Volunteer, work and travel in
South America

36166 Active hosts

local communities, projects and families

184 Countries

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Low cost travel

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Volunteer and work in South America - low cost travel abroad - Workaway

Here at Workaway you will find 3588 hosts and organizations for volunteer work in South America.
Low cost travel without having to pay expensive agency fees.

Help out with our dynamic project helping children with...
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Help in a small fish/aquatic plants farm and future art...
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We are building an eco hostel in Easter Island, come an...
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Volunteers welcome at our foundation! - Colombia
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Travel to regions in South America

  • Argentina (517)

    Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Rosario, Mendoza, San Miguel de Tucuman

  • Bolivia (79)

    Santa Cruz, La Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Ana, Oruro

  • Brazil (553)

    Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Salvador

  • Chile (731)

    Santiago, Concepcion, Valparaiso, Vina del Mar, Antofagasta

  • Colombia (638)

    Bogota, Medellin, Cali, Barranquilla, Cartagena

  • Ecuador (449)

    Guayaquil, Quito, Cuenca, Ambato, Machala

  • French Guiana (4)

    Cayenne, Kourou, Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, Sinnamary, Roura

  • Guyana (3)

    Georgetown, New Amsterdam, Linden, Corriverton, Bartica

  • Paraguay (23)

    Asuncion, San Lorenzo, Ciudad del Este, Encarnacion, Coronel Oviedo

  • Peru (422)

    Lima, Callao, Arequipa, Chiclayo, Trujillo

  • Suriname (3)

    Paramaribo, Cottica, Nieuw Nickerie, Moengo, Brokopondo

  • Uruguay (148)

    Montevideo, Rivera, Salto, Punta del Este, Paysandu

  • Venezuela (18)

    Caracas, Maracaibo, Valencia, Maracay, Barquisimeto

Last minute volunteer opportunities

Here you will find 94 last minute opportunities for volunteering in South America from Hosts that have indicated that they require help immediately.

Last minute
Help us with the project to create a eco village and th...
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Help out with our dynamic project helping children with...
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Hostel in Cuenca and Quito, Ecuador
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Help me with my plant transformation project to obtain ...
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Workaway feedback slides

There are 17999 reviews for 2260 Hosts and organizations in South America.
2260 Hosts in South America were rated 4.8/5 on average!

It's a really special place where I spent a really interesting week. The Ashram with its garden and houses is truly beautiful and the people are reall...

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Thank you for a Great Time Jonas!

Instead of 2 weeks, I stayed 5 weeks In the end. I think that tells already everything... Jonas is a very chilled a...

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Estuve poco más de 2 semanas en este lugar y fue una gran experiencia! El staff completo son súper amables y hay una muy buena energía en el hostel. E...

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How happy I am to have applied for this project in this little town in the middle of nowhere. And how lucky I am to have been accepted! Get to know Te...

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I spent almost three weeks here and I had amazing time over there! Communication with Chloe was so good and fast and working with Camilo and Juan was ...

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Popular Hosts and organizations in South America

Family (1194)

Hostel (1085)

Farmstay (552)

South America

South America is a continent of superlatives – it has the world’s biggest rainforest and the largest river (Amazon), the highest mountain range outside Asia (the Andes), the world’s highest waterfall (the 979m Angel Falls in Venezuela) and one of the world’s largest waterfalls too (Iguaça Falls on the border of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay). Last, but not least, it has the world’s southernmost city: Ushuaia.

It’s also a continent of contrasts: from teeming, multitudinous cities such as Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, to the remote Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, and from the hot, dry Atacama desert, to the icy landscapes of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. Nestled between the Caribbean, the South Pacific, and the South Atlantic oceans, it has a wealth of beaches, from perfect calm tropical paradises to stunning surf spots.

But there’s no getting away from it – it’s a big continent, with 5 time zones as you cross the country and measuring more than 7500 km from north to south. Any attempt at exploration will take time – so thank goodness for Workaway, and the many Workaway hosts based all over the continent! As a Workaway volunteer you can explore every country in South America in an affordable way, have an unforgettable summer or a unique gap year, do something meaningful, learn new skills, meet people and make friends for life.


Budget travel in South America

The countries of South America tend to be friendly places, and the tourist sector has been growing rapidly recently. Every country has its own charm, and there is no shortage of tourist attractions in South America, so you may have a hard time deciding which places you want to visit. But when it comes to budget, you don’t have to worry too much since travel on the continent is usually quite affordable. Volunteering with Workaway will bring down costs associated with accommodation and food of course, and between volunteering stints you can use some of the tips on travelling on a budget from seasoned Workawayers to help keep costs down.


Climate in South America

The sheer size of South America means climate can vary a lot from region to region. However tropical temperatures can be found over most of the continent – with the exception of Patagonia, the southernmost area of land shared between Argentina and Chile, where the climate is varied and sometimes extreme. And even further north, as soon as you get up high into the Andes, temperatures drop. For travellers from the Northern Hemisphere it is worth remembering that in South America summer lasts from November to February, and winter is from June to August. Research the weather in the area you plan to visit, and plan your packing well. Visit our Blog to get packing hacks and other advice and tips from seasoned Workawayers, and read on for more South-America specific help and hints.


