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PERU

CONSERVATION AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT IN THE AMAZON RAINFOREST IN PERU

Get involved in conservation and community development work on this excellent multi-activity project in the Amazon Rainforest! You'll benefit from professional training and actively assist in the environmental monitoring study at multiple locations.

Begin your programme in the Inca city of Cusco where you'll receive an induction and orientation before travelling through the High Andes to the Acjance Park Guard Station and the Cloud Forest. Then you descend into the Amazon via motorised canoe down the Madre de Dios River. The journey to the Project is spectacular, an adventure in itself!

SUMMARY: THE BASICS

Price: £1,595 for 2 weeks
£375 for each additional week, but please note that this project runs in 2-week segments.
Excludes flights. Please see Full Price List & Other Currencies
This Project is extremely popular so we strongly advise that you book early.
Duration: From 2 weeks to 12 weeks.
Start Dates: All year round. Please see "Start Dates" under "Work Description".
Requirements: Minimum age 18. No qualifications needed, just lots of enthusiasm for nature. You should be physically fit and easily walk 10km carrying a 10kg pack within 3 hours on uneven and muddy terrain in humid conditions.
What's Included:: Arranging your Programme
Full pre-departure support and assistance
Payment Protection insurance
Accommodation
Food
Meeting you at the nearest Airport
Transfer to the Project site and return transfer at the end of your placement
Local in-country team support and backup
24-hr emergency support
Free T-Shirt
Certificate of Completion
What's not included: Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visas (if a visa is required), Return transfer to airport from Cusco.
Who can do this Project? All projects are open to all nationalities.
This project is particularly suitable for the discerning volunteer looking to experience genuine, well-structured conservation in the Amazon Rainforest and/or to learn about the practice of Conservation strategies on an Eco Reserve in the Peruvian Jungle, thus getting a more meaningful experience than a tourist holiday.

WHAT YOU'LL GAIN FROM DOING THIS PROJECT:

  • An exciting, never-to-be-forgotten overseas volunteering holiday into South America and the Peruvian culture.
  • Professional Training: Become a productive volunteer learning valuable field skills for career, degree or just for fun! (more below)
  • The enormous satisfaction of knowing that you're contributing to a worthwhile and necessary conservation project aimed at protecting and preserving our world for future generations.
  • New skills, more confidence, a greater understanding of a different culture, invaluable personal and professional development.
  • An entry on your CV or résumé that will put you head and shoulders above most others in the job market.
  • And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!
BOOK NOW! SEE ALL PROJECTS IN PERU info@travellersworldwide.com

ANY QUESTIONS?

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WORK CONTENT AND DESCRIPTION

Would you recommend this placement to anyone else? Yes, yes, yes and a hundred million times yes! Adam Watts

Begin your programme in the Inca city of Cusco where you'll receive an induction and orientation before travelling through the High Andes to the Acjance Park Guard Station and the Cloud Forest. Then you descend into the Amazon via motorised canoe down the Madre de Dios River. The journey is spectacular, an adventure in itself!

In the first week you'll be given a full induction and a brief look at all of the projects the centre is working on, after a while, you'll be assigned according on your interest and the requirement at the time.

“This is an experience of a lifetime, one for people from all walks of life. Also anyone who likes great food because the food is awesome here considering where we are. Also, the bathrooms are heaven compared to places even back in the UK. It has been an amazing experience for me in so many ways. I’m even thinking of coming back to Peru to work in the future, maybe in conservation. All in all, I’m becoming very used to this way of life and not looking forward to going back home.” Lawrence Smart

PROFESSIONAL TRAINING ON ARRIVAL:
On your arrival in the Rainforest and after settling in, you'll undergo a training schedule which is designed to introduce you to the rainforest, how it works and arm you with the necessary skills and knowledge to start constructively participating on projects with field staff. The training will maximise your experience and introduce you to the various projects that are running at the centre. The training you receive will differ depending on the length of your programme and could include the following aspects:

  • First Aid & basic rainforest survival skills
  • Tropical ecology
  • Conservation & sustainability
  • Natural history
  • Astronomy
  • Cultural diversity
  • Wilderness ethics & natural resources conservation
  • Flora & fauna monitoring
  • Reforestation & agro-forestry
  • Ethno-botany
  • Environmental education

WORK CONTENT:
The centre will try to match volunteers to their interest, providing an exposure to all the projects in the first week and then assigning volunteer to tasks they find interesting and where they will have the most impact. This tailored approach enriches the volunteer’s time and creates better overall results.

There are many different types of projects on the go at the same time, but you will also be guided and encouraged to work on your own projects as well. The degree to which you'll run or assist on such projects will depend upon your abilities. Below are some examples of the types of projects and activities that are carried out at the Centre:

Mammal Monitoring:
The aim of this project is to prove the importance of regenerating the rainforest as a habitat for different mammal species. This is achieved through a combination of activities, such as the setting up and monitoring of camera traps, tracking and setting up transects.

