Wildlife sanctuary volunteering in Ecuador
Walk into the wilderness and help to care for rescued wildlife in this inspiring sanctuary located on the edge of the Amazon rain forest. Work with over 200 animals from monkeys to forest cats, from birds to caimans, from tortoises to rodents, and much more. You will see these mistreated animals fully enjoying their new life in this wildlife haven, and be able to contribute to this ongoing venture.
Hear the birds calling, watch the monkeys playing, and experience first hand the new life that these rescued animals have been given at this wildlife sanctuary. The animals that are now lucky enough to call this place home come from a variety of backgrounds, such as having been kept illegally as pets, trapped in small cages in poorly-run zoos, knocked over by traffic or smuggled in the illegal pet trade. Where possible, these animals will be rehabilitated to the wild, however sadly this cannot be the case for all animals brought here.
The sanctuary spreads through about 8 hectares of beautiful woodland, providing a bright and natural environment for about 35 different species. Volunteers help to prepare food, feed the animals and provide them with enrichments. This is a great way to get some experience of working in animal care, as well as to get up close with these beautiful animals. Some animals live in large enclosures which volunteers work in, whereas others live on islands in the sanctuary so that they do not become accustomed to human presence, and so that they can develop their wild behaviour more.
What will I be doing?
Volunteers get stuck in with the general running of the sanctuary – without the volunteers, these animals would not be able to enjoy the same quality of life that they have now. The morning duties generally start early at about 08.00 and continue until about 12.00. You then avoid the heat of the day, with afternoon tasks running from about 14.30 – 17.00. Volunteer tasks can include, but are not limited to:
- food preparation – learn all about their carefully planned diets, ensuring that they have the right amount of vitamins and nutrients each day
- feeding rounds – head out into the sanctuary to provide all of the animals with their meals
- cleaning of enclosures – no explanations needed we feel!
- enrichments – help to create enrichments which allow the animals to develop their instincts, and provide them with amusement
- general maintenance – this could be basic building, painting, raking and DIY – whatever you are doing, it is for the benefit of the animals
- cooking duty – food is provided by the sanctuary however volunteers muck in to help with cooking
- cleaning duty – help to keep your living areas clean
Your days will be spent outside, with plenty of time around the animals and their sounds. You will get hot, sticky, mucky and stuck in, so prepare yourself for a full on animal care immersion! This is a great experience for anyone with an interest in animal welfare; whether you are taking a holiday with a difference, an intrepid gap year or a career break, this project offers great scope for learning and contributing.
Accommodation and food
Volunteers are accommodated in three log cabins, holding between 4 and 6 people in each with bunk beds. The situation of these cabins is glorious, right in the heart of the sanctuary, with the calls of the wild surrounding you. The cabins share a toilet and shower block which volunteers are responsible for maintaining. The showers have hot and cold water.
There is limited wifi at the sanctuary, and access to a swimming pool – a wonderful sensation after a hot day working with the animals! There is a large living area with hammocks, lounge area and dining area, which doubles up as a good area to play cards, read and chat.
Food is provided during the week, however volunteers cater for themselves at the weekend. There is a large and well-equipped kitchen that you are welcome to use.
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.
- Get fully involved in the running of an inspiring wildlife sanctuary, carrying out vital and worthwhile tasks.
- Get up close to a wide range of Amazonian wildlife as you immerse yourself in a hands-on animal care and rehabilitation experience.
- Live in a beautiful location on the edge of the rainforest, surrounded by the wildlife that you are helping to protect.
- Explore in your free time, with white water rafting, jungle treks and cultural tours all available locally.
- Meet like-minded people from around the world – and maybe practice your Spanish with the locals too.
Whyshould I do this?
Volunteers are essential for the smooth-running of this wildlife sanctuary. Without the volunteers only the basic care for these creatures could be completed, and their environment would be significantly lacking. You can get hands-on in looking after these animals and will come away with an excellent knowledge of animal management and what it takes to run an animal rescue centre.
This project is a great way to experience rural Ecuador with other people, all whilst doing something incredibly worthwhile. In your free time you can explore further afield and really get under the skin of the country and its culture.
If you love all animals, then this is a great experience for you!
Fly in to Quito airport (UIO) on a Sunday. You will be collected by the Oyster representative and taken to your first night accommodation. The next day you will be collected early for your private transfer up to the project site. The drive takes approximately 5 hours.
Monika has been welcoming international volunteers to Ecuador since 2006. She speaks fantastic English, and is a wonderful friendly face for your arrival to your new temporary home. She is passionate about wildlife, cooking and travel – you will get to enjoy her cooking whilst you are in Quito! She is originally from Colombia, but Ecuador has been her home for over 30 years.
What is provided
- Phone or face-to-face planning and briefing
- 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 advice covering medical, safety and project advice
- Help and advice from our UK office 24/7 whilst in Ecuador
- Advice on obtaining a visa
- Full orientation and induction to project before you begin
- Transfer from Quito airport to your first night accommodation
- First night guest house accommodation in Quito – dinner and breakfast included
- Transfer from the accommodation to the sanctuary
- Shared accommodation on-site at the sanctuary
- Food on weekdays
- Free wifi at the sanctuary (may be slower and patchier than you are used to!)
- A local SIM card (make sure your phone is unlocked)
- Donation to the project
- Oyster Worldwide volunteer t-shirt
- Oyster luggage tag
On your return:
- Welcome home pack
- Certificate of Recognition (on request)
- References (on request)
What do I need
- A full passport valid for 6 months from the date of entry into Ecuador
- If you will be flying through the USA you need to comply with US regulations- make sure you have an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) at least 72 hours before you leave
- Insurance covering your project time and any planned independent travel – we can introduce you to a policy
- Return flights to Quito. We can help organise these
- Cost of changing your return flight date if you need to
- Independent travel costs
- Food costs at weekends
- Public transport return transfer to Quito and onward travel- from £25. Private transfers can also be arranged for an extra fee.
- Any additional costs such as trips, snacks, entertainment (allow maybe £30 per week depending on lifestyle)
- No visa is necessary for under 90 days from UK and most western European countries
- No compulsory inoculations are necessary although do check with your doctor to make sure polio, typhoid and Hep A&B jabs are up to date