"Where to even begin? I had volunteered with this organization for a total of four months and it was admittedly the most incredible experience thus far.
I will start with the incredible work being done by this NGO. They are an inspiring team of biologists, working around the clock on different marine based projects. Their passion for the environment is evident in their daily attitude, and being able to work with such a staff is truly exciting and motivating. The principal activities / weekly activities to be expected by the volunteers include: beach cleanups, environmental education, stranding walks on the beach (looking for deceased fauna on the beach and then researching them), and of course working with the fisheries at the local docks. This work is very rewarding and skill-building, as it includes measuring and collecting tissue samples of sharks and rays. As an aspiring biologist studying wildlife conservation, I gained an abundance of skills that normally I would have had to wait until after university to gain. However, this experience is not only limited to biologists, truly anyone with a passion for animals, conservation or simply the beach, is welcome. Working with the children is also another gem I took away from my experience - they are truly heartwarming.
What I loved most about this project however, was not only the scheduled work but the amount of side projects this NGO is working on. There was never one day that was similar to the next, and there is always something to do in the field. Some of these projects even lead me to swimming with turtles and whale sharks, tagging turtles and working with turtle nests. They truly offer a diverse amount valuable experiences.
As for the incredible location of this project. It is a small fisherman's town filled with incredible people and beautiful beaches. It also gives you a chance to explore the entire Northern coast of Peru - easily attainable with the local buses. Peru is a country filled with beautiful culture, people and food. The accommodation offered is also very fair and nicely situated within the town.
As for the team...this experience wouldn't have been the same without the staff. They are all truly helpful, supportive and motivated. They are filled with knowledge, and I have truly learnt so much from the team (both about the culture and the field). They provide efficient orientation, guidance and training, to the point that you feel you are truly making a difference. You will be placed in many exciting positions, and even can assume leadership roles. They truly make you feel at home, and I now feel I have made a family up there in the North.
For any other lurking questions I assume many travelers would be wondering: 1. Wifi is offered with the acommodation
2. Food is not included but there many local supermarkets with very cheap prices that is very easy to live off of.
3. You can easily get in contact with them through their facebook: ecOceanica
4. They have a website: https://www.ecoceanica.org/. Here you can read more about each individual project.
5. The organization provides a sufficient amount of free time, giving you time to explore the North.
I would 100% recommend this program to anyone who is willing to contribute to conservation. Do not be afraid of embracing a new challenge because you will be welcomed with open arms. This organization is doing incredible and new research in the North, and supporting them is only one step further to preserving their beautiful ecosystems and biodiversity that comes with it.
It truly has felt like I was living the dream...in this dream world."
"Where to even begin?
I have spent a total of 2 months volunteering at this incredible animal rescue center, and it was truly one of the most rewarding experiences I have yet come to encounter. Since day 1, I was welcomed with open arms, and soon became a part of the incredible family.
To start with the location...being in the middle Peruvian Amazon, surrounded by trees and a beautiful lagoon with blue skies all day long is most definitely motivating. I left with countless pictures, each one remaining different. The beauty of this environment - the sound of the trees, the frogs croaking and the animals in the distance becomes your second nature.
I was always incredibly taken care of - for whatever question, concern, or need you may have, the wonderful owners (Kathya and Jairo) and other staff members always have the answer. Coming from far away, I immediately felt right at home, surrounded by a great people. The city of Iquitos is just an hour away so everything is easy access if needed.
The work being done in this center is beyond incredible. A typical day at the center for volunteers includes preparing and feeding twice a day for the animals (monkeys, ocelot, tapir and manatees); constructing animal enrichment games for the animals; analyzing the behavior of an assigned animal; cleaning the enclosures; and assisting with any additional work to be done. There is also a butterfly house that needs assistance. This is followed by relaxed evenings in the common area either playing games, eating delicious food or perhaps even watching a movie as a group (I was a fan of Game of Thrones).
Throughout my time, I have learnt more than I could have imagined. Being at one with the animals, you develop a sense of understanding for behavior and receive first hand experience. At times, there are also tasks that involve: collecting fece samples; administer a throat swab sample; administer an injection. These experiences are also perfect for an aspiring biologist. As vets come to visit on a weekly basis, I have come to learn so much about the physiology of the animals you are working with.
As for the people. I can honestly say that I have left my Peruvian family. Between the owners, the staff, Irasema (the cook) and the workers, I have never loved the working environment more. I miss the laughs, jokes and constant experience we shared with one another. A special shout out to the cook and workers who made me smile every day. Everyone is so incredible, and made me constantly happy. Not to mention, the food is incredible!
I would 100% recommend this place to anyone - whether you're interested in studying biology, study biology, love animals or simply want to volunteer. This place will leave you with unforgettable memories and a full heart. It was a perfect place to get experience for my university course: Wildlife Conservation.
Go visit this little hidden secret... an oasis I like to call it."