La Senda Verde - Animal Refuge
97% Rating
(7 Reviews)

La Senda Verde - Animal Refuge

La Senda Verde wildlife refuge is located approximately 2.5 hours by bus from La Paz and is situated between the small towns of Yolosa and Yolosita by the Yolosa river.

We offer low-cost short and long term volunteering opportunities. Short-term volunteers will work with monkeys, birds, turtles, cats and bears on a rotational basis. Long-term volunteers (1 month or more) will have the opportunity to become a surrogate for a baby monkey or to work more closely with the Andean bears.

The refuge is also an ecolodge which means that you can stay at the sanctuary for a few nights before making a decision about volunteering.

Locations
South America » Bolivia
Length
1-2 Weeks
2-4 Weeks
1-3 Months
3-6 Months
6-12 Months
1 Year+
Language
English
Housing
Hostel
Starting Price
$0.00
Currency
USD
Price Details
* Cost for short-term volunteers (2 weeks or less) is $170 per week and drops to $150USD per week for week 3 and 4
* Cost drops to $120 per week after week 4
* Cost includes accommodation in the volunteers quarters and 3 meals per day
* Snacks/Drinks/Alcohol are available for purchase on site at a low price

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Impact
    97%
  • Support
    93%
  • Fun
    94%
  • Value
    91%
  • Safety
    90%

Program Reviews (7)

Default avatar
Ann
Female
42 years old
Australia
Other

La Sende Verde

9/10

it was a great 2 weeks at la Sende verde and I left there with an appreciation of animal rights and environmental issues. It was the highlight of my trip to South America. Marcelo, Vicky and the staff have a real passion for giving these animals a second chance and it was amazing to encounter these creatures.
Food was good and the facilities there were good as well.
http:/wp.me/p3tQCT-1y

How can this program be improved?

Everyone wants to be on monkeys and not turtles-:). Poor old turtles! It can cause some discontent among volunteers over who gets assigned to different tasks. Better teamwork needs to be encouraged to ensure that everyone gets a chance to do all animals.

Default avatar
Mel
Female
32 years old
Glasgow
Other

Best experience in our 1 year world tour !

10/10

Planned to stay 2 weeks but ended there 4 weeks ! That how amazing it is ! It is really dirty and hard work, no day off, lots of insects, not the best food but is still one of our best experience during our 1 year touring around the world.
The staff, volunteers and animals make it all worth it ! Would live to go back again ! I miss the spider monkeys so much (especially they cuddles). The refuge keeps getting bigger and better but unfortunately it is never enough as more and more animals needs help in Bolivia !

Don't hesitate to go there and give the animal the love and care they desperate need !

How can this program be improved?

Food - sorry but Bolivian food is not the most gourmet and it was quite repetitive.

The dormitory - were full as the refuge is really popular with volunteers. However, some extension were being planned.

Default avatar
Sarah
Female
32 years old
La Senda Verde

Excellent opportunity to work with wild animals

10/10

I came to volunteer in La Senda Verde for the first time in February 2012. My plan was to stay there for two weeks and I ended up being there for 3 months... Careful, this happens regularly in this place! ;-)

The first two weeks I spent on the normal volunteer rosta caring for birds, tortoises, turtles and dogs. The main tasks for the shortterm volunteers are cleaning the cages, feeding the animals and also do as much enrichment for these creatures as possible. It's physical work you do by any kind of weather and you shouldn't be afraid of getting wet and dirty - but honestly, I didn't care at all and never was as happy!
In my free time, I was often up in the monkey area to get to know all the different monkeys and often listening to all the interesting monkey stories of Marcelo.

Afterwards, I had the unique chance to become a surrogate mother for two howler monkey babies. It is a beautiful, but also demanding job to care for these little, sensitive animals. As a surrogate mother, you feed and clean the babies, sleep with them if necessary and accompany their introduction to the existing monkey group. This is the most important, but also most interesting part of your work as a monkey mum and you get to know all the monkeys, their characters and their role in the existing monkey troop really well.

