Volunteer at Ambue Ari

For information about the centre and its history, please see Ambue Ari's profile page

For general information about volunteering, including a list of items to bring with you, requirements and more, please see our general volunteering page.

Work areas

Ambue Ari cares for a variety of animals - with an emphasis on wild felines - which are separated into specific areas.

Volunteers are assigned to work in one of these areas during their time with us. While volunteer preferences are taken into consideration, we ultimately must assign volunteering duties based on the need at the time. Therefore we cannot guarantee that you will be able to work in a particular area.

All volunteers working with animals assist in cleaning, preparing food and providing enrichment. In addition to this some areas have further responsibilities/duties - these are detailed below. The minimum number of days required to work in each area is also specified below - this minimum is a policy put in place for the benefit and stability of our animals.




Average number of volunteers

Minimum time commitment

Additional responsibilities


Animals in this area vary as this is a temporary holding zone. However, common animals include kinkajous, night monkeys, titi monkeys, exotic birds, peccaries, squirrel monkeys, tortoises and coatis.

7am to 6pm with two breaks totalling 2.5 hours

2 to 3

14 days

Some infant animals require extra time and attention from the volunteers.

Volunteers also help with construction projects during downtime.


Camp animals

Tapirs, peccaries and exotic birds (such as toucans, macaws, parrots, and rheas).

7am to 5:30pm with two breaks totalling 2.5 hours

1 to 2

14 days

Volunteers help with construction projects during downtime.

Howler monkey park

Howler monkeys

7am to 5:30pm with two breaks totalling 2.5 hours

1 to 3

21 days

Volunteers take monkeys out and often climb trees with them.

They also help with construction during downtime.


Construction workers see those animals in areas needing construction.

7am to 5:30pm with two breaks totalling 2.5 hours


14 days



Assist with construction projects and maintenance work. Work can be planned in a team or self-directed.

Wild felines

Ocelots, pumas, jaguars and Geoffroy’s cats.

Schedules vary depending on the cat and the number of volunteers in the centre.

In high season: 7am to 5:30pm, with two breaks totalling 2.5 hours, for those working with cats that return to their enclosures during the day.

In low season: volunteers may be needed to help with up to 3 cats, starting at 7am and finishing at 6:30pm.

1 to 3 per cat

29 days


44 days for jaguars

Most cats are walked through the jungle. Those cats that cannot be walked are offered companionship and enrichment from volunteers.

Maintenance of cages and trails is also carried out.


In addition to your main work in one these areas, each volunteer is assigned a half-hour weekly morning chore (such as feeding the tapirs or providing enrichment for birds), as well as a half-hour daily chore (ranging from setting up and clearing up after dinner, to cleaning the bathrooms, to putting the birds to bed at night).

These chores are carried out from 7am - 8am (apart from evening daily chores), breakfast is from 8am - 9am, and from 9am onwards you will be working in your main area of work.

Time off

Volunteers work six days per week. They get every Saturday off.


Payments made by our volunteers are our main source of funding, making up 85% of our total income. These payments are normally spent within a week, on food and medical supplies for the animals, or for general operating costs of the centre. Since we pay for most of these expenses in bolivianos, we discourage payment in dollars and accept only cash.

The prices listed below include three meals a day (except dinner on Saturdays and those days with a special activity outside of the centre), accommodation, bed linen and a CIWY t-shirt. Also included in the price paid upon arrival is a security deposit to cover any possible damages and discourage early departure. It is returned upon the completion of a full volunteering stay. 


Paid upon arrival

Security deposit

Total cost*

15-night package

2,570 Bs.

300 Bs.

2,270 Bs.

16th and subsequent nights



125 Bs. per night

30-night package

4,070 Bs.

300 Bs.

3,770 Bs.

31st and subsequent nights



80 Bs. per night

*The total cost is what you will have spent after receiving your deposit back.

**The volunteer will be asked to make a deposit for 250 Bs at the Cafe. If the volunteer does not spend it all, the change will be returned once the volunteer finishes his/her time

In addition to the volunteer fees above, you should also budget for the following expenses:

  • Transport to and from Ascensión de Guarayos and Santa María (6 Bs. and 2 Bs. by bus, respectively)
  • One or two dinners in Ascensión de Guarayos or Santa María per week (10 to 50 Bs.)
  • Extra grocery items such as spices, sauces, snacks etc.
  • Internet access (8 Bs. per hour) and/or long-distance phone calls (4 to 12 Bs. per minute)
  • Other miscellaneous expenditure


Withdrawing cash

Although the cost of living is low, there is no reliable way of taking out cash or changing travellers’ cheques nearby. We therefore recommend that you bring enough cash to cover your expenses for the entirety of your stay.

There is a Western Union and a bank in Ascensión de Guarayos, both of which will give you an advance on your credit card (charging commission of at least 5%), however these are unreliable ways of withdrawing cash. They do not accept Mastercard.

The closest ATM is in Trinidad, which is 3 to 4 hours away. Some volunteers make day trips to the city and frequently take cash out for others.



Ambue Ari has basic dormitory accommodation for up to 36 volunteers, this is included in the volunteer fees.  

Sheets and mosquito nets are provided, but you should bring your own blanket or sleeping bag as it can get very cold at night.

Available beds are offered to volunteers upon arrival. If you wish to change rooms, we do take requests to switch to other rooms as they become available.

