Biodiversity Research and Wildlife Release Center Brazil
We are a non-governmental, non-profit organization that develops and supports projects in environmental education and scientific research on biodiversity, ecology as well as on the behavior of species of fauna and flora of Brazilian ecosystems. In addition to the research and education activities, our mission is to encourage conservation, management and sustainable use of natural resources; and promote the development of eco-tourism and cultural projects.
IPBio partnered with a wildlife release center, named FreeWildlifeBrazil Celine, also located on our reserve, which care for wild animals rescued from illegal animal trafficking by environmental authorities, and take steps to reintroduce wildlife to their natural habitat.
Come and volunteer with us so that we can conserve the Atlantic Rainforest and the wildlife within. Below is a list of research as well as other roles IPBio and FreeWildlifeBrazil Celine offers. For more information, download the volunteer package on our website.
- Bioluminescent Mushroom Research: There are approximately 71 species of bioluminescent mushrooms in the world and Iporanga holds 12 species making it the region the highest concentration of bioluminescent mushrooms in the world. IPBio wishes to develop a protocol that allows us to grow them in the lab under controlled conditions. Our cultivation program conducts experiments on: substrate compositions, sterilization method, inoculation method, and fruiting techniques to optimize the process of cultivation
- Amphibian Research: IPBio conducts research on amphibian reproductive habits and embryology. Volunteer accompany the development of tadpoles and frogs in captivity. In addition, we conduct regular inventories of amphibians using pitfalls that are distributed throughout the reserve
- Bioacoustics Research: IPBio received a grant from Wildlife Acoustics whereby they donated 2 bioacoustics recorders and software to analyze the data. We are attempting to understand peak activity times for different species throughout the 24 hours in a day. This study will be conducted over the years to develop monthly/seasonal peak activity period for species. In addition, IPBio wishes to create a `sound bank´ of all the species on the reserve
- Biodiversity Research Assistant: The Biodiversity Research Assistant role can take many forms. Either you will be assigned to: a specific research project as an assistant; split your time between a couple of projects; or assist in all research projects where needed. This role allows volunteers to get a feel for all the research that IPBio conducts.
The Eco-Volunteer role contains a range of activities which are conducted in a group. The majority of these tasks are field activities so this is for volunteers who like to be outside and enjoy physical activity. Not all these projects occur at the same time as various projects are seasonal. Tasks of an eco-volunteer are not limited to the roles below but we have listed the main areas that the eco-volunteer will participate in:
- Tree Inventory: we study the biodiversity in different areas of the reserve to assess forest well-being. In the process we can understand the distribution of fruit tree species which is particularly important for Celine. Why? Imagine you are releasing a parrot which only eats a certain fruit and it only grows between June and July. Therefore you should only release this parrot during these months to ensure it has available food which will increase the chances of a successful release. Moreover, these birds are tagged and monitored after their reintroduction to the wild to ensure they are adapting well and therefore identifying fruit trees in the area will increase the likelihood of finding the bird to monitor their progress
- Garden Day: as a group we help out in the gardening, construction or maintenance of the reserves grounds. This is hard but rewarding work!
- Mushroom Inventory: we search for new species of mushrooms in order to identify them, photograph them and collect their spore prints which are like a mushrooms finger print. In addition, we do searches at night to find bioluminescent mushrooms which light up the floor in an avatar-like fashion
- Tadpole Research: we have various projects related to tadpoles and often we need the help of volunteers to collect these tadpoles
- Bird Inventory: explore the forest strategically in order to inventory species of birds on the reserve as well as understand their distribution patterns and their seasonality.
- Mammal Monitoring via Cameratraps: we have cameras filming 24/7 in the forest but all his data needs to be sorted. Volunteers are tasked with watching the footage, organizing the photos of mammals and identifying the species
- Fish Inventory: many birds are aquatic and live on the banks of rivers waiting to scoop up a fish. We study the biodiversity of fish in order to support the birds Celine releases and sometimes we need to bring them back a tasty snack.
Other volunteer roles:
- Photographers/Movie Producers: IPBio uses cameras for research on wildlife and as a result our biologists developed a passion for photography and filmmaking. Our interest in the interplay of photography, research and education lead to the creation of OBBIO – Observatory for Biodiversity, which captures footage aimed at producing eBooks, documentaries, and educational videos as well as using the images for research purposes. For example, our videos have been sold to Discovery Channel. Videos about the volunteer program are also needed every month as well as great photos for the website
- Reserve Maintenance and Gardening: Our gardener, Rafael, always needs help maintaining the grounds, trails, animal enclosures, vegetable patch and microclimate greenhouse so if you are interested in getting your hands dirty then we always have a job for you. Moreover, we have many gardens so planting flowers and tree as well as watering them and keeping their patches weed-free is essential. This job requires volunteers who are willing to conduct heavy physical activity
- Communications: Help raise awareness about the Institute and its projects. Support our communications by: improving our website and social media; creating informative videos; setting up material to inform students and universities about courses we offer; writing grant and fundraising; seeking partners for our Institution
- Volunteer Coordinator: IPBio currently has a full-time staff member dedicated to the management of the volunteer program, however, with this increase in capacity we are looking for a Volunteer Coordinator who can support the Volunteer Manager in organizing the daily tasks of volunteers. The volunteer coordinator must be able to learn about the various projects quickly and have leadership qualities. The volunteer coordinator is in a position our authority and thus must accept the responsibility that comes with this role.
Email us your CV/resume and clearly state the position (or positions) you are interested in to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get in touch with our volunteer package containing further details!
Biodiversity Research Institute (IPBio) & FreeWildlifeBrazil Celine
Betary Reserve, a 60 hectares preserved area, in 2007 in the municipality of Iporanga
Volunteers must be aged 18 or above as well as speak either English, Spanish or Portuguese at a intermediate level.
Dates of program:
Duration of program:
2 weeks minimum, although longer staying applicants are more likely to be accepted
Adults of both sexes 18+
Volunteers pay 550 reais per week (approx. US$170). This covers your accommodation, full access to the reserve, internet access and the use of any equipment we have related to your project. Volunteers will pay for their own food and cook for themselves. Volunteers are also responsible for paying for any extra costs such as travel costs, visa costs, etc.
Volunteers will stay at the Darwin Guest House, situated on the reserve itself, which accommodates up to 12 people in 8 rooms. All rooms have air conditioning, a closet space and electricity outlets. The house has 3 bathrooms with hot showers, a washing machine and has a fully equipped kitchen. Our town is called the Cave Capital of Brazil so volunteers often visit our state parks to explore the caves. Hike into the dense forest and visits to waterfalls are also common activities. Tubing, big balloons, are used to drift down the rivers, some of the river route are 3 hours long! After work volunteers can swim on the reserve deck, organize dinners, watch movies, read and go wildlife watching. On the weekend we often have a barbecue or organize dinner at a restaurant. Often there are social events or parties in the community that volunteers can go to.
