Amazon Conservation - Volunteer Reviews

PERU

Read what our volunteers say about their time volunteering

Find out more about the Amazon Conservation project

Ankur - 2017

“The Amazon Conservation project in Peru has truly dedicated people working hard to conserve biodiversity in the secondary regenerating forest surrounding the center. I learnt a lot about various conservation techniques during my stay along with the vast diversity of plants and their medicinal values. Even though some walks were exhausting, the forest almost never failed to surprise me. Encountering spider monkeys, scarlet macaws, cool frogs and snakes is a part of the Amazon experience. I am glad I chose this project as I cannot think of a better place to gain practical knowledge on tropical flora and fauna.

What did you find most rewarding?
Wildlife encounters during various walks

What did you find most challenging?
Two 10 km hikes in the same day

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Wear rubber boots of the right size and bring awesome headlamps!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Good reviews

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer?
Yes”

Brooklyn - 2017

“I spent 4 weeks in the jungle this February, and it was an experience I'll never forget. I got to be involved in pitfall, butterfly, bat, avian point counts, leaf litter, and clay lick surveys. On a typical day we would go out on one to two surveys, and in the evenings there were often presentations from the researchers about a broad range of subjects. We also learned to ID a number of plant and animal species, which made walking in the jungle even more fun. Surveys involve a fair bit of walking on sometimes challenging trails (slippery mud, steep steps, deep streams), but the survey leaders will make sure you're ok and take breaks. There's nothing like eating your lunch by a stream while the butterflies flutter around!

The team at the centre is awesome. Everyone is passionate about conservation and has interesting stories to tell. When you're not busy working or learning, it's great to sit back and talk to people.

I had such an incredible time, and can't say enough good things about the project.

What did you find most rewarding?
Knowing that I was helping to collect data that would hopefully have a positive impact on Amazon conservation. It was amazing to be in the jungle and see so much life everywhere.

What did you find most challenging?
Some days were long and tiring, and there will be lots of bug bites, but honestly the challenges pale in comparison to the rewards.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Try to do some walking and especially hiking up hills beforehand if you can. Bring some comfy light pants for relaxing around the centre. Keep an open mind and be ready for anything! It's the jungle, so plans change and weather can always throw a wrench in things, but if you keep a good attitude you'll find that there's always something fun to do.

Were there any parts of the placement which you would like to see changed?
Not really, it was great!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
I booked through Pod before for the Belize wildlife centre project, and was very happy with them.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes” 

Amelia – 2017 

“This project is fantastic. You actually help so much on the surveys and are so useful. The people who work there are so inspiring and I have a whole new respect for the natural world and now consider myself a conservationist. The wildlife is insane and the accommodation is phenomenal. I stayed 6 weeks and felt I could have stayed a lot longer. Just do it!

What did you find most rewarding?
How much I learnt!

What did you find most challenging?
The remoteness for the first few days but it's the part I miss the most now.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Do it. Don't worry if you don't have a science or conservation background - the program is so inclusive. Also stay as long as possible. 

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
I liked that it was ethical and the projects were actually useful.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Nicole - 2017

“What did you find most rewarding?
It was fascinating to learn how well the forest is regenerating and how much of the biodiversity has returned to the Manu region. I loved going on all the different surveys and seeing so many different species of frogs, birds, butterflies, snakes and monkeys. The forest in itself is beautiful and everything was a thousand times more enjoyable because every single person at the project was so lovely and fun. I learned a lot.

What did you find most challenging?
Saying goodbye

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
The reviews were good and plenty, and the placement actually let volunteers be helpful.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Cat - 2016

“I always thought the Amazon sounded like such an amazing place and when I found the option to go there on the Pod Volunteer website I knew I had to go, but I put it off for a long time as I'm not the most confident person and the thought of travelling so far on my own was too overwhelming. Eventually I decided to just go for it and I'm so glad I did.

Everything was so well organised, and the packing list was incredibly helpful, I'd also suggest taking extra insoles or ones that wont fall apart when it rains and your wellies fill up with water(!), and taking some power banks for charging mobile devices, Anker do some very good ones that don't cost much, also earplugs are a must if you want a good nights sleep.

The whole experience was fantastic, definitely challenging, the heat and humidity, long days, early starts, a lot of walking over some pretty difficult terrain, and I discovered how much I take electric lights for granted. But ultimately it was so rewarding, seeing such amazing scenery and wildlife, feeling like you were really helping to make a difference, the rota was pretty full on but I'm grateful for that as even though I was only there for 2 weeks I got to be part of so many different projects. You really feel like you've earned hammock time by the end of each day.

The staff and interns were all so friendly and helpful, I felt they pushed you to do the best you could and overcome anything you found challenging but at the same time would help you if you were really struggling. The other volunteers were brilliant and I really miss them all now I'm back home, we had a great time together and some ridiculously funny moments (Jungle Olympics for Saturday Night Fun) I'm not the best at chatting to new people but they were all so easy to get along with.

The journey from Cusco to the project is quite something, it's about 140 miles through the Andes on a very twisting unmade road, you start out surrounded by dust and eucalyptus trees, pass through the cold damp cloud forest, and down to the rainforest where you get on a boat for about an hour, I really loved the boat rides.

The Centre is a really gorgeous place, listening to the Ora Pendula every day was so cool as they sound nothing like anything we have back in the UK, and I loved watching the humming birds and lizards around camp. The beds were comfy and clean, although be prepared to share your room with cockroaches and possibly a big scary spider(!), and the bathrooms were always kept clean, the food was quite nice although I couldn't handle the really savoury breakfasts at 7am and wish I'd taken some cereal bars, the Sublime bars kept me going.

