Up Close Bolivia

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We promote community based volunteering and sustainable inter-cultural tourism in Bolivia. Our work is based on the concept of “RECIPROCIDAD” which means “reciprocity”- a concept at the heart of Andean culture. It is all about giving back and contributing in a way which enriches both the person who is giving and the person who is receiving, equally. The essence of our programme is to ensure that the needs and expectations of our volunteers, visitors and the local communities are mutually met and both parties are enriched and strengthened.

UP CLOSE BOLIVIA is a family-run enterprise set up by Emma, an ex-volunteer from England, and her Bolivian Husband Rolando. For the past 10 years we have opened our doors and hearts to welcome volunteers and visitors who want to get off the beaten tourist track to enjoy a sense of belonging and a deeper understanding of local culture and customs.

We are deeply rooted in our village, which is the kind of place where shopkeepers and neighbours will stop for a chat and will welcome you to community events and celebrations. We are founders of the Valley of the Moon Children’s Centre and as a family, we are committed to do our part to help develop sustainable, community-led development projects and environmentally-friendly tourism that benefits our community and offers a rich experience to visitors. We are looking for volunteers seeking meaningful, and responsible volunteering and who wish to become a part of this friendly, welcoming community.

We have a small, committed and very energetic staff made up of expats and Bolivians. They bring their experience of having worked as volunteers themselves and of course the local knowledge to do all the leg work for you: tailor making the volunteer placements, organising accommodation, and – if you wish – language classes and travel packages. They will also be your point of contact and information before you arrive, and throughout your stay in Bolivia.

Up Close Bolivia places volunteers in a variety of local projects, all located in and around the community of Mallasa, 40 minutes by bus from La Paz. Our volunteers leave their placements having felt a true sense of belonging within the community, and taking with them skills, experiences and memories that will remain with them forever.

Volunteers will generally have the chance to participate in a number of different projects during their stay. Therefore, you may be teaching English lessons to students at the local school, or supporting sessions in the Equine Therapy Centre, a foundation which works with young people with special needs. Placements are also available to work alongside the team at La Paz Zoo – a refuge centre for animals who have survived trafficking. You could also run educational activities at the children's home, a centre for young people who have suffered violence and abuse. The Valley of the Moon Children's Centre also welcomes volunteers to offer practical support in the running of the nursery, where you will be working with children aged between six months and four years.

You can work full or part time in a mixture of the above, or help out with numerous other projects that provide support for the community when required, such as environmental and art work projects, after-school clubs and football coaching.

Volunteers with specialist skills in physiotherapy, working with children with special needs, social media and communications or education are also invited to support the development of our projects and the organisation as a whole.

The volunteer accommodation is on the site of the founders' family home and their campsite, Colibri Camping which is based in Jupapina, around 40 minutes from La Paz by local bus. We are a stone's throw from the Valley of the Moon and overlook the Valley of Flowers and the Devil's Molar. The projects are based in the nearby town of Mallasa which is easily accessible by public transport from Jupapina.

Volunteers live together in our beautiful volunteering houses, which are located in a stunning, semi-rural location of Jupapina, close to the city of La Paz. The accommodation comprises of a fully-equipped kitchen, communal spaces, shared or individual bedrooms (availability dependent), Wifi, cable TV and DVD player and access to a washing machine. Volunteers also have full access to the outdoor space in our campsite, Colibri Camping, which includes hammocks, beautiful miradors and areas for camp fires.

We particularly welcome volunteers that can spend 1-3 months (or more!) with us because this strengthens and gives more continuity to the projects that we support. Volunteers who can stay for four weeks or more will have access to volunteer in all of our projects.

Program Requirements

  • 18 and older
  • Good health
    • Enthusiastic
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