Food, Lodging & Travel
The camp is a comfortable, sustainable, world-class research facility. It is nestled in primary rainforest along the Las Piedras River in the region of Madre de Dios, Peru. Volunteer accommodation is shared and consists of a comfortable bed, mattress, sheets, pillow and mosquito net. It is located on a raised wooden platform with a sturdy roof for protection from the elements. There are no walls to separate you from the experience of being in the rainforest. The platforms are simple but carefully constructed – beautifully set within the thick jungle. They are designed with a Medicine Man-style charm. Volunteers, interns and staff share bathrooms facilities. These have unheated showers, flushing toilets and sinks. There is no internet or cell phone service at the site.
After a long day’s volunteer work in the Amazon and a cold shower, there is nothing better than enjoying the sounds and smells of the rainforest. This is done in comfort at one of the hang-out areas with hammocks and lazy chairs. There is a large kitchen where the chef cooks all the meals. All diets are catered for. The dining/work area is enclosed with nettings and has tables where everyone can sit and do work or play games. The two-story platform also offers an elevated view of the surrounding forest and unique encounters with the wildlife that comes to the camp. You could meet the curious Capuchin monkeys or the singing tree frogs. There is a secret garden where everyone can sit around the fire pit in the evenings. The research site is close to a beautiful stream, mini oxbow lakes and many waterfalls.
Please note! Volunteers and interns will be staying in Puerto Maldonado during the first and last night at the project. Volunteers will be designated a bed in one of the shared rooms, which have shared toilet and shower facilities.
How to get there
Volunteers need to arrive in Puerto Maldonado (PEM) either by flight or bus. These are usually leaving from other larger cities such as Lima or Cusco. The bus from Lima can take more than 30 hours. Thus it would therefore be recommended to leave from Cusco, if you prefer to take the bus, as the journey is only about 10 hours. A representative from the project will come pick you up in either the airport or bus station in Puerto Maldonado. Then they will take you from there to the volunteer accommodation in town.
Volunteers will usually go to the Amazon research site the following day along with the project representative. This is first by car for 2-3 hours. Then followed by a short boat trip down the river to reach the site port.
Please note! It is currently [April 2019] recommended to only fly between Cusco and Puerto Maldonado, due to local events on the route the busses are taking.
Applicants should be at least 18 years of age, be in good health and have a fairly good level of physical fitness. They need to speak English fluently and be able to swim 100 m unaided. Educational qualifications and previous experience in a related biological or environmental field would be an advantage, but is not required. A keen interest, sense of adventure and the ability to endure challenging and hot conditions are essential. Volunteers can still join the project if they are 17 years old. However, they would need their parent/guardian to sign a legal waiver on their behalf.
For the Anaconda Conservation study programme: Volunteers should expect to walk far distances (10-20 km) through difficult terrain. As well as spend extended periods of time in potentially uncomfortable environments to observe the anaconda. However, it will not be expected to go out every day of the week. A decent level of fitness and stamina will be required for this volunteer work.
Saturdays and Sundays are often used for work around camp. This includes assisting in the kitchen, cleaning, washing clothes, practising Spanish (with staff and local community members) and helping out on other projects. You also get plenty of time to explore more of the jungle and relax.
There are many fun activities to enjoy. You can swim at the waterfalls or trek up to the looking points. There are different stream walks and swims, as well as mini expeditions (some at a small extra fee). You could also get involved in boat rides, community visits and sports days. There is always the chance to garden, exercise and play games in camp.
Visa to Peru
Depending on your nationality, most volunteers and interns are able to arrive in Peru without a pre-arranged visa, and can pick up a free tourist visa on arrival which is valid for up 6 months. Anyone staying longer than the stated visa expiry date granted on arrival in Peru will accumulate a daily penalty fine – this is not recommended. It is required that your passport is valid for min. 6 months after departure from Peru.
The Amazon rainforest in Peru is within a low-risk malaria zone, and it is rare that you will experience any malaria outbreaks. Rare cases of Leishmaniasis are known, as well as Dengue in Puerto Maldonado, and thus it is important for volunteers to bring long-sleeved clothes and insect spray to prevent insect bites. Yellow Fever and Typhoid vaccinations are recommended, however, it is best to consult your own GP to find out about current recommended vaccinations.