• Guatemala
2 to 16 weeks

Program Details

Age Min.
Year Round
Small Group (1-15) Medium Group (16-30)
Travel Type
Family Solo Women


Starting Price
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Airport Transfers Equipment Meals Transportation Travel Insurance Wifi
What's Not Included
Airfare Domestic Airfare SIM cards Visa
Feb 14, 2024
Aug 16, 2022
14 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

The wildlife of Guatemala is under threat from habitat loss, unsustainable hunting and capture for the illegal pet trade. The decline in local populations of wild animals is dramatic. The large flocks of scarlet macaws reported by early explorers have been reduced to just 300 birds in the Laguna del Tigre Park.

This wildlife rescue centre, initially built to rehabilitate wild animals confiscated on the black market by the Guatemalan government, was opened in response to the alarming disappearance of native species from the wild. The rescue centre is situated on 45 hectares of land on a lake in northern Guatemala and includes a quarantine area, a veterinary hospital, and rehabilitation facilities with a large flight cages throughout the jungle.

Our volunteers live in the jungle, making their commute to work beautiful but a little buggy! This meaningful and important experience doesn't just help the animals and educate the public, it changes your life!

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • Live in a rainforest with wildlife around you!
  • Hands on work with tropical wildlife like monkeys, jaguars and toucans.
  • Wildlife releases throughout the year volunteers are invited to participate in.
  • Immersion volunteering: live, eat and volunteer with your newest animal loving travel buddies.
  • Interaction with captive breading species including ocelots, scarlet macaws and deer.

Program Impact

The rescue centre is situated on 45 hectares of land on a lake in northern Guatemala and includes a quarantine area, a veterinary hospital, and rehabilitation facilities with a large flight cages and enclosures scattered throughout the jungle. Volunteers at the rescue centre help feed and care for the animals at the centre which include parrots, macaws, spider and howler monkeys, margays, ocelots, coatimundis, tayras and kinkajous. Nearly all of these animals have been seized from smugglers and are often very young, needing constant care and attention. While you are at the cente, you will learn the natural history of the Guatemalan wildlilfe, their nutritional needs and how to care for them throughout their rehabilitation.

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Program Reviews

5.00 Rating
based on 9 reviews
  • 5 rating 100%
  • 4 rating 0%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Impact 4.9
  • Support 5
  • Fun 4.9
  • Value 4.55
  • Safety 4.9
Showing 1 - 8 of 9 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Adventure of a Lifetime!

I came back last week from a two-week long trip to ARCAS in Guatemala in the veterinary program! I learned about AEI back in 2019 when I met Dr. Heather Reid and listened to her lecture about wildlife rehabilitation and volunteering abroad. Soon after, I got in contact with Nora who was extremely punctual, kind and knowledgeable. With COVID-19, the trip was pushed back repeatedly but Nora never gave up and gave frequent updates on the possibility of rebooking my dates. She reassures and addresses any concerns you have about anything related to your trip. I already knew where I wanted to go and Nora helped me make it a reality! Despite flights not being included, Nora gave excellent recommendations on who to book flights with and where to stop over. She gave a comprehensive packing list and manual which was helpful in being prepared for the culture and environment change. As a young woman and having never travelled by myself, I was extremely nervous but AEI was always there for me every step of the way!

There was some slight miscommunication between the centre and AEI about specific packing items, housing and internet accessibility, however, overall, the trip was an absolute adventure and a once in a lifetime experience!

  • Flora in jungle
  • Variety of animal experiences
  • Tikal and Flores
  • Limited variety in meals
43 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Wildlife Rehabilitation, Guatemala

Guatemala 2019 was my first expedition with Animal Experience International. Even though I had been considering an expedition for nearly two years, I could not quite make up my mind which expedition to do. When Nora told me about the Guatemala expedition, I signed up right away. Nora and her team at AEI made the whole process easy and anxiety free – from assistance with flights, to advising on the gear to bring. She was always available to answer my questions, no matter how simple they were. In my moments of self-doubt, she cheered me on and gave me the confidence to persevere. Nora is part leader, part travel agent, part therapist and full time lovely person! Even though I tried not to have any expectations for the trip, what I really wanted to do was vacation with purpose. And that is exactly what I did! During the expedition, I was particularly impressed with the dedication of the staff at the wildlife sanctuary in Guatemala and the success that they have had in rehabilitating wild animals, most of whom were confiscated from the black market trade. The staff made the volunteers feel welcome, provided training in animal care and animal behaviour, answered our many questions and were genuinely thankful for the work that we did. The success of this volunteer placement is also an attestation to the diligence of AEI. Nora and her team carefully and methodically investigate each volunteer experience before partnering with them to place volunteers. They are committed to making every volunteer placement a safe and happy one! In the end, I came home inspired by courageous people who persevere day after day and take joy in every howler monkey, toucan and anteater saved and returned to the wild. I am ready to sign up for my next AEI adventure!

68 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

ARCAS Guatemala with AEI

Planning a trip with Animal Experience International was fantastic. Basically I picked my preferred experience & travel dates, and they arranged nearly everything. In terms of what I needed to do, they gave me clear instructions to pack & prepare. They made it so easy.

