Biodiversity Research Institute in the Tropical Forest of Brazil

Video and Photos

IPBio Team
IPBio Team
Photography Volunteer
Photography Volunteer
Bioluminescent Mushroom Research
Bioluminescent Mushroom Research
Waterfalls
Waterfalls
Amphibian Research
Amphibian Research
Caving
Caving
Dolphins on the Islands off Cananeia
Dolphins on the Islands off Cananeia
Volunteer Room
Volunteer Room

About

The Biodiversity Research Institute (IPBio) is a place where research meets conservation. IPBio is an NGO that develops projects in environmental education and scientific research on biodiversity, ecology and on the behavior of species. In addition, IPBio 's mission is to encourage conservation, management and sustainable use of natural resources; promote the development of eco-tourism and cultural projects.

With only 7% of the Atlantic Forest remaining, we are rapidly losing one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspots. 200 birds and 21 primates are endemic. Conservation is critical.

Volunteer Roles:
1) In Research Projects: Bioluminescent Mushrooms; Bioacoustics Project; Tree Inventory and Monitoring; Amphibian Research
2) Reserve Maintenance and Gardening: maintain trails, aquarium and microclimate greenhouse
3) Photographers/Movie Producers: wildlife photography; produce volunteer videos; short documentaries; our videos have been used by Discovery Channel

Highlights
  • Visiting the town with the highest concentration of bioluminescent mushrooms in the world
  • Gaining hands on experience in the field of research and conservation
  • Participate in exciting activities such as tubing and visiting caves and waterfalls
  • Work for an organization which received accreditation as an advanced outpost of The Atlantic Forest Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO

Related Programs

Questions & Answers

Reviews

96%
based on 92 reviews
  • Impact 9.1
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.6
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9.5
  • Housing 8
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Value 10
  • Safety 10
Showing 1 - 15 of 92
Default avatar
Daniëlle
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This amazing place has stolen my heart

Becoming a volunteer at IPBio is simply the best choice you can make! Living and working in the middle of a rainforest is an experience you will not forget anytime soon. I came to IPBio as a Mathematics student who wanted to do something else for a change. The joint role of eco volunteer and research assistant, gave me the possibility to both work outside in the field, and in the lab in the central area of the reserve. The projects that IPBio does are interesting and fun, whether it is bird watching, looking for mushrooms, or doing measurements on the ponds. The volunteer coordinators are great, and often join in for weekend activities, which creates an informal atmosphere. Also living on the reserve is an unforgettable experience; waking up to the sounds of the rainforest, swimming in the river next to the volunteer house and of course making new friends! It is so great to see how you meet people from all over the world who are all very different, but all share the same enthousiasm for the things we do at IPBio! I absolutely loved my stay here, and I will cherish the memories of this magical place.

Default avatar
Shelbey
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Magic in the Atlantic Forest

I am a 22 year old from Canada with an Environmental Technician diploma and I volunteered at IPBio for 5 weeks. I was hoping to freshen up my field and lab skills and broaden my knowledge of the natural environment during my stay. The Betary reserve was exactly what I was hoping it would be. The volunteer coordinator, Imran, was extremely helpful and organized prior to my arrival and during my entire stay. He is very accommodating and resourceful. The volunteer program was methodical with set working hours and schedules which I enjoyed. We covered a wide range of study from species Identification of all sorts to measuring water parameters and working with the microscope in the lab. We really got down to the nitty gritty of sampling and were able to experience all of the joys of field work like wading through swamps and mud, bushwacking in heat or rain and being bitten by various insects. The biologists at the reserve are brilliant and insightful. They are wealths of knowledge with a love for Brazilian biodiversity so I suggest learning some Portuguese and picking their brains while you are there. All of the staff members are welcoming and friendly. The volunteer house was exceptionally tidy and well stocked. As far as free time activities, we may have been living in the middle of the jungle far away from any cities but there was still plenty to do. There were waterfalls, swimming and caving close to the reserve and we planned some weekend getaways to the coast and to Argentina. My favourite part of living on the reserve was taking night walks down to the aquarium and seeing all of the creatures that come out of the jungle at night that glow and make noise. Overall my experience with IPBio was wonderful and I highly recommend them. I enjoyed living in the thick of the jungle and getting to witness the local culture while enhancing my knowledge of the environment. For anyone planning to volunteer with them, I also recommend bringing quick dry clothing (there are no dryers for clothing), long socks to tuck your work pants into to avoid bug bites and ticks, and a headlamp with a red light setting for night walks. I will miss waking up to the sounds of the jungle and will cherish this experience for many years to come!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would learn more Portuguese before arriving. I would have liked to communicate better with the non english speaking staff and the locals in town. Although everyone is very friendly and patient with Portuguese speaking attempts, I feel as though I would have created more connections if I had better means of communication. I also would have found more time in my life to stay longer in South America. After volunteering on the reserve I was very motivated to explore more of the biodiversity and culture of South America and wished that I had more time to do so.
Default avatar
valeria
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Put this on your bucket list

I can say in one breath that this is the best thing i did in my life. In five I experienced what I thought would take a lifetime.

