Volunteers' Stories

Karen Mackness

Comments: Definitely, definitely, definitely volunteer!

Its is an amazing organisation with people devoting loads of their time to such a good cause.

I travelled for 11 months, and I have to say that working here for a couple of weeks was definitely the highlight of my trip.  I can't wait to go back and see all of the animals that I got to know whilst volunteering.  I really miss them!



Comments: I spent four weeks with Tupac feb-march 2007, and during this month I missed nothing. If I can the park will be my holiday resort for every vacation the rest of my life, I loved it and look up to the people who dedicate their lives to these animals. The park collects a very special crowd of people, and most of us have a lot in common. I liked almost everyone I met there, i had a great time and I made some friends I won't loose touch with ever.
One thing I do renember though, is that during my first days arriving to the park I was more looked upon an intruder than a welcomed volunteer. So one thing to renember you people, is that it is thanks to the people that show up that the park exists- and even if it gets tedious to welcome 5 strangers a day after 2 months this is part of having this system. Not only animals should be treated with respect.
All that aside- I wish I was in the jungle now!

Left on 21 March 200


Comments: Hi
You are The Best!!!

Left on 4 May 200


Comments: Take your pick from working with pumas, ocelots, a jaguar, many mischevious species of monkeys, beautifully coloured birds or get involved with building cages or clearing trails.  It's entirely up to you, you can have the choice.  Just bear in mind that it won't be easy work, you'll need to dedicate yourself 7 or 8 hrs a day, 7 days a week.  However, you'll get so much satisfaction out of caring for your animal that it won't seem like such a hard slog!  One thing I must stress is that you need to have ageneral love for animals beforehand - the last thing these animals need is more abuse or neglect.
CIWY is in a world of its own, you couldn't possibly experience this on any other organised conservation trip.  The difference is that yes, it does seem a disorganised madness, but that's because the founders, Nena and Juan Carlos have devoted their lives to rescuing these animals (of which there are hundreds) from troubled pasts of circus life, cruelty or captivity.  That's why you are so important... the more serious minded volunteers we can draw to the park the more chance there is of organising it through fresh ideas, hard work and commitment.
I looked after a puma called Simba from Jun to Aug 03.  I had the most amazing time with him, I walked him 3-5 hours a day through the jungle (yes it was sweaty, itchy work, but got me fit) and helped to set up ball games to simulate hunting in the wild -anything to keep him active!  I'll never forget my experience and hope that one day I can make it back to check on his progress.
So please, if you have a bit of time spare and crave a truly unique experience go to CIWY - it's not often you get to look after a puma whilst contributing to such a worthwhile project?


Comments: I went to both Ambue Ari and Parqua Machia with Quest overseas. They are both the most amazing places ever. Not only are you in the most amazing place, but you are also working with the most amazing animals and the most amazing and caring people. I had a brillient time and could talk about it for days. When ever I even think of the parks a smile come on my face and I cannot wait untill I go back there in 2 years time. This time when I go I will be staying at both parks for several months.
Left on 16 October 200

Chris (web master)

Comments: In the last couple of weeks three people have been leaving repeated insults - that we are dishonest, that we do not care about the animals or volunteers, that management is arrogant and unscientific, that we do nothing for the animals, and that I've never been to the refuge. Unfortunately volunteers identify so passionately with the cause, and are encouraged to take on the biggest role they can, that they can forget they're new to the organization, culture, context and constraints - I haven't stopped learning in 4 years and it has complemented my ongoing MSc in Development.

All criticisms will be responded to and acted upon if I can contact the person, get the details, agree a solution and translate it for Nena. I'd love to publicly debate the anonymous criticisms here so develop our understanding of the full volunteer experience (I find it incredibly inspiring - esp wrt Friere, Boal or Semler's studies), but we have a number of exciting projects underway so I can't spend the considerable time this requires. Please see these 3 negative reactions in the context of the 127 positive ones...and counting!
Left on 21 February 200

Muchos grazias por el tiempo!!fui en el ano 2004. espero todo bien con los animales...?penso mucho tiempo a chayenne..!abrazo nicole de suiza
Left on 7 Dec 200


Comments: Great, wonderful, fantastic time:-)!!!!
Stayed in the park for 6 months, miss everbody sooooo much!!!!
Go there if you can, it is just wonderful!!!!
Left on 28 May 200

I worked from February 2005 fore 6 weeks at Inti Wara Yassi. It’s still the most amazing experience i ever had. "My day started at 8.00 after some food i pick up the meat. After i have to walk fore about 20 minutes, through a lot of hills and little streams. When I am close to the cage I start making cat noises. I always do get back an good morning miauw. I pet Roy an put him at his runner, open the door and there he goes. After i give him an egg at the end of is runner at an hill. He also has some long fresh grass. The he can move around fore 15 minutes in his area. Then i walk to Roy and put him at a long rope. I take him off of the runner. After we go run fore an hour in the jungle. Sometimes we stop to rest a bit and drink. Sometimes Roy likes to play, sometimes i liked it also. Not if he gets to wild. Than he drags me off of a hill. After the first walk i always rest and eat. Than i do the same in the afternoon" Love you Roy, miss you.

Niels Harbers
Left on 11 Sep 201


Comments: I haven't been able to volunteer because i only had one week vacation left when i visited the park but me and my friend both agreed that it was one of the highlights of our Bolivia experience. My warmest congratulations and good luck to everyone working there. By the way, after spending over five hours with the capuchin monkees there was one my friend was really fond of and the love was mutual because she wouldn't let go of him when we had to leave the park. Her name was Anita and if anyone knowing her could be so kind of emailing me (elia.vermander@antwerpen.be) a photo with maybe a few words of herself then i could make my friend a happy man.

