Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi (CIWY)
Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi (CIWY) Programs
Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi (CIWY) Reviews
A month in the jungle at Ambue Ari
Submitted by Emma - Grays United Kingdom | December 12, 2016
In March / April 2015 I spent 4 weeks volunteering at Parque Ambue Ari in Bolivia. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life and I hope to return someday. The camp is pretty basic: dormitories of bunk beds with straw mattresses (and obligatory mosquito nets), cold showers, basic food. So you need to be prepared to rough it somewhat, but the gifts received from working in this magical place are more than worth a bit less comfort than we might be used to!
I worked with Geoffrey's cats, an ocelot, a jaguar, monkeys and tapirs. These animal souls were so inspiring to spend time with, as they have all been through trauma of some kind, but now enjoy as full and rich a life as possible thanks to CIWY. The animals here generally do not get released back into the wild, due to the experiences they have been through (kept in poorly equipped zoos, as inappropriate pets, traded on the black market, for instance) - the focus of the park is giving them the best quality of life possible - and it is massively inspiring. This organisation achieves great wonders with very little in terms of resources or funding - a wonderful thing to be part of!
I visited in the rainy season and a lot of the site was at least ankle-to-knee deep in water - welly-boots are essential! At this time of year mosquitoes are also very intense. They can bite through one layer of clothing, so 2-3 layers of thin long-sleeved tops / trousers are a good idea to take.
The work involves feeding and walking the animals, spending time interacting with them and creating enrichment to their environment, construction projects and general camp maintenance. A decent level of physical fitness is needed, and also good common sense in terms of keeping oneself safe as the jungle environment does have its fair share of hazards.
The community feeling of the camp is great. Friday nights are a chance to have a drink or several in a nearby hall / bar, and volunteers have Saturdays off. This is a chance to travel into the nearest town and get some shopping, use the internet cafe, and chill out by the laguna / swimming hole (with a bar and empanadas of course!).
In summary, this is a very rewarding and unique volunteering opportunity - highly recommended.
Incredibly rewarding experience
Submitted by Jack Le Sueur - Nottingham United Kingdom | October 24, 2016
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!
Volunteer and cat coordinator :)
Submitted by Tyler - Owen Sound Canada | October 07, 2016
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!
An amazing experience
Submitted by Yael - Tel hair college | October 05, 2016
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.
Parque Ambue Ari - Jungle Paradise
Submitted by Julia - Yackandandah Australia | September 04, 2016
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!