Volunteer Experiences - The Bolivia Wildlife Sanctuary!

Volunteer Experiences - The Bolivia Wildlife Sanctuary!

Posted by Connor Whelan on 20th May 2016

Tristan, a veteran of three of our volunteering trips, returned from a three week stay at the Bolivia Wildlife Sanctuary last month and he has been kind enough to tell us all about the project. This is the perfect chance to hear about this amazing sanctuary from a volunteer who has been there and done it!

Bolivia Monkeys

What was the highlight of your trip?

My highlight would be working with the monkeys and just the general feeling of being in South America! There was one monkey called "Bosko" who stood out for me. All of the animals at the sanctuary are there for a reason, and unfortunately that reason is normally a sad one. However, Bosko was the monkey that fell in love with me at first sight. Bosko and I connected straight away, and every morning when I can into the sanctuary he was always very happy to see me. We really became friends!

The refuge is about connecting with nature again, away from technology. Bosko really opened my eyes and showed me the beauty of nature; we didn't speak the same language, but I feel we really understood each other. It was fascinating to see how similar we are to animals.

Are you planning to add to the collection of trips you have been on already?

I would love to do another trip, but as I am a student I will have to see how things play out in the future!

South America Bird

What are your top tips for our future volunteers?

Wow, this is a difficult one because I have so many!

Tips that can be applied to all projects are:

  • Be open minded! This is very important. This is a once in a life time chance so make the best of it!
  • Enjoy your time there; forget home for now as your project is your home for the time being!
  • Be creative! You’re there to help improve the world. I’ve learned a lot about life just by connecting to nature and listening to people who have so much experience with animals. One rule I always live by when travelling is, when travelling, volunteer! I’ve travelled the world at the age of 18. I am lucky that I have had the possibility to do this, as every continent I’ve visited I have seen boys just like me, who will never be able to do this in their entire life. So because I have the chance to do this, I want to give back to the continents I visit. Make sure you make the best out of it!
  • Never be afraid! Travelling can be scary at some points, but don’t be afraid. It will take away the joy of the trip.
  • Travel in groups outside of the project, I did the opposite.
  • Learn the language as the local people really appreciate it and will always help you as a result. Before I visited South America, I did not speak a word of Spanish, and at first it was a real struggle doing seemingly simple things like taking taxi's, ordering food, and going to local communion. Then I started to pick up the language and I began to learn Spanish in my free time at my project and things became a lot easier!
  • Don't take unlicensed taxis! Very important as I lost some cash this way!
  • Take a first aid kit! I always do, take plenty of extra medication, when visiting remote places! I got sick in the jungle and I had to get a taxi driver to bring antibiotics from La Paz to my project which took him 3 hours due to the remoteness of the project.
  • Pack light is my number one rule. When travelling around, you don't want to be carrying a big backpack, and especially not in South America where lots of places are at extremely high altitude!
  • When travelling, take clothing that dries easily.
  • Always carry a wallet below your clothing with essentials in it.
  • Don't forget to be happy. You are about to go discover a new place after all!
  • Love the animals; and always be open to new experiences and challenges.

What was your favourite non-animal activity you did on the project and why was it so good?

Most projects, give you some free time, a few days off from work, and I decided to collected all my free days so that I could go on a week’s leave in Bolivia. I visited; Lake Titicaca in Peru with people I met at the project, took a tour over the salt flats and landscapes, and visited the borders of Chile and the city of La Paz. The Great Projects offers you an amazing canyoning tour or zipline experience, I chose the canyoning which was amazing, as you’re going down waterfalls in the jungle and you may never get to do that anywhere else!

What inspires you to continue to travel to the projects?

When travelling, I don't mind spending some extra on an amazing experience that you never will forget! The Great Projects offers an experience that most agencies don't! A good experience will give you a good feeling about places all around the world, and this is why I continue to travel.

It is clear that Tristan had an amazing time out at the project in Bolivia, and if you would like to see what he experienced first-hand then click here to find out more.

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