Paul Nel (South Africa)
Working on the Macaw Project was one of the most incredible and rewarding experiences of my life. The research centre is nestled in a remote & practically untouched area of pristine primary growth forest that will make you leap with joy everyday. The birds are amazing to work with and hoisting oneself into the upper reaches of the tree canopy is not to be missed. Working with such knowledgeable & amiable ornithologists was truly enjoyable. The amazon is a magical place and this surely one of the best ways to really experience its majesty. Don't walk around Puerto Maldonado in shorts, a vest & no shoes as you might get dengue fever.
Christina Zdenek (California, USA)
Working as a guacamayera was certainly a very adventurous and rewarding experience that I will never forget. Becoming proficient at identifying over 10 parrot species by their calls, handling big and bitey chicks, climbing 40m trees without thinking twice, and much more within just a few weeks was never something I imagined doing. During my 2 months at TRC, I felt great to be apart of a 22-year long project and feel part of the conservation of endangered macaws in other parts of South America that this research goes to help. Don't get me wrong: we worked long hours in the heat, got bitten by dozens of species of insects and plants, had to battle with hand-washed clothes not drying in the humidity, and I certainly could have done without the microscopic bugs that were biting me from within my clothes....but wow, I still really loved my experience at TRC. The amount of life I saw was everything and more I would expect in the Amazon rainforest: from fancy little birds, to wild-looking frogs, spotlighting for snakes at night, finding wandering anteaters on my way back from a work-session, caimans and capibaras in the river, a jaguar floating down the river, and even a Giant Armadillo poking around at night. Wild, right? See, all that work, sweat, mudd and bites (and all the rest of it) were definitely worth it! Oh, and I didn't even mention all the monkeys!
Meagan Selvig (Hawaii, USA)
Volunteering as a guacamayera was an experience that I would not trade for anything, I only wish I could have stayed longer. Everyday is an adventure, a challenge and a chance to learn more about the incredible plants and animals that you live so intimately with. What better way to learn about the diversity of jungle life then by living in the jungle? Climbing trees, handling wild macaws, counting birds, trekking through mud, daily swarms of bees and the occasional run-away peki-peki (river boat) are some of the aspects that add to your entire experience. The people are great, the conservation implications are applicable and the science is fun!
December 2010-February 2011
Parise Beaupré (Canada)
My experience at the Tambopata Research Center was even better then I had imagined! I got to meet great people from all over (Sweden, Peru, Australia, U.S. etc...). Volunteers, workers and tourists from different backgrounds for sure, but with one common interest: nature conservation. Waking up to Howler Monkeys, observing macaw behaviour on the clay lick, encountering all kinds of creatures (wild hogs, huge turtles, pink-tipped butterflies, etc...) during census walk and maybe even get to see an armadillo and a few weird frogs at night. It was truly a rewarding and memorable experience, one that I would recommend to anyone!
Cristian García (Mexico)
Assisting the Macaw Project has been an unbelievable experience, having the opportunity to work with these gorgeous birds, is something that cannot be done in lots of places but here.
The Macaw Project has been very important for my professional development as a biologist, and also it was a great life-experience. Here, I have met lots of people that now I consider as very close friends, they have been my family all my period at TRC.
I will never forget the daily work, waking up very early to go to the clay-lick, the enormous jungle, the heat, the insects, the peccaries, the fatigue, the amazing climbing activity and seeing those chicks growing, which will be coloring the sky with their beautiful plumage just a short time later. The Chicos!, my adopted sons, they made so much misdeeds just to take a banan and pancakes with them. The food, my staff friends, and much more! The list is very long, but what I meant is: Thanks to all this people, thanks to TRC and thanks to the Tambopata Macaw Project! Your friend “el Cuate” and viva México!!!
Tanja Fröhlich (Germany)
Volunteering at the TRC was such an amazing experience. I loved the claylick and (even more) doing the nest checks. The work was often very hard and challenging, but seeing the macaw chicks grow up was extremely rewarding. I really miss the people, the rainforest and the macaws.
