Volunteering in Central America. Push the boundaries of Sustainable Travel. Volunteering creates unforgettable experiences that go beyond simple tourism. Mayan Gateway understands the need to increase social awareness and responsibility and works to shed light on the social situation in Central America and Mexico. Some of the benefits for volunteers are: opportunity to improve your Spanish, learning about the Latin culture, experience in various fields like education, health care, marketing, management, etc.
These are some of the most popular destinations to volunteer in Central America:
‘Caras Alegres’ (happy faces) based in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala provides support to the children and women living in one of the neighborhoods of the city. In total, the program serves roughly 120 children with permanent teaching staff and social workers. Each of these programs aims to serve the children recreationally, nutritionally, and educationally.
This beautiful city is nestled in a large valley surrounded by volcanoes and mountains. Xela still conserves many of the ancient Mayan traditions, mixed up with a colonial past and dynamic modern life. Xela is also known as “The Cradle of Culture”. Home to numerous jazz and blues bands in addition to traditional musicians, there is also a broad arts scene focused on painting, singing and sculpture.
Some things to do in Quetzaltenango:
Fuentes Georginas is a picturesque hot spring nestled into the beautiful mountains near the city. If you are learning Spanish or are just looking to experience the local culture in Xela, the hot springs should make it onto your to do list.
The Western Highland of Guatemala can be a bit chilly therefore making these warm waters even more indulgent. There are five hot springs fed pools at this facility. The pools are rich in minerals leaving your skin feeling soft. We would highly suggest visiting these baths after a long hike to relax and revitalize your system. This is a beautiful location to visit for a day or you can always stay overnight in a private cabin. The perks of this, having the hot springs all to yourself under the night sky.
The summit of this volcano is 4,220 meters above sea level and the highest point in Central America. This volcano has been dormant for years, and the area around Tajumulco was declared a protected area since 1965.
The volcano is composed of andesitic-dacitic lavas on the top of a large escarpment of uncertain origin. It has two summits, one of which has a crater 50 – 70 meters (160–230 ft) wide. A lava flow from the northwestern summit descends into a steep valley on the same side of the volcano.
Launched in 1982, the ‘Ara Project’ is dedicated to saving two Native Macaws of Costa Rica: the endangered Great Green Macaw and the Scarlet Macaw. Volunteers have three options with The ARA Project: at the release sites, the breeding centre, or with fundraising and community awareness in their home country.
It is a secret jewel hidden away in the mysterious rainforest. Literally at the end of the road by the Panamanian border. Those who want to escape the city and seek an adventure in what is seemingly a lost world need look no further. The 800 acres of this remarkable Biological Reserve. They promise to help you discover worlds of beauty and peace. Also, a real close contact with nature. The long wild beaches, blue sea, and green background splashed with the flight of the ever beautiful Scarlet Macaws. Or the noisy monkeys, hummingbirds, toucans, iguanas, and turtles are all waiting for you.
Things to do
There are so many things to do and to discover in Tiskita. The owners started this project in 1978 when they built a home and started replanting trees. Today the area counts with more than 275 species of birds, unaccountable species of mammals, and over 125 species of tropical fruits.
For visitors, this is an incredible opportunity to experience the real Tropical Rainforest and to spend time on some deserted pristine beaches. There are also many Tours to do, and you will be invited to go horseback riding, ocean fishing, bird and animal watching, whale watching, hiking and go on a guided walk, get a massage or take a yoga class, go snorkeling and enjoy the tide pools, and finally you will be able to relax on the wildest and most beautiful beach you have ever seen.
The Association Save the Turtles of ‘Parismina’ was founded in April 2001 by the Costa Rican Coast Guard and local residents. It is dedicated to protecting three different species of Sea Turtles and their eggs from poaching in the area between March and October.
The area is located on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, at the mouth of the ‘Parismina’ river. There is no road. It is accessible only by boat or plane. It is about halfway between ‘Tortuguero’ and ‘Limon’ on the Tortuguero canals.
Things to do
Besides volunteering, here are some things to do: wildlife viewing, horseback riding, canal tours and beachcombing. World class fishing is available in the canals and on the ocean. Fishing off the beach can be great too. It is Turtle Time again!. Turtle Season is from February to August, with the most active time being mid April to mid May. Volunteer with the local turtle association or just get a taste of authentic small time life in this beautiful Costa Rican village. Lodging geared toward fishing enthusiasts is available for travelers of all budgets.
Join the Sea Turtle Commission as a tourist or a volunteer and help patrol the beaches at night, protecting the nesting sea turtles from poachers.
Watch these marvelous creatures come ashore to lay their eggs on the mysterious and beautiful beaches of this lonely stretch of the Caribbean coast. A small donation lets you tag along with a local guide for a night time beach hike looking for nesting turtles! Tours available nightly, during turtle season.
Hire a boat and explore the magical Tortuguero Canals a tropical wonderland. A variety of tours are available. Bird watching enthusiasts will be thrilled to see the Roseate spoonbill, Toucans, the elusive Moctezuma bird and more. Tours can be geared toward fishing, watching wildlife or both. Monkeys, sloths, crocodiles and birds are all easily found on the canals.
Enjoy the local sports scene! Pick-up games of volleyball and soccer happen almost every evening in the plaza in the center of town. Join the locals in a game, or just sit and watch the action. Go fishing on the beach or at the river mouth.
It is a non-profit, accredited distance education program for the rural communities in Honduras. Help with agricultural cultivation, teaching, or construction projects.
As is typical in many outlying Honduran cities, attractions here include the central park and historic structures, as well as colonial churches. Hiking is rewarded with great views. One can also visit a small shrine located in a cave just above ‘La Esperanza’. Travelers should see the Casa de la Cultura, and the Gobernacion building, which has interesting information about the community.
‘La Esperanza’ is famous for its daily farmers market, which draws vendors and shoppers. Here you will find the Mushroom ‘Choro’, is a highly regarded edible mushroom, native to southern Europe and North Africa. This mushroom was a favorite of early rulers of the Roman Empire, not only is it a delightful family of mushrooms, over the years, and according to history this exquisite food has become the favorite of domestic and foreign tourists in this area of Honduras. With the passing of time it has taken root to Honduran cuisine, becoming partly a fundamental identity and economic support of the culture.
The city of ‘La Esperanza’ is merged indistinguishably with the city of ‘Intibucá’. This city is the older of the two cities and was originally a ‘Lenca’ community, while ‘La Esperanza’ is the newer Ladino community.
The two cities, often called the twin cities, while distinct with separate municipal governments, are generally referred to jointly as La Esperanza, and are separated only by a street that crosses town.
The organization Helping Honduras Kids helps in total about 200 daily, and feeds about 100. It is a non-profit volunteer organization that manages a Children’s Home and a Jungle School in La Ceiba on the North Coast of Honduras.