What did you find most rewarding?
For me it was overcoming so many little obstacles where I thought "I can't do that" and then I did, I have so much more self confidence now. Also, seeing a capybara was amazing!

What did you find most challenging?
The thought of travelling so far on my own put me off going for a long time. But once I was there the biggest challenge really was the heat, and sandfly bites.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Go for it it's a gorgeous location, be prepared for a lot of walking and a lot of heat, keep a positive attitude and it'll get you through any times you don't enjoy as much.

Were there any parts of the placement which you would like to see changed?
More species identification for the 2 weekers, we didn't have to take the ID test but a session teaching us about the most common wildlife around camp would have been nice.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
I liked the website, and once I began the application project I felt I was given a lot of helpful information about my chosen project.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Megan – 2016

“My time in the jungle was amazing and I loved every minute of it! The abundance of wildlife is incredible, and I was lucky enough to see the rare Neotropical Otter during my stay. It was tough and some of the trails were definitely more strenuous than others but the work was enjoyable and the enthusiasm of the staff and interns created a brilliant atmosphere in which to volunteer

What did you find most rewarding?
Completing a hard day knowing that you have gathered all the date required and heading back to camp to relax in the hammocks!

What did you find most challenging?
The humidity and the sandflies!

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Definitely take a watch and insect repellent with NO deet (it really does corrode your skin) and I would advise to write a journal

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Good company with good reviews

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Kim – 2016

“The Amazon Conservation project was a great way to learn about the Peruvian rainforest and all of the struggles conservationists are facing in preventing future deforestation. It was fulfilling to be able to see the jungle and make a positive impact on the environment at the same time.

What did you find most rewarding?
The most rewarding part of the Programe was knowing that the data that I was collecting was actually going into a database to be used by researchers for the benefit of the jungle.

What did you find most challenging?
The most challenging part was adjusting my body to the hiking in the harsh terrain and hills.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Do some aerobic activities and hiking before you arrive to the jungle, and practice hiking with a pack with at least 2 litres of water. The pack becomes heavy fast if you are not used to the weight.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Hannah - 2015

“The Amazon conservation project was my first experience of travelling alone. It's going to be a tough one to follow! I have learned so much more than I expected. Each volunteer had the chance to get involved in a variety of different scientific studies. It feels like I've actually contributed towards something great. I've grown to love insects even more and I miss the constant noise of them in the night time. I feel extremely lucky to have had a fantastic group of fellow volunteers. The staff and interns at the centreare all brilliant and very hard-working. It's hard to choose one particular highlight as each day had a special moment. I'd definitely recommend anyone going to write a journal - I'm so glad that I did! This project is the best thing I've done so far. It's definitely worth the time and the money.

How would you describe a typical day volunteering on the Amazon Conservation project in Peru? Some volunteers may wake at 4am for an AMT or 5am for Colpa. Other volunteers would be awake before breakfast at 7am. Most surveys start at 8am. Some will return to  for lunch at 12, others would eat a packed lunch in the field. Surveys would finish from 3-6. There is usually a bit of free time before dinner at 6:30pm. Some volunteers would leave between 5-8 for the night surveys. Otherwise, bed time (or quiet time) is after 9:30pm. Night surveys finish between 11-1. The only exception is Sunday - FREE TIME ALL DAY.

What did you find most rewarding? There was no better feeling for me than finishing a hard trail. To see all the field data completed and to come back to a shower and food!

What did you find most challenging? Climbing the steeper trails! I love to walk long distances but trails on a gradient were slightly more strenuous!

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved? The only complaint I could make is more variety in the schedule - some volunteers didn't have a chance at one activity and some volunteers had the same activity on many more occasions than others!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Write a journal, bring insect repellent WITHOUT DEET, stock up on fruit in Cusco,

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Voluntary work is extremely rewarding no matter what it is. For this project in particular, volunteers really do contribute towards the bigger picture!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? The appearance of the website and the format of emails and guides felt well-presented to me. The company seemed the most professional in comparison to other companies offering similar voluntary placements.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer to your friends? Yes”

Jack -2015

“An amazing experience that left me yearning to come back for a longer stay! The amazon is unlike anywhere else and packed full of wildlife. The lodge is a wonderful place with great accommodation and food and you will meet some awesome people there. The surveys are very worthwhile with many discoveries being made all the time so it feels like you are involved in something rather important. Don't hesitate and just do it!

How would you describe a typical day volunteering on the Amazon Conservation project in Peru? Waking up at 6:30 at the earliest (4-5 if your doing early surveys) to the sound of titi monkeys or cicadas. Rice for breakfast then lots of walking on the forest trails to see amazing wildlife and get extremely sweaty! Back for a shower and lunch then off working till tea. A few beers in the evening then early night.

What did you find most rewarding? Being with so many inspiring people and surrounded by nature, living so close to it and with so few creature comforts.

What did you find most challenging? The heat and amount of walking was a challenge. It was regularly 35-40 so almost unbearable at midday.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? It's tough and there are no creature comforts. Cold showers, heat, cockroaches, dehydration and tiredness are all normal. However, it is all worth it to see the animals in the wild and experience a different way of living

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? Pod was an ethical company with good reviews and nice people.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer to your friends? Yes”

August, 2015

"My time at this project was amazing, from the staff, work, other volunteers and overall experience. It was so different from anything I have ever done before and I will probably never do anything like it again. I have learned so much from this experience, including identifying a variety of species and how much I can push myself and cope with more than I thought I was able.