More than 37 species of large mammals have been recorded at the centre, including 13 individual Jaguar. The huge range of mammals living around the main camp and in and off the trails makes it possible to observe directly and indirectly the activities of different types of monkeys, tapirs, peccaries, armadillos, pumas and more.

Forest Regeneration:
Globally, and in the Amazon, large areas of tropical forest have been replaced by agricultural land. The study of processes in these disturbed areas is import. In Peru, the main cause of this is the increasing migration of people to the forest. The area around the centre is ‘natural laboratory’, made up of patches of regenerating forest with different human disturbance. These plant communities are not going to undergo further disturbance and so this allows the centre to study the flora and how it has been affected by disturbance. Monitoring changes in the biomass levels enables the centre to gather information about the regeneration rate of the forest and determine whether the reserves of carbon in the forest are changing.

Volunteers set up ‘leaf litter traps’ to collect data within four different forest types. Materials are collected weekly, studied and the data recorded. Canopy photos are also taken, with data recorded to detect seasonal and successional changes in the forest light. Volunteers are also taught about phenology (to learn more about growth, flowing and fruiting patterns of various tree species). Marked trees are visited every 4 weeks and the status of each tree is recorded and studied.

Avian Studies:
Peru is home to 20% of the Worlds’ bird species. Species composition and overall avian diversity can signify many different things about the forest. The centre has one of the only clay-licks (or collpas) in South America visited by the rare and endangered Blue Headed Macaw as well as many other species of large macaws, parrots and parakeets.

Population surveys are also carried out; recording what is seen and heard during regular walks in the jungle. Your ability to identify species is enhanced by the use of recordings played to you in training as well as in the field practice.

The centre is also involved in an important Blue Headed Macaw monitoring programme. This bird has been classed as vulnerable and threatened with extinction, due to loss of habitat and exploitation by the pet trade. Volunteers monitor the clay lick every morning to record numbers, activity and tourist impact. This ongoing programme has identified a correlation between decreasing numbers and increasing tourist numbers. Long term, it is hoped this study will reduce disturbance and help to make a positive contribution towards conservation of the species.

Amphibian & Reptile Studies:
Amphibians are excellent indicator species as they are extremely vulnerable to changes in their environment. They are often one of the first groups of organisms to respond to changes in climate (or microclimate) caused by deforestation and other human activities. Reptiles are another important indicator group, as they are both predators and prey. Any changes in the food web can have a knock on effect, making reptiles an ideal group to study. Almost 30% of the worlds assessed reptile species were listed as threatened and are greatly understudied.

Volunteers carry out various studies, including transect surveys. This involves walking slowly along a 100m trail through the forest looking for amphibians and reptiles on leaves, branches or on the ground. Any that are seen are caught and brought back to be identified, weighed and measured before being released back in the same habitat type. In the last 2 years four species of frog which may potentially be new to science have been discovered in the surrounding reserve!

Butterfly Study:
Butterflies are important in ecosystems as pollinators to many plant species. They are good indicators of the quality of habitat and are sensitive to any changes, which means that they are an ideal group to study when looking at regenerating forest. The centre is creating an inventory of the butterfly species to gain an understanding of their distribution between the 3 forests types that differ in their disturbance level.

Volunteers set up butterfly nets baited with fermented banana at 3 different heights in the 3 main forest types. The nets are left in the forest for 6 days and are checked every 24hrs after they are set up. Butterflies are retrieved from the net and identified against guides. They are also marked so they can be recognised if recaptured. If the butterfly is not in the guide, then it is taken back to camp and photographed so it can be added before it is released. The traps are re-baited each day except for the 6th day when they are taken down. There are currently 4 butterfly survey sites in each forest type and the nets are rotated around each of these every time the project is run which is every 3 weeks.

TWO-WEEK PROGRAMME AND LONGER PROGRAMMES:
The two-week programme offers a snapshot and tangible life experience of conservation research and community development in the amazon rainforest. It is an opportunity to live and work alongside conservation researchers and community development staff and understand the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis and what their work entails. Please note this programme is not designed to provide an in-depth learning experience, because time does not permit this.

If you are looking for a more in depth learning programme then please consider doing the 4 weeks or more programme.

START DATES:
These dates are for the 2-week placements. Start dates for longer placements can be adjusted to include more start options (please speak to us if you need a different start date).
2016 Start Dates
17 October 2016
14 November 2016

2017 Start Dates
Monday 9th January
Monday 6th February
Monday 6th March
Monday 3rd April
Monday 1st May
Monday 29th May
Monday 26th June
Thursday 13th July
Monday 24th July
Thursday 10th August
Monday 21st August
Thursday 7th September
Monday 18th September
Monday 16th October
Monday 13th November
Monday 11th December

ACCOMMODATION

This project is idyllically placed on the edge of the Amazon Rainforest, on a hill next to a river. It has a ’nice’ feel to it. It is relaxed and peaceful, and has been tastefully constructed in keeping with its surroundings. At present the area has six thatched buildings. Three are accommodation houses with a classroom/workroom on the ground floor and a bedroom area above and you'll be sharing a room with other volunteers. All buildings have open walls and are fresh and airy.

