala is rich in indigenous culture and traditions. As a volunteer, you'll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local way of life, learn about Mayan heritage, and build connections with friendly and welcoming Guatemalans. You'll be part of initiatives that aim to make a real difference in the lives of local communities - all without expensive agency fees!
  2. Learn a new language: Fun fact: there are 25 languages spoken in Guatemala! Spanish is the official and most spoken language. However, there are 22 different Mayan languages as well as two other Indigenous ones - Garífuna and Xinca. Volunteering is one of the best ways to learn a language. This is because you’ll experience total immersion as you communicate with locals, navigate daily life, and work on projects.
  3. Explore stunning landscapes: From lush rainforests to majestic volcanoes and picturesque lakes, you’ll have epic landscapes on your doorstep. Volunteering in places like Antigua, Lake Atitlán, or the Petén region gives you access to some of the most breathtaking natural wonders in Central America.
  4. Admire Ancient History: Guatemala is home to impressive Mayan ruins, including Tikal, which offers a glimpse into a fascinating ancient civilization. As a volunteer, you are able to venture off the beaten track, explore these historical sites and quiz locals to gain a deeper understanding of the region's history.
  5. Forever Friendships: With so many hosts to choose from it’s easy to find like-minded individuals who share your passion for adventure and making a difference. It's an opportunity to create lifelong friendships, exchange travel stories, and create unforgettable memories together.
  6. Taste the incredible cuisine: Volunteering is one of the best ways to travel through your tastebuds! Thanks to a mix of Maya culture with Spanish traditions, the local cuisine in Guatemala is considered more flavoursome and fascinating than that of the neighbouring countries. By living with a local you won’t only indulge in mouthwatering dishes like pepián (a spicy stew), Pupusas (stuffed tortillas) or Kak’ik soup but likely learn how to make them too!
  7. Onwards Adventure: As a tip for US, UK or EU passport holders, you will receive a 90 day tourist visa on arrival - for free! The visa includes entrance and exit to El Salvador and Honduras where we also have hundreds of hosts! So once your Workaway experience is over in Guatemala, hop over the border to continue the adventure.

Is Guatemala safe to visit?

It's essential to note that the vast majority of Guatemalans are welcoming and kind-hearted people. Generally, popular areas such as Antigua Guatemala, Lake Atitlán, and the Tikal National Park in Petén are considered safe.

However, it’s not all sunshine and salsa dancing. Half the population lives below the poverty line and unfortunately these desperate circumstances may lead some individuals to resort to crime. Keep your valuables hidden, don’t travel alone at night (especially for women travelling solo) but most importantly do not let the media scare you from this incredible country.

Follow our safety tips, especially if travelling solo and always stay vigilant. By using common-sense and staying informed about local conditions, you can have a safe and enjoyable experience exploring this small but mighty country.

While Workaway encourages you to venture off the beaten track, it’s important to note that access to quality medical facilities can be limited, particularly in remote or rural regions. These areas also have a higher risk of waterborne diseases and mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika, dengue, and malaria. It is essential you take necessary health precautions, such as getting required vaccinations, using insect repellent, and drinking bottled or purified water.

Finally, as always, don't forget travel insurance! Not only will it cover you from lost or stolen belongings, but it can also cover medical costs, cancelled flights and more.

Regional Highlights of Guatemala

Now you’re armed with reasons to visit and our top safety tips, it’s time to plan where to go. Two mountain chains enter Guatemala from west to east, dividing the country into three major regions: the highlands (where the mountains are located) the Pacific coast to the south and the limestone plateau of the Petén region to the north.

Each region has its own unique characteristics, which we’ve summarised to help inspire a great Guatemalan adventure…

The Highlands

The Guatemalan Highlands is an upland region in southern Guatemala. They stretch from Antigua to the Mexican border, with the Sierra Madre de Chiapas to the south and the Petén lowlands to the north.

The Highlands region of Guatemala captivates travellers with its dramatic mountain landscapes, ancient Mayan heritage, and vibrant cultural towns. While you can find the Mayan culture anywhere in Guatemala, there are over a dozen distinct groups who call this region home.