"First of all, I have to say that my three months at the betary reserve have been amongst the best ones of my life. I was there as an amphibian researcher, but this took up less than half of my working time here, the other time I spent together with the eco-volunteers. I always loved the workdays as, even though we worked on a more or less fixed weekly schedule, every day was new and unique in its own way. A big part of this has to do with the mindboggling nature. I think the Atlantic rainforest is greatly underestimated by the wider public. Even I had never even heard of it, Brazil’s rainforest is the Amazon right? But once I arrived here, I knew I was in my own little paradise. It was not only the visit of monkeys or the colorful butterflies everywhere, not even the hummingbirds which are flying around your head like little helicopters, it was the extreme diversity of this place. And because you are volunteering here you live in the forest and through your work you get to interact with the place like no holiday ever can. You start learning the scientific names of a variety of sighted birds, search for macroinvertebrates or just help weeding in the greenhouse. You can feel that your work is valuable and needed and it is apparent that every volunteer makes a contribution to sustaining this wonderful place. As an amphibian researcher I started getting attached to the frogs in our care and see tadpoles grow, and all of this in the name of scientific research and the conservation of this unique place. Of course, it is a non-profit organization and it doesn’t have the facilities an established university has, but we have the dedication to improvise and make it work. The living space was surprisingly comfortable with a working kitchen, a sofa and TV, the rooms have either AC od a fan and the beds are made every week. The weekend activities made the experience complete, whether it was going downriver on a boia or hiking to a cave or going to swim with dolphins in Cananeia! I have fallen in love with this place, with the stars during the night, the people, the bioluminescent mushrooms and everything else! Leaving IPBio is definitely the hardest thing I have done in my gap year."- Eva Van Gelder
"I have always known that I would like Brazil even before my first visit. From what I learnt about the culture, wildlife and vast rainforest it seemed a perfect fit. I am 29 years old and well-travelled but spent the last 10 years working in London behind a desk. After making it out the other side unharmed from a life-threatening accident I realised how fragile life is. I asked myself the question “how much am I enjoying the life I am living now, do I want to be here in 10 years’ time?” I look across the tube on my Monday commute see no smiles. At that point, I decided I needed a change. I had never been to South America, and Brazil seemed an obvious choice. I was always happiest when I was younger, outdoors among nature, animals and fresh air. I was concerned that I have no academic experience in any of these areas. I studied Business at university and had worked in an office ever since. I came across IPBIO online and it seemed the perfect mix, with the ability to get involved in all aspects of the charity, in the middle of one of the most endangered rain forests in the world. After signing up online I had a Skype call with Imran (the volunteer coordinator) who put me at ease about my lack of relevant experience and academia. Once we were both happy I was accepted to stay for a period of 6 months. I estimated that I would be away from the UK for around 11 months in total. I had the opportunity to take a cargo ship from Europe to Brazil. This was an amazing experience, with a total of 4 passengers on board I gave me the head space I needed in order to focus on what I wanted to get out of my stay at Ipbio. I met up with a couple of the other new volunteers in Sao Paulo and we travelled via bus to the reserve the following morning. Before arriving at the reserve, we passed through the National park and the views are breathtaking. Shortly after we were greeted by Imran and Marleen at the bus stop for the reserve. Walking into the reserve I was anxious about what my home for the next 6 months would be like. We crossed a wooden bridge over a stunning river which runs through the reserve I exhaled as my anxiety fled my body. It was beautiful. I was fortunate that the new volunteer building had been finished that week and we were the first group able to stay there. The new building was perfect. Nice open kitchen for everyone to be social in the evening and I had a private bedroom with air conditioning which could make me relate to an English winters morning. That night the volunteer which had been there for a few weeks already, took us on a tour of the reserve. My favourite area was the swimming deck with the crystal clear waters running underneath and rainforest all around. We were also taken to the Aquarium area where we could see bioluminescent larva and frogs at night. I knew I was in the place I needed to be. My work at Ipbio was unique and mainly self-designed with Imran approval. As I had worked in Marketing, advertising and communications I wanted to offer my expertise where I could. I helped with the organic growth of their social media platforms. The images taken by the Biologists and volunteers were stunning so I decided they should be utilised more. I created a new revenue stream for the charity and now the images can be purchased online. I also own a drone and achieved my commercial license back in the UK. The area is perfect for drone use and the views are absolutely stunning. One of the highlights was being able to film dolphins hunting on a weekend trip to Canenaia. I was also involved in all other daily activities such as gardening which I enjoyed the physical challenges of, Pitfalls which includes long hikes through the forest and fish inventory (a personal favourite). In the evenings the Volunteers have the freedom of the reserve to ourselves. It is an amazing place just to walk around, you never know what you will see. There is a large diverse range of animals from frogs, snakes, monkeys and large lizards. At night there is also the delight and excitement of seeing the forest floor light up with bioluminescent mushrooms, a truly magical and unforgettable sight. When we wanted some downtime to relax, next door has a bar and pool table or we would play one of many card games in the house. The weekends involved a mixture of activities from visiting caves, repelling down waterfalls, Boya cross and trips to the beach at Canenaia. Repelling down the waterfalls and seeing dolphins at Canenaia were my particular highlights. I also appreciated the flexibility to take long weekends for trips to places like Rio or Iguazu Falls. Iporanga is a small town but a very safe place. The locals appreciate Ipbio and meeting people from all over the world. There are 4 supermarkets in town, take the “super” with a pinch of salt. I have also enjoyed a number of nights out in Iporanga with the volunteers, there are three or four bars and a few restaurants. Some of the bars stay open until 5am and the walkabout to the reserve is around 40 minutes but with the sun rising I would recommend it. If you are planning on visiting for a long duration like myself I would recommend using the Christmas break to explore more of South America and renewing your visa. This also meant that I was able to be in Brazil for the carnival, we spent three days in Canenaia. I much preferred this over the crowds of Rio. It was a very relaxed atmosphere with food drinks and dancing in the street. There was a parade every night and some amazing drumming throughout. The only downside was our dancing compared to the locals. Because of my drone and aerial photography ability I was invited on a trip to the new reserve in the Amazon. It’s difficult to describe the natural beauty of the area, with trees bigger than you can imagine and rivers wider than the eye can see. My two highlights of the trip was a 20km hike through the rainforest, we managed to spot three different species of monkey on the trail and at the top of the hike was a tree which the size of the trunk was the equivalent to 36 people holding hands around. Another highlight was the stunning sunsets. Honestly the most beautiful sunsets I have ever laid eyes on. So now I am writing this with only a few days left at the reserve. The experience has been life-changing. So much so that I plan to come back to Brazil and live for the foreseeable. I am happier, healthier now than I can remember. I have made some friends for life and definitely had some unforgettable moments. If you are reading this and considering going to Ipbio I couldn’t recommend it enough. On my return to Brazil, I plan to buy some land in the Amazon region and move into the hospitality and tourism sector in order for people to experience what I have seen during my time here. If everything goes to plan, hopefully, I will be working closely with Ipbio in Brazil and supporting them whenever possible. The founder of Ipbio has been of great in helping me make my next strides and becoming a part of Brazil. I couldn’t thank him and Ipbio enough for everything they have done."- Joseph Newnham
"I’m Matt from Wales and I spent eight weeks working in the frog lab and setting up a camera trap project. My time at the project has been filled with fun and learning at every stage. From hiking through the forest to check for amphibians in the pitfall traps, to studying disease in tadpoles in the lab. The staff at the reserve are extremely friendly and always happy to assist in any way they can; they know a huge amount about the native fauna and flora so ask many questions! The facilities at the reserve are very good, and the volunteer house is clean and comfortable. The number of volunteers present at any time is perfect. There are many opportunities for weekend activities; including swimming beneath waterfalls, exploring huge caves, and if you’re here in early March – Carnival! I recommend you bring plenty of mosquito repellent, and arrive with a desire to immerse yourself in the forest and have an awesome time!"- Matt Owen