When I had a tragedy at home (the illness & loss of my dog) and thought I needed to cancel the trip, they were extremely compassionate and supportive. They encouraged me to reschedule at a later date, without penalty, and I'm so glad I did!

While I was at ARCAS, I met other volunteers who had arranged their trip with different agencies. Most of them had paid more and gotten less out of it! I really felt that AEI was my guide and backup, and invested in making sure I had the best possible experience. I highly recommend them.

ARCAS itself was everything I had hoped and expected - as I had been well-prepped by AEI. I was working closely with the animals every day: cleaning their cages, preparing their meals, and observing their behaviour. As a vet, I had several opportunities to help out the veterinary staff as well. I learned how to handle the parrots, and a lot about how rehabilitation works. I am amazed at what they are able to achieve there.

I also highly recommend the 2-day trip to Tikal. Beautiful and awe-inspiring!

72 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Hakuna Matata

A year ago I took the best trip of my life. I was just about finished school that year and I found myself stuck on Animal Experience Internationals website, almost daily, dreaming about being able to volunteer on every single trip! I chose to do my volunteering in Peten Guatemala. I had never been to Guatemala before and honestly had never thought about going either, which is probably the reason why I chose that destination. Just the thought of it being a place that I didn’t know much about excited me. Nora at AEI was very helpful in the time leading up to the trip, I was more then prepared for my experience and couldn’t have been more relaxed when the day arrived.

I spent just over three weeks at ARCAs. Everyday spent there was hard work, preparing food and cleaning animal enclosures, I probably haven’t sweat so much in my life! I met so many amazing people, had the best time hanging out down by the lake, playing cards, exploring Flores, or just relaxing in the hammock enjoying the beautiful sounds and surroundings of the jungle. I would recommend this Guatemalan experience to anyone and everyone who’s been dreaming of an eye opening, heart warming and life changing experience. This trip was above and beyond my expectations and I can’t wait to return.

60 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

My trip to Guaty!

For my very first time travelling alone, I have to say AEI made my experience safe and fun all at the same time! Nora was very helpful and answered all of my questions as well as my many many emails haha. From the moment I got there to the day I left the staff at ARCAS were very welcoming and made you feel just at home! I do suggest brushing up a little on spanish, but thankfully many do speak English there! I am a student in the veterinary technician program and being able to work so closely with wildlife such as macaws, monkeys and so many more was such a great opportunity and definetly something I would have never experienced if I stayed close to home! As soon as I came back from my short 3 week experience I was already planning my next trip with AEI!

What would you improve about this program?
there is nothing I would chnage!
65 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

A rewarding experience...would do it again in a heartbeat!

I travelled to Guatemala in 2014 to participate in AEI's wildlife rehabilitation placement. From start to finish, the entire process was smooth, and Nora was supportive and helpful in answering all of my questions and preparing me for my adventure. The rehabilitation centre was a wonderful place. We worked hard each day, but every drop of sweat was worth it! I came home feeling as though I had participated in making a difference for wild animals in need -- it was a rewarding experience to say the least. I would highly recommend AEI to fellow travellers.

When I began researching wildlife rehabilitation programs abroad, I read many horror stories about travellers who turned up at so-called "wildlife sanctuaries" or "rehabilitation centres" -- places that were unregulated and whose interests were only in making money, rather than helping animals. That's why I chose to travel with AEI. I was relieved to see that their values aligned with mine. They visit each facility themselves and experience the placements just as their volunteers would. So I knew I would be investing in an adventure that would take me to a legitimate rehabilitation centre, where I would be making a difference. Nora prepped me on what to expect and how to thrive and get the most out of the experience.

If you're planning an adventure working with animals abroad, I absolutely recommend travelling with AEI. They saved me a lot of headaches, and the experience exceeded my expectations.

66 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program


I had the best time in Guatemala at ARCAS, a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation group, and it's all thanks to Animal Experiences International!

I spent a lot of time working hard - those animals won't clean up after themselves! But I also was able to learn about much of Guatemala's wildlife, the dangers posed to it by the illegal pet trade, and how to care for the animals that came through our doors.

My trip also included time at national parks with my group. We were able to climb bridges above the canopy at Ixpanpajul, and see Mayan pyramids.

All in all, this trip blew me away!

74 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Wonderful Organization!

Dr. Heather and Ms. Nora are both wonderful dedicated people. They are always there to answer any questions. I love how this is a B-Corp organization. Really though, what you put into the experience is what you get out of it. This is about getting out there, having fun, and making an impact. Yes, you will get to take pictures of cute animals, but this isn't just about selfies. AEI is about the experience itself, which is something I love about the company. You are immersed in the culture, not apart from it, and though it would be great to be able to go in and just experience everything, AEI is sensitive to the needs and placement experiences needed for the local vets - something you have to respect AEI for doing. Not every company realizes that the local vets have to do placements as well, and going in and taking all those placements from them would be harmful to the local area. AEI works with the placement partners to make sure this doesn't happen, and that the AEI volunteers get a wonderful experience while working in balance with the needs of the local area. I really think this company is just amazing for the work they do.

64 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers

Yes! We have had a number of volunteers use it for their vet medicine degrees. We just need to confirm with your course administrator, which is very easy.