Focus: Agriculture, Community, Conservation and Education.
In 1975 Explorers Inn was established in the Madre de Dios region of Peru with the aim of providing sustainable eco-tourism and providing critical support to research of the surrounding tropical forest. Subsequent research and lobbying by the lodge led to the establishment of the Tambopata National Reserve, an area recognised as having incredible biodiversity.
Peru is second only to Columbia in bird biodiversity and Explorers Inn has over one-third of Peru’s bird species with the current cumulative list at 620 species including 19 species of parrots and macaws that regularly flock at local clay licks. The forest also contains 91 recorded mammal species and over 1500 butterfly species.
These incredible levels of biodiversity are in no small part due to the numerous habitat types in the surrounding forest that have some of the highest productivity levels in the world due to nutrient rich soils, unusual for Amazonia. Conservation efforts are also important, and the Tambopata Reserve remains the best area in Peru to see large charismatic mammals such as capybaras, tapirs, white-lipped peccaries, giant-river otters, large bodied monkeys such as red howlers, and the elusive jaguar.
Explorers Inn continues to run today as a lodge for ecotourism and a home base for visiting researchers. Now the lodge is looking for volunteers to assist in the surrounding tropical research as well as assist in the management of Peru’s oldest Amazonian lodge. This is an opportunity not to be missed for those who are interested in a future in conservation or tropical research. It is the chance to hone your research and conservation skills as well as live in Amazonian tropical forest!
Costs & Benefits
Expected volunteer activities
- Assist in data collection and data processing for visiting researchers: Various scientists from around the World are currently running experiments and long-term studies of the surrounding areas. The availability of permanent volunteers to assists in data collection is of great value, while the volunteers themselves get crucial exposure to how scientific research is done.
- Learn the protocols and methodology of tropical research.
- Assist in point counts, transects, sampling etc.
- Potentially co-author published scientific articles. (Depending on head researcher)
- Compile and update faunal and floral species lists: Since Explorer’s inception, various species lists have been compiled; however, the majority require updating, while others need to be restarted from scratch. This can be a highly entertaining activity as one searchs for rare species throughout the forest and attempt to identify sightings in our field guides back at the lodge. Sightings of rare and charismatic species are of particularly importance, as their location is invaluable to our guides.
- Locate and record species of birds, mammals, butterflies etc.
- Keep track of where charismatic fauna and rare birds are being found along our trails to assist our guides in locating them for our guests.
- Trail maintenance: We have a network of trails that snake their way throughout the surrounding forest passing through several types of tropical forest. The sheer size of our private network mean that many of these trails eventually begin to disappear or become impassable and need to be cleared. Small and simple bridges are also often needed to allow crossing during the rainy season.
- Our network of trails stretches for 25 km through and around the surrounding forest.
- Clear and maintain these trails for easier access for our guided walks.
- This includes cutting away overhanging material and removing larger material that blocks the trail and repairing and constructing wooden bridges.
- Maintain and develop our botanical garden: The local people of the Madre de Dios province use a number of local plants for medicinal uses. The knowledge of which plants to use for which ailment has been passed down for generations. Many of these plants grow in our surrounding forest and our resident natural healer is cultivating them at the lodge.
- Collect samples for our botanical garden including many of the forests medicinal species.
- Learn about the use and cultivation of these medicinal plants from our local shaman.
- Help develop our new permaculture farm: On the other side of the Tambopata River is a small area of land outside of the reserve that belongs to Explorer’s Inn. This area forms part of a buffer zone for the reserve. The forest there hosts a number of fruit tree species that have found their way there from surrounding agricultural areas. We want to use this land to join the permaculture revolution and grow our own food in symbiosis with the surrounding ecological processes. Mono-crop agriculture is a problem in Madre de Dios, and depressing considering the potential of an area with staggering primal productivity levels. We want to be an example to our surrounding neighbours and contribute to the epistemology of tropical permaculture.
- Develop our plot of land outside the reserve that is just across the river from the lodge.
- Learn the ways of permaculture and grow the food you eat including the delicious jungle fruits.
- Reduce our need to bring food from the city and so reduce our carbon footprint.
- Shadow and assist our local guides: Our local guides are fountains of knowledge on the surround forest and its fauna and flora. They are always willing to share this knowledge, but also sometimes need assistance when guiding large numbers of guests.
- Accompany our guides on their expeditions through the forest.
- Paddle boats with our guests looking for otters and caimans.
- Learn about the forest first-hand and up close from our local guides.
- Construction of green infrastructure: We are constantly upgrading and improving our lodge and we take in more guests each year. Our local engineers and builders can always use an extra hand. We also construct things outside the lodge such as jetties for the local oxbow lakes, or bird and animal hides. To reduce costs and more importantly our impact on the surrounding forest, we are constantly looking for ways to become sustainable and improve our water and waste systems through jungle ingenuity! Help us by assisting in our construction efforts and improving our sustainability practices.
- Help us improve our water capture systems.
- Assist us in developing improved waste systems.
- Plan and construct innovative structures throughout our property.
Volunteers must be prepared to stay with us for at least one month and can stay there after for up to six months (Maximum length of a Peruvian tourist visa). The cost of the volunteering for us which includes: accommodation, food, as well as transport to and from Puerto Maldonado and the lodge; is $750 per month.
The Explorer’s Inn, a tourist lodge and research station along the Tambopata River, offers a Resident Naturalist (RN) programme. RNs are volunteers at the lodge and help undertake numerous simple scientific-based tasks associated with an ongoing environmental monitoring programme. Free room and board in return for undertaking RN activities. RNs pay for their travel to Puerto Maldonado.
Minimum 22 years of age, Graduates in natural sciences, biology or related disciplines for Resident Naturalist positions, priority given to those who wish to stay at least 6 months are preferred.
Paying volunteering aged 18 and over.
Alcanfores #459, Miraflores,
Lima 18, Peru
Tel: +51 82 573029
Location:Madre de Dios region, Peru
Average cost per day: No Fee (Resident Naturalist) Volunteers $25
Focus: Agriculture, Community, Conservation and Education
Skills needed: Volunteers must be at least 18 years old (Volunteers) Resident Naturalist 22 years old and over, graduates in natural sciences, biology or related disciplines.