Care for Rescued Wildlife

High­lights Require­ments What's Included Dates & Fees Rev­iews
Ariana
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Coordinator | Ariana
Coordinator | Ariana
Ambue Ari is a Wildlife Sanctuary that cares for over 70 animals, of more than 20 different species, specialising in the care of large felines. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+
Singles
Couples
Groups
50+

Ambue Ari is our Wildlife Sanctuary located between Ascensión de Guarayos and Trinidad, near the village of Santa María. It is owned and managed exclusively by Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi. Today the Centre cares for over 70 animals, of more than 20 different species, including three threatened species including tapirs, tortoises and birds. The centre specialises in caring for howler monkeys, a variety of bird species and wild felines, including ocelots, pumas and jaguars. With 800 hectares of land, it is by far our largest centre. The Centre specialises in the care of large felines. 

The Centre is managed by permanent staff and international volunteers, who stay for a minimum of two weeks. The name Ambue Ari means ‘new day’ in Guarayo, the indigenous language native to the area. The majority of our felines are kept in large enclosures. Some of them are taken out of their enclosures during the day to be go on a walk, following strict safety regulations.

Wildlife Management

Within Ambue Ari animals in a state of complete freedom can be found, for example howler monkeys. These are groups which exist comfortably in the space available. Some of these individuals have been released by the organisation since they were suitable for this process, these have prospered creating stable populations in a wild existence. These animals live independently, however they do receive constant control from a distance by the staff.

The practice of walking with ropes, which gives animals the ability to experience as natural an existence as possible, is essential to help ensure the mental and physical health of the animal. Many of the animals which are managed in this way have natural tendency to forage or cover large distances in search of food or territory. Being able to walk with a system of ropes allows them to enjoy a full sense of enrichment, where all five senses are stimulated while receiving exercise and a more varied living environment. This system is adapted to the needs of each species, as well as the condition of each individual. It was developed to give more freedom to animals which cannot exist in a state of freedom or semi-freedom, whilst giving them all the care that an animal in captivity requires.

The system of runners is another option for animals which cannot exist in a state of freedom or semi-freedom. Each individual has it's own specific management system, typically with an enclosure for them to spend their nights, plus a system of ropes and runners to give them additional activity during the day. These animals also receive all the care an animal in captivity requires. Depending on the animal, this system can be developed with or without direct contact with people, depending on the behaviour of the animal. It also allows a wider space of movement, providing them a more natural existence without creating risk for the staff.

With some individuals where it has been determined that is it not possible to have any direct contact with them, or that it will be safer for them to be kept separate from other animals, these are kept in individual enclosures. In the case of large felines, they have a large enclosure consisting of a management cage and double doors for safety.

Work Areas

Ambue Ari cares for a variety of animals - with an emphasis on wild felines - which are separated into specific areas. Volunteers are assigned to work in one of these areas during their time with us. While volunteer preferences are taken into consideration, we ultimately must assign volunteering duties based on the need at the time. Therefore we cannot guarantee that you will be able to work in a particular area. There is a minimum number of days required to work in each area - this minimum is a policy put in place for the benefit and stability of our animals. In order to work with the animals in our centres, volunteers must commit to a minimum of either 14 or 29 days, depending on the area of work. Work with all felines and certain monkey groups requires a minimum of 29 days (Jaguars require a minimum of 44 days). Animals: jaguars, ocelots, pumas, georffrey cats, howler monkeys, night monkeys, exotic birds, tapirs, wild boars, cuoatis and more.

Time-off

Volunteers work six days per week. They get every Saturday off. Volunteers generally go to Guarayos on Saturday to the Laguna.  

Volunteer Requirements

We accept volunteers from all different walks of life. We do not require that volunteers have prior experience of, or a specific qualification in working with wildlife.

Typical day

Volunteering in our wildlife centres is hard work. However, it is also incredibly rewarding, unique and sure to be a memorable experience.
Schedules vary depending on the animal area the volunteer is working in and the number of volunteers in the centre.

In high season: 7am to 5:30pm, with two breaks totalling 2.5 hours, for those working with felines that return to their enclosures during the day.
In low season: volunteers may be needed to help with up to 3 felines, starting at 7am and finishing at 6:30pm.

