Volunteering Abroad Shouldn't Cost the Earth

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.

Research Roles:

Eco-Volunteer Role

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:

Other volunteer roles:

Email us your CV/resume and clearly state the position (or positions) you are interested in to imran@ipbio.org.br 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:
Year round

Duration of program:
2 weeks minimum, although longer staying applicants are more likely to be accepted

Age requirement:
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.

Other information:
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.


The perfect opportunity to learn!
"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
Thank you, IPBio!
"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
Beautiful life experience
"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
Great Team in the Atlantic Forest
"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
An everlasting experience
"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
IPBIO: A truly amazing place, doing incredible work
"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
I had a wonderful time at Reserva Betary!
"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
This has by far been the best place yet!
"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
Eye-opening experience
"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
Excellent working environment
"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
I really loved what I was doing!
"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
Rewarding Experience
"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 will come back!
"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
You won't regret it!
"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
Beautiful and rewarding experience in many ways
"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
Really rewarding work!
"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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