Volunteer in Peru

FAQ

WHY VISIT YANTALO IN PERU?

By interacting with local community members, you’ll not only get a chance to see the culture, but you’ll get to help people who are trying to build a better life for themselves. Sincere assistance means a lot in Peru. Whether it’s shopping for groceries in the market, helping to cook, dancing, singing, or just talking with the community members, life in Peru will touch you. You will come to understand the challenges the people of Yantalo face and feel the satisfaction of being a part of Yantalo’s community. Enjoy the food, the music, and the rhythm of life here as much as the greenery and diversity of the environment. Hopefully, your visit will be distinct and rewarding with opportunities to make discoveries outside of yourself and within.

WHO VOLUNTEERS IN YANTALO?

People from all nations are invited to volunteer at the The Yantalo Foundation. We have had physicians, nurses, dentists, medical students, teachers, engineers, economists, carpenters, performing artists, gardeners, and painters. College students at the undergraduate, graduate, or doctorate level are welcome to volunteer, as well as students who are taking a gap year before university and professionals on sabbatical. Whether you are looking to gain college credit, a chance to travel during a career change, or simply a volunteer vacation, The Yantalo Foundation is flexible to work with your needs. During their stay, visiting professionals are encouraged to share their experiences and knowledge with local community members, and with friends, families, and colleagues upon their return to their home country.

HOW DO I BECOME A VOLUNTEER? 

Teacher? Healthcare professional? Student? Artist? Musician? Civil engineer? Lay person? Whether you come to Yantaló for one week or more, your contribution will make a difference. Please tell us about yourself and request a volunteer application form from info@yantalo.org.

HOW DO I GET TO YANTALO?

Lima is the port of entry. From Lima, catch a one hour flight to Tarapoto. From Tarapoto, a representative from the Yantalo Foundation will meet you to drive 2.5 hours to Moyobamba. From Moyobamba, you will continue to Yantalo, which is about a 20-minute car ride away. From the main plaza in Yantalo, the clinic is another 5 minutes away by car.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

Costs will vary according to your departure city, length of stay, type of accommodation, and preferred means travel. Below are some suggestions as of July 2015.

Air: Popular departure locations include Miami, Dallas, Los Angles, New York, and Houston.

Land: The motorcar ride from Moyobamba to Yantalo is 2 soles (0.60 USD).

Accomodation: Hotel costs vary greatly depending on your prefered accommodations. Homestays are available with Florita and Lucho in Yantalo who are about a 20-minute walk to the clinic. They have two rooms for rent in their house and each room has two bunk beds to accomodate up to four people. The cost is 5 soles/day ($1.25 USD)

Prices are references only. Exact prices will be provided when travel dates are identified.

HOW DO I QUALITY FOR A TAX DEDUCTION?

Please refer to IRS document 526. Keep in mind that any tourist visits before or after to Yantalo, such us Machu Picchu, Nazca Lines, etc., will not fall under this category.

WHAT AIRLINES FLY FROM PERU TO THE US?

The following airlines fly from the US to Peru:

American Airlines * Argentina Airlines * Avianca * Continental * Copa * Delta * Lan Chile * Lan Peru * Taca

Flights to the Amazon Jungle from within Peru are operated by Lan Peru. Airfare starts at $230.

MILA Tours is the exclusive travel provider for the Yantalo Peru Foundation. Please contact them for more information.

CAN I SEE A SUGGESTED TRAVEL ITINERARY TO YANTALO?

Assuming you have 10 - 12 days:

  1. Arrive in Lima.
  2. Take a PM flight to Tarapoto and drive to Moyobamba
  3. Arrive in Yantalo
  4. Yantalo
  5. While in Yantalo, visit Moyobamba and surroundings
  6. Yantalo
  7. From Tarapoto, fly to Lima in the PM
  8. From Lima, fly to Cuzco
  9. From Cuzco, visit Machu Picchu
  10. To Machu Picchu, go to Cuzco
  11. Cuzco
  12. Fly from Cuzco to Lima, and to your final destination

If you only have 10 days, delete days 6 and 11 from above. Add more days if possible. For more suggestions contact info@yantalo.org or MILA Tours: milalatin@aol.com or 1-800-367-7378.

