Spanish course and volunteering in Uruguay

  • Working at a biological farm 


    Bienvenido al Campo! 

    The ranch dates back to 1890 to the family’s great grandfather. Three generations presently live and work here - the couple who run the estancia (Hugo and Maria), Maria's daughter Monica, Sabino (her 11year old son), and abuela, Hugo’s mother. Beautiful family and you can feel the history of the ranch! 

    The property is enormous, stretching as far as you can see in all directions, with no other buildings in sight; side-by-side stonewall circles, set against giant boulders, trees growing up all around.

    Hugo told us that many archeological and historical experts have been out to investigate the site.

    It seems to have been constructed by “indigenous” people, at some unknown point in time. A number of theories on the significance have been proposed, but he says no one knows for sure.

    He showed us four circular stone depressions, perhaps used to grind herbs for ceremonial purposes; no mention of grinding corn.

    A stone boulder chair and “foot rest” is theorized to have been a birthing chair. Another thought was that the footrest was actually a kneeler for priests to kneel at, hands in front to the side and head down in worship.  

    The larger stone circle has a large boulder to one side that has been demonstrated to be an “energy center.” Some people feel a sort of vibration when sitting on the stone. People have had their watches stop working, and noted blank spaces or “windows” in photographs taken in the circle. A very high level of phosphorus has been detected in the soil suggesting it may have been an Indian burial ground. 



    Bringing in the cows for milking. The procession is led by big daddy – the bull and father of all the calves on the place. He rouses the girls and gets them moving toward the milking shed. The bull is extremely docile – as are all the cows.The milking of the eight cows is done by hand.  Normally each of the milking cows has a calf, and you leave one teat un-milked for the baby. After milking, calves are united with mommies – lots of mooing until the reunion takes place. 

    Making cheese 


    Giving water to the goats 


    Vaccinating cows 


    Working or conditioning the land in the vegetable allotment for a new season's vegetable to be seeded. 


    Gather wood from one of the fields. The wood supply (branches and treefall) feels unlimited. 


    When guests are around, you help prepare breakfast and lunch and assist with the activities, such as horse riding, fishing or hiking. 

    It is nice when guests come because, out of working hours, you are encouraged to socialize, and practice your Spanish. Guests have ranged from varying nationalities, mostly Uruguayan or Argentinean but some Europeans too. 


    There is so much to do on a small farm, so you'll have lots to do and learn!

    Not a scrap of food goes to waste – all food material goes to some animal for consumption –  pig, goat, dogs. Even apple peels (from making a delicious apple crumble dessert) are boiled in water, lemon peel and a little sugar to make a light and refreshing drink.  Then, the pigs get the peels. 

    There are a couple of palm trees in the yard that are dropping these lovely orange fruits called “butia.” They are great to eat as-is, but Maria also stews them to make a sweet compote with spices like cloves, and even uses the fruits to make a really yummy liquor (that takes a year to come to its full potential flavor). The squashed fruits in the driveway are gathered for the pigs, or shared with the goats as a special treat.

    The food at the Estancia is delicious, fresh, flavorful and plenty of it.

    The Estancia can host up to 3 volunteers, sharing one room.

    The water is taken up from a well around 600m from the house by an old wind turbine. As the saying goes ‘no wind, no water’. Shower when you can! 

    Working days start at 07:00 am and you normally havebreakfast around 9.00am, lunch at 1.00pm and dinner at 10pm.

    After lunch there is free time until around 4.00-4.30pm and you work until sunset. at about 7.30pm.

    After dark you have free time. You can go to the main house to read a book, watch TV or talk to others. 


    You have one day off a week and you can easily organize which day off you prefer.

    You are supposed to spend your day outside off the ranch, visiting the local town, Nueva Helvecia, or go to Colonia or meet friends etc. 

    When there are no other volunteers around, your time can be very relaxed, but also boring. You can take advantage of chatting with Hugo or Maria and practice your Spanish.


    You can learn many things, maybe all of which would be only necessary on a farm but a life experience nonetheless.


    For more information, please contact us



  • Working with Whales and Dolphins



    The International Volunteer Program has been running for 10 years and has been recruiting young professionals from around the world to join the activities, actions and campaigns of the OCC for a predetermined amount of time. We have had volunteers from Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, USA, Spain, Hungary, Mexico and Portugal.

    We give volunteers the opportunity to experience working within a small civil society organization and you are encouraged to work as part of a group to learn, grow and achieve. We offer academic training and research opportunities related to historical, cultural and social aspects of communities.

    The recently approved Whale and Dolphin Sanctuary (September 2013 is imperative to design and promote actions that will generate an increase in public awareness, improved governance and public policy for the conservation of marine biodiversity. Whales and dolphins are the flagship species. One species is the Franciscana Dolphin which is seriously threatened along with the Bottlenose Dolphin which is suffering the consequences of the fishery reduction. The volunteer program is for people who are committed to the cause, various professions and creeds (not necessarily biologists, conservationists or ecologists).

    The International Volunteer Program for Research and Conservation in the Sanctuary covers two areas:

    Monitoring cetacean (right whale, bottlenose dolphin, dolphin Franciscan). Objectives: photo-Id, quantification of behavior (habitat use), population ecology and conservation measures.

    The acoustic and biological characterization in 3 coastal areas (Punta del Este / Laguna de Rocha / La Paloma).

    Objective: Make oceanografic samples of Zooplankton, submarine acoustics, observation and photography of marine birds and cetaceans using OCC’s research equipment.

    Tours: Travel through the whale and dolphin zones or go looking for them. This includes being in the ‘big bay’, the islet, ‘La Pedrera’ and the area surrounding the Rocha Lagoon.

    Daily departures:9:00/17:00: La Paloma Port (dock or new breakwater beach)

    Duration: Minimum of 1 hour, máximum of 3 hours.

    To qualify, certain skills are required and these can be seen below.

    Over 18 years old

    Capable of living as part of a group for a prolonged amount of time

    Good problem solving skills and organization

    Ability to clean and maintain the home

    Share a same-sex room (max 3 people)

    Resistant to rigorous climates (extreme temperatures between 0º C/32ºF-40ºC/104ºF winter-summer) and daily climate changes

    Basic knowledge of the Spanish language (written and spoken). Option: intensive Spanish course in a local institute

    Have studied biology and marine ecology at a basic level. Otherwise, you can request assistance for distance-learning (extra cost) (intensive courses from 15 to 30 days)

    Proof of fitness, medical certificate and national health insurance

    Capability to navigate the ocean

    Have a laptop available to you with basic programmes

    Have accepted the terms and conditions for volunteering for OCC (conducts, guidelines for personal use, restrictions on alcohol and drugs) that we will send you before you arrive

    Total Durations:

    Up to 15 days (mínimum) – basic level

    Up to 30 days – medium level

    More than 30 days (90 days maximum) – High level (special considerations)


    The International Volunteer Program has been running for 10 years and has been recruiting young professionals from around the world to join the activities, actions and campaigns of the OCC for a predetermined amount of time. We have had volunteers from Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, USA, Spain, Hungary, Mexico and Portugal.



Cigarette shop: low-cost cigarettes