Volunteers' Stories

i wanna go to the intiwarayaassi in february. i know its raining a lot in this time but maybe i just dont mind;) i still dont know in which reserve exactly im gonna go but if anybody wants to join that experience, let me know, maybe we can meet:)
mucho gusto
Left on 17 Jan 201

I volunteered at Ambue Ari for 4 weeks in november and it was undoubtedly the best thing I did on my trip, in fact the best thing I have ever done. I worked with Lazycat, a beautiful ocelot, and I grew to love and respect her so much over the time I worked with her, it was really hard to leave. The people at the parque, both volunteers and bolivians, are all wonderful and the sense of community and family made it a great place to live. It is hard work but incredibly rewarding. When i first arrived I worried that I might get bored spending so much time alone in the jungle everyday but I grew to love it, and by the time I left was probably the least stressed I have been for a very long time (having just finished university). It is a fabulous project and I would thoroughly recommend going to experience for yourself, i will certainly be going back as soon as i can!
Left on 22 Jan 200

Wow I have been traveling for over a year and the only experience I care to dwell in and on was Inti Wara Yassi. A lifetime of fun in 3 weeks.  I had to be dragged off and all I think of now is getting back.  The long hours I notice mentioned in this site are meaningless, I and those around me did nt seem to ever want the 'Long' days to end. Its not hard work if you enjoy the privilege of working with animals that need your help NOW. Naughty monkeys, clever cats, tejons with cuddle cravings, striking birds and of course Donna Vicki's. They are all missed dearly.  I am still traveling but it is evident now that nothing will ever match this and all I need is to get back their. This really is the experience of a lifetime, never forgotten......nowhere else can you have this. Gaining respect from animals over time is wonderful.....I lost some and won many! LOVE IT........ENJOY
Left on 21 Mar 200

Elizabeth Sullivan

Comments: Inti Wara Yassi  is indescribable until you've experienced it yourself (September 2003 for me).  I still literally dream about it, and wish very much to return someday.  Of course it's not idyllic; it's life - and one of my best life experiences ever.  The animals' life quality depends entirely on the staff and volunteers, so don't go unless you are willing to spend 8 hours a day, 7 days a week prioritizing an animal (thank you, Boudecia, for napping under a nice leaf while it rained on me!).  The people I met at Inti Wara Yassi were as hard to say goodbye to as the cats and jungle were.  Que les vayan bien..

Botho from Germany

Comments: It?s been almost a year now since I worked in the park and I still look at the website to see whats going on there. Actually I only wanted to visit the park to keep on moving after that, but in the end I stayed 3 weeks. Working with the monkeys is the best thing you can do. I was travelling because I needed a brake from my medical studies. After working with the monkeys who are extremley human I decided to go back to my studies and not to brake up.
well it was perfekt! I have a big picture of Fidel, the fat monkey who alwas eats too much in my room...
I loved it


Comments: Hi
You are The Best!!!

Left on 4 May 200

justine and sam

Comments: We were at Ambue Ari in September and it was the most rewarding and memorable experience of our fantastic year around the world.
It's not exactly the height of luxury, and boy do you work hard.
But where else can you help an orphaned anteater learn to eat ants, walk a beautiful ocelot through pristine jungle surrounded by monkeys, macaws and humming birds and conquer you terror of toucans as they attack your feet with their machete like bills?
We were bitten to bits (insects, not big cats) and knackered by the time we left but dreampt of the place every night for months.
If anyone has any news of my lovely Vanesso or OB and Engine, please post it.
Left on 29 January 200

Benjamin PHELIP (FR)

Comments: I had an awesome time at the monkey mirador, working with monkeys in the jungle area, meeting great people!

I really hope the community will continue for a long time, you are doing a great job there, thank you!

I wish I will be able to come back..

Nicola Le Rougetel

Comments: The most amazing two weeks of a 6 month South America trip! Not the easiest as the work is quite tough (I was quite glad to leave the monkey ropa chores behind!) but you'll be more than rewarded by the animals and enviroment of CIWY.  Make sure you leave at least 2 weeks in youre itinery for it.

