IPBio - Biodiversity Research Institute

Program Reviews

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Ming Lin
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing volunteer program!

The volunteer program was located in a small town called Iporanga. Being born and raised in big cities, I thought I would not get used to living here. However after 5 months I fell in love with the town and the people. Brazilians are so warm and welcoming. Other than the amazing volunteer program, I had the opportunity to attend some school activities with the staff at the reserve, thereby conversed with the local children. All in all it was a very rewarding experience. Thank you to IPBIO I had such wonderful time volunteering here.

What was your funniest moment?
Visiting waterfalls and caves with other volunteers. Also, working with the Brazilians as well!
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Thomas
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

What an adventure

Hiya, I´m not a man of great words, but able to capture my surroundings with my camera.
That´s why I don´t have to much to say, but more to show: Check out my personal travel related website for the images I took while spending 3 months in the beautiful and stunning Atlantic Forest at IPBio Reserva Betary as a volunteer and check my YouTube playlist „IPBio“ to see what it is like to volunteer at IPBio and what you can expect to see, if you observe the world with an open mind, a bit of luck and some patience.

https://www.snowmanstudios.de/reise/forschungsabenteuer-brasilien/fotoalben/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMsmIZvnnr4&list=PLXIVgljOWR8UIXFnziYFa9CwTJNdHW1U2

Cheers Thomas

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I watched a pair of flirting hummingbirds for about 2 hours.
I did a 5 days timelapse recording of mushrooms growing
I did a 6 hours nights sky timelapse watching the milky ways galatic center appearing and rising
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Brenda
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

I want to come back!

I absolutely had a great time during my 8-week stay as an Eco-Volunteer. I highly recommend volunteering if you are a recent graduate who wants more hands-on work in collecting data. The staff at IPBIO are very friendly and the locals are so hospitable. The other volunteers were amazing and the volunteer house itself was very comfortable.

During the weekends you can stay at the reserve and relax or you can make plans with the other volunteers to visit Petar State park or some local waterfalls.

The owners, Sergio and Val come to the reserve every couple of weeks, and Val at times surprises you with home-cooked meals. I'm vegan so it was so sweet of her to go out of her way to make me some extremely delicious meals! I had such a wonderful time and I plan to return! :)

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
On one of the mushroom night searches, we came across hundreds of bioluminescent mushrooms and it was just magical. This was after a week or so of rain and then a hot spell. The floor resembled the night sky and it was just an incredible experience.
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Jaren
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Ipbio, I can't wait to go back

The experience I had during my 3 weeks at Ipbio was incredible. The staff is all so friendly and any problems you have they will address them and create solutions for you. They were extremely helpful in pre-planning, coordinating your travel to the reserve and all of the trips to town for groceries. During my stay they improved the internet speed and added fiber optic internet so there was no disconnect if you didn't want to. The volunteer house was comfortable and they provided everything they said they would and some. Go next door to Sal's for a drink and some good food, he also hosts cave exploration and you can arrange travel and all the details next door at his place, he even has a pool table! The staff are all very friendly and will get you involved if there are monkeys/toucans/anything of interest that you should check out! The data collection days are all super fun! My favorite was the mushroom day and river inventory. The mushroom day was fun because of the crazy variety of mushrooms you find every week! The river day was fun too because the water is cool and refreshing to work in. There are so many fun things to do around the reserve during my time the parks had just opened up from COVID restrictions and I highly recommend going to PETAR park nearby. I commend Ipbio for their safety practices during COVID and although I was vaccinated on my visit I still was happy to follow all guidelines and rules which were clearly explained to us. The reserve is spectacular I'll never forget the birds and animals I saw there and the things I learned about how special and endangered the Atlantic Forrest is. Thank you Ipbio for an amazing time, I look forward to returning!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
To see glowing mushrooms at night in the jungle was totally wild and had me stunned more than seeing wild monkeys!
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Ben
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Mushroom Hunter's Dream Oasis

IPBio is an oasis of rainforest among the ever shrinking Atlantic forest. The people working there truly have a passion for nature, conservation, and community. They do everything they possibly can to ensure your stay is enjoyable, safe and remains focused on these passions. From glowing mushrooms, to monkeys, fish, frogs, and rehabilitating birds and coatis, IPBio has something for everyone in the realm of conservation. Even all of your food scraps are converted into fertilizer for the gardens, from which you can eat fresh lettuce, peppers and pumpkins. IPBio is a truly magical place. During my three month stay, I discovered a new species of Cordyceps mushroom and photographed a novel species of robber fly, among many other wonderful specimens of the wildlife there. The friendships you make here will last a lifetime, maybe more, and the place will draw you back for repeated visits to one of the most amazing places on Earth. Iporanga.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I found some truly amazing mushrooms! A ton of unique and spectacular cordyceps mushrooms (which are the ones that grow inside insects), as well as caged stink horns, and many species of bioluminescent fungi as well!
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Covi
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

An Unforgettable Five Weeks

Volunteering at IPBio is the once-in-a-lifetime experience you’ll want to repeat again and again! I honestly can’t say enough good things about the 5 weeks I spent at Reserva Betary as an eco-volunteer. Every day offered something new— from photographing birds, monitoring pond habitats, searching for frogs, foraging for mushrooms. And those are considered “work day” experiences! Being surrounded by the immeasurable beauty of the Atlantic Forest while you assist the on-staff biologists with their field research is one of the best things you could do with your time. At IPBio, there are so many small ways to make a big impact on the local environment. Not to mention, the nights and weekends are filled with group barbecues, movie nights, card games, exploring caves, visiting waterfalls, and stargazing. Believe me when I say this: no amount of time spent volunteering here will feel long enough. I can’t wait to come back. Até mais, pessoal!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Stay longer than you think will be enough! Time flies by fast here. Savor every minute of it.
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Samira
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Absolutely loved it here!

