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South America Inside

Volunteer at a Wildlife Sanctuary

Help out at this jungle sanctuary by preparing food for the animals, cleaning cages, and assisting with general maintenance tasks.

The Project

This volunteer project takes place at a wildlife center located between Ascensión de Guarayos and Trinidad, near the village of Santa María. Some of the surrounding areas of the center have suffered from serious deforestation as a result of unsustainable “slash-and-burn” agricultural techniques practiced by local farmers. Due to the high risk of fires in the surrounding areas of the project, many wild animals are forced to seek refuge in the project area. Thanks to the early efforts of both Bolivian and foreign volunteers in 1996, the center now has more than 800 hectares of land and offers a home to dozens of animals. 

The center has a number of threatened species including tapirs, tortoises, and birds. The center also specializes in caring for howler monkeys, a variety of bird species, and wild felines, including ocelots, pumas, and jaguars. The majority of the felines are kept in large enclosures. Following strict safety regulations, the grounds can be explored alone throughout the day.  

Your Tasks

The center cares for a variety of animals and specializes in wild felines, which are separated into designated areas. Aside from general assignments, such as cleaning the enclosures and preparing food for the animals, volunteers are needed in other areas as well. These areas include the animal refugee center and the quarantine area, where volunteers help nurse sick animals back to health. Volunteers will also help with some construction work and work with wild felines, such as cougars and jaguars, and other exotic animals.

To ensure that you have a positive volunteer experience and to take into consideration the wellbeing of the animals at the center, some working areas require a minimum time of participation. 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. Volunteering in any of the other areas require a minimum time of 2 weeks.

Location

On the highway linking Trinidad and Santa Cruz – 349 km from Santa Cruz and 202 km from Trinidad. The closest village is Santa María.

Climate

Over the course of a year, the temperature typically varies from 15°C to 31°C and is rarely below 9°C or above 35°C.

What to Bring

  • Rubber boots
  • Long sleeved shirts and trousers (to get dirty)
  • Shower gel for the whole stay
  • Prescription medicine
  • Sleeping bag

Please Note

To join this project, a yellow fever vaccination is required. Be sure to check in with your doctor for additional advice.

If you are interested in joining this program with your family, please keep in mind that the youngest family member should be at least 14 years old.

Suitable for

Singles
Couples
Groups
50+

Typical day

In addition to your main work in one of the areas mentioned below, 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 and putting the birds to bed at night).

These chores are carried out from 7-8 am (apart from evening daily chores), breakfast is from 8-9am, 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 your project. However, it is possible that duties will be changes upon arrival depending on season and the center’s current demands. Areas include:

Animal Refugee Center

In this area, a maximum of two volunteers can make direct contact with the animals in the refugee station. You will be directly responsible to take care of tapirs, pekaris (a boar species) and exotic birds like toucans, macaws, nandus (a South American cursorial bird), and parrots.

Work in the Quarantine Area

3-4 volunteers are usually assigned to work in the quarantine area where they help nurture sick animals back to health. This area focuses especially on small animals that arrive to the center and need extra care and attention from the volunteers. Naturally, the species in this area of the center change constantly, as animals who have regained their health are released back into the wild. Most of the animals in this area include monkeys of different species, exotic birds, tortoises, and coatis.

Construction

Maintenance on the park grounds is also a very important task that volunteers can assist with at the wildlife center because it helps to ensure an optimal infrastructure throughout the area. Duties concerning construction work can include the restoration and expansion of cages, or the general maintenance of the centers facilities and pathways. There is always a lot of work to be done on the 800 hectares of grounds that are part of the center, and you will either be divided up into small work groups or asked to work on your own. Whether or not you work alone or with a group depends on the workload of the other areas of the wildlife center.

Caring for Howler Monkeys

Amongst other varieties of exotic animals, numerous howler monkeys live at the wildlife center. This monkey species can only be found in Central and South America, and their screams wake up the whole camp every morning.