"I visited Betary reserve for five weeks in January and February. It was honestly the most amazing experience and I only wish I could of stayed longer. I am an ecologist, and have therefore used some of the techniques that were used through my education and work, however I still felt very challenged and learned a lot. I never thought I’d be able to do something like this because I would get too anxious or homesick but the staff are so supportive, and you are kept so busy and physically active that there is really no worries of this and the time literally flew by. I loved the house, it always had a great social atmosphere and whilst the WIFI was slow, having aircon and WIFI in the jungle felt very deluxe. If you love being in nature, and don’t mind getting muddy, I would definitely do this volunteer programme!!"- Jennie Fincham
"Volunteering at the Betary Reserve was one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I’m so happy with myself that I chose to do this program. I had recently finished my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science but am starting my masters in conservation this year and this month being an eco-volunteer was the perfect start to my new life chapter. I feel like I really have learnt a lot about ecology while being here and have gained some applicable skills. The volunteer house has everything you would need (including WIFI) and is quite nice considering it’s also not too expensive to stay here. The staff are very vegan/vegetarian conscious which made me so happy and I had so much amazing traditional vegan food here! I’m 22 and most of the group was very similar to my age and it was such a heart-warming experience to spend a month living with like-minded wildlife/nature lovers. Overall, I would highly recommend the experience if you love being in nature; even if you have no background in biology. I would suggest staying for a long period of time and also learning a bit of Portuguese before you come so you can communicate better with some of the biologists here and get the most out of your time."- Amy Aquilina
"I volunteered at Betary Reserve for three weeks to make an Institutional video about the release center. I’m doctor based in Buenos Aires and I wanted to really do something about conservation and this was just what I was expecting. It was an incredible experience working with my husband, all the staff and volunteers, that were so helpful to us during our time there. The biologists there are amazing persons and really help us in the video with the incredible footage of birds and others animals that can be found in the reserve and the entire park. The reserve is a beautiful place, with it’s aquarium, green house and the incredible deck in the river, you can live the rainforest like nowhere else. Thanks to this program I want to do more nature related volunteer work around the globe."- Priscila Vaudagna
"My wife and I volunteered at Betary Reserve for three weeks to make a institutional video for one of the areas of the reserve. The whole time spent there was a gratifying experience. All of the reserve staff were super helpful to us during our shooting and editing of the video, and that made the work much more easier. The reserve itself, with great infrastructure and amazing landscapes, grant us the opportunity to see really cool animals, birds, fishes, trees, and the list go on. I really recommend that anyone interested in filming or photography nature contact the reserve and let your talent help an important cause."- Humberto Paytuvi
"Spending the last two months as an “eco-volunteer” has been outstanding. While the projects the volunteers are involved in are not lab-based nor consist of serious field-work/research as I had hoped, they were still enjoyable and I had fun each and every day of “work”. I wish I had invested more time in learning Portuguese before arriving, but both the staff at Reserva Betary and the locals of Iporanga are encouraging and will patiently listen to your best Portuguese attempt and try to figure out what you’re saying. The staff here are all wonderful human beings and are friendly and caring enough to make the Grinch’s heart grow an extra size. In addition to the staff, the other volunteers I was living with in my time here were nothing short of amazing. My time spent with all these people quickly became more valued to me than the work experience I had been expecting. Living on the grounds of the reserve is a once in a lifetime experience to be surrounded by so much natural beauty; eating breakfasts with hummingbirds around you, having a natural aquarium with turtles and fish steps away, or exploring the greenhouse for the dozens of frogs croaking at night, it has been a dream. And, with all of this, the small but beautiful town of Iporanga is just a ~10 minute drive away (groceries came out to about 30 Canadian dollars a week). The Reserve is isolated but the journey to airports in Sao Paulo or Santos is efficient and doable in less than one day, so travelling before/after/while staying here is very easily achievable. The pitfalls program here was my favourite aspect of the work and only runs in the summer season, if possible I would recommend coming during that period if you enjoy some hiking and getting a firsthand look at the wildlife here! Additionally, Imran is a very good manager and the volunteer program would simply not be the same without him."- Ben O'Flynn
"One of my goals in volunteering at the Betary Reserve was to gain life experience, develop life skills, and mature as a person. In this regard, volunteering at the Betary Reserve has been invaluable. Living on my own without the safety net of my parents forced me to learn how to cook and take care of myself. Being forced out of my comfort zone led to much personal growth and has resulting in me leading a more adventurous lifestyle. My second goal in volunteering at the reserve was to figure out whether I want to pursue a career in the environmental science field, and what career in that field appeals to me. I went into the experience expecting more interaction with the scientists and more data analysis than I got, though it must be noted that that was a misunderstanding on my part in addition to something that the reserve should probably make clearer. The purpose of the Betary Reserve is to gather scientific data which is sent to partner universities for analysis and use in research. Due to the nature of this relationship, as a volunteer I did very little analysis, which was a bit disappointing since I wanted to get a wider range of experience at different parts of the process. While the reserve’s staff includes a handful of biologists, we didn’t interact with them in our duties. The one scientist we worked with was an amazing and knowledgeable post-graduate who specialized in mushrooms. An environmental technician is the career most closely matching the data collection focused volunteer work we did, and while the projects were interesting and enjoyable, I can’t see myself doing it for the rest of my life. I wanted to be involved with the research applying the collected data, and without that involvement, I found it hard to be engaged with certain projects. This was a sentiment shared by some of my fellow volunteers. The volunteer coordinator was a volunteer turned staff member, and not being a scientist, wasn’t able to answer many in depth questions regarding the application of the data. In addition to my role as an eco-volunteer, I did photography for the reserve, taking nature shots and candid photos of my fellow volunteers for use in promotional material. Taking pictures for the reserve was very enjoyable and gave me access to thousands of great photo-ops. After two months of taking pictures at the reserve and in town, I still have a long list of places and things I want to photograph. A review of my experience would be incomplete without mentioning my fellow volunteers. I believe that the people who spend their time and money to help the world are good people, and the volunteers I met on the reserve reinforced that belief. Every volunteer I met was from a different country and their ages ranged from an 18-year-old to a 32-year-old, and yet we all got along and formed a strong group dynamic that supported each other and made the experience very enjoyable. In the evenings we would play card games or go to a nearby hostel to relax and eat a buffet dinner, and on weekends we hiked to caves or waterfalls, up rivers, or into the nearby town. The weekend often involved drinking games, but there was never any peer pressure directed at those like myself who didn’t drink alcohol, and we were included in the games. I have certainly made lifelong friends during this adventure. A review of volunteering with the Betary Reserve would also be incomplete without mentioning the staggering abundance of nature found in the buffer zone. I really like Brazil, and specifically like the local town - a 10-minute drive from the reserve - Iporanga. Although it is a poor area of an economically disadvantaged nation, everybody in the town is extremely friendly and hospitable. The reserve itself is an enjoyable environment to work in, and every night I would go out to the ponds or greenhouse to look for and photograph tree frogs, aquatic spiders, and metamorphosing dragonflies. Although I did this almost every evening for two months, it never stopped being amazing. At the ponds are bioluminescent mosquito larvae which turn the pond into a wonderland of lights, mosquitoes in the water, and fireflies above. Above the fireflies are the stars. I’ve never seen so many stars in my life. The reserve really is out in the middle of nowhere, which is evident when you look up and see no air pollution or light pollution. While certain features of the climate (mosquitoes and high humidity) are undesirable, they are overshadowed by the abundance of life that results from the climate and geography of the area. This place truly is amazing, and no review can entirely capture how valuable and enjoyable the experience was for me. I am considering returning to volunteer here in the future but focusing on photography as a media-volunteer. I have done a lot of traveling, and this is one of the places I want to go back to, to photograph like crazy, and to explore. I feel a connection to this place."- Kyle Eaton
