Yana Cocha

Yana Cocha - Amazonian Animal Rescue Centre


Yana Cocha is a non-profit organisation, focused in conservation and the protection of Amazonian flora and fauna in Ecuador. The centre only receives rescued animals from the police, environmental ministry and general public. Upon evaluation, if the animal cannot be released back into the wild at our special reserve site, it will stay at the centre living in the best conditions possible. Hosting only Amazonian wildlife, the centre is home to a large variety of primates, cats, rodents, birds, reptiles and other small mammals.


YanaCocha Rescue Centre Km. 3 Puyo, Tena Puyo
Pastaza, Ecuador


No, I don't recommend this program

I took part at this program with my daughter (14) in July 2019. It was planned for 4 weeks. I paid for the first week 460 € per person and the following weeks 190 € per person. A huge amount of money. All in all it was a terrible experience. I cannot recommend the program at all.
The only nice and cute were the animals. To feed and take care if them is fun. But it is 7 hours per day hard work for nothing. You even sometimes have to carry stones for building and bucks full of water uphills / downhills. The standard of accommodation and food is the lowest level I have ever seen in my live. And the hygienic standards are dangerous. My daughter got seriously sick with fever (41 C) and serious gastroenteritis coming from the dangerous sanitary standards (no water for the toilet for 3 days and no water for the shower for the same time). We had to end the project early, because of the dangerous conditions.
The space for accommodating people are 17 persons at the facility, but now Raul (the coordinator) has 42 people there. Unbelievable

What would you improve about this program?
Everything. We paid for 3 meals a day and became a poor water soup with a bit of vegetables in the evening. The sanitary conditions are dangerous.
And on top the co-ordinator is unfriendly as well.
Poor exploitation
Yes, I recommend this program

After staying at Yana Cocha for 6 months I have too many good memories and stories to only pick one! I meet so many great people from all over the world, I learned so much about the place, my self and others, I got to work with so many amazing, cool and interesting animals and I felt like a part of the family at Yana Cocha, I'm longing to go back every day! It's all good memories I always will keep close with me for the rest of my life.
But the best part of my stay have to be the bond you make with some of the animals. To work hard for them and see how happy they get, is the most satisfying thing you will do.
I would recommend everyone I know to go to Ecuador. I was safe even traveling alone, it's easy to travel around for a weekend or longer, it's good food, Ecuadorean people is very nice and you will se so much new and exciting things! It's not much of shopping or sunbathing- but there is a lot of other fun stuff to do! I went a weekend to Baños for paragliding while a volcano exploded right by, AMAZING! I think Ecuador have a little of everything for everyone and Yana Cocha is the best place for a animal lover! They do everything for the animates and no one else. They are the most important priority, and they need volunteers to keep everything going around and to have enough money for feeding and giving the animals the life they deserve!!
I would not think twice about going!

What would you improve about this program?
I loved everything abou Yana Cocha and I would not change one thing! You have to have in mind that it will be a lot of hard work, you will live primary. But you are traveling to expend your life and how you look at things. You will grow as a person and learn so much because things will not be as they are at home!
Yes, I recommend this program

I visited Yana Cocha in 2011 during my gap year and couldn't recommend it enough to other people looking to travel and/or work with amazing animals and people. As a fresh-faced 19 year old travelling for the first time alone I couldn't have been made to feel more welcome or safe. I met some incredible people and had the most amazing time, whether it be working hands-on with so many beautiful animals or being taken out to party with new friends and locals on a Saturday night my entire time there was like a dream. It was definitely a life-changing experience for me in so many different ways!

Yes, I recommend this program

I only spent two weeks at Yana Cocha due to work restrictions but enjoyed my time immensely nonetheless. Whether it be throwing bananas to the Chorongos on their own island, baking 'monkey cookies' for the animals or harvesting new enrichment for the enclosures, it's all a rewarding experience.
I'd recommend the volunteering program to anyone with a love for animals, travellers or even someone in my position - looking for a break from the 9-5 job.
I'll definitely return to Yana Cocha one day, hopefully the team (including Pheobe, Atahualpa and Benji the dogs) are still there to welcome me back!

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing I'd change is the cleaning facilities in the kitchen. Some times I felt food was prepared in an unhygienic manner due to a lack of clean wash cloths.
Response from Yana Cocha - Amazonian Animal Rescue Centre

Hey Jono,

Just to let you know we now have a new cleaning system in the kitchen, and coordinators now prepare lunches as well. It's also had a fresh lick of paint and overall is kept at a much higher standard.

Hope that encourages you to come back and answers any of your concerns1

The Yana Cocha Team

Yes, I recommend this program

I volunteered at Yana Cocha almost 5 years ago. I was there for around six weeks, which is longer than most volunteers, and for the most part it was a great experience. A piece of advice… as cute as she is, don't trust Simona haha!

One of the Chorongos came to the centre while I was volunteering there. His name is Panchito. He and I really bonded in the couple of weeks before I had to leave, but he was my baby and I miss him like crazy! I still get updates from Elliot on him and other animals I significantly bonded with, hoping they'll remember me when I get the change to go back and see them!

What would you improve about this program?
If I had to change one thing it would probably be the bathroom facilities. I didn't care about the cold water, honestly sometimes it is more refreshing, but it was that Simona (one of the domesticated but free-to-roam squirrel monkeys) could easily get in and kept stealing the toilet paper to the point that we'd have to buy our own and keep it hidden away. Also since the floors are on an angle, the water level builds up so you can't pee without your feet in a pool of water by the end of the day.
Response from Yana Cocha - Amazonian Animal Rescue Centre

Hey Charley,

Just to update to you on some of the changes that have happened over the last 5 years (in relation to volunteer facilities).

The volunteers have a brand new toilet/shower block which is cleaned daily, has hot water and is generally a huge improvement to the toilet facility you experienced.

Along with the toilets, 2 of the 3 cabanas were given a total refurbishment, making them bigger and a lot nicer to live in. They now have more windows and new mattresses which make a huge difference as I'm sure you can imagine.

There are also bug nets available and the animals diets are kept as up to date as possible.

Overall there's been a lot of changes so your review is a little-outdated. Thanks anyway and remember to always recommend us to anyone you know interested in volunteering with animals.

The Yana Cocha Team


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