IPBio - Biodiversity Research Institute

Program Reviews

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Helena
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

IPBrilliant!

My time spent working with IPBio was assuredly one of the best things I have been involved in to-date!

Firstly, it is to be noted that the Amazon branch of the organisation is very new comparatively to the Atlantic Forest, meaning that the facilities are different but this is by no means a negative! The accommodation is lovely, being in a re-purposed AirBnB, complete with swimming pool, affectionate cat and the loveliest neighbours you could ever hope to meet. On top of that, the coordinators are fantastic, being helpful, friendly and informative regarding both work, down-time and anything in-between.

Even though I had travelled for two days to the other side of the planet, I had never felt more at home. Meeting likeminded volunteers from across the globe was really one of the highlights of my time there; the others being the inventories: Traveling to different locations to photograph bird populations, discovering new species of mushrooms, exploring the night-time world of the rainforest searching for fluorescent creatures, catching a huge frog and naming it "Bruno"... the list goes on!

Some of the best extra activities we did were visiting Santarem to see the pink dolphins and on our way back from the Bird Inventory at Canal do Jari, taking a tour to see sloths and squirrel monkeys. The beaches around Alter do Chao are also some of the nicest I've been to!

The work IPBio does is essential, considering that the Amazon Rainforest is home to so many endemic species and yet so little is known about them. By conducting inventories over time, species can be monitored and the impact of threats can hopefully be identified to help conserve one of the most biodiverse places on the planet.

Overall, I think IPBio exceeded my expectations, acting as an educational and immensely fun project full of diverse work and wonderful people. While I was there a whole month, I feel that I could have honestly stayed there for longer, discovering new things and spending time in one of the most Amazing places I have ever been!
I would highly recommend IPBio to friends, family and anyone looking to make a difference in the conservation of the natural world: I very much believe in the work they do and thoroughly appreciate just how accessible the project is to volunteers.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I helped find a new species of cordycep mushroom that was then sent to the lab in Sao Paulo for analysis! When they say they regularly find new species, they aren't kidding, its beyond exciting!
Pros
  • Great people
  • Variable work
  • See awesome species
Cons
  • Mosquitos (Expected: it is the Amazon after all)
  • Termites and ant bites (bring good trousers and tuck them into socks!!!)
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Molly
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Once in a lifetime experience!

The IPBio program is an amazing, once in a life time experience! Being able to be apart of important research whilst making life long friends. I would definitely recommend doing this program if you get the chance. Be prepared for physical work, but also a lot of fun along the way!
This program is the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in biodiversity research within the Amazon rainforest. It’s a great way to step out of your comfort zone and learn so many new things.
Both Imran and Marleen are hands down the best instructors to do a program as special as this one.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Make sure you experience as much as the local life as possible, because it is amazing!!
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Anne
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

A great company and a brilliant experience

I spent 3 months volunteering with IPBio on the Amazon project and absolutely loved it. Pre departure they were brilliant at communicating information, answering any questions and generally making you feel comfortable with what to expect. Once on site the IPBio team were professional, supportive and a lot of fun. I found the work to be interesting and varied with plenty of free time to explore the local area and culture. The other volunteers tended to be like-minded, hardworking and fun loving. There were usually 8 volunteers sharing a comfortable house and there was always something happening from Capoeira lessons with the neighbor to Carimbo Dancing with the locals and not forgetting the forest night searches and riverside BBQ’s. I truly can’t recommend this company and the Amazon Biodiversity Research experience enough.

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R
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Inspiring

This was the best experience I could have asked for. The team are super responsive and organised before you arrive. The accommodation is great and you only pay a small price for a great place to stay. The amount of time per day that is normally from 8-1ish which works well in the heat and weekends off. Each day the team does different data collection/inventories (fish, trees, mushrooms, reforestation, and birds) as well as one night search per week. The people I met there were open, kind, hard working people with great personalities. The volunteer organiser is really kind and sometimes arranges BBQs or social activities. It's super easy to explore the surrounding area by yourself of booking tours into the forest. I had moments in this programme that will last me a lifetime. Like finding bioluminescence on a night search, snorkelling through the small crystal clear streams of the Amazon, dancing with the other volunteers at the local Carimbo. This is one of the most transparent, well organised and dedicated organisations I have come across.

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Matteo
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Perfect to learn about the Amazon ecosystem

22 year old French student, I was looking for a field experience as part of my studies in tropical forest ecology, and I first chose to apply for the IPBio Amazonie program due to its reasonable cost and the diversity of activities proposed.

I stayed for almost 2 months and I can say that all my expectations were fully satisfied! The diversity of the inventories carried out will enable people with or without a scientific background to appreciate the beauty of the flora and fauna, and to learn about them.

I'm still enchanted by the beauty of the region, which is certainly one of the most beautiful places on earth and offers plenty to discover during the weekends, as well as by the local culture, which will give you a warm welcome.

It was also an opportunity to meet other volunteers from other countries and with different backgrounds: amazing encounters!

In definitive, it was the ideal volunteer program for learning more about the Amazon ecosystem, doing useful and rewarding work with passionate people.

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V
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Review IPBio

I'm a 19 years old girl from Sweden. After graduation I wanted to do a meaningful volunteer program and something that could be helpful for my future work area.
At IPbio we got pick up from the airport at all time. Staff was helpful and nice. The living accommodation was comfortable and the neighbours offered safe taxi transportations and other freetime activities. I liked that at IPbio we got to experience a lot of different things, the activities were for example fish inventory, bird inventory or planting trees on an island.

