Frequently Asked Questions

Below are 10 frequently asked questions regarding travel and volunteer work in Cartagena, Colombia.

Additional information can be found on our Instagram, Facebook, and in other parts of our website.

If you have further questions regarding volunteering, donations or accommodation we offer, please do not hesitate to reach out to us!

The best way to communicate with us directly is via email or our Contact Page here.

How is Domino Volunteers legally set up?

Domino Volunteers has been a registered Colombian company since 2015. We are registered in the Chamber of Commerce, pay our taxes and follow all Colombian laws. Our team is 100% locally based in Cartagena. We all live here full time and many of us were born and raised in Cartagena. We are not a large scale volunteer organization -- we concentrate on Cartagena becuase that is that we know and love.

How safe is it really?

Unfortunately Colombia still gets a bad-rep for its violent past (and the media still glorifies the Narcos/cartel stereotype). Colombia is now in a Peace Process and safe for foreign travelers, especially in places like Cartagena where there are so many tourists and thus their safety is a top priority. However, like in any city, there are risks associated with volunteering and traveling, and volunteers are responsible for yourself and your stuff. We provide our volunteers with information on safety & security, give volunteers a local cell phone, place volunteers to live with host-families in the safe and touristic areas, have people in Cartagena to help volunteers in case of emergency, and work closely with project placements to give further individual support.

Is there a minimum time commitment for volunteering?

There is no minimum time requirement for volunteering with us in Cartagena; however, some programs do have specific requirements. It is important to keep in mind that the shorter your time commitment, the fewer volunteer placement options will be available. In general, the longer you are here, the greater your impact, Spanish improvement and cultural integration. If you would like to stay with a host family, we ask for a minimum commitment of 4 weeks, although in some special cases it is possible for less.

I want to stay with a Colombian host family while volunteering. Where would I live and what are accommodations like?

We place volunteers in the following neighborhoods: historic city center, Manga, Bocagrande, Laguito, Castillo Grande, and Cabrero, all of which are upper-class and within walking distance of the city center and/or main touristic sites. This is what most volunteers find more convenient, but if you would like to stay in non-tourist areas we have other options, so please ask.

While we feel it is important to get outside of the tourist areas of Cartagena while volunteering in order to really get to know the culture, interact with Colombians and make an impact, volunteer accommodation is based on safety, comfort and easy access to activities. We do not place volunteers in shared accommodation, each has their own private room, comfortable bed, closet, wifi, washing machine, and access to all common areas.

Additionally, we make sure to place volunteers with host families that are specifically interested in a cultural exchange. You can expect a warm home, where people are generally concerned about your happiness and who will treat you as an adult. We have a host-family coordinator who specifically oversees all family evaluation and organization.

I am ready to volunteer! How do I apply and what’s the matching process like?

Not long at all! First off, let us explain the process for matching you to a volunteer project:

  1. Contact us here if you’re interested in volunteering with us.

  2. We will reply to you with further information on our program options, prices, and a link to our Volunteer Interest Form which asks a series of questions concerning your interests, skills, experiences, Spanish level, and intended travel dates, among others.

  3. You, our potential volunteer, will need to complete this Volunteer Interest Form as thoroughly as possible.

  4. We will review your interest form, talk to our local partners, and then get back to you promptly requesting a time to connect on Skype or WhatsApp. We are in constant contact with a variety of foundations about their volunteer needs. We base all volunteer placements on what foundations tell us and create a volunteer opportunity when the needs of a foundation and interests of a volunteer align.

  5. During our Skype or WhatsApp call, we will discuss which foundation(s) are the best match for you, housing details, and connections to Spanish classes or other activities. This also gives you a chance to ask questions or concerns you may have about traveling to and volunteering in Cartagena.

  6. After the call, we’ll wait for you to confirm your interest, travel dates, documents, and deposit fee.

  7. From there, the only thing left is to pack your bags and hop on the plane! We will either pick you up at the airport and bring you to your host family or meet you at your hotel to take you to the project when you arrive.

I don't have time to volunteer in Cartagena, but I would still like to help out! What other ways can I support projects?

There are many ways to support our projects and local communities here in Cartagena, Colombia. If you don’t have the time or ability to volunteer with us, another great way to help out is to make a material or monetary donation. We will connect you directly to the project most in need and that best matches your interests. Monetary Donations: Tell us what kind of a project you would like to support, and we will recommend a foundation that matches your interests, where money is most needed and will be well spent benefitting the local community. Material Donations: Many foundations need supplies & materials, so if you are in Cartagena already or plan to travel here soon, we can let you know what is currently needed. Materials commonly needed include: - school supplies - rash guards for water sports - paint - shoes - sports equipment - cooking supplies - backpacks If you are not coming to Cartagena, we suggest sending a monetary donation instead of shipping materials due to the high cost of shipping plus the benefits of supporting the local economy in Cartagena. You can visit our Other Ways to Support Projects page here, for more information.

Is there a minimum Spanish level requirement?

No, although your language ability may limit you as some projects require volunteers with a certain Spanish level. Living with a host family and volunteering at a project is the most fun and quickest way to gain Spanish exposure and practice. It is amazing to see how much each volunteer improves! For those who want to also study Spanish or fine tune specific vocabulary, we can connect volunteers to local and affordable Spanish teachers for private classes. Spanish classes can be done before you arrive via skype and also in person in Cartagena.

What's the visa situation?

Many countries do not require any cost or prior work to get the standard 90 day tourist visa upon arrival to Colombia. It is still a good idea to make sure that your home country does not require any prior work or expenses. If you wish to stay for longer, tourist visas can be extended for up to 180 days months. Volunteer visas are available at some projects for those who want/need them.

Do I need my own medical and travel insurance?

It is required that all volunteers come with their own medical/health insurance. We believe that you know your health and travel needs best.

I would like to volunteer in Cartagena with my family/colleagues/clients. We’re a big bunch! Do you have volunteer placements for large groups?

Absolutely! The more the merrier! We commonly work with families, universities, companies, NGOs, travel agencies, or other large travel groups. For large, short-term volunteer opportunities, we connect groups to projects that need extra hands and where you will be able to see an impact (volunteer activity can inlcude planting a community garden, participating in a beach clean up, painting a mural, doing light construction, among others). If you are a group between 10-150 people who want to include volunteering in your travel plans to Cartagena, we will request to speak on the phone regarding specifics about your group size, interests and special needs.