Biodiversity Research Institute in the Tropical Forest of Brazil
94% Rating
(38 Reviews)

Biodiversity Research Institute in the Tropical Forest of Brazil

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 4) Fundraising and Communications - develop our social media; write grants for research equipment
  • 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
Weeks Min.
Age Min.
Starting Price
Price Details
Volunteers at IPBio are required to pay 550 reais per week (approx 170 US Dollars). This covers your accommodation, full access to the reserve, internet access and the use of any equipment we have. Volunteers will pay for their own food and cook for themselves. Volunteers are also responsible for paying for any extra costs such as travel costs, visa costs or etc.

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

based on 38 reviews
  • Impact 9
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.4
  • Value 9.2
  • Safety 9.4
  • Housing 8
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Value 10
  • Safety 10
  • Benefits 0
  • Support 0
  • Fun 0
  • Facilities 0
  • Safety 0
Showing 1 - 15 of 38
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Amazing Experience

I came to the Atlantic Forest after deciding to take a sabbatical from the business world before starting my Master’s at Oxford. I was determined to go to Brazil and decided that travelling without a purpose was not for me. I had heard about the Betary Reserve as my friend Imran is a volunteer coordinator. The project also appealed to me in its conservation and research aims.
When I arrived, I had no experience in biology, conservation or research. Still, I hit the ground running, soon having a number of projects to contribute towards. During my time at the Reserve I helped set up a course for volunteers, prepare volunteer presentations in addition to helping around the reserve around the research projects. It was validating to watch my efforts contribute to the crucial conservation and education aims of the organisation. My favourite research projects were the Fish Inventory, where I searched for Fish in the river on a hot sunny day, the Frog Night Search, where we looked for Frogs (you guessed it) at night to gauge the biospheres biodiversity.
Outside of the Reserve I didn’t lack things to do either. I arrived on the weekend of the town’s anniversary and had a reggae concert to attend pretty soon after. Still, the best party was definitely Carnival. We all decided to go to Cananeia (a beach paradise, 2.5 hours away from the reserve) for a day at the beach, dolphin and crab watching, before heading to town for an amazing seafood dinner and the main event: Samba schools parading through town. I can honestly say it was one of the best experiences I have had so far.

Yes, I recommend
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Video-volunteering in The Atlantic Forest

Volunteering for IPBio is something I could not have imagined. And I mean that in all the best ways. The welcome was warm and informative at the same time and my six-week-stay in the volunteer house couldn't have been better. During the day I was working as a video producer, putting my editing skills to good use. There already is an immense archive of footage made by the great biologists and previous volunteers on site and images caught with camera traps in the forest. The beautiful tropical plants and animals only make you want to add your own sightings to the film stock. With these images I was able to make some video's for the website and the youtube-channel (you should check it out, it gives a good idea of what life and volunteering here is all about). In the evenings and during the weekends you had time to take part in group activities or you could just chill. The surrounding area has a lot to offer: caves to explore and rivers to swim in. The forest in itself is amazing and has a diversity that is unmatched anywhere on the planet. It was delightful to actually experience this wonder of nature and take part in the effort of conserving it.

Yes, I recommend
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Can't wait to return!

I have stayed at the reserve for three weeks, and I am still captivated by the biodiversity of the Atlantic Forest. IPBio offers volunteers a chance to experience living in a rainforest, without having to sacrifice certain comforts (such as WiFi!). There is a great family dynamic at the reserve, and the place does start to feel like home.

Undertaking field research in the Atlantic Forest was an unforgettable experience, the views, the wildlife and the people made it both interesting, and enjoyable.
Contributing to Atlantic Forest conservation was incredibly rewarding, I only wish I could have stayed for longer. I highly recommend IPBio, it was a fantastic experience and one that I would love to try again.

