This program focuses on the care of our three Andean Spectacled Bears, Aruma, 8 year old male, Tipnis, 5 year old female and Ajayu, 8 year old male.
This is a rare and disappearing species and this program will give you the rare opportunity to enrich the lives of these three gentle giants giving them the time and care they deserve. Please note this program is highly observational and any enrichment will be done under veterinary guidance..
Minimum stay: 28 days
Commitment to respect of project and community
It is extremely important to be aware that La Senda Verde (LSV) is a responsible conservation project. The good relationship between LSV and the surrounding towns and communities has been built through hard work and trust, it is however a delicate relationship that must not be abused.
If you wish to partake in the volunteer program you agree and understand that you are representing LSV at all times and will behave in a responsible manner. This includes NOT drinking in excess and refraining from use or solicitation of any form of drug. You will take this into account when conducting yourself at all times on the premises of LSV and in the surrounding towns and communities. LSV is not a place to rave! Chill out areas are made available for your use and are to be used responsibly. It is strictly forbidden to bring alcohol onto the property; it can be purchased at the sanctuary’s restaurant at a discounted rate and consumed in designated areas. To keep the tranquillity of the refuge for the animals, which are recuperating and are our first priority, there is a strict 7.30pm lock out in order not to disturb and to respect the sleeping animals. You are free to move within the refuge quietly. Volunteers found to be abusing the guidelines will be asked to leave.
Cell Phone Use
We now have phone and internet signal at the refuge. While this technology makes communication much easier, it also creates significant distraction at work, and an impact on our animals’ health and welfare. In order to keep our community spirit, develop and increase our work performance, cell phone use is restricted from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. Our volunteers and staff understand this situation and help by leaving their mobiles for custody during that period at our main office.
Program General Information
Qualifications and Requisites:
- Volunteers need to be hardworking, trustworthy, with a genuine affection, care and love for the animals
- Volunteers must be a minimum of 18 years old
- Motivation, punctuality, reliability and enthusiasm are essential.
- We always need Vets, Vet Nurses, Zootechnicians, or Animal Trainers that are willing to spend some time with us.
- Must be able to dedicated at least 4 weeks (28 days) straight of their time to caring and enriching the lives of these Bears.
- Must be willing to spend 2 hours minimum observing each bear each day, taking notes and reporting to veterinary staff.
Week 1 Volunteers Responsibilities Include:
- Moving through the Rotation Program roster to gain a good feel for the Refuge. Please review the rotational program outline.
- OBSERVATION is a volunteer’s biggest responsibility as this is how we learn to better the life of each animal. A minimum of two hours per day will be devoted to observing and noting details on the animal you are assigned.
- Documenting feeding and behavioural habits.
Week 2-4 Volunteer will be introduced to full time bear care. Responsibilities Include:
- Preparing food and feeding Bears.
- Cleaning enclosures.
- 2 hours minimum of observation of the bears at different times of the day. Then reporting each day to the on sight Veterinarians feeding and behavioural habits of the bears.
- Working with the veterinary staff on enrichment projects to keep the Bears active mentally and physically.
- Conditioning training under veterinary assistance.
- Checking the perimeter and electric fence of the enclosures daily.
- Guiding Aruma Bear tours, sharing his story with guests and tourists whilst observing him have his meal. – Overall helping give these Bears a better life and the attention to detail they need.
*** Please note: You may also be asked to help with the responsibilities mentioned in week 1.
Volunteers are accommodated in the Volunteer House across the river, near the quarantine area, and the Bungalow, cozy wooden shared cabins. Hot showers, laundry facilities, sheets, volunteer keeper’s shirt and towels are provided. Volunteers have to make a refundable deposit of USD 100 or Bs 700 for the following items that will have to be returned the day they leave: volunteer shirt, towel, bedding, room keys and others. Upon request private accommodation can be organized in the Eco-Lodge at discounted rate for volunteers.
La Senda Verde is situated at 1,200 meters above sea level, with 2 seasons, wet (November-March) and dry (April-October). Coroico, the local town has a placid weather with nice sunny, warm days and temperatures between 25 to 30 degrees centigrade. You are welcome to swim in our natural river pools. Some nights are slightly cooler, enough to wear a light jacket. You’ll need a waterproof jacket (wet season) and solid hiking boots during your time here.
Although speaking Spanish is not a must, we encourage people to try to learn some. Bear in mind that almost all of our staff is Bolivian and that making an effort will go a long way to gaining their trust.
WIFI and Phone Connection
- Phone connection is very poor. If you have your own device with sim card, you need to get it from Entel.
- We have internet signal, but no wifi. The service we have is extremely expensive, and slow. We have internet connected in one computer. We charge BOB 10 per hour, BOB 2,50 every 15 minutes.
If you have your own hand held device with sim card, you can sometimes receive enough connection to download emails and send emails from the parking area. You will however not receive enough signal to check Facebook or browse the web. We find the ENTEL phone company gives the best signal in that area. Most volunteers visit the internet cafe in Coroico once per week to communicate with friends and family. Coroico is located 20 minute taxi ride away and costs 40,-BOB each way. Taxi pick up can be organized in the reception area of the refuge, please allow up to one hour for the taxi to arrive.
