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Volunteer at a Wildlife Custody Centre in Bolivia

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Impact

    8

  • Health and Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    9

Incredibly rewarding experience

Just a brief review to let you know what a great time me and my partner had at the Ambue Ari centre - one of CIWY's 3 parks.

We spent a little over a month in September-October 2016 volunteering with all manners of amazing animals. The work was fulfilling and it is clear that the organisation really does have the animals best interests at heart. The organisation is transparent and it is clear that your volunteer fees are pumped straight back into the park.

We worked with people aged from 18 to 67 and I would encourage you to go for it, no matter your age or experience - as long as you are an animal/outdoors lover.

On a cautionary note - the hours are long and the work hard - for the majority of volunteers that is a bonus. But if a selfie with a Jaguar is your core motivation for going to the park, besides possibly being eaten, you may struggle with the day to day tasks.

On a lighter note - team morale was high, with lots of bonding opportunities and the jungle experience really does bring out the best in everyone. Attitude is everything and if you are open to new adventures - don't fear - you will have a blast.

Furthermore, the parks are constantly working on self improvement, but this is difficult considering the remote location, cost of materials etc. So if you have any experience in construction, maintenance etc, there is always a tree that needs to be chopped down or a cage that needs fixing. My partner actually ended up doing some photoshop work for the annual fundraising calendar.

So in summary, I 100% recommend volunteering for CIWY - it is most likely the most amazing thing I have ever done and I would have stayed for a year if it was possible.

P.S. - there is not a day when I do not wake up with a heavy heart, you may become a little obsessed with your temporarily adopted animals!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    8

  • Health and Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    9

Volunteer and cat coordinator :)

Hola! I spent 3 months volunteering at Jacj Cuisi from Jan- Mar 2014. Words can't even begin to describe how amazing and awe inspiring Jacj Cuisi ( JC ) is. No hyperbole needed, this place and experience will change you life. Be prepared for basic living conditions and many a few bugs! A small price to pay though for the Land of Dreams. Working with pumas and living in the jungle is it's own adventure. If you're in Bolivia and don't mind roughing it a bit ( let's face it you're in Bolivia so you probably don't mind) then GO TO JC!! Or Ambue or Machia. Depending on the environment and animals you want to work with. I came back as an employee in 2015 with a six month contract. Also another incredibly powerful experience. In total I've spent almost a year at JC in several different capacities. I have spent a few days at Ambue and that was also a whole nother story! Have yet to set foot in Machia but someday!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

An amazing experience

I did many volunteering projects in my life, but this one really got to me. You can see how the animals there really come first. The work isn't easy but very satisfying. The community life is fun and you get to help the most amazing animals in the world.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    6

  • Community Impact

    8

  • Health and Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    10

Parque Ambue Ari - Jungle Paradise

I have now spent time at Ambue Ari, one of the three parks in the organisation, three times. The first for two months, second for four and now I am half way through a nine month stay. I absolutely love it there. You are in the middle of a beautiful pocket of the Bolivian jungle, spending your days with the beautiful wildlife. We care for wildlife that have become victims of the black market trade in animals, as well as animals that have been injured and require rehabilitation.
We have a number of species including pumas, jaguars, ocelots and howler monkeys. There are opportunities to work with all of them.
Communidad Inti Wara Yassi really is a family, once you are part of it you can never escape. I have made friends at the park that I will keep for the rest of my life. It may just be the sort of people the place attracts, or the fact that it pushes you to your limits, but whether there are 12 volunteers or 50 life at the park is challenging and fabulous.
There is a distinct lack of hot showers and electricity, but you quickly find that you don't need it and only miss it occasionally (on the cold days!).
I would encourage anyone who has even the smallest love of animals to come and volunteer. It is an absolute privilege to work so closely with these animals and you will not regret it!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    5

  • Social Life

    10

Most impactful time traveling in SA

I spent 3 weeks in Machia and 7 in Ambue Ari in 2009 and have missed it every day since then.
The park focuses on giving the animals they rescue the best life possible, ahead of the volunteers' comfort, so be prepared that the beauty of the experience can be hard won. When you sign up to spend 6 weeks working with a puma, you have the wet shoes, mosquito bites, ant stings, and blisters to show for it before you have earned the amazing moment where you now have a relationship with a puma. She knows you and you have developed some trust for each other. At some point when you're running behind her or trying to not make noise as she stalks a small animal, you'll notice a blooming jungle tree out of the corner of your eye, or you'll notice that the calls of the howler monkeys have changed because you are drawing near, and the discomforts are nothing compared to the magic of being part of the jungle. The accommodations and food are basic, no doubt, but that's part of the experience, the organization is for the animals, not for your comfort.
This is not a good place for people who are fragile or want their hand held for transportation and safety or want a cool photo-op without investing weeks of time and sweat. This an incredible place for people who love animals, getting their hands dirty, and challenging experiences with other volunteers who will feel like family for the rest of your life.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    8

The best experience in the world

I have been twice and spent three months each time. I am going back this year as well. The reason I keep returning - it's the bet experience of my life.
A few animals get released however most would not survive in the wild. It does not have a breeding program and is not about increasing wild numbers. What it is about is improving the lives of animals who were taken out of their natural habitat by humans they really care. Seriously. You don't see animals you're not working with as it's not a zoo. And everything you do is for the animals. The work is intense. The conditions hard. But that's adds tenfold to the experience. In Ambue ari there isn't hot water and the food isn't great but there is so much positivity and you know you are making a difference to the animals lives which is why you go. In the evenings you play cards and chill with mates and every Friday have a good drink session to unwind. You get every Saturday off. It's cheap as well in comparison to other projects and all the money goes to the charity and is spent on the animals. There aren't any employees making a profit off this charity. In fact they are short of lonely and desperately need volunteers to survive. It's is the most rewarding thing you can do and I can't recommend it enough.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    8

  • Social Life

    10

Working with rescued wildlife

A wonderful experience, being able to make a difference to these rescued animals.
Basic living conditions, great staff and volunteer around, living in the jungle.
Just something you have to do, if you travel through Bolivia or if you are an animal lover.