"Being a Photographer by profession, coming to the Betary Reserve was the best move I could have made. There are so many incredible animals living in the Atlantic Forest – never mind the gorgeous landscapes. Every step you take, every way you look, you’re going to see a beautiful picture. You can find anything from Toucans and Hummingbirds, to large snakes, monkeys and Armadillos to glowing mushrooms and colourful flowers in every season. But even aside from that, it was an incredible experience. There are so many things to see in the area, from waterfalls to caves and forest trails. You can go down tubing on the river, go on a day trip to the sea and swim with dolphins, or just spend some time in Iporanga, going to town parties or dinner. While I had the advantage of speaking some Portuguese, it’s really not necessary. The people here are some of the friendliest I have ever come across, and I have watched with amusement as English speaking Volunteers managed to have full on conversations with Brazilian people speaking Portuguese and somehow still managed to make themselves understood. I have fallen in love with Brazil, and the Atlantic Forest in particular in the three months I spent here, which made my decision to return for a full year all the easier. I want to see Iporanga and the Betary Reserve throughout all seasons and be a part of the wonderful mission of uncovering nature’s secrets in order to preserve it and try to show the rest of the world that it is something worth protecting through my photographs."- Janina Franck
"The Betary Reserve is a beautiful place, full of colourful birds, bugs, plants, trees, fungi and creatures that you get to see every day whilst working on different projects to protect or investigate them. The Mata Atlántica is an amazingly biodiverse place and there is so little of it left, so the work going on in reserves like Betary is really important. It was great to have the opportunity to be a part of it, lovely to just walk in it, and the staff and volunteers were really friendly and enthusiastic and the activities were well organised, even including some extra-curricular tourist trips to visit interesting places in the area with amazing caves, rivers, etc. I hope to go back to the Atlantic Forest soon!"- Neda Berardone
"After finishing my masters in Aquatic Science I knew I wanted to work in Conservation. However, after applying for a few jobs in the Conservation Sector I realised my CV had some key skills missing for me to succeed. That’s why I signed up to be an Eco-Volunteer at the Betary Reserve and it has really paid off. As I come to the end of the 2 months I have spent here the array of skills I have built up is amazing. Learning how to monitor species of all kinds from Fish and Amphibians to Plants and Mushrooms, I have also gained confidence in these techniques from routine practise. I had the opportunity to develop a Pond Habitat Monitoring Programme as well and gained experience in how to lead volunteers. It would have been much more difficult to get this experience back home in the UK. There are endless opportunities here and if you have the time come and take advantage of them! I only wish I could stay longer, I am still in awe of the beauty of my surroundings every day and will miss having breakfast surrounded by hummingbirds and toucans when I am back in England!"- Lily Unger
"The hardest thing about coming to Ipbio was leaving. The work is really enjoyable as your new home will be in the middle of the Atlantic forest itself, tucked away from the city life and surrounded by an abundant of wildlife. As everyone has their part in learning more about what lies inside the Atlantic forest, my job was to document the work being done by videotaping and photographing the other volunteers research as well as documenting all the activities we do on our free time. Iporanga where Ipbio is located is the capital of caves in Brasil, along with exploring multiple caves we got to check out incredible trails with hidden waterfalls and make many new friends along the way. There is so much history in this town as it was one of the first settlement towns in Brasil. Being a photographer I’ve been in heaven with all the nature around me to photograph as well as the history and people I’ve meet. The people in this town are one of the nicest people I’ve meet, and although many don’t speak English they will make sure to find a way to make you feel welcomed. The people working at Ipbio are also all amazing, everyone is so passionate on what they focus on and its really inspiring, and they are really interested in the work your providing as well so it’s an all great atmosphere and a great place to volunteer. if your into adventures and loving what you do everyday look no further, this place will treat you to one of the best experiences in your life and I personally can’t wait to return."- Kelany Knupp
"It was such a nice experience for me in the middle of the Atlantic Rainforest at IPBIO that words won’t do justice to describe my stay there. The staff members and everyone else who is connected to this organisation is so incredible nice and helpful. From the beginning till the end of my stay I've always felt supported and solutions were tried to be found for any concern as quickly as possible. The surroundings in which IPBIO is located are incredible. The Atlantic Rainforest is absolutely beautiful in its abundance and richness of fauna and flora. Every day there was a new surprise of another beautiful plant or animal being discovered by my amazed eyes. I worked there as an eco volunteer and I simply loved my work. I was mainly helping carrying out research studies with tadpoles and frogs but I've also participated in a lot of other projects like habitat monitoring, tree inventory or bird monitoring (I was really bad at getting pictures of birds but it was fun anyway). I was lucky to be there at the same time with a lot of other wonderful people from all over the world, and also thanks to them my stay was such a unique experience. thanks a lot guys :-)!!"- Elfi Gahleitner
"I spent 4 weeks as a biodiversity research assistant at IPBio. My role involved spending half my time carrying out the amphibian research projects and the other half helping with the general eco-volunteer projects (e.g. bird inventory, tree inventory, mushroom inventory, fresh water habitat monitoring, reviewing camera trap footage). The programme was very well organised and everything turned out according to plan and as prescribed. The volunteer co-ordinators Imran and Marleen, as well as all the other staff, are friendly and helpful. There is a positive attitude and things get done quickly and effectively. The work was varied and interesting. There was a good mix of practical field work with time spent in the lab. It taught me to take an even closer look at the natural world around me and appreciate the smaller things in the forest, which I will take forward with me. My only bit of criticism is that I felt the studies were not all scientifically rigorous (e.g. variable such as number of people collecting data not controlled) and it was also not always clear what the purpose or end goal was for some projects. As the organisation continues to develop (which it will, it's run by enthusiastic and forward thinking people) I would like to see closer links fostered with universities and research groups to create more rigorous work with a higer impact. The setting is wonderful surrounded by beautiful Atlantic forest and far from the city. The reserve itself used to be farmland and it is amazing to see how nature has reclaimed the land. I also loved exploring the local town Iporanga which is not on the tourist trail and gives you a feel for real small town Brazil - horse is a common form of transport! The social scene was excellent and I really enjoyed getting to know other volunteers from around the world. You quickly make friendships that make the experience. There are opportunities to do get trips to caves, waterfalls and the coast on weekends. All in all a great and worthwhile experience."- Chris B
"I volunteered at IPBio as a video editor/videographer for and I must say that I truly recommend this wonderful place to anyone who is looking for an enriching experience in the jungle. Coming from the bay area in California, the change in scenery and environment was something I was really looking forward to. The process of getting there and being introduced to the place was all very streamlined and quite simple to do. At first I was very anxious, however once I got off the bus and met with Marleen and Imran, I felt instantly comfortable and excited to get started. I was editing a documentary style video for IPBio so my weekdays were spent mainly working on that. However if I thought I had the time, I joined the Eco-volunteers in mushroom hunting and other activities! Every weekend I spent there was breathtaking; from towering waterfalls to cathedral like caves, my mouth dropped open each time at every destination and it made me fall in love with Brazil more and more. I honestly never felt safer here and within the three weeks I was there (I regret not staying longer!) I already felt part of the community within the reserve as well as the small community in the nearby town, Iporanga. The hospitality and kindness of the people there truly made my time there so amazing and memorable. If you are on the brink of deciding whether you should come here, I urge you to do so and if you were deciding the length of time to stay, I advise you to go big because time passes so so fast here it’s honestly hard to wrap my mind around!"- Jalitaa Chen