Social Impact (5)
Safety (4)
Support (5)
Free Time Activities (5)
Value (5)

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Sophie
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Childhood dream come true

My one month volunteering in The Amazon Rainforest was absolutely incredible, I really can't recommend it enough. It had always been my dream to go to the Amazon and everyday I was so happy to be there! Imi and Marleen, our coordinators were so welcoming when I first arrived and the other volunteers ended up becoming fast friends that I felt so at home there.

The work can be challenging in the heat, you are sweating 24/7, but you know you are making a positive impact and it feels very rewarding. Every day is different ranging from measuring and planting trees to identifying fish, frogs, birds, and mushrooms.

The volunteer lodge is beautiful, (you feel like you are on holiday!!) the locals are so kind, the neighbours are the best and the food is delicious. I went on so many amazing excursions out on the river, danced a lot of Carimbo and learned a traditional martial art called Capoeira. I'm now solo travelling around South America and EVERY time someone asks me what the highlight of my trip has been so far, I always say volunteering in Alter do Chao. I will definitely be coming back.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The most unique thing I saw was Caire. This is an Amazonian festival that takes place in September and I was so so lucky to be there when I was. It was a fun 5 days of dancing, singing, and immersing myself in the local culture.
Pros
  • The people - volunteers and locals
  • The location - beautiful town, beaches and excursions
  • Being surrounded by nature everyday
Cons
  • Not staying long enough and saying goodbye to fellow volunteers
  • Understanding the locals - learning Portuguese is paramount
  • The tarantulas... eek
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K
4/5
Yes, I recommend this program

A well-rounded program and good value-for-money

I spent a month volunteering with IPBio in the Amazon rainforest whilst on a career break. I joined while the program was still relatively new; having volunteered in conservation before, I wanted to participate in a program at an earlier stage of development.

On the whole, the program is well-organised and it has a lot of variety, with different themes for each day - trees, fish, mushrooms, amphibians and birds. There is also a day dedicated to reforestation activities (e.g. potting seedlings, planting trees) - I always enjoyed these as you could feel an immediate sense of your contribution. The activities rotate between locations every week so no two weeks are the same either.

Whilst I liked the breadth of the program, this does come with one drawback - you gain surface-level familiarity in each area but never develop any deeper understanding. Some people may find this lack of depth unsatisfying. Currently there are no specialist staff on base so opportunities to nerd out on particular areas are limited e.g. you're not going to have an in-depth discussion about frogs with a herpetologist. However, this may change in future as the program develops.

Working hours are generally 8am-2pm so there is a lot of downtime. As mentioned by other reviewers, there is a wide range of extracurricular activities available and I have lots of fond memories of capoeira lessons, carimbo nights and weekend tours.

Pros
  • Immersion in local community and culture, opportunity to learn and practise Portuguese
  • Lots of variety in the program - good if you want to try a bunch of different things
  • Friendly and welcoming staff, volunteers from a wide range of backgrounds and interest areas
Cons
  • There are no specialist experts on base so opportunities to have in-depth discussions and build on your knowledge are limited - this might change in future though
  • Due to inventories being in the early stages, there is a heavy focus on photography so if you don't have a good camera it can feel harder to make a meaningful contribution
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Roxanne
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing experience in a beautiful location

I spent seven weeks volunteering with IPBio in the Amazon and was extremely sad to leave. My primary reasons for choosing the program were to experience conservation work in a different country and to get the opportunity to see some of the Amazon's wildlife (insects and arachnids included) - and see wildlife I did! Almost every day brought a new creature of some kind, from birds and monkeys to spiders and scorpions. The program's location was also a massive plus - the town of Alter do Chão is amazing, with the best parts being the gorgeous white sand beaches and the weekly carimbó nights (which are ridiculously fun and attended by people of all ages). A fantastic experience overall!

Pros
  • The location - particularly the beautiful beaches and weekly carimbó nights
  • Wildlife - birds, monkeys, insects, fish and more!
  • Fieldwork is both interesting and fun
Cons
  • The heat - sweating ALL day every day
  • Can be difficult to communicate with locals if you don't speak Portuguese
  • Few to no mosquitos around but was still getting bitten by SOMETHING
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Maria
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

I want to go back!!!

I had the best 5 weeks of my life volunteering in the Amazon rainforest.

The whole time I was there I was like “I can’t believe I’m in the Amazon” surrounded by such beautiful scenery and amazing biodiversity.

I was a bit nervous when I first arrived, but everyone was so lovely and welcoming. The staff were amazing - so enthusiastic and passionate about their work.

Each day was an exciting adventure not knowing what cool animals you’d see that day. Seeing a potoo for the first time was mind blowing!!!

I really liked that each day was different, dedicated to a different project. One of the most memorable for me was searching for bioiluminscent species at night. It was magical -being in complete darkness listening to the sounds of the rainforest and staring at the clear night sky.

The work to life balance is great. There is plenty of time to relax and explore around Alter do Chão or chill at the beach at the weekends as well a chance to engage with the culture. I really looked forward to the Carimbó dance in town every Thursday night.

It was a truly fulfilling experience and one I will never forget. My only regret is that I couldn’t stay longer. I met some amazing people, saw some really cool wildlife and stunning landscapes. It’s an experience that will stay with me forever and would certainly recommend it to anyone if they have the chance.

Pros
  • Being in such a unique environment, doing meaningful work and seeing wildlife in their natural habitat.
  • There are plenty of things to do in your free time (beach, hikes, organised tours etc.)
  • The friends you make along the way
Cons
  • Leaving. It was really hard saying goodbye :(
  • The heat and being constantly sweaty (but you soon get used to it)