Internship in Peru


How long has IFRE been working in Peru ? Whom do you work with? Where are you located? What are IFRE's programs?

IFRE has offered internship programs in Peru for nearly two years. We offer projects focused on children, conservation and community improvement. IFRE works with many local NGO's orphanages and community projects to offer meaningful placements for our interns. Interns commit about thirty hours per week to their project. Most facilities are very basic, including the healthcare clinics, but the work is rewarding and the experience is unforgettable.

We work in association with a successful Language School located in Cusco , Peru where we offer optional Spanish Language courses, ranging from basic to intense programs. Our language school partners help us coordinate with local projects to arrange customized Spanish learning and internship project balance. Cusco is a beautiful city and our knowledgeable and kind staff helps our interns discover its secrets during their projects. We have an established host family network throughout Peru so that interns can gain cultural insight as well as a full immersion Spanish experience.

Applying for the Peru internship program

How can I apply? What happens when I apply? Do you guarantee placement? How long does it take to receive confirmation?

Please read IFRE's 4-step application process:

  • There are two options for applying to intern in our Peru programs. You can apply online ( /apply-now.php  ) or you can simply download an application form, fill it out and mail it into IFRE's offices. Participants are required to submit their application with a $349 application fee plus the program fee for the number of weeks you choose. However to simply start the placement process, all that is needed upfront is a $200 deposit which will be deducted from the final invoice. This non-refundable deposit from you is required to validate and initiate the application process.
  • Once IFRE receives your application, we immediately forward it to country coordinator for processing. The in-country coordinator reviews the application carefully to determine the most optimal project for you while you intern in Peru . Decisions pertaining to room and board are made at this time - depending on the location of the project. The vast majority of participants stay in fully immersed in-home stays.
  • IFRE receives the details of the participants' placements from the in-country coordinator.
  • The information is then passed on to the prospective participants along with a final invoice. Final payment is due six weeks prior to departure and, in expedited cases, as soon as possible. The placement details contain local contact information to be used when applying for a visa and/or to get in touch with the local staff and host family.
  • Preparation for your internship vacation in Peru should include reading about travel to Peru , immunization, acquiring a travel visa and booking airfare for your internship journey to Peru . If you face any problems, IFRE's Program Manager is always available for any assistance.
  • IMPORTANT: Once participants purchase airline tickets, we request flight information be forwarded to IFRE's U.S. office by fax or by email. Participants' flight information will then be forwarded to the in-country coordinator in Peru , who will then arrange an airport pick-up.
Airport and Arrival Information

Who will meet me at the airport? What should I do if I am delayed or miss a flight? When should I arrive?

Peru interns arrive at Jorge Chavez International Airport - Lima , Peru . Interns can expect to stay a night over in Lima and fly the following day into Cusco , Peru where our in-country staff will greet arrival flights. The majority of Lima international flights arrive late in the evening or during the night. All Peruvian Airlines offer affordable flights to Cusco but the service is in the daytime hours. It is unlikely to connect the same evening as arrival. Concierge services at the airport can arrange a taxi to an inexpensive hostel for the night or make prior arrangements for a hotel stay. The cost should be within $25-30 inclusive of taxi and room.

We ask that interns fly with all important documents, including internship placement, passport, visa and vaccination booklet. Please have them accessible in case producing them is requested. Our interns join our program with a tourist visa. Interns do not need a long term or working visa.

If some sort of delay occurs, including flight delays or missed flights, contact our Peru office as soon as possible. Interns coming to Peru are advised to arrive one day before their program start date. The program fee will cover expenses beginning of the first day of the program (Usually first or third Monday) to the last day of the program. If interns arrive before the first day of the program and/or stay beyond the last day of the program, expenses will be the responsibility of the intern (usually $30 per day for room/food in hostel).

If there is a delay or missed flight, please contact our local office or coordinator (contact numbers are available in personal placement sheets and pre-departure booklet) and wait for a representative. If there is failure to connect with IFRE's local rep at the airport, please travel to the contact hotel named in the personal placement documents via a secure taxi. Please do not use taxis outside airport. Airport concierge services can assist.

