Volunteers' Stories

Babs Wubbels

Comments: GO GO GO!!!
I worked in the park for 4-5 months until July 2004, and i loved it! it is amazing, i think about it every day. I worked with Sama the jaguar most of the time, but also with the spider monkeys and Tigre, an ocelot. I miss them terribly, I even taped some sounds and bore my friends with it.
Although there are very hard days, lots of rain, annoying people every now and then, mosquitos, mud and landslides, monkeys stealing Sama's meat and eggs (but you have to laugh casue they are so funny), tourists and soldiers who not always understand the goals of the park and the people, long long days especially if you are also handling other things besides taking care of the animals... It all doesn't matter cause the animals and the other people give you so much! It has been the best experience ever. And now that i am studying veterinary medicine i definitely intend to go back to be of even more use for the park.
Just go, the park needs every help they can get, you'll love the animals and meet lots of friends too

Larissa Brown, Australia

Comments: The month I spent at Inti Wara Yassi was the best thing I did in my year long round-the-world trip. When I remember my trip, the time I spent with a little monkey called Negrita pulls at my heart strings. Volunteering at Inti Wara Yassi is an opportunity like none other you will encounter in your travels. I highly recommend you spend atleast a few weeks in a monkey;s/ big cat's world.
- Returned Volunteer from 200

zoe FIsher

Comments: the time I spent at Inti-Wara-Yassi aproximately 5 years ago really did change my life in so many ways. It was such a fabulous opportunity to work with amazing animals with special histories. Nena's courage and tenacity was inspiring. Above all my quiet moments talking with Sama ( Jaguar) down onthe beach or swimming with him in the water are my cherished memories

Courtney Hart

Comments: I intended to stay 2 weeks and stayed for 7 instead.  Not great communication with the outside world (at least when I was there 3 years ago) so forewarn the family you may not be accessible for awhile.  But it is definitely worth a visit even if you decide not to stay and volunteer.  That being said, I would love to be able to go back for months..

yvonne collins

Comments: I spent 15 days at inti wara yassi in may 2006 and it was the most worthwhile  experience of my whole year's travelling.
Of all the memories of my trip the very best are those of my time volunteering in monkey quarantine. I fell in love with those amazing, beautiful animals and still miss them .
As a consequence I am now working with primates back in my home city of Bristol, England.
I would love to be able to work with the monkeys again and wish that I'd heard about the communidad earlier in my trip so that I could have spent longer there.
I send all my love to everyone who works so hard for the animals   - and to Bibi and Robo and all the other  capuchins and spider monkeys.
I love the 2007 calendar picture of Pea-head (she looks gorgeous now she has a full head of hair).
I hope to see her for myself again in the future.
Yvonne xxxxxx

Left on 16 January 200

Gabrielle Brady

Comments: Looking after the animals was such a great experience, i'll remember it for the rest of my life! I worked with Tigre and also the monos bebes, all up for over one month.

However I need to let volunteers know that I had things of mine stolen at the refuge, July 2006, and I've discovered since then other people have also had many, many things taken. Just look after your things, lock your doors when you sleep and any problems with theft, go straight to the local police.. don't trust the refuge to 'handle' the problem for you...[ed: see below]

Don't let this tarnish your stay though, this refuge is definitely an experience of a lifetime. If I ever come back to Bolivia I will definitely be coming back to check on all of the animals at Villa Tunari. The animals were so gorgeous, I fell in love with the baby monkeys - they have so much character and show so much affection.


Left on 29 May 2007

Editor's note: Two thefts occurred at the volunteer accommodation in Villa Tunari in mid-2006. The windows in question were strengthened, there is now someone on site 24 hours and no-one has reported a theft since.

We wouldn't recommend that that we 'handle' anything with the police on a volunteer's behalf either, just that we're informed


Comments: Hi. I worked in the park in 2000. It was a great experience! And i can recommend it to everyone. The stay and work inspired me to take a degree in biology and i hope to come back soon to use some of the knowlegde i have aquired. What these people are doing  is great, most animals there, have been threatet really bad before they came to the park. I hope people will go there to help and that they will bring some of the stuff that are needed in the park

I spend 5 month only in Bolivia and this experience was one of the highlights for me. Spending time with the animals, grabing beers, play poker and chess with people all over the world...
Living without electricity and other facilities in a big jungle makes you feel human again, humble and tiny.
I hope my artwork is still over there.
Left on 14 Oct 200

Martin Holland, England

Comments: I had an amazing two weeks working with the Spider Monkeys.  Being so close to the animals really is a once in a life time experience.  There are problems with the park - theres a chronic lack of knowledge and skills, and volunteer safety is a big issue, especially if you're working with the bigger animals.  But the intentions are good, the animals have a much better life than they had before arriing at the park, and I'd certainly recommend it to anyone who doesn't mind roughing it a little.  Be warned - you'll probably get shat on


Comments: most amazing experience of my life, the friends i made here,  both animal and human, will always be very special to me. went for 2 weeks, stayed 6, wish i had never left.

go if you want to give your time, it is hard at times, but the reward ten fold what you put in.
like anywhere, some people you wont get on with, the place is not perfect, but with an open mind(heart), the animals will make sure you never forget them.  if you stay long enough, you will be upset by somethinng, probably having to leave..