I came as a muralist but I got to be an Eco volunteer half the time. I got to collect data about living organisms and got to know them a bit closer, I saw animals and especially insects that i couldn't believe existed and so much more. I could go on and on but words really can't describe the experience you get from this place.

I had tears in my eyes so many times just from the beautiful and wondrous things and little moments that occurred there.

From a more practical perspective this place was excellent as well. You get all the facilities you need and the staff is very attentive, helpful and kind.
Lastly I can only urge you to go visit this wonderful place, and stay as long as you can . If you ever wondered if there is magic in the world this is the place to confirm it:)

Default avatar
Brittany
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A magical place

IPBio is a research institute on the Reserva Betary which is located in the Atlantic Rainforest, 6km away from the closest town of Iporanga. I needed to complete an internship for my M.Ed program, and did alot of research and spoke with several volunteer opportunities, but many of them seemed to me like a scam that only really wanted my money. IPBio is not one of those places. It is truly a magical and beautiful place with so much to do and every day of work is different, and you can really see the benefits of the work that you are doing. I initially was supposed to stay for 6 weeks but I fell in love with the area and the people I was with, so I actually extended my stay by 1 week. It's one place that I will always remember and I hope to return some day. It is one of the only places that I've traveled to that I would actually visit again. The staff are incredible, and really helpful and welcoming, and you really feel like you are part of a big family. I would recommend this place to anyone that wants to travel abroad and volunteer.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
- Learn some Portuguese - the staff at IPBio is Brazilian and many only speak Portuguese, and just trying a little bit really helps you connect with them on another level and they really appreciate it. And they will always help you if you're willing to ask! They will never laugh at you for getting something wrong or asking questions about Portuguese. There is nothing to be nervous about. Not only that, but in order to get into town, you pretty much either need to take a taxi, catch the one bus that goes by throughout the day, or take a hitchhike. Hitch-hiking into town is super safe, and if you're able to speak with the kind people that pick you up, there is so much more to learn outside of working on the reserve.
- Bring stuff for alllllllll the weather. One day it will be 9C and the next day it will be 27C. Prepare yoself.
- Forget about your fear of bugs. They're everywhere. You're in their territory. They're really cool.
- There is wifi, but don't expect much. It's enough to speak with your family at home, but download your movies before you come here if that's important to you. You barely even need wifi, you're busy all day anyway!
- Bring a little bit of extra money. I spent a little more than I thought I would - but not that much. I didn't expect to be going on trips every weekend, but it was so worth it and I'm glad that I did.
- Don't be afraid! Brazil's got a reputation, but don't generalize. It's an amazing place.
Default avatar
Darshan
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A unique experience to stay in the wilderness

IPBio is conveniently located near the Village of Iporanga, and still far enough to give a unique experience of living in the wilderness. Waking up to calls of birds and the flowing river is one of the perks living at the volunteer house. The staff is so helpful and cheerful at any time of the day. Work hard during the day to help preserve wilderness and relax in the clear and warm water of the river at the back of the house. Enjoy swimming with fish and have the experience of a natural spa. Worthwhile to stay at least 4-6 weeks to immerse yourself in the beauty of Atlantic forest and over weekends visit places like Iguazu falls or Cananeia to explore the beauty of Brazil. An experience full of such beautiful places and people is surely going to leave you in tears when you head back home.

What would you improve about this program?
Staff works very hard for providing best possible experience to the volunteers. Improving convenient ride services to the town of iporanga would make it even better experience.
Default avatar
Susan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Once in a Lifetime

I volunteered at the Betary Reserve for 8 weeks from May to July 2019 and it was an incredible experience. As an eco-volunteer, I got to work with on the bird inventory, habitat monitoring, fish inventory, mushrooms, and some other projects such as gardening and trail maintenance. I also worked as a muralist and painted the rooms of the volunteer house while I was there. Working as both a eco-volunteer and a muralist really enriched the experience for me. As for outside of work, there is lots of ways to enjoy the breathtaking nature of the area; such as: hikes, waterfalls, and lookout points like “The Cross” just outside of Iporgana. Also, during my time there I enjoyed spending time in town, swimming, doing boia cross, and going on a trip to Cananéia. I highly recommend this volunteer experience for anyone who is interested in being immersed in nature and seeing incredible biodiversity. This experience was also my first time going travelling abroad and the staff were extremely helpful with regards to planning travel and expenses. Overall, volunteering at the Betary Reserve was a highly rewarding once-in-a-lifetime experience I would recommend to anyone.