We advise Peru project interns to arrive in Cusco one day prior to program start date. The weekly project fee includes expenses from the first to last day of the project (Usually first or third Monday). Expenses prior to the project's start date are the responsibility of the intern (usually $30 per day for room/food in hostel).

Room and Food

Where do I stay during the one-week language program? Where Do I stay during my internship program? What do I eat? What about shower and restrooms? Do you accommodate special diet?

Most interns placed in Cusco projects stay at our home base – a permanent home set aside for international interns and manned with a local staff. Our home base provides a same-gender shared room and shared bathroom with running hot water and a “western” style toilet. Interns will have the ability to do laundry at the home base. Interns receive three prepared meals per day. If interns will be out of the house during lunch hour, interns can request a lunch "to go" that interns can take with interns or eat out. Meals are cuisine, which is traditional to Peru .

Our Cusco home base is located in the center of beautiful Cusco city. Most of our interns' projects are located within 2-5 miles of the home base. Therefore, interns can simply walk to their projects or take a local taxi. Most necessary services for travelers are located within 2 km of the homebase: internet cafés, restaurants and grocery stores.

Occasionally, depending on intern traffic, available projects or distance to an intern's assigned project, we may also place our interns with carefully pre-screened host families. Our host families are socially respected and experienced hosts of international interns. They have strong interest in our interns' safety and well-being and demonstrate this with caution and care. In most host family situations, interns will share a room with another intern of the same gender. Interns receive three meals a day. Our host families do not offer laundry services, but some will happily take up the task for a small fee. This is up to interns to negotiate upon arrival. If interns choose to do their own laundry, most families are happy to let interns use their washbasins where interns wash by hand then line-dry their clothes.

Throughout the internship project, our local staff stays in contact with interns either with face-to-face visits or via email/telephone. Interns are always welcome at the local office in Cusco . If project placement is local, we request that interns stop by the office once a week to keep us posted on how they are doing with their home stay and project. If project placement is very far, then our local staff members maintain communication by either email and/or phone and try to visit every 2-4 weeks if possible.


IFRE requires that you obtain a tourist visa prior to departure for Peru . You can volunteer with a tourist visa. Interns can receive advice and obtain a Peru visa from the Peru Embassy or consulate in their home country.

For stays exceeding 90 days, apply for an extension within the first week of visit with the Peruvian Immigration Department or exit the country for a minimum of 72 hours before re-entering on a new visa.

Health and safety

Being informed is the best defense against disease and safety risks. We recommend visiting some of the following websites for health and safety information:

WHO website for international travelers ( )


  • When traveling to the beaches or very rural areas, drink only bottled or boiled water or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Tap water should not be considered safe at the beaches nor fountain drinks and ice cubes. If this is not possible, make water safer by both filtering through an "absolute 1 micron or less" filter AND adding iodine tablets to the filtered water. "Absolute 1 micron filters" are found in camping/outdoor supply stores.
  • Buy bottled water from respectable outlets/vendors to guard against an upset stomach. Make sure that the seal of the bottle is intact as it is common for local street merchants to sell tap water in resealed bottles.
  • The most common health complaint in any developing nation is an ailing digestive system. In many cases, the illness may be attributed merely to a change in diet, but occasional cases of food poisoning can occur, whereby the symptoms occur very quickly, severely and explosively. These are seldom serious or extended illnesses, but medical treatment should be sought if it occurs.
  • Avoid eating food from roadside stalls/vendors. Do not eat unpeeled fruits or prepared fruits from unknown handlers on the street. If interns must eat food at a questionable location, make sure the food is served hot.
  • If you require any prescription drugs, bring enough for the duration of your stay in Peru . They will need to be carried in their original prescription bottle and the prescription must be in your name.
  • It is advisable to carry a small health kit, which should include remedy for upset stomach, some antiseptic cream, hydration powder, mosquito repellant, sun block, band-aids, etc.

We use the Center for Disease Control traveler's health recommendations ( Consult a personal travel doctor who will be knowledgeable about current epidemics.


