"It was really great. I actually ended up extending my stay for another month."
Charlie Chapple-Gill, from the UK, joined the Primate and Anaconda Research programmes for 2 months in July-August 2019
It was really great. I actually ended up extending my stay for another month while I was there. I did change to the Anaconda research programme while I was out there, as I think it suited me better than the primate one. I would definitely say the pace of the anaconda project fitted me more, whereby you could have some really intense walking days tracking the snake as well as some more relaxed days at the centre. Both were very interesting though.
"We had an incredible time in this most pristine of rainforest locations"
Katharine and Mike Radford, from the UK, joined the Family Volunteer programme with their two children (15 and 17) for 1 week in August 2019
My family were booked on a 7 day family volunteering trip at the Amazon Research & Conservation programme this Summer and have had an incredible time in this most pristine of rainforest locations. We booked through WorkingAbroad in the UK, a not for profit company, who were incredibly helpful from start to finish.
Having arrived at Puerto Maldonado by air from Lima we rested overnight and were then transported by van (c 2.5 hours) and boat (20 minutes) to the research station. We joined a small group of researchers and volunteers at the camp, involved in a range of activities from monitoring mammals or reptiles to being part of the Forest Ranger programme. This was a friendly and welcoming group.
We slept on a platform with roof, but no walls, in beds surrounded by mosquito nets. It was a fantastic adventure for the whole family, not least being woken by the sound of howler monkeys in the trees around the platform. We were advised to wear closed toe shoes and did encounter some snakes and spiders but never felt in any danger from them. Near to our platform was a cold water shower (refreshing in the middle of the day!) and composting toilet. Food was served in the massive communal area and was very nutritious – 3 large wholesome meals each day with plenty of fruit and vegetables, frequent chicken and fish but no red meat. We did need to cover up during our daily activities (long sleeved shirts and trousers) and imagine it would be hot in the summer, but was not too bad during this winter period due to the shade from the canopy of trees overhead.
On the family volunteering programme we had a coordinator at camp, who scheduled our activities. Julio spoke excellent English and shared so much information about the plants, birds and animals across the week. Some of our activities included accompanying some of the researchers on their projects, tracking animals such as monkeys (howler, tamarind and cappucine); counting caimans along the riverbank and reviewing footage from the camera traps around the site. We also helped clearing the foliage from a section of the camp using our machetes, and planting palm trees.
Other activities included a hike to a beautiful viewpoint for sunset, wading down the stream looking for kingfishers, taking a boat to swim in the waterfall and play volleyball in the river, visiting a clay lick to watch Scarlet macaws feeding, checking out animal tracks and visiting a local cocoa plantation to understand the process of harvesting cacao beans. There are so many trails around the camp and so many opportunities to spot wildlife. We also enjoyed a couple of night walks, spotting frogs, snakes and tarantulas!
This is such a special place within the Amazon – we didn’t spot any tourists across the week. It is isolated, secluded and a real opportunity to connect with nature. Thank you to Dave who runs the camp for allowing us to share this place, to those researchers who shared their programmes with us and of course to Julio for all his guidance across the week, and Vicky & Charlotte for introducing us to this programme.
"My placement year has influenced my career path"
Nicola Robson, from the UK, joined as an intern on the Primate Research programme for 7.5 months from September 2018 - May 2019
My main role as an intern on the Primate Research programme was to collect ecological data on Black Spider Monkeys (Ateles chamek) with my supervisor. The follows involved GPS navigation and tracking, identification of individual monkeys and filling in data sheets. As I was staying several months at the Amazon Research project, I also got the chance to experience the other programmes. While I enjoyed learning under the other researchers and occasionally helped with their projects, I devoted myself to the development of the primate team and the research on the black spider monkey.
Studying a keystone species has given me a deeper insight into how ecological relationships work. I also had the opportunity to develop a transect method, which built upon my second-year learning. Studying one species for seven months meant I gained a huge amount of knowledge about Spider Monkeys, partly due to the lack of internet resulting in ‘manual’ research.
My placement year has influenced my career path in that I know I couldn’t work full time in such a challenging environment. However, it has only deepened my interest in biodiversity, and so I am planning on applying for an Msc in Taxonomy, Biodiversity and Evolution at Imperial College London. I would recommend it to future volunteers, but maybe for a shorter time period around 3 months.
You can read Nicola’s blog on her experience as an intern in the Amazon from our field blog here.
"I loved my experience in so many ways"
Angie Pareja, from Colombia, joined the Creative for Conservation programme from April-May 2019
It was so incredible, and I’m so sad is over. I definitely have to go back. I loved my experience in so many ways because I was able to be in the most wonderful Jungle paradise while developing my creativity by using things that were around. I met unforgettable people, and this inspired me to create future projects that I would love to develop then on the project. Thank you so much.
"I'd totally be up for going there again!"
Katie Spencer, from the UK, was an intern on the Primate Research programme from October-December 2018
I had such an enlightening experience, joining not only the Primate team but also with a couple of the other research teams, all of whom taught me so much. I mainly went to discover if I’d like a job in field research and get a taster for what each day may consist of. My time certainly inspired me to want to reapply for university in order to go on to study Biological Sciences and later look at carrying out my own conservation research.