José Luis Sánchez (Lima, Peru)
Tambopata Research Center (TRC) was not only a lodge where I lived for three months, but it was a place where I found good professionals who changed experiences of life and experiences of the work. The Tambopata Macaw Project (TMP) helped me in my career, especially in ecology stuffs, also in phobias that I had like fear of altitude. I worked in more than 30 meters high with my lovely macaws, looking for eggs and holding and measuring their babies, and the same time I trusted my life on my colleagues under me. Those colleagues became my friends I shared Christmas, New year, my birthday with and that made me trust more in them. We worked at the collpa waking up very early in the morning and learning to identify parrots, making walks looking for foraging parrots and finding what they ate. In spite of that the TMP was a hard work, I had a wonderful experience that met with my expectations.
Natalia Piland (USA)
I volunteered at the Tambopata Research Center in January 2010. Waking up to howler monkeys and beautiful scenery to help with one of the most respected long-term studies on macaw and parrot ecology is an experience I wouldn't trade for anything. Whether you are interested in birds, field work, biology, or just need to do something different, volunteering at TRC is an enlightening and well-spent time.
Rafal Gawlyta (Poland)
My name is Rafal and I worked over two months in TRC as a researcher. I can say hundreds stories about the wonderful rainforest, beautiful animals and plants, so amazing macaws with strong character. About the days when at the morning You can watch hundreds of parrots and macaws on the clay lick , during census walk meet peccary and tapir, half day observe macaw families in nests and at evening take night walk and watch hundreds of amphibians during breeding event. I can complain on unpleasant insects, heat and humidity in the air, about truly hard work in forest. In fact during work I had hard moments but this work was also the best time in my life. If ever I will have opportunity to come back and spend time with those great people who decided to do this job I will do it! I recommend this place as the best to proof your qualifications in work on the field as a biologist, personally I can say this place give everyone one more thing: You will be working and living with Very Good People, and this is the best in TRC.
Sarah Thomas (California, USA)
The decision to volunteer at TRC was one of the best I have ever made. It was challenging and rewarding, both personally and professionally. You really feel part of a family there, and you can really sense the difference the Tambopata Macaw Project is making in the area. The wildlife you will come across at TRC is incredible, and it gives you such an appreciation for the biodiversity in the Amazon basin, and makes you really see firsthand why it needs to be protected. The staff at TRC is the best and you also have the unique opportunity to interact with tourists from all over the world. If you have a sense of adventure and love nature, sign up to be part of the research team at TRC, you won't regret it!
Carina Svensson & Anders Zimny (Sweden)
If you are dreaming of being able to contribute to important conservation work as a volunteer, working together with people that share your passion for parrots, nature and other wildlife or if you are just looking to do to something completely different - this is a project that we definitely think you should sign up for!
In 2008, we spent 6 weeks working as volunteers in this incredible place. As biologists and wildlife lovers we couldn’t have asked for more! The Tambopata Research Station is part of a beautiful bamboo lodge that is tucked away in the middle of the jungle in a remote area along the Tambopata River. In terms of a real jungle experience this place offers everything you can dream of. Fantastic nature and wildlife encounters, highly experienced tour guides that happily share their knowledge about the jungle and all the exciting creatures that live there, great traditional Peruvian food, amazing people and tons of fun!
Our days at TRC were filled with excitement from the moment our alarms (Howler monkeys) went off in the early mornings until we went to bed. We got to take part in basically every aspect of the project, which made it a very interesting and rewarding experience. The project is very well organised and the project leaders, Gaby and Donald Brightsmith, are fantastic and passionate people that it is a pleasure to work with and who will ensure that you have a fantastic time as you hang from the trees monitoring Macaw nests or when you are observing the parrots on the nearby clay-lick.
