Restoring the rainforest

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


Discover for yourself the challenges and rewards of working to protect the rainforest
Live and work with people of different backgrounds, different ages and different experiences – all united in wanting to save the world!
Support our Forest for Water Project and help us to plant as many trees as possible.
Help nurture new trees in our beautiful nursery and learn about different species of trees!
Hike in the forest, swim in the crystal clear water of the rivers, and get to know a traditional rural community
Join us in one of the world's top biodiversity hotspots: Brazil's Atlantic Forest, to gain firsthand experience in biodiversity conservation and sustainability! This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+

About the program 

We warmly invite you to join us at the Iracambi Rainforest Research Center in Brazil's Atlantic Forest, where you'll gain firsthand experience in reforestation, medicinal plants, community outreach and sustainable living. Local students, schoolkids, community members and international students and volunteers: together we're Saving Forests and Changing Lives and we'd love you to be part of it! 

Here at Iracambi we’ve been Saving Forests and Changing Lives for over twenty years! During that time, we’ve planted over 140, 000 native forest trees, founded the first program of environmental education in the region, set up the first web-based GIS, created thousands of acres of protected areas, hosted 2000 international students and volunteers from 70 countries, and impacted the lives of thousands of people in the Serra do Brigadeiro mountains. 

Iracambi alumni (we call them Iracambistas) can be found across the world in academia, business, the arts, government, international organizations, working as doctors, teachers, lawyers, scientists, personal coaches, writers, film makers, GIS techies, farmers, and all manner of activities directed at making the world a better place. Whether you spend a week with us or six months, you will leave us enriched, and you will enrich your surroundings wherever they may be.

And just look what's going on at Iracambi these days! We're working with local farmers whereby together we plant native and productive tree species in order to increase farm incomes, restore degraded soils, protect water sources and increase habitat for biodiversity. This involves a host of different practical tasks, starting with everyone's favorite place on campus: the forest nursery. Creating and maintaining a healthy supply of young trees requires a lot of work - collecting seeds in the forest, preparing and caring for young seedlings, planting them out at the right time of year, and monitoring and recording our progress. 
That's all about saving forests - so what about changing lives? Here's where we work with local farmers, school kids, volunteers and visitors, hosting visits, running workshops and outreach programs designed to raise awareness of the important issues of how to live sustainably, and how to encourage more and more people to join us in the exciting task of protecting one of the most important forests in the world. 

We help with  agroecology and agroforestry programs in the local community which range from growing healthy food free of chemicals to experimenting with shade coffee and using more sustainable techniques of coffee harvesting - which are already producing high quality coffee. Another partnership we have is with Brazil's premier research institute Fiocruz, as part of a network inventorying the hundreds of medical plants species in the Atlantic Forest, along with their traditional uses. We run workshops for the local community to help them to understand how these plants can be used and offer them the chance to run their own experiments.    

Do you know the story of the humming bird? The forest is on fire, and all the animals are fleeing. All except one little humming bird who is flying towards the flames with a drop of water in her beak. The eagle looks down and laughs at her. "Silly little bird! You'll never put out the fire all by yourself!"  The humming bird flies on, drops the water onto the flames and says, "You're right. By myself I won't. But I'm doing my part." 

If you're up for doing your part, we invite you to join us. Together we'll wrestle with the challenges, seek solutions, and put them to work. 

Typical day

Life at Iracambi 

Studying, interning, volunteering or visiting Iracambi provides you with a fantastic opportunity to be part of a lifestyle that is likely very different from what you are used to. You will be sharing the campus space with people of different nationalities, backgrounds, skills, ages and interests - not to mention a few bugs! We invite you to participate in our ongoing projects and encourage you to take responsibility for your own work, experience, lifestyle, and for your fellow Iracambistas. If you have your own study project or particular passion, that’s great, and we’ll give you the space and support that you need for that too. If you have a brilliant idea for something we could or ought to do, let’s see if we can do it! 