I loved seeing so many new species of animal in their natural environment, especially getting close to the primates that’d often travel through the camp! Experiencing somewhere remote and away from a busy life in the city was beautiful, the Peruvian rainforest is such an extraordinary place which I don’t think can truly be conveyed through words or pictures. I’d totally be up for going there again!
"The most amazing experience of my life"
Elena Chaboteaux, from Italy, joined the Forest Ranger programme from August - September 2018
I’ve just got back from Peru and it has been the most amazing experience of my life! I’m looking forward to coming back. Who knows, maybe with a project which allows me to work there as well. Thank you Charlotte for your time and kindness. [Elena will in August 2019 be going back to carry out her MSc thesis project].
"Returning feeling very inspired"
Diana Hernandez, from the UK, joined the Mammal and Herpetofauna research programmes from July-August 2018
My main achievement from this experience was returning feeling very inspired to finish university and feeling more certain that I want to work with rainforest related conservation in the future. The concession is beautiful, loved the river and all the species that I got to see, in particular the frogs and toads, I have a soft spot for these guys! Each coordinator has different projects so I found that interesting, and I liked the freedom we get so we can learn from them and tag along even if we didn’t pick that team. Thanks again for everything.
"I had such a fantastic time at the Amazon project"
Thomas Brown, from the UK, joined the Mammal Research programme in July 2018
I had such a fantastic time at the Amazon project in July. I saw so much cool stuff and was reluctant to leave at the end of my stay. I honestly can’t think of any improvements. It was professionally run and everyone, coordinators and volunteers, were very welcoming throughout. It was a great trip and I hope to be able to go back soon.
"We absolutely loved the experience"
Michael Mueller and Claudia Mollet, from Switzerland, joined the project in July 2018
In summary, we absolutely loved the experience, the place, and the people we met and supported. It was a great experience, and we are actually considering to do another volunteering next year, likely in Africa.
"It was a great experience and I learned much more than I expected that I would."
Aidan Colligan, from USA, joined the Primate and Mammal Research programmes from June-July 2018
It was a great experience and I learned much more than I expected that I would. The real interactions with both locals and foreigners that work there was incredible. It was a very raw experience where one can play a part in the everyday struggles of rainforest conservation. Both the accommodations and food were much better than I thought. The amount of activities that I could do was also a positive. In addition, I enjoyed the flexibility of being able to partake in activities with the other research teams as well. I was never bored or uninterested as there was always something to do. Overall, this was a positive experience that was well worth it. It is an amazing organization run by people that are passionate about what they do.
"It’s an experience I will never forget!"
Holly Turner, from the UK, joined several programmes from June-August 2018
I had an absolutely wonderful time in Peru. I met some amazing people, all the coordinators were great, especially my coordinator Casey! I had a close encounter with a Tamandua which was the highlight of the trip, as well as seeing a tapir and it’s baby swimming in the river. The living environment was great, I loved waking up to the sight of tamarins jumping around the trees just metres away from me. Many of the monkeys would pass through camp which was amazing. The food was really good. I had an incredible time, it’s an experience I will never forget!
"This place is truly magical!"
Veerle Ammerlaan, from the Netherlands, joined the Fungi Research programme for 1 month in June 2018
In my time with the project, I spend a month helping with Fungi research at the Amazon Research & Conservation project, which is located deep in the jungle and therefore surrounded by beautiful nature and animals. Most of my time, I spent with joining the other incredible research teams and their volunteers and interns. These inspiring people have been great friends to me during my time there and I will miss you guys dearly. This place is truly magical!
Peruvian Jungle, I’ll be back soon!
"I had a great time in Peru on the Amazon project!"
Cassandra Keller, from USA, joined the Primate Research programme for 2 months from May-July 2018
I had a great time in Peru on the Amazon project! The primate team was great and I really enjoyed getting to try the other projects as well. I think that 2 months was a perfect amount of time, and I would recommend that to other volunteers/interns. This project is definitely good for anyone who wants a research/field experience rather than your typical ecotourism.
"My time at the Amazon project was an amazing experience that I wished hadn’t had to end"
Andrew 'Tink' Beeson, from the UK, joined the Primate Research programme in April 2018
My time at the Amazon project was an amazing experience that I wished hadn’t had to end. I had always wanted to visit the Amazon rainforest, and chose to volunteer for the primate research programme as I figured this would be the best way to see as much as possible, and plus, monkeys are very entertaining to watch. Sure enough, monkeys weren’t the only thing I got to see; there were macaws, caiman, tapir, plenty of snakes, and loads of spiders!
Helping the primate research programme was great. I got to learn a lot about primate behaviour, research methods, and the rainforest in general. It can get very chaotic chasing a troop of monkeys around the rainforest so be prepared to get the odd spider web in your face or an occasional army of ants in your pants.
It wasn’t just the rainforest and wildlife that made my time in the jungle so great, it was the people too. Everyone there is so passionate about what they do and full of interesting facts and anecdotes, but above all they were very friendly and made me feel welcome from day one. My research programme coordinator was really enthusiastic and ensured I knew what I was doing and why it was important, but above all she made sure I enjoyed doing it.