The bathroom is a separate block consisting of six cubicles, each containing a (Western) flush toilet, hand-basin and cold shower. There are also extra washbasins and a large sink in which to do your laundry.

There is a dining and relaxation area, with tables and a few armchairs, as well as a library and covered hammock area.

Lighting is by candle (not allowed in bedroom areas) and there is generally no electricity on the site. There is, however, a generator which is run for a few hours every night in order to charge camera batteries etc. We recommended that you take out a portable headlight torch and a few other items, but we'll provide you with a list of recommended items to take with you before you leave.

You will spend your first two nights of the programme in a hostel in the centre of Cusco. You will share your room with other volunteers.

FOOD:
Food is provided and you'll have three meals per day - breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food is wholesome and mainly vegetarian. Often pasta or rice, soup, fruit juice. Not 5 star (it’s the jungle after all) but very acceptable. There is always a flask of hot water, tea, coffee and filtered (safe) drinking water available in the dining room. The cook is able to cater for a number of specialised diets, although choices may be limited.

Entertainment / Leisure:
This is the Amazon Jungle - unique and exciting and wonderful and tranquil and awesome - but it isn't a placement for people who want to party the night away. There are board games, books to read and other ‘quiet’ activities. At night this has to be by candle light. Most people start their work early and get up between 4 and 5 a.m., consequently people tend to go to bed early.

"Some nights we watched a DVD on the laptop, (somewhat surreal, sitting in a jungle clearing watching a laptop crawling with moths!) Occasionally we just sat and socialised over a beer."

During the day there are activities such as swimming in the river, complete with vines to swing from ("Hello Tarzan!"). (You can only swim if supervised and depending on river conditions.) The manager is a keen climber and may be persuaded to teach you how to access the canopy, (climbing trees using ropes). Some scientists use this method in their work when studying birds. It is safe (when under instruction) but can be difficult.

Although there are lots of places to visit in Peru, there are few external places to visit while on your project. In the dry season Salvaccion is a 1¾ hour walk away (after crossing the river) and it is a safe walk. In the wet season it may be possible to reach another village by boat, but it would not possible to walk to Salvaccion. Sometimes it may be possible to get a lift with other volunteers or staff and perhaps spend a few days in Cusco. Generally, however, volunteers tend to stay at the Centre for the duration of their placement and visit Cusco at the end of their project.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Got any questions? Please email us: info@travellersworldwide.com

THE CENTRE AND ITS ENVIRONMENT:
The Centre itself covers 640 hectares in a seemingly endless rainforest which stretches across Brazil and to the Atlantic Ocean. This is the Amazon! Mammals in the area include peccaries, puma, jaguar, armadillos and various monkeys. Tortoises and lizards are also present.

Currently 365 species of birds have been recorded in the area, including parrots, hummingbirds and the rather bizarre Hoatzin. The resident bird expert, Claudia, is very enthusiastic about birds and her knowledge is truly exceptional. As one of our people said, "Working with her is a privilege!" Like any jungle there are lots of insects and there are also tarantulas and snakes, but these are not frequently seen.

There are many trails in the forest that are very productive in terms of wildlife because they are not used by tourists, but one of the main reasons the area was selected for study was that within a reasonably small area there is land that has been impacted by agriculture and human activity in the past. This is why there are such a variety of forest types within the private reserve (forests in different stages of re-growth as well as in different ecosystems).

It is through comparative studies between the old and new forest that conservationists aim to learn more about the effect of human activity on biodiversity as well as the ability of forests to regenerate.

The environment is relaxing, with nice weather, good views, excellent accommodation and very pleasant company. Entertainment is very much home-made and there is a real community spirit among the volunteers whilst still allowing for ‘personal space’. Volunteers are well cared for whilst still having the excitement of being in the jungle. All the staff are enthusiastic, helpful and caring. There are some opportunities for engaging in leisure activities such as swimming and climbing.

The trip from Cusco to the Centre:
You will arrive in Cusco, where you'll be met by members from the Project. You will stay in Cusco for 2 nights, before beginning your journey to the Rainforest. This journey is by road and takes from 9 to 10 hours, so there will also be another overnight stop on the way. Almost the entire journey is along an unpaved road and the last few miles are very unmade indeed! For some of the way it is a typical Andean road along the side of a mountain but the road is relatively ‘quiet’ with maybe 6 -10 vehicles passing every hour.