"I stayed 4 weeks at IPBIO and if I could, I would have stayed more. This experience is both a volunteer experience helping IPBIO in research about biodiversity, but also a good trip. I mean the stay here was great. I was pleasantly surprised by the landscape, the colourful birds, in particular the hummingbirds, during the breakfast on the terrace and the reserve’s beauty. People are friendly here; the local people are amazingly welcoming and smiling all the time, volunteers are all great - what a wonderful way to enjoy free time. The staff is really nice even if I couldn’t speak Portuguese, they were always cheerful and friendly. During the weekend you can visit the region where there are a lot of caves and waterfalls. You can go Tubing on the river, hiking and swimming; there is a deck on the river just next to the volunteer house. The accommodations are great, there are some private rooms, several bathrooms, and a new kitchen for the volunteers is under construction. A lounge for the volunteers to enjoy the evening playing cards, reading or for movie nights also exists. It’s all more than you need. I worked on the amphibian research, collecting data about a deadly fungus on tadpoles and also participated in taking inventory of trees, birds, mushrooms, or also do habitat monitoring, plant seeds to cultivate trees. In other words, the activities are diverse. Whatever your motivations; taking pictures, help biodiversity, travel or just have a good experience, it will meet your expectations."- Mathieu Comba
"At the Atlantic Forest Betary Reserve Field Station the work was enjoyable and rewarding and the staff and locals are all very friendly and welcoming. By the end of my stay everyone felt like family. I always had the weekends to look forward to because there were so many tourist activities to take part in and there was always a BBQ happening somewhere. I was a mushroom volunteer researcher for 6 months and I spent the majority of my work week developing methods for growing bioluminescent mushroom species endemic to the Atlantic Forest in conjunction with a lab at Sao Paolo University. Another main part of my work was helping to implement a mushroom inventory process for the reserve to begin to collect, identify and catalogue mushroom species and track and maintain mushroom biodiversity. I completed scientific article research to gain updated and background information on current mushroom species identified in the Atlantic Forest and growing methods across many different cultivated and non-cultivated species. I worked to maintain mushroom mycelium cultures by replication involving media preparation, clean room, Laminar flow hood and autoclave use and sterilization practices. I helped support the Volunteer Manager with integrating and familiarizing new volunteers with the reserve and field station. Aside from all this I had the opportunity to support multiple projects including amphibian monitoring of Bd fungus effects, bioacoustics tracking, camera trap tracking, tree inventory, habitat monitoring of ponds, fish inventory of local stream, aquaponics system setup and gardening tasks. I definitely recommend IPBIO!"- Michael Salgado
"I somehow stumbled across volunteering at the reserve online whilst looking for a fun/productive way to spend my summer and I am so thankful that I did! I’m a Geography and SD major from the UK so I was drawn to the programme because of the range of activities available across trees, mammals, birds, mushrooms and amphibians, all set within the Atlantic Forest. I have loved waking up knowing that my work would be different each day with some projects more relaxed than others and some work being weather dependent (i.e. fish inventory typically on sunny days). My favourite projects have been those that mean I can go into the forest such as tree, mushroom and bird inventories. Every time I go into the forest I see something amazing- whether that is a giant toad, cool mushroom or for those lucky enough- monkeys!! I would highly recommend volunteering at the reserve to anyone with an interest in the environment- you don’t have to be a scientist- just someone who can appreciate the natural world around them. Outside of project work, I have loved getting to know the other volunteers from around the world and the amazing staff, who go above and beyond to make your time here as enjoyable as possible. Spending my evenings and weekends with the other volunteers here has been the highlight of my trip with many incredible visits to the caves around Iporanga, a trip to Cananeia to see the dolphins, group cooking sessions, meals out and so much laughter. I have enjoyed every second and want to say a massive thank you to everyone who I have met here for making my experience one that I will never forget! Obrigada!!"- Carys Richards
"As long as I call myself an environmentalist, the Betary Reserve was the best place for me to spend my summer break. I’ve stayed here a month, but I wish I had more time to spend in this beautiful place. The first thing that you notice is the endless green that surrounds you in the road from Apiai to the Reserve and, even if you think that nothing can be better than that, it’s just the beginning. Animals of every specie and size, plants of every colour and shape, bioluminescent mushrooms, stars as bright as the daylight, amazing people from all over the world that share with you their aim to help the Atlantic forest to mantain its biodiversity, which is threatened by human activities. Every day a different topic, a new discovery, a new thing that you didn’t know and becomes part of your personal formation. And not far from this natural paradise, there’s a little village full of culture and traditions, which are divulged by the people that live there (wonderful people that are happy to chat and have fun with you, and even if they don’t speak English they make their best to express themselves). The Atlantic forest is the best place I’ve ever been and, in my opinion, the best way to live it is choosing the Betary Reserve: you can enjoy it while you help it, learning new things and new people, without loosing anything of its indescribable beauty."- Francesca Cosimetti
"I stayed at the Betary Reserve for about 10 weeks from June to August. This has been such an amazing experience. The people here definitely made the stay what it was - Imran and Marleen are both great to work for, the staff has been super friendly, and the other volunteers have made this trip what it was. I do not speak any Portuguese, so it was not always easy to communicate with the others who work here, but they made an effort to engage which was super nice of all of them. The science done here is not super rigorous, so if you are looking to gain lab skills this might not be the best place for you. But if you are looking to understand the enjoyment, as well as challenges, of doing field science this is a great place. For the most part, the Betary Reserve provides a chill work environment. The work is not super physically or mentally demanding, and not all the projects feel as purposeful as others, but they were all enjoyable. I was here in the winter, so it wasn't very hot, humid, or rainy, but it should be mentioned that the winter down here can get cold. I definitely did not prepare the best for this, so if you come in the winter I would suggest a decently warm sweater or jacket (some nights I would need to wear all of my clothes to stay warm - but luckily most days and nights were not too bad). The volunteer home is nice (and currently a new one is being built). I had a private room in a dorm style living space - although there are some shared rooms and it seems that it is just the luck of the draw on which one you get placed in. We have access to a laundry machine, and even in the winter, the clothes dried pretty well outside (sunny days help). The weekend activities range from hiking through caves and waterfalls to town parties in the small, yet surprisingly social and fun town of Iporanga. I would definitely recommend the Betary Reserve as a volunteer experience! (This is an honest review, but it should be mentioned that we are guided and given time in the last week to write reviews so that future volunteers can have a better picture of the work and experiences created at the Betary Reserve)."- GABY JERZ
"When recalling my experience at The Betary Reserve, I can’t help but smile so big. The time spent trekking through the North Atlantic Forrest collecting data on its diverse wildlife and plant life were some of the best memories I have. Its truly a hands on experience. If you like to get out into the wild. This is the volunteer experience for you. I also want to make note that one of the greatest unexpected things that will happen is you will form amazing bonds with fellow volunteers and staff members of the reserve, not to mention the incredible people of Iporanga. Please go, and learn, and create memories that will last a lifetime."- Lloyd Vines
"Hello Everyone, I am an Environmental Engineering major from Miami Florida and my last two months have been spent volunteering at Betary Reserve. The position that I undertook coming in was a Biological Research Assistant, this is a more specialized role in comparison to one of the other options such as eco-volunteer. Let me run through a typical day at the Reserve, we start our mornings at 9am with a group meeting detailing the task which we will be doing. In the morning the volunteers are usually together working on different inventory projects, some of the inventory are fish, tree, bird, mushroom, and habitat monitoring. In the afternoons I had a specialized project in which I was working with amphibians and was studying the effects of a deadly fungus called BD for short. It was great lab work experience and I really enjoyed my time working on these projects. The facilities at Betary Reserve were beyond amazing and they are just finishing up the new volunteer guest house which will be a great addition to the program. If you are looking for an organization to do research or gain some insight on what biological field research looks like than it will be a great fit. The staff is extremely friendly and I would consider them close friends after two months of being here. The volunteer coordinator goes above and beyond the call of duty and has been extremely helpful with even the smallest of inconveniences. Overall my time at Betary Reserve is one that I will never forget, the small town community, research experience, and working for a NGO that is making a difference is one that I will never forget."- Dayron Sanchez