What to bring
- Working clothes, preferably long pants (you will be working with animals, and you will get dirty). LSV will provide you with a lightweight long sleeve volunteer shirt. It’s a good idea to bring a t-shirt or singlet top to wear underneath, as you will need to remove the volunteer shirt during meal times.
- Bug repellent that does not contain DEET due to the close proximity to the animals
- Sturdy Shoes
- Rubber boots if you are coming during the rainy season (December-March)
- Rain poncho or jacket.
- 1 x Rubber Gloves and 1 x hardware gloves
- Prescribed medication and for the ladies feminine hygiene products as it is most likely you won’t find them in the local town.
- Small personal first aid kit that includes pain relief for minor aches and pains, antihistamine tablets for bug bites and diarrhea medication for upset stomachs.
- We also request volunteers to have a look at our “wish list”link to see if they would like to donate any items to the refuge on their arrival.
All of our animals have had their vaccinations under veterinarian control, thus rabies is not a problem. The larger problem we have is our animals becoming sick from Tourists and Volunteers, so please advise us if you are feeling ill.
On arrival all volunteers are required to take a de-worming tablet. This will rid your body of any parasites that may be living happily in your body but can be life threatening especially to the monkeys that live at the refuge. The cost is Bs60 approx. and the Veterinary staff will administer this. The medication used is called NOXOM 500mg made by INTI. For the safety of the animals you must be willing to take this medication in order to volunteer.
Vaccinations are a personal choice and we do recommend you consult your doctor before traveling to Bolivia or working with animals. The refuge is located in a mosquito free zone and malaria is not present. It’s a good idea to be up to date with your tetanus, hepatitis, and typhoid shots. Some nationalities require a yellow fever vaccination card for entering or exiting the country. Sand flies are present at the refuge and you will need to dress appropriately covering exposed skin to avoid being bitten.
Bolivia is a relatively safe country for travellers. However it is recommended to be cautious and remain aware of your surroundings and your belongings. La Senda Verde is especially safe, but once again please keep your valuables in a safe place and your cabin door locked. Please do not leave clothes drying by the river on the rocks unattended. Your property is your own responsibility and the refuge will not be held responsible for it.
The closest airport when travelling to Senda Verde Animal Refuge, is El Alto International Airport (LPB). It is the main international airport that handles all flight traffic to and from La Paz, Bolivia. El Alto International Airport is located 13km south west of La Paz, La Paz Department, Bolivia.
Private transfers can be organised from the El Alto Airport (LPB) or the La Paz City Centre to Senda Verde Animal Refuge & Eco-Lodge in the Yungas region. Cost: Bs 450 ($65USD approx.) each way. Mini-van seats up 7 people. Duration from Airport to Refuge: 3 hours approx. Duration from La Paz City Centre to Refuge: 2.5 hours approx.
***If you require this service please be sure to book your transfer in advance to your visit.
Costs, Payments and Policies
PAYMENT: Volunteers are required to pay an initial $230 USD non-refundable deposit to secure their place on any program. If staying longer than 2 weeks, payment can be made at the start of each week there after in cash at the refuge in USD or BOB, by making an electronic transfer through our website using Flipcause or into our USA non profit account. Please be sure to include your processing fees when using the online electronic options.
PLEASE NOTE: Online direct deposit to our USA account or through Flipcause should be made prior to arrival as there is no internet signal, credit card or cash machine access in or around the refuge. If you have any questions regarding payment please let us know. BOB 690 of what you pay each week will be placed towards the volunteers 3 meals per day, the remainder will go completely to the animals. Room, hot showers, linen, and laundry facilities are free.
Week 2 – 1575 BOB/$230USD
Week 3 – 1440 BOB /$210USD
Week 4 – 1440 BOB/$210USD
Week 5 – and afterwards 1235 BOB/$180USD
- Beer, soft drinks, ice creams and desserts are not included, but can be purchased at a discounted price in the restaurant.
- Volunteers pay travel and visa expenses.
- Volunteers completing more than two weeks will receive a discount on the volunteer rate after the second week.
PLEASE NOTE: We do not accept credit/debit cards. There is an ATM in the local town, but we suggest bringing cash.
Included in the cost of volunteering are three meals per day.
- Breakfast dish served with fresh fruit juice, bread, jam and butter
- Lunch meal served with lemonade
- Dinner meal, you will need to provide your own refreshment. The kitchen is able to provide meals for vegetarian and vegan diets. Please consult kitchen on arrival as to your dietary needs.
CANCELLATION: If Volunteer cancels their place on the program the initial $230 deposit will NOT be refunded and will be donated to the care of the animals. If further pre-payment has been made and Volunteer cancels their place on the program by written confirmation 7 days or more prior to original confirmed start date a 70% refund will be given on this fee, less online bank processing fees. Cancellation within 7 days of commencement will receive no refund. Confirmed commencement dates can be changed at any time with no fee charged. No refund will be given on changed commencement dates.