The Research Center is located on a working farm, which includes a large area of native forest as well as tree crops. There are rivers to swim in, mountains to climb, forest trails to hike, and a welcoming local community. You won’t have the bright lights of a big city. But you will have the chance to make friends for life, as you work in the nursery, maintain the forest trails, visit local farms at tree planting times, and get involved in teaching English, forest monitoring, construction projects, graphic design, photography, video making, help with marketing and fundraising  – the list is endless!

You’ll be living on our rainforest campus, and eating delicious local food cooked by Larissa – who is more than happy to supply vegetarian or vegan options on request. The Research Center has one central dorm, five four-bed cabins, a field lab, a classroom, our multi-use Forest House, a system of forest trails, and our forest and agroecology plots. We have 24-hour access to internet – except during thunderstorms, when we power down in order to protect the equipment! 

A little background.    

The Atlantic Forest stretches from the northeastern to the southern regions of Brazil and northern Argentina and southeastern Paraguay. Five hundred years ago, it covered approximately 330 million acres, but today only 7- 8% remains. And we are determined to protect and restore what we can. Because these forests harbor an extraordinarily high rate of biodiversity, including 2,200 species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians - 5% of all the vertebrates on earth. And new species are still being discovered!

Iracambi is adjacent to the Serra do Brigadeiro State Park, one of the highest conservation priority areas in the state, and home to the largest population of the woolly spider monkey Brachyteles hypoxanthus – the most endangered and arguably the most adorable of the New World Primates.

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! 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 round local communities, kayaking on the rivers, horseback riding and getting a taste of local farm life. 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 9000 foot Pico da Bandeira (once considered to be Brazil’s highest mountain before another was discovered in the Amazon!) We don't have a zoo in Iracambi, but that's just because we don't need one. 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 (basic level)
Education Requirements
All academic fields are welcome at High School level
Required Documents
CV and Getting to Know You Form
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Sense of adventure, sense of humor and a strong desire to leave the world a better place than you found it.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 09:00 - 16:00

What's Included

Services by Iracambi Research Center
  • Food (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
  • Lodging
  • Wi-Fi
  • All on site activities 

Volunteers will stay either in our cabins (which have two bedrooms each on with bunk beds, hot shower and study space,) or in the main building, (old farm house with 4 double bedrooms, common room, kitchen and hot showers.) We have good wifi connection but no television. (Read a book, instead!)  Other facilities include the dining hall, our multi-use bamboo Forest House, a classroom, field lab, forest nursery, forestry and agroecology plots, 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!

And if you love camping, you're welcome to camp - either on the grounds of the research center, or farther afield in the forest!

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

You are welcome to join us at any time of year, and we ask for a minimum of one week - although we're confident that you'll find that isn't nearly enough! We have two seasons - the rainy season and the dry (less rainy) season.  Normally the rains come in October November and last through May. Daytime temperatures will be in the range 25C - 35C with cooler nights (22C - 26C). The rainforest is alive with activity during this time. Tree planting activity normally takes place between November and January.  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 you waterproof jacket!  

The rainy season is the time to visit local farms and plant trees alongside the farm families, local schoolkids and volunteers, and anyone who is within reach. 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 23C-28C and this is the season to monitor last year's plantings, hop on the school bus and visit local schools to share your language and culture, help in the forest nursery and on the agroecology plots, harvest (and sample) our delicious coffee, and get involved in year round projects such as maintaining the forest trails, updating the photo library, making videos and helping out with NGO tasks such as marketing and fundraising, and hosting school visits and workshops. 

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! 

This program is paused due to COVID-19 and reopens January 2021. Apply Now!

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2 - 24 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
2 weeks (min. stay)
3 weeks
4 weeks
8 weeks
24 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees
$241 /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.

Why book with Volunteer World

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Restoring the rainforest

Join us in one of the world's top biodiversity hotspots: Brazil's Atlantic Forest, to gain firsthand experience in biodiversity conservation and sustainability!


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