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Great Volunteer Programs—Costa Rica | Guatemala | Peru
MAXIMO NIVEL participants MAXIMO NIVEL participants

Great Volunteer Programs—Costa Rica | Guatemala | Peru

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Stellar Experience

The project experience was memorable and we feel we helped the people we served. We worked in childcare and the Andean Immersion. The staff was friendly and accommodations were great. We loved being in Cuszo too.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Amazing experience in Peru - kusi wasi

i can´t believe our week with Maximo is already over! it has been an amazing week here in Cusco working at kusi wasi. the Maximo staff was available for help from start to finish of this project and has been nothing but helpful and amazing. we had a great homestay that was walking distance from the city center and ate some amazing Peruvian food as well! i would highly recommend Maximo Nivel to anyone looking to travel and volunteer. we were totally immersed in the culture here in Peru and i will definitely miss the city and the incredible kids at kusi wasi.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    7

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Special needs child care Peru

I only did this project for 1 week so it was a quick placement. It was a very rewarding experience, though, because you can see your impact instantaneously. We worked with a group of 25 children ranging in age from 6 to 26 at an orphanage. All with varying degrees of skills and abilities. It was amazing to see how happy you can make them just by spending time with them. A simple high five, kicking a soccer ball, nearly anything and their day is made. The house, Kusi Wasi, is quite crowded and seems perhaps under funded so it was overwhelming and obviously very sad at first. After a day or so I was acclimated and able to enjoy my time with the kids. Definitely recommend!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Really impressed with Maximo

I volunteered through Maximo for 2 months and had a really wonderful experience and was really impressed. They really offer a lot of support and take care of everything, from airport pickup to finding the perfect host family to helping organize weekend trips. I got placed with an NGO in the Sacred Valley ad commuted everyday (it was an after-school program for kids in a rural town). Te volunteer experience was very positive and working with the kids really helped with my Spanish. I would definitely go with them. My host family was SO nice and the food was amazing every night. There is also So much to do in Cusco. One of the best experiences of my life.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Volunteering in Manuel Antonio

My program was situated in a small neighbourhood in Manuel Antonio. Working with the children was so uplifting and such a special experience. Maximo Nivel and the people that I worked with were so supportive and welcoming as well as the family that I lived with.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    7

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Working with children, Manuel Antonio

My experience working with children in Manuel Antonio has been absolutely beautiful and it will hold a very special place in my heart forever. Maximo Nivel was very helpful in setting everything up for me with the homestay and transportation and I never felt like I had to worry whether or not they were there for me if needed. I felt secure my entire stay there. I've met so many beautiful people, experienced so many wonderful things, and learned so much myself in the process. I'm sad to leave it all behind. I will definitely be back one day. Much love for Costa Rica and all it's beauty.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    6

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    N/A

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Andean immersion

I had an amazing time in Umasbamba, I loved the family, also got along really well with the 2 other volunteers with me. I would recommend this program to someone who likes to work outside, with animals or with nature.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Cusco, Peru- medical project

This experience was so much more than I imagined! I was only in Cusco for a week, but Maximo Nivel made it one of the best weeks of my life. The staff is incredibly helpful and are there to support you 24/7 before and during your project. I could not have asked for a better, more organized project. As my first time traveling abroad on my own, Maximo Nivel made me feel very safe. I highly recommend this organization to anyone who is looking for a safe, lively, and meaningful trip abroad!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    10

First time to everything

It was a great experience to do my first mission trip and doing this made me sure that i want to do stuff like this whenever I can multiple times. IVHQ has treated me and my friends well by giving extra care and lots of love all the to the end.

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    7

  • Health & Safety

    5

  • Day to Day Life

    9

Cusco love

I had an amazing experience volunteering. I felt I really made an impact even if it was in the smallest way :). My home placement was amazing I felt it was like being at home and having a mother care your well being an safety. All the help with the people at Maximo really made me feel safe! Thank you Maximo!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

An amazing experiance

I am very glad i decided to come to Peru and volunteer with Maximo Nivel. I got out of my comfort zone and this trip has far exceeded my expectations. I highly recommend volunteering with Maximo and I am already planning my next trip. See you soon!