Yes, I recommend
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Life changing experience

In Reserva Betary, you will get a glance of the immensity of the Atlantic forest, the biodiversity is ridiculous, you will see more trees and insects than you can count, you will be amazed at the colors of plants and birds and you will be tired of the size and quantity of insects.
The people here really makes it easy for you, not only the volunteer coordinators, but also the local Brazilians working here, the biologist, gardener, managers, everyone is really welcoming and will always make your stay great.
There is always something interesting to do on weekends, either if you want to do some tours to giant caves or waterfalls, or having a barbeque with the other volunteers in the reserve, advancing and going deeper in your job, or just getting your camera and going for a walk into the jungle, it is very hard to get bored here.
Overall, I had a great time, learned a lot, got to know great places, great people, saw incredible landscapes and got amazed by the biodiversity of this place, it is an experience I will always remember, and will also, always recommend, eyes closed.

How can this program be improved?
Be more detailed about the actual concrete stuff a volunteer might be able to do in a specific time of the year, there wont always be birds to be realesed, or glowing mushrooms, etc.
Also, maybe being more specific about each program and what is done under it.
Yes, I recommend
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Come and Volunteer

Being a volunteer at Reserva Betary is a very enjoyable experience. The Atlantic Rainforest is so beautiful and interesting things happening around you every day. You can spot loads of pretty birds, frogs and flowers at the reserve, seeing lizards walking around, watching tadpoles swimming in the pond, observing dragonfly laying eggs, wasps making nest and ants attacking cockroaches. At night, you can watch the starry sky, discovery bioluminescence mushrooms and insects, listen to birds, frogs and cicada singing. All the people working here are super nice and helpful. They make you feel at home and provide a relaxed working environment. I did tree inventory and some creative art projects. Also helped in other project when more hands needed. I am happy to stay so close with nature and spend time on making art. I learned basic knowledge of marking trees in the forest. Wish the tree inventory project could teach volunteer how to identify different tree species and let volunteer learn more things in the future. I highly recommend Reserva Betary for everyone.

How can this program be improved?
More cooperation with universities.
Yes, I recommend
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By far the best volunteering experience of my life

After graduating from the University of Bath with an Economics degree and working in London for a couple years, I decided it was time to travel and do something radically different that is actually worth doing. Whilst I have been interested in environmental research and conservation for some time, I had not taken any real steps in that direction until coming to IPBio. And I am very glad I did.
As a Volunteer Coordinator, I guided volunteers and supported the team here on several projects ranging flora and fauna as well as diverse settings. This allowed me to gain experience in many different tasks, from monitoring animal pitfalls and recovering the precious bioacoustics recording deep in the forest to working in the lab looking for signs of BD disease in tadpoles and testing bioluminescent mushroom substrates. One of my favourite activities (understandably I think!) was searching for these glowing mushrooms at night in the forest, which we did a couple times. I also really enjoyed being responsible for the daily feeding of animals (yes, by the end I felt like we had developed some sort of relationship, although to what extent that was a one-way thing I am not sure) and occasionally supporting the Volunteer Programme Manager with his research and other ad hoc tasks.
Apart from the work, there are many opportunities to visit the surrounding region and all it has to offer (magnificent caves and waterfalls instantly spring to mind) as well as the small but charming town of Iporanga. As if that’s not enough, the reserve is well-run by some very friendly people (most of which are local) and there is even a beautiful, tranquil swimming spot one minute away from the volunteer house. So make sure you get some insect repellent and come along!

Yes, I recommend
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Volunteering in the Atlantic Rainforest

During a trip through South America, I set aside a month long period to volunteer at an NGO. I could not have chosen a more suitable location than the IPBio Reserve, situated in the diminishing Atlantic Rainforest. The reserve is situated in a very unique position, in that it is an unparalleled nature sanctuary, but also just a short drive from the town of Iporanga. This offers the opportunity to not only be immersed in the conservation projects occurring at IPBio but also near enough to civilization to grab essentials (great for long-stay individuals) and make the most of free time.
Given the variety of projects ongoing at IPBio, there is the opportunity to partake in a wide range of projects and also to be placed in an area of personal interest. Given my professional background, I was able to assist in a number of research projects, but also help in volunteer coordination and various administrative tasks.
The staff at IPBio allowed for my time spent at the reserve to be the most memorable. At other NGOs, I have experienced a lack of organization and general discoordination amongst the staff. This could not be further from the reality at IPBio. From the carefully prepared volunteer package; outlining everything necessary for your stay, including how to get to the reserve with ease, what to expect, what projects are ongoing, etc. to the daily involvement from the volunteer coordinators and research staff.
Overall I would recommend the volunteer program at IPBio to everyone looking to become further involved in an NGO on the forefront of biodiversity conservation. Given the breadth of the projects, there are opportunities for people with a science background looking to become involved in a leading research institution but also those with less experience hoping to become grow their conservationist perspective.

