The Park: Parque Machia was Inti Wara Yassi's first refuge and houses around 700 animals of over 30 species. The vast majority of these have been rehabilitated and are free to live in the park in natural societies without confinement. Work areas in Parque Machia include: the veterinary clinic, quarantine area, various capuchin monkey areas, spider monkey park, small mammals, aviary, two pumas, two ocelots, and last but certainly not least with Balu, the Andean bear.
What you'll be doing: Parque Machia is well established in terms of infrastructure and the majority of the work you will be doing is with the animals. There is however construction work that largely revolves around maintenance of cages and areas, as many cages are quite a few years old, as well as trail clearing, and general improvements to existing areas. The days are long and can be very tough but are incredibly rewarding, from cutting up tons of fruit for the monkeys to being taken on a walk by a Puma your experience will be unique, exciting and challenging.
How to Apply: Due to the changing volunteer numbers in the refuge, we do not require that volunteers book ahead - you can arrive at any of our refuges and volunteer whenever you wish with no notice; no prior application form is required. PLEASE NOTE: it is unusual for any of the parks to be full up (and all three parks have never been full simultaneously), however we will post updates on the ‘Volunteer’ section of the website if we are either full up, or are desperate for volunteers at any particular one of our three refuges. For more information on availability at Parque Machia Please email email@example.com.
Payments made by our volunteers are our main source of donations, comprising 85% of our income, and the minimum amount with which we can feed and care for the animals. Most often these payments are spent within a week on food and medical supplies for the animals or general operating costs of the park. Because we will need to pay for most of these expenses in bolivianos, we discourage payment in dollars and accept cash only.
The prices listed below cover accommodation, which includes kitchen access, hot showers and the use of common areas. In addition, a security deposit is paid upon arrival in order to cover possible damages and avoid early departure. It is returned at the completion of a full volunteering stay.
*The total cost is what you will have spent after receiving your deposit back.
Please Note: We strive to offer the animals the best quality of life possible, so we encourage our volunteers to work for a minimum length of time that varies depending upon the work area assigned. Certain areas, such as our spider monkey park, capuchin monkey mirador and work with felines, require a minimum commitment of 30 days, so the 30-night package payment is required upon arrival. If you are working in areas that only require a stay of 15 days, you will only be charged the 15-night package. We maintain this policy for the benefit and stability of our animals.
Location: The refuge resides about 500m east of Villa Tunari on the side of the road, on the banks of the Espiritu Santo river. The town is located on the highway between the cities Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. If you find your way to Villa Tunari, ask anyone in town to point you towards the "refugio de animales" or "Parque Machía". Just after the bridge you will see people sitting at the cafe and there will be a big painted sign on the side of the building saying Inti Wara Yassi. This is the volunteer cafe and anyone here will be happy to welcome you to our community.
How to get there from Cochabamba: Take a bus from the central bus station that goes to Santa Cruz and simply ask the driver to get off the bus just after the Espiritu Santo bridge, just after the town of Villa Tunari. It takes 4-6 hours and costs about US$7. These buses leave throughout the morning. OR... Take a minibus that leaves from the corner of Avenida Oquendo and Avenida 9 de Abril. There are a number of companies that do this route – ‘7 de Junio’ are decent. Vehicles leave as soon as they fill up, so you shouldn’t have to wait too long; vehicles leave throughout the day and early evening. The journey takes 3-3.5 hours and costs about $3.50. When you get to Villa Tunari ask the driver to drop you off outside Parque Machia, just after the Espiritu Santo Bridge.
How to get there from Santa Cruz: Take a bus that goes to Cochabamba (from the central bus station, just make sure it goes through Villa Tunari and can stop off) and ask the driver to get off just before the Espiritu Santo Bridge. Journey takes around 6 hours and buses leave regularly throughout the morning.
When you Arrive:
Accommodation: There are two hostals that are exclusively for use by Parque Machia’s volunteers and are included in your volunteering price.
Food: is not included in the cost of volunteering at Parque Machía, although breakfasts and lunches are sold at Parque Machia’s vegetarian cafe.
What to Bring:
What you'll spend:
Children: The minimum age for volunteers is 18 (17 on referral) Children can also tour Parque Machia and meet some of the animals - we regularly have children visiting (we run school programs throughout Bolivia).
Contact: To contact volunteers working at the refuge, we recommend that you call 591-44-136572 between 7:30 – 8:30am or 17:00 – 19:30pm Bolivian time.Please be patient and persevere - the phone connection is unreliable, it is shared by lots of people, and volunteers may be some distance from the office. You could arrange to return a call at one of the telephone offices. This line will generally be answered in Spanish and there are not always English speakers around to translate.