Volunteer in Uruguay
Do more than just sightseeing, this is a really rewarding experience and a good way to stay a little longer and get immersed into the culture. Find structured, free & low cost volunteer opportunities in Uruguay with international and local charities, NGO's, non-profit organisations and animal sanctuaries.
Volunteer Programs in Uruguay
A Guide to Volunteering in Uruguay
Here are some great reasons to consider volunteering in Uruguay:
- Uruguay is politically stable
- Crime is not as big a problem as in neighbouring countries
- Friendly local people
- Improve your Spanish skills
- Meet other participants from all over the world
- Help play a small role in helping
Location of Projects
A lot of the placements are available in the capital - Montevideo where around 40% of the population live. This city is a great place to base yourself and live for a long period but another city you might be placed is Punta Del Este. There are also projects in more rural towns and villages like Colonia Del Sacramento and Punta Del Diablo which offer an insight into the slow paced life in South America.
Types of Volunteer Programs in Uruguay
Uruguay is lucky to have a spectacular ocean and also lush biodiversity inland. You could help sea turtle conservation efforts and live and volunteer on the East coast helping research and local scientists. Education and awareness campaigns are very important on these projects, sometimes you might also be taking part in beach patrols and seeing turtles up close.
On some programs like marine conservation you will get to live on the Atlantic Ocean which is really stunning, you'll be able to search out the best beaches and also learn to surf. There are also several protected areas of the country where you can help local scientists preserve biodiversity include wildlife and nature. These projects are perfect if you are looking to learn about biology or looking for work experience, you'll get to monitor, study, collect field data and help efforts to save species.
Community Development Volunteer Programs
Uruguay is a developed country but there are still problems with poverty in some areas of the capital and country. It is estimated around 19% of the population live in poverty and you can work to improve living standards or help people get a better quality of life. You will be impressed with all the colonial architecture, pretty cobblestone roads and hidden jems you'll find in Uruguay but behind the touristy locations there are also a lot of shanty towns and poor urbran housing where some of the poorest people in the country live, an estimated 750,000 people are living in makesift accommodation.
There are organisations working on the ground too help improve living conditions for the people living the shanty towns and group programs are available to join where you can help build and construct new safe houses and community centres. These projects are run by organisations like 'Un Techo para mi Pais' who have helped build and improve over 1,000 houses for poor families. These types of programs leave a lasting legacy and over 8,000 have participated over the years.
Youth & Educational Volunteer Work in Uruguay
There are also opportunities to work with children and youth run by local NGO's, there is a free education system in Uruguay but many children need more assistance and special after schools events and summer camps are run. On these projects you might be working with local staff to teach, coach sports or help with arts, music and crafts.
You will usually be required to work around 5 hours per day from Monday to Friday. Sightseeing and excursions can be arranged in country. When volunteering you will get lots of free time and we recommend you visit the ancient port of Colonia del Sacramento or try to watch a live football game, this is the national passion and some of the best players in the world were born here.
On some projects you can choose to stay with a local family on a homestay, this is a good way to do something different where you can converse with a family, eat local food and learn about the country/culture. Other shared accommodation with participants is also available. Uruguay is quite an expensive destination compared to other countries in South America, Montevideo and Punta Del Este are the most expenive places in terms of accommodation and food. The more rural areas of the country and coast are cheaper than the cities. Once in country we recommend tasting the local cuisine like the famous big steaks and the local wine.
Visa, Eligibility & How to Apply
Most organisations will require you to be aged 18+. Basic Spanish might be required but classes can also be arranged in country, please buy a phrase book or learn some words before departing as this will really help your experience in this destination. Some local people speak English but not everyone. If you are a citizen of an EU country or the USA you can volunteer for up to 90 days without the need of a visa. If you are thinking about volunteering in Uruguay you can browse projects and also find local NGO's, non-profits and organisations, sometimes you will be required to pay a fee or donation to participate. For more options view our South America volunteer directory.
How to Volunteer for Free in Uruguay
It is possible too volunteer for free in Uruguay, contact local charities for details about placements but please note you might still need to pay for your board and meals. There are also hotels and hostels which offer free board and meals in exchange for helping with the daily routine.
Uruguay Volunteer Reviews
If you have ever been to volunteer in Uruguay and would like to share your experiences, write a review or give advice to future participants please contact us.