Animal Welfare / Ecuador
(cortesy translation from German)
For me, every trip means the beginning of a new adventure and a new phase of life. Volunteering in the Rainforest in particular was a very formative time for me, as I not only learned a lot about life in the rainforest, but also learned a lot about myself.
Preparation of the trip: I would like to express my thanks to my contact person of the organization "South America Inside". Since my first request, I have received the best advice and, even after my application, I have received all the information (contact details, information on travel for minors, contract, ...) that I needed to prepare for the trip. The family of the ecological center was also very pleased with the well organized planning and communication with "South America Inside".
If you decide to volunteer in the rainforest, you should be aware that the project location can often be several kilometers away from any other civilization. The center is about an hour away from Puyo by bus. Fortunately, the volunteers' house has electricity and running water (but only cold). However, the nearest grocery store is more than 3 kilometers away, which is why I was happy to have booked the program so that the family cooked for me. The self-sufficient volunteers stocked up on food for the whole week in Puyo at the beginning of the week.
Volunteering: In the four weeks of my stay I had very little work to do: every morning I fed the animals (like monkeys, parrots, etc.) and watered the plants in the greenhouse. Depending on the number of volunteers, work such as planting new trees, fertilizing plants, cleaning enclosures or paths will be required. The animals are fed again in the afternoon and the turtles are also fed twice a week. Whoever decides to volunteer should definitely expect to get wet and dirty often. But all of this is part of the new wealth of experience. You should also be aware that the program is not a zoo, but a rehabilitation center. Therefore, there are few animals in cages as the family tries to allow the animals to live in the rainforest and not in captivity. Since the family is also committed to the conservation and reforestation of the rainforest, as a volunteer you can learn a lot about the problems of the locals and about the deforestation of the rainforest.
Activities: As the project is relatively remote and lonely, I felt quite lonely at the beginning - as the only volunteer. Fortunately, I quickly made friends with the locals, which is why I either went swimming in the river (approx. 10 minutes away) in the afternoons or went hiking to waterfalls with my new friends. At weekends I left the center to visit the cities of Puyo, Tena and Baños. You can get there for little money by bus and do tourist attractions there (rafting, canyoning, hiking, ...).
When choosing the length of stay, you should definitely consider what type of person you are: Do you want to make as much contact as possible with the locals and make new friends? Because then 3-4 weeks would be recommended. In my four weeks I even had the chance to attend a dinner and a party in the community, which otherwise only locals are privileged to do. Or do you just want to get to know some animals in the rainforest, but actually you don't like having to deal with yourself? Then you should not spend more than two weeks in the project. I found a lot of rest during my stay, but it was exactly this time out that I needed from my stressful everyday life.
Conclusion: I myself made many new friends during my stay and lived the life of a different culture. I also learned more about the problems of the locals and about protecting the rainforest. That's why I really enjoyed the trip. However, I have to admit that without the activities with my new friends and without my weekend activities in other cities, I would have felt a lot of boredom. The trip was a success for me because I have made tremendous progress in the Spanish language and met my personal goals.