"Spending the last two months as an “eco-volunteer” has been outstanding. While the projects the volunteers are involved in are not lab-based nor consist of serious field-work/research as I had hoped, they were still enjoyable and I had fun each and every day of “work”.
I wish I had invested more time in learning Portuguese before arriving, but both the staff at Reserva Betary and the locals of Iporanga are encouraging and will patiently listen to your best Portuguese attempt and try to figure out what you’re saying. The staff here are all wonderful human beings and are friendly and caring enough to make the Grinch’s heart grow an extra size. In addition to the staff, the other volunteers I was living with in my time here were nothing short of amazing. My time spent with all these people quickly became more valued to me than the work experience I had been expecting.
Living on the grounds of the reserve is a once in a lifetime experience to be surrounded by so much natural beauty; eating breakfasts with hummingbirds around you, having a natural aquarium with turtles and fish steps away, or exploring the greenhouse for the dozen’s of frogs croaking at night, it has been a dream. And, with all of this, the small but beautiful town of Iporanga is just a ~10 minute drive away (groceries came out to about 30 Canadian dollars a week).
The Reserve is isolated but the journey to airports in Sao Paulo or Santos is efficient and doable in less than one day, so travelling before/after/while staying here is very easily achievable.
The pitfalls program here was my favorite aspect of the work and only runs in the summer season, if possible I would recommend coming during that period if you enjoy some hiking and getting a first hand look at the wildlife here!
Additionally, Imran is a very good manager and the volunteer program would simply not be the same without him."