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Wildlife Rescue in the Guatemalan Rain forest

August 1st - August 11th, 2018

This project is situated in a forested 45-hectare protected area on the shores of Lake Petén Itza. Its priority is the welfare, rehabilitation and reintroduction of wild animals that are received there. Volunteers live in a spacious two-story wooden building with open, screened walls, situated in the middle of a beautiful tropical forest with wooden bunk beds, showers, and toilet facilities and US-standard 110V electricity. Volunteers eat & socialize in a separate kitchen/dining room, and there is a floating dock nearby for late afternoon swims in the lake. The project boat makes special trips into Flores twice a week for volunteers that want to get dinner, drink a few beers or go to an internet cafe.

Depending on the time of year, the project hosts anywhere between 5 & 25 international volunteers, including veterinary students looking to gain practical experience working with tropical animals, graduate students carrying out research in wildlife management and rehabilitation, and backpack travelers (mochileros) who want to contribute their time & energy to the conservation of Guatemalan wildlife.

The center gives volunteers the hands-on opportunity to work with many beautiful & endangered tropical animals such as scarlet macaws, mealy parrots, kinkajous, spider and howler monkeys, peccaries, coatimundis, margays and jaguars.

Getting There

We will fly into the island of Flores, where we'll be picked up from the airport and taken to the rescue by car or boat. We'll spend 7 days at the rescue center; within that time, we'll be taken on an overnight trip to the Mayan ruins of Tikal. We will then spend two extra days after the project exploring the beautiful and quaint city of Flores. We'll be dropped off at the Flores airport for our return flight home.

What will I be doing?

Volunteers are expected to work as a team. The day will begin early as the animals must be on their natural schedules and eat early in the day. Rest and relaxation will take place later in the day during higher temperatures. A typical day at the Rescue Center might consist of the following:

6:30 - Animal Husbandry & Care
8:00 - Breakfast
9:00-11:00 - Chores
11:00 - Animal Husbandry
12:00 - Chores
1:00 - Lunch
2:00 - Animal Husbandry
3:00 - Individual Projects, Rest, Trips to Flores, Swimming, Hiking
6:00 - Dinner & Social Time
9:00 - Bedtime

Much of the work involves preparing food for the animals, feeding them, and cleaning up their enclosures.

In addition to the regular daily feeding and care of the animals, there are special ongoing activities in which volunteers can participate. These activities include:

- Construction of cages or extra buildings
- Gathering of wild foods for the animals
- Research into the wild diets of the animals
- Participating in additional environmental education activities and community projects
- “Enrichment” of cages and enclosures by adding toys, perches and other stimuli that help the animals in their rehabilitation process

Volunteers may have the exciting chance to participate in the release of one of the animals back into the wild. This will depend on the timing of your visit and the length of your stay at the project.  In general, volunteers are expected to become a part of the team and to take an integral part in the day-to-day operations of the project. Barring physical limitations, all volunteers can take an equal part in performing all tasks regardless of background, training or education level. At certain times there's a lot of work to be done, particularly during the breeding & trafficking season (April-July); during other periods there can be a lot of time off. Likewise, the workload is dependent on how many volunteers are at the center.

Accommodation & Food

Volunteers live in a spacious two-story wooden building with open, screened walls, situated in the middle of a beautiful tropical forest with wooden bunk beds, showers and toilet facilities, and US standard 110V electricity. Volunteers eat & socialize in a separate kitchen/dining room. Meals at the project make use of the Guatemalan staples of hand-made corn tortillas, black beans and eggs, as well as vegetables, some meats, and fruits. Many of the volunteers are vegetarian, and their dietary needs will be catered to. Filtered water is available for drinking. The accommodation in Flores will be a favorite lakeside hostel/hotel with a beautiful view, an en-suite restaurant/bar, and kayaks available for rent.

What is provided in this package?

- Round-trip flight to Flores, Guatemala
- Transportation from the Flores airport to the project
- Lodging and food at the project for 7 days
- Volunteer fees (these help keep the project going and often help locals learn about and practice conservation methods)
- Transportation and lodging for a 2-day trip to the Mayan ruins of Tikal
- Transportation back to the airport

Your food & activities in Flores are not included, as they're outside the project.

What do I need to Bring?

- Passport (valid through the duration of your stay)
- Travel insurance (covering the duration of your stay)
- Cash (for personal spending)
- Mosquito Repellent & Mosquito Net
- Toiletries necessary for a trip into the jungle (anti-itch cream, antibiotic cream, etc)
- Pillow & Towel (the project provides only very small pillows, and no towels)
- Water Bottle

Jungle boots are not necessary, as the project has a large supply there that are required for wear into the quarantine area. There is malaria and dengue fever in the Peten, but by using repellent and mosquito nets, the chances of contracting either is rare. To be safe, please check with your doctor or an international health clinic before the trip. In case health issues do arise, there is a hospital and several private clinics in the Flores/Santa Elena/San Benito area. A visa is not required for Americans or Europeans who will be in the country for less than 90 days.

What else do I need to know?

Drugs and alcohol are not permitted on the project. Volunteers are welcome to drink during trips into town, but we ask that they do not bring alcohol back to the project site.

Depending on how well-staffed the project is, you may share your dorm room with up to three other volunteers. As everyone uses the same facilities, please keep yourself, your clothes, and your living space as clean as possible. If you find washing your clothes at the “pila” too bothersome, there is laundry service available. Please don’t bring food into your rooms as it attracts rats, ants and other critters which can destroy mattresses, screening and furniture (and generally make things unpleasant!).

Don’t waste water! Please try not to waste clean water, as it is a scarce commodity. Part of the ARCAS experience is learning to live sustainably within limits.

Volunteer work is a two-way street: the project and the wild animals it supports benefits from the assistance of the volunteer, while the volunteer gains valuable knowledge and technical skills. At the rescue center, you will have an opportunity to experience firsthand the difficulties of conserving endangered species in a developing country. The center may encourage your imagination and creativity in coming up with ideas for better caring for the animals in the resource-poor conditions that exist in Guatemala.

You will also spend time working with local Guatemalans. Not only will there be an exchange of ideas and culture, but also an understanding of how to better communicate with another culture that is in the process of defining what conservation means for them.

Price: Starts at $2100 (including Airfare)

Prices are based on flights from Western USA and are subject to change based on location, airfare & exchange rates.

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