  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG). Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur through direct person-to-person contact; through exposure to contaminated water, ice or shellfish harvested in contaminated water; or from eating uncooked fruits, vegetables or other items that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent handling.
  • Hepatitis B , especially if you might be exposed to blood or body fluids (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population or be exposed through medical treatment. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11-12 years who did not receive the series as infants.
  • Malaria: your risk of malaria may be high in these countries, including some cities. See your health care provider for a prescription anti-malarial drug. For details concerning risk and preventive medications, see Malaria Information for Travelers to Tropical South America .
  • Rabies , if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas, such as might occur during camping, hiking or bicycling or engaging in certain occupational activities.
  • Typhoid vaccine. Typhoid fever can be contracted through contaminated drinking water or food or by eating food or drinking beverages that have been handled by a person who is infected. Fecal contamination of water supplies or foods sold by street vendors cause the largest outbreaks.
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles .

What is the exchange rate? Where should I change my currency? Can I use debit card or credit card? Should I bring travelers checks?

Peru 's currency is the Nuevo Sol. Currency can be changed at the exchange houses in the airport. Many businesses accept dollars at the current exchange rate. ATM machines are available in many cities and the airport.

Do not come without any cash as ATM machines can be out of service or not accept your card. It is wise to check with your bank ahead of time to confirm that your card will work overseas. Debit cards and credit cards are becoming more widely accepted at major stores; however, they are still not accepted as widely as in the States. Credit card fraud is a big issue in Peru . Do not use your cards at any smaller or non-reputable locations. Traveler's checks need to be exchanged in the banks, as most locations will not accept them directly. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted in some of the large stores and hotels in larger cities but may not be widely accepted in smaller cities and not at all in the villages.

Find the Exchange Rate for Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN) at

How much money you bring depends on your personal spending habits. Thrifty people can get by on less than $10/day. Your budget should also include money to explore Peru in free time as well as for your personal use.


How does IFRE help me when I am in field? How can I maintain communication? Do you visit me?

Once your internship program begins, our local staff members stay in constant touch with you. Interns staying at our Cusco homebase will see staff daily, yet all Peru interns have 24/7 access to our in-country staff. When interns stay far from the Cusco office, our staff will visit every 2-4 weeks (if possible) and interns are always welcome at the office. We recommend that interns stop by the office once a week, if they are staying/working in the local area, to give feedback on their home stay and project. Many minor issues can avoid escalation with a just little extra communication. Your project will have local staff members in addition to our in-country coordination staff. If your project is located a substantial distance from our offices, then our local staff communicates by either email and/or phone.

We are available for you at the local office via email and phone for your entire trip. It is our job to make sure that you are safe and healthy.


How do I communicate with my family? IFRE staff? Is there internet access?

There many internet cafes in Lima and Cusco which charge about $1/. There are also international phone cards available to make international calls. Also, please use local phone cards for local calls as every minute of local or international use is billed to the families. If you need to contact the local IFRE staff, host families will generally allow you to use the phone for short periods.

International phone calling is easy from phone booths located in small shops, much like the internet cafes. The phone booths are simple to use and once interns learns how to “dial internationally”; it is quite inexpensive to connect with friends and family. We do not recommend expensive calling cards because not all work properly upon arrival in Peru .

Good old-fashioned mail is great to stay in touch too! Sending a letter from Peru costs about $2 and makes it home in 1-6 weeks.

Yahoo Weather forecast (  ( )

Weather channel (  ( )

Weather Underground ( ( )

There are 32 types of climates in the world and Peru has 28 of them (87.5% of the total!). In other words, a trip through Peru is interesting and will travel through hot deserts, dry forests, humid savannas, plain rainforests, cold plateaus, cool steppes and icy mountains.

May through October is the dry season; November through April is the rainy season, and the wettest months are January through April. Peru 's climate is very different among its three vastly different regions. The coast is predominantly arid and mild, the Andean region is moderate to cold and the eastern lowlands are typically tropical. In Peru it can feel like winter on the coast and yet summer-ish in the Andean highlands and the jungle. Then the next season brings rain in the Andes and the jungle, but a hot and drier summer on the coast.