"Volunteering in the rainforest? Yes! Abundance of interesting, rewarding field work? Heck ya! Weekend trips visiting waterfalls, caves, beach and river tubing? You bet! AND affordable?? How good could it get at Betary Reserve?! All these reasons and more contributed to my more than incredible experience for the month I spent with IPBio and Celine at the Reserve. I worked as an eco-volunteer, meaning I participated in variety of programs they offered: tree inventory, amphibian research, bioluminescent mushroom research, gardening, bird and fish inventory. My favorites were gardening and tree inventory (I looked forward to this as I study Horticulture), and my love for bird inventory surprised but delighted me (for this we spend a few hours making our way through the jungle looking for birds to photograph for records/cataloging, extremely meditative and peaceful). All the work is fun, regardless, and the program is nice in that we do different work each day of the week, so it never feels tedious or repetitive. I mean, you’re also working in the middle of the Atlantic Forest, so there’s little complaint to be made. The volunteer coordination is also pretty on top of their agenda, so the program flowed real well, and through the busy days there definitely was some valuable experience gained in research methods and studying biodiversity, pretty good stuff. It should be said however, that there is a fair amount of downtime, and while the work is structured, if you are looking for a more rigorous volunteering program this may not be the one. Also, it focuses more on field work than harder laboratory/science/biology practice, but is still good experience. As for the living situation, oh man let me tell you it is real nice. The volunteer house is fully furnished, surprisingly with hot showers, and the kitchen is fully stocked and working. The staff and other volunteers were all incredible, helpful, supportive, welcoming and fun. I felt safe, comfortable and happy here. So, so, so, happy. One of my favorite memories is every morning walking outside and seeing this enormous mountain behind the reserve covered in fog and mist, greeted with these unbelievably brilliantly colorful birds, a beautiful scene to start the day out right. So, almost needless to say, I had the time of my life, balancing work and fun, enjoying my days in Brazil, each day better than the last and exceeding my expectations more than I could imagine. I highly, highly recommend volunteering with Betary Reserve, even if you are the tiniest smidgeon interested in it. They definitely could use your help, and the program is absolutely wonderful."- Olivia Gray
"The projects that we work on here at Betary Reserve are very educational and fun. From tagging trees to monitor forest growth to collecting macroinvertebrates to monitor habitats everything we do is for a very important cause. It is great to reap the benefits of the work that we do, for example we planted cassava and another day we had a cassava party where we made them into fries, baked them, and made cakes with them. Another great thing about Betary Reserve is how everything is organized very well, however at the same time the volunteer coordinators are flexible and are always willing to accept suggestions to make the projects or all around living better here at Betary Reserve. For example, after seeing that I do a lot of work with aquaponics back home, Imran wanted me to come to Betary Reserve and install a number of systems here, and I did just that. Not only did I just do that, but had the time of my life doing it and working with the people here to make things happen."- Kareem Rabbat
"I really enjoyed my time at IPbio, it was a real hidden gem. Everyone was really welcoming and friendly, even with the language barrier I felt really welcome. It was amazing to be spending time in the middle of the forest, and be around all the wildlife, I am hoping to come back one day, because it’s one of those really special places. I was doing wildlife photography and making marketing video's, which is the perfect place to see wildlife. At the weekends, you have the choice to relax, but there is normally something going on to go do, we went and visited some of local communities and camped out. Also, there are local tours of the area available to see waterfalls & caves. If you're up for an adventure, love wildlife or biology and want a real authentic forest experience then this is the right place for you."- Jessica Cooper
"I undertook 3 weeks at IpBio as part of my degree placement. I did not intend to go abroad, however, it worked out more affordable to visit Brazil than to stay in my own country. I am glad I took the chance as it is was an incredible experience. I learned so much on my trip, both cultural and academic. However, the part that will stick with me is how friendly and welcoming the staff are. I was made to feel like part of the family and spent the weekends on tours and activity days, this ranged from caving to riding down the rivers on a float. The staff even held the occasional house party which was great fun. If you want to stay in a beautiful forest in well-equipped reserve, doing work that is beneficial to the environment than I recommend IpBio."- Nicholas Willis
"I have spent the past two months volunteering at IPBio as an eco-volunteer and I couldn’t image a better way to have spent my summer. This position was amazing because I had the opportunity to participate in and learn about many different projects such as tree, bird, mushroom and fish inventory as well as habitat monitoring. I was also able to focus my time working with frogs in the lab. The lab and field experiences I had here allowed me to learn so much as well as be active and hands on with the projects. The staff and other volunteers made the experience even better. I have never met a more welcoming, friendly and supportive group of people. Every day here is a new adventure whether it is at work or exploring the area on the weekends. There is not ever a shortage of things to do here if you like to explore nature and hike. My time here is something I’ll forever be grateful for and always remember."- Lauren Kessler
"Staying for a month at IPBio Reserve was the perfect opportunity to learn about a wide range of paramount fields within the International volunteering actions. From the fascinating scientific research projects of the Institute to the discovery of the amazing World Natural Heritage that the Atlantic Forest represents, there is so much that has caught my interests. I enjoyed every hour of the gardening and outdoor maintenance I did in the Reserve, just like all the little jobs I was given to help here and there, like assisting the biologists or taking part to local events with the school. Working also with the partners of the Institute for the development of a community-based tourism was definitely an honour and privilege for me, and definitely made me socially and environmentally aware of the urge to protect the gold nugget that this area embodies. IPBio Institute is key to the conservation of the biodiversity, and volunteering there will truly make you feel part of the protection of our Future."- Marie Boudouard
"My experience at Reserva Betary was all I could have asked for. I was able to work on a personal bioacoustics project that allowed me to learn a new software and data management technique while enjoying the immense beauty of the Atlantic Forest with inspiring and motivated individuals. The internship provided the perfect balance of freedom to meet my research requirements and support at every step of the process. It was really an ideal way to learn skills as new and exciting as bioacoustic analysis without the stress of sitting in an office, plus the ability to assist in a variety of other field projects. IpBio is very unique in the very high level of support volunteers are provided in conjunction with the of ecological field protocols performed efficiently and professionally. I could not even imagine a better workplace, constantly surrounded by hummingbirds, butterflies, and endemic palms. The staff at the reserve are among the most warm-hearted individuals I have encountered. The work being done at the reserve is performed with utmost sensitivity to the sustainability of the landscape as well as the locals whose livelihoods depend on the natural heritage of the area. All volunteers are seamlessly integrated into this conservation work. I highly recommend the experience and am grateful for the opportunity to have assisted this organization in any way."- Kelsey Higney
"I am a French engineering student, and I stayed at Reserve Betary for 8 weeks. It was a beautiful life experience, I learned a lot thanks to the different projects that they provides. I decided to apply for the volunteer coordinator role, because it allowed me to contribute to the charity’s organizational needs, in addition to its communication work. I also had the chance to participate in other project like tree Inventory or Bioacoustics. Many activities are organized at the weekends in order to discover the region, caves, waterfalls and other great landscapes. The team is nice and open to share their knowledge. I highly recommend the volunteer program for everyone."- Riad Mahi
"I have volunteered at Betary Reserve for two months and have thoroughly enjoyed my experience. The field research station and the nature in the reserve are absolutely beautiful. Everyone, from staff to the volunteer coordinators, are extremely attentive, supportive and patient and overall form a great team. The volunteer coordinators greatly care about the well-being of the volunteers, proactively encourage feedback on what could be improved on a daily basis, are very open to new ideas (in fact, a few of the long-running projects are volunteer-initiated) and greatly appreciate your work. As an Eco Volunteer I enjoyed the diversity of data collection tasks that I was given. Coming from a non-ecology-related background, I learned various new things in terms of ecological issues and data collection methods. In terms of free-time activities, I haven’t had a single weekend during the program without at least one group activity, such as a hike to a cave, that most, if not all volunteers eagerly join. All in all, my volunteer in Betary Reserve has been both an enriching and enjoyable experience in which I met great new people. Highly recommend!"- Vladislav Todorov