I was devastated when I had to leave my beloved monkeys, the funny staff and especially Vicky and Marcelo, but La Senda Verde has become a part of me, never left me and I knew I would come back one day.

And that's what I did in December 2013 and I'm writing this little report from Carla's Bar (which all Ex-Volunteers do know *g*).

La Senda Verde changed a lot in the last two years. It got a lot bigger, caring for over 400 animals by now. But the groove is still the same and I looove being back here!

I spent the first month as a surrogate mother for two howler monkey babies again, but honestly, this time I haven't had the patience to do it for any longer, which lead me to another unique opportunity - to work with the two Andean spectacled bears called Aruma and Tipnis.

Working with the bears is a total different story than working with the monkeys, as you obviously don't have direct interaction with these huge animals. The bear programm include cleaning and feeding the bears or distract them while another volunteer is doing so, check the electrical fence regularly and working on enrichment. Right now, we do a lot of enrichment with different smells of herbs, making frozen fruit ice creams or hiding food. Another really interesting part is the clicker training to teach the bears to stand up and open their mouth on command, so we can give them medicine, if it should be necessary one day.
I really enjoy working with those precious, endangered animals and it's beautiful to see, how they get to know you and start trusting you - obviously this also happens the other way around.

I'm also helping out with organising the volunteers and do a lot of tours for day guests and the daily bikers coming down the Death Road. This is also a really rewarding part of my work and it feels nice to share my knowledge with other people and spread the word about the problem of the illegal animal traffic and the good work, which is done in La Senda Verde.

La Senda Verde is a unique opportunity to work closely with wild animals, who have been victims of the illegal animal traffic or have been held as pets. Obviously it is a shame, that those animals can't be re-released into the wild because of the Bolivian law, but LSV tries as hard as possible to give them the most natural home as possible.
Please be aware, that working as a volunteer in LSV is hard work, starting early in the morning and sometimes finishing late. You get wet and dirty (but being pooed on brings good luck!) and it's physical work, but the more effort you put in, the more you get back!

How can this program be improved?

If I could change one thing about La Senda Verde, I would make it government funded, because the lack of money is a huge issue in La Senda Verde. If this place would get funded by the government, projects like the planned bird aviary or new cages for the capuchins could be realized much faster, which would be a huge benefit for all the animals living in La Senda Verde.

Default avatar
Lauren
Female
42 years old
Indianapolis, USA
University of Sydney

Wonderful.

10/10

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!

How can this program be improved?

LSV are in a difficult place in terms of their position in animal rehabilitation and conservation. In Bolivia, the procedures involved in releasing animals is extraordinarily complicated (and in some cases illegal, depending on who you talk to), so for the most part, LSV aims to give animals a comfortable, happy life. However, the LSV animals' growing reliance and dependence on humans jars with me, as does the promoted attitude that people can spend all day "playing" with the animals. I personally would like to see LSV work on developing a program that minimises the animals' contact and reliance on humans - especially volunteers - starting with a strict policy of no touching or talking to the animals, but this is not a realistic expectation at LSV, given the way it is set up. And many animals at LSV, especially tethered capuchins, need enrichment and attention that they can now only get from humans. But I can't really fault Marcelo and Vicky; they are doing something they love, and doing it with the best resources at their disposal.

Default avatar
Nicolas
Male
42 years old
Nice, France
Ecole Nationale Superieure des telecomunnications de Paris (ENST)

La Senda Verde rocks!

10/10

This volunteer program is one of the best things I've done in my life.
It's fun, rewarding, relaxing, and these cuddling monkeys are just soooo cute!

We feed the animals and clean their enclosure 3-4 times a day. The rest is spent in a perfect jungle environment, just having fun with other volunteers or cuddling with monkeys.

The facilities are simple yet perfect to spend a relaxing and purposeful time. The food is great. And the staff is very friendly.and enthusiastic.

The owners are a pleasure to get to know!

How can this program be improved?

