FAQ

Below are answers to our most frequently asked questions. 

Organization

What do the initials CIWY stand for?

CIWY stands for Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi. Comunidad in Spanish means community, Inti in Quechua means sun, Wara in Aymara means star and Yassi in Chiriguano-Guaraní means moon. The name integrates the main cultures of Bolivia and symbolises unity.

Is CIWY a foreign organization?

CIWY is a Bolivian NGO, founded and organized according to the laws of Bolivia. However, a British charity called Friends of Inti Wara Yassi supports our work by raising funds and awareness, and by assisting with the maintenance of this website and our social networks.

How is CIWY financed?

CIWY was initially funded by personal contributions from its founders. It is currently financed primarily by volunteers that work at our wildlife centres. We also receive donations and grants from other organizations that support our work, such as One Voice, the International Primate Protection League and The Monkey Sanctuary. 

Although tourists who visit Parque Machía are charged an admission fee, these funds go to the township of Villa Tunari and not to CIWY.

How will my donation be spent?

Our largest expenditure is for the care of the animals at our Wildlife Custody Centres. This includes: food, medication, construction and the maintenance of animal enclosures. For a breakdown of expenses in recent years, please see our annual reports. 

Wildlife Custody Centres

I've seen the different parks referred to as refuges, sanctuaries, centres of rehabilitation, etc. Which is the proper classification?

CIWY manages three parks that function as Wildlife Custody Centres (Centros de Custodia de Fauna Silvestre).

Are Parque Machía, Parque Ambue Ari and Parque Jacj Cuisi part of the national park system?

Parque Machía is a municipal park, owned by Villa Tunari. We work according to an agreement of co-administration, whereby the township is responsible for the touristic side of the park and CIWY is responsible for the care of the rescued wildlife.

Parque Ambue Ari and Parque Jacj Cuisi are both owned by CIWY. They are not categorized as national parks; they function as Wildlife Custody Centres.

Whom do the animals belong to?

Under Bolivian law, all wild animals belong to the state. CIWY is the custodian for these animals and is entrusted with their care and wellbeing. 

Volunteering

Is volunteering only for foreigners?

While most of our volunteers are foreign, we also have a considerable number of Bolivian volunteers, many of whom have worked with us for numerous years. We want to share this work with everyone and we do not exclude anyone from participating.

Can I volunteer with CIWY if I am under 18?

Yes, it is possible to volunteer with CIWY if you are under 18, but due to the risks involved in working with wildlife, you would not be able to work with the animals. You could, however, help out in other ways as long as your parents or tutors who accompany you to our Centres give their consent.

Is there space available for me? When is the best time of year to volunteer?

We are always in need of more volunteers! Every now and then volunteers will arrive when work with animals is unavailable. In these instances, you will be assigned to help with construction and maintenance work.

What animal will I work with?

We are only able to determine where volunteers will work after their interview on the day that they arrive. Work areas are assigned according to the needs of our Centres and the capabilities of each volunteer. We do not accept reservations. 

May I reserve a specific area or animal to work with?

Placements are made due to needs within the centres, so we cannot take personal requests. However, we do make accommodations for individuals with phobias, allergies or anything else that might affect a volunteer’s work.

Do I need to know Spanish?

Knowing Spanish will help volunteers communicate with our vets and other staff. However, volunteers with little to no Spanish have successfully worked with the animals in our centres. Almost without exception someone among our staff or volunteers will be able translate if the need should arise.

I would like to stay for an extended period. Is this possible? What visa requirements are there?

This is very possible! Volunteers that can stay for longer periods are integral to our work. On entering Bolivia most foreigners are granted a 30 day visa. However, by simply requesting an extension, you can be given a total of 90 days per calendar year (though you may still have to go back every 30 days to immigration to get it extended - sometimes they only allow extensions 30 days at a time). To stay longer than 90 days, individuals must apply for residency. To apply for residency you will need to enter on a specific purpose visa. If residency is not aquired, a fine of 20 Bs. per additional day is collected upon leaving the country.

Please consult your country’s Bolivian embassy or consulate or review Bolivia’s Office of Immigration website.

What kind of insect repellent can I bring?

You will be in direct contact with some of the animals in our Centres, to protect their health we discourage the use of any insect repellent. This is because the ingredients, even in natural repellents, can be toxic when ingested. The best option is to wear clothing that properly covers your skin. 

If you feel you will not be able to bear the mosquitoes and must use repellent, please make sure it is 100% natural and that you only use it in the evenings. 

Press and Website

Can I obtain a paper copy of your annual reports?

In an effort to conserve paper and costs, we do not supply paper copies of our annual reports. However you can view and download them from our annual report section.

May I use an image I saw on CIWY’s website?

To request permission to use an image from our website, please write to friends@intiwarayassi.org.

I would like to report an error on your website.

Thank you for your attention to detail and concern for the accuracy of our website. Please report the problem by writing to friends@intiwarayassi.org. Please include a description of the problem, as well as the URL address.

I am a journalist/producer/writer and I would like to do a story about CIWY.

Please write to info@intiwarayassi.org with information about your publication and the story you would like to write.


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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.

Links & associated sites