Volunteer Abroad in Bolivia
- Bolivia Program General Information
- Working&Living Agenda of Bolivia Programs
- Other Useful Information
Bolivia Program General Information
Bolivia is the least developed country in South America, and 54 percent of the population lives under the international standard poverty line of 2 USD per day. Around 60 percent of the population is indigenous people, that wear indigenous clothes and have indigenous belief. And over 1 million children in Bolivia lives under hazardous circumstances, and do not have access to basic needs, as health access and education. So by working for an NGO in Bolivia you can make a great impact in poor peoples’ lives.
Bolivia is also exciting related to tourism. The world’s larges salt desert (Salar de Uyuni), the highest lake in the world (Tititkaka), monuments from the Inkas (Tiwanaku) is all located in Bolivia. Bolivia is a very diverse country going from 200 meters above sea level to around 5000 meters above sea level.
Locations of Bolivia Volunteer& Intern Programs
Available locations include but not limited to: urban, suburban, and rural areas of Bolivia. Participants will be placed at their chosen preferred location according to their interest. Locations include but not limited to:
- Cochabamba (urban)
- Pairopani (rural), Tarata (rural), Angustura (rural), and Colomi (rural).
Please note that not all works are available at all locations.
Start Dates and Durations
We pride ourselves for our flexibility. You can arrive any week of the year. Either because of a personal reason or because of a discount promotional flight that you want to take advantage of, we can arrange for you as long as we are given enough advanced notice before arrival.
You can volunteer for periods of 1 week to 6 months. In the end of your program, if you wish to extend your stay, it is also possible with enough notice.
Bolivia Volunteer Work Placements
There are volunteer work placements available in both urban and rural Bolivia. Our volunteer/intern work placements include the following projects:
- Orphanage Work
- Caring for the Elderly or the Disabled
- Microfinance Work or Business Coaching
- Construction or Painting Work
- Medical Placement (for Doctors and Nurses)
- Assisting Healthcare Professionals
- HIV/ Hygiene Education
- Sports Education
- Environmental Work
- Agriculture Work and Farming
- Tourism Work
- Marketing Work
- Culture and Language Immersion Activities
(2) COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
(4) HIV/AIDS WORK
(6) OTHER WORKS
Bolivia Volunteer/Intern Requirements
- Age Requirement: You can apply on your own if you are 18 years or over at the start of the program. For participants who are 15-17 years old at the start of the program, it is possible to enroll if the legal guardian gives permission and signs our waiver form to waive our liability.
- Language Requirement: You must be able to speak English. Also, it is strongly recommended for participants to be able to speak some Spanish since many local people don’t speak English.
- Cooperation and Adaptability: You should be able to work well with others, including people who are quite different from yourself. Also, you should be able to adapt to foreign environments, other cultures, and new situations. There is a need for international volunteers to be cooperative and flexible. The success of doing a project abroad also depends on you.
- Some positions may require volunteers/interns have relevant training or certification.
Bolivia Program Prices
Our fees are the lowest in North America and extremely affordable. Our program fee starts as little as USD$180. Program fees mainly help us cover the variable costs, such as meals, accommodation, and orientation, etc. Program fees vary according to the length of your program.
|Program Length||Program Fee USD$|
|1 Month (4 Weeks)||580|
|2 Months (8 Weeks)||980|
To see an estimate of these prices in your local currency click here.
Note: There is an additional fee of USD$290 (enrollment fee) on top of the program fee for all the programs. This enrollment fee helps us cover mainly the fixed costs, such as program inspection, staff salary, marketing cost, etc. Also, certain work placements and certain locations may require a surcharge since they are harder or more costly to arrange. Participants are fully responsible for any surcharges and transaction costs.
Total Price = Program Fee + Enrolment Fee (plus transaction costs and any surcharge)
What is included?
- Arrival Welcome
- Accommodation and Meals
- Program Orientation
- Volunteer Work Placement
- Hotline for Local Support
- Regular Cultural/Recreational Activities (Personal spending not included) are Provided by Most Hosts
What is not included?