How would you describe a typical day volunteering on the Amazon Conservation project in Peru? An average day would include breakfast at 7am and then leaving to start out the surveys we were on. These could be at the site or a short boat ride away. They mainly involved a lot of walking, so my advice would be to be prepared for that! I felt my stamina improved a huge amount as the time went on! Lunch was at 12:30, but sometimes we would eat lunch in the field if we were far enough away from camp. Surveys would continue until dinner which was at 18:30.

Sometimes people were on night walks/surveys and so they would take dinner into the forest. Those were my favourite.

Bed time was whenever we wanted, I mainly went to bed early because I would feel much more ready for the next day!

What did you find most rewarding? The most rewarding part of my trip was going to Salvacion to help build biogardens for the local people there. It was hard work and it isn't something that I'm used to doing at home, but it really felt like I was helping and contributing.

What did you find most challenging? Honestly, the parts that I thought would be challenging like the amount of walking, didn't bother me. What bothered me more was having to get up and walk to the toilets in the middle of the night and trying to pick up the Spanish language!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? You should make sure that you are able of walking reasonably quickly for long distances.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It is a good, safe way to explore the world and get to know a variety of different people.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? I have used Pod before.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer to your friends? Yes”

August, 2015

“The project I worked on was life changing. I now appreciate the things I have more. The memories I made will stay with me forever. Although it was tricky at times, the other volunteers and I made it through (and became friends in the process).

How would you describe a typical day volunteering at the Amazon Conservation project in Peru? We woke up early to eat breakfast then hiked into the jungle to conduct surveys all day, like observations, habitat conservation or community work. We would normally eat lunch in the jungle. We'd come back late afternoon and clean up for supper.

What did you find most rewarding? The most rewarding part of this project was being in the jungle and seeing things and learning things I could never in Canada.

What did you find most challenging? The physical work was tough. It was nothing I couldn't do but breaks were necessary.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Long sleeves are a must! If you don't have them, the bugs will bite you all over.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Of course! It changes the way you see things. It not only helps others, it helps you be a better person.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? They were a very accepting company and they didn't make things complicated.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer to your friends? Yes”

Lewis, 2015

“I found my time volunteering to be a truly valuable and rewarding. From it I have gained new various cultural insights and interests, as well as a knowledge of Amazonian ecology and species. Consequently I now feel driven to explore and further discover Peru and South America in general. It truly fascinating area of the world and I highly recommend visiting the amazon and experiencing it first hand like this. It has also given me the opportunity to greatly improve my basic level of Spanish. Which is something I now wish to further.

How would you describe a typical day at the Amazon Conservation project in Peru? Wake at 6:30 am to have breakfast at 7:00 am. Then we would to go out on ecological surveys in the jungle for the day. Often managing to see really awesome wildlife, like monkeys for example. Lunch would be midday and usually would be eaten out of the eco-lodge, however sometimes we would go back. Evening would ususaly we free and we would spend them socializing between ourselves.

What did you find most rewarding? Working with the community and getting hand-on experience on ecological surveying techniques.

What did you find most challenging? The level of physical fitness required and the length of the work days.

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved? The food at the placement location.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Get fit.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It a great personal experience while doing something beneficial.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? Suggested by a friend.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer to your friends? Yes”

Fraser - 2015

“Was the most rewarding thing I have ever done, hard work but always worth it!

How would you describe a typical day volunteering at the Amazon Conservation project in Peru? 7am breakfast, surveying out in the forest for most of the day worth a packed lunch, back for dinner. Sometimes before breakfast and after dinner surveys also.

What did you find most rewarding? Feeling part of the bigger picture.

What did you find most challenging? Long days out in the forest.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Take everything in your stride!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Because it is an amazing experience which will change your life and the life of others.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? Non-profit, had the sort of project i was looking for and looked professional.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer to your friends? Yes”

Hayley - 2015

“This was a truly fantastic experience and would recommend it to anyone. It's hard work but what you put in you really get out of it and the learning experience is one that will most definitely stay with me. I only wish I'd have volunteered for longer. Two weeks really wasn't enough!

How would you describe a typical day at the Amazon Conservation placement in Peru?

Typical day: Get up at 5-6am, have breakfast and the day starts at 8am sharp! Depending on the project you were on, this could mean venturing out into the jungle or heading off to the project in the nearest town. Every day was a new project and a new experience. At the end of the day, dinner would be served in the communal area under candle light where you'd relax, talk about your day or play games! That is unless you were set on a night project where you'd be off into the jungle again to survey the night creatures!

What did you find most rewarding? Every aspect of this project is rewarding. It really tests your limits but understanding the delicate balance of the world we live in was probably the most rewarding thing. This project gives you a great appreciation of our impact on the world and by being at the centre you feel like you're giving something back, even if you're only there for two weeks.

What did you find most challenging? The culture shock coming home. Even after two weeks, the experiences I had really changed my view on western life and it was hard getting back to the 9-5 job.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Don't just go for 2 weeks. Go for a month minimum if you can. You'll get so much more out of it.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It expands your mind and gives you a great appreciation of the world we live in.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? It was well recommended and I felt secure and supported all the way. The information provided throughout the whole experience from initially booking it to coming home was also very good.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer to your friends? Yes”

Nissa - 2015

“I was on a two week placement, which gave me a great insight in to all the projects ran at the research centre (with less of the hard and dirty work than the 4 week volunteers!) The project has a real community of workers and volunteers which was fun to be part of, with games or presentations in the evening and I was sad to be the only 3 leaving after 2 weeks (the other 10 stayed for 4 weeks). Although I was slightly relieved to survive it too - the work there was hard (I had no idea it was possible to sweat in the way I did). Walking in the jungle was really great to do, especially when I came across wild peccary on a palm tree survey. Whilst I now know I'll never be a conservation scientist it's an area of work I appreciate a lot more and learnt a lot about.