Most items of daily use are available in Peru at a reasonably cheap price. However, we suggest interns pack the following items:

  • Camera
  • Mobile
  • Sleeping bag
  • Mosquito and insect repellents
  • Sunscreen, SPFs
  • Work gloves
  • Books about Peru
  • Map of Peru
  • Toiletries
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Electricity adapter/converter
  • Sunglasses
  • Shoes/boots (for work and travel)
  • Towel
  • Hot weather, but conservative , clothing
  • Jeans, pants or skirts
  • Swimsuit
  • Long-sleeve shirt and jacket for cooler areas
  • Raingear (especially during the rainy season)
What gifts should I bring for my project and/or host family?

It is a common courtesy to bring a small gift for the host staff. You are not required to do so, but if you choose to bring something, it can be simple. We suggest a box of chocolates, a t-shirt with a hometown/country logo or pictures of your family and local postcards.

If you want to bring gifts for your project and if you are working for an orphanage or a school, please bring pencils, pens and paper, art supplies like markers and construction paper pads, as well as games for the children to enjoy. Remember that every child will need these items so you may wish to bring enough for a number of children.



The coastal zone

The Cost is an arid, misty hilly region between the Pacific shore, much of which is bordered by high cliffs and the Andes farther east. The north is characterized by a low, extremely faulted plateau, a substantial part of which is an almost flat, arable land where water for irrigation is available. Because of the nature of the terrain and its aridity, settlement is almost entirely confined to river valleys and small sections of the coast, mostly near the mouths of rivers.

A narrow coastal mountain range rises steeply just behind the Pacific shore in the southern part of the Peruvian coastal zone. It is composed mainly of a very rugged surface, much of which is covered by bare, hard rocks with deeply incised narrow gorges. Trough-like basins run parallel to this range separating it from the Andes . These flat-bottomed basins are covered with a thick mantle of sediment in which rivers have cut deep valleys. Agricultural settlements that irrigate and cultivate small areas of these valleys are actually oases in this desert like environment. Unlike other parts of the coastal belt, most of the population in the south resides along its eastern margins, away from the coast and close to the foot of the Andes

The Highlands: the Andes

The highlands in Peru are generally considered to consist of two parallel ranges, the Cordillera Occidental and the Cordillera Oriental , extending in a northwest to southeast direction. Valleys and basins, which follow the same direction and in the south broaden into the Altiplano (with lake Titicaca and a few smaller lakes), are generally cited as the structural features that separate the western range from the eastern one. Both the western range and eastern ranges, with peaks rising over 20,000 feet are not continuous, which are in most cases arranged in echelon. The high peaks and slopes are permanently snow-covered, with some remnants of glaciers. Volcanoes, active and dormant, are confined mainly to the southern part of the highlands.

The basins and valleys wedged high between the Peruvian Andes are an integral high-level surface over which, historically, the majority of Peru 's population has been concentrated. Most of them, which lie at altitudes between 10,000 and 15,000 feet, are broad and covered with a mantle of sediment washed down from the neighboring mountains. They are crossed by rivers whose sources are in the Cordillera Occidental or in the basins themselves and which are, in fact, the tributary headwaters of the Amazon River .

The Altiplano of the southern Peruvian Andes (which extends into Bolivia ) is made up of some basins and valleys of the high-level surface, including Peru 's share in Lake Titicaca , with its densely inhabited environs. Only the lower basins and valleys of the high-level surface are climatically within the zone suitable for agriculture. The altitude of most of this surface is outside the limit of cultivation or is marginal for some crops, such as potatoes, barley and corn. Much of the high-level surface is used mainly as pasture for sheep, goats, alpacas and llamas.

The Eastern lowlands

The eastern lowlands are generally divided in the selva alta, the higher hilly areas at the foot of the Andes and the selva baja, the lower areas farther east (especially in the northeast) that slope toward the boundaries of Colombia and Brazil . The selva alta is dominated by the low, gently sloping eastern spurs of the Andes (1,200-3,000 feet) with broad valleys that have potentially arable land. There is a gradual transition to the selva baja, a much lower undulating plain where the relief is dominated by a dense network of rivers and river terraces. It slopes gently northeastward from approximately 1,200 feet to 300-400 feet. The eastern lowlands are covered with dense tropical rain forest. Over large areas, the forest is so dense that access is possible only via the rivers. The eastern lowlands of Peru are, in fact, part of the western margin of the huge Amazon plain.

