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.

We found 30 programmes in our database that matched your search. Choose one below to learn more.

CONSERVATION WORK EXPERIENCE INTERNSHIP IN THE AMAZON RAINFOREST IN PERU

Programme Overview:

Are you looking to start a career in conservation research? Are you passionate about sustainability and helping to protect the rainforest? This 6-month internship programme is designed to help students and graduates develop specific career skills in conservation research, community development, and non-profit project management, in the heart of the Amazon!Begin your programme in the Inca city of Cusco where you'll receive an induction and orientation before travelling through the High Andes to the Acjance Park Guard Station and the Cloud Forest. Then you descend into the Amazon via motorised canoe down the Madre de Dios River. The journey to the Project is spectacular, an adventure in itself!Project Overview

From: £6050
Country: Peru
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 18
TEACH ENGLISH TO SCHOOL CHILDREN IN THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS IN ECUADOR

Programme Overview:

Teach in the amazing Galapagos Islands! Help teach English to children aged from 4 to 18. Alongside English you can also help teach IT, Sports, Art and Music.You'll generally help the teachers to take English classes as they always need help with preparing lessons, finding new materials such as teaching English songs to the children, and help with practicing conversational English. You'll also help with organising other activities, including assisting those children who may be slower than others.

From: £1920
Country: Ecuador
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 18
GALAPAGOS ISLANDS CONSERVATION, REFORESTATION & COMMUNITY PROJECT

Programme Overview:

Work to preserve the native and endemic forests on the beautiful island of San Cristobal. There are numerous elements to the project that you'll be involved in and most of the work is on reforestation, research and community based projects.Some of your work includes the restoration of habitats in the Galapagos Islands, working with the local community; visiting ecologically important sites and teaching visitors about ecological issues.This is the only project in the Galapagos Islands that combines environmental, community and social initiatives to improve the sustainability of the islands. Plus ... it?s loads of fun!

From: £1395
Country: Ecuador
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 18
CONSERVATION AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT IN THE AMAZON RAINFOREST IN PERU

Programme Overview:

Get involved in conservation and community development work on this excellent multi-activity project in the Amazon Rainforest! You'll benefit from professional training and actively assist in the environmental monitoring study at multiple locations.Begin your programme in the Inca city of Cusco where you'll receive an induction and orientation before travelling through the High Andes to the Acjance Park Guard Station and the Cloud Forest. Then you descend into the Amazon via motorised canoe down the Madre de Dios River. The journey to the Project is spectacular, an adventure in itself!

From: £1695
Country: Peru
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 18
ANIMAL WELFARE IN AN ENDANGERED ANIMAL SANCTUARY IN NORTHERN PERU

Programme Overview:

Improve the lives of endangered species native to the coast and jungle of Peru. Support the good works at the centre that supports the Humboldt Penguins!Take part in activities that will help build and maintain safe habitats for vulnerable animals and stop a further decline in their numbers.Efforts to assist Humboldt Penguins continue, but are challenging. Your ongoing help is needed! The energy you put in, will truly help many endangered animals out!

From: £1095
Country: Peru
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 18
TEACH CHILDREN IN RURAL SCHOOLS IN NORTHERN PERU

Programme Overview:

Assist as a teacher of various exciting subjects to primary or secondary schools in rural areas of Northern Peru...Your main objective will be to assist a local Peruvian teacher in their class. The flexible setup of this program allows you to assist the teacher in not just formal school subjects, but also other fun and active extra-curricular activities!

From: £495
Country: Peru
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 16
VETERINARY WORK EXPERIENCE INTERNSHIP IN BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

Programme Overview:

Work in one of the largest vet clinics and pet shops in Buenos Aires. There are 15 staff, including two vets. You'll assist the vets during consultations, help with the care of the boarding animals and those for sale, and assist with grooming and various other responsibilities connected with running Clinic and Pet Shop.Our Veterinary Placement is located in the heart of Buenos Aires, South America, and is perfect for a passionate animal lover looking to to gain experience working with all types of animals. An intermediate Spanish level is required to work in the clinic (needed for vet consultations and surgeries).

From: £1395
Country: Argentina
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 17
FAMILY VOLUNTEERING IN THE AMAZON RAINFOREST IN PERU

Programme Overview:

This Amazon rainforest volunteering and adventure experience gives your family the opportunity to get involved in both conservation and social projects in the rainforest and gain a deeper understanding of this complex biosphere and the local communities who live there.Begin your programme in the Inca city of Cusco before travelling through the High Andes to the Acjance Park Guard Station and the Cloud Forest. Then you descend into the Amazon via motorised canoe down the Madre de Dios River. The journey to the Project is spectacular, an adventure in itself!

