Kalu Yala

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Kalu Yala offers a variety of internships and volunteer positions in Panama, and seeks to create a sustainable community of entrepreneurs in Panama.

Our intern/volunteer program is an exciting opportunity for college students and grads to work with the Kalu Yala team to discover a conscious way of living. Our participants come from a variety of different geographic locations, areas of study and experience backgrounds.

Summer 2013

Programs from Kalu Yala

  • Students on Kalu Yala rooftop in Panama City
    At Kalu Yala, we are in the process of building the world's most sustainable village in the Panamanian rainforest. Programs...
    13 reviews
    Alumni Interviews
    Staff Interviews
    Community Photos
    This program has been rated exceedingly fun by 5+ reviewers.

Program Reviews

  • Jeromy
    Age: 19-24
    Oneonta, NY
    Hartwick College
    Life Changing Experience

    Kalu Yala was a life changing experience that led me to reevaluate what I want to achieve in life, who I want to become, and what I want to stand for. I have never experienced a more supportive, hands-on, and creative experience. What I learned and who I met will always be at the core of my being.

    How could this program be improved?

    Provide more opportunity for radical ideas that seem unattainable but are possible if planned out.

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    Useful 8 Inspiring 7
  • Dan
    Age: 25-30
    Los Angeles, CA
    University of Virginia
    The Best Latin American Internship Experience from an Asian-American Perspective

    Hi Reader!

    Are you a college student or recent graduate looking for an intensely cool experience?

    Have you seen ads in your campus to study abroad for anything, even for science (particularly biology and environmental science), but didn't know where to start?

    Do you love Spanish, beaches, jungles, deep friendships, and being in harmony with the culture around you, while saving money big time for international travel?

    If you answer yes to these questions, Kalu Yala is seriously the right place for you, no matter who you are and what people thought you could do with your life! You can reinvent yourself at K.Y. and grow to be the happiest person who can be, with a vision for success and a refreshed body from the stress of your hometown life.

    My daily experiences in the biology internship group included the chance to build a water system to nourish local villagers from the ground up with close team members, and to establish your very own pilot project of science research at local hydrological companies including Indicasat and FSU's GIS department (I personally did this research alongside another team member for her study abroad program in hydrology, which involved collecting water samples throughout the country and analyzing their quality in the lab). This gives you the wonderful opportunity to tour Panama, learn to use its inexpensively good transportation system, speak good Spanish, and visit the most beautiful waterfalls and tropical forests you could have ever imagined!

    Panama is one of the safest Latin American countries as it has the Panama Canal and plenty of revenue to eliminate crime and poverty in this fine nation. Plus, it rivals even Mexico for fine tourist destinations that you will have a chance to go to, including Bocas Del Toro, San Carlos, and San Blas.

    If science internships are not your interest, you can still have other interesting opportunities such as business interning (affiliated with the TED-X Organization, a reputable movement for accomplishing the dreams of visionaries). My personal experience with those business interns has been to work together to sell the water plant I helped create to our new, sustainable village. Beyond the business and biology programs, many other great programs exist in Kalu Yala, including the Community Outreach program, where I personally joined 20 other soccer fans to play Latin-style soccer and to help teach English even. The Panamanians here are very welcoming to visitors from abroad, so please visit if you have a heart for adventure!

    This internship is the most affordably priced program to live abroad for a full semester (3 months), and offers an alliance of coworkers who will give you the peace of mind of having a family abroad who will protect you if you get sick or need help. Other internships may include NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership Society), or Kumbaya, but the cost of NOLS may be about $5k compared to the $2k I invested in Kalu Yala. And, Kumbaya isn't even abroad (it is within the USA). For the hundred days you will spend in Panama via the Kalu Yala organization, the cost of living turns out to be about $20 per day, while having something worthy to put on your resume.

