Volunteers' Stories

Christophe Van de Sande

Comments: The highlight of my life so far!I intended to stay for only 2 weeks but as so many people I stayed a lot longer.I even came especially back to work there again one year later and I intend to return.And as a result of my experiences there I started to study biology.I can not explain in words how great it is there and for every person it can be different but you should at least try to go and experience it,it's worth it,it's very interesting.As for me,it changed the course of my life.And no matter what  your exsperience will be,you definitely should go because I can promise you IT IS SOMETHING YOU'LL NEVER FORGET! It's avery special place..


Comments: hi, firstly i'd like to say - I MISS MY MONKEYS SO MUCH!! CIWY is like a parallel universe and i loved it so much and i am saving my pennies to go back. yeah its hard work, yes you get bitten and shat upon but you get to expereince changes in the saddest of monkeys and watch them change and make new monkey friends and eventually see them in the wild and away from the corruption of humans. everyone at CIWY does such a top job and i feel thankful to have part of it! see you all soon xxxx p.s i love BABY T - my lil tejon baby

Shiri, Israel

Comments: The best experience I've ever had in my life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It's the best place for animal's lovers. I've volunteered there in 1998 and still I can't put this place out of my mind.

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

Wow I can't believe Sonko is now 3 years old! He was just 3 months when I helped look after him. I love all the photos and the new website. Truly one of the most incredible experiences of my life, I'm hoping to come back one day! Best of luck to everyone and give Sonki a kiss for me.
Left on 22 Jan 200

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..

After traveling all around, Parque Machia was a great place to drop my backpack and enjoy the simple life in the jungle for, what ended up being, 3 months. Personally I loved my time with the pumas, but the great thing about this place is that, with so many animals needing care, anyone who wants to volunteer will find their niche; in either spider monkeys, capuchins, cats, birds or small animals. Despite the routines of the animals, no day was the same, I could spend it; muddied running in the jungle, hours watching my puma sleep, or building monkey cages. Then more time you spend with your animal, the more enjoyable and amusing your days are with them.

Yes it is hard work, but as long as you aren’t scared to get your hands dirty and take the mosquito bites on the chin, then you will have some hilarious times and bazaar memories of both the people and the animals. Ya it changed my perspective, on animals, their freedom, what a tough job NGOs have to provide this. So go on, give it a try!
Left on 22 Feb 201


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

Leah and Anthony

Comments: We left on the 20th of Dec, it was a completely unplanned part of our trip, we only found out about the place 4 days b4 we arrived, yes it was hot, living conditions were bad, but i would leave where i'm sitting right now to be back there, unfortunately money does run out! we really enjoyed our time there and i wonder how our little friends are going, it was sad to leave, i would highly recommend that if you are an animal lover, and a hard worker allow yourself at least 6 weeks or more in your travel plans to be there, because you will want to stay longer than 2 weeks. xxoo
Left on 16 January 200

Name:John Martin                

Comments:Amazing. Simply Amazing. Spending 8 hours a day with a puma was probably the craziest wildest most wonderful thing I've ever done. the one advice I do have (for people going to Machia. I don't know much about Ambue Ari) is that although you will need a lot of work clothes, people often go out to dinner and there are parties to raise money for the animals, so you might want to bring some normal clothes as well. I didn't bring anything but clothes to work in and sometimes I felt like a total slob! I would love to come back and do it again some day! I miss Sonko and all the friends I made!
Left on 12 August 200


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
You are The Best!!!

Left on 4 May 200


Comments: I spent 2 weeks at the park in April 2007. The park was different to what I had been expecting but a great experience none the less, I worked with the birds and loved it, while most of my time was with them i also got to spend loads of time with Quirqui, a beautiful puma, and chasing monkeys away from the birds, the people there were lovely and the team spirit really contributed to this being a really happy time during my travels, I can say without a doubt that this was one of the highlights of my trip:-)
Left on 25 February 200

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

honestly, the best 7 weeks of my life. amazing people, even more amazing animals (miss romeo and gato!!!!). every day is a dirty, sweaty, happy day. can't wait to get back!
Left on 18 Dec 201

Holly Czuchnicki

Comments: i worked at Inti Wara Yassi for just over 2 weeks. i was privileged enought to work with the spider mankeys and Leonsio the puma. it was an amazing experience, that i will hold forever. the monkeys were so affectionate and genuine.. and to work with a magnificent puma was indescribable. yes it was hard work but so rewarding.when i was there we were in the process of building Leonsio a new BIG cage, and i hear that it is now complete, so im so happy for him as he was such a troubled puma that he deserves a the chance to be happy. if anyone has any information on him i would appreciate hearing from you, and also im holding a photograhic exhibition of many of the animals in may,England, surrey, so dont hesitat to contact me. hopefully we can raise some more money for them. far2hectic@hotmail.com
Left in Dec 0

I worked for three weeks in ambue ari and three weeks in macchia, and wish it had been more like three years in each. I was there in 2008 and I still think about my experiences there most days. The heart of the whole thing was just people getting back to nature and trying to protect the innocence in our world. I just wish there were more places like it and more people to help. I'd go back tomorrow.
Left on 26 Oct 201

Tom KItson, UK

Comments: I soent a month at the park in August 2003, and can comfotable say it was one of the most fantastic experiences of my life. Yes it was hardwork, a month wihtout a day off, yes it was sweaty, dirty and I have never been bitten on the hands so often but who cares! I looked after Tigre which was a privelage. Very sad to hear about Boudi, bless her. Anyway if you are thinking of going, do so, its not time out from travelling, its what travelling is all about and I am still friends with people i met in the communidade.

One day i will return to the new land and continue the work, i believe the park does so brilliantly! Remember, its all about the animals.

hi, i worked in park for 5 weeks in may 2007, loved every minute of but most of all i fell in love with sama. i spent 5 weeks caring for him & along with several other volunteers built him 2 platforms & began the construction of his bigger cage.
Left on 22 Mar 200

Kate Lewis

Comments: I volunteered for two weeks in May 2005. I wish I had had more time because I would have loved to stay there much longer!! I had a truly fantastic, if slightly surreal, experience while at Inti Wara Yassi, loved every minute of it. its not every day you get the chance to get up close and personal with pumas and monkeys!! And seeing how happy the animals were, and the fantastic, important work the refuge does for the animals who go there made it all the more special. I was in the monkey park, which was so great. May sound odd, but you literally become friends with all the monkeys. I miss them all, and I would love to go back some day. Send my love to Fidel the fat monkey!!

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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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