Whilst at the sanctuary, you will engage in a wide variety of activities on a rotational basis. Below are some of the activities you can expect to be involved with.
With over 800 animals to feed up to 3 times per day, the sanctuary needs as much help as it can get in the kitchen! As a volunteer, you’ll help to prepare and distribute tailored nutritional meals to all the animals. With so many meals to make, there will be plenty of food deliveries where your assistance will also be needed.
Enclosure Cleaning and Maintenance
Many of the animals arriving at the sanctuary are extremely vulnerable and may be prone to infection if the area is not kept sanitary. You will therefore assist in cleaning the enclosures, veterinary clinic and quarantine area to ensure the animals have a safe and hygienic place to live. Additionally, you may be given the task of building or maintaining animal enclosures and taking part in landscaping activities.
As many of the animals have been rescued from traumatic circumstances, it’s extremely important to observe their behaviour to ensure their health and well-being are in the best condition. For this reason, volunteers spend a minimum of 2 hours per day watching and taking notes on their assigned animal and updating staff on any issues should they arise. This is a popular activity with volunteers as it means spending time up close with their favourite animals!
Enrichment not only helps to keep the animals stimulated but also helps to alleviate any stress or unusual behaviours they may exhibit from their time in the pet trade. Volunteers therefore work to create species-appropriate challenges that engage the animals both mentally and physically. This could be anything from hiding food around their enclosures to introducing them to puzzle-type toys, so if you have an idea for some creative enrichment, be sure to put it forward!
It’s not all work and no play on this project! During your time volunteering you’ll have the opportunity to go either canyoning or ziplining - the former being a full-day activity and the latter being only a couple of hours away from the project site. Additionally, if you stay for longer than two weeks you will be allocated a day off, during which you can see a little more of the sights and sounds that Bolivia has to offer.
Please note, itineraries are subject to change depending on the needs of the sanctuary and what follows is only a rough guideline.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
After arriving into La Paz Airport, you will be met by the driver and transferred to the Bolivia Wildlife Sanctuary. You will then spend time getting to know your fellow volunteers and settling into your new surroundings before enjoying a dinner with your group. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep as tomorrow will be a busy day!
Day 2 - 14 - Project Days:
These are your project days and you will have a briefing each morning at 7:30am to discuss the tasks for the day ahead. It’s important to make sure that the animals are fed, so you will take part in food preparation and distribution before taking an hour for breakfast at 9am. The rest of your day will consist of a variety of activities with a brief lunch break at 1:30pm. Each day ends at 5:30pm when you will have time to relax before dinner and then have the evening to spend at leisure.
Day 15 - Final Day:
Today is your final day, so bid farewell to your new friends (human and animal alike!), before being transferred back to La Paz Airport for your return flight home or to continue your onward travel plans. If you join the project for longer than 2 weeks, your itinerary will continue as before, though you will be allocated a day off in between.
Dates, Availability & Price
To secure a place on this project a deposit of $245 is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.
Select a duration below to see the available start dates. All dates shown are currently available for you to join this project!
Updates & Outcomes
The sanctuary started its operations in 2003 with a handful of animals that were voluntarily handed over. Towards the end of 2007, a relationship was established with the organisation Animales SOS, after which the sanctuary began receiving an increased number of rescued animals.
Following this, the project began working with the Department of Biodiversity and the La Paz Government and began to take in and care for trafficked animals that had been intercepted by the government. As a result of the increasing illegal wildlife trade (as well as the mass deforestation in Bolivia), the animal population at the sanctuary has more than quadrupled in the last 5 years alone.
The primary mission of the project now is to give a new lease of life to the rescued animals, providing them with a forever home distanced from the cruelty they were once subjected too. The team are committed to animal welfare and educating local people and nearby communities on the importance of wildlife conservation.
As we approach the end of 2017, we’re taking a look back at some of the top stories and experiences from the past year. Yesterday we reflected on the top 5 most heart-wrenching rehabilitation stories across our projects throughout the year, and today we are celebrating the incredible individual actions and group achievements of our volunteers!
The team at the Bolivia Wildlife Sanctuary recently got in touch with an exciting update, which includes new discoveries and some truly exciting sightings! Read on to find out more.
Interested in volunteering with animals abroad? Check out our top five volunteer experiences for students, and find out how easy it is to make a difference while exploring some of the most extraordinary places on earth.
Is this trip for you?
During your time on the project you’ll be accommodated in the volunteer house, located just across the river from the wildlife sanctuary. There is one six-bed dormitory and one three-bed dormitory, as well as a bathroom with western-style toilets and warm showers.
If you are travelling as a couple or would prefer some more privacy, separate accommodation in one of the on-site Eco-Huts is available, however, there is an additional cost for this and is dependent on availability.
All volunteers are provided with three meals per day which are all prepared by the sanctuary staff. Tea and coffee is readily available throughout the day and you will have complimentary juice with breakfast and lemonade with lunch each day. Water, however, is not included in the cost of the project but bottles are available for purchase for a small fee.
Vegetarians, vegans and other dietary requirements can be catered for but please do let us know of any before you travel.
Due to the hilly nature of the area, we recommend that all volunteers have at least a moderate level of fitness and the ability to walk on steep terrain. La Paz has one of the highest altitudes in the world, and subsequently, you may find yourself out of breath from time to time - making it important to prepare for the effects of altitude sickness.
No specific skills are needed to take part but we do ask that you arrive with a strong work ethic, a passion for animals and a willingness to get your hands dirty!
There are no specific vaccination or medical requirements needed to join this project and so the vaccinations you require will depend on your medical history. We therefore recommend that you consult with your GP/Doctor regarding your own vaccination requirements.
When is the best time to volunteer?
As this project is based at a wildlife sanctuary, there are animals here year-round, so there is no best time to volunteer regarding wildlife. The weather can, however, have an impact on when you may choose to take part.
Throughout the year, the average day-time temperature is between 20-25°C (68-77°F) and the night-time temperature averages between 5-10°C (41-50°F). Rainfall, however, does vary with May to September being the driest months and December to February being the wettest.
You will need to fly into La Paz El Alto International Airport, where you will be met before taking a private transfer to the sanctuary. This transfer is included in the cost of the project and will take approximately 2 hours.
Citizens of most countries can get a tourist visa on arrival for stays of up to 90 days. Please make sure you check with your local embassy regarding visa requirements, as this can be subject to change. There are often numerous passport checks, so your passport must be carried at all times. Your passport will also need to be valid for at least six months in order to gain entry.
What is included in the extra voucher?
Included within the price of the project is a voucher which allows you to either go ziplining or canyoning. Both are exciting activities which allow you to explore the stunning scenery of the Yungas province - with an extra pinch of adrenaline! Either activity can add a whole new aspect of adventure when volunteering in Bolivia and if you would like any more information about these activities, please enquire with us directly.
What's included in the price of the project?
- Private airport transfers
- Three meals per day
- Bed linen and towels
- Laundry facilities
- A voucher to use for extra activities (ziplining or canyoning)
What's not included?
- Travel insurance
- Water, soft or alcoholic beverages, except any provided with breakfast and lunch