Sofia

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Manuel Antonio working with kids

Maximo Nivel's program in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica was one of the best experiences I have had. My homestay was fantastic and I truly felt that I became part of the family. The office staff is very helpful and very friendly, and my Spanish classes were fantastic. I worked at a daycare with children ages 0-6, and had a wonderful experience. The children are so sweet and become hard to say goodbye to each day. Also, there are copious activities set up by Maximo Nivel that are a great way to meet other program participants. The only regret I have is not being here long enough - the time went by too quickly!

Overall Rating

2/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    2

  • Program Administration

    6

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Community Engagement

    3

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    3

Some positives, but overall very disappointing

I am torn as I write this,
There are many positive aspects to Maximo Nivel Guatemala, it is just a shame that a few of their practices and some staff ruin it completely. It has been made clear to me that while some lovely people work for Maximo Nivel and it is a relatively well organised company, they are predominantly looking out for themselves while taking advantage of dedicated volunteers.

I have travelled to 23 different countries and volunteered locally in Australia, and internationally in India, Bali, Vietnam, Cambodia and Guatemala to name a few. I have had almost exclusively positive experiences, some of the best times of my life have been volunteering overseas.
I do understand that no where is perfect, however I have never been disappointed until my trip to Guatemala.
I have never received such disgusting treatment as I did from some of the staff at Maximo Nivel, Antigua Guatemala.

I am epileptic, and had the unfortunate, very rare incident of having a seizure in the volunteer accomodation prior to heading off to my program assisting with disabled people in an orphanage.
Maximo Nivel, to its credit arranged to have their doctor visit me, observe me and make sure I was okay.

The following day, I came into the Maximo Nivel office to apologise for any inconvenience caused by my medical condition. It was a rare occurrence that startled me as I had been cleared to travel by my doctor. Instead of receiving a gracious acceptance, I was dragged into the office of their director of International Programs and told that I was a liability and were I to go out at night again as I did the night prior to the incident, I would be exited from the program.

She made an assumption that I was a rowdy irrational person and made me out to be irresponsible, even though there was nothing to suggest that my socialising with volunteers was what made me sick. I had not got drunk that night, and even if I had, she had no right to treat me in such a disgusting manner. I had not been subjected to discrimination of such a degree since I was in my early teenage years.
This was, by a number of definitions harassment. It would not be the first time she has treated volunteers in such an awful way, as I discussed the incident with other people volunteering their time and resources through Maximo Nivel. I shudder to think of how she has treated other volunteers in the past.

I reported the incident to the country manager who could not have been kinder it. He apologised for her and said he would have a chat with the woman I am referring to, however even then, I never received so much as an apology from her. To me, though I may be assuming here, this is indicative of her not seeing the wrongful manner in which she treated me. The risk here is that she may continue to treat future volunteers in the same hostile and discriminative manner.

It is not solely this incident that has caused me to think poorly of Maximo Nivel Guatemala. I noticed that the volunteer shifts were only 3 hours long. I requested to engage in some longer shifts, perhaps take on some afternoon shifts volunteering also. I noticed the orphanage I was placed at was quite understaffed and if I was going to work there, I wanted to help to the very best of my ability. I was told that I could do that, however I would be charged a significant amount of extra money on top of what I had already paid the company.

Given that the initial set up costs had already been paid, and it would not cost the organisation anything for me to volunteer at a very needy facility a few extra hours, I thought this a pretty disgusting practice. It was doing nothing but taking advantage of dedicated volunteers.
I asked one of the ladies at the front desk where that money was going, and she lied to me, saying that 100% of it went toward their humanitarian budget.
Later, I asked the country manager where the money went. At least he was a decent enough human being to tell me that the money did go to administration staff, although I still think this an appalling practice.