All volunteers working with animals assist in cleaning, preparing food and providing enrichment. In addition to this some areas have further responsibilities/duties. In addition to your main work in one these areas, each volunteer is assigned a half-hour weekly morning chore (such as feeding the tapirs or providing enrichment for birds), as well as a half-hour daily chore (ranging from setting up and clearing up after dinner, to cleaning the bathrooms, to putting the birds to bed at night).

These chores are carried out from 7am - 8am (apart from evening daily chores), breakfast is from 8am - 9am, and from 9am onwards you will be working in your main area of work.

Free-time activities

On Saturdays the Volunteers at Ambue Ari go to Guarayos 45 minutes away to the Laguna. On Tuesday nights they go to Santa Maria a nearby town and on Friday nights they go to the Cafe on site. Sometimes volunteers organise movie nights. 

Swimming
Sightseeing
Sports

Require­ments

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 (basic level) or Spanish (basic level)
Required Documents
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
At least 18 years old (although we do accept volunteers who are 17, with written consent from their parents).
Good physical condition, adaptable and with a flexible attitude towards work.
Able to work under humid weather conditions, which include temperatures above 30°C (86°F) and humidity between 65% and 90%.
Basic understanding of Spanish or English.
Volunteers heading to Ambue Ari must be vaccinated against yellow fever.
And most importantly - have a passion to help animals.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday from 07:00 - 17:30

What's Included

Services by Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi

Payments made by our volunteers are our main source of funding, making up 85% of our total income. These payments are normally spent within a week, on food and medical supplies for the animals, or for general operating costs of the centre. Since we pay for most of these expenses in bolivianos, we discourage payment in dollars and accept only cash.

The prices listed include three meals a day (except dinner on Saturdays and those days with a special activity outside of the centre), accommodation, bed linen and a CIWY t-shirt. Also paid upon arrival is a security deposit to cover any possible damages and discourage early departure. It is returned upon the completion of a full volunteering stay.

There is a one-off payment of $100 USD to reserve your place. This is paid via Volunteer World. The Volunteer Package detailed below is paid upon arrival at the Sanctuary in cash in Bolivianos. The exchange rate we use is 6.90 Bs to $1 USD.

* There is a security deposit of 300 Bs ($44USD) paid upon arrival, this is returned to you at the end of your stay.

** The volunteer will be asked to make a deposit for 250 Bs ($36 USD) at the Cafe. If the volunteer does not spend it all, the change will be returned once the volunteer finishes his/her time

Accommodation

Ambue Ari has basic dormitory accommodation for up to 36 volunteers, this is included in the volunteer fees.  

Sheets and mosquito nets are provided, but you should bring your own blanket or sleeping bag as it can get very cold at night.

Available beds are offered to volunteers upon arrival. If you wish to change rooms, we do take requests to switch to other rooms as they become available.

The centre has limited electricity to power the office, fridges and electronics charging stations only. There is limited mobile phone signal at specific points in the sanctuary, however only with the provider Entel. A well/borehole provides drinking water and the water for the showers is not heated. The toilets are ecological and do not use plumbing.

Dorm Room
Food & Beverages

Included in the price are three meals a day, except dinner on Saturday (when volunteers go into town for a meal).

Breakfast is fairly basic - it consists of bread, fruit and tea/coffee. You may wish to bring cereal or oatmeal with you to supplement the meal. Lunch and dinner is mostly vegetarian, meat options are available two to three times a week.

If you have any specific dietary requirements, you should a supply of suitable food with you. For example, if you have gluten allergies please bring a sufficient amount of food with you because most of what we serve contains gluten. Some food items can be purchased in a nearby village and many more can be purchased in Ascensión de Guarayos, 45 minutes away by bus from the centre.

Vegans are advised to bring protein-rich foods or supplements.

Our drinking water comes from a well and most volunteers drink it without any additional treatment. However if you are concerned about water purity, you can bring water purification tablets or purchase bottled water in town.

Internet Access
Sorry, no 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 Viru Viru International Airport (VVI) in Santa Cruz. We assist you to find cheap flights to Bolivia.
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 Bolivia provides security and is a plus to have.
Vaccines
If you are intending to volunteer in Bolivia you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Bolivia.

