Biodiversity Research Institute in the Tropical Forest of Brazil

Video and Photos

IPBio Team
IPBio Team
Boia Cross/Tubing
Boia Cross/Tubing
Visiting Caves
Visiting Caves
Bioacoustics Research
Bioacoustics Research
Bird Release Center
Bird Release Center
Tree Inventory
Tree Inventory
The Research Center
The Research Center
Wildlife Conservation
Wildlife Conservation

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.

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 101 reviews
  • Impact 9.1
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.6
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9.5
  • Housing 8
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Value 10
  • Safety 10
Showing 1 - 8 of 101
Default avatar
Sarah
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing people, wildlife and experience!

I really enjoyed my time volunteering at IPBio and thought that it was incredibly well organised. I was nervous because it was my first time volunteering abroad, but I was given so much useful information before I arrived (including detailed instructions of how to get there, what to bring etc) which was reassuring. During my time there, communication from the volunteer coordinator was also great as we had a morning meeting every day and he kept us updated on any ongoing news about the area.

The accommodation at the reserve is surprisingly nice, considering you're living in the middle of a rainforest! There are proper beds, with sheets provided and aircon or fans in the bedrooms. I shared a room with one other girl which was a really nice experience but I know some of the longer term volunteers also got their own rooms, which is definitely a luxury for volunteering experiences! There is a fully-equipped kitchen with lots of crockery and cutlery and two big fridges so plenty of space for food. It is nice to still be able to have some of the basic comforts from home available when volunteering and this place definitely goes above and beyond. The only thing to get used to is the regular creepy crawly visitors in the house and making sure you shut windows etc - though I must mention that there are mosquito nets across all of the windows which means you don't really need a mosquito net for your bed.

All of the other volunteers were really welcoming and friendly, despite the fact I arrived when they had all been volunteering together for a month or two. I felt like I was able to fit into the group after a couple of days quite easily and all of the staff helped to make you feel welcome and at home too. There is some really awesome research going on at IPBio and they have a wide variety of resources available and also seem keen to welcome volunteers' ideas regarding projects, which is really refreshing!

An obvious thing about staying at IPBio is how beautiful the setting is and how much cool wildlife you will see whilst you're there. I was super excited to see a number of different hummingbirds visiting the feeding stations at the reserve every day. There are always vultures flying around high above the reserve and mountains too, which is a great sight. I was a tad disappointed that I didn't see any monkeys but I was only there for 2 weeks in the end and the capuchin monkeys are pretty elusive and uncommon. I know some of the other volunteers had caught a glimpse though!

If you're happy to get hot, sweaty and a bit muddy whilst carrying out a variety of different surveys in the beautiful rainforest, and don't mind the occasional (or frequent!) mosquito bite, then I would highly recommend you volunteer here. It's has a great community spirit and allows you to learn a lot about the local area and wildlife. I think it also encourages you to come out of your shell and comfort zone, which gives you a great sense of achievement!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would stay for much longer because I had to come home early due to COVID-19!
Default avatar
Maisie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Great Semester at IPBio

I loved my time in Brazil with IPBio, their volunteer program is very well-run and is located in a beautiful location. The reserve is absolutely gorgeous, with hummingbirds flying around at all times and a nice place to swim in the river right behind our house. The volunteer house has a fully equipped kitchen and even has air conditioning in each bedroom! I loved the work we did and thought it was awesome we got to help on every project they had going. Doing something different each day of the week kept it interesting and fun. There were also plenty of options for weekend activities, and the volunteer coordinator made it super easy to set up these adventures. We just had to let him know the week before and he would arrange the transportation and guides! I definitely recommend this program and suggest to anyone going to the Reserve to take full advantage of all the area has to offer and participate in the weekend outings!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
We went into some awesome caves while we were there, but one of the craziest was an underwater cave where you had to hold onto a rope above your head (or swim!) just to stay above the water. The region also has a lot of opportunities for boia cross-floating down the river on tubes!-and I got to do it at night, guided by moonlight down the river in the middle of a tropical rainforest! Certainly some things I didn't expect to be able to do while I was there, but they were amazing!
Default avatar
Ari
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Experience & Well-Organized