From: £1195
Country: Peru
Continent: South America
Minimum age: Children - 6; Adult - 13
CONSERVATION: HOWLER MONKEY AND PRIMATE RESCUE AND REHABILITATION IN ARGENTINA

Programme Overview:

Help to rehabilitate injured and abandoned Howler monkeys, including orphaned babies, in South America. The objective is to one day be able to release them back into the wild to live a natural, happy life.The monkeys are often in a terrible condition when they get to the Centre. Many are malnourished and unable to fend for themselves after being separated from their mothers. You'll assist in helping to rehabilitate the monkeys.This conservation volunteering project abroad is ideal for those who are looking to gain experience with animals, and also for people who are skilled in various areas. Biologists, vets, administrators, technicians, web designers have all contributed in the past and have helped build this project over time.

From: £1200
Country: Argentina
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 17
SPANISH LANGUAGE COURSES IN BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

Programme Overview:

Study Spanish with private tutors who tailor your lessons to your level, which could be Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced. Private lessons have no set start and finish dates and are recommended if you are a complete beginner.You could also study Spanish at the University of Buenos Aires on a one-month intensive course of 15 hours per week (three hours a day and all classes are in the afternoon).Your programme allows plenty of time for sightseeing and absorbing the experience of being in Argentina and South America. You can also combine your Spanish placement with any other project or with a Tango, Salsa or Photography Course.

From: £1190
Country: Argentina
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 17
SALSA DANCE COURSES IN BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

Programme Overview:

Learn to Dance the Salsa in Buenos Aires, the elegant capital city of Argentina. You'll have lessons with a private Salsa teacher and lessons are tailored to your individual level of expertise. There are 5 private Salsa classes of 2 hours each per week, 5 days a week. You can also combine this with the Tango Course, boosting your Latin American dance experience! Another option is to combine your dance with Spanish lessons and make the very most of your time in Argentina.

From: £1390
Country: Argentina
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 17
MULTIMEDIA INTERNSHIP IN THE AMAZON RAINFOREST IN PERU

Programme Overview:

This 3-month Multimedia Work Experience Internship programme is fantastic for anyone wanting to launch a career in media or even for someone just looking for a career break.You'll receive weekly workshops in writing, photography, filmography and design skills, along with in-the-field training and one-on-one meetings. You'll get to understand the scientific process and what it takes to conserve biodiversity by working alongside conservation researchers in the field ? all in the heart of the Amazon!

From: £4590
Country: Peru
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 18
COACH SPORTS TO SCHOOL CHILDREN ON FLORIANOPOLIS ISLAND IN BRAZIL

Programme Overview:

Coach children from local communities at NGO?s or public schools. You'll help with different types of sports, such as football, volleyball, basketball, handball and tennis. You'll assist the Sports teachers in their regular lessons, introducing your culture and sports specialities from your country!This is an exciting opportunity to also develop your own coaching project, being the ?main teacher?, showing your sports techniques, games played in your country, different styles, anything that can add to the teachers' and students' practice.The local teacher and coordinator will be there to help you with planning and practicing the lessons. The children are all so eager to learn from the foreign volunteers!This placement will add substantially to your CV or R?sum?.

From: £995
Country: Brazil
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 18
CARE FOR SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN IN CAJAMARCA IN PERU

Programme Overview:

Help out at a local children's home in Peru and be a part of improving the lives of the physically and mentally disabled.This program is for those looking to assist this special needs centre in a variety of ways. You'll be part of daily therapy sessions, helping the local staff with disabled care, and interacting with these special children. This programme will give you a new appreciation for life and caring for others!

From: £495
Country: Peru
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 16
PHOTOGRAPHY COURSES IN BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

Programme Overview:

Study photography in Buenos Aires with an experienced tutor who tailors your lessons to your individual needs. Classes include practical teaching, analysis of your work, theory and history - and regular opportunities to explore and capture this wonderful city with your camera!Buenos Aires is a photographer's dream! Many neighbourhoods have their own unique flair, such as the brightly painted houses of La Boca or beautiful Belgrano.You can also combine your Photography project with a Spanish Course to get the maximum out of your time in Argentina and South America.

From: £1090
Country: Argentina
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 17
VOLUNTEER TO CARE FOR DISADVANTAGED STREET CHILDREN IN QUITO, ECUADOR

Programme Overview:

Work with a NGO that helps children, youth and adults living on the streets of Quito by giving them a safe environment to eat, shower, relax, meet peers, make friends and learn new skills. You'll help the children with their homework, or in the carpentry workshop and the kitchen. You'll visit the schools, and also help prepare activities for the children.The NGO hopes to also provide a safe place for the children to sleep in the near future - without volunteers providing the project with their time and enthusiasm, this would not be possible.You'll need a little Spanish to do this project, but we've got that covered! If you have no knowledge of Spanish at all, you can combine your project with two weeks of Spanish.