"If you love nature, the Betary Reserve is the place for you. No wonder it is called Biodiversity Research Institute; the biodiversity at the reserve is mesmerizing. All you need to do is pay attention, and you will encounter different species every day, so make sure you bring a camera with you! Volunteers can be involved in many different activities; I helped with camera traps, to record the mammals of the reserve; tadpole research, to observe the presence of a fungus responsible for the most deadly and infectious disease in amphibians; mushroom inventory; tree inventory; and feeding the animals that are used for environmental education. On top of all that, the reserve’s location is the best if you want to go visit beautiful places on your days off, like amazing caves and waterfalls. I had a great time volunteering at Betary Reserve and recommend it to anyone wanting to have a memorable experience immersed in the Atlantic Forest!"- Natália Cará
"My time working at IPBio could not have been better. As a volunteer coordinator my work saw me take on a variety of different roles as I helped other volunteers. In particular, I focused on assisting with the amphibian program, which enabled me to hike across the reserve weekly to assist in field work. Additionally, I created a brand new volunteer package for the organization, as well as numerous information packages on many different subjects, ranging from local tourism - to wildlife guides. Living at the reserve is comfortable. The Darwin House has a fully equipped kitchen, nice bedrooms, a full bathroom, and most importantly, air conditioning! After work the other volunteers and I would relax, play games, watch movies, and swim in the river (which is amazing, and so refreshing on a hot day). The weekends were exciting and were spent doing many different fun activities. We explored caves, hiked to waterfalls, tubed down rivers, went camping, and so much more. The Atlantic Forest really is a nature lovers dream, and IPBio is such an incredible organization. Definitely and incredible experience, I would recommend it to anyone looking to do meaningful work in an amazing setting. Go volunteer!"- Matt Dunlop
"You cross a hanging bridge over the river and suddenly you realize you are in the middle of the rainforest, surrounded by nothing but nature. It was amazing. Every morning I woke up and started my work with Rafael. My choice to help him in the garden worked out great for me! Even though it was definitely the hardest I have ever physically worked, I was very happy to prove to myself that I can do this kind of work. Of course gardening is repetitive, but since the environment here is so different to what I am used to and there is so much to see, I did not mind. Plus, it gives you a lot of time and space to think, so I never got bored. Rafael is the most patient and kind person, so even with my terrible Portuguese skills, we got along really well! In general, the people I worked (and also spent my free time) with are all together extraordinary and make you feel like you are at home here. They seem like one big family, happy to welcome you. Living with the other volunteers was also very cool. Since it was my first time volunteering, I expected there to be more difficulties, but excepting some food-related issues (which definitely occur every time one lives with a lot of people), we had a great time! Summing it all up, I definitely recommend a stay here. I am sure you will enjoy the time!"- Charlotte Uhlig
"Your search is over! If you are looking for somewhere to volunteer in South America and you love animals or science, then this is the place! I have been volunteering around South America with my husband for the last 5 months, and this has by far been the best place yet! There is such a variety of activities that we have been doing that it is never boring. We have monitored trap camera footage, observed birds, monitored ponds and trees, and collected fish and river data! It has been so incredible being able to help the research efforts and get to see the amazing biodiversity in the Atlantic Forest first hand! The accommodations were also incredibly comfortable, from private rooms with personal air-conditioning units, to a fully stocked kitchen and living area, it was really lovely! This is such a special place and I am really sad to be leaving, but it has been such an amazing experience that I will remember it forever! I would definitely recommend volunteering at the Betary Reserve! This place is truly unlike any I have ever seen before. On top of the beautiful destination, the amazing research, and the fun activities, this place is so well organized! That is one thing we have had some difficulties with at previous volunteer locations, is a lack of organization. So it has been such a breath of fresh air to have things lined out, planned ahead of time, and on schedule!"- Elya DeVolder
"It was such a beautiful experience to work at IPBio, the volunteers I have worked with were international and really friendly. The staff was prepared, helpful and fun. The main activities were monitoring the habitat of ponds in the reserve, do an inventory of the trees, of the mushrooms, of the fish, gardening, do creative projects for the institute and more. The place is beautiful, peaceful and it was really hard to leave. I highly recommend this to whoever is interested in nature, insects, birds, amphibians."- Marta Chiapas
"Hey, my name is Tim. I am a biology undergraduate from Cardiff, Wales, in the U.K. I study at the University of Bristol and have just finished my second year. I noticed a lot of friends were doing exciting projects abroad, and I wanted to do something productive with my summer, which would mix my love of science and nature, with opportunity for leisure, making new friends, and exploring this beautiful part of the world. It is the first time I have volunteered in any form, and my first time this far away from home, and so I thought a one-month stay would be a safe time to book for my first adventure. With one week remaining, I begin to wonder if one month was too short a stay... it has flown by. My answer to this, and thus my advice for first-timers would be to seriously consider at least a 2 month stay. A month sounds long, especially if it’s your first time volunteering, but once you have settled in, been trained in your work activities, and are comfortable with life at the reserve, all of a sudden it is time to go home. It’s worth noting that big excursions are only possible on the weekends, and in a month, that leaves only 8 days to properly explore. It’s not enough. It’s also worth noting that it’s only a small reserve which may have only a few volunteers upon your arrival, many of whom may be long term volunteers who have already seen the sights you would like to see and wouldn’t want go again (as they cost money) and so a longer stay will allow you to come into contact with more volunteers who haven’t yet been where you want to go. Another piece of advice is if you want to visit Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, or any other far-away places, consider visiting on your way in or out of the country, as they are not near or easy to visit on a weekend. Logistics aside, my stay at both ipBIO and Rio de Janeiro has been so exciting, character-forming, and eye opening. I don’t mean to sound cliché, but you will realise looking back on you experience here you have been put in a very privileged position to visit such an awesome environment. I worked here on several projects, and if you’re not sure what you want to do here but know you just want to help, this is a good position as you get a taster of all the work going on at the reserve. I looked at food preference using camera footage to analyse the behaviour of our Lepidodactylus flavopictus frog. I carried out maintenance tasks at the reserve; feeding the fish, turtles, testing the water quality of the tanks etc. I then studied the progression of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, the causative agent of chytridiomycosis in amphibians, in an isolated population of tadpoles. This is a long term study being done for a professor at a local university, and so it was good to know I was solely responsible for data collection that has real scientific significance. It also allowed me to be exposed to real science... repetition, repetition, repetition, which allowed me to realise what a career in research will really be like. I have made great friends here, and certainly had memories which will stay with me for the rest of my life. Cananeia is definitely worth visiting (but preferably when it is good weather). It is absolutely beautiful, see as many of the islands as you can! And enjoy the boat rides. The caves here are awesome, and the hikes through the state park are unlike any organised trials you’ll ever see… prepare to get wet and have a lot of laughs! The town is very cute and there is everything you need here for a great stay. Prepare for slow internet at the reserve, but at the same time don’t rely on it... come prepared with any videos, software, literature etc. that you think you will need as downloads will take a long time. Look at it as something to look forward to - I am glad I had limited exposure to the internet as I was able to experience Brazil with my eyes rather than through a social media app, and focus on what I was doing here and the fun I was having rather than what other people who I don’t really care about were having for dinner on the other side of the globe. One thing I will definitely take away with me, and is a lesson to be learned for the Western world, is that collectivist culture is awesome. For example, the town is 5 km down the road, and a nice walk, however if someone drives past there’s a good chance they will offer you a free lift. If you need a lift back from the town after a night out, plan ahead as Taxi’s stop at 11, but when we got into this problem we asked around the bars and someone was kind enough to drop us home free of charge. Everyone is friendly here, and is so interested in you as a foreigner or ‘gringo’ as they call it, so prepare to feel welcomed. Personally, I think you will get more from your volunteer experience here if you come with a set project or research question in mind that you can fully focus on and also (preferably finish) so you have a product to come away with knowing you made an impact. You’ll make an impact regardless, but it’s nice to be around to see through the culmination of your project. You will indisputably get more from your experience if you come knowing at least the basics of Portuguese so you can get around by yourself, and converse with the locals. I came knowing zilch and wish I knew more… it’s an element of any trip that you cannot pay for to experience. The staff at ipBIO are really helpful, friendly, and well organised, and any questions before or during your stay at ipBIO, Imran has the answer!!!! Come with an open mind and heart, and embrace Brazil! Finally, if you like your stay, which I know you will, tell your friends! Some of the most powerful recommendations can from word-of-mouth, and ipBIO is expanding both here in Iporanga, and in the amazon with a new reserve, so there is space for your friends too! Good luck and I wish you fantastic experience here at ipBIO."- Tim Dodd