The scenery is stunning, including barren mountains, cloud forest, seemingly endless jungle, impressive valleys. There are places of interest to stop every hour or so, either to take photos or buy refreshments. The journey is very totally fascinating and adds to the sense of adventure! The last part of the journey involves crossing a river by boat.

Return transfer from the Centre in the Amazon to Cusco is included in the cost of the placement and is arranged for you by the managers in Peru. At the end of your project, you will stay for 1 night in Cusco, and after some end of project administration, be free to depart after 9am. Those wishing to do some independent travel after their placement can opt to stay in Cusco rather than going straight to the airport. Either way, you’ll need to make your own arrangements to get to Cusco Airport, which is about a 15-minute drive away and costs about $15-$20 by taxi (prices correct at time of writing).

Rainy Season: The rainy season is between November and April with the worst of the rain occurring from February to March. Work at the Centre does continue through the rainy season because the arrays (working paths) are designed to be useable throughout the year.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU BOOK YOUR PLACEMENT?

Once you have applied for a placement, we'll contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have access to all the documentation and information which we've put together to facilitate preparations for your adventure! Your Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on your placement and on your return home.

The documents you'll have access to also include a Country Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on your particular programme (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.

As with all our destinations, the culture and heritage is different to what you're used to ... which, although one of the most exciting aspects of travelling, should be borne in mind. Self-reliance and independence are highly appreciated in all our destinations and will help you to make the most of this wonderful opportunity!

TRAVELLERS' SUPPORT AND BACKUP: Read about the excellent Support & Backup we provide before you leave and during your programme.

BOOK NOW! SEE ALL PROJECTS IN PERU info@travellersworldwide.com DOWNLOAD THIS INFORMATION in .pdf How to Fundraise for your Program

ANY QUESTIONS?

Please with any questions and include your phone number, if possible, to help us give you the best possible response.

We'll get back to you very shortly, but if you haven't heard from us within one working day, please check your Junk Mail / Spam folder. Thank you.

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OPTIONAL ADD-ON ACTIVITIES:

Make the most of your time there! To help you do that, we've put together some exciting activities, courses and tours that you can add to your itinerary. These are designed to let you learn, expand your personal and professional development ... and add to your fun and enjoyment!

Very popular choices are Spanish Courses and Dance Courses.

Machu Picchu Tour

1-DAY MACHU PICCHU GROUP TOUR:
Price: £230

ITINERARY:
From Cusco you will take a bus to Poroy train station and then the Backpacker Train to Machu Picchu; one of the greatest archaeological wonders on the planet. During the train journey you will pass some breathtaking views providing great photo opportunities.

Once you arrive at the Inca citadel (Inca Ruins), you be taken on a group tour. An experienced and trained guide will walk you around the Inca ruins, providing information on its history and answering questions throughout.

In the afternoon you will return to Poroy train station where you will take a bus back to Cusco.

TRIP INCLUDES:

  • Backpacker train ticket
  • Buses from Cusco – Poroy Train Station – Cusco
  • Buses to the citadel
  • Guide services group
  • Entrances fees

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Add-On Tours

5-DAY SALKANTAY TREK AND MACHU PICCHU TOUR:
Price: £345.
Includes all your food and accommodation.

This sensational 5-day/4nights trek takes you into the heart of Peru – you’ll experience first-hand the fantastic landscape that this beautiful country has to offer. Most nights you’ll get the chance to camp out – enjoying a wonderful adventure around the camp fire with great food, great wine and great company! The trek culminates in a visit to the awe-inspiring Machu Picchu!

Day 1: Cusco – Mollepata – Marcocasa - Soraypampa
The tour starts at 06:00 a.m. with private transportation from the city of Cusco. The tour will pass the localities of Izcuchaca and Limatambo and after a two-hour drive, you will arrive to Mollepata (2950m/9676ft). You'll then drive for an hour until you reach the small settlement of Marcocasa at 3300m/10824ft. From here you will start our first day of trek (5 hours) towards the camp at Soraypampa (3850m/12628ft), an Andean valley located at the foothills of the beautiful Mount Humantay (5910m/19385ft).

Day 2: Soraypampa – Huayracmachay
From Soraypampa you start the 4 hour trek towards Soyrococha at 4400m/14432, where you will have our first lunch while enjoying great views of the impressive west face of Mount Salcantay. After lunch, a three-hour hike will take us down to our camp at Huayracmachay. During our hike you will have the permanent view of the amazing Mount Salcantay. With luck, you may also observe the flight of the amazing condor known as the “King of the Andes”. You'll also see the remains of an ancient Inca Trail, a road of approximately 6 meters wide.

