Volunteering at Parque Machía | Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi (CIWY)

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Volunteering at Parque Machía

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For information on the sanctuary and its history, visit the Parque Machía page.

For general information on volunteering, including a packing list, requirements and more, see our general information section on volunteering.

Parque Machía consists of 38 hectares of Pre-Andean Amazon Forest located a 10-minute walk from the town of Villa Tunari (a 4 hour drive from Cochabamba).

Strolling through the wild portion of the sanctuary, you can easily spot groups of Capuchin monkeys and squirrel monkeys that have been reintroduced to the wild, as well as butterflies of many colors, birds and other wild animals. From the lookout, high on the mountain, there are beautiful views of the town, the mountain and its rivers. Some of the work areas are at the top of the mountain, so if you are lucky enough to work with spider monkeys or albifrons (white fronted capuchins), you can enjoy daily jungle walks.

Volunteers usually organize for dinner in groups, either going to the restaurants in town, or sharing meals at the cafe or the sanctuary’s shared kitchen. Sometimes special dinners are organized, and bonfires by the river, which can end as a party night at the town’s disco.

A good option to relax on your weekly day off is to visit the Los Tucanes hotel for a delicious pizza and a swim in their spool.

Living near the town has many advantages, but it also brings some inconveniences, such as the noise of the highway and neighboring dogs and roosters.

At Machía we care for a wide variety of animals distributed in different management areas. When you arrive at the sanctuary you will be assigned to an area. Volunteer preferences are taken into consideration, as well as the needs of the sanctuary and the animals. For this reason, we cannot guarantee work in a particular area.

All volunteers working with animals should assist in cleaning, preparing food, and providing enrichment, especially for animals that cannot leave their enclosures. In addition, you will be in charge of specific tasks in the area, as explained below. Please note the minimum stay for each area. It is determined according to the needs of the animals, for their well-being and stability.

AreaAnimalsHoursMinimum commitment timeResponsabilities
Spider Monkey Park AreaSpider MonkeysFrom 7:00 a.m. at 5:30 p.m. With
40 min for breakfast and 1 hour 30 minutes for lunch.
30 nightsMonkey management in runner system and semi-freedom system.
Heaven and Earth AreasCapuchin MonkeysFrom 7:00 a.m. at 5:30 p.m. With
40 min for breakfast and 1 hour 30 minutes for lunch.
15 niightsManagement of monkeys in Heaven with runner system. Management of monkeys in cages with tunnel system for socialization at Earth.
Squirrel Monkeys AreaSquirrel Monkeys From 7:00 a.m. at 5:30 p.m. With
40 min for breakfast and 1 hour 30 minutes for lunch.
30 nightsManagement in enclosure
AvaryBirds and TurtlesFrom 7:00 a.m. at 5:30 p.m. With
40 min for breakfast and 1 hour 30 minutes for lunch.
15 nightsManagement of birds and turtles in cages and outdoors.
Small Animals AreaCoatís, raccons and a tayraFrom 7:00 a.m. at 5:30 p.m. With
40 min for breakfast and 1 hour 30 minutes for lunch.
15 nightsAnimal management in runner system, and enclosures. With jungle walks with the coatis
BalúSpectacled bearFrom 7:00 a.m. at 5:30 p.m. With
40 min for breakfast and 1 hour 30 minutes for lunch.
15 nightsDaily check of Balu's security systems.
You will work in parallel with another area.
ConstructionConstruction and maintenance projects for enclosures and cagesFrom 7:00 a.m. at 5:30 p.m. With
40 min for breakfast and 1 hour 30 minutes for lunch.
15 nightsImprovement of animal facilities and help with construction projects.

*We always try to stick to schedules, but when we have few volunteers, you may end up working a little later.

Volunteers work 6 days a week and have one day off.

Take advantage of your free day to relax in the pool of the hotel “Los Tucanes” with a delicious pizza, take a walk and lose yourself in the cave of the Guácharos in the Carrasco National Park, or simply enjoy the delicious pancake breakfast of Benita and Mariana and bathe in the rivers near the sanctuary.

The volunteer package includes accommodation (with access to kitchen, hot showers, WiFi and use of common areas), coffee or tea for breakfast, lunch, and a CIWY T-shirt.

Volunteer payments also contribute towards the daily expenses of caring for the animals and infrastructure in the three sanctuaries.

Upon arrival you must pay the full cost of the volunteer package, as well as a security deposit and an advance for your expenses in the cafeteria. Please note that we do not accept card payments and that the Villa Tunari ATM does not always have money. We request payment in Bolivianos.

PackageCostSecurity DepositCost per additional night
15 nights1,950 Bs.300 Bs.100 Bs. / night
30 nights3,350 Bs.300 Bs.80 Bs. / night
The security deposit will be returned in full upon completion of a full stay if no damage has occurred.

The advance for the cafeteria is 200 Bs., from which the products you consume, such as breakfasts, snacks and dinners, will be discounted. Any remaining balance will be returned to you at the end of your stay.

In addition to the above fees, keep in mind the following expenses:

  • Second-hand clothes to work (10 Bs. per item in our store or a little more in Villa Tunari)
  • Rubber boots (80 Bs. In Villa Tunari up to size 40; if you have small or large feet, you may have to look for your size in Cochabamba)
  • Food apart from the one covered by the volunteer package (approximately 40 to 60 Bs. per day)
  • Transportation (2 Bs. by motorcycle taxi in Villa Tunari. 10 Bs. by taxi in Villa Tunari, and from 35 to 45 Bs. round trip to Cochabamba in Surubí for your days off)
  • Internet access (free in the sanctuary or from 6 to 8 Bs. per hour in town) and cash for long distance calls.
  • Other miscellaneous expenses.