Yes, I recommend
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Living in Mata Atlantica!

I have really enjoyed my time at ipbio; working as a Biological Research assistant for the Bioluminescent Mushroom Project has been so interesting. I have had so many opportunities to do things that I never normally would have been able to do, from designing the new mushroom project logo to searching for undiscovered species in the forest. As the work is so varied, I never found it was too repetitive and felt like I was making a valuable contribution to the reserve and to the conservation of the natural area. Ipbio’s location in the amazing Mata Atlantica also adds to the volunteer experience, a day doesn’t go by when you haven’t seen something new or strange!
Overall I would definitely recommend working at ipbio!

Yes, I recommend
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Every little step counts

Every little step counts. Every time a volunteer joins a program, he/she impacts not only through their work, but also with the unique perspective derived from their skills and experience. And even with their relationship with the staff, local communities and other volunteers.

I have volunteered on several projects around the world and avidly fed on the passion that spurs from everyone involved in these conservation or education projects. And IPBIO was no exception. In fact, it is probably the best experience I have had so far. Maybe because of everybody’s commitment. From the passionate founder, Sergio, who will be amazed by every little frog, insect, bird or animals he sees, with you. Add the extensive knowledge of all the biologists who devoted their lives to conservation. And the amazement of volunteers, who deeply believe their work matters, sparing no effort in all their projects.

This is why I hope you too will come to Reserva Betary. And help the Biodiversity Research projects of IPBIO and Celine.

Whether it is tree inventory, bio-luminescent mushrooms, camera traps, pitfalls, as well as cave exploring. Your help will matter. And you’ll make many new, very special friends. As I did. New friends to treasure. And, hopefully, meet again.

How can this program be improved?
Mosquito nets in windows and doors
Yes, I recommend
Natália with bioluminescent mushrooms

Living in the Atlantic Forest

If you love nature, the Betary Reserve is the place for you. No wonder it is called Biodiversity Research Institute; the biodiversity at the reserve is mesmerizing. All you need to do is pay attention, and you will encounter different species every day, so make sure you bring a camera with you! Volunteers can be involved in many different activities; I helped with camera traps, to record the mammals of the reserve; tadpole research, to observe the presence of a fungus responsible for the most deadly and infectious disease in amphibians; mushroom inventory; tree inventory; and feeding the animals that are used for environmental education. On top of all that, the reserve’s location is the best if you want to go visit beautiful places on your days off, like amazing caves and waterfalls. I had a great time volunteering at Betary Reserve and recommend it to anyone wanting to have a memorable experience immersed in the Atlantic Forest!

Yes, I recommend
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Great Experience

I am from France and volunteered on reserve betary’s for 2 months, I really enjoy it.
IPBio is an excellent working environment and is very comfortable to live in the yellow house, surrounded by wildlife.
My mission on FreeWildlifeBrazil Celine is the tree inventory, the goal is to repertories all the different species of trees on the reserve.
My second assignment is to help the team build the release center for the birds.
Apart from the projects within Celine, there is a lot of activity to do here.
The weekend trips to caves and boya crossing across the various rivers in Iporanga have been another highlight, and you definitely need to stay a minimum of a month to be able to explore the various sites within and around the area.

Yes, I recommend
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My experience

IPBIO is located next to iporanga a little city, despite the distance from the big city ; the region offers many activities like visit cave or some hike , and iporanga have lot of buses to visit big city (Sao Paulo,Curitiba, Eldorado….) .
The reverse betary offers a beautiful view with a mountain range that surrounds the reserve .