Day 3: Huayracmachay camp – Winaypoko Camp
After a hearty breakfast, at 08:00 a.m., you will be ready to continue our seven-hour trek heading northeast down to the Colpapampa´s Valley (3200m/10496ft). As soon as you leave the Huaracmachay plain, you will start an impressive descend into the deep canyon of the Salcantay river. The highland landscape suddenly turns into an amazing cloud forest with the typical grass, bushes and trees covered with beautiful bromelias. After 3 hours you will reach Challway and from here one more hike (40 minutes to 1 hour) will take you to Colpapampa village, where you will enjoy lunch. After a good rest, you will continue our descend to the shores of the Totora River where you will enjoy the nearby hot water springs. After this, you will follow the north side of the Santa Teresa River, walking for three hours until you reach the next camp at Winaypoko settlement (2800m/5904ft). Just 30 minutes before Winaypoko you will have the opportunity to observe the beautiful Coripacchi waterfalls. In the evening, you will enjoy a good meal and wine around a camp fire.

Day 4: Winaypoko - La Playa (Cochapampa) Village - Hydroelectric – Aguas Calientes
During this last day of trekking and you will hike for 3 hours down to La Playa. This trek takes you along the north side of Santa Teresa River. You'll observe plantations of banana, coffee, granadillas (a typical fruit from the area), avocado trees, etc. The sound of flocks of parrots will accompany you during the hike. Then you'll cross the river to finally reach Cochapampa village, where a truck will be waiting to transport you to Santa Teresa village (1500m/4920ft), where some porters will help you carry your bags to La Oroya, where you will cross the turbulent Urubamba river using a cable basket. After that, you'll board another local truck (thirty-minute drive) which will take us towards La Hydroelectric (operation area of the hydroelectric power plant). Here you will board the local train to the town of Aguas Calientes, where you will arrive after one hour. Hotel in Aguas Calientes is not included.

Day 5: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco
An early breakfast in the hotel, then you'll catch the public bus to the main entrance of Machu Picchu (2400m/7872ft). A guided tour will show you this beautiful Inca City, one of the most famous in the world. You will visit the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Three Windows, the Temple of the Moon, the terraces, the ceremonial fountains, the Sun Gate and the sectors of the impressive citadel. In the afternoon you will take the public bus down to Aguas Calientes and take the train back to Ollantaytambo, where our transport will take you back to Cusco. Transfer to your hotel.

Included:

  • Group services
  • Bilingual Guide
  • Bus from Cusco to Mollepata (beginning of the trail)
  • Horses to carry the equipment
  • Cook and horsemen
  • Camping equipment (tents, mattresses, tables and seats cooking tent and eating tent)
  • Meals (04 breakfast / 04 lunches / 04 dinners)
  • First aid kit and Oxygen balloon
  • Bus up from Aguas Calientes to Machupicchu
  • Entrance fees to Machupicchu
  • Hotel in Aguas Calientes
  • Train from Aguas Calientes to Cusco

Not included: Sleeping bag, Lunch the last day in Aguas Calientes Town

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Terms and Conditions apply for Add-Ons, please see here.

SEE ALL PROJECTS IN PERU info@travellersworldwide.com

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LOCATION | SIGHTSEEING:

The best advice you'll get from us is to try to see some of the country.

Cusco is a magical little island of colonial architecture. Many of the buildings are built on, over and around Inca walls, arches and doorways, and many of the narrow streets in the centre of the town are lined with original Inca stonework. Cusco was once the capital of the vast Inca empire.

The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu: This 3-5 day journey is widely considered to be the most spectacular trekking experience on the continent. Its route passes through a 13,000-foot Andean Pass beyond which lie some of the most astounding artifacts of the Inca civilization. Most of these attractions lay completely undisturbed for hundreds of years. The trail ends at the astonishingly well-preserved sacred city of Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu is probably the best-known and most spectacular archeological site on the continent. Apart from a few locals, no-one knew of the existence of the "Lost City of the Incas" until Hiram Bingham stumbled on it almost by accident in 1911. It was certainly a complete city, perched on a saddle connecting two high mountains, with residential and agricultural sections and terracing around the edges.

TRAVEL:

Read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you arrive in your new country.

REVIEWS AND FEEDBACK:

LINDSAY PETERSON
American
Conservation in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru

The experience I gained was invaluable. I learned about current environmental issues and really got to know local communities and the culture of the area. The experience really opened my eyes to the world around me.

The best thing about my placement was the people I met. I learned so much from the staff at the centre and also from my fellow volunteers. Everyone I met was so welcoming and eager to teach me about what they knew. They became like a second family.

I would highly recommend this placement to anyone, that is, if you don't mind insects! It was the most amazing month of my life and I would go back in a heartbeat!

In order to really get the most out of this placement, the volunteer needs to be flexible. The daily schedule varies with the availability of staff members, the weather, and the river. They also need to be self motivated and eager to learn. The volunteer needs to speak up and let the staff know what he/she would like to do or learn and they will usually be able to make it happen, and, of course, the volunteer needs to be at ease living with the many, many creatures of the jungle.

It's an amazing place and I loved my stay there. One of the best times I had there was on expedition. Not much more to say except that it was the best month of my life. Thank you!