- International and Local Transportation Costs (One way local bus tickets cost around $0.5.)
- Medical/Travel Insurance (Optional buy recommended)
- Visa Application Costs and Personal Spending
Regarding the 24/7 hotline for in-country support in Bolivia, please be aware:
- When travelling across the mountains, our partner staff may loss cell phone signal for a moment. In this case, a text or voice message can be left and our partner staff will call back as soon as they get the message.
Working & Living Agenda of Bolivia Programs
Accommodation and Meals
Accommodation and meals are included. Volunteers live with a local home-stay family or guest house or orphanage home.
Most of our home-stay families in urban locations can provide the following features:
- Running Water (both hot and cold)
- Bedroom with basic furniture (either private or shared with another volunteer of the same gender)
In the rural areas, the resources are very limited and the living condition can be very basic.
Three meals a day are provided by the home-stay families.
Lunch is usually packed by your host family in a lunch box so that you can eat at your project if you wish.
If you are a vegetarian or if you have other special eating needs, you can indicate that while applying. Even though special eating needs are not something we can guarantee, we will do our best to meet your needs.
It is exciting to live with a local family. This way, you can easily learn the local way of life, meet local people, and feel more like a part of Bolivia rather than just a tourist. We strongly encourage you to try the local flavors and experience the local culture and traditions as much as possible. Keep in mind that it is important to be open-minded and to be flexible. You shouldn’t expect that you would eat the same food or have the same lifestyle as you do at home. Actually, one of the most important things you will learn abroad is how their way of living is just as correct as ours.
Arrival and Orientation
Day 1 (Arrival Day)
You can arrive any week of the year with advanced notice. On Arrival Day, we will
1) Meet you upon arrival
2) Then we will introduce you to your home-stay family.
Orientation Day (Saturdays or Sundays)
The orientation is very important for ensuring a safe and pleasant stay.
- You will be introduced to the expectations of the institution and the host project.
- We will show you how to take bus from home to some important places (such as town center, the supermarket, the ATM, etc.
- (Usually it costs around US$0.25 for a one way bus ticket in town.)
- Travel Opportunities
- After the Introduction to Bolivia, you will be given some time to exchange contact information with other volunteers. After getting connected, you may want to socialize or plan your weekend trip together.
1) Introduction to Work Program
2) Introduction to Your Environment
3) Introduction to Bolivia
4) Getting Connected
Workweek and Workdays
Our volunteer work projects run from Monday to Friday. You can either do full time or part time work depending on your preference. (Some projects are less flexible than others.) Some volunteers would like to work a lot, while others like to have more free time to travel, socialize, and relax.
The amount of work will be customized for you. Certain work placements do require full time volunteers or have a fixed schedule, but many works can be very flexible.
- If you think it is more important to get your favourite placement rather than your preferred work schedule, please indicate that while applying so that we can put more weight on work type when we customize the program for you. If you don’t indicate anything, we may give your preferred work schedule more consideration while we customize the program for you.
- Workweek option 1: (Regular) Work from Mon. to Fri.
- Workweek option 2: (Long weekend) Work from Mon. to Thursday.
- Workweek option 3: (Work and Rest) Work only on Mon., Wed. & Friday.
- Workweek option 4: (As Much As Possible) Work 6-7 days per week if possible.
- Workday option 1: (Full day) Approximately 8 hours from 8:30am to 4:30pm.
- Workday option 2: (Part time early bird) Approximately 4 hours from 9am to 1pm.
- Workday option 3: (Part time afternoon) Approximately 4 hours from 12pm to 4pm.
Leisure Time (Enjoyment and Friendship)
Our volunteers usually form life-long friendships with their host family, workplace co-workers, and other volunteers.
We aim to fulfill your leisure time with enjoyment. Many host families will get the volunteers involved in their recreational activities. You can join weekend tours or add a tour after your volunteer program for an additional cost. We recommend that you compare prices before you purchase any tour.