Regional Highlights of The Highlands

  • Iximche: Iximche is an ancient archaeological site that was once the capital city of the Kaqchikel Maya civilization. Learn about the region’s rich history and indigenous heritage by exploring well-preserved structures such as temples, palaces, and ball courts.
  • Antigua Guatemala: With a backdrop of three towering volcanoes, Antigua Guatemala is A UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its beautifully preserved Spanish colonial architecture. The city is a hub for arts, crafts, and traditional music, making it a lively and worthwhile destination. If you have time, scale the dramatic Pacaya Volcano. As it is still an active volcano, you can actually toast marshmallows on the rocks, and snap a selfie next to lava rivers at the top!
  • Lake Atitlán: As mentioned earlier, Lake Atitlán is an unmissable destination. Referred to as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world it is surrounded by volcanoes and picturesque Mayan villages. Here you can also enjoy activities such as kayaking, hiking, and simply soaking in the breathtaking views.
  • Guatemala City – Located just 40 km from Antigua is Guatemala city. Despite being the capital, it is one of the country’s least visited destinations – for us, that’s even more reason to visit! While it’s not as picturesque as Antigua or the villages around Lake Atitlán, it allows a more authentic insight into the local way of life. If you crave incredible music, coffee, food and culture (alongside the chaos of 3.3 million residents!) then you can’t miss Guatemala city.
  • Chichicastenango Market: Located in the Western Highlands, it is considered one of the most vibrant markets in Central America. This market showcases an array of handicrafts, textiles, and traditional Mayan rituals twice a week (on Thursdays and Sundays).
  • Quetzaltenango: Although the second biggest city in Guatemala, Quetzaltenango (known by the Mayan name Xela) is often overlooked by tourists. It’s an epic destination for hikers as you can climb up Tajumulcohike to the highest point in Central America, and the three-day trek to Lake Atitlán. It’s also one of the best places to learn Spanish!

The Pacific Coast

For those who prefer a slower pace, head for Guatemala's Pacific Coast. With its laid-back beach towns, picturesque landscapes, and stunning wildlife, it's a destination for relaxation and nature enthusiasts alike.

Regional Highlights of the Pacific Coast

  • Monterrico: Some consider Playa Monterrico Guatemala’s top beach destination. The town itself is tiny so you might struggle to find accommodation but it’s worth visiting as Monterrico’s beaches are prime nesting grounds for sea turtles. The nearby mangrove forests are also protected as part of the Reserva Natural Monterrico as they are home to an incredible range of tropical flora and fauna.
  • Iztapa: If you’re a fan of fishing or surfing, Iztapa is the destination for you! It offers endless opportunities for deep-sea fishing and encounters with sailfish and marlins.
  • Sipacate-Naranjo National Park: Stretching between the coastal towns of Sipacate and El Naranjoe, this beautiful park covers an area 20km long and 1km wide. It is a haven for nature lovers, boasting pristine beaches, coastal wetlands, and excellent bird watching opportunities.
  • El Paredón: This laid-back surf town is known for its excellent waves and relaxed atmosphere. It's an ideal spot for surfers of all levels with lessons offered by many surf hostels and camps around the town.


At 35,854 km² Petén accounts for about one third of Guatemala's total area. Although it’s a huge area, it contains just over 3% of the country’s population. Instead this vast region is mainly covered by dense jungles and ancient Mayan ruins. It is a true adventure seeker's paradise and a place to connect with nature while unlocking the mysteries of an ancient civilization.

Regional Highlights of Petén

  • Tikal: Tikal was once an ancient city and ceremonial centre of the ancient Maya civilization. Today, it is considered one of the most significant archaeological sites in the country. The site is nestled within the lush tropical jungles of the Tikal National Park and covers an area of over 575 square kilometres. Alongside the Mayan ruins, Tikal National Park is worth visiting thanks to the diverse flora and fauna that thrive here.
  • Flores: Flores is a small island around 2 hours from the ancient ruins of Tikal. It has an excellent food and nightlife scene as well as a popular spot with backpackers who like to party and want to visit Tikal. As the island is so small you only need a day or two to explore it.
  • El Mirador: Embark on a multi-day trek through the jungle to reach majestic El Mirador, one of the largest Mayan cities ever discovered. It translates to "the lookout/ the viewpoint" which may be thanks to the massive pyramid structures, including "La Danta" which is one of the largest pyramids in the world by volume. Climbing these ancient structures offers visitors breathtaking views of the surrounding jungle.
  • Yaxhá: For a lesser-known Mayan archaeological site, experience the serenity of Yaxhá. Alongside well-preserved structures it has a beautiful lagoon view. You'll find far less tourists here and the entrance fees are also much cheaper in comparison to other Mayan sites.
  • Maya Biosphere Reserve: Covering a staggering area of 21,602 km² the Maya Biospehere Reserve covers one-fifth of the country's total land area. This vast protected area is a haven for biodiversity. It offers opportunities for wildlife spotting, birdwatching, and exploring lesser-known Mayan sites like Aguateca and Ceibal

Volunteering in Guatemala

Volunteering in Guatemala is a powerful opportunity to make a positive impact! All while immersing yourself in the country's culture and world famous natural beauty. With such contrasting regions it means a vast range of volunteering opportunities; from the tropical jungles of Petén to the violent volcanic eruptions of Volcán de Fuego – the possibilities are endless! Good job we have hosts dotted all over the country!