In saying this, many of the staff are very friendly. They are well organised and take the safety of volunteers very seriously. Living is basic, but I felt well looked after at the volunteer house.

Maximo Nivel certainly has some good qualities, but those two incidences simply cannot be overlooked. I am torn as I write this, as some people there are incredibly kind and hard working. It is true that some really do try to help, where as others are selfish, cruel and only trying to scam volunteers.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Life-changing work with children with special needs!

I cannot say enough regarding Maximo, my homestay, my experience with the teachers and children! I enjoyed all of it. It was a life-changing experience. I learned far more than I ever expected. I am ever so grateful for all the friendly faces, smiles, and assistance in communicating.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    9

Volunteering at the dog shelter

My daughter and I enjoyed our experience but were saddened by the lack of funding for the dog shelters. The owners of the shelter were amazing at taking care of so many dogs with so little funding. We actually brought a dog from the shelter back to the U.S. with us! Thanks Carla from Maximo Nivel for all of your help with getting Orajas back to the states for us! My daughter and I had an amazing overall experience and our host family was the best we could have asked for!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Practical medical opportunity

I was so pleased with the medical work that we were able to do in for different parts of Peru. Throughout the time, we were able to see patients, do basic diagnostics, administer shots and even prescribe drugs (with the assistance of a very knowledgeable doctor). This is something that I never would have been able to do back in the United States as merely a premed student. What a cool opportunity this was for all of us.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Maximo Nivel in Cusco

I was initially very nervous to travel to Cusco and participate in the medical project that I had signed up for through my school in Florida. But the Maximo team made our stay so comfortable. When I got sick, our campaign organizer Dominic went with me to the clinic and made sure that I was taken care of. He was always there to help us with any problems we had and I really enjoyed getting to help the people in the community as well. I am excited to keep traveling after this experience!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

A life changing, eye opening, and fully engaging experience

As a first time international traveller, I could not have chosen a safer program than with Maximo Nivel. I truly felt supported by the staff during the 6 weeks I spent in Peru, and quickly established a connection to them and my host family. I volunteered with the Special Needs program, and while there were moments that were emotionally straining, I found many opportunities to engage with the residents and grew close bonds during my time there. I also practiced my Spanish, and worked through their tutoring program with an amazing instructor. There are plenty of opportunities to explore Cusco, and the staff can give advice or information when you feel concerned or unsure.
I strongly suggest this program, and if you are like me and have never travelled abroad by yourself before, the Peru program is a great place to start. Thanks to the wonderful staff and program, I will be returning to Peru and work with Maximo Nivel again in the future. For the price, you get every pennies worth, and many stories to tell for the rest of your life.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

A life changing, eye opening, and fully engaging experience

As a first time international traveller, I could not have chosen a safer program than with Maximo Nivel. I truly felt supported by the staff during the 6 weeks I spent in Peru, and quickly established a connection to them and my host family. I volunteered with the Special Needs program, and while there were moments that were emotionally straining, I found many opportunities to engage with the residents and grew close bonds during my time there. I also practiced my Spanish, and worked through their tutoring program with an amazing instructor. There are plenty of opportunities to explore Cusco, and the staff can give advice or information when you feel concerned or unsure.
I strongly suggest this program, and if you are like me and have never travelled abroad by yourself before, the Peru program is a great place to start. Thanks to the wonderful staff and program, I will be returning to Peru and work with Maximo Nivel again in the future. For the price, you get every penny's worth, and many stories to tell for the rest of your life.