Other Useful Information
Bolivia Entry Requirements (Visa Information)
Most people visiting Bolivia get their tourist visa upon arrival. Upon arrival at the airport, tourism visas are issued for 3 months. For most people from Europe, the visa is free. However, people from the USA have to pay $150 USD for the visa. This amount has to be paid in cash. For these who plan to volunteer for a longer period, our program staff will help you with renewing your visa.
The issue of a tourist visa is very straight forward. You don’t need to have hotels booked or tours booked. For a trouble-free entry, we recommend that you write the purpose of your entry as tourism or vacation, which is true since our volunteers are classified as volunteer tourists.
Travel Services (Tours and Flights)
Whenever our volunteers need, we provide travel services/advices. If you are going to buy flight and book tours on your own, we strongly recommend that you get price quotes from different sources and compare them before you make your purchase.
Bolivia Country Profile and Pictures
Bolivia Capital: Sucre and La Paz
Population: 10.09 Millions
Official Language: Spanish
Time Zone: BOT (UTC+3)
Bolivia’s temperature and climate vary a lot, from 35 plus degrees Celsius to 35 minus degrees. However, when the volunteer stay in Cochabamba, the temperature is around 20 degrees Celsius during the day, and down to 0 degree Celsius during the night all year around. In the summer it is very wet with a lot of rain, in the winter it is dry and no rain.
The Local Currency
The local currency is Bolivianos (BS). US$1 is approximately 7 Bolivianos. There are exchange bureaus where you can exchange your money. However, we strongly recommend that you bring a debit or a credit card for ATM cash withdraws. ATMs are easily accessible in Bolivia and most of them accept international debit and credit cards. It is probably the safest and easiest way for you to access your cash.
Personal Expense in Bolivia
As food and accommodation are both included, you don’t need to expect to spend much money at all. You will probably find that $20 is enough for your weekly personal expense, but this figure can vary largely due to personal spending habit.
Going global can be an exciting experience and nervous at the same time. Regardless of where you are in the world, safety can never be guaranteed. However, Bolivia is considered to be a relatively safe country to travel to comparing to many other South American countries. However, for your own safety, we recommend that you take the following precautions while living there:
- If you must carry a handbag, try to keep your handbag in front of you.
- Try to keep in groups at night and never walk alone dark streets.
- Try to leave your valuables behind.
- Be careful when crossing the streets.
- Just bring a copy of your passport when outside.
- Listen to local people about which areas is safe to go and not safe.
- We recommend that you bring two bank/credit cards when you travel but keep them in different places. You can probably keep one in your wallet with you for daily use and keep the other card in a very safe place for back-up purpose. In this case, if anything happens, at least you won’t loss both cards at the same time.
While it is unlikely for something to happen to you, we do recommend that you take these precautions.
Communications infrastructure is reasonably good in Bolivia. It is easy to call and to send emails. Internet cyber is also affordable (around US$0.25 per hour), but you will have internet for free in most host families. The country code of Bolivia is +591. You can get a local SIM card for 1.50 USD and then you will have a local cell phone number.
Vaccinations for Bolivia
The following are recommended:
- Tetanus Diphtheria Polio
- Polio Hepatitis A
- Yellow Fever
Things to Bring
- You should at least bring your own sleeping bag, a lunch box, a water bottle, and other personal necessities.
- Warm clothes and summer clothes, due to the shifting climate.
- A plug adapter is strongly recommended as you will probably need to charge your electronics.
- Electrical Plug/Outlet and Voltage Information for Bolivia:
- Primary Socket Type: North American Non-Grounded, North American Grounded
- Voltage: 115V, 220V, 230V (depending on the location)
- For Multi-voltage electronics/appliances (laptops, etc.), you only need a plug adapter.
- For 220-240V appliances, you will need Plug adapter + step-up transformer.
- Electrical Plug/Outlet and Voltage Information for Bolivia:
- A digital camera is recommended.
- Laptop is not necessary, however many volunteers like to bring their own personal computer.
- If you forget to bring some things (such as basic shampoo or basic water bottle), it is easy to buy them in Bolivia. Other things (such as electronics or a special brand of body wash) can be hard or more expensive to get in Bolivia.