Animal Experience International

Program Reviews

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Lauren
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Adventure of a Lifetime!

I came back last week from a two-week long trip to ARCAS in Guatemala in the veterinary program! I learned about AEI back in 2019 when I met Dr. Heather Reid and listened to her lecture about wildlife rehabilitation and volunteering abroad. Soon after, I got in contact with Nora who was extremely punctual, kind and knowledgeable. With COVID-19, the trip was pushed back repeatedly but Nora never gave up and gave frequent updates on the possibility of rebooking my dates. She reassures and addresses any concerns you have about anything related to your trip. I already knew where I wanted to go and Nora helped me make it a reality! Despite flights not being included, Nora gave excellent recommendations on who to book flights with and where to stop over. She gave a comprehensive packing list and manual which was helpful in being prepared for the culture and environment change. As a young woman and having never travelled by myself, I was extremely nervous but AEI was always there for me every step of the way!

There was some slight miscommunication between the centre and AEI about specific packing items, housing and internet accessibility, however, overall, the trip was an absolute adventure and a once in a lifetime experience!

Pros
  • Flora in jungle
  • Variety of animal experiences
  • Tikal and Flores
Cons
  • Limited variety in meals
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Hannah
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

A soul filling, turtlely awesome experience with AEI

Traveling internationally, and volunteering with animals was always a dream of mine, and I am so grateful for Animal Experience International for helping me achieve that. This was my first time traveling out of the country independent, as well as volunteering, and AEI was very helpful in the process of preparing me for my trip. They provided me all the information I needed, and were always available if I had any questions, or concerns at all, and were quick to respond. AEI was there for me with every aspect of my trip from start to finish. Traveling independently out of the country can be nerve-wracking but I always felt safe and prepared thanks to AEI. I am so glad they were the ones guiding me for my first experience as a volunteer out of the country.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Keep an open mind. This was the best thing I could have done for myself. I am usually one to have expectations, but I specifically made it a goal to keep my mind open about everything I would encounter throughout my experience. It had been my first time traveling internationally independently, as well as being a volunteer, so there were a lot of unknowns about not only how it would be traveling out of my country alone, but what the volunteer work would be like. By doing so, I was able to embrace every aspect of my trip, which allowed me to have such an amazing experience.
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Justine
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Elephant Care at Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

The elephant sanctuary was a lovely experience and I am so glad I got the chance to work closely with elephants in a place where the elephants were happy, well cared for, and where their well being was the number one priority.

The daily routine involved hand feeding banana balls to the elephants, chopping up fruit, making enrichments for the elephants, and cleaning the enclosures. Depending on the elephants you were with for the day you would also sometimes shower and scrub them with a hose and brush and take them on short - long walks. You also had daily special projects that varied and were mostly designed to help with the upkeep of the facility.

The accommodations were decent. The rooms varied from old to new. Most rooms were shared by at least four people, however, the older rooms slept two. The bathrooms also varied from old to new - all bathrooms had a shower and toilet - some toilets were flush and others you had to pour water into to get them to flush. All showers were cold but they weren't freezing and most days it was refreshing because it had been very hot. There was no air conditioning but all rooms had fans.

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Sean
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Once in a Lifetime Experience

Mags and her team were such an amazing group to be working with. They were very informative and allowed us hands on tasks that we will never forget. I planted mangrove trees, cleaned up the ocean side, visited a locally Women ran recycling center and of course studied and observed the amazing Sea Turtle. I learned a lot of different aspects about Sea Turtle Conservation that I had not thought about prior. This program helped me feel that I am doing something to better our environment and there is also so much more to be done. I really appreciate everyone's time and efforts that went into this program. It was very beneficial for me!
I am now armed with fictional data and real life experience to explain to people why change is a must and it needs to happen immediately.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
While staying near the facility I went swimming one day after volunteering with some other members of the course. The view for me was breathtaking. One side of the gulf was raining and the other was sunny. A large rainbow appeared almost perfectly in the center of the two gorgeous scenes. A few meters out there were dolphins swimming together. Nearby sea turtles would pop the heads up for air within an arms length of me. At that very moment a scarlet macaw flew over us making its bird calls as only they can. I just took a moment slowly inhaled and realized I was in a literal paradise.
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Jenna
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Life-changing, amazing experience!