I was an Eco-Volunteer at IPBio for three weeks. I had just graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Molecular & Cellular Biology and Economics, and hadn’t had much experience conducting ecological field research. My time as an Eco-Volunteer changed this. I learned how to spot and take inventory of birds and mushrooms, wade in a river to catch (and later, release) fish, which we would later identify and photograph, and monitor the health of a pond. Do prepare to get sweaty and get some bug bites, because this is part of the “job” of working in the Atlantic Forest!
The organization of the Volunteer Program is top-notch. Imran, the volunteer coordinator, has done a fantastic job of building this program. He is great with responding to emails and WhatsApp messages in a timely manner. Volunteers go through a first-day orientation, in which we learn more about IPBio, the protocols for each of the tasks, and rules/logistics. Imran meets with the volunteers every morning at 9am to give us updates and answer any questions we may have. Furthermore, the volunteer housing has a large space for cooking and spending time with the other volunteers, and Imran is great about helping us fix any problem in the house.
I recommend two things if you plan on going to IPBio. Firstly, get a plan on your mobile device that allows you to use WhatsApp, Messenger, and make calls without WiFi. Sometimes, the WiFi at the reserve randomly goes out and you may be stuck without WiFi for a day, especially if it’s Saturday or Sunday. Secondly, I highly recommend learning some Portuguese before you arrive. Not only will it make transportation and shopping a little easier, it will also help you get immersed in the local community of Iporanga. If you want to learn about peoples’ lives and points of view, you cannot get by with just English. I also would note that the interaction we have with locals is, unfortunately, limited, since we are on the Reserve most of the time, which is 6 kilometers away from the town. In order to have more interaction with locals, make sure to visit Iporanga and talk with people in the town, whether that be at a bar or restaurant, or somewhere else (like a gym). For me, since I am Catholic, I attended Mass in Iporanga and found it to be a great way to better understand local culture and meet people.

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

IpBio; a great little adventure

My only complaint about IpBio was that I didn't book to stay longer! A truly great little adventure, where I learned a lot and for once in my life I listened to those who knew what was around us. How could it not be fun paddling in ponds or rivers in tropical heat or rain storms?

Imran and his crew were incredibly supportive to a novice like me and the other volunteers were a mixed bunch happy friendly people.

One day you will find yourself counting, photographing and then identifying birds or bugs. Another sifting through foliage for mushroom species, always varied, always interesting. Go do it!

What would you improve about this program?
Somewhere to dry clothes. they are either sweat wet or wet wet!
Default avatar
Susanna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Very well organized, amazing experience!

I am currently on a gap year and I decided to volunteer at IPBio as an Eco-Volunteer. I spend 3 weeks there and wished I had gone for a longer stay. It was an amazing experience. The programme is extremely well organized and the people on the staff are very kind and helpful. You get to do a variety of different and interesting jobs where you learn a lot about the biodiversity of the Atlantic forest. In your free time you can go swimming in the river, go to town or just stay at the reserva. The weekend trips organized by IPBio are amazing as well. During my very short stay I can say that I learned a lot about the Atlantic forest but also about the people and the culture. I would recommend this volunteer programme to anyone!

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

Good experience

Imran does a great job communicating with all the volunteers before they arrive to the program to dismiss any doubts and possible fears of traveling to another country. The program structure is created to allow those staying just two weeks to experience every aspect of what IPBio is about. It was easy to connect with other volunteers and I had a great time! My favorite activity would be the mushroom inventory. Going on the night time trails with Grant was one of the coolest things to see and their most important project

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
One thing would be to stay for more than two weeks.
Default avatar
Nick
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Wouldn't change a thing!

I left my career as a Mechanical Engineer looking to connect with nature and travel. IPBio afforded me the opportunity to experience natural phenomena that exist in very few places on the earth (glowing mushrooms!!)! The work is meaningful, the people are fantastic, and the Atlantic Forest is truly a special place. I never once felt unsafe or bored. I would recommend this experience to anyone excited about protecting the preserving nature!!! In addition to this experience, Brazil is an amazing country, forget your expectations and enjoy the beauty of this place!

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

Life-changing!

This never felt like a volunteer program. It felt like 2 months I had a new home surrounded by great people amazing opportunities and spectacular wildlife. The volunteer projects were never boring because the wildlife was constantly changing. Bioluminescent mushroom walks, stargazing, waterfall hikes, swimming in caves, bird watching, running into monkeys, glowing larvae, afternoon river swims, trail hikes, and dancing at festivals in town were experiences I cherish. I cant wait to go back and have more experiences of a lifetime!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Bioluminescent mushrooms glowing everywhere like in avatar