By volunteering in Guatemala with Workaway, you can gain valuable skills and make lifelong friendships all while having an unforgettable adventure. As the world’s leading community for volunteering and cultural exchange, Workaway is the perfect platform to connect with locals and discover their way of life while making a difference.

Whether you are a solo backpacker trying to find a travel buddy, recently retired or setting off on a grown up gap year – your perfect host is only a few clicks away. Best of all, you can join as a solo traveller, as a couple, or even as a family. For a small membership fee, you’ll have access to hundreds of hosts in Guatemala as well as over 50,000 volunteer opportunities in 170 countries worldwide - all for less than the price of a night in a hotel!

In exchange for a few hours of work each day, your host will usually provide free accommodation, meals and a cultural exchange you’ll never find from the guide books. Whether you want to protect turtle hatchlings on the shores of Monterrico, learn ancient agricultural techniques in the lush Highland landscape of Lake Atitlán or support educational workshops for women’s empowerment in Antigua – with Workaway you can do it all!

Making a difference in Guatemala

Volunteering in Guatemala is the best way to give back while experiencing the country's rich culture, diverse landscape, and warm hospitality. By contributing your time and skills you will help create lasting change and make a meaningful difference in communities across the country.

Unsure where to start? Check out our guide to the different types of volunteering which includes a fun quiz to match your personality with your dream project!

Here are some of the ways you can make a difference in Guatemala:

Wildlife Conservation & Animal Rescue

If you are interested in workawaying with animals there are a few areas in particular to search for volunteer opportunities.

  • The Pacific coast: It is ideal for those interested in beach clean ups, habitat monitoring and conservation. In particular, the volcanic sands provide ideal nesting conditions for sea turtles.
  • Caribbean coast: For those who want to support manatee conservation and learn about the importance of protecting their fragile habitats.
  • The Maya Biosphere Reserve (Petén Region): This region is ideal for those interested in volunteering with wildlife as there is a demand for volunteers to assist with reforestation projects to create safe spaces for wildlife to thrive. This includes endangered species like jaguars, tapirs, and scarlet macaws.

Mayan Communities

Some indigenous communities struggle with poverty and lack access to basic resources like clean water and healthcare. This means there is a demand for volunteers to help with construction projects, teaching English, and preserving traditional culture. If you are interested in volunteering and supporting Mayan communities, here are some areas to consider for your Workaway:

  • Quetzaltenango (Xela): This city is surrounded by various indigenous Mayan villages, such as Zunil, San Juan Ostuncalco, and San Martín Chile Verde.
  • San Marcos: This department also has several indigenous communities, including San Pedro Sacatepéquez, San Marcos, and San Rafael Pie de la Cuesta.
  • Lake Atitlán: The communities around Lake Atitlán, such as Santiago Atitlán, San Juan la Laguna, and San Pedro la Laguna, have a significant Mayan population.

Coastal Communities

As mentioned, there are Guatemalan beaches on two coasts: the Pacific and the Caribbean. Because the majority of the country's most popular attractions are inland, most travellers don't make it to the coast - this means most volunteers don’t either.

However, coastal communities have been impacted by climate change, overfishing, and pollution. Volunteers can help by working on beach clean-up projects, marine conservation and sustainable practices.

Love surfing? Head to Iztapa, El Paredon, Sipacate or Chaperico in particular. There are many ways surf fans can volunteer with Workaway all over the world, not just in Guatemala.

Urban Centers

In areas such as Guatemala City, Villa Nueva and Mixco, volunteers can contribute to projects that focus on education, youth empowerment, and community development to uplift the local population.

These areas are also ideal for those looking to volunteer as a teacher or build up experience working with children. Not only does Workaway have an abundance of opportunities supporting young people, but volunteering is a great way to get your CV top of the pile.

How to find a Workaway host in Guatemala

Firstly, you can use the destinations and regions above as a guide, or you can use your skills and interests as keywords in the search box. This will help you to find your perfect Workaway host in Guatemala. For example, do you want to support Mayan communities around the majestic Lake Atitlán? Teach English or Spanish in Quetzaltenango? Or promote eco-tourism in the vibrant Antigua?

Perhaps you want to do all three? The good news is, when you join Workaway you are not limited to just one Workaway experience or host. Your membership allows you to access over 50,000 volunteer opportunities across 170 countries. As mentioned Guatemala shares its borders with Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador. Best of all, we have hosts in each of those countries too!

From the ancient ruins of Tikal where history comes alive, to the serene waters of Lake Atitlán, every moment in Guatemala promises to be unforgettable. As you contribute to vital causes like sea turtle conservation in Monterrico or women's empowerment in the charming Antigua, you'll witness the true spirit of resilience and community. After volunteering here you won’t just leave behind footprints but a lasting impact on the lives of those you meet. Are you ready to uncover the wonderful people and places in this extraordinary country? Join now!