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Rainforest Conservation Volunteering in Peru

Project Overview
  • Placement location: Taricaya Ecological Reserve, Amazon Rainforest
  • Role: Wildlife research and animal rehabilitation
  • Requirements: None
  • Main Research Focus: Biodiversity studies and rehabilitation
  • Local Environment: Amazon Rainforest
  • Accommodation: Volunteer bungalows at the reserve
  • Length of placement: From 1 week
  • Start dates: Flexible

Projects Abroad’s Conservation & Environment Project in Peru is based deep in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest. Volunteers stay at the Taricaya Ecological Reserve and take part in important volunteer projects in the Amazon, helping to preserve one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet.

Throughout your stay volunteering at Taricaya you will get involved with exciting research and conservation work, supported by our team of expert staff. Taricaya is home to Peru’s first official animal rescue center, which has been recognized by the Peruvian government as the best and most effective of its kind in the whole country. You can also work on biodiversity studies into all types of flora and fauna. Taricaya has South America’s highest canopy walkway, a freshwater turtle project, and a pilot farm.

“I had always wanted to go to the rainforest – one of the greatest ecosystems on Earth. Projects Abroad's Rainforest Project in the Peruvian Amazon at Taricaya lodge, provided a means to do so and take part in a very worthwhile activity at the same time… From the moment I first flew over it and took sight of the vast forest intersected by meandering coffee-coloured rivers, I was in awe.”

Claire Elphick
Conservation & Environment Volunteer in Peru

This project is best suited for volunteers who are outgoing and have a passion for wildlife, though you do not need previous experience to take part in this project. Volunteers are welcome on a gap year, a career break, for university research, or as part of a summer or family vacation. You will get hands-on, practical experience and learn about the incredible international environmental conservation work that goes on at Taricaya.

Click here to learn 10 Key Facts about Conservation in Peru

Conservation & Environment Volunteers in Peru

Wildlife conservation volunteer in Peru feeds parrot in the Amazon jungle

Volunteers on this project can get involved in a wide variety of activities, such as:

  • Taking part in biodiversity studies and wildlife observations, including:
    • Observing birds from a canopy platform.
    • Studying mammals with motion-sensitive cameras.
    • Researching reptiles, amphibians, and butterflies.
  • Working on an animal release program, including:
    • Feeding the animals.
    • Building and maintaining cages.
  • Helping to grow crops such as coffee, cacao, and chilies on a pilot farm.
  • Helping staff with the butterfly and turtle breeding programs.
  • Working on trail maintenance.

Volunteers follow a daily schedule and normally work between 4 and 6 hours each day. Some of the work is seasonal and as a volunteer you will work on a variety of tasks during your time in Taricaya. While some morning tasks start early, there is plenty of time in the evening to relax after work. You will also normally rest during the middle of the day to avoid the midday heat.

“If wildlife is your thing, then Taricaya will be your thing. If meeting excellent, like-minded people from all around the world appeals, then Taricaya will appeal. If having the time of your life is top of your gap year to-do list, then Taricaya should really be top of your gap year to-do list. From the minute I arrived at the lodge, surrounded on three sides by dense jungle, and on the fourth, a huge piranha-packed river, I knew that my stay here would be unforgettable.”

Alex Prior
Conservation & Environment Volunteer in Peru

The Projects Abroad staff at Taricaya give regular talks and presentations to the conservation volunteers. Specialized staff provide valuable insight into topics relating to life in the jungle, including animal behavior, local ecosystems, and topical issues relating to the world of conservation.

The Goals of the Project

The main aim of this project is to help the local area recover from previous disturbances. We also want to have a positive impact on the ecosystems at the reserve.

“Our journey took us from the airport of Puerto Maldonado and onto a boat for an amazing journey down the Madre de Dios River. This journey itself was a fantastic opportunity to spot plenty of wildlife including capybara (the world's largest rodent), caiman, monkeys and a great variety of birds. What a start!”

Cheryl Hewitt
Conservation & Environment Volunteer in Peru

Projects Abroad was officially awarded the 476 hectare Reserva Ecologicà Taricaya in 2004. We produce a technical report every year to demonstrate this impact and justify our work. The data for these reports comes directly from our volunteers’ daily observations. Thanks to this work, Taricaya is increasingly recognized internationally as a research center. It has contributed a number of important research papers at international conferences, especially in the field of ornithology.

Volunteer on the rainforest conservation project work in the Amazon in Peru

Another aim is to help local people avoid potential damage to the environment. At Taricaya, we don't work in isolation, but rather in coordination with local people. They help us with our conservation projects and we help them with their farming. We have a model farm which we use to pass on ideas and techniques to local farmers. We then support them to grow mahogany, coffee, and cocoa along with livestock management and crop rotations. We hope that the new Trans-Amazon highway will also bring in tourists and make cash-crop production more profitable.

Releasing captive animals - such as exotic pets - into safe environments is another key part of our project. Taricaya has been officially appointed the first Animal Release Center in this part of South America. We are pioneering this concept and have already released many animals back into their natural habitats.

Food and Accommodation for Conservation Volunteers in Peru

Taricaya Lodge Logo

All volunteers stay at the Taricaya Ecological Reserve, which is owned and run by Projects Abroad. Accommodation consists of basic 4-person wooden bungalows with private bathrooms. There is also a large kitchen and dining area, research laboratories, animal hospital, and much more. We make sure that you will be well looked after even in the middle of the jungle!

The nearest town is Puerto Maldonado, around 2 hours away by boat. Volunteers have the option of visiting the town on the weekends. Here you will find hotels, restaurants, shops, and internet access. This is also where volunteers are picked up from the airport when they arrive.

“I had a fantastic time on the project, it was an amazing experience, (hopefully not a once in a lifetime one, as I'd love to go back). I feel I gained an awful lot from this project - a huge sense of 'team' builds up, and it’s very satisfying to come here and know that you can adapt to the conditions in the rainforest, compared to the luxuries of home.”

Richard Breakspear
Conservation & Environment Volunteer in Peru

Cheetah observed by volunteers on the Conservation project in the Amazon Rainforest of Peru

Volunteers with qualifications in the field of Biology, Environmental Science, or a related subject will work alongside our experienced staff and help with research projects, daily tasks and developments at the ecological reserve, and compiling reports. You will be encouraged to discuss and exchange ideas with the team.

For more details on the Conservation & Environment project in Peru, see our Additional Project Info and Monthly Updates sections.

If you are a high school student and first-time traveler you may want to consider our High School Special programs in Peru.

This project is available for less than a month if you don't have time to join us for a month or more. This project has been selected by our local colleagues as being suitable for shorter durations for both the host community and the volunteer. Although you will gain valuable cultural insight and work intensely within the local community please be aware that you may not be able to make the same impact as someone participating for a longer period.

Additional Project Info Monthly Updates Management Plan, Data & Reports

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