South America’s huge diversity

The continent is made up of 12 countries of varying size. Brazil is home to more than half the population and covers about half the land area of the continent, and here Portuguese is spoken. The official language in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela is Spanish, although many indigenous languages are spoken too. In Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana English, Dutch and French are spoken respectively. These linguistic differences are the result of the different colonial histories of each country, but the land is also marked by traces of ancient civilizations, the indigenous peoples of the past and present, and of African slave communities, among others. These influences combine to create a thriving and varied modern culture.

When planning your trip, bear in mind that if it’s company you’re looking for, you should stick to the north and the coastal areas, especially the eastern part of the continent, where the majority of the population live. If you want rugged, empty landscapes to explore, go south and west. Beyond that basic advice, to help you plan your trip to South America here are a just a few ideas of places to go and things to do from the incredible number of options available. Choose your area to explore, and then browse the nearly 3500 Workaway hosts based all over the continent to find the perfect base for your trip.


Highlights of South America

Ancient and modern culture

The ruins of ancient civilizations share the continent with world-class metropolises: check out Brasilia for outstanding modern architecture, Buenos Aires for European architecture, Cuzco for its genuine indigenous culture, Rio for its strong African influence, São Paolo for its huge Japanese community, and pretty much everywhere for the traces of the Iberian conquistadores.

A few highlights:

  • See the oldest rock paintings in the Americas in the Serra da Capivara.
  • When it comes to indigenous culture, the Inca sites such as Sacsayhuaman and Machu Picchu are certainly among the highlights, and Chile’s remote Easter Island is home to one of the archaeological wonders of South America: “Moai”, the giant stone heads carved from local volcanic rock which are dramatic and striking relics from centuries ago.
  • The Colonial era had a prominent influence on South America’s architecture, as you will find in cities like Santiago in Chile, Antigua in Guatemala, and Quito in Ecuador, and there are also amazing modern monuments and structures to see in South America. One of the most famous is the Christ Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
  • The Conquistadors brought the Catholic faith to South America and inspired some fantastic churches and cathedrals. Santuario de Las Lajas, in Colombia is a Northern European style neo-gothic church that was built over a river gorge on a mountain slope with a narrow stream flowing underneath. The old city of Cartagena is home to some wonderful homes and public buildings along with the churches.
  • From the Argentine Gaucho to the Andean Shaman, you’ll have a chance to experience very different cultures anywhere you go in South America. Visit the genuine indigenous communities of Belém, Manaus, Cuzco, Lima, La Paz.

Wild nature and spectacular scenery

South America boasts over 100 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, like the Iguaçu National Park in Brazil, the Galapagos Islands, Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina, and Machu Picchu in Peru – but there is still so much yet to be discovered. With millions of miles of Amazonian rainforest and hundreds of islands, many of these places have yet to be troubled by human presence, and this is part of what makes South America such a mysterious, yet fascinating continent.

  • When it comes to amazing wildlife, nowhere is better than the tropical Amazon basin, where there are over 1,400 species of mammal, including jaguars and ocelots, and over 1,500 species of birds. With an experienced guide it's possible to spot many of these animals, and there are also many animal reserves and conservation centres that can be visited.
  • The isolated Galapagos Islands rank high on many a bucket list. Their separation from the rest of the world gave rise to the evolutionary distinctiveness that led Darwin to develop his theory in ‘On the Origin of Species’, and scuba diving here reveals an amazing range of marine species. Other unique species like the blue-footed booby, the huge Galapagos tortoise and the marine iguana can all be spotted while hiking or exploring the coast by boat.
  • Known as the driest place in the world, the vast Atacama Desert is as beautiful as it is intimidating, and the Valley of the Moon in the Atacama Desert is a landscape that is hard to believe exists.
  • Visit the Uyuni salt flats in the Bolivian altiplano – after the rains you can gaze at the sky reflected in the mirror-like water for as far as the eye can see.
  • South America’s largest lake, Lake Titicaca, is also the highest navigable lake in the world. Nestled in the Andes between Peru and Bolivia, legend says it was the birthplace of the Sun.
  • South America’s mountain scenery is spectacular, and the Torres del Paine in Chile is just one highlight – here the steep slopes of the peaks soar like jagged teeth into the air. Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina is an icy World Heritage Site left over from the Quaternary period – watch as glaciers calve icebergs into the huge Lake Argentino.

Festivals and Dance

Talk of festivals in South America and the annual carnaval celebrations in Rio de Janeiro come immediately to mind. Over two million people flock to the city to join the party every year, and samba dancing and the wonderful music and parades with grand floats and dance troupes make for a spectacular climax to the event. But South America has lots of other festivals to offer, all featuring music and dancing and giving you plenty of opportunity to interact with locals.

