Volunteer Review: Ryan P., Rainforest Conservation in Peru
A few months ago I was feeling like I needed to make a change in my life. I’ve always wanted to travel, see life from a different perspective and give back in some way. I knew I wanted to somehow get involved in environmental conservation. After browsing on the internet I came across Projects Abroad.
Whilst there were quite a few projects that sounded great, I chose to volunteer on the Conservation project in Peru. I’ve always wanted to visit the rainforest and if possible work with animals and traveling on my own felt like the challenge I needed. From day one of planning this trip the staff of Projects Abroad was fantastic, they kept in constant communication and answered any questions I had.
Arriving in Peru
After what felt like no time at all I was at the airport, ready to start the best experience of my life. I’m not going to lie, it was a lot of traveling but the excitement kept me full of energy as I left Heathrow. As we flew from Lima to Puerto Maldonado the view from the plane was amazing. As I stepped off the plane I was engulfed by a wall of heat - I had arrived!
After an exciting tuk tuk ride to meet Elvira from Projects Abroad and get my bearings, myself and a fellow volunteer were taken to the dock to start our adventure. We climbed onto a small wooden boat and waited for the other volunteers to arrive from town. The boat ride to Taricaya took about two hours - it was stunning. The river was huge and the view all consuming. We even saw wild turtles on the way.
We arrived at Taricaya, my home for the next two weeks and were quickly thrown into action. Our first official job was to empty the supplies from the boat. All the volunteers formed a line and the fun began. A quick tour, a cold shower and a good meal gave me a chance to meet the people I would be spending my time with and prepare for the days ahead.
The Conservation Placement
The first morning I was asked with two of the other volunteers to prepare the food and feed the animals. It was a great way to explore the area and get to meet the incredible animals - monkeys, tapir, birds and even a jaguar to name but a few. Everything about the rainforest was stunning, the river, trees, watching the fireflies, even the constant noise of animals and insects. It’s surprising how quickly it felt like home.
Over the course of my time at Taricaya I got to work on many different projects including building new enclosures for the animals, animal feeding, butterfly project, insect project, work with the turtles, bird watching from the canopy walk as well as tree marking, general maintenance and new farm clearing with machete’s.
We even spotted a Harlequin Beetle on a night time insect walk, it was huge. These are just a few of the jobs you might be lucky enough to work on. Everyone felt a sense of accomplishment from working as a team to make a difference. You also learn a lot from the staff you work with - it gives you such a different perspective on the environment and what it takes to maintain it.
Some nights we would walk to Amazon Planet, a small social area 20 minutes from camp. Much fun was had enjoying local snacks, playing cards and kicking back after a long day of work. One morning we forced ourselves out of bed at 4am to watch the sun rise from the canopy 137ft up. It was one of my favorite memories. Other than the work which feels so rewarding, the best part of this adventure was the people I got to enjoy it with. I have made friends with people I hope to know for a long time to come.
If you are having any doubts about taking part in this incredible experience, I urge you to ignore them and take the plunge. It really is a life changing opportunity to embrace a completely different way of life. This trip has had a profound effect on me and I hope it will do the same for you.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.