15-25 February 2019
Cost: $1780 Canadian
Come join us in February as we lead an expedition to Guatemala! Have you always wanted to visit Central America? Help care for wildlife like spider monkeys, toucans and jaguars? Make new friends who love animals and travel as much as you do? This is your chance to volunteer at a Wildlife Rescue Centre with Animal Experience International. We are always amazed at how much we can achieve when a group of passionate volunteers come together and work towards a common goal - and this time we will be making a real difference for wildlife in Guatemala with your help!
This Wildlife Rescue Centre was originally created for a very specific and urgent purpose: to build a rescue center to care for and rehabilitate wild animals that were being confiscated on the black market by the Guatemalan government. Over the years it has grown into one of the largest and most complex rescue centres in the world. Each year it admits over 500 animals representing more than 40 species of wildlife.
The mission of the Wildlife Rescue Centre is to improve the chances of survival and conservation of endangered species and their habitat, and to assist with the management of natural resources. They aim to raise awareness among Guatemalans and visiting tourists about the need to conserve natural resources through a program of education and information dissemination.
Volunteers provide care for all of the animals at the centre. Shifts are from 6am to 3 pm daily, with opportunities to do more if you are interested. If you would like a day off, this can be arranged in advance with the coordinator once you are there.
You will be assigned to an area each day, and volunteer duties include feeding, cleaning and providing enrichment for the animals. Animal diets are prepared every morning, and the animals are given their food and clean water. Much of the cleaning happens throughout the day while animals are monitored. Each day volunteers help with extra tasks around the centre such as cutting the grass with a machete, hand scrubbing the animals laundry and laying the towels out to dry, and cleaning areas of the dorm or other common areas.
You will be staying at the rescue centre in their volunteer house, which is a spacious two story wooden building located on the grounds in a beautiful tropical forest. The volunteer house includes bunk beds, mosquito netting, and regular “western” bathrooms with (sometimes cold) showers and flush toilets. The kitchen and dining area is a large, comfortable rancho where volunteers eat and socialize. All meals are included.
Do you have questions about safety? We have answers right here! Or read our guide to Safety in Guatemala. Remember, you are travelling with a group and will have a leader and a local volunteer coordinator with you 24/7!
Airport pick up and drop off (at the closest airport), accommodation, meals, on-site training, donation to Placement Partner, AEI Travel Manual, emergency support while at placement, carbon credits to offset 3 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, premium Individual Travel Insurance (up to $500, 000 USD in emergency medical coverage), travel discounts (through automatic membership to a volunteer only travel discount program), 24/7 travel and emergency assistance, enrolment with the Global Travel Academy to earn a certificate in International Volunteering. This 3-hour online course is curated by travel professionals and is designed to help you get the most out of your adventure, guided trip to Tikal National Park (all accommodation and all meals are provided (any alcohol is extra).
Flights, entry visa costs, international and domestic airport taxes, immunizations and medications. Note: The rabies vaccine is recommended but not required for this Experience however, if volunteers are interested in becoming rabies vaccinated, the average cost is $600- $1000 in North America.
What is Serious
The rescue centre is situated on 45 hectares of land on a lake in northern Guatemala and includes a quarantine area, a veterinary hospital, and rehabilitation facilities with a large flight cages and enclosures scattered throughout the jungle. Volunteers at the rescue centre help feed and care for the animals at the centre which include parrots, macaws, spider and howler monkeys, margays, ocelots, coatimundis, tayras and kinkajous. Nearly all of these animals have been seized from smugglers and are often very young, needing constant care and attention. While you are at the cente, you will learn the natural history of the Guatemalan wildlilfe, their nutritional needs and how to care for them throughout their rehabilitation.
What is Fun
You are going to be part of a big group of people who all love animals! People from around the world who want to make a difference in animal welfare are going on this expedition with you. New friends you haven't met yet are going to be the people you laugh with, you hold animals with and you make memories with.
Volunteering will have you all working on legacy projects together, like the AEI 2019 new build. Details to follow. :) After a day of volunteering, you can relax on the beautiful floating dock at the lake and enjoy late afternoon swims. Although there is no internet available at the centre, there is a water taxi (free a few times a week) that will take you into the nearby town for time in the internet cafes, shopping, eating out or just exploring the village. During your stay you will enjoy an overnight excursion to Tikal National Park where you will visit Mayan ruins, stay in a jungle hotel and experience wildlife in their natural habitat - a great way to remind yourself why you are helping the wildlife of Guatemala!
Meet your leader: Nora Livingstone! Nora is an experienced canoe/mountaineering guide and volunteer coordinator. Having guiding trips in the mountains of Italy, the rivers of Ontario and two animal conservation trips in Greece and Kenya, she is excited about another adventure in Guatemala! This will be her 3rd AEI expedition and her 2nd time in Guatemala.
Dates and Details
We will be arriving 15 February and departing for home on 25 February.
Are you thinking of fundraising for a portion, or all your fees? Many of our clients have been very successful with their fundraising efforts. To learn more about their successful fundraising projects and see how you can fund raise for your experience, please visit our fundraising page!