Volunteer Work, Animal Welfare
Asención de Guarayos
year round, start and end dates are flexible
This volunteer project takes place in a wildlife sanctuary located right in the middle of the Bolivian Amazonia. Part of the land has suffered deforestation due to slash-and-burn agricultural techniques practiced by local farmers. This is particularly risky, since the region presents a high risk of bush fires.
Due to these practices, the park lies on an isolated strip of forest, where many wild animals seek refuge. The beginnings were humble, but thanks to the early efforts of volunteers from Bolivia and foreign countries in 1996, the center has grown to include more than 800 hectares (2,000 acres) of land that is now home to hundreds of animals.
The wildlife sanctuary cares for threatened species, including tapirs, howler monkeys, tortoises, wild felines such as ocelots, pumas and jaguars as well as many birds. The majority of the felines are kept in large enclosures. Following strict safety regulations, some of them are allowed to walk the grounds during the day.
Support endangered animals and get involved in this wildlife rescue center in Bolivia that protects exotic animals!
The wildlife refuge center in Bolivia cares for a variety of animals, with an emphasis on wild felines, which are separated into specific areas. General tasks for volunteers include cleaning the enclosures and preparing food for the animals.
Animal Refuge Center:
A maximum of two volunteers are lucky enough to come in direct contact with the animals by being assigned to the refuge station. You will be responsible for the care of tapirs, pekaris (a boar species) and exotic birds like toucans, macaws, ñandus (a South American cursorial bird) and parrots.
Work at the Quarantine Area:
Three to four volunteers are usually assigned to work at the quarantine station where they help nurture the sick animals back to health. The young animals and pups that arrive at the wildlife center need extra care and attention from the volunteers. Naturally, the species to work with at this area constantly change, as animals that have regained their health leave the facility. Due to the general population at the wildlife center, most of the animals are different species of monkeys, exotic birds, tortoises, and coatis.
The maintenance of the grounds of the wildlife sanctuary is also part of the important work that volunteers carry out. It is important to ensure optimal infrastructure and a well-functioning wildlife refuge center. Construction work can include the repair and improvement of cages or the maintenance of the center's facilities and trails. There is always a lot of work to be done within the 800 hectares (2,000 acres) of grounds that are part of the wildlife center. As a volunteer, you will either be assigned to a small work group or asked to work on your own. This all depends on the workload and total amount of volunteers supporting the wildlife sanctuary.
Caring for Howler Monkeys:
Amongst other exotic animals, numerous howler monkeys live at the wildlife center. This monkey species can only be found in Central and South America, and they stay true to their name by waking up the whole camp every morning with their screams. Up to four volunteers care for the monkeys. The duties include feeding and playing with them, new ideas for toys are always welcome. Some volunteers have even been spotted climbing the trees with the monkeys!
Working with wild felines:
If you’ve always wanted to play with a wild feline, this is your chance of making that wish come true. The wildlife center is home to wild cougars, jaguars, Geoffrey’s cats, and ocelots. As a volunteer, you will be asked to take care of these wonderful animals. Depending on season, you may be responsible for up to three felines yourself (low season) or share your duty with other volunteers (peak season, between 1 and 3 volunteers per feline). Please note that you need to stay a minimum of 30 to 40 days at the volunteer project in order to be able to work with the felines!
In addition to these main work areas in one of the areas mentioned above, each volunteer is assigned a half-hour weekly morning chore (such as feeding the tapirs or birds), as well as a half-hour daily chore (ranging from setting up and clearing up after dinner to cleaning the bathrooms and putting the birds to sleep at night). The morning tasks are carried out from 7 am to 8 am. Breakfast is from 8 am to 9 am, and from 9 am onwards, you will be working in your main area.
We will gladly take any of your preferences concerning work areas into consideration while coordinating and planning the project. However, it is possible that duties are switched upon arrival depending on seasonality and demand of the animal refuge center.
Important: To ensure a pleasant voluntary work experience and taking into consideration the wellbeing of the animals, some work areas require a minimum participation time. If you would like to work with the wild felines or the howler monkeys, please make sure you stay at least 4 weeks, so the animals can get used to you (jaguars even require 40 days). Working at any other of the areas is possible from 2 weeks on.
