Volunteer with animals in the beautiful Bolivian Andes. This project allows you to work on construction for animal welfare at the city zoo or work to improve buildings and gardens of the children’s centre. The city zoo is a forward-thinking initiative (in collaboration with Chester Zoo in the UK) that used modern practices for animal welfare. It serves as a rescue center for indigenous animals, such as pumas, jaguars, bears and condors; and is also the home to animals rescued from circuses, such as lions. This project also incorporates groundwork at the local children’s centre where maintenance of buildings and gardens, and construction of playground areas is needed.
Why choose this project?
The zoo welcomes hundreds of local Bolivian visitors every week and is an important centre for environmental awareness and education. Volunteers provide assistance that help the zoo to work towards its aim of being a leading example of modern zoological institutions in Latin America. With more help available to the zoo, more stimulus can be provided for the animals, which improves their livelihoods, and more improvements can be made in the park. Volunteers benefit from seeing direct results of their endeavours, and being able to add an amazing experience to a CV/Resume.
Role of the volunteer
At the zoo, volunteers help with ground maintenance as well as food preparation and developing stimulating games for the different animals. You will work alongside zookeepers, learning up-close about magnificent animals. Volunteers also help prepare enclosures for incoming animals, carry out research with the on-site vets and zoologists, and make improvement around the park.
Outside the zoo, there is plenty to keep you busy and many ways that you can support local initiatives. The whole village is working to redevelop their beautiful area through community enterprises and volunteers are able to get more involved with these projects in order to connect with and learn about this indigenous Bolivian culture. On weekends, volunteers have the option to work with horses and children on an equine therapy initiative.
This project is perfect for those who love being outdoors and working with animals. Volunteers should enjoy hands-on activities and not mind getting dirty! A basic level of Spanish (level A1 Basic User of CEFR or better) is requested, however it is possible to take Spanish classes on-site. Skills in environmental training, veterinary knowledge, or an interest in gardening are highly valued. You will be asked to submit a CV/Resume, send in two personal references and attend a telephone interview to be accepted onto this placement.
WHY JOIN THE PROJECT
To be immersed in a local Bolivian community
To share your experience with other volunteers
To spend time in the great outdoors while giving something back
About the location
Bolivia is sometimes called the Tibet of the Americas and is the highest and most isolated of the Latin American republics. Due to its high altitude, La Paz (where the project is based) does not get excessively hot. This cooler climate will be well received when you are hard at work on your chosen project. The dry season runs from May – August, which tends to be our most popular time for individuals to volunteer on our projects.
Bolivia’s highlands in the west are made up of the Andes mountain range are home to some natural wonders. For instance, Lake Titicaca on the Peruvian border is the highest altitude lake in the world! This lake is so large, that it takes 6 hours to cross by fast hydrofoil and is one of the deepest lakes on the planet. Down in the southwest are the “Salar de Uyuni” – the world’s largest salt flats.
Bolivians are renowned for their love of parties and fiestas which are a fundamental part of Bolivian life. These take place the length and breadth of the country with such frequency it would be difficult to miss one, even during the briefest of visits!
Your project is based about 30 – 45 minutes outside of La Paz, in a beautiful, semi-rural village called Mallasa (pronounced Mayasa). In Mallasa, you’ll be able to get a good feel for the Aymara culture and, as very few people speak English, it is the perfect place to learn or improve your Spanish speaking skills.
During your time on one of our Kaya projects, you will be living in one of the volunteer houses. You will be quite comfortable living here as each house is equipped with electricity, running water and indoor plumbing – not to mention that the houses are furnished to a good standard! You will most likely have your own room, however we would remind you to be mindful of the fact that you may be required to share with another volunteer during the busy summer months.
Local Bolivia food is easily available from local stores and volunteers can cook meals in the kitchen area of the volunteer house. If you’d like to eat out, then there is a pizzeria close by to the volunteer houses where you can grab a pizza for around £4 ($7)!
What to do in your spare time
In your free time, venture to La Paz, the highest administrative capital in the world! Explore its museums, colonial buildings and many craft shops, as well as its abundance of bars, cafes and restaurants. Bolivia offers a wealth of artisan goods. The Mercado is a huge market, stretching for blocks, where you can buy almost everything. An alternative is to seek out one of the smaller boutiques and shops such as the craft shop Comart Tukuypaj which supports artisans from poor, rural communities and cooperatives by selling weavings. Popular weekend options include 2-3 day trip to see the amazing Lake Titicaca or to the famous salt flats.
Details & Costs
- Duration: 2-8 weeks
- Cost: £1052/$1841 for 4 weeks
Weekly additional fee varies
- Requirements: Age 18+
- Location: La Paz, Bolivia
- Project Activities: feeding animals, repairing/building shelters and habitats, creating murals, tree planting
- Working Hours: Monday-Friday (flexible)
- Project Availability: 1st & 3rd week of each month
- Arrival day: Monday
What is included
- Accommodation: shared room in a volunteer house with dvd player, shared kitchen. Access to a washing machine and wifi for extra fees.
- Pickup at El Alto Airport or La Paz’s bus station
- Training: pre-departure pack, on-site orientation and project induction
- Support: 24 hour support
- Excursion Planning: staff help organise weekend activities (activity price may be extra)
- Fundraising Guide
- You will be working alongside qualified professionals
What is not included
- Food, though a kitchen is provided and volunteers regularly cook or eat out together
- Daily transport to and from your project (45m walk or cheap local transport)
- Optional Spanish classes are available
- Police/Government Background Check: US and UK citizens will be processed through Kaya (admin fee applies); all other nationalities must provide local police check.
Easy 3-step application process
APPLY ONLINE Click here to apply online and pay your deposit to secure your space on your chosen project. Our advisors will then contact you to guide you through the next steps.
TELEPHONE INTERVIEW Once we’ve received your application, we’ll be in touch to arrange your informal telephone interview with your Kaya Placement Advisor.
GET PREPARED When you’ve been accepted onto your project we’ll send you your Welcome Pack and lots of other helpful information to assist you with preparing for your placement.
HAVE A QUESTION?
We pride ourselves on providing you high quality placement information throughout your application process and whilst on the ground. Connect with us if you have any questions.
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