How would you describe a typical day volunteering in at the Amazon Conservation project in Peru? Getting up ridiculously early (6am is a lie in) to have breakkie and get ready for the day (if you haven't already gone on a morning walk to monitor birds). This involves full field gear (wellies, long trousers, long sleeve top, water, equipment), before setting off to walk in the jungle for 7 hours, along set trailes, doing certain tasks along the way, like checking pitfall traps are in tact or measuring round palm trees within a set transect. Before heading back to the camp. Have a shower before meal time and sit in the hammocks or snooze. Eat at 5.30, chat, presentation about a new project at 7.30 and early to bed.

What did you find most rewarding? Definitely encountering wildlife in the forest and when a long snake went past me whilst I was in a hammock by the river.

What did you find most challenging? The physical challenge (but great feeling to survive it), coupled with less food than normal! Having enough clean clothes and trying to wash long sleeve tops which never dry. Despite hating all bugs, cockroaches and being generally a bit of a wimp before I left, I was absolutely fine with all of them and had a great time on the project. There are a lot of cockroaches, but they are small and only come out at night, if you're tidy tend to go elsewhere! This was much less challenging than I expected it to be.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Be happy and willing to work hard and live in close quarters with lots of other people. Take loads of long sleeve tops and long trousers which you know dry quickly. Only ever wear socks and leggings/trousers around camp. It's not a shorts and sunbathing type of place - if you wear flip flops you just get bitten by sand flies.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? To do something different and challenging

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? For the placement - it involved genuine contribution to ongoing research projects

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer to your friends? Yes”

Sylvia - 2014

“The project in the rainforest was very relaxing, chilling and educational. It was physically tough due to the heat and humidity but this just made it more challenging. Lots of great people out there to spend time with.

How would you describe a typical day volunteering at the Amazon Conservation project in Peru? Up at 5 to watch macaws landing on rock lick, breakfast, survey after breakfast, lunch, work in bio gardens in afternoon, shower, dinner, chill reading a book or chatting to others, early night listening to the sounds of the jungle. 

What did you find most rewarding? Completing all the tasks set me

What did you find most challenging? Working in heat and humidity

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Get physically fit before you go, hill climbing would be useful

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Brilliant way to really find out about a place

Why did you choose Pod? Went with Pod before

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Eleanor - 2014

“I only really thought that you could go to the rainforest if you were a tv presenter or David Attenborough, I couldn't believe it when it was offered when I was looking up places to volunteer. It lived up to every dream and expectation I could have wished for. I loved every second of it and never wanted to leave. I made amazing friends on the project and the overall atmosphere was so welcoming and exciting. You could feel that everyone there had a real enthusiasm for the work they were doing with the Manu Rainforest, the sort of enthusiasm that rubs off on you. I trekked through the jungle everyday and got to help with every project that was run there.

From setting up butterfly traps, clearing the wetlands, to chasing woolly monkeys. I got to learn about everything out there from the mammals; tapirs, jaguars and armidillos, to the reptiles and amphibians, including all the species of poison dart frogs. The staff at the Centre had such trained eyes that they could spot them out of the dense forest and show you them up close and personal. I really felt like I was making an impact on the local community as well when I was there as I learnt about the work they did with bio gardens where they taught the community how to farm sustainably and to work with the forest. I couldn't have asked for anything more from my time.

How would you describe a typical day volunteering on the Amazon Conservation project in Peru? Every day was different, there was no 'typical day'. Each week a new rota was put up on the board to tell you what you were doing each day. Monday to Saturday breakfast was at 7am, but some days you might get up earlier to see the birds/animals with the sunrise. Or you may have to help make breakfast, there’s a rota to help with cooking, everyone has to chip in. After then it depends what you've been signed up to do, whether you go off with butterfly traps around the reserve or to the wetlands to help keep it in shape to encourage more wildlife, or stay close to home and work at the medicine garden. Whatever you do during the day everyone comes back together for dinner which is candle-lit, then everyone sits around and compares their day, catches up and chills out after what’s usually an exhausting day.

What did you find most rewarding? Knowing I was part of a cutting edge research centre that was helping to preserve one of the most pristine environments in the world. My data that I was collecting was important to an overall incredible scheme.

What did you find most challenging? The longer treks I found hard

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Get ready to get stuck in and help out. Put everything into what you do no matter what your job is for that day.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Why not?! I can't think of anything else I'd rather do and see and be involved in. It's great reading about a place or a subject but actually going there and touching and feeling and seeing what it's really like is just beyond anything anyone could ever tell you.

Why did you choose Pod? It seemed like the volunteer placement was actually beneficial, I was part of helping to preserve the rainforest I wasn't just going there for a holiday. Their website gave so much information and was very professional.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

David - 2014

“Being in my early 60's I was a little unsure whether the project would be too much but actually I found that although it was hard, it was very doable. There turned out to be four of us over 50 and all the group bonded very quickly. I went for 4 weeks and it felt about right because it gives you time to learn the skills and be able to identify animals and feel like you are making a real contribution to the ongoing projects during the placement. Several projects are ongoing and the staff arrange for volunteers to experience all of them. By living in the jungle for several weeks you get to see so much of the shy wildlife that you would be unlikely to see on short tourist trip, Monkeys, birds, frogs and butterflies (which are simply stunning) all seen at close quarters going about their everyday lives. It was also a real privilege to share time with the local community and to see how they live each day. To play football and volleyball together and to share a family meal around an open fire under a star filled sky are priceless and unforgettable experiences.