DO I NEED A VISA TO VISIT PERU?

If you are a US citizen, then you do not need a visa. If you are from another nation, please check with the Peruvian Embassy closest to you.

DO I NEED TO LEARN SPANISH?

Conversational Spanish is an advantage, but is not essential. Most of our Peruvian staff speak some English. We recommend that all participants without Spanish experience enroll in a beginner’s course. It will definitely enhance your experience.

If you plan to get credit for your stay while doing a Spanish immersion, please send us your program with your school’s approval.

DO I NEED TRAVEL INSURANCE?

Yes, travel insurance is required to volunteer with the Yantalo Foundation. We recommend that you purchase an all-purpose travel insurance at least 15 days prior to your departure date.

Make sure you are covered for:

  • Adventurous activities/extreme sports
  • Air and land expenses
  • Cancellations
  • Luggage and personal belongings
  • Medical expenses

DO I NEED VACINATIONS TO TRAVEL TO THE PERUVIAN AMAZON JUNGLE?

No vaccinations are needed at the present time. However, please check with your physician for specific recommendations based on your health. More information can be found from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CAN I JOIN A GROUP ALREADY SCHEDULED TO GO TO YANTALO?

Yes, please contact us requesting travel dates for future groups and indicate your availability.

CAN I ORGANIZE A GROUP TO GO TO YANTALO?

Yes, you then become the group leader. Plus, if 15 or more people travel together, the Yantalo Foundation will help cover approximately 80% of your air and land expenses. Please contact us for specifics.

CAN I JOIN A VISIT TO YANTALO LED BY THE PRESIDENT OR A BOARD MEMBER OF THE FOUNDATION?

Yes, usually such trips are scheduled at least 10 months in advance. Please contact us for specifics.

ARE THERE OTHER WAYS TO HELP?

Of course! Organize a group to visit Yantalo while visiting the Peruvian Amazon and other cultural areas in Peru. Organize an event in your civic group, school, club, or church, such as a brunch, wine and cheese night, or an audiovisual presentation about Peru. Raise awareness and funds for the Yantalo Foundation to keep the work going.

Encourage your hospital, clinic, bank, or other businesses to donate medical equipment, medicine, and supplies. Is there a medical device or pharmaceutical company in your area? Ask them to donate. Contact us for an updated needs list: info@yatalo.org 

Share information about Yantalo with your friends, family, and associates. All contributions are greatly appreciated.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME OF THE YEAR TO VISIT YANTALO?

We recommend traveling between the March 1st and December 29th when schools are in session. School is out of session in January, February, and the last 15 days of July when Peru celebrates national holidays.

WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE IN YANTALO?

Due to several microclimates, summers in Peru are during the months of January, February, and March. It rarely rains on the coast. Usually the rainy season in the Andes and the jungle are from mid December through March. However, heavy rains are not often.

WHAT KIND OF TRAVEL TIPS DO YOU SUGGEST?

Traveling abroad offers opportunities to learn about the country, the people, and new cultures.

BE OPEN, RECEPTIVE and ACCEPTING OF THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN YOUR COUNTRY AND THE HOST COUNTRY.

THIS IS YOUR TRIP, Make it a GOOD one!

The following are suggestions before you travel.

Please share other suggestions with us that you may have upon returning from your trip.

AIRLINE TICKETS: Make an extra copy of your electronic tickets and keep them with other important copies while you travel.

ATM CARDS: Check with your local bank or credit card company to ensure that your cards are accepted in the country you’re traveling to and that your personal identification number (PIN) will work. Also inquire if additional charges will be applied for using a foreign ATM.

CHILDREN TRAVELING WITH YOU:

1)   Be sure they have a willingness to leave home.

2)   Explain the itinerary clearly.

3)   Know the children’s eating and sleeping habits, and medical history.

CLOTHING: Bring layered clothing. Cotton is preferred. Your itinerary may include mountains, deserts, and jungles, so dress accordingly. Sturdy walking shoes are a must. Many places still have cobblestone streets and narrow sidewalks.

CONVERTERS / ADAPTERS: Bring these with you when traveling with electronics and appliances. However, some destinations may not have electricity.

