I discovered La Senda Verde in October 2012 while doing that quintessential South American backpacking trip, and I was hooked from the moment I first walked over the bridge at the entrance. I ended up spending 3 weeks there, and when I left, I promised to return, which I did, in January 2013. I stayed for 4 months! I am planning to return in July, 2014 (and would have been there for Xmas 2013, had I not overstayed my visa earlier that year!)
The wonderful thing about LSV is the opportunity to work so closely with animals, and to be a member of such a warm and tight community. Even as a short term volunteer, I felt like a real member of the family, and after my longer stint, it was sad to say goodbye to everyone at LSV, not just the animals, but the kitchen staff and other workers.
Working with animals and working outdoors is just so rewarding and LSV gives you a real sense of personal regeneration; you feel like you are physically and spiritually improving with all the different work that you do (and I am not a spiritual person!)
But it is what you make of it. While I personally found all aspects rewarding - cleaning all the bird poop and cages, feeding the animals while trying to avoid being pecked by a looming, angry macaw, even helping to lug those bloody heavy poles, or raking the rocky pathways - some people complained, especially if they were looking after the birds for 5 days. But honestly, if you are not genuinely interested in improving the daily lives of all animals, including the "less interesting", but just as intelligent creatures, then don't bother! There was an overemphasis on working with and hanging out with the monkeys, and potential volunteers need to be aware that there are a lot of other animals at LSV who need just as much attention.
Volunteers were from a whole range of backgrounds, and being there for a longer amount of time allowed me see how it moved in waves. The commonality was a desire to spend time with animals, and for the most part, volunteers worked well together. In the evenings most volunteers hung out in the social room, having a beer, playing pool and watching films. It was a very social place, and Vicky's son, Poche, and his Aussie wife, Lori, were always there to hang out and be part of the group.
The location is fantastic, the lifestyle is good, I loved the food (admittedly, I have simple tastes!) And there was always Coroico, if you felt you needed to go out and have a nice meal (best pizza I've ever had was in the Coroico square, and if you fancy German or French food, oddly, there are several places to go.)
I continue to feel a real sense of loss since leaving, as LSV has a tendency to anchor itself in an unusual way. The several returning volunteers is evidence of this!