How would you describe a typical day at the Amazon Conservation project? Awake at 6 as it gets light. Breakfast at 7.30 and off out by 8 to allocated activity. Usually a trek to the start location and then on to collecting soil samples, checking butterfly traps, surveying a transect for reptiles and amphibians etc. etc. Lunch sometimes back at centre, sometimes out in the forest depending on the activity. Back by 5 and shower in time for dinner at 6.30. Sometimes 5am start to set up mist nets for bird sampling. Sometimes late finish with a night transect survey from 8-11pm. Tiring but rewarding.

What did you find most rewarding? Learning how to set up the butterfly traps, handle the insects safely and learn how to identify them in the field.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Get a good head torch that can take ordinary batteries. Take several sets of spare batteries! Thin lining socks inside ordinary socks work well. Don't assume washed clothes will dry, it depends on the weather.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It’s a fantastic way of spending time somewhere you otherwise would not go doing something that you otherwise would not do.

Why did you choose Pod? It was recommended to me.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

James - 2014

“Volunteering in the Amazon in Manu reserve is fantastic, the opportunity to learn is huge and you are thrown into their research projects regardless of the length of your volunteering stint. All things considered, the accommodation and site lived at is brilliant and gives you somewhere to call home after a long but rewarding day of trekking about through the jungle!

How would you describe a typical day volunteering at the Amazon Conservation project in Peru? Breakfast at 7am followed by (or preceded by!) activities that were part of the different surveys being carried out. Some would last the entire day whilst others may only take a morning or afternoon and so you would have some free time to relax.

What did you find most rewarding? Returning home after a full day hike having walked a long way and taken part in the research they are doing.

What did you find most challenging? Becoming used to the jungle heat, you sweat just walking to the toilet!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Take plenty of socks and long sleeved t-shirts!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It's an experience that can't quite be paralleled in the UK.

Why did you choose Pod? Because they seemed to offer a very legitimate programme where the money spent goes to the right cause.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Hannah - 2014

“I had such a great experience during my time away in Peru, with great fun working on all the different projects and meeting some fantastic people!

How would you describe typical day volunteering at the Amazon Conservation project in Peru? A typical day on the project could include getting up before sunrise to see the macaws on the colpa followed by breakfast and then into the jungle to do some pitfall sampling and butterfly surveying with lunch sat by one of the many beautiful streams. After an evening meal we'd be out in the dark doing night Visual Encounter Survey's.

What did you find most rewarding? Working with the Shipateri community on knowing the work we were doing was actually going to make a difference.

What did you find most challenging? It was physically tiring often with early mornings and late nights and days filled with long treks in the jungle.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Make sure you take lots of extra pairs of socks and pants, you'll struggle to get them dry!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Its a great fun way to learn about other cultures and offers a great opportunity to meet people from all over the globe. It’s also extremely rewarding to know that whilst you're making these amazing memories your contributing to something worth while

Why did you choose Pod? As when I initially started looking for placements abroad Pod where extremely helpful and offered all the information I needed straight away. This continued throughout the project and whenever I needed anything they were always happy to help.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Robert - 2014

“The journey into the amazon was perhaps a sign of things to come as it was truly breathtaking, passing through the Andes before descending into the cloud forest and then taking a boat along the Madre de dios river. Over the next 4 weeks I did things that I never thought I would do before and had so many great experiences... whether its wading up an amazonian stream, eating local witchety grubs or even climbing up a mountain. The wildlife was fantastic, the work/research was interesting and the people whether it was fellow volunteers or research staff were great company and there was a real sense of community that was easy to quickly settle into! I am already missing the sounds of the rainforest and can't wait to do some more volunteering!

How would you describe a typical day volunteering on the Amazon Conservation project in Peru? It could involve a number of different things although for me it usually involved a nice jungle trek. From there on you could be checking butterfly traps and processing any found, getting to handle and measure them. Equally you might be out searching for woolly monkeys, taking soil samples, mistnetting for birds or checking pitfall traps for reptiles and amphibians. Most days are spent out in the jungle and there is always a chance of running into a troop of monkeys which is really special.

What did you find most rewarding? Getting to know researchers and local staff and not being treated as a tourist, feels like you are really contributing towards conservation and the many research projects.

What did you find most challenging? Climbing up a mountain to set up butterfly traps which was physically exhausting but the sense of achievement was well worth it!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Don't worry about it, just go into it with an open mind and enjoy it.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Provides you great experiences and memories. The chance to visit an incredible country and incredible people.

Why did you choose Pod? Found it after doing research on the internet and it looked like the most reliable one out there and the project fascinated me as I wanted to experience the amazon and be out doing scientific research.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes"

Louise - 2014 

“This was the most amazing experience of my life- so well organised and full of exciting opportunities and experiences!

How would you describe a  normal day volunteer at the Amazon Conservation project in Peru? A typical day could start with an early morning bird walk or trip to the Clay Lick on the river before breakfast followed by a day of collecting butterflies from traps or transects to identify and record, with various monkey and frog sightings along the way! Followed by a communal candle light dinner and an evening of socializing or even a night-time reptile hunt along one of the various trails!

What did you find most rewarding? Being able to part of the discovery of new species to the reserve and contributing to the sustainable living initiatives within the local community in Salvacion! really felt like we made a difference in the long run.

What did you find most challenging? The physical aspect of walking through the jungle and up to Salvacion was hard, but defiantly rewarding as I felt a lot fitter by the end of my time and really enjoyed the satisfaction of a day of physical exercise!