CARYS HUTTON
British
Conservation in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru

The Travellers Worldwide conservation project in Peru was exactly what I hoped it would be and exactly what it claimed to be…It was also the best value for money I could find and encompassed a broad range of skills, experience, and opportunities that other projects lacked.

When did you decide to take a gap year and why? I decided in my final year at university to take a gap year after graduating. I wanted to follow my degree with a masters but wasn’t sure if this was the right choice at the right time. I have always wanted to take some time to go travelling and this seemed like the perfect time.

Where did you go and why? I went to Peru, South America. The conservation project Travellers Worldwide advertised was the best value for money I could find and encompassed a broad range of skills, experience, and opportunities that other projects lacked. Also, Peru really appealed to me because I have never been to South America and I wanted to build the conservation project into a 4-month trip where I could go travelling afterwards and explore the continent and its culture.

Which different options did you consider? I spent months searching the internet for gap-year projects, considering a variety of themes such as community work, and teaching English. In the end I narrowed my search down to conservation-related projects to follow on from my degree and pursue my interests in these areas. I ruled out projects that focused purely on one specific conservation task, e.g. projects where you spent all of your time with turtles, or all of your time with monkeys, as I wanted a more rounded experience. I also ruled out projects that claimed to be a conservation project but on further inspection seemed to revolve around physical work such as path building and erecting sign posts – i.e. minimal relevance to conservation of species.

The Travellers Worldwide conservation project in Peru was exactly what I hoped it would be and exactly what it claimed to be.

What was the best thing about the year and the worst thing? The worst thing was acclimatising to the altitude in Cusco and getting used to the locals’ style of driving (!).

The best thing was being surrounded by rainforest and the nature that it supports. Even after a month it is amazing that in the space of about 30 minutes you could see parrots and macaws, toucans, vultures, giant butterflies, leaf cutter ants, spider webs as big as a car, wild cat footprints, and a snake or two – as well as hundreds of other exotic species. It is truly amazing.

What benefits do you think it has given you in terms of employability? I am seeking work in the environment sector and so the project is relevant to my career. It demonstrates to employers that I am serious about a career in the environmental sector and that I have a genuine interest in conservation. It also emphasises personal attributes such as: confidence, team work, hard working, dedicated, etc. These are important skills that employers look for examples in.

How would you talk about it in an interview with a prospective employer? For my career I would emphasise my role in the project in terms of research, record keeping, species identification, and my passion for biodiversity. I would provide examples where I worked with minimum supervision to demonstrate my competence and reliability, and times where I worked as part of a team. Employers are also keen to know that you are able to work with a variety of people and so I would also give examples of this.

Do you think you have made the most of the gap year on your CV? I participated in the project purely for my own enjoyment, rather than the associated benefits to my employability and how it looks on my CV. I have a range of more relevant experience for my line of work and so I have stated the nature of the gap year on my CV in one short sentence.

ADAM WATTS
British
Conservation in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru

THANK YOU so, so much! I will never forget the time I spent there. Would love to go back one day.

What experience do you feel you're gaining? Team work; expanding knowledge of another culture; construction; learning Spanish; understanding rainforest ecosystems.

What is the best thing about your placement so far? One thing?! Okay, the people. Other volunteers, staff, locals. All were incredible. Friends for life as the cliché goes.

Would you recommend this placement to anyone else? Yes, yes, yes and a hundred million times yes.

What type of person do you think this placement would suit? Anyone who wants a drastic change of scenery, willing to work hard, and anyone who wants to reflect on what they're doing with their life.

What, if any, improvements could be made to the placement? Honestly, none. They were the best three months of my life and I would not change a single thing.

Was there anything that you weren’t told before your departure that you think future volunteers should know? No. It's the jungle and the surprises are half the fun!

Can you describe a typical day? Up at 05:00 to take a boat trip upriver to monitor the parrots at the clay lick, back for breakfast at 7:30, working in the biogarden into lunch at 13:00 then possibly a trail walk in the afternoon or a swim in one of the many nearby creeks. Dinner at 19:00, then a chat, game of cards and bed.

TIM CLARK
British
Conservation in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru

Good Afternoon Andrew, Well I made it here and thought I'd drop you that line that you requested to let you know how it’s going.

It has been absolutely great so far ....not easy but a most amazing experience. The centre was just like your pics and great . It was a bit of a shock to be sleeping in an open sided hut with only a mosquito net between me and the jungle ....but I survived…! I am back in Cusco now (with the luxury of a hot shower!) and internet!

I was only there for a short time. I had to work with plants, leaf traps and biogardens mainly. However the main ´´guide´´ Tilman (who was brilliant) did send me off with a special bird watching man and that was great. Overall it has been truly wonderful.

On Monday I am off to Machu Picchu with all the crowds and then on another trip to the jungle up in Iquitos...so I will make the most of Cusco this weekend!