Source: ( )


Peruvian cooking differs by region. All over potatoes, corn and rice are still the staples of everyday cuisine; the three varying climates have varying diets due to what produce is available at what times.

Along the coastal region, as one might expect, the concentration is on seafood and shellfish with other favorites being goat and chicken. In the central highlands, a more substantial style of cooking prevails: meat served with rice or potatoes being the mainstay of the diet. In the Amazon jungle regions, the diet consists mainly of fish such as river trout, supplemented with tropical fruit and vegetables such as sweet potatoes and plantains. Wild boar, turtle, monkey and piranha fish are some of the more exotic ingredients used. 

A common ingredient used throughout Peru is Ají, a hot chili pepper used to spice up many dishes.


Most Peruvians keep very busy with their day-to-day existence. That does not leave much time for travel. Many have not seen more than the surrounding villages or the next city over. There are very few Peruvians that ever have left the country (although the rich often go to Miami for shopping), although many have relatives living abroad. This may explain why Peruvians tend to be quite curious about other countries and lifestyles. Their perceptions and ideas about the rest of the world are often interesting.

Generally, people are very friendly, peaceful and helpful. When in trouble, you mostly can rely on getting help. However, as with any setting, it is always good to watch out for yourself and try to avoid bad situations. If you get into an argument, it is a good idea to remain amicable, but firm. Most of the time, you can find a compromise that satisfies everyone.

Source: (Let's Go Peru )


Peruvian society is divided into three categories, the wealthy, the working class and the poor. A huge portion of the population lives in poverty, small villages pop up overnight on government land. Here the people have banded together to build small houses of brick and metal, some use branches and grasses. These homes have no electricity nor windows nor facilities. Often they are no more than dirt floors, open fire pits for cooking and very primitive construction. Families also unite to put a roof over their heads and live as many as seven or more in small apartments. Parents, their children and their children's children share rooms and facilities and hopefully one or two of the adults will have a regular job that will pay the bills. Working class Peruvians get low wages that allow minor luxury, which is not more than a decent furnished home. The wealthy is not more than 3% of the population and mainly lives in luxury areas of Lima .

Peru is rich in traditional dress, dance and music. Almost the entire population is Catholic and the family structure is well maintained and respected. Peruvian culture is on display more in the rural regions like in the Andes where traditional dress is maintained over the jeans and shirts you will witness in the cities. In the mountains women wear billowing skirts of many colors with their dark hair kept neat in braids. The men where thick, well-worn pants with brimmed hats and their faces show the generations of hard work that is a part of their traditional dress.


Peru 's history begins long before the Incan Empire though it is the most significant society of Peruvian history. The Incan Empire ruled for just barely a century but left a lasting legacy with archeological ceramic and architecture, style and color of dress, rituals and beliefs. The Incans are remembered as an innovative Native American people who designed a highly accurate calendar, tracked the seasons and the sun and were able to conquer many lands and bring people under a unified rule.

The Incans fell to a Spanish conquistador plot though they fought to regain their Empire, they never did recover it after the assassination of their ruler and the establishment of Spanish rule. The Spaniards took the capital of Peru to the ocean side and founded Lima in 1535. Peru remained under Spanish colonial rule until Independence in the mid 1800's.

What followed was a series of dictatorships and revolutionaries in the early years of contemporary government. Fujimori became president during an active terrorist campaign that was plaguing the country during the 1980's and early 1990's. He succeeded in ending this campaign and catalyzed much social and political change. Some saw him as a corrupt leader, but he had the backing of and was popular with a large majority of the population. Government in Peru proceeded as a constitutional republic and after Fujimori; another president elect was designated to run the country. Peru maintains its Republic with democratically appointed presidents.

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