  • Along with the party in Rio, Barranquilla in Colombia and the reggaeinfluenced celebrations in Salvador de Bahia are also great places to enjoy carnival.
  • Outside of carnival season, there are many other celebrations to enjoy in South America, such as the Inti Raymi festival. Held at an Inca site near the city of Cusco, this is an amazing festival of colour and music, which also celebrates the heritage of the indigenous culture of the region.
  • For those who love colour and horticulture, the charming Feria de las Flores in Colombia is another festival where local growers all compete to have their best blooms on show.
  • The Aymara New Year near the city of La Paz in Bolivia is another great event that provides a wonderful spectacle and a vibrant party where visitors can celebrate with the local people.
  • Medellin in Colombia is one of world’s salsa hubs, and once you have got a grip of the basics and learned the steps, you can venture out on to the floors of the local salsa clubs.
  • Buenos Aires is another great dancing destination, and while the city professionals may appear very straight when they are at work, the tango is their great passion, and there are several places throughout the city where you can enjoy public dance displays.

Beautiful beaches

Beaches are almost synonymous with holidays, and South America has plenty of them. You will find hip and happening party beaches, and quiet and less crowded beaches where you can just laze around and relax with your family… plus all the water sports to go with it.

  • Brazil has a wealth of beautiful beaches on offer, including Jericoacoara – or Jeri – located in a very out-of-the-way national park, with a huge dune famous for spectacular sunsets and the mystical ‘green flash’.
  • “Tall and tan, and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking....” Rio has more than a dozen beaches, large and small, but a walk along Ipanema with the lyrics of its famous song running through your head is a must.
  • Ecuador’s Montañita is a popular beach offering some of the most consistent surf in the country and an international crowd.
  • Punta del Diabolo is a backpacker hotspot in Uruguay that grew up around a fishing village. Although visitor numbers have steadily increased, many people still come here to camp amid the pine trees and sand dunes. To the south is Cabo Polonio, declared a national park in 2009, which boasts an off-grid township, genuine wilderness, a sea lion colony and quiet beaches around its namesake lighthouse.
  • There are many beaches to explore north of the arty city of Valparaiso, Chile, but the prettiest and best preserved is Zapallar, in a horseshoe-shaped bay backed by wooded hills dotted with old mansions and upscale holiday homes.
  • Argentina’s warmest seas are off Buenos Aires province, with sandy beaches stretching across some 800 km of coastline, most backing on to the low-lying fields of the pampas. Cariló, close to the resort town of Pinamar, is a rustic-looking but well-heeled designer pueblo of dunes and shady pines with most of the accommodation in small wooden houses.
  • Peru is usually associated with ancient ruins, beautiful colonial-era cities and, more recently, gastronomy. But it’s also a surfing hotspot and the 2,415 km Pacific seaboard boasts a string of good breaks and enticing beach resorts. Check out Máncora in the north, with its long, clean, sandy beaches, low-slung cabins and small hotels and excellent restaurants. There’s a lively kite and surfing scene, but the warm waters are often calm.
  • Colombia’s Caribbean coast ticks all the boxes – warm turquoise seas, hammocks and hummingbirds – and is still relatively undiscovered. Check out the beaches of the Tayrona National Park.

Volunteering in South America

Workaway is the world’s leading community for volunteering and cultural exchange. Lone travellers backpacking through South America will find plenty of opportunities to meet and connect with the locals, but Workaway also offers many opportunities for couples, friends, families and groups. Workaway’s many hosts offer volunteers free accommodation and meals in exchange for a few hours of work a day, normally five days a week. This is the perfect way to make travelling affordable in South America, or to extend your stay. Whether you want to visit South America’s lively, diverse cities, or get right off the beaten track and immerse yourself in wild nature and local life, the perfect host is waiting to welcome you. It doesn’t matter whether you are exploring during your summer holidays, or seeking a gap year adventure, the volunteering opportunities are almost unlimited and will guarantee you have the time of your life.

Volunteer abroad: find the perfect host in South America

As a member of the Workaway community you can use the many thousands of reviews and feedback provided to find your perfect match among our hosts. Share your culture, skills and language with the communities, projects and families that offer a wide range of volunteer programmes, volunteer projects and volunteer jobs. If you want to take a backpacking trip through the heart of South America, use our regional filter to check out the many offers far away from the usual tourist spots. Combining these more off-the-beaten-track opportunities with a stay with some of the many host families and organizations in South American’s towns and cities is the ideal way to enjoy the country’s diversity.

Travel and make a difference

Who doesn’t enjoy going on holiday and relaxing in a tourist hotspot? However, travellers who want to connect more deeply with the host country and make a real difference will find perfect opportunities to do this by joining Workaway. Do you want to find out more about the diverse cultures of South America? Volunteering is the perfect vehicle for cultural exchange, providing the traveller with a truly memorable experience while doing something useful, like helping to restore an old building, helping with household tasks, or caring for children or animals. Working and travelling in South America is the perfect opportunity to get to know this unique continent, the countries that form it, its nature and its people.

Working and healthcare in South America

If you are planning to visit South America as a volunteer and not as a tourist, you must have the correct visa for each country. To find out about the latest requirements, you need to contact the Embassy of the country you plan to visit in your home country before travelling. And please don’t forget to take out appropriate insurance to make sure you qualify for healthcare!

It’s practically impossible to do justice to a continent the size of South America in words, so you’d best just get out there and do some exploring – join Workaway and get planning your trip!