Up to 4 volunteers can care for the monkeys at the same time. The duties include feeding and playing with them. There are no boundaries for your creativity, and new ideas for toys are always welcome. In this area, 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 your wish come true! The wildlife center is home to wild cougars, jaguars, Geoffrey’s cats, and ocelots. As a volunteer, you will be assigned to take care of these wonderful animals. Depending on the season, you may be responsible for up to three felines yourself (low season) or share your duty with other volunteers (peak season, 1-3 volunteers per feline).

Note: You need to stay minimum 30 days in the project to be able to work with the felines!

Details on Arrival

This program starts on any day of the week and you can enroll at any time, with at least a 4 week notice.

Program 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).
Language Skills
You need to speak English (basic level) and Spanish (basic level)
Health Declaration
required
Education Requirements
at High School level
Required Documents
Yellow Fever vaccination
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Big heart for animals.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday from 08:00 - 16:30

Any questions? Just ask. We at South America Inside are happy to help you.

Contact Project Coordinator

Free-time activities

In this volunteer project, you have a wide range of free time activities to choose from, such as sports with other workers or going on hikes to admire the breathtaking nature of the park. In addition, there is also a town, about a 45-minute bus ride away, that has internet cafes.

Climbing
Hiking
Sports
Yoga/Meditation
Contact & Reservation
$252
/week
$252
/week
2 - 25
weeks
2 - 25
weeks
18+
age
18+
age
Airport Pickup
Housing
Food
Internet
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Included Services

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Services by South America Inside

  • Consultation of our experienced staff
  • Translation of application documents
  • Placement in volunteer project
  • Orientation upon arrival 
  • Orientation kit 
  • Local support 
  • 24-hr emergency number 
  • Accommodation 
  • Full board (3 meals per day)
  • Advice on travel insurance
  • Flight booking service
  • Certificate of participation
  • Application fee

Accommodation

 The center has basic dormitory accommodation for up to 20 volunteers. Rooms are usually not separated by gender. During the dry season (from April to October), volunteers are also welcome to camp in their own tents. Sheets and mosquito nets (when available) are provided, but you should bring your own blanket or sleeping bag as it can get very cold at night.

The center does not have electricity nor mobile phone signal. A well provides drinking water, and the water in the showers is not heated. The toilets are ecological and do not use plumbing.

Internet is not available on the project site, but there are Internet cafés at the nearest town, which is located 45 minutes away by bus.

Dorm Room Guesthouse
Food & Beverages

Food will be provided three times a day, except for dinner on Saturday (when volunteers go into town for a meal). Breakfast is served daily from 8-9 am and is basic - it consists of bread and tea/coffee. You may wish to bring your own cereal or oatmeal with you to supplement the meal. Lunch and dinner is mostly vegetarian, but meat options are available 2-3 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, and even more can be purchased in Ascensión de Guarayos, which is located about 45 minutes away by bus.

The drinking water comes from a well and most volunteers drink it without experiencing any side effects. However, if you are concerned about water purity, you can bring water purification tablets or purchase your own 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.

No worries, Volunteer World supports you in raising funds, checking your visa regulations and travel insurance. We also assist you in finding the cheapest flights for your journey.
Costs (Prices in USD)
2 weeks (min. stay)
$670.00
3 weeks
$825.00
4 weeks
$980.00
25 weeks (max. stay)
$4,235.00
Average fees
$252.00/week

You can volunteer at the project site in Ascención/Bolivia between 2 weeks and 25 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. South America Inside 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 South America Inside during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Get ready to volunteer in Bolivia

Check out first

Visa Regulations
Depending on your nationality, you have to arrange your visa for Bolivia. Please check the visa regulations for Bolivia.
Travel Seasons
Find out the best time to volunteer in Bolivia and receive information on weather and climatic conditions.
Living Costs
Living costs vary with each destination. We give an overview of what you should plan as an estimated budget to volunteer in Bolivia.
Budgeting
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Bolivia.

What's next?

Airport
The nearest airport is Viru Viru International (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.
Vaccine Checker
If you are intending to volunteer in Bolivia you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Bolivia.
Free-time
What can you do in leisure-time in Bolivia while you are not working at your volunteer opportunity?
Ascención de Guarayos, Ascención, Bolivia zoom="6"

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