"I am from France and volunteered on reserve betary’s for 2 months, I really enjoy it. The betary reserve is an excellent working environment and is very comfortable to live in the yellow house, surrounded by wildlife. My mission was the tree inventory, the goal is to repertories all the different species of trees on the reserve. My second assignment is to help the team build the release center for the birds. Apart from the projects, there is a lot of activity to do here. The weekend trips to caves and boya crossing across the various rivers in Iporanga have been another highlight, and you definitely need to stay a minimum of a month to be able to explore the various sites within and around the area."- Jamal Boulid
"The natural beauty of the sights never ceases to amaze. We've seen magnificent rainbow colored birds of all shapes and sizes (the reserve is a haven for hummingbirds, they're seriously more common than pigeons in Venice), monkeys swinging over tree tops, frogs, bugs, trees and flowers of all kinds (maybe an ocelot - it's still up for debate who saw what). IPBio offers so many incredible experiences to its volunteers. On weekends there's always some cool activity to take part in whether that be "boia crossing" (tubing down local rivers and rapids), trekking through caves waist deep in water, climbing to high mountain peaks for a breathtaking view of the jungle, or night excursions in the forest in search of large patches of glow in the dark mushrooms. In terms of my role specifically, I was helping IPBio by making promotional videos to showcase their volunteer program. Check out my video on their OBBIO's Youtube Channel: I really loved what I was doing because I got to take an equal part in everyone else's roles too. Not a single day resembled the other. The whole while, filming served as the medium through which I got to observe all the beauty IPBio has to offer. I learned a lot while I was here: about biodiversity and the issues concerning the preservation of ecosystems such as the Atlantic Forest, about the way people in rural Brazil live, about editing software and film techniques which I got to further develop for my own skill set and last but not least about myself and what it is that I want to do with my life moving forward. I couldn't have asked for more. It goes without saying at this point I highly recommend volunteering with IPBi"- Morgane Holley
"The reserve is located next to iporanga a little city, despite the distance from the big city ; the region offers many activities like visit cave or some hike , and iporanga have lot of buses to visit big city (Sao Paulo, Curitiba, Eldorado….). The reverse betary offers a beautiful view with a mountain range that surrounds the reserve. There are many project at the reserve. For me, that was tree inventory ( the mapping of the reserve) and reverse maintenance (build a release center). It was one of my best 8 weeks in a foreign country and I encourage everyone to try this rewarding experience."- Ali Touba
"I fell in love with Iporanga. In love with the forest and the people who live here. After my B.A.C. Biology at UQAM in Canada, I wanted to combine my desire to travel and learn. I accidentally found this voluntary position at the Biodiversity Research Institute (IPBio) on the internet. I was immediately tempted. The quick answers to all my questions from the coordinator convinced me and three weeks later I was there and now I don’t want to leave. Arriving I did not know what to expect, but certainly I do not expect to have as much convenience in the middle of the forest. Here we have a house for volunteers with fully equipped kitchen, bedroom and bathroom with shower and hot water, a real luxury. You quickly feel at home. In addition, we have access to the research center, which has all the equipment necessary for scientific research. Most important, we have access to people who work here and are always happy to answer any questions. They are so awesome that even once the weekend came; it was them who offered to take us on excursions into the forest or to visit caves or extraordinary waterfalls. My job here is to continue an existing research topic. 3 times a week I go out in forest 9am to 12am tour the pitfalls to identify the presence of frogs. The path is easily accessible via trails and is very pleasant. I unfortunately did not bring proper boots so they lent me the necessary equipment to walk safely in the forest. Here the motto is: “no problem, we'll find a solution”. The rest of the day, I analyse existing videos of frogs or I have Portuguese lessons with a great tutor. In the end, there are so many interesting things to do here that it is possible to participate in whatever you want if you ask. The passion of the people working at the reserve is immense and they demonstrate great pleasure in sharing their knowledge. Of course there is a physically tiring part to field research, but if you can walk, you can work here. The forest here is so diverse that we quickly forget the little aches and we always look forward to getting back out into the forest. We are housed on the reserve but food is not included. So we will regularly go to the neighbouring village of Iporanga for supplies at least once a week. I will keep the unforgettable memory of the smell of the forest and the mornings when you get up to the sound of birds singing and even howler monkeys. The people here are so warm that I will leave with new friendships and a single idea in mind: that of returning as soon as possible."- Jenny Luciano
"I spent three weeks as a volunteer photographer at IPBio and FreeWildlifeBrazil Celine. My main task was to take pictures of the life of the other volunteers. Which means their personal volunteer projects (tree inventory, bioacoustics, bioluminescent mushrooms, tadpoles, birds, gardening,…) and free time activities. For every project and weekend activity I took a couple of representative pictures which will be used at the website and in the volunteer package. In addition I produced and edited some video clips. The reserve is located in the middle of the Atlantic rainforest and there are many awesome weekend activities to do, for example Boia Cross, hiking, visiting waterfalls and caves (the region is called the capital of caves), BBQ and many other cool stuff. I enjoyed every day at IPBio and would recommend everybody to come to this amazing place. Come as soon as possible and stay as long as possible, you won’t regret it!"- Karen Strassel
"After graduating from the University of Bath with an Economics degree and working in London for a couple years, I decided it was time to travel and do something radically different that is actually worth doing. Whilst I have been interested in environmental research and conservation for some time, I had not taken any real steps in that direction until coming to IPBio. And I am very glad I did. As a Volunteer Coordinator, I guided volunteers and supported the team here on several projects ranging flora and fauna as well as diverse settings. This allowed me to gain experience in many different tasks, from monitoring animal pitfalls and recovering the precious bioacoustics recording deep in the forest to working in the lab looking for signs of BD disease in tadpoles and testing bioluminescent mushroom substrates. One of my favourite activities (understandably I think!) was searching for these glowing mushrooms at night in the forest, which we did a couple times. I also really enjoyed being responsible for the daily feeding of animals (yes, by the end I felt like we had developed some sort of relationship, although to what extent that was a one-way thing I am not sure) and occasionally supporting the Volunteer Programme Manager with his research and other ad hoc tasks. Apart from the work, there are many opportunities to visit the surrounding region and all it has to offer (magnificent caves and waterfalls instantly spring to mind) as well as the small but charming town of Iporanga. As if that’s not enough, the reserve is well-run by some very friendly people (most of which are local) and there is even a beautiful, tranquil swimming spot one minute away from the volunteer house. So make sure you get some insect repellent and come along!"- Miguel Almeida
"I came to IPBio for six months to work in the bioluminescent mushroom program. It was overall a wonderful experience. The reserve is in a great location, surrounded by lush forest full of animals and birds, so for anyone that likes nature it is glorious. The area the reserve is in is full of caves and waterfalls, so there is never lack of weekend activities. The staff are extremely supportive and welcoming, but I would recommend learning a bit of portuguese before coming as it will help with communicating with some members that don't speak english, and other locals. The mushroom program itself is very interesting. It is really unique to be in an area that still has many things to be discovered, plus seeing the mushrooms glowing at night is a real trip! The lab side of the work is also really rewarding as the research that is being done at the reserve is quite novel and complex. If you are interested in mushrooms or want to learn more about them, this is the perfect opportunity. The mushroom program is relatively young, but has so much potential! Can't recommend IPBio enough."- Grant Johnson
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