What would you improve about this program?
The volunteer house is a great place overall, but some improvements could be made there. I know the staff works very hard on the volunteer accommodations, but there is only so much that can be done for things like the busy kitchen and bathrooms.
Default avatar
Pasquale
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Discovering the Atlantic forest in ipbio

When I discovered IPbio i was looking for something in a rainforest that make me understand how's living in, and that gave me some time for my thoughts and painting. It totally fulfill my expectation.

The work as a volunteer is really nice, it is an on going learning, then the role of an eco-volunteer gives you the possibility to face every subject, in this way there is every day something more interesting than the day before, but with the chance to understand things thanks to biologists that work in the research institute.

But the main thing is that you start looking at things in the particular. This let you appreciete the forest from the inside.

Then in the reserve it is awesome, i had a great experience there, you discover more and more as time passes and also develop a particular bond with the area that you'll never forget.

Default avatar
Lisa
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Wonderful experience

The Betary Reserve is a wonderful example of the beauty and diversity of the Atlantic Forest. Located on the grounds are an aquarium, a walk-through greenhouse, a research center, a deck on the river, and multiple trails. The staff are very friendly and welcoming, too. If you’re looking for an educational activity, something different, or simply wish to take a simple stroll through the beauty of the Atlantic Forest, the Betary Reserve is a great destination. English is spoken on the reserve as well. It was amazing staying in Betary reserve, looking forward to go back. I loved the volunteer program, especially mammals and birds monitoring.
The most amazing thing is to live in the middle of nowhere, in touch with nature and the local people. m

What would you improve about this program?
I suggest to add a biologist figure following the volunteer program, because tha data collection was pretty confused
Default avatar
Jason
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I helped discover new species of mushrooms here

IPBio is an awesome organization. In terms of communication, they do an awesome job considering the challenges of the jungle. In terms of organization, I found the work comfortably structured but also open ended as I was able to design and pursue many of my own projects. While I was there, I had the opportunity to grow 5+ species of never-before-grown species of mushrooms, and I was able to take part in a lot of the same work the professional biologists on the reserve were doing. I was incredibly comfortable once I adjusted, and I felt like part of a family and community in IPBio and in Iporanga. 9/10 highly recommended! The most common complaint I heard during the program was the wifi in the jungle was not the best. But once you get used to it, I found it pretty refreshing.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
The best advice I can give you is to make the most of every moment and to keep a record of your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Meet and talk to as many people as you can. Learn Portuguese, start with just a few words every day. Make friends, be open-minded, try everything! Learn as much as you can: to make fire anywhere anyhow, to travel for dirt cheap, to ask more questions and talk less, to grow bioluminescent shrooms, to Samba and Forro, to haggle, to make a killer caipirinha, etc. And don't forget to talk to and hang out with the awesome staff, they are some of the most interesting people in the world. Oh and have fun!
Default avatar
Rhiannon
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The most incredible volunteer experience

I spent 6 weeks at IPBio in the summer of my 2nd year studying biology at university. My experience was incredible, the organisation is doing such incredible things and it so great to know that the work you do as a volunteer is actually being used for scientific research. The atmosphere at the reserve is super welcoming and the staff are supportive and relaxed. This makes the work really enjoyable, particularly for the role of Eco-volunteer (which I had), which means that you get to participate in a multitude of projects, so that you never get bored. I found it to be a perfect combination of practical work experience as well having an amazing social aspect. There are stunning caves, waterfalls and hikes in the area as well as an unbelievably friendly local community. I honestly can’t put into words how much I enjoyed my experience, taking home to many incredible memories and making life-long friends.

Default avatar
Nicole Larissa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

unforgettable life changing experience

It was the most beautiful place I've ever seen! It was simply incredible to explore so many different plants, animals and observe the biodiversity in one place only. I enjoyed having a mixture of film work and "eco biology- work" especially because I could combine my passion for nature and being involved in different projects of the Reserva. The time I spent there exceeded all my expectations!

They are certain rules to follow, If you're not too rebel you will not get kicked out, don't worry, the IpBio Crew was really super super kind, if you just follow the rules :P.

The working experience, was magical and the free time experiences even more magical

Living in the forest felt a bit like Avatar. There are glowing mushrooms and glowing insects, what I've found so fascinating. You see a million shining stars, even the milky way and each day you feel all the beauty of the universe. Everything was well organised, the volunteer's, IpBio Crew Are, and local people I've met were amazing and the moments I spent were just unforgettable, I will keep them in my heart!

