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Giant spider in amazon

Environment & Wildlife, From the Field

From Wetherspoons to Wandering Spiders: Peru Week 2

November 11th 2023

Tagged: Amazon rainforest, Sustainable Travel, Volunteering Abroad, Wildlife

Hola! In my last post, I shared the research that I’ll be taking part in at the Amazon Ecology and Wildlife Rehabilitation Programme, in Peru. As my exciting journey has not yet begun, today I’ll give you a glimpse into my preparations for the upcoming adventure…

Saving up:

I’ve dedicated my summer to working in a café to fund my travels. So far much of these savings have been spent on flights and necessities, such as insect-repellent clothing, a first aid kit and tequila shots (a necessity, but not for this trip).


About £300 of my savings have been spent on the yellow fever vaccine and all three doses of the rabies vaccine. The bad news is that if I get bitten by a rabid animal I still need to go straight to the hospital. The good news is that the vaccine gives me a tiny, tiny bit of a better chance of surviving if I don’t get to the hospital.

Learning Spanish:

My online lessons with a tutor named Jesus (pronounced ‘hey-soos’) consist mostly of me saying “repetir, por favor” and “no entiendo”. I completed my 274-day Duolingo streak in Wetherspoons.

Poison dart frog in Costa RicaVolunteer Sea Turtles | Volunteer Costa Rica | Working Abroad


I’ve been familiarizing myself with the rainforest’s potential dangers, from piranhas to jaguars to bullet ants to poison dart frogs. Let me enlighten you with one of the most nightmare-inducing of all. Forget Australia, the most venomous arachnid in the world is the Brazilian wandering spider. These 9 species of spider belong to the genus Phoneutria, which is Greek for ‘murderess’. Instead of building webs to catch prey, these spiders ‘wander’ along the forest floor at night, on the hunt. The venom from this spider’s bite causes excruciating pain, and loss of muscle control and can be lethal. Great.


Besides dodging venomous spiders, another daunting task is condensing six months’ worth of belongings into a 50-litre backpack. After a co-worker suggested an ingenious method to prevent nocturnal creepy crawlies from invading my shoes – using condoms as protective covers – I was ready to devote as much space in my backpack as necessary to avoid sharing my footwear with unwanted visitors. Regrettably, it’s now clear that there isn’t enough room for this approach. Also, showing up at the research station with a backpack overflowing with contraceptives might not be the best first impression.

As the time to depart draws closer, I’m becoming both more excited and more terrified. What will get me first? Rabies? Wandering spiders? The humidity? Next time I’ll be writing to you from South America, hopefully with some interesting stories.

Until next time – hasta luego!

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Written by Holly Fortune

About the Author

WorkingAbroad Projects

Blog articles about our volunteer projects, the wider world and from volunteers in the field are shared here for everyone to get inspired and learn more about wildlife conservation topics, volunteering abroad and much more.