CREDIT CARDS: Most hotels, shops, and restaurants accept all major credit cards except Discover. Keep records of your credit card numbers in case of loss. It's a good idea to travel with more than one credit card. Leave all your other credit cards at home.

CURRENCY EXCHANGE: All airports and major hotels have an exchange service. Some shopping and dining facilities will also exchange dollars. Please do not exchange money in the street. This makes you vulnerable to theft. Some countries will not accept $100 bills with certain serial numbers, if damaged, or written on with graffiti. It is recommended to carry lower denominations for easier exchange and for minor purchases.

FILM / MEMORY CARDS: Bring plenty because in some places it may be costly or unavailable. It is also wise to bring an extra camera battery because it may be difficult to purchase another one in a foreign country. Don’t forget to bring the battery charger for your camera.

FIRST AID: It is a good idea to have a small first aid kit with you that includes Band-Aids, medicated cream, antiseptic spray, aspirin, antacids or upset stomach reliever, and cold medicine. Most of these you can also buy abroad at pharmacies as needed.

FLIGHT RESERVATIONS: Be sure to reconfirm your domestic and international flight reservations as soon as you arrive in each country. Sometimes flight numbers change last minute. The same is true for departure gates. If you have arranged for transfer services with a local ground operator, they will reconfirm the flights for you and advise you of any changes. When a flight in the US is cancelled, call the airline's toll-free number to make a confirmed reservation on another flight. At that point, you can line up at the counter to have your ticket changed.

On flights within foreign countries, if a flight is cancelled or delayed beyond a reasonable time while you are waiting for the plane and if you leave the airport, be sure to get your ticket back from the counter agent. This will help with any refunds or exchanges.

GREETINGS: The common form of greeting women is a handshake and a kiss on the cheek. For men, a handshake and/or a hug.

HIGH ALTITUDE: When visiting high altitude destinations remember to have a light meal prior to departure and for the first 24 hours. Rest for an hour or two prior to departure and for the first 24 hours. Drink more fluids, avoid alcohol, and refrain from smoking. Bring sunscreen. Both the altitude and, in some cities, the proximity to the equator increase the possibility of sunburn.

IMMUNIZATIONS: Conditions vary from time to time and regulations between countries differ. For example, no immunizations are needed from the US to Colombia or to Brazil, but you do need immunizations if you go from Colombia to Brazil. Please check with the Centers for Disease Control, the consulate of the countries on your itinerary, and with your personal physician.

INSURANCE: Make sure you are fully protected with health and/or accident insurance. Some policies do not cover travel abroad. Trip cancellation or interruption insurance, which will also provide medical expense coverage and emergency evacuation insurance, is highly recommended.

JUNGLE AND TROPICAL AREAS: Temperatures may be cool in the early mornings and evenings. The daytime can be significantly warm.

1)   Wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to prevent sunburn.

2)   Use insect repellent and long-sleeved shirts and pants to prevent insect bites.

3)   Avoid walking barefoot.

4)   Drink plenty of bottled water and other fluids to prevent heat exhaustion.

5)   Wear cool, light clothing made of porous fabrics like cotton to allow adequate ventilation and prevent prickly heat rash.

6)   Bring a rain jacket or poncho. Bring plastic bags to wrap around cameras and other equipment.

LUGGAGE: Luggage tags help identify your belongings at airports and hotels. Bring a day bag for work and excursions. An extra expandable bag is also useful for handicrafts, souvenirs, and other unique gifts you may purchase during your stay.

MEALS: Lunch is usually between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. and dinner is after 8 p.m. Most hotels have 24-hour service for your convenience. Typical meals from the region include rice, potatoes, salad, and fried bananas, along with chicken, beef, or pork. This is served with juices from fresh fruits or vegetables that come straight from the crops nearby.

MEDICATIONS: If you are on prescribed medication, make sure to bring an adequate supply. Keep your medicine in its original container. Carry a copy of your prescriptions for all medicines, eyeglasses, and contact lenses. You can always purchase medications at the local pharmacies which may be cheaper.

PASSPORT: Make sure it is valid for at least six months beyond your return date. Keep a photocopy of your passport at home and travel with an extra copy. Check with the nearest consulate or with milalatin@aol.com regarding visa requirements.