From: £875
Country: Ecuador
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 17
CONSERVATION: WILDLIFE RESCUE AND REHABILITATION IN THE RAINFOREST IN ECUADOR

Programme Overview:

Help at an animal rescue centre to care for abused, neglected or abandoned animals and to rehabilitate and, where possible, release them back into the wild. This projects works to fight against animal trafficking, abuse and hunting of wild species.Some of the animals at the Rescue Centre are orphans because their parents were killed by hunters, others were rescued from animal dealers, and others were rescued from people who kept them in small cages! You'll be working with an organisation dedicated to caring for those animals that have nowhere else to go.

From: £1290
Country: Ecuador
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 18
PORTUGUESE LANGUAGE COURSES ON THE BEAUTIFUL ISLAND OF FLORIANOPOLIS IN BRAZIL

Programme Overview:

Learn Brazilian Portuguese on the stunning island of Florianopolis in the south of Brazil. Private lessons are arranged for you so if you just want to learn some basic survival phrases and vocabulary to help you whilst on your placement, or you would like to have a more structured course or improve your existing knowledge of the language, we have something for everyone! There is no better or easier way to learn a language than to live it and breathe it ... and there is no better place to study than in vibrant, beautiful Brazil!You can choose to only learn Portuguese during your time in Floripa, take a course for a week prior to starting your project, or you can combine a Portuguese Course with a teaching, care or sports project.

From: £995
Country: Brazil
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 18
TEACH ENGLISH TO SCHOOL CHILDREN ON FLORIANOPOLIS ISLAND IN BRAZIL

Programme Overview:

Teach school children from local communities on the stunning Island of Florianopolis! You will either assist the English teacher in regular lessons, introducing your own culture and motivating students to learn about it or presenting new possibilities. You may also be able to develop your own teaching project, being the 'main teacher' in this case. We work with several schools in the north of the Island. You may teach more formal English at public schools, or you could teach children at a private school with an innovative system of learning in which students decide what they want to study! All of the students are eager to learn from foreign volunteers. This placement will add substantially to your CV or Rsum.

From: £995
Country: Brazil
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 18
SPANISH LANGUAGE CLASSES IN NORTHERN PERU

Programme Overview:

Our classes are a great way to learn Spanish and immerse yourself in the local culture, lifestyle and cuisine of Peru. Learning a language has never been so fun!This program gives you the chance to bond and participate with your fellow classmates in a positive learning environment designed to give you individual help from our teachers. These classes will improve your Spanish allowing you to easily spend your time in local Peru.

From: £495
Country: Peru
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 16
TANGO DANCE COURSES IN BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

Programme Overview:

Learn to dance the TANGO in Buenos Aires with a private teacher. Lessons are tailored to your level of expertise. Five private 2-hour Tango classes per week. Our teachers will take you to a local ?milonga? so you can see and feel the true Argentina Tango, Latin American dancing at its best!You can also combine your Tango course with the SALSA Course and learn both at the same time. Another option is to combine your dance with Spanish lessons and make the very most of your time in Argentina!

From: £1390
Country: Argentina
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 17
COACH CRICKET TO CHILDREN IN SCHOOLS AND CLUBS IN BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

Programme Overview:

Coach Cricket in schools and clubs with the Argentina Cricket Association. You'll work as an assistant coach alongside the Head Coach, with children from 8 to 15. On this sports programme you may get involved in organisation and planning of classes, pupil motivation, organising events and competitions, and lots more.You don't need Spanish or coaching qualifications, you just need to know how to play the game. You are welcome to play as well. Most clubs have three teams and there is a women's league for female volunteers.

From: £1195
Country: Argentina
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 17
TEACH DISADVANTAGED CHILDREN IN SCHOOLS IN QUITO IN ECUADOR

Programme Overview:

Teach in stunning Ecuador! You'll assist in a government school with 500 pupils aged 3 to 12. The children come from many different economic backgrounds and family situations. You'll be able to teach English and a wide range of other subjects: IT, sports, music, art, drama, anything you have a reasonable knowledge in!You'll need a little Spanish to do this project, but we've got that covered! If you have no knowledge of Spanish at all, you can combine your project with two weeks of Spanish.