Honestly? Nothing!

Default avatar
Sarah
Female
42 years old
Perth, Western Australia
University of Western Australia

I miss the monkeys!

9/10

My boyfriend and I spent 2 weeks here, definitely the hightlight of our 4.5 months in South America.

The animals are the reason to come here, but the humans make it easy to stay. The owners, Vicky and Marcello must have seen hundreds and hundreds of volunteers in the 10+ years since they accidentally started an animal refuge, but they still treat you like family. That's why some volunteers stay for months, or come back for a year!

Volunteers get a lot of interaction with the free roaming spider, howler and capuchin monkeys as well as lots of macaws and parrots (who have learned some interesting words and noises, such as "donde esta el fuego?" or miaowing like a cat). There are also other animals we'd never heard of but really enoyed: 2 tayras (weasel family), a coati (like a pretty, red anteater) and a jochi (a large striped rodent) that needed walking at night. There are also a couple of wild cats, 2 spectacled bears, a cayman, a boa constrictor, and lots of turtles and tortoises and others I'm forgetting.

If you are the kind of person who needs a lot of contact with home you should make the effort to get a Bolivian sim card (you need a passport and reasonable Spanish, or get lucky in the shop with an English speaking service rep).

The sand flies can be pretty fierce and you can't wear DEET near the animals, so bring some natural repellents and citronella wrist bands.

You're provided with volunteer shirts (in varying degrees of repair - they get quite a workout), but you wear your own pants... get a couple of pairs of long cotton ones in La Paz if you don't have them (we found fake Colombias and some seconds stalls cheap).

Also, if the rainy season has started you'll be happy to have a decent poncho and rubber boots - you'll still be feeding animals and cleaning cages twice a day rain, hail or shine.

It can be dirty and physical work, so maybe not for you if you're a princess (but if so, you can just come stay at the eco cabins or tree house for a night or two - you won't meet all the animals, but you'll get a good feel of the place, and probably get some spider monkey love).

How can this program be improved?

Meals, accommodation and laundry are included in your volunteer price so you'll spend less than you would travelling around in Bolivia. BUT we had to buy our own water and they ran out of 2L bottles a couple of times.

Water should be free (I think they used to have a filter, and have plans to get one again, so this may be fixed by the time you read this).

Default avatar
Benedict
Male
42 years old
Perth, Australia
Other

Great 2 weeks volunteering

10/10

We decided to break up our trip with 2 weeks volunteering at La Senda Verde in Bolivia. We couldn't have hoped for a better 2 weeks.

When we arrived there were 6 other volunteers, a couple of them were long-termers (up to 18 months) who still showed a lot of passion for their work. As a short-term volunteer you can expect to be assigned to animals on a rotational basis. To begin with you'll probably work with the birds (about 50+ of them), the turtles or assigned to quarantine. Quarantine is for new animals, there are a couple of monkeys there, birds and tayras (otter-like creatures).

After a week or so I got to work with the monkeys, in particular the capuchins who made the experience unforgettable. They've each got their own personalities and in down-time between feeding and cleaning you can go hang out and play with them.

The accommodation is fairly basic, but sufficient, the showers are good and there's a good communal area with pool table, tv + movies and bar. You can buy snacks and drinks for a decent price, I think large beers are about 17Bs and a bottle of wine is 35Bs. We were lucky enough to work with some great people, some of them we'll keep in touch with from now on.

You can expect to work about 8 hours per day with a few breaks in between. If you work longer than 2 weeks, you can ask to work on a special project like with incoming baby monkeys where you'll be their surrogate mother.

We hope that we can return to La Senda Verde again in the future!

How can this program be improved?

The food could be improved slightly, some meals are great, others are so so. You get what you pay for though!

About The Provider

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La Senda Verde wildlife refuge offers several short and long term low-cost volunteering opportunities. As a short term volunteer you'll work in the rotational program taking care of a wide variety of birds, monkeys, turtles, bears and cats. As a longer term volunteer you can

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