Whether you’re a researcher, volunteer, or tourist, this project will give you a once in a lifetime opportunity and experience; from tree climbing to caiman catching I got to try it all, and best of all, I know that I contributed towards a genuinely worthy and massively important project.
"WorkingAbroad delivered exactly the hands-on experience I had hoped for"
Brian Peters, from USA, joined the Fungi Research programme in April 2018
I recently returned from two weeks volunteering with WorkingAbroad in Amazon Basin Research & Conservation in the Madre de Dios region of Peru. Their partner project here is run by a group of like-minded scientists, students, interns and volunteers whose mission is to protect this eleven-thousand-acre tract of primary forest and to educate the public regarding biodiversity and the need for habitat protection. Working with local people they are also helping build sustainable economies, respectful of the surrounding forest. Their mission to protect this land extends to all of its residents, even the tiny ones (see below).
I was involved with their Tropical Fungi Program but they offer other opportunities. I had stayed previously at a number of eco-lodges but this time I wanted to dial my rainforest participation up a notch. WorkingAbroad delivered exactly the hands-on experience I had hoped for. Besides the experience of this beautiful natural setting and the satisfaction of helping a worthwhile cause, a bonus was the feeling of having joined an extended family. Truly diverse, our ‘family’ included folks from Israel, Canada, The U.K., South Africa, Peru and the U.S. including me (grandson of a Welsh coal miner). Meal times included sharing stories of our day and what we saw or accomplished.
Working with their on-site mycologist, we catalogued about 200 different fungi (rainforests host an estimated 2 – 6 million types so we have a way to go!). Other teams included herpetologists (reptiles) and primatologists (monkeys in the Neo-tropics) as well as adventurers and photographers but even as we focused on our specialities we all shared in sightings of unusual and interesting animals and plants.
Tropical spiders, not known for doing well in freezing weather, on discovering an apparently lifeless one in the freezer, most folks would unceremoniously dump her in the compost bucket. As I had previously related the story of resuscitating a Trap-Door Spider found at the bottom of a cold Jacuzzi, ‘freezer spider’ was gingerly carried to me (the spider-whisperer) with the urging, “work your magic.” I placed her on the mushroom examination table where I was working, administered a few warm breaths and after half an hour she was walking about. To the person running this center, even a spider which has blundered into the freezer is a valued rainforest resident! When administrators rescue unconscious spiders from the freezer you know you are among passionate conservationists.
You can read Brian’s full blog piece about his time in the Amazon in our ‘From the Field’ blog.
"My experience went beyond any expectation"
Andrea Maffioletti, from Italy, was an Intern on the Primate Research programme from July to October 2017
I have been in the Amazon for 3 months and it has been awesome! I did not know what to expect, but my experience went beyond any expectation. In general I found the project extremely well organised and safe for being in the jungle. I heard about the experiences of other people in similar organisation and it sounded like this project was one of the best. I could feel there was a general attention to make sure that volunteers and tourists were having the best time in a safe environment. The first day I received all the most important information about possible dangers in the camp and outside. I found the general organisation in the camp extremely efficient. I appreciate that everyone had daily tasks to help and contribute to keep common spaces clean. Food was delicious and generous; I loved the open space platforms where we were sleeping; the staff was friendly and helpful for any doubt and necessity.
Being there for 3 months, I had the opportunity to work and assist to all the projects present in the camp. I was fascinated by the people’s enthusiasm and dedication carrying their projects and was for me really inspiring having these guys around me. Especially, I had really good time with the lead scientist responsible of the primate project. She was always enthusiastic about what she was doing and she was making sure everyone was involved in the project. I appreciated that rather than deciding our schedule, she was planning the daily task according to our physical condition. Usually we were going out during the early morning to take advantage of chilly weather and be back for lunch. Our main goal was to find a specific group of spider monkeys and take note of all their daily activities: what they were eating, their interaction with other monkeys etc. She knows a lot about her project and I learnt a lot being next to her. Even when we could not find our lovely monkeys, she was always making sure we could get the maximum in term of animal sightings during our daily exit.
In general, vibes in the camp with other volunteers and researchers were really good. After 3 months I felt being part of a family. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by amazing and inspiring people that wanted to share their passion with others. I came back from this trip full of amazing memories, teaching and pictures! I would definitely suggest this place to whoever would like to make such an experience.
"It was a really enlightening experience that has completely changed the way I think"
James Trott, from the UK, joined the Primate Research programme in July – August 2017
I had a great time in the jungle, it was a really enlightening experience that has completely changed the way I think and view things which is amazing! I will definitely try to look to go back again in the future when I have enough money to afford it. I made some great friends whilst there and the staff and volunteers were all very helpful and friendly. I think that the numbers were good and that the experience would be ruined if there were too many people in a group.
"The program was fantastic"
Meilin Lyu, from China, joined the Primate Research programme in December-January 2017
The program was fantastic and everyone was super sweet. I had the best Christmas ever. I mainly focused on primate project with lovely wild animals. I really appreciate this great experience and wish to come back in the near future.