South America Gap Years

Overview and Highlights

South America is a diverse, dramatic and often dreamlike continent that is seen by many gap year travellers as the perfect destination. Those who choose to work or volunteer in this wondrous area of the planet will be faced with a tricky conundrum as to where to visit, but with so many highlights, it is certain you will find something that ticks all your boxes.

The Andes, the longest mountain range in the world, forms the spine of South America, passing through Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Venezuela. Such is the geographical variety, however, the continent is also home to the world’s largest rainforest, the Amazon, as well as the Atacama Desert, the driest in the world.

Of course, while geographical, biodiversity and the amazing wildlife that comes with it will delight visitors, it will be the people of South America who will leave a lasting an impression. Spanish and Portuguese cultures have left indomitable marks on the continent, but there are plenty of opportunities to experience and interact with indigenous cultures too.

South America Gap Year Companies

We found 17 companies in our database that provide South America gap years. Choose one below to learn more.

Gap Provider What They Offer Learn More
Gap Provider
POD Volunteeringbrand-logoPod Volunteer is an award winning non-profit organisation arranging ethical, inspiring and supported volunteering opportunities around the world since 2001. Volunteers are needed from 1 - 12 weeks for animal, conservation, child care support, education and teaching, building and community volunteering projectsVisit Site »
What They Offer: Pod Volunteer is an award winning non-profit organisation arranging ethical, inspiring and supported volunteering opportunities around the world since 2001. Volunteers are needed from 1 - 12 weeks for animal, conservation, child care support, education and teaching, building and community volunteering projects
Oyster Worldwidebrand-logoOyster Worldwide is a well-regarded gap year travel and responsible travel specialist. Many of our projects were founded in 1999 and have been nurtured and supported by us ever since. We are known for running life-changing gap year programs, giving you the opportunity to make a genuine contribution and for the first class support you receive.Visit Site »
What They Offer: Oyster Worldwide is a well-regarded gap year travel and responsible travel specialist. Many of our projects were founded in 1999 and have been nurtured and supported by us ever since. We are known for running life-changing gap year programs, giving you the opportunity to make a genuine contribution and for the first class support you receive.
Gap Gurubrand-logoGapGuru is a gap travel specialist offering a wide range of exciting gap year volunteering, teaching, travel and internship opportunities across Asia, Africa, South America and Europe.Visit Site »
What They Offer: GapGuru is a gap travel specialist offering a wide range of exciting gap year volunteering, teaching, travel and internship opportunities across Asia, Africa, South America and Europe.
CESA Languages Abroadbrand-logoLive in a new country, improve your language skills, mix with native speakers and share the experience with like-minded language learners from across the world! Have fun exploring the CESA world of language learning.Visit Site »
What They Offer: Live in a new country, improve your language skills, mix with native speakers and share the experience with like-minded language learners from across the world! Have fun exploring the CESA world of language learning.
Global Vision Internationalbrand-logoWe're a family-run organisation with an amazing culture and an awesome team of people across the world who are passionate experts in their chosen field and will make your experience a truly unforgettable one (in a good way).Visit Site »
What They Offer: We're a family-run organisation with an amazing culture and an awesome team of people across the world who are passionate experts in their chosen field and will make your experience a truly unforgettable one (in a good way).
i-to-ibrand-logoA TEFL course opens doors. Not only will you experience new cultures in a way no tourist ever could, but you'll also meet friends for life whilst sharpening your teaching skills. What's more, there's a huge demand for English teachers worldwide - and all you need is our internationally-recognised i-to-i qualification to start your adventure. Exciting times!Visit Site »
What They Offer: A TEFL course opens doors. Not only will you experience new cultures in a way no tourist ever could, but you'll also meet friends for life whilst sharpening your teaching skills. What's more, there's a huge demand for English teachers worldwide - and all you need is our internationally-recognised i-to-i qualification to start your adventure. Exciting times!
Gapforcebrand-logoWe've been delivering life-changing adventure travel programs for over 20 years. That's why we're a leader in gap year programs.Visit Site »
What They Offer: We've been delivering life-changing adventure travel programs for over 20 years. That's why we're a leader in gap year programs.
Raleigh Internationalbrand-logoRaleigh is a sustainable development organisation with 30 years of expertise in working through, for and with young people to create lasting change.With our project partners, local communities, funders, and over 42,000 previous local and international volunteers, we form a global community who are passionate about working together to build a sustainable future.Visit Site »
What They Offer: Raleigh is a sustainable development organisation with 30 years of expertise in working through, for and with young people to create lasting change.With our project partners, local communities, funders, and over 42,000 previous local and international volunteers, we form a global community who are passionate about working together to build a sustainable future.
Frontierbrand-logoGap Years, Volunteering and Inspirational Adventures 103,000 Successful Volunteer Placements since 1989.Visit Site »
What They Offer: Gap Years, Volunteering and Inspirational Adventures 103,000 Successful Volunteer Placements since 1989.
Travellers Worldwidebrand-logoEnrich your life and change you and the lives of others with a volunteering holiday as a vacation, on a gap year or career break, or by gaining valuable work experience to boost your CV/ResumeVisit Site »
What They Offer: Enrich your life and change you and the lives of others with a volunteering holiday as a vacation, on a gap year or career break, or by gaining valuable work experience to boost your CV/Resume
Projects Abroadbrand-logoFor over 20 years Projects Abroad have been experts in volunteering abroad, work experience and gap year placements. Founded in 1992, Projects Abroad has now sent nearly 100,000 volunteers from all walks of life to volunteer projects in the developing world.Visit Site »
What They Offer: For over 20 years Projects Abroad have been experts in volunteering abroad, work experience and gap year placements. Founded in 1992, Projects Abroad has now sent nearly 100,000 volunteers from all walks of life to volunteer projects in the developing world.
Lattitude Global Volunteeringbrand-logoOur mission is to educate and develop young people worldwide by providing opportunities to volunteer abroad and to make a positive difference to the lives of others through a distinctive, challenging, structured and supported overseas volunteering experience in a culture and community different from their own.Visit Site »
What They Offer: Our mission is to educate and develop young people worldwide by providing opportunities to volunteer abroad and to make a positive difference to the lives of others through a distinctive, challenging, structured and supported overseas volunteering experience in a culture and community different from their own.
The Leapbrand-logoWith The Leap, every program on offer involves variety. You'll travel to several different places across the country you've chosen to visit, and take part in all sorts of activities along the way. One week you could be entertaining local kids whilst living with an indigenous tribe, the next you could be taking surf lessons on the Pacific Ocean.Visit Site »
What They Offer: With The Leap, every program on offer involves variety. You'll travel to several different places across the country you've chosen to visit, and take part in all sorts of activities along the way. One week you could be entertaining local kids whilst living with an indigenous tribe, the next you could be taking surf lessons on the Pacific Ocean.
Outreach Internationalbrand-logoWe make volunteering abroad possible for gap year students, career break volunteers (those with specialist skills or just wanting a change), and increasingly retired persons who have a life-time of experience and skills to share with a community.Visit Site »
What They Offer: We make volunteering abroad possible for gap year students, career break volunteers (those with specialist skills or just wanting a change), and increasingly retired persons who have a life-time of experience and skills to share with a community.
Project Trustbrand-logoProject Trust has 50 years experience of providing Gap Year opportunities for 17-19 year old school leavers. Since 1967, over 7000 Project Trust volunteers have challenged themselves, learnt about the world and discovered how to be a positive force within it. Now its your turn.Visit Site »
What They Offer: Project Trust has 50 years experience of providing Gap Year opportunities for 17-19 year old school leavers. Since 1967, over 7000 Project Trust volunteers have challenged themselves, learnt about the world and discovered how to be a positive force within it. Now its your turn.
Pacific Discoverybrand-logoPacific Discovery offers experiential gap year semester and summer programs abroad to some of the most amazing places on earth. Our programs are deliberate overland journeys, blending authentic immersion in diverse cultures, meaningful service-learning projects, rewarding adventures, wilderness exploration, and personal development.Visit Site »
What They Offer: Pacific Discovery offers experiential gap year semester and summer programs abroad to some of the most amazing places on earth. Our programs are deliberate overland journeys, blending authentic immersion in diverse cultures, meaningful service-learning projects, rewarding adventures, wilderness exploration, and personal development.
Peak Leadersbrand-logoWe've been training ski instructors all over the world for over seventeen years, so when it comes to packing your skis and heading off to the mountains, we know everything there is to know. In fact we've built an experienced team at Peak Leaders who have all been on the same journey as you, so we know exactly what it's like to start a ski instructor training course.Visit Site »
What They Offer: We've been training ski instructors all over the world for over seventeen years, so when it comes to packing your skis and heading off to the mountains, we know everything there is to know. In fact we've built an experienced team at Peak Leaders who have all been on the same journey as you, so we know exactly what it's like to start a ski instructor training course.