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved? Nope- it was fantastic!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Be aware of the minimal internet and phone signal availability, it can be hard to contact home at times, but there are so many people there that are in the same boat and understand!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Its always an amazing opportunity to experience different cultures and ecosystems and you may end up learning something new about yourself and what you enjoy as well! Volunteering abroad has definitely helped me realize how important it is to see and experience new things!

Why did you choose Pod? I have travelled with Pod before and had a great experience with them, the communication and information provided prior to the trip was incredibly detailed and supportive, and I could trust them completely.”

Barry - 2013

“Entering the Amazon through the Cloud Forest it was already starting to feel pretty amazing. The final leg of the journey down river on boat surrounded by the forest gives you a real feel for exactly where you are. The centre itself wooden built pods with open views is the perfect setting, although is very simple has everything needed for a great experience. Activities while there can be varied from bird or butterfly surveys, looking for frogs, trying to track specific types of monkey or even working with local communities in bio gardens. I particularly enjoyed spending evenings by candle light listening to the noise of the forest.

How would you describe a typical day at the Amazon Conservation project in Peru? Starts can range day to day depending on surveys your helping on. Anything from 03:30 to getting up for breakfast at 07:00. If not on an early project then work starts after breakfast until lunch at 12:30 and then continue until just before dinner at 18:30. At times there will also be night surveys. It is all planned and shared out though so your not on the go for 20 hours a day. Projects and survey can be very varied and can always provide surprises. Waking up is such a fantastic location and spending your day in The Amazon Rainforest is truly Amazing.

What did you find most rewarding? I just enjoyed seeing and being in the rainforest, and seeing the diversity of the life that is there. I did get to help on the 'Wetlands' project and to see the progress that was made just in the 4 weeks of my stay was great.

What did you find most challenging? All day treks in the rainforest can be challenging but very rewarding to see the differences in the forest types.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? I would advise a reasonable level of fitness as it can be very physical at times. A very good head torch is a must, not just for around your living area but for when on night surveys as well so you get to see and experience as much as possible. Good trekking kind of clothes and give them a try before you go. It can be annoying having to constantly pull up trousers or not feel comfortable in the middle of the forest.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It offers such amazing experiences and to see such a variety of life as well as meeting new people.

Why did you choose Pod? It offered such a variety of projects all over the world.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Laura - 2013

“Being part of this project has been incredibly rewarding, exciting and instructive. After having the opportunity to work with truly amazing people who after a couple of months start feeling like family in this breath-taking location that also becomes a home, your understating about conservation and its methods becomes so much deeper! Learning how to live in the middle of the jungle has been incredible, I have no words to describe the beauty of the place and how much I loved waking up to the once unfamiliar song of the birds, crickets, monkeys and the rest of the inhabitants of the rainforest. I strongly recommend this placement to anybody who loves nature, adventure and beauty.

How would you describe a typical day at the project? Wake up before the sun comes out to take the boat to the blind from where we watch the clay lick. Enjoy an unbelievable sunrise while setting up the equipment to study the parrots and macaws that use the claylick and leave at 7.30 for breakfast in the beautiful lodge. Prepare to go out into the field to check pitfalls, come back at 1pm, have a shower and lunch and then change back into field clothes to do some butterfly transects. Come back before dark and have a wonderful dinner with all the staff and volunteers before going to bed or chilling out in the common area or hammock area (depending on how much energy you have left after hours of walking in the jungle!!)

What did you find most challenging? Cockroaches.... although you do end up becoming used to them

What did you find most rewarding? When after the long hours of work we found special species of snake, or added a new species of night bird to the list, which also happened with some of the butterflies we caught. It's very satisfactory when results of data gathering are so obvious!!"

Rebecca - 2013

“I have been home a few days now, & missing the sounds of the jungle that lulled me to sleep. So much to see & learn. A big thank you to all the staff, researchers & volunteers at the centre for making my trip of a life-time fulfilled to the max!

How would you describe your typical day? My days were varied, always experiencing something new, & evening dinner by candle light.

What did you find most rewarding? Planting new saplings & helping in the local bio-gardens (but seeing new wildlife each day is pretty fantastic too).

What did you find most challenging? The physical energy needed.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Get physically fit.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? A great way to travel & you see more than a tourist would, while also helping others.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes"

Leanne - 2013

“On arriving after a boat ride along the madre de dios river we were made very welcome and shown to our new home for (in my case) the next 4 weeks. Staying in the traditionally built pods made of wood and leaves with no windows was amazing...you really felt one with the rainforest. For the next 4 weeks (after some training) we got straight into doing activities in the rainforest and the project room, doing all sorts of things from catching and identifying butterflies, frogs and other critters, gathering leaves to sort and dry, helping in the bio garden and one of my favourite things...mist netting after camping overnight in the primary rainforest. I loved every minute of it. To end a great time we went on a 3 day expedition to a local village and spent time chilling out at gorgeous pools and with the local people making jewellery and having an arrow competition...a great end to one of the greatest experiences of my life.

How would you describe a typical day at the project? Depending on what your put down to do for the day...you could be up at 5am to do mist netting or the clay licks, then back for breakfast before doing other jobs maybe pitfalls or butterfly nets, lunch either in the rainforest by the river. The afternoon could consist of being in the project room processing frogs or butterflies...measuring, weighing and identifying and dinner is by candlelight with everyone then if you haven't had a hectic day maybe a night transect to spot some more frogs or maybe even a tapir (which I was lucky enough to see) or maybe even a jaguar.