Hope all ok with you, All the best.

SAMM BENNETT
British
Conservation in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru

I have gained a great understanding of the real life of the Amazon rainforest, ranging from the chaotic sounds of the Peccaries during the day to the peaceful sounds of the night time insects and frogs.

I have learnt a huge amount of about all kinds of animals. Ranging from insects, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and exotic birds like the Macaws, parrots and parakeets. I have gained enough understanding of all these animals that I can now identify them instantly. In my free time I have had enjoyment of fishing with the clean air and the overwhelming view of the river and the forest around me. I have also had the chance to go swimming in the river after a long trek through the jungle observing all kinds of animals, as well as swimming in the small pools of the streams within the forest.

The whole experience of helping out in this project has given me a great satisfaction, knowing that my work here is helping towards a great and important course within conservation.

My favourite experience at my placement was the sightings of the Wholly and the Squirrel Monkey. Although they are very different in many ways, they were equally exciting. On my second day in the forest I saw 20-30 small Squirrel Monkeys that ended up to be all around me jumping from one tree to another. Some of which were very curious and were trying to get a better view of me. A couple of weeks later I saw the Wholly monkey, one of the largest monkeys here. Which were huge, almost like gorillas. They were the most impressive things I’ve ever seen.

I would definitely recommend this placement to anyone interested in nature. The forest itself is the most beautiful place you possibly could go. Filled with all kinds of plants, flowers, insects and a huge variety of different animals, some of which are harder to see than others.

Can you describe a typical day?
A typical day for me is to get up for 5am to go observe the Macaws, parrots, parakeets. Then I have breakfast at 7:30. After this I then go into the jungle to do mammal observations and return by 12pm to have lunch at 1pm. Then I may go back into the jungle to go to the mammal clay lick to see what kind of activity as occured, but sometimes I will have an afternoon off to relax. Then dinner is served at 7pm. Afterwards I will go to bed or sometimes go for a night walk.

JOE ROBBINS
British
Conservation in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru

I have gained valuable experience whilst working with 2 botanists here in plant collections and identification. I have gained experience in visiting other cultures, in a country that is quite poverty stricken. This has heightened my respect for other people’s cultural activities and beliefs.

I have also gained a lot of experience in botany fieldwork which is great for my studies in botanical horticulture and will help me develop my knowledge of plants and plant ecosystems in the future. I have seen many different types of flora growing in lowland Amazon, Cloud forest and more arid flora on the mountainside, by seeing these my understanding of these plants has increased.

It is also quite good to experience living in a small group in for a long period of time; it can be challenging but is good fun and character building!!

Can you describe a typical day? Those that do mammal studies visit the claylick at 5 am, I did this once and I thought that it was an incredible experience, all those wonderful colours of the parrots!
7 am: A lovely breakfast is served
8 until 9 am: Getting ready for the day, maybe a shower or some clothes washing etc.
9 until 11 am: Identifying plants collected the previous day using an identification key. Each plant is then labelled with its family and genus, where it was collected and when. The plants are then prepared as herbarium specimens and pressed.
11.30 am: Head out on a trail to collect plant specimens, a different trail each day
1.00 pm: Box lunch often beside one of the streams
4 until 5 pm: Return from the jungle, normally very tired!
5 until 6 pm: Shower and relax
7 pm: Dinner is served, always great food
8 pm: Relaxing, reading, chatting and then bed

Visits to Salvasion on Wednesday, are really enjoyable and good fun with a nice lunch in town and internet access and an international telephone. It is good to have a day out a few times through the placement. The staff are absolutely wonderful, you cannot fault their devotion and care that they have to the volunteers. I have been looked after very well. I have had a really great time!

What's the best thing about my placement? The location. The forest that surrounds the area combines both primary and secondary and comparing between the forests is very interesting. The sights and sounds of the rainforest are incredible.

I think that this placement would best suit someone interested mainly in mammal studies as you would have to have an understanding of tropical flora or be working with botanists to study the plants. Mammal studies are easier to understand and you can teach yourself from books etc!!! Most people at the centre are mainly interested in the mammals.

Volunteers should also enjoy difficult walks and should not mind creepy crawleys! I also think that to live in a small group to you have got be sociable but at the same time respect other people’s personal space.

LAWRENCE SMART
British
Conservation in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru

It has been an amazing experience so far, I could never have imagined how this place is. Fitted in extremely fast and every set of new volunteers integrates extremely well.

I've been on a few excursions already which have been amazing and one has taken us deeper into the jungle on a 3 hour boat ride down river, taking another 5 hours to get back!

Thank you for everything you and Travellers has done for me and, as a result, has helped me decide my course of action for my future plans.

AIMS AND ACHIEVEMENTS:

The Challenges
The programme is a conservation and sustainable development organisation that has been working in the Manu region of the Peruvian Amazon for over a decade promoting sustainable resource management. The Manu National Park and Manu Biosphere Reserve are together a UNESCO world heritage site and a very important area of biodiversity. It is home to some of the last uncontacted tribes on earth and last intact forest in Peru.