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    5

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    4

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

San Judas orphanage

I had a great time volunteering with Maximo Nivel! Everyone was very helpful, and wanted to make sure that our experience was worthwhile. I traveled to Peru to learn child development in a cultural context as part of my graduate program in dance/movement therapy and counseling, and my time there greatly impacted my learning. I would love to see more psychology students volunteer through Maximo Nivel to enhance their learning and bring programs to the girls in orphanages.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    N/A

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    9

Fun and supportive program

This was my third year taking college students to Antigua to attend Spanish classes through Maximo Nivel. I have really enjoyed working with the MN administrative staff and language instructors. The staff is always super supportive in helping me to plan my trip and develop a language program tailored to each students' level of language proficiency. They have also worked hard to find local accommodations that can house my group of 10-14 students. The language instructors have always been professional and knowledgeable. They make language learning fun. I will be taking another group of students to Antigua next year and I am looking forward to once again working with Maximo Nivel.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Child Care in Cusco

Initially, I had planned to join a construction project in Peru after experiencing a similar project in Argentina. After a day at construction, I felt that my skills could add more value to childcare and after voicing my concerns to the Maximo staff on the same day, they immediately understood and found me a new project which was to begin the very next day.

I spent three weeks working at Kausakusun which was a 'casa' for single mothers that have suffered from domestic abuse. The mothers receive training on a variety of skills and assistance in looking for jobs and homes. Whilst the mothers were busy in the daytime, it was my responsibility to look after 6-8 children, aged between 2 and 14 years.

The staff at Maximo really took their time to explain to me what the project would be like and gave me lots of pointers on activities I could do with the kids. They also gave me access at all times of the day to their arts and crafts cupboard which was full of resources for my disposal. Coming up with different crafts projects each day was a challenge at times but Pinterest helped and the effort was worth it as the children and I had collectively managed to really brighten up the classroom with all of our crafts.

The staff at Maximo were constantly checking in on my experience and took their time to drop by the project at least once a week as well, which I appreciated.

I studied an hour of Spanish a day and cannot begin to express how happy I was with my progression from week 1 to week 3. My confidence in speaking really soared after just 15 hours!

I also really appreciated the fact that Maximo took their time to 'match me' with other students/volunteers that were of a similar age in my homestay. This meant that I could really enjoy my downtime with like-minded individuals that have most defiantly become life-long friends.

Overall, I found Maximo to be incredibly organised and support in all of my endeavours and I'm very excited working them again on my next project in Costa Rica!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

My heart is still overflowing with joy...

I had the pleasure of volunteering for two weeks during the holidays with Maximo Nivel in Cusco, Peru. I honestly did not know what to expect and to my surprise it exceedingly surpassed my expectations! We went to different orphanages to give out Christmas gift, paint bedrooms, we played games, and engaged with the children. The children were so incredibly grateful and loving, it was truly humbling. The icing on the cake for me was the friendly and attentive staff at Maximo Nivel which was a huge relief since I was traveling alone and had never been to Peru. I always felt safe whenever traveling with Maximo Nivel and that was very important to me.
I also had the opportunity of touring Cusco, Peru on my own which was absolutely beautiful. I really felt as though I was in the movie, Eat, Pray, Love as I explored the picturesque sights. For me this trip was life changing, I made friends from all over the world that I look forward to keeping in touch with, I saw some of the most breathtaking sights and I believe I have made a difference whether it was through a hug, a kiss, a brush or a smile my heart is overflowing with joy.

Christina Rodriguez

Christmas & New Years 2015

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Empowerment in Peru

I was lucky enough to work with an empowerment group in Saylla, Peru, which is just outside of the main part of Cusco. Working with the girls in the program touched my heart immensely. I was nervous at first when I met the girls but they immediately welcomed me into their lives and I knew that when the time came, it would be heartbreaking for me to say goodbye. My program was the best part of my trip to Peru. I loved the people I worked with and the support from the Maximo office always made me feel like I could work my best. If you are feeling called to go volunteer, make a way to follow it; it is worth it.
Much Love!
XO

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Fabulous time with the kids!

A group from work and I had the opportunity to volunteer at Villa Maria, in October 2015. From the pickup, to the home we stayed in, to the orientation and addressing all the issues we had, Chelsey and the extended team went above and beyond to make sure that our time there was as smooth as possible.
Working with the kids was a bit challenging due to the language differences, but the Maximo team helped us bridge that gap and taught us that play is a universal language!