Note: The tasks may vary. They depend on factors such as number of volunteers, weather, season, current needs of the project, as well as self-motivation. Not every volunteer may be fully involved in all these tasks.
This volunteer program includes accommodation in a basic volunteer house with capacity for up to 20 volunteers.
Rooms are not usually separated by gender. Sheets and mosquito nets (when available) are provided, but you need to bring your own blanket or sleeping bag, it can get quite cold at night.
The wildlife rescue center has limited electricity or mobile phone signal. A well/borehole provides drinking water, and the water for the showers is not heated. The toilets are ecological and do not use plumbing. Food will be provided three times a day, except dinner on Saturday, as volunteers ususally go into town for a meal.
Breakfast is provided daily from 8 am to 9 am, it consists of bread and tea/coffee. You may wish to bring cereal or oatmeal with you to supplement the meal. Lunch and dinner are mostly vegetarian, meat options are available two to three times a week. If you have any specific dietary requirements, you should bring a supply of suitable food with you. Some food items can be purchased in a nearby village. Big grocery stores can be found in Ascensión de Guarayos, which is a 45-minute bus ride away. The facility’s drinking water comes from a well (filtered!), and most volunteers drink it without experiencing any side effects. However, if you are concerned about water purity, please bring water purification tablets or purchase bottled water in town.
Note: In Latin America, especially in remote areas where many of our volunteer projects take place, the cellular or internet connection is not always reliable and fast.
This volunteer project is located in the Bolivian rainforest close to the village of Santa Maria. The closest town is Asención de Guarayos, on the highway connecting Trinidad and Santa Cruz. You can reach Ascención via a 45-minute bus ride. The distance to Santa Cruz is 350 km, and 200 km to Trinidad.
Big parts of the Guarayos province are covered with subtropical humid forest, which includes large areas of cusi palms. The entire territory is crossed by the Blanco and San Miguel rivers.
The project is located in breath-taking nature. The jungle offers many opportunities to explore the fabulous flora and fauna, to swim in lagoons or to shower under waterfalls. Culturally interested people can get to know indigenous communities and their customs as well as learn more about the use of medicinal plants and ancient traditions of the indigenous people of the jungle.
Spanish at communication level. For optimal preparation for your volunteer work in Bolivia, we advise you to take a Spanish course before the program starts. This gives you the opportunity to slowly get used to the language, culture and mentality.
Pre-departure and in-country support
Before arrival, our experienced team will be at your disposal to assist you throughout the booking process and travel planning. With the booking confirmation you will receive our 24-hour emergency number, so that you can reach us 24/7 in case of emergency.
In addition to the assistance given by our office staff you will be supported by the volunteer coordinator on site.
Costs & Services
Our volunteer project in an Animal Rescue Center in Bolivia includes:
- Shared room in Volunteer House
- Full board
- Professional English-speaking advice
- Translation of your application documents
- Volunteer Work Placement in Bolivia
- English-speaking in-country support
- On-site introdction
- Handbook Bolivia
- 24/7 emergency number
- Information about suitable travel insurance
- Certificate of participation
Application fee: US$ 120
Placement fee: US$ 195
Living costs to be paid on site:
15 days: 2,270 Bs (ca. US$ 325), each additional day 125 Bs (ca. US$ 18)
30 days: 3,770 Bs (ca. US$ 540), each additional day 80 Bs (ca. US$ 11)
Note: the above mentioned costs have to be paid on site in local currency (Bs=Boliviano). There is also a guarantee deposit of 300 bs (approx. US$ 45) to be paid on site. This deposit is returned once the booked volunteering time has been completed.
Additionally, you can book:
Our tips (experience more + see more = save $$)
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All our stay abroad programs can be combined with each other: So, you can combine different volunteer projects in the same country or in different countries, or you mix Working Holiday with volunteer work or Farm Stay with Working Holiday ...and so on …
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Note: Language courses are excluded from this promotion. These discounts can not be combined with other promotions.
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