The projects proposed by IPBIO are diversed et varied. For me, that was tree inventory ( the mapping of the reserve) and reverse maintenance ( build a release center).

That was one of my best 8 weeks in a foreign country and i encourage everyone to try this rewarding experience.

Yes, I recommend
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My experience as a volunteer

I am a French engineering student, and I stayed at Reserve Betary for 8 weeks. It was a beautiful life experience, I learned a lot thanks to the different projects that ipBio provides. I decided to apply for the volunteer coordinator role, because it allowed me to contribute to the charity’s organizational needs, in addition to its communication work. I also had the chance to participate in other project like tree Inventory or Bioacoustics.

Many activities are organized at the weekends in order to discover the region, caves, waterfalls and other great landscapes. The team is nice and open to share their knowledge.
I highly recommend the volunteer program for everyone.

Yes, I recommend
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IPBio through the lens of my camera

I spent three weeks as a volunteer photographer at IPBio. My main task was to take pictures of the life of the other volunteers. Which means their personal volunteer projects (tree inventory, bioacoustics, bioluminescent mushrooms, tadpoles, birds, gardening,…) and free time activities. For every project and weekend activity I took a couple of representative pictures which will be used at the website and in the volunteer package. In addition I produced and edited some video clips. The reserve is located in the middle of the atlantic rainforest and there are many awesome weekend activities to do, for example Boia Cross, hiking, visiting waterfalls and caves (the region is called the capital of caves), BBQ and many other cool stuff. I enjoyed every day at IPBio and would recommend everybody to come to this amazing place. Come as soon as possible and stay as long as possible, you won’t regret it! ;)

Yes, I recommend
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A Unique Experience in a Unique Corner of the World

My name is Alex and I have an obsession with stories . I'm not sure when this obsession started, but my close friends know that I intentionally get myself into situations, both good and bad, where I find myself thinking, "Well this will make for a good story to tell later". It was this obsession that lead me to apply to IPBio.

I worked at IPBio for two months as the 2nd volunteer to work on the Bioacoustics Research project. As an Electrical and Computer Engineer with a love of the outdoors, I wanted to work on something technical, but also something I would find meaningful and this project absolutely met these two requirements.

On a day-to-day basis I would hike to collect audio files, listen to and annotate the sounds I collected, work with a field biologist to identify different animal species by their vocalizations, and teach a computer how to recognize patterns and vocalizations in the future. The ultimate goal of this project is to track the incredible biodiversity in the North Atlantic Forest by tracking the sounds of the forest, and my day to day work alone would have given me enough stories to bring back home to make this volunteer program worth joining.

However amazing my job was here, the real stories came from my interactions with the other volunteers, the locals from Iporanga, and with the forest itself. I now have stories to bring home of catching frogs at night and searching for bioluminescent mushrooms with volunteers from around the world, who I've already made plans to visit. I have stories of drinking water from freshly cut shoots of bamboo with the staff of IPBio as I struggled through conversations with my limited Portuguese vocabulary. I have stories of climbing behind waterfalls and seeing the world's largest cave mouth. I have stories of dancing all night at a Quilombo religious festival, while not understanding the song being sung and not particularly caring.

There are also the smaller, less photo-worthy but still memorable stories that only this remote program and those like it can provide. Stories of three volunteers desperately trying to download the Game of Thrones season finale, and running out of the bathroom after finding a deadly spider, and hitchhiking to town in the back of pickup trucks that, for some reason, is blasting Miley Cyrus.

The last two months have been some of the most unique and story-worthy in my life, and if you have the chance, I would 100% recommend volunteering with IPBio. You will find yourself well out of your comfort zone, in an interesting place with interesting people, and there is no better place for a story to happen.

How can this program be improved?
I think the living accommodations leave something to be desired, but IPBio is currently constructing a new volunteer house to meet this concern, so this shouldn't be a problem for much longer.

One recommendation would be stressing the importance of learning basic Portuguese before arriving. It is not necessary to be fluent by any means, but day-to-day conversations including taxi rides, ordering at a restaurant or shopping can be made very difficult without knowing the basics.
Yes, I recommend

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,...