SIDE TRIPS: Mountains? Jungle? Ski Resorts? Pack only pertinent items for the duration of your excursion. Most hotels have storage facilities available which are safe for your remaining luggage.

TIPPING: Children love to have their picture taken. Please do not give them money as a token. Instead, bring pencils, crayons, gum, stickers, candy, etc. On scheduled excursions, tips for the guide and driver are not included. Tips can be made in US dollars. A suggested amount for the guide is $5 - $10 per person per tour depending on if it’s a half-day versus a full day, and $2 - $5 to the driver. At hotels and airports, luggage tips are approximately $1 per bag. At restaurants, please follow the same behavior for tips that you do at home, except if it is not accepted in the country you visit.

DONT'S:

  • Do not pack medicine, eyeglasses, important documents or anything of value in your check-in luggage
  • Do not travel with expensive jewelry or dangling earrings
  • Do not wait for the rush hour hotel departure time to settle any accounts
  • Do not be impatient. Expect delays standing in line at touring facilities, immigration and customs, security points, while in transit, etc.

WHAT DO I NEED TO PACK?

Mandatory: Sunscreen, insect repellent, tissues, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, long and short-sleeved cotton shirts, comfortable walking shoes or sandals, shorts, comfortable trousers, poncho, light waterproof top or windbreaker, swimsuit, towel, and a hat.

Extras: A compass, binoculars, camera and memory, and battery chargers, as well as donations like pencils, crayons, art supplies, and English materials for children.

Medical: Adhesive bandages, medicine, throat lozenges, antidiarrheal pills, and prescription medication in its original container.

WHAT DOCUMENTS DO I NEED TO BRING?

We have compiled a very helpful list of travel essentials.

It is critical that you make photocopies each of your important travel documents. Keep one copy in your backpack, one in your day-bag, and leave one at home with a reliable friend. Ask someone back home to keep your documents in a safe place in case you need them in an emergency.

Make copies of the following:

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Itinerary and e-tickets
  • Drivers license
  • International drivers license
  • Flight tickets
  • International youth hostel card
  • Glasses or contact prescription information
  • Medical prescription information and doctors numbers
  • Credit card numbers and emergency numbers to report in case of theft
  • Serial numbers of any technology you take with you
  • Insurance details
  • Emergency contact numbers
  • Your embassy’s phone number in the countries you will be visiting

WHAT KIND OF DONATIONS CAN I BRING?

School supplies, educational materials, office supplies, medicine, clothes, toys, fishing poles, laptops, and baby items. If you prefer, some of these items can also be purchased at stores and markets in Peru. Please inquire before your trip to bring something specific that the organization or someone in the community may need.

HOW MUCH LUGGAGE WILL THE AIRLINE ALLOW?

Passengers are allowed to take up to two pieces of luggage per person up to a maximum of 50 pounds each, plus a carry on and a bag or purse. If you take new things with you to Peru, please take off the prices tags. Do not pack items in a box to travel in the cargo bay. Instead, take used suitcases that can be left in Yantalo and reused.

CAN I VIST OTHER SITES IN PERU DURING MY TRIP?

Definitely! Before or after your stay in Yantalo.

CAN I STAY WITH A FAMILY IN YANTALO?

Yes, depending on availability. Keep in mind that Yantalo is a rural jungle community of about 600 families, many of them with two or three generations under one roof. Hot water is not available, and other facilities, while clean, are primitive. You will most likely sleep on a bunk bed. Meals are delicious! You may arrange for your clothes to be laundered with the help of your host family or do your laundry by yourself by hand. The equivalent of one US dollar per piece of clothing will be highly appreciated.

IF I STAY WITH A FAMILY, WHAT SHOULD I BRING FOR MY HOSTS?

Prior to your visit, feel free to ask your coordinator if the family has a need for any items in particular, or the ages and sexes of their children. You can purchase gifts in Lima, or in Moyobamba near Yantalo. Therefore, you do not need to carry extra luggage or weight. Other thoughful gifts for your hosts may be bought closer to the end of your stay once you've gotten to know them more. Photographs, household items, and flowers make great goodbye gifts.


"You must give some time to your fellow men. Even if it’s a little thing, do something for others – something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it." -Albert Schweitzer, physician and philosopher