Central America has tons of amazing destinations, things to do and places to see. Imagine having stunningly natural beauties such as beaches, jungles, caves, lakes and volcanoes and diverse culture making it hard to believe all this can exist on such a relatively small strip of land.
However, the people here have also been struggling for years with poverty, lack of proper medical care and malnutrition. As a response, there are lots of NGOs and other types of organizations that are working hard to provide less fortunate with basic services. There are also organizations that are doing amazing jobs at working with the communities to protect the local flora and fauna.
These organizations are constantly looking for people that are willing to donate their time, knowledge, work and strength to be able to do the job. Central America is highly recommended if you want to volunteer abroad.
The best part about these programs is that it is not all about the work. They allow volunteers to be immersed in the local culture and gives them the opportunity to explore some of the best destinations of the region on their free days.
Many people take time during or after their help to either learn Spanish or get their certification to teach English abroad.
You will be able to find free volunteering opportunities of all sorts in each of the countries, but as it is with everything else, there are a few places where you can get a better experience.
Volunteering in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is by far one of the most visited countries in the region. Most of the travelers that you find here are looking for a close encounter with nature. Its hundreds of natural parks are home to tons and tons of different animal species that you might be able to run into.
All of this provides many different kind of volunteering options to choose from. Along the coasts, you will find places to help preserve sea turtles. In the central region (around San Jose) you will find opportunities that allow you to work with kids and women. Also near the parks and reserves you will find organizations where you can help preserve the local flora or fauna.
There are also tons of fun and adventurous activities being offered such as canopy tours, hanging bridges, ATV, horseback riding, hiking, sailing and surfing. This means that no matter where you go you will be able to have fun as if you were just another tourist.
Lastly, Costa Rica has a reputation for having extremely friendly locals and for good reason. They will do everything they can to make you feel as one of them, providing a cultural immersion unlike any other you might be able to experience in other countries.
Guatemala is known for being home to hundreds of Mayan Archaeological sites, including some of the largest and most spectacular complexes that they ever built. It is also known for having the last true Colonial City of the region.
What not a lot of people know is that it also has tons of National Parks and reserves that cover around 30% of its territory. Wouldn't you want to take some time to explore them?
It is also a place where you can learn Spanish at a good price while sipping on a cup of coffee in Antigua or looking at the sunset from Atitlan Lake.
There are some volunteering options for those interested in nature conservation but the large majority revolve around education, health, empowering women and providing job opportunities for locals.
On your free days, you can either explore the country or go out to Belize, El Salvador or Honduras which are only a few hours away by car from pretty much anywhere in the country.