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


Comments: Mon sajour a Intiwarrayassi fut si intense que ju'en rve encore la nuit plusieurs semaines plus tard. Pour moi, ce fut l'occasion de d'couvrir Æ’  quel point les animaux sont des atres sensisibles qui percoivent nos sentiments bienveillants comme nos peurs ou tensions. Construire une relation avec un animal qui apprend a vous aimer en meme temps que l'on apprend a le comprendre est une experience vraiment enrichissante. Certes, tout n'est pas parfait la-bas, mais c'est justement pourquoi il est utile que chacun vienne apporter son aide, sa contribution a ce projet exemplaire.
Left on 4 May 200

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

Lidewij Wiersma

Comments: Volunteering at Inti Wara Yassi is a life changing experience!  I would recommend it to anyone who truly loves animals and is not afraid of getting their hands out of their pockets to do some very worthwhile and necessary work.  It has been 3 and a half years since I was there but my memories are still as clear as if it were yesterday and I still dream of going back when I finish my degree!  It is not just the animals but also the amazing people (especially Nena, if only there were more people like her on this earth!) that make it an unforgettable and hugely recommendable experience.  For those who are convinced by now, enjoy it and say hi to all the animalitos for me :


Comments: Just left Ambue Ari. The place was amazing. SO SO crazy, I can't believe the things I've been doing every day for the last two weeks. Everyday feeding tucanes, pios, boars, walking a Jaguar, feeding mozzies fresh blood by the bucket load. The parque was full when I left, but they need more long term volunteers to help the animals settle.
Rupi is very happy and very laid back, Ru is snappy and happy, Junior is cheery and cheeky, Ruby is recovering from licked insect repellent off someoná‚©'s neck, the other monkeys are fine. OB, Enginge and Vanesso were all fine and dandy too. And Populars new house is nearly finished.
And PANCHI! Panchita the amazing wonder-pig is as hungry as ever, she rollled in some paint and now she's red and green but still so adorable. Someone tell me how she's doing.
Left on 7 February 200

The love you get from the animals is of course the highlight of the park. I will never forget Luna. A playful Puma of 1,5 years old (back then). But there is more. The long walks trough a beautiful jungle, meeting special people who are all here for the same reason, eating with 20 people at a long table at the same restaurant and the crazy parties so now and then…

And although the days are long I have never been more relax as during this time. Right now I am back in “the real world” and I would trade back in a second!

These 5 weeks where definitely the highlight of a 1,5 year long trip! So go help out in Parque Machia or one of the other parks of Inti Wara Yassi and have the time of your life!

Left on 25 Sep 200


Comments: This park, this program, is great for all the obvious reasons.  The stories, the pictures, the ability to live on eight dollars a day, but in reality it's so much more.  the connections with the animals, the other travellers and the full time volunteers are the best.  I worked at Ambu Ari for about two weeks, and at times it felt like the hardest labor i've ever done, but  everyday since i've left, i've missed it and have been formulating plans to return.

es vale la pena

Any updates on Yassi and her sisters, and their new home?
Left on 9 June 200

Our perspective is unique because we volunteered as a family (in December 2002).  CIWY is unlike anywhere else in the world.  Not only was it a fabulous way to learn about each other, the animals, the wonderful local people, and the rainforest, it gave our son the opportunity to explore his passion for animals and the possibility of becoming a vet.  A huge added bonus that we didn't expect was the wonderful relationships we developed with the other volunteers; in fact, we have traveled far to see some of them again years after the experience.  This is what Christopher says as he fondly looks back on our time there:  "CIWY is a very good organization with a great cause.  I liked how their big goal is to release the animals into the wild because it helps the environment.  My favorite part of volunteering there was playing with Roy, the baby puma.  I would recommend for other kids to volunteer there."  We wrote about our experiences in our book, BYOC:  South America!  A Family Sabbatical Hndbook.  Feel free to email us for more info!
Left on 10 Dec 200

laura poole

Comments: omg its well gd volunteer whow
Left on 20 April 200

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

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Our Partners

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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