Dates & Fees

NO CREDIT CARD FEES

Details on arrival

We are always in need of more helping hands and volunteers can join our program at any point throughout the year.
  • April - August: volunteer numbers tend to reach higher levels, this is our high season.
  • October - February: volunteer numbers tend to be lower, this is when we have a greater need for help.  
Directions

Ambue Ari Sanctuary is located on the highway linking Trinidad and Santa Cruz. It is 349km from Santa Cruz and 202km from Trinidad. A small hut, laundry lines and signs mark our location along the highway and all bus drivers know where to stop.

Read on for specific directions on how to reach us from the cities of Santa Cruz and Trinidad:

From Santa Cruz

To get to Ambue Ari Sanctuary, go to the bus terminal (tel. (3)348-8382) known as 'la terminal bimodal' or 'la nueva terminal'. Once inside the terminal, make your way to the secondary platform called 'corta distancia' by going through the tunnel (under the train tracks). This will take you to the short distance departures. From here you have two recommended options: 

1. The bus company Trans Guarayos Línea 102 has daily departures at 9am, 2pm and 5pm for San Pablo, a town 1.5 hours past the centre. Be sure to tell the ticket seller and bus driver that you are going to WCC Ambue Ari or "El Parque". The journey to the centre takes 6 to 7 hours and costs 45 Bs. Make sure you are not taking any other bus to Guarayos, as this drops you off at the new bus terminal which is located outside of the city. 

The 2pm departures will get you to Ambue Ari after dark so we advise you have a torch ready, walk into camp and we will hear you arrive to organize a bed for you. The 5mp bus gets into Ambue Ari quite late, so if you know you will get a late bus, please get in touch with us on Facebook or email, so we can actually wait for you.

2. There are also many minivans known as 'rapiditos' operated by Estrella del Este that cost 40 to 50 Bs. and are slightly faster (taking 4 to 5 hours). They leave as soon as they fill with seven passengers. On very rare occasions they go all the way to San Pablo and will drop you off directly outside upon request. However, most only go as far as Ascensión de Guarayos, where you will need to take another  "rapidito" towards San Pablo, getting off at  Ambue Ari. 

From Trinidad

To get to Ambue Ari take a mototaxi to 'la parada para San Pablo'. From here you can take a 'rapidito' to San Pablo, the journey takes 1.5 to 2 hours and costs 15 to 25 Bs. Rapiditos leave as soon as they are full.

From San Pablo, take another rapidito headed for Ascensión de Guarayos and ask to be dropped off at Ambue Ari. This final leg of the journey takes 1 to 2 hours and costs 10 to 15 Bs. We recommend leaving Trinidad in the morning to ensure a timely arrival at Ambue Ari.

When you arrive

At the entrance to the centre there is a long pathway that leads into camp, follow that and ask for the Volunteer Coordinator. If they are not around, you will be shown to the office where you can store your luggage. If no one is around camp when you arrive, you can relax on the patio or comedor, where someone will be sure to find you shortly.

Please do plan to arrive before dark as we have no electricity. If you plan to arrive on a Saturday, volunteers have the day off and staff leave camp to have dinner in our local village - if you come on a Saturday please make sure you take the 9am so someone will be in camp to welcome you.

Availability
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Duration
15 - 50 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
15 weeks (min. stay)
$ 1,490
16 weeks
$ 1,573
17 weeks
$ 1,655
18 weeks
$ 1,738
22 weeks
$ 2,068
30 weeks
$ 2,728
50 weeks (max. stay)
$ 4,379
Average fees
$ 93 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi 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 Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

Extra security layer by Volunteer World
Volunteer World is the world's leading comparison platform for international volunteer opportunities. We guide you through a safe and easy application process - including all necessary payments. Planning your next meaningful trip with Volunteer World gives you free access to our:
Quality Assurance
High ethical standards & transparent social impact
Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi cancels your trip
Support & Mediation
We cover your back no matter what happens
Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi.

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  Americas South America Bolivia  Santa Maria , Parque Ambue Ari

Care for Rescued Wildlife

Ambue Ari is a Wildlife Sanctuary that cares for over 70 animals, of more than 20 different species, specialising in the care of large felines.

$93/week

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Availability
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

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