Volunteer with wolves in Portugal
Help to care for rescued wolves in this wilderness sanctuary just 40 minutes from Lisbon. The wolves have been rescued from tiny cages in zoos, the illegal wildlife trade industry and from hunters, and sadly will never return to their natural habitat. Help to care for these beautiful wolves and enable them to thrive in an environment as close to the wild as possible.
The Iberian wolf is now considered to be in danger of extinction. Hunted by humans, kept in tiny cages in poorly-run zoos and traded illegally, their numbers are now dwindling. It is belived that there might be up to 300 Iberian wolves now living in the wild in Portugal, in a forever shrinking habitat.
This sanctuary was created in 1987 to care for wolves which have come into conflict with humans and can no longer live in their native habitat. In that time, many wolves have lived their out lives in safety and freedom, cared for by staff and volunteers alike.
The sanctuary is set over 17 hectares and is currently home to 13 wolves.
What will I be doing?
In an ideal world, these wolves wouldn’t have to be in the sanctuary and they would still be living in the wild. Because of this, the sanctuary is trying to create an environment that is as close to the wild as possible – this involves erratic feeding times and providing the vegetation that suits wolves the best for shade, camouflage and comfort. Volunteers help with the tasks required to give these wolves the most natural life possible.
Typical tasks at the sanctuary can include, but are not limited to:
- Collecting food donations from local supermarkets
- Unpackaging and sorting the food for the wolves
- Feeding the wolves – a fantastic time to see these beautiful creatures up close
- Ensuring that the wolves have enough water
- Observing the wolves’ behaviour
- Clearing alien vegetation
- Replanting native plants
- General maintenance such as painting and building
- Fire prevention (depending on the time of year)
The work can be physically demanding, particuarly in the heat of the summer. Volunteers need to be fit enough to climb hills and work manually for a couple of hours at a time.
Accommodation and food
- Two nights of accommodation in Lisbon before going to the sanctuary
- Accommodation is located on-site at the wolf sanctuary
- You will be living in a shared log cabin with kitchen, bathroom, living room and two bedrooms
- The house is equipped with a washing machine, fridge / freezer, oven, cooking utensils and cutlery
- Rooms are mixed sex
- The house can hold 6 volunteers at one time
- Wifi can be accessed at the reception area at the sanctuary, but not at the volunteer accommodation
- The accommodation looks out over the wooded sanctuary and National Park
When should I book?
Whilst late-availability is possible, we would advise booking as soon as you can to guarantee your ideal dates. Our projects are very popular and spaces can fill up several months in advance, especially for the months of June to September.
- Hear the wolves howling at night time
- Contribute towards the care of an endangered species
- Live in an area of Portugal that very few tourists reach
- Meet likeminded volunteers from around the world
- Spend your weekends exploring the beauty and diversity of Portugal
Whyshould I do this?
Wolves are a keystone species – without them, their ecosystem would be dramatically different or cease to exist altogether.
This is a fantastic experience to work closely with a shy creature. You will be actively contributing to the wolves’ welfare, all whilst living in a beautiful and relatively untouched part of Portugal.
This project is ideal for people looking to get off the beaten track, whether that be on their gap year, holiday with a difference, career break or summer holidays.
Fly into Lisbon (LIS) on your arrival Sunday. You will be collected from the airport and transferred to the accommodation. You will take part in an induction in Lisbon on Monday, and will be transferred to the wolf sanctuary on Tuesday.
What is provided
- Before booking: Dedicated time with your Destination Manager to discuss the project, ask any questions that you might have and tell us more about yourself
- Access to your personal ‘My Oyster’ account – our online portal where you can find out much more about the programme and manage your booking.
- Pre-departure briefing
- Advice on visa requirements
- Help and advice from our UK office before departure and whilst away
- Airport collection and transfer to your overnight accommodation in Lisbon
- Three meals per day whilst in Lisbon
- Private transfer from Lisbon to the wolf sanctuary
- Self catering accommodation at the wolf sanctuary, located in the National Park
- One trip per week into town to collect groceries
- All project materials
- Linen and towels
- Free SIM card
- Oyster will prepare you thoroughly before you leave and support you while you are out there
- ATOL financial protection (if Oyster books your flight); IPP financial protection if we do not book your flight
On your return:
- Welcome home pack
- Certificate of Recognition (on request)
- References (on request)
What do I need
- A full passport valid for the duration of your stay
- Flights to Lisbon (Oyster can help you to organise these)
- Insurance covering your project time and any planned independent travel, we can introduce you to a policy
- Food at the wolf sanctuary
- Return from the wolf sanctuary to Lisbon / the airport
- Independent travel costs
- Any additional costs such as food, trips, snacks, entertainment (allow maybe £80 per week depending on lifestyle)