We recommend this project to all of you that are interested in making a difference in terms of conserving wildlife and who isn’t afraid of literally living and being one with nature, challenging physical work, getting dirty and sweaty (and very fit, which is a plus), and being surrounded by buzzing insects.
We had the time of our lives at the TRC together with all the fantastic staff and the other volunteers. It is a really special and rewarding experience that we can guarantee will stay with you forever. We do not regret a second of our time spent at TRC, instead we wish we could have stayed much longer! Thanks for giving us the opportunity to take part of your wonderful and inspiring project!
Katarzyna Sokol (Poland)
I won’t lie when I will say that the time spent in TRC gave me the most powerful experience in my life. I always wanted to see the jungle, and working in TRC gave me this opportunity in the specific way. The way I could participate jungle life more than a tourist. I worked there observing group of the most colourful and noisy birds' species in the world, I worked there with the people you won’t meet every day. Days in the jungle have given me unforgettable memory of sounds, smells and living creatures that are coming to my mind in my dreams. I hope that I will come back there one day...
George Olah (Hungary)
I arrived to TRC first time as a volunteer in June, 2008. Later I became the field leader of TRC for the 2008-2009 breeding season. I gained the most intensive experiences of my life in Peru and I also enjoyed every minute of the work. Maybe that's why I returned doing my PhD in this spectacular part of our World.
You can read my detailed blogs with many photos and videos if you click on the following pictures:
Sandra Smith (Alabama, USA)
My name is Sandra Smith and I am a sixth grade science teacher in Alabama , U.S.A. Before teaching, I spent five years as head avian keeper at a local zoo and have been working with parrots in numerous ways for almost twenty years. I went to Madre de Dios as a tourist in 2005 just to “get my feet wet”. Then I was lucky enough to be able to volunteer at TRC during the summer of 2006. I was very nervous for the first few days as the environment was quite different from the place where I live and working in the rainforest is a little bit different than being a tourist. However, within the first week, I fell completely in love with the place. It is like heaven to me and I enjoy every second I spend there. The scenery is beautiful and there is always some creature lurking around waiting on me to take their picture. After my first trip to TRC, I decided that I was going to do my best to spend as many summers as possible there. I have been back twice since then and will be going for my fifth trip to the area and forth trip as a volunteer this summer. The employees and other volunteers that I have met at TRC have been wonderful. At this point, I feel that some of them are like family to me. Getting up at 4:30 a.m. is very difficult and the work can be hot and tiring, but it is well worth it when you get to see so many rainforest animals. I hope to spend many more days at TRC throughout my lifetime. I understand that walking through the mud and chasing spiders, snakes, and birds is not for everyone, but as for me- I hope that when I die, I will end up in a place as beautiful as Tambopata.
You can find Sandra`s photo pages about Tambopata here:
Michelle Thompson (USA)
I am so sad that I am leaving the rainforest! I had a wonderful time working on the project and learned a lot. Hopefully I contributed a lot as well. Thank you for the opportunity. It was great working around other researchers and guides with various backgrounds because I think we all learned from each other on a daily basis.
Chris Murray (USA)
Volunteer from February - April 2006. Chris loves the rainforest so much he is coming back for the third time during 2007. He has a great passion for all things herpetological - snakes and frogs.
Amanda Giracca (USA)
It´s nice to know my help was appreciated. I consider both my time at Posada and TRC valuable and memorable, an experience like no other that will stand out amongst others.
Tylor Robinson (USA)
Taking part in the Tambopata Macaw Research project was a unique and memorable experience for me. First and foremost it was a intimate encounter with the Amazon rain forest in Peru, and as a wildlife enthusiast a surreal time to experience first hand. In addition, it was a pleasure and an honor to be part of ongoing study of the various macaw and parrot species and to observe the ecological phenomena at the clay licks. It was great making new ties and friendships with fellow researchers and Peruvians a like. The biodiversity was amazing and the people were great, I'm grateful that I didn't miss this opportunity.