How do I apply?
Before you apply, please read through carefully about the projects and acccomdation you are most interested in. This is our attempt to make you think twice and consider both the downsides and advantages of volunteering in a foreign country before you apply. After you have carefully thought it over and you are ready to make the commitment, you can click here to Apply Now. We cannot place you without the completed application form. This application form helps us to coordinate your preferred volunteer stay appropriately. Please also feel free to include in an e-mail any questions you may have.
We look forward to hearing from you!
How much would it cost me to stay in Peru while volunteering?
Please find below an idea of the costs of living here, so you can make sure your budget will cover it. Don't forget to allow some money for traveling, going out and having fun, Spanish lessons, paying our minimum donation, and for emergencies like doctors and medicines (and we recommend that you do have good medical insurance)
What it costs to live here of course depends on your life style and where you stay. But generally, most volunteers can and do live quite cheaply, certainly by western standards. Accommodation can be as cheap as 300 Soles per person/month(US$115, Euros 90; GBP 75) during Peruvian winter season. This rises to 350 soles during the summer season for somewhere basic, like the cheapest rooms in our volunteer house, and can range up to a maximum of double this for somewhere more comfortable. See Accommodation options for current selection and prices.
(As of writing in March 2013, 1 Euro = 3.40 Soles: 1US$ = 2.60 Soles and 1 British pound = 3.90 Soles, but this constantly changes, so please check the latest exchange rates at your time of travel if your budget is tight.)
In terms of food, you can get a 2/3 course lunch set 'Menu' for 5/8 Soles at some reasonable restaurants. Locals have their main meal at lunchtime so you always get better value at that time. Of course, if you can cook for yourself you can get an even better value with fresh local fish 10/12 Soles/kilo or less, chicken around 7/8 Soles/kilo and a great selection of cheap local fruits and vegetables at the local market.
When going out, you can get a half hour local bus ride (e.g. from Huanchaco to Trujillo for 1.50 Soles, compared to a taxi for 10/12 Soles (12/15 Soles or more at night)). You can get a colectivo taxi back at night for 2 Soles if you walk to the colectivo stop. Local beer is around 5 Soles for a large bottle, soft drinks less and wine around 5 Soles/glass. Imported spirits can be more expensive (10 Soles+) but you do get a good measure.
You can keep in touch with home at an Internet Cafe for 1 Sol/hour, or get a phone card to call home for 10 Soles for around 50 minutes to most locations worldwide.
Compared with almost all western countries, living in Huanchaco is fairly cheap once you get here, making longer stays very good value for money.
How do I get to Huanchaco & Trujillo from Lima?
You can get to Trujillo from Lima by bus or plane. Once in Trujillo, Huanchaco is a short bus or taxi ride away.
The bus journey from Lima to Trujillo takes around 8-9 hours and costs about 40-80 Soles. We recommend ITTSA bus company which had proved safe, reliable, and punctual. You can travel by day leaving or overnight on comfortable sleeper buses. At the time of writing, the prices are 55 Soles for semi-reclining seats or 70 Soles for fully reclining, which are spacious and comfortable for sleeping. If your budget will cover it we think its worth the extra 15 Soles.
To contact ITTSA bus company call Lima (++44) (0) (1) 3321665 to reserve a ticket. (ask us if you need any assistance with booking this).
Alternatively other safe, reliable companies, but in our experience not so punctual are Cruz del Sur or Linea. However, the advantage is they have web-sites and you can check what's available and book tickets on line with a credit card.
Their web-sites are http://www.cruzdelsur.com.pe/inicio_2.php and www.transporteslinea.com.pe/
To reach Trujillo from Lima by plane, it only takes 45 minutes, but will usually cost US$100+ one-way, although you can sometimes get some good offers on line with www.lan.com. You need to decide given your budget, but most volunteers find the bus OK especially if you get a comfortable seat.
From Trujillo to Huanchaco we recomend you go by taxi. We can normally arrange for our taxista to pick you up - with an Otra Cosa sign - and bring you here to Huanchaco. If you want our taxista to pick you up let us know at least 24 hours ahead by e-mail or if late notice by phone - please do not assume this is arranged until and unless we confirm it. Our driver will charge the normal prices of around 15 Soles, as long as your bus is on time. If he has to wait for your arrival, he does have to charge waiting time, which is another 10-12 Soles/hour.
How do I get to Otra Cosa Network Volunteer House/Office once in Huanchaco?
We recommend that you use our pre-arranged taxi service from Trujillo to Huanchaco. This is safe and reliable and he meets you with an Otra Cosa Network sign and just charges the standard 15 Soles (US$5, Euros4) from bus station or airport direct to our house or your accommodation.
As you will be arriving with all your valuables and luggage it is not reccomended to take a local bus on arrival to Trujillo. Although assualts, robberies and kidnapping of taxi passengers are not so common here as some other South American countries we would also not recommend taking any taxi from the street. There is no sense jumping in to any available taxi when you can have some-one we know and trust waiting with an Otra Cosa Network sign.
To arrange the taxi pick-up just ask by e-mail or phone with at least 24 hours notice and we will confirm back to you. Once confirmed this is a commitment by you and him to use his taxi. If you then arrive and use another taxi instead, this is done at your own risk and you will still owe Otra Cosa Network the 15 Soles for his services. Equally if for any reason he's not there waiting give us a call and we'll chase him up. It is a good idea to have our number (461302) and some coins for the phone with you just in case you need to contact us.