I volunteered back in 2011. 3 of the most amazing months spent walking with Sonko at Machia, the experience changed my outlook on life, love and adventure. I loved it so much that I'm going back in January 2013! I'm so excited I COULD SCREAM!! :D
Left on 20 Dec 201

lorenzo, usa

Comments: my time at inti wara yassi was fantastic, and could not of been better. why? because i did not walk in with any expectations. the work is very hard and dirty, the hours are long, and the housing isnt exactly the best, but it did not matter because i was there for the animals.

if you are going so you can have great stories to tell when you get home, make sure that is not the only reason. don't go to find travel buddies, dont go for a fantastic time, and dont go expecting amazing community. while i was there, people came and left, some even ran away in the middle of the night, and because of the schedules of the different animals.... i often did not see a lot of people until the end of the day at dinner. the place has a sense of community, but a different kind that you have to learn to embrace and love. i will be going back next year, and i will be even more prepared.

on a final note, the  first day sucks. you come there... see all these dirty and terribly bitten, scratched, tired people who dont have much interest in chatting with a new volunteer. this will pass, and you will see why after a day or two working at the park. the work is a lot, so most of the volunteers dont have much energy to put into asking the same old travel questions. once you get settled in, you will see how great the dynamic is between the volunteers.

i loved this place, and look forward to returning.
Left on 9 April 200


Comments: As you can imagine, the three months we spent in South America left my girlfriend and I with endless memories... but the one thing thing that has really stayed with us, and we have thought about / talked about almost every day in the year since, was our time at Parque Ambue Ari.

It's the most magical place we've ever been to.

For yourself you will have a life changing experience - you will beat anyone's top 10 dreams in life when you can truthfully say "I worked with Jaguars" or "I helped release a previously captive howler monkey back into the wild".

For the animals (which is obviously the main point) you'll be doing so much good in a country where unfortunately there is so much mistreatment of animals.

You'll also meet some beautiful people (the more permanent workers/volunteers) who have given up a lot to try and do something for animals in a country where animals are often sadly mistreated.

I witnessed first hand (travelling home from the Park) in Bolivia a large very distressed Monkey being kept in a small cage in a petrol station surrounded with beer cans, cigarette packets, and other rubbish stuffed through the bars. It was very upsetting and would of course be unheard of / very illegal in England, but was just accepted in Bolivia with even children trying to tease it. Fortunately I was with a vet from the park at the time and thanks to her I understand the monkey (I believe called Pedro) was later rescued by IWY and is doing well (would love to hear any news if anyone knows anything!). It really brought it home to me how IWY are so needed out there.

They are doing what they can with very little resources to combat animal cruelty in Bolivia. Please help if you can. And if you can, please think of something you can take with you... gifts for the kids who work there (board games would be good!), knowledge if you have it (please please Vets out there! You're not going to get any better experience!), or something from the wish list page.

They even cook really tasty good food for you each day!

We really hope to go back in the new year, for at least two months this time. I'm asking my relatives to just donate to IWY instead of get me presents for christmas this year. I hope to give more back by going again.

Ian & Fiona
Left on 2 November 200

Siv Pettersen

Comments: GO! We came across information on the park while traveling,by meeting ex-volunteers and l must say that my friend was more into going than l was...until l heard that they had cats there!Then l was ready to go to,and we did!!
l stayed for 1 month working with a puma called Roy,and we had a great time together!!It was hard work,10 hours a day but it was worth it!And even if we had some problems with ants and mosquitos l would absolutely recomend  everybody to go and volunter...as l look back on my time there now it seems like an adventure and just the good memorys are still here!!And l m hoping to be able to go back there to volunter again maybe already next fall...lf your a norwegian and wondering,dont hesitate to send me an emai and l ll try to answer...siv229@hotmail.com...go do it and help to make a difference!!And a lifetime memory for you..

I was at Ambue Ari for seven weeks in January and February, 2010. I worked half days with two amazing cats, Katie the beautiful jaguar in the mornings and lovley handsome Leoncio, a puma, in the afternoon. I miss them both so much, they are such GREAT cats and if anyone ever gets the chance to work with them they are the luckiest people in the world! I am hoping to head back to the park for two or three months next spring, I am already counting down the time until I can return to Ambue Ari!
I think about my time at the park every day, I miss it so much, and I miss my cats more than I ever thought I would! It was an amazing experience, an amazing place that I cant wait to get back too :). Miss and love you Leo and Katie!
Left on 12 Apr 201

Queridos todos los que conocí en el parque Ambue Ari:
Los extraño cada día desde las lejanías... pienso todo el tiempo en la increible experiencia que viví, que sólo fue posible ahi. Con la esperanza de volver algun dia me despido no sin antes dar las gracias por todo a Naiomi, Jaime, Jerry, Oso, Magali, Maria, Eugenia, Mariana, Lourdes, Sandro y Juan Carlos. Espero nuevos voluntarios llenos de energías los sigan visitando y el parque siga mejorando día a día por el bien de los animales a quienes tanto amamos.
Left on 19 Jun 200

Dear all,

My plan is to volunteer at Parque Macchia for the first 2 weeks of July. I will fly from Madrid to Santa Cruz and I will travel alone. If there is anyone with the same plans, please let me know, maybe we could travel together!