What an incredible experience! Nora, from AEI, perfectly planned every detail of this trip. We were connected with an outstanding host in the local community and an inspiring organization (LAST). Nora was available before the trip to video call and answer all of our questions. She also communicated with our group throughout the entire trip to ensure we were having an amazing experience. I was also impressed with the organization of our transportation. Being in an unfamiliar location, it could have gotten quite overwhelming, but, with AEI's help, our transportation was always well organized. We worked with sea turtles, mangroves, and a local spay and neuter clinic. This trip was truly life-changing thanks to AEI, and I learned so much about conservation.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
To get the most out of your experience, entirely immerse yourself in the local community. Take time to explore the area and meet new people. After an amazing day working with the sea turtles, I would also recommend heading to the beach, which was just a short walk down the road. We saw beautiful sunsets, dolphins, and other marine life.
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Morgan
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Sea Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica

My trip to Costa Rica was unlike any other trip aboard I've experienced! Thanks to AEI, I had the best time and also gained so much valuable knowledge from this trip. I had assumed I would just being doing a lot of manual labor while in Costa Rica, but the education aspect of this program really helped me understand why the work was so important and needed to be done in the first place. LAST (Latin American Sea Turtles) was the organization that I worked with and because of them I was able to learn so much about sea turtles, their habitats, the ecosystem in the Osa Peninsula, and about the importance of conservation. Without AEI I'm sure I would've never found LAST or been able to plan a trip like this on my own, so I am very grateful for everyone at AEI who handled the logistics because everything went smoothly and I felt very safe and comfortable at all times.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
In addition to working with turtles and planting mangroves for their habitats, my group also did a beach cleanup. It truly shocked me at how much trash we picked up within a 3 mile stretch, but it also really drove home the message about conservation and how people need to do better and work to create less waste for the betterment of our planet and wildlife who suffer the consequences of actions.
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Amy
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Costa Rica trip with App State

It would be so much work to try to put a trip together like this on your own, and going through AEI is an awesome option. They provide support leading up to the trip, and are also available for help during the trip, which is very comforting. Everything ran so smoothly for our trip there, thanks to their careful planning.
Working with LAST (Latin America Sea Turtles) was an amazing experience, and I was confident in them and their work because I know AEI had already done their research and worked with them before. If you want to work with animal organizations overseas but do not know which ones to trust or choose, working through AEI is a great option for you. They do research on organizations, and carefully plan trips that are environmentally friendly and do not cause harm to places, people, or animals. They are a great organization to work with.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Pack clothing/towels that can dry easily because it is humid at all times. We had some t-shirts and towels that never fully dried due to the humidity.
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Jenna
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Experience In Costa Rica

Some of the unique features that I loved was being able to be surrounded by the rural community of Costa Rica. We were able to experience the culture first hand while getting to help researchers with sea turtles and other animals. Staying in a smaller setting made you realize just how connected the community is. Dogs are constantly roaming around while Scarlett Macaws fly through the air. It is something that you will never forget. The amount of diversity can't be beaten and you will be able to meet some of the most friendly people that treat you like family.

Some of the activities that my group conducted were sea turtle research day, mangrove reforestation and bringing a company to animals at a spay and neuter clinic. These were each very different while we were able to help both animals and plants. This trip really made me appreciate our environment and encouraged me to continue to save our planet.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Make sure you stay hydrated because the sun is very prominent and the humidity is always very high. Also make sure that you are aware of your surroundings and not infringing on the customs of the locals. Care for your environment and keep the wildlife in mind.
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Mera
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Wildlife Rehabilitation, Guatemala

Guatemala 2019 was my first expedition with Animal Experience International. Even though I had been considering an expedition for nearly two years, I could not quite make up my mind which expedition to do. When Nora told me about the Guatemala expedition, I signed up right away. Nora and her team at AEI made the whole process easy and anxiety free – from assistance with flights, to advising on the gear to bring. She was always available to answer my questions, no matter how simple they were. In my moments of self-doubt, she cheered me on and gave me the confidence to persevere. Nora is part leader, part travel agent, part therapist and full time lovely person! Even though I tried not to have any expectations for the trip, what I really wanted to do was vacation with purpose. And that is exactly what I did! During the expedition, I was particularly impressed with the dedication of the staff at the wildlife sanctuary in Guatemala and the success that they have had in rehabilitating wild animals, most of whom were confiscated from the black market trade. The staff made the volunteers feel welcome, provided training in animal care and animal behaviour, answered our many questions and were genuinely thankful for the work that we did. The success of this volunteer placement is also an attestation to the diligence of AEI. Nora and her team carefully and methodically investigate each volunteer experience before partnering with them to place volunteers. They are committed to making every volunteer placement a safe and happy one! In the end, I came home inspired by courageous people who persevere day after day and take joy in every howler monkey, toucan and anteater saved and returned to the wild. I am ready to sign up for my next AEI adventure!

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Georgina
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Dog Rescue in Mexico

This project exceeded my expectations. I could not believe the amount of hands-on experience from the very first moment I got there. I went with zero experience and left with the helpful knowledge to volunteer with confidence in other places. I highly recommend this project for any new or experienced volunteer who loves animals and wants to be part of making a difference. Thank you AEI for making this valuable experience possible for me.

What would you improve about this program?
It all went very smooth for me