From: £1165
Country: Ecuador
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 17
TEACH SCHOOL CHILDREN IN BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

Programme Overview:

Teach English to delightful children at one of our Catholic Medium schools in vibrant Buenos Aires. You can also teach Drama full time if you have experience in this area and you can also choose to teach Sport, Maths or Music, alongside teaching English. You'll act as an assistant to the regular English teacher. No qualifications needed. Buenos Aires is stunning and often referred to as the Paris of South America. This cosmopolitan city has exciting neighbourhoods such as La Boca with its brightly painted houses and the elegant areas of Belgrano and Palermo.

From: £1195
Country: Argentina
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 17
3 Countries, 3 Cities, 6 Weeks ... Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador

Programme Overview:

This South and Central American Experience is designed to offer you a varied and insightful volunteering, cultural and adventure travel experience. You'll do three separate 2-week projects in three of South America' most appealing destinations, ARGENTINA, BRAZIL and ECUADOR.In Argentina you'll live it up in cosmopolitan Buenos Aires and then on to Brazil where you'll stay on the stunning island of Florianopolis know by Brazilians as the best place in the country to live and for your third exciting exploration, you'll go to Central America, and historic Quito in Ecuador ... wow!This really is a unique experience. With a selection of voluntary work projects to choose from, as well as additional cultural courses available to you in each city, we?ve done all the hard work! All you have to do is handpick your perfect itinerary? This experience can also be offered in the opposite 'direction' if this fits in better with your travel plans.

From: £2995
Country: Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 18
CARE FOR CHILDREN IN A CRECHE ON THE ISLAND OF FLORIANOPOLIS IN BRAZIL

Programme Overview:

Volunteer to care for young children from poor backgrounds in the beautiful beach town of Florianopolis Island. Activities are mainly based on helping the teachers to take care of the children, as well as developing educational games and recreational activities. You'll mainly be playing with the children, feeding them, reading to them and finding ways to interact and help them learn. If you have any special skills, such as playing a musical instrument, sports, arts, etc., you'll be even more welcomed (if that's possible!).The Creche is a strong proponent of volunteers assisting them because they firmly believe thatthe cultural exchange is very beneficial to the children.

From: £1295
Country: Brazil
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 18
CARE FOR CHILDREN AT A PUBLIC CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL IN QUITO, ECUADOR

Programme Overview:

Children from all over Ecuador are taken into in this public hospital with a range of short and long term medical conditions. You'll help to keep them cheerful and optimistic during their stay with games and other recreational activities, as well as providing educational support to those who've been in hospital a long time. You'll pay particular attention to any children who have been in the hospital a long time. Often these children miss a large part of their school education and so need help with basic tutoring and where possible, some English lessons. You'll need a little Spanish to do this project, but we've got that covered! If you have no knowledge of Spanish at all, you can combine your project with two weeks of Spanish.

From: £875
Country: Ecuador
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 17
LAW WORK EXPERIENCE INTERNSHIP IN BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

Programme Overview:

Intern at a leading law firm in the heart of cosmopolitan Buenos Aires! The law practice was founded more than 50 years ago, initially specialising in corporate law and have since expanded into other areas such as business reorganisation and bankruptcy. Their vast range of services means you'll get excellent, all-round experience. As with any law placement, the work you'll be involved with will vary according to your own abilities and to what the company requires from you at the time you're there. Your office work will vary from day to day, case to case and intern to intern but you are likely to be involved in case studies and have the opportunity to visit the law courts.

From: £2270
Country: Argentina
Continent: South America
Minimum age: -
SPANISH LANGUAGE COURSES IN QUITO IN ECUADOR

Programme Overview:

?C?mo se dice en Espa?ol???Learn Spanish on a structured course: all levels of courses are available, from Beginner to Advanced. There is no better way to learn a language than to live it, eat it, breathe it and speak it in a Spanish-speaking community!You can also combine your language course with a volunteer project that runs alongside the classes, or follow up your course with a voluntary project afterwards.The Spanish language has become one of the largest in the world and the best way to learn is in a Spanish speaking country, as you'll have the language all around you!

From: £695
Country: Ecuador
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 17
MEDICAL WORK EXPERIENCE INTERNSHIP IN BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

Programme Overview:

Work in a Primary Care Centre, or "Salitas" as they're called in Argentina. You?ll shadow doctors and nurses in their daily activities as they work with patients, including taking vitals, treating injuries and interacting with patients.Primary Care Centres are the first level of access for people in poor neighbourhoods and are free to all. In Primary Care Centres they have family doctors, paediatricians, nurses, psychologists, dentists and social workers, as well as other specialties.You should be studying a relevant health subject or be qualified and you should have intermediate Spanish. This internship is an excellent opportunity to add substantially to your CV or R?sum?.

From: £2660
Country: Argentina
Continent: South America
Minimum age: 18

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.