San Pedro de Atacama is a very popular oasis town and tourist centre which attracts tourists from all over the world. In the area surrounding San Pedro, traditionally inhabited by llama herders, there are various Andean villages whose inhabitants, mostly of indigenous origin, live in one of the driest deserts in the world.
Though most communities are isolated, they lie in the centre of some of the most amazing scenery in Northern Chile surrounded by desert, snowcapped volcanoes, geysers, saltflats, lagoons inhabited by pink flamingos and strange and beautiful rock formations found nowhere else in the world. Its past indigenous heritage is still present in the region’s archeological sites and in the non-touristy communities. With populations between 60-500 inhabitants, currently their only sources of income are llama breeding, harvest and handicraft work. Therefore there is a variety of projects underway to help develop community run tourism initiatives to help them self sustain.
Communities of “atacameño” origin surrounding San Pedro de Atacama. Working in these villages will give you an insight of their indigenous origin and the opportunity to learn about and experience their daily lives in these desert areas.
A small remote community of “quechua” origin lying next to the Bolivian border in the middle of a vast salt flat. Currently they struggle against their remote location, and the inhospitable weather conditions which can reach as low as -25ºC in winter (June-August). Working in this village will show you what it is like for this people who have almost no contact with the world as we know it.
A. Teaching English
Teach English to the local indigenous community, local authority workers, and in the local school. Communities are trying to access tourism to help develop the local community. Local people need to learn basic English to enable them to be able to receive tourists.
- Teach basic English to indigenous workers of local community run enterprises.
- Teach basic English to indigenous local guides and park rangers that need to be able to communicate in English.
- Support local school teachers by helping to teach English in schools.
B. Tourism & Skills development for the indigenous community
Tourism Material / Development:
- Identification and mapping of tourist trails.
- Translation and development of explanations of the various tourist routes are needed to be able to train local people as guides.
- Some communities have received computers from local government and they even have access to internet, however these communities need training in basic computation such as writing letters in WORD, calculations using Excel, and using the internet.
- Language Abilities: English and Spanish speaker (intermediate to advanced level for both)
- Age: over 21 years old.
- Mentality: open minded, autonomous, the ability to work without supervision and the willingness to work and live in this remote location with very basic facilities and very little communication.
- Safety: reasonable level of fitness required. (High altitudes)
- Other projects available for: Biology students, anthropologists, commercial Engineers (Chilean to negotiate), history students/teachers, Forestry experts, agronomy students, archeologists, Geologists, auditors.
- Time of year: All year round.
- Project support: there will be VH representative assigned to each volunteer who will be in touch via phone and email during the duration of the volunteer period.
- Accommodation: basic accommodation in homestays, community centers, schools, locally run housing or similar.
- Free time: opportunity to explore the surroundings of the Atacama desert such as lagoons, volcanoes and geysers. Learn about indigenous cultures by visiting local museums, ghost towns, ancient archeological sites and petroglyphs. Visit the town of San Pedro de Atacama.