It has multiple fragile ecosystems that are home so an incredible array of flora and fauna, indigenous communities and increasingly a community of immigrant settlers coming to the region. It is these people who struggle to live in harmony with their environment.

With huge amounts of deforestation and unsustainable exploitation of natural resources such as gold mining, illegal logging, slash and burn agriculture and cattle ranching increasing year on year, Manu is threatened and faces complex and daily struggle to survive.

The project works hard to protect not on the areas of primary rainforest in conjunction with the National Park authorities but also areas of regenerating forest, formerly logged areas that are now under our conservation to secure the future for Manu and future generations.

Our Goals
The goal is to create a more sustainable Amazon, a more sustainable Manu - to teach and educate people those who live and work in Manu and in a wider context for our visitors as well.

To achieve more sustainable ways of living in Manu and local community members earn a good living for themselves and their families in harmony with their environment rather than taking part in the destructive practices which are destroying the forest and threatening the survival of the wildlife that live there alongside them. This is done in 3 main areas:

  1. Our Conservation Research programme generates important knowledge about the potential value of biodiversity and ecosystem services that can be used to support the importance of protecting these incredible areas of natural beauty.
  2. We also have an enterprise programme fuelled by the knowledge from our research that supports local community members achieve sustainable business models. It provides capital, training and resources that local entrepreneurs need to transform their way of working in the region.
  3. The Education programme supports the dissemination of knowledge and the training of the next generation of conservation scientists and sustainable entrepreneurs and has educated over 200 individuals in 2015. Its focus is to provide experiential learning opportunities that transform the life skills and employability of participants as well as build the knowledge and understanding of the importance of a healthy environment.

To fund the foundation's work we use ecotourism, volunteering and educational programmes of which 100% profit goes back to fund the project work.

Our Achievements

  • The research programme has been used successfully as an education tool. In 2014 we had 132 volunteers and interns paid to stay and work with the research team, learning how to monitor rainforest ecosystems and how we can work towards a sustainable Amazon.
  • We also presented to approximately 450 tourists on the threats to the Manu region and the challenges for the local communities helping educate people from all around the world of the issues facing the region.
  • The research team committed over 325 hours a week to their stat monitoring programme and as such has build the largest and most detailed long term data sets on the biodiversity of regenerating rainforest in the Manu Biosphere Reserve and provides the scientific evidence needed to demonstrate the conservation potential of rainforest regeneration strategies to a global audience.
  • The foundation aims to build expertise in conservation in the Amazon which they have done by training a team of 9 staff both international and European as well as biology students from Cusco, Lima and Iquitos. The project also has specialist research staff undertaking PHD qualifications under Glasgow University supervision.
  • The research team is currently working on 3 scientific manuscripts that will be used to communicate the improved understanding of regenerating rainforests and their biodiversity that the conservation research in the Manu Biosphere Reserve is delivering.
  • The Research programme team has written a 158 page research programme field manual that documents how the conservation research programme is delivered in Manu.
  • Continuous data collection provides the evidence used to inform decision makers about conservation priorities in Manu and in the cultural zone in particular. The results and data on the 5 key indicator species are delivered to Manu National Park annually and we understand that the results we supply are the most comprehensive biodiversity monitoring data they receive from any source. Data from the crees Research programme also contributes to the UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme and supports Peru’s commitments under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
  • Research programme canopy camera traps were able to capture images of howler monkeys and show that they do continue to live in areas where they are hunted, even though previously thought to have been eliminated. This could be good news for native communities considered responsible for their demise.
  • The most important thing that the research programme has discovered is evidence that rainforest regeneration conservation strategies can have the capacity to recover biodiversity in human degraded rainforest habitats up to 80 to 90% of primary rainforest levels, including the vast majority species of the highest conservation importance.
  • Biogardens - By the end of 2014, the project had constructed 70 biogardens. Through our constant model of learning and developing our programmes, we observed the absolute need for roofs in order to protect against the scorching tropical sun and the heavy rains during the wet season. By the end of 2014, 24 biogardens were supplied with roofs, allowing them to produce fruit and vegetables throughout the year and resulting in a much lower rate of abandoning the biogardens.
  • Improve local education - In 2014 the Education project was structured around a six module Business Planning Course, delivered remotely by our expert project partner Teach a Man to Fish (TaM2F). The Foundation arranged for four teachers to be involved in studying the course and supported them in their learning, organisation, and planning for lessons - where they transferred their knowledge to students.
  • In 2014 we initiated Real Forest Experiences (RFEs); education experiences which were part-funded by a catalytic visitor to the area; a teacher herself, who observed the real deficiency in educational resources and experience-based learning in Manu. A total of 10 students have so far benefitted from this system.