The centre has limited electricity to power the office, fridges and electronics charging stations only. There is limited mobile phone signal at specific points in the sanctuary, however only with the provider Entel. A well/borehole provides drinking water and the water for the showers is not heated. The toilets are ecological and do not use plumbing.


Included in the price are three meals a day, except dinner on Saturday (when volunteers go into town for a meal).

Breakfast is fairly basic - it consists of bread, fruit and tea/coffee. You may wish to bring cereal or oatmeal with you to supplement the meal. Lunch and dinner is mostly vegetarian, meat options are available two to three times a week.

If you have any specific dietary requirements, you should a supply of suitable food with you. For example, if you have gluten allergies please bring a sufficient amount of food with you because most of what we serve contains gluten. Some food items can be purchased in a nearby village and many more can be purchased in Ascensión de Guarayos, 45 minutes away by bus from the centre.

Vegans are advised to bring protein-rich foods or supplements.

Our drinking water comes from a well and most volunteers drink it without any additional treatment. However if you are concerned about water purity, you can bring water purification tablets or purchase bottled water in town.

Medical resources

Our veterinarians are able to provide volunteers with a certain level of medical attention. The nearest hospital is 45 minutes away in the town of Ascensión de Guarayos. Pharmacies are well-stocked, however we suggest you bring an ample supply of any prescription or other necessary medication.

Please note that we require all volunteers at Ambue Ari to be vaccinated against yellow fever. 

Other considerations

Facilities are very limited at Ambue Ari. However, ten minutes away by bus there is a village with basic shops, food stalls, a bar, and a telephone.

The nearest town is Ascensión de Guarayos, 48 km (30 miles) away, where there are shops, restaurants, pharmacies, a hospital, telephone and a slow internet connection. There is also a Western Union where you can get advances on a credit card, although these advances are expensive.


Ambue Ari Sanctuary is located on the highway linking Trinidad and Santa Cruz. It is 349km from Santa Cruz and 202km from Trinidad. A small hut, laundry lines and signs mark our location along the highway and all bus drivers know where to stop.

Read on for specific directions on how to reach us from the cities of Santa Cruz and Trinidad:

From Santa Cruz

To get to Ambue Ari Sanctuary, go to the bus terminal (tel. 348-8382) known as 'la terminal bimodal' or 'la nueva terminal'. Once inside the terminal, make your way to the secondary platform called 'corta distancia' by going through the tunnel (under the train tracks). This will take you to the short distance departures. From here you have two recommended options: 

1. The bus company Trans Guarayos Línea 102 has daily departures at 9am, 2pm and 5pm for San Pablo, a town 1.5 hours past the centre. Be sure to tell the ticket seller and bus driver that you are going to WCC Ambue Ari or "El Parque". The journey to the centre takes 6 to 7 hours and costs 45 Bs. Make sure you are not taking any other bus to Guarayos, as this drops you off at the new bus terminal which is located outside of the city. 

The 2pm departures will get you to Ambue Ari after dark so we advise you have a torch ready, walk into camp and we will hear you arrive to organize a bed for you. The 5mp bus gets into Ambue Ari quite late, so if you know you will get a late bus, please get in touch with us on Facebook or email, so we can actually wait for you.

2. There are also many minivans known as 'rapiditos' operated by Estrella del Este that cost 40 to 50 Bs. and are slightly faster (taking 4 to 5 hours). They leave as soon as they fill with seven passengers. On very rare occasions they go all the way to San Pablo and will drop you off directly outside upon request. However, most only go as far as Ascensión de Guarayos, where you will need to take another  "rapidito" towards San Pablo, getting off at  Ambue Ari. 


From Trinidad

To get to Ambue Ari take a mototaxi to 'la parada para San Pablo'. From here you can take a 'rapidito' to San Pablo, the journey takes 1.5 to 2 hours and costs 15 to 25 Bs. Rapiditos leave as soon as they are full.

From San Pablo, take another rapidito headed for Ascensión de Guarayos and ask to be dropped off at Ambue Ari. This final leg of the journey takes 1 to 2 hours and costs 10 to 15 Bs. We recommend leaving Trinidad in the morning to ensure a timely arrival at Ambue Ari.

When you arrive

At the entrance to the centre there is a long pathway that leads into camp, follow that and ask for the Volunteer Coordinator. If they are not around, you will be shown to the office where you can store your luggage. If no one is around camp when you arrive, you can relax on the patio or comedor, where someone will be sure to find you shortly.

At some point, after 5pm you will be assigned a bed and speak to the Volunteer Coordinator. Either that same day or the following day you will be given a tour of the camp and be registered. 

Please do plan to arrive before dark as we have no electricity. We are unable to guarantee you a bed for that night if you do arrive after dark. If you plan to arrive on a Saturday, volunteers have the day off and staff leave camp to have dinner in our local village - if you come on a Saturday please make sure you take the 9am so someone will be in camp to welcome you.


If you have any questions before you arrive, we strongly encourage you to visit our FAQ section. If you have any unanswered questions after reading the FAQs, please feel free to contact us.


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Our Partners

Friends of Inti Wara Yassi (FIWY) is our sister organization in the UK. They have been a major source of support since their founding in 2008. Find out more about FIWY here.

Quest Overseas organizes gap year trips for British and international students. Since 2001, Quest has worked with CIWY to bring much needed volunteers and funds. If you are interested in the programs they have with us, find out more here.

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