    You will even have bragging rights to say that you survived living in the jungles of Panama should you choose the biology program, and to have genuine collegiate experiences that you may have missed out on in a smaller university or because you were too timid before your undergraduate years ended to be adventurous. No matter who you are (such as an Asian-American or other minority), I have seen firsthand how positive this place feels to catalyze your way to becoming a healthier and more sociable person.

    If you are hesitating to apply for the Kalu Yala Internship program simply because you aren't sure if it is a legitimate program, then I reassure you that you will be fulfilled with its authenticity!

    How could this program be improved?

    There will be tons of insects biting you and peer pressure to go beyond your comfort zone to be more adventurous than you might have previously experienced as a studious person. For example, a regular mile hike across the mountain is encouraged; I had difficulty to find a decent set of hiking boots prior to arriving. Nevertheless, Panama City has modern selections of Columbia sporting goods and even Gore-Tex boots. Be prepared to combat the mosquitos downtown with deet and the ticks in the mountains with permethrin cream and spray. Make sure to take some of these medicines with you to stay healthy; no man is strong enough to endure all the toxins of those insects!

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    Useful 26 Inspiring 10
  • John
    Age: 19-24
    Chattanooga, TN, Clemson, SC, St. Lous, MO
    Clemson University
    Life Changing Experience

    If you are looking for an experience that will absolutely change your life for the better, look no further. As an Outdoor Recreation intern, you will be living in the jungle. That's right. You will be living a few miles away from the nearest small town which is about an hour away from Panama City on bus. You will meet some of the most influential, passionate and caring individuals ever. You will sweat a lot and cry tears of blissful happiness. You will wake up and fall asleep with the sun and the stars. I was an intern in the summer and surprisingly, the weather was not too hot and the rain every now and then was the most glorious thing. On the real, I suffered from depression before my Kalu Yala experience and can confidently say that the jungle and the beautiful souls I came in touch with have cured me. Best experience of my life, hands down. I plan on returning one day for a longer stay!

    How could this program be improved?

    They now have internet out in the valley apparently. I repeat, they have internet in the jungle. If you aren't in love yet, this program may not be for you.

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    Useful 9 Inspiring 7
  • BonnieB
    Age: 19-24
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Kent State University
    Internship in the jungle- Kalu Yala

    There was always something to do. We had personal projects that we worked on but we also helped each other with their projects, did chores around camp, had time to read and explore, went swimming, and lived as a community. In addition to getting close with the other interns all of the staff were great. They were always there whenever and for whatever you needed them. I learned a lot about myself while I was there and I'm so proud of all that we were able to accomplish. Definitely an experience I would recommend to everyone even if you aren't used to camping, peeing outside, bugs or bathing in rivers.

    How could this program be improved?

    I don't think I would change anything because everything was part of the experience but know what you're getting into. The hike into the valley was rough for me personally but it's a great feeling once you do, there are lots of animals around including bugs, frogs, and our neighbors' pets, working a lot in the hot sun, and many other things I didn't expect. When I came home I was a little bit sad I couldn't just go pee anywhere, I didn't like that my family didn't compost and it felt weird to not have dinner and conversation with 20 other people. If you're on the fence I would say do it!

    Was this review...?
    Useful 9 Inspiring 3
  • Mallory
    Age: 19-24
    Burlington, VT
    University of Vermont
    KY is Unique

    My experience with Kalu Yala was unlike any internship or study program that I've participated in before or since. I was an outdoor recreation intern in Summer 2012. I can still remember the first week vividly in my mind. The adjustment to living in the jungle with the team was physically challenging but mentally stimulating. I still reflect on many of my experiences as an intern and with the other interns/directors/staff in Panama. The location=humid and/or hot rainforest; the people=interesting, fun, deep, engaging; the company=creative, unique, up and coming, basically the definition of entrepreneurship.

    How could this program be improved?

    Like some other reviewers, I was a little concerned about organization when I left, however, I believe this was mostly due to the young company's first major transition phase during my semester. Feedback and communication since than has led me to believe that the organizational problems have been fully addressed.

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    Useful 3 Inspiring 0
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