Gap Year Opportunities

There are a vast wealth of environmentally significant areas in South America aside from the Amazon rainforest. The tropical wetlands of the Pantanal are teaming with exotic birds while jaguars, caimans and capybaras – the world’s largest rodent – are also prevalent. Add to that the glacier fields of Patagonia and it is no surprise that environmental and conservation volunteer projects are extremely popular for people looking for a year out.

There are also lots of gap year opportunities for teaching English, or indeed teaching in general, and community-based projects, such as working to help alleviate the plight of street children in some of the big cities. These can provide a rewarding and eye-opening experience whilst also being of benefit to your CV.

Adventure travel is also high on the list of priorities for many taking a career break to visit South America. There are some very challenging and extremely rewarding trekking opportunities such as tackling the continent’s highest peak, Aconcagua, or the more manageable Inca Trail, which rewards the effort with stunning views of the Inca settlement of Machu Pichu.

Practicalities, Health and Safety

While South America is vast, it is relatively easy to get around with a good and reliable network of buses. Of course, if you are seeking to visit some of the more remote places, such as an outpost in the jungle, it is likely you will need to rely on planes and/or boats.

In terms of health and safety in South America, almost all travellers find a welcoming and safe environment. If you are planning to venture into the jungle, anti-malarial medication will probably be required, while some vaccinations may be required for some destinations throughout the continent. Always check with your local travel clinic for the latest medical advice and be sure to read the latest GOV.UK travel advice as some areas of South American have been known to experience political unrest at times.

As is the case when travelling anywhere, basic precautions should be taken, especially in the bigger cities. However, with a little common sense, an open mind and a sense of adventure, your time in South America is likely to be memorable for all the right reasons: outstanding natural beauty, exposure to new and welcoming cultures and adventures that can be found nowhere else on the planet.