Atlantic Rainforest Medicinal Plants Practices

founded in 1999
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Coordinator | Eduardo
Coordinator | Eduardo
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.


Help us catalogue medicinal plants of the forest
Interact with locals to hear about their herbal medicine traditions
Get your hands dirty by helping taking care of our medicinal plants garden
Help us host medicinal plants workshops for the community
Make your own medicinal plants products
Iracambi is proud to present the Living Pharmacy Program—wherein you can discover for for yourself the secrets of medicinal plants and its traditionally uses.
This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+

The Living Pharmacy Program aims to promote research, conservation and sustainable production of medicinal plants native to the Atlantic Rainforest biome. In this context, the volunteer will have different responsibilities, in which will contribute to slowly create a system of Research & Development ( R & D) of native plants in the region, having in mind the socio-economic empowerment of local rural communities, and more fund-raising for Iracambi, and subsequently the higher conservation of the Atlantic Rainforest. 

As a team member you'll be involved in all sorts of activities: 

  • Maintenance of the Medicinal Plants Laboratory;
  • Maintenance of the Medicinal Plants Trail;
  • Creation and maintenance of the Medicinal Plants Garden;
  • Production of herbal medicine and herbal cosmetics in the laboratory;
  • Botanical research: cataloguing of medicinal plants in the nearby forests and visiting local elders to learn about their experiences with native medicinal plants;
  • Help local community in their own Medicinal Plants project;
  • Report writing;
  • Creation and maintenance of products catalog;
  • Planning and management of medicinal plants workshops with the local community;
  • Content creation, marketing, setting-up the events;
  •  Photography and Video making (with editing).

If this volunteer opportunity calls out to you, please get in touch. We'd love to hear from you! 

Typical day

A typical working day will involve the areas Field Research, Gardening, Lab work, and Writing. 

Field Research:

We are currently conducting a medicinal plants survey and mapping stakeholders in the Serra do Brigadeiro region. Our mornings might be in the middle of the woods collecting and photographing plants, or we might be having a coffee with a local farmer to talk about their herbal medicine experiences and needs, or visiting  medicinal Plants programs in local universities or visiting medicinal plants pharmacies.  


Since the Living Pharmacy small garden need to be rebuilt and we will spend time maintaining it. Activities include: soil preparation, sowing seeds and transplanting, plants identification,  invasive species control, organic fertilizing, pruning, harvesting, and photographic and film registry. 


You'll be working in our laboratory on all manner of activities, creating medicinal plant soaps and shampoos, manipulating tinctures and syrups for cough and stomach pain with local herbs, or helping conduct medicinal plants workshops. 


You'll need to be writing up research findings, keeping the database updated, posting relevant articles on social media or writing proposals to raise funds for the laboratory.

You'll have plenty of free time to conduct your own research, join other volunteering opportunities, go hiking, jump into the river or hang out in a hammock with a good book. 

Free-time activities

On weekends you can swim in the rivers, hike in the forest, climb local mountains – no rock climbing involved and you will be rewarded by amazing views. You can interact with the local community and attend local parties and festivals, particularly in June and July during the winter festivals. You can also organize dinners, bonfires, barbecues or social events to be enjoyed with a glass of wine, a beer or a caipirinha!

Could be getting up in the dark to climb a mountain and film the sun rising over the misty valleys.

At the weekends, our staff will be more than happy to help you plan trips to explore the surrounding areas. Weekend excursions might include quad biking around local communities, kayaking on the rivers, trail to a pic and getting a taste of local farm life.

Visiting Serra do Brigadeiro State Park is an excellent option for the weekend activities. You can explore the park trails and waterfalls in the middle of Minas Gerais mountains with a very traditional and cultural local community.  

On three day weekends you could visit Brazil’s famous historic towns Ouro Preto and Mariana, or Caraça Sanctuary - where you can stay in a former monastery and meet the local wildlife - or sun yourself on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro state. You could even attempt to climb the 2892 meters (9486 foot) Pico da Bandeira (the third highest Brazil’s  mountain which is in a National Park area).  

We have lots of wild animals living all around, even big ones like the puma. (But we should warn you, they are mostly nocturnal.) We are an official release center for captive species and occasionally the forest police appear with animals and birds to be released after acclimatizing. 

And if you’re up for gentler pastimes, where better to hang out in a hammock and read a book, or find a quiet spot to practice yoga or meditation.  

Water Sports


In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Education Requirements
at High School level
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
The only "skill" needed is a genuine interest in medicinal plants and a willingness to learn.
Desirable skills are:
- Availability to use manual cutting tools such as machete, handsaw and sickle
- Fluency in English or Portuguese Writing
- Experience with handling laboratory equipment
- Availability and energy for outdoor work
- Knowledge and experience with video editing
- Gardening experience
- Knowledge of botany, ethnobotanical studies and anthropology
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 09:00 - 17:00

What's Included

Services by Iracambi Research Center

Our program costs include DELICIOUS food! 

-Filtered water
-all on campus activities  


Volunteers will stay either in on of our five cabins (which have two bedrooms each on with bunk beds, hot shower and study space,) or in the main building, called "The Center" (old farm house with 4 double bedrooms, common room, kitchen and hot showers.) 

We have good WIFI connection and a Library (no television). 

Other facilities include our dining hall, a forest nursery, a visitor center (Forest House), an office/classroom,  a medicinal plant lab, a system of forest trails and a forest reserve. 

Three km from the Center we have the Pico da Graminha Reserve where you can find our Mountain House which can be used as a base for hikers, birders and researchers. Don’t forget to bring your hammock!

Bungalow Bedroom (Double)
Food & Beverages

A delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner is provided by Larissa, who is happy to accommodate special requests, and will always have a vegetarian option, and vegan food on request.  Please, let us know in advance if you have any kind of food restrictions. There is always fresh water, milk, coffee and fresh juices depending on the season. Sodas, alcoholic drinks, and delicious chocolate truffles are also for sale in the restaurant.  

Internet Access
Good access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees. An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Galeao Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport (GIG) in Rio De Janeiro. We assist you to find cheap flights to Brazil.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Brazil provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in Brazil you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Brazil.

Dates & Fees


Details on arrival

The weather in this part of Minas Gerais state is defined by the rainy season and the dry (less rainy) season.  Normally the rains come in October, November and last through April. Daytime temperatures will be in the range 25C - 35C with cooler nights (22C - 26C).  The rainforest is alive with activity during this time. Mornings are usually clear and if there's rain on the way it will cloud over as the day goes on, with rain and sometimes thunder in the afternoon. After a short sharp storm, the sun will often reappear, and although you may get wet you won't get too cold! Don’t forget your waterproof jacket! By contrast the dry season is cooler - temperatures can drop to around 10C at night and you'll need a fleece. Day time temperatures are normally around 18C-26C

You are welcome to visit year round, since there is no lack of projects for you to join. The rainy season – October through May – is when you’ll see nature at her most exuberant, while the dry season (June through September) has cooler nights with sunny days. Every season has its own charm. 

Once you contact us we'll be happy to send you more details of how to get here and what to expect when you arrive!     

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
3 - 24 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
3 weeks (min. stay)
4 weeks
8 weeks
16 weeks
24 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees
$200 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated. Iracambi Research Center will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Iracambi Research Center during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

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Atlantic Rainforest Medicinal Plants Practices

Iracambi is proud to present the Living Pharmacy Program—wherein you can discover for for yourself the secrets of medicinal plants and its traditionally uses.


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