What did you find most rewarding? Just being surrounded by nature...waking up to the sounds of the rainforest, being in and around the wildlife and being so close to nature (with no windows) that the storm overnight sounds right there with you.

What did you find most challenging? All day walks in the rainforest was physically challenging but good fun and my personal challenge was dealing with crossing the river every time I went into the rainforest which at times was flowing very fast...It took a while before I could cross without getting welly breach.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? The main advice I would give would be to invest in a good head torch along with plenty of spare batteries as it is needed, you use it every night as there are no lights and you need a really good light while out on night transects. Don't worry about the cockroaches... they may be fast and run around your feet but don't do any harm. I hope you like rice...there will be plenty of it. Take long sleeve, thin shirts...they are needed in the rainforest to stop the bugs biting and also at the bio gardens to stop the hot sun burning you...I didn't take enough.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It is such a wonderful experience to see, hear and do amazing things, meet some great people and generally have a great time.”

Shaune – 2012

“This placement was everything I hoped it would be and more. The friendly team helped with everything I needed and guided me through all the adventures that i went, The team were second to none. I thoroughly enjoyed my time and experience and would recommend it to anyone.

How would you describe a typical day at the project? Wake up early to a nice prepared breakfast then a briefing on the day’s activities. You could be going on a frog hunt or a long walk through one of the trails to find out what has fallen in the pitfalls. Bagging and then tagging different species of amphibians. Back for lunch then a chilled afternoon documenting what you found in the morning. After dinner a night walk through the jungle to different parts of the jungle to go leaf littering. On your hands and knees going through the leaves to see what you can find. An experience at night.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Go into it with an open mind and enjoy all that is on offer, the place is amazing.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It’s a chance to experience a different way of life and a life changing experience."

Eleanor - 2011

“Definitely the best month of my life. There were so many moments that were just surreal, it just felt as if we had wandered into a nature documentary, like when we found ourselves stroking a baby caiman while knee deep in a river or blowing on butterflies to determine their gender. The Centre is a really special place - it's not often that you find somewhere where you can search for otters, go swimming in a plunge pool, then return to find a troop of monkeys have taken up residence in a tree less than 5 metres from the bedrooms! The staff were great, the guides we were with seemed to have an encyclopaedic knowledge on everything that moved, and also had great senses of humour. There was also a great sense of community at the Centre as everyone helped out and got involved.”

How would you describe a typical day at the project? Wake up at 4.45 to get ready for leaving for the clay lick. Act as scribe as Nelson calls out which birds have arrived and how long they stay. Arrive back at the Centre at 7.30 in time for breakfast. After that either we leave with a packed for a full day in the jungle or have one project in the morning and one in the afternoon. Supper is around 7pm. After that there could be a night walk, but generally we play cards, chat, listen to people play the guitar, a couple of nights we had a bonfire and on another we played a brilliant game involving rolled up newspapers and blindfolds.

What did you find most rewarding? Probably learning the bird calls, starting to be identify what we could hear or see flying overhead I found very interesting and rewarding.

What did you find most challenging? Digging- digging a moat around the centre biogarden at midday was pretty hard work.

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved? I did not really enjoy agroforestry or working the biogarden as I had come to the Amazon to enjoy the jungle, I was able to swap slots with other volunteers but it would have been better if these aspects of the project were more clear in the information, we could choose to stay in the jungle or if there were more slots in the jungle then in the biogardens.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Don't be afraid of cockroaches!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It allows you to meet really interesting people and get a better understanding of a place outside your comfort zone.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others? I chose Pod as the website matched what I was looking for and I would recommend it because of the fantastic experience I have had!"

Sarah - 2011

“The Amazon project is an amazing experience for anyone wanting to get active and explore the rainforest. It’s a help to already be fit and healthy before arriving as its pretty full on from the beginning. You have to be willing to open up and become close to the people you're with straight away as they are the only people you see for many days at a time. A love of animals is also a must as most of the projects revolve around them. Being average at football is another key point, you can’t go to Jungle Centre without playing it almost every day for an hour or so. Knowing a little Spanish is useful if you want to chat with all the staff and teach them some English, they're always willing. The food at Jungle Centre is amazing, so different and something to look forward to after a long trek. The housing is lovely, really good for keeping you cool and plenty of places to hang up the washing (trust me, that’s a thing to get excited about). The staff are friendly and always helpful, as was our guide Tilman. They make you feel part of the family from day one and enhance the fun with their humour, knowledge of the forest and laid back attitudes. You will miss them immensely once you leave.”

How would you describe a typical day at the project? A typical day really depends on what you want to do. You could get up at 4am and go to the clay licks, or get up at 7 for breakfast instead. Later you may want to go into the forest for the day for the biomass or small mammal trap project with Juvenal and Nelson or maybe you'd prefer to stay at Jungle Centre to work on the projects there and teach some English. Some days there are afternoons off to go swimming in one of the many rivers, help out in the kitchen or generally just relax and read. One thing that is consistent is that 5pm means football, a great chance to really bond with everyone and try your skills against the, frankly amazing, Nelson and Tomas. Meals are at 7:30am, 1:30pm and 7pm. When there are enough spaces for the volunteers in the kitchen then everyone eats there, otherwise we eat in the dinning room. The evenings are spent however you like, but with no electricity everyone mainly plays cards, talks and reads in the kitchen or living area. The staff are also stupidly good at cards, so don't expect to win too often. Younger members, like Nelson, are keen to learn lots of English so reading with them really helps. It also improves your Spanish.

