Do you have a passion for animals? Volunteer in the Bolivian jungle with rescued wildlife. Volunteering in our Wildlife Sanctuaries is hard work; however it is also incredibly rewarding, unique and sure to be a memorable experience. Below you will find general information about volunteering in our Sanctuaries. For specific information about each Sanctuary's work areas, facilities, costs etc, please visit the specific volunteering page for that Sanctuary: Machía, Ambue Ari and Jacj Cuisi.
Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi (CIWY) is a Bolivian NGO, made up of a team of committed Bolivian professionals, Bolivian and international volunteers. Founded in 1992, CIWY was the pioneer of the environmental movement in Bolivia and is recognised nationally and internationally for founding centres dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife. CIWY currently manages three Wildlife Sanctuaries: Machia (Cochabamba), Ambue Ari (Santa Cruz) and Jacj Cuisi (Rurrenabaque, north of La Paz). Each Sanctuary offers refuge to wild animals rescued from trafficking, offering them a better quality of life.
We accept volunteers from all different walks of life. We do not require that volunteers have prior experience of, or a specific qualification in working with wildlife.
We do however need all volunteers to meet the following requirements:
In order to work with the animals in our centres, volunteers must commit to a minimum of either 14 or 29 days, depending on the area of work. Work with all felines* and certain monkey groups requires a minimum of 29 days (*44 days for Jaguars).
If you do not have two weeks to spare but still wish to help, we are currently accepting volunteers to help with construction and general maintenance work in Parque Jacj Cuisi for as little as one week.
Lots of volunteers stay for many months or even longer, and often return for a second and third time. Long-term volunteers are essential to the work that we do. In addition to caring for the animals, they help manage certain parts of our wildlife centres and have a more intimate knowledge of the animals. If you would like to be a long-term volunteer but have questions about visas, please see our FAQ section.
For the majority of volunteers work begins between 7:00am - 8:30am, and ends between 4:30pm - 7pm (depending on the work area). Work schedules for each area are listed in each sanctuary’s volunteering page. Most volunteers receive breaks of 1.5 - 2 hours during the day.
Volunteers at get one day off per week.
The cost of volunteering varies depending on which Sanctuary you choose to volunteer at. Please see each Sanctuary's specific volunteering page for the exact cost. Payments made by our volunteers are our main source of funding, making up 85% of our total income. These payments are normally spent within a week on food and medical supplies for the animals, or to cover the Sanctuary's general operating costs. Volunteer fees also cover the cost of accommodation and, in two of our parks (Ambue Ari and Jacj Cuisi), three meals a day are also included, whereas at Machia only lunch, plus tea and coffee is included.
Choosing which Sanctuary to volunteer at can be difficult decision. To help, we have summarized basic information about each Sanctuary below. You can also have a look at each Sanctuary’s profile and read specific information about volunteering on each Sanctuary’s volunteer page: Machía, Ambue Ari and Jacj Cuisi.
Capuchin monkeys, spider monkeys, coatis, turtles, a spectacled bear, exotic birds and more.
Electricity, hot showers, kitchens, internet, cell phone reception, restaurants and shops.
Low season: 20 to 30
High season: 40 to 50
Villa Tunari, conveniently on the highway between Cochabamba and Santa Cruz.
Jaguars, ocelots, pumas, howler monkeys, night monkeys, exotic birds, tapirs, peccaries and more.
Basic accommodation in dorm rooms, with limited cell phone reception and limited electricity to power the office, fridges and electronics charging stations only. Running water from a well/bore hole.
Low season: 15 to 30
High season: 60 to 75
45 km from Ascensión de Guarayos and six hours north of Santa Cruz.
Basic accommodation in a dorm, with limited electricity and limited cell phone reception. Filtered running water from a creek.
2 to 10
Near San Buenaventura, an hour outside of Rurrenabaque.
Everything relating to the subject of health (for example vaccinations, medication etc.) are personal considerations that we cannot advise you on. We highly recommend that you consult your doctor or travel nurse before travelling. We do however recommend that you vaccinate yourself against yellow fever; in fact this is a requirement for all volunteers at Ambue Ari Sanctuary.
All the animals are under the supervision of the vets and follow an animal health calendar, ensuring they are up to date with all their required vaccinations.
When traveling abroad the following vaccinations are commonly recommended:
• Hepatitis A
• Hepatitis B
• Yellow Fever
All three of our wildlife sanctuaries are in areas that are perceived to be malarial risk zones by the WHO (World Health Organisation). However many of our volunteers choose not to take anti-malarials and the risk is perceived as low by locals.
Rabies vaccinations may be very expensive in your country. Fortunately the three necessary rounds can be administered cheaply in South America, sometimes at no cost. Deciding where to receive the vaccination, if you choose to do so, is completely up to you. We have never had a case of rabies within our wildlife centres.
If you are currently taking prescription medication, we recommend that you bring an ample supply with you. While most medications can be found in Bolivia, your specific drug may be unavailable.
The most common illnesses that foreign travellers in Bolivia experience are nausea and diarrhoea, due to food poisoning or other bacteria. To reduce the risk of food poisoning wash your hands thoroughly and often, and avoid eating food from informal street vendors.
For up-to-date health risks in Bolivia, please see your country’s foreign travel or health website - such as the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Australia’s Smart Traveller, or the United States’ Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
The following lists are divided into: essential items, useful items and other recommendations.
Finally, if you have any extra space in your baggage, please consider bringing some of the items on our wishlist. Many of the supplies are cheap to purchase in other countries, but are difficult or impossible to get hold of in Bolivia.
Do you have a passion for animals? Volunteer in the Bolivian jungle with rescued wildlife. Volunteering in our Wildlife Sanctuaries is hard work; however it is also incredibly rewarding, unique and sure to be a memorable experience. Below you…
Applying to volunteer
We do not require volunteers to apply or reserve a space before arriving - we have no application process. We are always in need of more helping hands and volunteers can simply turn up without prior notification. You will be assigned accommodation, an area of work and be fully briefed upon arrival.
It is rare that we get so full that we are not able to accept new volunteers, and if one Sanctuary is full we normally have space at the other Sanctuaries. You may however wish to bear in mind the following trends in volunteer numbers in choosing when to come:
We also advise volunteers to check this page before arriving, since we post updates about each Sanctuary's' current needs above - see 'current availability'.
We have a reservation system for those who would like the added reassurance of a guaranteed space at the centre of their choice. In order to reserve a space you will need to pay a one-off (non-refundable) reservation fee of $100 USD per person. To reserve your space please first read the requirements and conditions below, then email firstname.lastname@example.org with 'volunteer reservation' in the subject line.
Reservation requirements and conditions:
• You must reserve your space at least one month in advance. • You must commit to volunteering for at least one month (you will be required to pay a full month's package upon arrival). • In Machía and Ambue Ari your reservation guarantees you a bed and work with an animal/area of animals (we cannot guarantee what type of animal you will be working with). • In Jacj Cuisi: your reservation guarantees you a bed and at least construction work (due to the small number of animals at Jacj Cuisi we cannot guarantee that you will be able to work with an animal). • The $100 reservation fee is additional to our standard volunteering fees - it is not a pre-payment of your volunteering package. You will still be required to pay the standard volunteering fees in full upon arrival at the centre of your choice.
N.B. We will only ever allocate a limited number of reserved spaces at each Centre at any one time. This is to ensure that those who prefer to simply turn up can do so.
Applying to volunteer
We do not require volunteers to apply or reserve a space before arriving - we have no application process. We are always in need of more…