Jenny Collins

Comments: A fantastic experience! It's hard work but I loved every minute of it. I'm so glad I took the time out of my trip to work here, the longer you can stay the better and I am considering going back to stay and work for longer. The people are fantastic, but of course the animals make the experience and I think this is a unique opportunity for you to get close to semi-wild endangered species. If you like animals, a challenge and are not afraid to work hard for a few weeks, this is the place for you! Its incredibly rewarding and there are a wide range of jobs requiring a variety of skills and experience so your help will definetly be appreciated, no matter your background. Go on, give it a go, you're worth it..

It's been several years since I was at walking Shaishoo the teenage puma  through the jungle and it's still remains the highlight of my travels and is invariably the experience I end up telling people about. I still plan on returning some day. Would love to see the new land and any of the animals and people who might still be around. New website looks great. I'm enviable of all those who continue to dedicate their time and effort to this fantastic project and they have my greatest respect.

Left on 7 Dec 200

I just got back from Ambu Ari about a month ago, could only get 2 weeks off work to go. It was everything I hoped for and more. I worked with Martina the Cappuccin monkey, and saw and helped take care of many animals. If  you are an animal enthusiast, this is by far one of the best places I have ever seen. I am already planning to go back for at least 6 months if not more. I miss the jungle, the atmosphere, and the adventure. The people are wonderful and the organization is nothing short of amazing. Juan Carlos is an angel, and such a loving man with such a big heart. I had the privilege to meet him. I recommend this parque to anybody, even if you aren't down for the whole jungle, or travelling to Bolivia thing, it's such a worthy cause to donate to. I miss it all and will be back many times.
Left on 12 Sep 200

After reading this website we decided to go and volunteer at Machia for a month as part of our honeymoon. Best decision ever. The work is hard and the days are long. The facilities are basic. But the people are fantastic and the animals are just amazing. Every day is different. I was lucky enough to work with Sonko, a wonderful puma. I've been gone less than a month and already I miss him so much I want to go back. We had no problems with theft while we were there, everyone is part of the family. Volunteer for as long as you can, you won't regret it and the park needs long-term volunteers badly. Best thing I've done. If you're lucky enough to see Sonko, give him some chicken for me! Oct 2008
Left on 25 Nov 200

Elissa O'Sullivan

Comments: I discovered the refuge whilst already travelling in South America and could only stay for 2 weeks. It ended up being such an important 2 weeks that I cried like a baby for days after leaving. A year on I still think about it almost daily. It's not always easy at the Park. The animals are wonderful, but sometimes the people can be tricky. Everyone has a different experience, but as you can see from these messages, most are of the incredibly positive kind. If you go, make sure you are willing to pull your weight. The refuge and the animals rely so much on your hard work. Love the animals, respect the people and be very very patient and you will be rewarded out of sight

Jake Dury

Comments: I showed up expecting to stay for 2 weeks and have a lot of fun wrestling and playing with pumas. Well, I ended up staying 7 weeks and there was very little wrestling going on but volunteering was one of the best experiences of my life, let alone the trip. It is most definitely hard work, don't expect to free load, but it is so rewarding. I can't even begin to explain what it is like to develop a real bond with a puma and to know that you are truly helping it live a happier life (though it would be nice if people just left them in the wild.) The monkeys, birds and other animals are fascinating too. And as an added bonus I met a cute little English girl there with whom I travelled for the last 5 months and fell in love with. We will always be thankful to Nena and the whole Inti Wara Yassi group, people who I will consider friends for life. I will be returning asap, I hope to see you there

Where do we start? What an amazing 3 weeks we had working at Parque Machia with the birds (21st July - 12th Aug 2010). It's only been 2 weeks since we left and we still think about the birds everday. I wish I could be back there having a non-sensicle chat with an parrot as it sits on my shoulder! We were both a bit sniffly for a few days after leaving :( .......... Pea, Carolina, Captain Jack Toucan, Hiya, Timmy, Destroyer, Pablo, Sleepy, Twitch, Matias, Sunshine and Phillip (to name but a few of the birds)we think you ROCK! And can't wait until we can come back and work with you again at some point in the future!
We signed up for 2 weeks and extended for 1 more as we simply couldn't leave.  We would have stayed even longer if we hadn't paid for a flight home already! The entire experience was truely incredible: From building up such memorable and touching relationships with our feathered friends,having a place to call home for a few weeks (great cure for homesickness/generally getting travel-tired after a long time on the road!),to the great mates we made while washing down Dona Vicki's scrummy "Tostadas con huevo y queso" with cold beers at the end of a hard days work! We miss all the banter! The Wednesday fundraising "all you can drink" parties were awesome (even if we might have felt a bit special the next day!) You can see exactly where the money that you pay/ is donated goes - directly towards animal care. We have the uttmost respect for the longtermer volunteers, staff and vets! Everyone there has the biggest hearts. The accomodation is basic,hours are long,the work is hard, but so worth it. An absolute highlight to our year long trip in Latin America! We can't recommend it enough! If you love animals and want to do something worthwhile this is the place for you!  
Left on 30 Aug 201


Comments: i spent 10 months backpacking in south americ,' and reached some very remote and beautiful places, including the galapagos islandes. but every single time that i'm asked what was the most beautiful/interesting place i've been there is only one answer - inti wara yassi . you will never be able to understand unless you come . my time volunteering there was the best in my intire trip .
it is, as onther volunteer once said :"it is  like beeing in a national geografic movie


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

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

Follow Us

Join our mailing list

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
/ / ( mm / dd / yyyy )
Have you volunteered at one one our parks?
Email Format

Search the site


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.

Links & associated sites