The forest showed and taught me one more time, why humans should protect nature, instead of destroying it and how important animals as well plants are for our biodiversity and life on planet earth. A big thank you to the Institute making this trip possible and I hope I can come back and stay longer.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
It was crazy to see so many stars on one spot, so beautiful and well then an other thing was for sure the wandering spider (toxic spider) that was just super close to us onece, nothing tappend of course, we were totally safe =D .. but the most suprising thing for was the glowing (bioluminescence) mushrooms I've seen, really really impressing!!!!
Default avatar
Maria Africa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing experience

In IPBio the volunteering program has a variety of different activities which, in my case, complemented well with my theoretical knowledge from university. The staff have been friendly and helpful and the location is wonderful with many things to do during free time and weekends such as hiking, exploring caves, tubing down the Betary River, etc. It also shows the practical side of conservation projects. My experience overall has been amazing, and I would not only recommend it to nature lovers, but also people who enjoy travelling, adventure and meeting new and different types of people on the way!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would stay for longer!
Default avatar
Kieran
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Belter of an adventure

My name is Kieran and I study zoology at the University of the West of Scotland. I found IPBio while searching for places to complete my 3rd year work experience for university. A non-profit voluntary organisation for biodiversity research was perfect for a zoology student. The whole 3 weeks of my stay and volunteering were incredible. I learned a lot about the roles of an eco-volunteer and gained knowledge and skills that I can continue to use throughout my university course. Although my time at the Reserva Betary was primarily for my university work experience, I’d do it all again just for the sake of it. Every day at the Reserva Betary was remarkable, from living in the rainforest, to meeting other likeminded volunteers from all over the world, being a part the amazing team at IPBio and getting a taste of adventure. I’d recommend volunteering here to anyone really, it’s a great experience.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Enjoy the role and the volunteering, but everything else you do, wing it. Wing it all. Had some of the best experiences by just winging it all the time.
Default avatar
Kemp
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Would recommend!!

IPBio is an organization unlike the majority of the research institutes those of us from the global north may be familiar with. The institute is located about 5 kilometers from the nearest town in the middle of the Atlantic Forest. It is surrounded by beautiful mountains and dense jungle and to this day I have not met anyone who has not loved it. Every day was spent doing work that I felt was important and fulfilling. This institute offers the opportunity to be one of the first and few researchers to experience what the Atlantic Forest has to offer. There are various positions within the reserve but should you decide to change positions during your stay it is more than likely that you can. They are receptive to feedback and to answering any questions you may have and even receptive to hearing project proposals. All volunteers live in a communal home, sharing bathrooms and a kitchen and work on the reserve. There are meetings each morning where the day's activities are discussed and then groups split up into the different positions at the reserve.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would bring only clothes that I wouldn't mind ruining.
Default avatar
Larissa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

unforgettable life changing experience, forest you took my soul!

It was the most beautiful place I've ever seen! It was simply incredible to explore so many different plants, animals and observe the biodiversity in one place only. I enjoyed having a mixture of film work and "eco biology- work" especially because I could combine my passion for nature and being involved in different projects of the Reserva. The time I spent there exceeded all my expectations!
They are certain rules to follow, If you're not too rebel you will not get kicked out, don't worry, the IpBio Crew was really super super kind, if you just follow the rules :P.

The working experience, was magical and the free time experiences even more magical
Living in the forest felt a bit like Avatar. There are glowing mushrooms and glowing insects, what I've found so fascinating. You see a million shining stars, even the milky way and each day you feel all the beauty of the universe. Everything was well organised, the volunteer's, IpBio Crew Are, and local people I've met were amazing and the moments I spent were just unforgettable, I will keep them in my heart!
The forest showed and taught me one more time, why humans should protect nature, instead of destroying it and how important animals as well plants are for our biodiversity and life on planet earth. A big thank you to the Institute making this trip possible and I hope I can come back and stay longer.

What would you improve about this program?
For me everything was super perfect, there was nothing to improve for me personally!

Location

Location:
Brazil
Currency:
Brazil Real
Weather:
Jan-Mar
93 F / 63 F
Apr-Jun
90 F / 52 F
Jul-Sep
90 F / 52 F
Oct-Dec
91 F / 59 F
Airports:
Guarulhos International Airport
( GRU )
Presidente Juscelino Kubitschek International
( BSB )
Galeão International
( GIG )

Brazil is home to 2,000+ beaches, 1,000+ islands, and 62 national parks, not to mention an array of carnivals, sporting events, and other city-wide events. Visit the Amazon and Iguacu Falls for a taste of nature, or opt for city life in Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro.

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About IPBio - Biodiversity Research Institute

The Biodiversity Research Institute (IPBio) is a place where research meets conservation. IPBio is a non-governmental, non-profit organization that develops and supports projects in environmental education and scientific research on biodiversity,...