The taxi service is not obligatory and if you want you can try to come by local bus. However, there is no direct bus service from the bus stations where buses from Lima arrive into and so you would need to find a local taxi to the right bus stop to then get a bus to Huanchaco.
If you do take the bus to Huanchaco wait until the bus turns up away from the beach into Los Pinos and ask the driver to let you off at La Curva at the end of Los Pinos where the buses make a left turn. You walk straight ahead for one block and turn right for one block and then your first left into las Camelias. Our house is the second on your left which is clearly numbered 431. It is a two floor white house with a blue gate. If (or when) you get lost be sure to find a local phone and have some change and our phone number with you to ring for directions. We're not always at home so please also make a note of the Operation Manager's or Assistant Manager's mobile numbers from our website in case of an emergency.
Otra Cosa Network staff will normally be in the volunteer house during working hours which are Monday - Friday 9.00-1.00 and 2.00-5.00p.m., but it is best to call us first on (044) 461302 to check if we'll be there and avoid a wasted journey.
Where can I stay in Lima and can someone pick me up from Lima airport?
There are lots of places to choose from in Lima. However, we recommend Casa Ana run by a Dutchman Hein and Peruvian woman Ana.
Casa Ana is clean, safe, affordable and comfortable and we've negotiated a 5% discount for Otra Cosa volunteers from the already reasonable prices. There are some cheaper places to stay in Lima and also more luxurious and expensive places, but from the feedback we've had from many volunteers staying there, Casa Ana provides a good balance and a safe, friendly atmosphere for your first days and nights in Peru. They can also arrange airport pick-up for a reasonable price, given a little notice. Visit their web-site Casa Ana for more information.
Do I need to speak Spanish to be able to volunteer?
Not necessarily, it depends on the project you will be working at. Each project has its own demands on Spanish speaking skills, from none to fluent. Check your preferred project for details. Otra Cosa can help arrange affordable 1:1 Spanish lessons with our local teachers and/or you can participate in our Intercambio program with local University students or locals at the Huanchaco library.
What are the criteria for organizations Otra Cosa sends volunteers to?
The basic criteria is that the organization mission and goals are to increase the development chances of individuals. This is a very wide remit so we have narrowed it down to a few disciplines such as education, community development, environmental education, employment generation,and natural resource management.
Not all organizations we work with are necessarily charity organizations. Otra Cosa believes that organizations that can earn their own money and at the same time provide individuals with development chances are also worth supporting with the human capital of volunteers. But making money (with the support of volunteers) can never be the only or main goal of any organization we support.
What fees do I pay (and why) and what do I get for this?
Otra Cosa Network relies on the donations from our volunteers to fund all of our activities and administration. It is a full time job to place volunteers in a project and coordinate their arrival, accommodation, and stay here in Huanchaco. The donations are used to fund our administrative costs of running our office such as electricity, internet, paper and printing, and travel expenses. For more information check out All About Money.
Do I get receive anything for free as a volunteer?
Not much! Volunteering is really about giving rather than receiving. However, you can get volunteer discounts at some local restaurants and hostels. You can also get a good deal on renting of surfing equipment from the Un Lugar Surf School. We also organize weekly volunteer lunches to meet up with us and the other volunteers on a regular basis and discuss any problems/ideas and plan social events together. There are occasional volunteer activities and excursions organized by the volunteers amongst themselves. We can usually arrange free Intercambio sessions where you give an English conversation class to a local(s) in return for free Spanish conversation - a nice sociable way to help your Spanish learning and for free. The above is valid for every volunteer working through the Otra Cosa Network.
Some specific projects, particularly those away from the main Trujillo/Huanchaco locations may offer extra things free of charge, for example, accommodation, food etc. Check the information on the respective projects to find out more.
Do I get anything in return for volunteering?
Working as a volunteer is the most direct way to impact a community. What you get in return for volunteering is the satisfaction of helping out at some amazing projects and gaining experience that will be relavent for your future professional career. You do it for free and you pay your own costs of living here. Volunteering here is no easy or cheap option - although living costs are low here. For more information, check out Why Volunteer?
What documents do I need to get to Peru?
That depends on where you are from. Generally if you are from the EU, USA or Canada, you only need a passport, return ticket, and some money to survive. If you are from a country that is required by Peru to have a visa, you must obtain one. This is your own responsibility to check and prepare. Please check the conditions of your nationality regarding a visit to Peru as a tourist.
From January 2009 citizens of the EU, USA etc can normaly get a 183 day visa on request upon entering Peru. There's no charge for this, but you MUST request it when presenting your passport otherwise you will only get the standard 90/60 day visa, and once this is entered into the computerized system and your passport has been stamped, this cannot be changed.
Do I need any special visa to go volunteering to Peru?
The general rule in Peru is “nothing is for free”. This means, that if you talk with the officials at the border about “volunteering” they will be suspicious about you working and might give you hard time. So basically, you are just another foreigner/tourist coming to visit Peru. That is all you have to say at the border and you can enter with a tourist visa, normally valid for 60/90 days, or 183 days on request. If you have a return ticket dated more than 60 days out, you can ask for 90 days or 183 days, and even if you havent, being Peru, you can always ask with a smile and it might work! If you want to stay longer, then you usually need a trip (even just for a day) over the border into any neighboring country and back again to get another 60/90/183 day tourist visa.