Accommodation

At Parque Machía, rooms are shared and there is a kitchen and a refrigerator that volunteers can use.

You will receive a set of sheets and a pillow. We advise you to bring your own mosquito net, available for purchase in town. We do not always have blankets or sleeping bags, so we recommend bringing your own, especially in cold weather (May-August). You will need a padlock to close your room during the day.

Rooms are generally shared by four people, and there are two bathrooms with hot showers. Your bed will be assigned based on availability upon arrival. While there are hot showers and electricity, power outages are common, especially during the rainy season. There may be periods during your stay when we are without electricity, hot water, or even running water.

If you want a little more comfort and privacy, there are several hotels and hostels in town. If you choose this option, however, we will still request payment for the full package.

Food

The Sanctuary Cafe serves vegetarian breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. Lunch is included in the volunteer package, as well as a cup of tea or coffee for breakfast.

You can enjoy dinner in one of the many restaurants in Villa Tunari or cook in our kitchen with ingredients from the village market.

Let us know when you arrive if you have any food restrictions, to take it into account when cooking. If you have special dietary needs, we recommend that you bring the food you need, as options may be limited.

Medical resources

There is a small hospital in Villa Tunari and pharmacies carry most of the common medications. If you take any specific or unusual medication, we recommend that you bring enough to cover your entire stay. At the sanctuary we provide first aid in case of an accident.

Internet

Volunteers can use the sanctuary’s Wi-Fi during their free time. In town there are several internet cafes that have better connections.

Banks & ATMs

At the Banco Unión ATM in Villa Tunari you can withdraw cash using international debit cards. The ATM only accepts Visa, not MasterCard.

Sometimes the ATM runs out of cash or is out of service. When this is the case, the best option to withdraw money is to travel to Chimoré (40 minutes by public transport) or go to Western Union in Villa Tunari. Because this can be expensive, we recommend that you bring enough cash to cover the costs of your entire stay. To withdraw large quantities, we recommend going to Cochabamba, Santa Cruz or any other city with reliable access, especially in the rainy season (from October to March).

Other Considerations

The degree of humidity is high throughout the year, so we recommend keeping electronic devices (phones, cameras, computers, and hard drives) in airtight containers or waterproof bags with rice or silica bags to absorb moisture and thus avoid damages. Also, mold is common, especially during the rainy season, and can damage your belongings.

Parque Machía is located in Villa Tunari, on the road that connects Cochabamba and Santa Cruz.

Please try to arrive before 10 pm. If you arrive at dawn, we recommend that you spend the night in a hostel in the town and come to the sanctuary the next morning.

We recommend downloading map applications that work without the internet to help you find the sanctuary. Maps.Me and Google Maps offer this service.

Please read the information below for specific instructions on how to reach us from the most common departure cities:

From La Paz to Parque Machía

From the La Paz Bus Terminal, take any bus to Santa Cruz. Parque Machía is located in Villa Tunari, approximately 6 hours before reaching Santa Cruz. Be sure to tell the bus driver to drop you off at Villa Tunari. The trip lasts approximately 9 to 12 hours and the rate is from 100 to 200 Bs. Once you are in Villa Tunari, ask a motorcycle taxi to take you to Parque Machía.

From Cochabamba to Parque Machía

From Cochabamba there are two ways to get to Villa Tunari:

  1. By minibus or “surubí”: From the Chapare bus stop located at Av. Oquendo, corner of Av. República, you can take a minibus to Villa Tunari. We recommend the company “7 de Junio.” You must tell the driver to drop you off at Parque Machía. The trip lasts approximately 4 hours and the fare is from 35 to 40 Bs. The minibuses leave regularly between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., as soon as they fill up with passengers.
  2. By bus: From the Cochabamba Bus terminal located on Ayacucho Avenue, take a bus to Santa Cruz. You must tell the driver to drop you off at Villa Tunari. The buses generally do not stop at Parque Machía, but rather leave you in town. The trip lasts approximately 5 to 6 hours and the rate is from 50 to 100 Bs. The buses leave at different times; we recommend you take the one in the morning. Once you are in Villa Tunari ask a motorcycle taxi to take you to Parque Machía (2 Bs).
From Santa Cruz to Parque Machía

By bus: From the Bimodal Terminal in Santa Cruz, take a bus to Cochabamba, as it will pass through Villa Tunari. It is very important when buying your ticket to indicate that you will get off at Villa Tunari. Also be sure to remind the driver on the way. There are several bus departures in the morning (between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.) and in the afternoon-evening (between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.). The trip lasts approximately 6 to 7 hours and the rate is from 50 to 100 Bs. Once you are in Villa Tunari, take a motorcycle taxi for 2 Bs to Parque Machía.

When you arrive

Our office and cafeteria are located at the entrance of the sanctuary, on one side of the main road. Enter here and indicate that you are a new volunteer. The volunteer coordinator will welcome you and tell you where you can leave your luggage until you are assigned a room. Then (or the next day if it is late) the volunteer coordinator will give you a tour of the sanctuary, an overview of the rules and assign you to a work area.

Contact

If you have any questions before arriving, we encourage you to visit our FAQ section. If you still have questions, do not hesitate to contact us.