What did you find most rewarding? Going into Salvacion for the bio garden project with Reynaldo. We built a small vegetable patch for a lady and her family so that they had a better supply of fresh food. They were so happy with the outcome and we got to mix with lots of locals from the unique town. I also enjoyed the farming projects as we were working with the farmers themselves and got to see an instant outcome as well as helping them for the future. I loved going out into the forest with my friends too, especially for the biomass project. We had an amazing day out in the rainforest, seeing monkeys, snakes and Jaguar footprints as well as swimming in an isolated but beautiful river. Just being out amongst the trees and wildlife is so amazing.

What did you find most challenging? The isolation itself is a challenge to start with. Not being able to contact people with the ease that we are used to back at home is frustrating but once you get to know everyone, have in jokes, gossip and true friendships, then it becomes just part of life that the internet isn't always there and your mobile doesn't work. If you dont think you'd like the constant exercise that this project entails then its really not for you. Walking miles a day is part of the fun, but its hard work and be prepared to want to go to bed straight after dinner (dont worry, we've all done it. 8pm becomes an acceptable bedtime very soon).

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Be prepared for hard work, lots of walking, having damp clothes for the majority of the time and for living with wildlife. Bring clothes you don't mind leaving in Peru. Accept that Peruvians have their own pace and won't change that for anyone. Even if you're good at football at home, don't except to be up to the staffs standards (Nelson is a machine!). Be open minded, try to be outgoing and learn to laugh yourself out of any situation at Jungle Centre, expect the unexpected when you're living in the Amazon.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It opens your mind to so many new people and experiences. You'll come back desperate to learn a new language, go back and see all the friends you have made and, at times, frustrated that no one at home gets the in jokes you've made. It really makes you think about how other cultures live and inspires you to make a difference where ever you can.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others?

Pod has a very good record for organizing, the people are lovely and I never felt at ease with my trip. I have already recommended them to friends.

Any other comments? Go to Peru at some point in your life. They are fantastic people with so much history, new languages and, once they stop being shy, are totally hilarious. The Jungle Centre becomes a home from home within no time."

Melanie - 2010

“The project was really good fun, we got to get a taste of the many projects that were being undertaken even though the research projects were generally in their initial stages. The forest is secondary, being an area of deforestation and farming some years ago and therefore the trees/habitats are different from primary forest (one of the main focuses of the research). There was the opportunity during the project to come into contact with the local communities which was an interesting part of the trip. The centre is a really comfortable place to stay with great food.”

Jane - 2010

"All my travel arrangements went like clockwork, really hassle free. I was met at Lima airport by someone arranged by Pod and driven to my hotel for overnight stay then collected following morning for internal flight to Cusco, Same procedure at Cusco, I was met by a staff member , who was also picking up two other volunteers who I was going to be on placement with. Accomodation in Cusco was good,and meeting remaining voluteers from our group was great , where we had an easy couple of days acclimatising before going to the centre to start our placement. The journey there was absolutely amazing.

The scenery was breathtaking. I especailly loved travelling through the cloud forest, Having an excellent guide with us who was so informative and as enthusiastic as us was so good, On arrival at Centre it took hardly any time settling in, it was just great. All the staff were extremely friendly and good company throughout stay. All the volunteers were involved with all the projects, having the opportunity to spend more time at any specific project, if that's what suited you.

I enjoyed all aspects of the work, some being quite physical and others relaxing!! The food was good and plentifull! We also had the opportunity to help out in the kichen, preparing meals sometimes."

Joanne - 2009

“The Centre is the most amazing place!! I came back to Cusco last Monday night and I am really missing being in the jungle.

It's amazing being at the Centre, on the bank of Madre de Dios in the special reserve zone of Manu national park, south Peru. Waking up at 4.15AM to go across the river to the bird hide to monitor the macaws on the clay lick has its rewards! The beautiful dawn breaking and the sound of the parrots and macaws is a memory that will stay with me forever. As part of the on going monitoring project of the 'at risk' Blue Headed Macaws, as well as the early morning starts, in the afternoon you take an energetic walk through the many trials behind the lodge as part of 'parrot census'. You can be out in the heat and humidity for about 2 hours listening for the birds, so the refreshing cold showers at the Centre are more than welcomed!!

In terms of tips for other volunteers - Take plenty of underwear! due to the humidity nothing dries very quickly and you have to wash a lot as you get sweaty, and I ran out of clean things! So take plenty of laundry soap too, it's not provided and you get through a lot, I ended up using my shampoo! •    Also take thin socks, even wear them with flip flops around the camp as the staff do - fire ants on the floor bite!!! •Take own bath towel, or buy a cheap one in the market when you get to Cusco. •Loads of insect repellent, even if you are covered up! Take long sleeved t shirt, better than shirts, as they are tighter fitting. Bugs can easily get in your shirt! Long leggings are good for the evening to keep the bugs off, but you need proper outdoor trousers for the jungle walks. Don't go if you will get freaked out at moths flying into your head touch at night and the amount of cockroaches there are! Oh and baby bats nesting in the bedroom roof. This is the jungle!!  

The most rewarding experience was creating a bio garden for a single mother in the town of Salvacion, which is a good walk and a short bus ride away. In the afternoon heat, we put up fences, prepared the soil and sowed the seeds to create a vegetable patch that will hopefully grow to feed her children and maybe also provide a little income for her.”

Find out more about the Amazon Conservation project

AWARDS AND ACCREDITATIONS

  • Tourism Concern
  • Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust
  • Right Tourism
  • DOFE
  • theguardian
  • the independent
  • Sunday Times
  • Year Out Group
  • Best Volunteering Organisation
  • Wall Street Journal