IPbio is a wonderful place for everyone who loves nature and adventure. The staff is very welcoming and attentive and everything is super well organised. They gave me all the info I needed to prepare and enjoy my stay as much as I could. The volunteer house was very comfortable and has good facilities. The area is truly breathtaking. Everyday was a new adventure and saw lots of wildlife and stunning views. The projects were very interesting and diverse. In the weekends we visited caves, waterfalls, did Boya cross and trips to the beach at Canenaia.
At the end of the program a presentation was held of all the data that was collected. It felt very fulfilling being able to contribute to the scientific research on the biodiversity and ecology of the flora and fauna of one of the most endangered rain forests in the world.
The interesting work, beautiful location, comfortable house, fun weekend activities and sincere warmth and kindness of the staff was a perfect combination that will assure you have an amazing time at IPbio!

I will definitely come back some day, looking forward to it already..

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Seeing the bioluminescent mushrooms was one of a lifetime experience I will never forget
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Lucas
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing 2 weeks

My time at the reserve was amazing. The staff were super friendly and receptive and very supportive of my work. The nature is breathtakingly beautiful and I had the opportunity to see a lot different species. Seeing the glowing mushrooms is truly a one of a kind experience.
The program allows for artist to participate in eco volunteering and was totally flexible so that I could get the best out of my time there. I will definitely come back as soon as possible and it was the best decision to participate. Recommend it!

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Théo
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

I miss this place SO MUCH!

After finishing my bachelor’s degree in protection and management of nature, I wanted to take a year to discover the world and gain work experience on the field before doing a master’s degree in Ecology. I wanted to go somewhere drastically different to what I’ve been used to and Brazil seemed like an interesting destination especially in the Atlantic forest! I also wanted to meet people who shared my passion for nature. I’m glad I chose IPBio, it almost felt like a big family. I am grateful to have been part of it for some time! They have some very interesting projects running and it enabled me to learn a lot about the Atlantic forest and the species who inhabit it.

I particularly enjoyed the bird inventories. During these, we saw beautiful landscapes as well as amazing birds! The night walks looking for bioluminescent mushrooms were also amazing! Sometimes, the whole floor would be glowing with the mycelium, it looked a bit like the movie Avatar!

I definitely recommend bringing a camera. It can be useful during work hours for some inventories but above all, there are loads of landscapes, birds, insects, reptiles and amphibians to take pictures of!

In our spare time, we could go and swim in the river just behind the volunteer house which I also recommend especially after work on a hot day! The walk in to town is also nice, I got to see some cool animals including monkeys and the scenery is beautiful on the way in to town. There are loads of cool activities to do on weekends such as visiting cool caves with rivers running through them, amazing hikes and Boia Cross! For the boia cross, you basically just float down the river on a tire… It sounds weird but it’s amazing! You get to go down some rapids and also calm areas. The view is incredible. It’s really fun and can also be relaxing depending on which part of the river you’re on.

One of the things that makes this experience so amazing is the people you meet there. This kind of experience attracts similar types of people. I have met incredible people there during my stay and have made really close friends with which I intend to stay in contact.

What was your funniest moment?
We went on a boia cross at night in the rapids with nothing but the moon light to see! It was extremely fun doing it with the other volunteers who were great people!
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Carina
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

I want to go back

I first heard about IPBio through a professor at Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP) whose lab I had interned in the year previous. After graduating in mid-2019, I wanted to spend some time in Brazil working on a project in my field, ecology and evolution. The professor I knew at UNICAMP suggested I could create a new volunteer project at IPBio relating to bird-mediated seed dispersal. I did not know what to expect from IPBio because, to be honest, I did not watch the YouTube videos (you should definitely watch their YouTube videos!!). As a result, I went in a little blind and was incredibly impressed with the staff, the projects, the facilities, and the volunteer program as a whole. I quickly fell in love with the reserve from the moment I stepped on the rope bridge and saw Rio Betary, the river that curves around the reserve. I highly recommend going during summer, which is the rainy/warm season so you can take full advantage of the fact that there is a swimming spot a short two-minute walk from the house where you stay. The volunteer house has everything you need with a fully equipped kitchen, washer and dryer, nice bathrooms, and potentially your own private room (depending on the number of volunteers when you go). I would recommend bringing or buying Tupperware (they sell Tupperware in town), but other than that, the kitchen has everything you want (even a pressure cooker to make beans!). My situation was a little different than most of the volunteers since I spent most of my time designing a new project. Seeing how a project is built from the ground up gave me a deep appreciation for all the effort that goes into the design and execution of the volunteer projects at IPBio. I was especially appreciative of all the support I receive from the staff as well as the work environment that exists at the reserve where there is a constant exchange and flow of ideas. Although I thoroughly enjoyed every workday, I especially enjoyed the weekends when fellow volunteers and I would do fun activities like floating down the river (boia cross) or exploring caves or have a barbeque or even just walk to town. I would highly recommend exploring the nearby town, Iporanga and spending time there. The walk to town is 6 km (about an hour) but is really enjoyable if you take your time and look for wildlife along the way. While walking to town I saw monkeys, toucans, and tons of other cool birds, not to mention that the views are amazing. Volunteering with IPBio were some of the best three months of my life and I think a big factor in programs like these are the people you do it with. These volunteer programs attract likeminded people and the fellow volunteers I met from around the world made my experience one I am sure to not forget and will always treasure. I honestly hope to return to Reserva Betary one day and work with IPBio again.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Learn a bit of Portuguese! The staff are amazing and not all of them speak English so to fully take advantage of your time in Brazil you should learn some basic phrases and go from there.