Thank you. Alexandra

PS @ Luke, our ideas nearly met, too bad that we'll come from different directions and will go to different parques.
Left on 24 Mar 201


Comments: i went to the park planning on staying for only 10 days...and left almost 4 months later.  it was really one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences of my life.  i worked with the spider monkeys, a puma, the jaguar and even helped with construction and administration...there is so much to do and so many animals needing help that whatever you have to offer will be appreciated greatly.  despite the negative comments i just read i think that the park is doing the best it can with very limited resources...maybe it takes being there longer to see this...and almost all  the people i met from all different countries and backgrounds were working hard and giving what they could...the people, the animals, the place...go if you can

Estuve en el parque como voluntario en varias oportunidades.  La primera vez como voluntario  fue por unos días en Dic.- 1997, luego volví el año 1998 por varios meses como voluntario, luego regrese en 1999 por unas semanas y mi última visita al parque fue el año 2002.  Las cuatro visitas al parque siempre fueron especiales, de muchos recuerdos y reencuentros con lo natural, con el paisaje, con amigos como Nena, Juan Carlos, Millca, Marcos, con los animales,  con los baños en el rio, con las cervezas muy frías en el pueblo jajaja!!!    Espero volver  a futuro como voluntario y llenarme de energías positivas y buenas vibras como siempre fue cada vez que estuve ahí.    Espero que este todo muy bien por allá y con muchos voluntarios eficientes.

Saludos y Abrazos a todos!!!

I was in the park as a volunteer on several occasions. The first volunteer was a few days in December - 1997, then returned in 1998 for several months as a volunteer, then return in 1999 for a few weeks and my last visit to the park was in 2002. The four visits to the park were always special, many memories and encounters with nature, with the landscape, with friends as Nena, Juan Carlos, Millca, Mark, with animals, swimming in the river, with very cold beer in the town lol! I look forward to future volunteer and full of positive energy and good vibes as always was whenever I was there. I hope this all very well over there and many volunteers efficient.

Greetings and Hugs to all!
Left on 16 Aug 201

I miss my animals! Even the ones on 2 legs!! (the old timers and bolivians!!)
Since 2005, I've now spent over 2 years at the 3 parks.. (the newest one Jacj Cuisi is just starting..wait for more updates to come)...the park life is in my blood. If you aren't careful, you will also be affected!! If you are looking for a place to volunteer with animals, this is it. I've always said to newbies, take a picture of yourself on your first day as you will never look the same. But I should be saying you'll never feel the same. If you are lucky enough to make a connection with an animal, it is an amazing feeling to return and know that this special animal knows who you are. For that reason many volunteers return. I've returned to the "real" world and am missing my jungle world. Exploring Machia with Tigre (female ocelot), or encouraging Engine (male ocelot) to be more confident on trails in Ambue Ari is an incredible feeling.  Having a bird follow you around as they recognize your voice is something so amazing. Getting to know the Bolivians is another reward of staying longer, especially seeing the younger ones grow up! Rusber will be a fantastic vet one day I have no doubt. His English is amazing, challenge him to a chess game or check out his artwork. For anyone traveling long term, going to a place like this is a great way to have a "home" for awhile. Hard to imagine having to "work" 7 days a week, but if you connect with the animals, it is not work. It is living!!  You can learn so much from your fellow volunteers if you want. You can even learn Spanish, but this is not as easy as you would think, as you are generally with your animal all day, and at night, English tends to be the common language, but if you are determined, you definately can practice your Spanish with the Bolivians and some fluent volunteers. This park is for everyone that cares about animals. The majority of volunteers are under 30, however older volunteers are more and more common. I'm working on getting my 70 year old mom there!! She'd be great with the birds!! I can't say enough about the parks. Just go!! And then tell everyone about it, so we never are short of volunteers!!
Karen (KP)
Left on 30 Jul 200


Comments: Hi...I worked in this amazing place from 13/8-20/10 2005 and I must say, it has been an experience for life. I worked one month with Leoncio, wich is one of the pumas, and one month with Sama, the jaguar. It is really interesting work, you will come to enjoy whatever animal you will work with, you are in beautiful and peaceful nature...It can be hard at times, but it is ten times as rewarding. So if you have the right intension , that is ofcourse to do whatever you can to give the animals the best possible life, then dont hesitate a second to volunteer, you will never regret. And if you go..send my love to the animals right? :-

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Friends of Inti Wara Yassi (FIWY) is our sister organization in the UK. They have been a major source of support since their founding in 2008. Find out more about FIWY here.

Quest Overseas organizes gap year trips for British and international students. Since 2001, Quest has worked with CIWY to bring much needed volunteers and funds. If you are interested in the programs they have with us, find out more here.

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