Volunteering, Internships & Jobs

Volunteering Overview

We facilitate and initiate a range of activities, always seeking to involve Peruvian partners and to find international collaborators. Our work falls into three broad categories.

  • Medical, Dental & Public Health Initiatives (Health volunteers can go directly to this section)

  • Community-driven Initiatives, including education, cultural preservation, sustainable development and natural resources management and conservation.

  • Development and management of services and facilities at our field stations; pure and applied research

  • For non-medical volunteers who don't speak Spanish, have limited travel experience, or are looking for a more structured experience, we do offer fixed-cost, fixed-date volunteer experiences. Click here for more info. 

There is overlap between categories, but volunteers should know that conversational or advanced Spanish language skills are usually essential for the first two (except for scheduled medical service expeditions). Those two categories also require considerable interaction and collaboration with local communities and institutions.

Non-discrimination Policy

We do not discriminate against potential volunteers based on nationality, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation, age (but see FAQ 9), gender or gender identification, or sexual orientation. 

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Volunteer FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Who Volunteers?

Anyone with the necessary Spanish skills (refer to FAQ 7), a sense of adventure, a desire for service, and a healthy dose of humor, patience and tolerance for humidity and bugs is welcome to apply. Over the years, we’ve hosted:

  • Medical professionals (MDs, dentists, RNs, medical technicians, dietitians, etc.)

  • Medical students – medical, dental, and related fields

  • Veterinary professionals and students

  • Teachers and educators at all levels

  • Skilled tradespersons – construction workers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, other tradespersons

  • Artists & musicians

  • School volunteer groups – university and high school groups and organizations, including service groups like Nourish International.

  • Church service groups

  • Independent individuals, family groups and groups of friends/acquaintances

  • Minors 17 years of age (with parental permission, and with placement only when a Project Amazonas principal is on site for the duration

Where does Project Amazonas work?

We work only in the Peruvian Amazon, specifically the Departamento de Loreto, in north-eastern Peru. Our focal areas are the Rio Orosa, Rio Apayacu, and Rio Mazan areas – eastward of the city of Iquitos, which is our home base. We do not work in, nor do we have contacts in the Peruvian highlands, southern Peru, or in Brazil, Ecuador or other Amazonian countries. We also work only in rural areas, and do not arrange volunteer activities in the city of Iquitos.

All in-person volunteers need to be able to legally travel to Peru., and are responsible for meeting any visa or other travel requirements. 

Can you arrange volunteer experiences in other locations?

We are happy to pass on any contact information we might have for other organizations or individuals in other locations, but we do not otherwise arrange opportunities elsewhere. 

Can I volunteer without going to the Amazon?

Glad you asked! There are numerous opportunities for volunteering at home. We can always use people with web-site development, fund-raising, grant-writing, legal, media, and social-media skills, as well as others who may have skills as graphic artists, have translation capabilities from English/Spanish to other languages, or be interested in promoting or developing support for specific programs in the Peruvian Amazon. We can also use people with experience in video and photo editing, on-line publishing and related fields.

For students who might need to fulfill service-hour requirements for their programs, this could be a great opportunity.

 

Do you place all volunteers?

No. We simply can’t. We don’t run a volunteer-placement service, nor will we invent busy-work. Neither do we have the time or resources to arrange “jungle experiences” with a veneer of service or volunteering on top. There are many tour operations and jungle lodges in the Peruvian Amazon that provide that experience at competitive cost (refer to Mr[s] Google). Volunteers need to be able to fit their skills into concrete activities that meet our overall mission objectives, and which contribute to ongoing and sustainable initiatives. Some would-be volunteers may also have technical skills that we simply can’t take advantage of given the technological limitations of working in the Amazon. We also do not have “walk-in” volunteer opportunities – i.e., we can’t accommodate requests like “I’m arriving in Iquitos next week, can I volunteer for two days?”  We don’t have a volunteer coordinator staff person, and we are often out of email / cell range for 7-10 days at a time.

If we do not have a placement available, we will refer you to other organizations or institutions when we can. The Amazon is a tremendously big place with lots to do. We have no illusions of “ownership” and recognize that collaboration with individuals, communities and organizations is the most productive route to our long-term goals.

Are there volunteers that you won't accept?

We do not accept volunteers whose specific objectives are to proselytize, to promote a particular political or ideological agenda, or who are seeking Amazon medical or psychological experiences or cures. Such activities, however valid they may be, are simply outside of our area of interest and expertise. We also do not accept volunteers who are looking to relocate to the Amazon on a long-term or permanent basis. We are not here to help you find yourself, or to serve as a re-location agency.

Do volunteers need to speak Spanish?

In most cases intermediate or better Spanish is highly recommended. Spanish is the primary language in our area and most locals speak no English or Portuguese, though they may understand the latter. In rural areas, some people also speak indigenous languages, but will be conversant in Spanish. Latin American Spanish has many differences from Castilian Spanish, and in Peru in particular, there are many borrowed words/terms from Quechua and other indigenous languages.

 

Being conversant in Spanish will make your volunteer and travel experience so much more rewarding. If you speak no Spanish, we recommend deferring volunteering and taking a Spanish course (there are many in-person and on-line options, including a number of free ones). If you need to brush up on your Spanish skills, language schools and tutors are available in major cities in Peru. 

Exceptions:  Those who volunteer with a Project Amazonas scheduled activity led by Spanish-speakers, or who volunteer with a group where some members speak Spanish don't need to have Spanish skills. We still recommend taking a starting Spanish course before traveling to Peru, however. 

What costs are associated with volunteering? Why?

Volunteers need to be able to cover the following budget items:

  • Transport to/from Iquitos (most, if not all volunteers will arrive by air). If air travel uses up most of your budget, consider postponing travel to the Amazon and volunteer closer to home.

  • Any lodging and meals in Iquitos.

  • All personal items, medications, souvenirs, costs for travel documents, etc.

  • Transportation between Iquitos and the volunteering location (this may be a shared cost).

  • Food and fuel costs at the volunteering location – depending on whether volunteers do their own cooking, the quality, type and amount of food, and whether bottled beverages are included, such costs can range from $8-$25/day. In some cases, we can make a weekly food delivery based on a rate of $20/day including transportation of the food items. For volunteers at Santa Cruz, we recommend that you make a weekly trip to Mazan where you can purchase food items directly at the market and in stores. 

  • A $30/week (or portion there-of) field station user fee for staying at a Project Amazonas field station – this helps defray wear and tear on facilities and goes into the general operating fund.  We provide accommodations, bedding and mosquito nets. 

  • Laundry - laundry can be done by hand or can be arranged with a local laundry-person. s/30 (~$8) is the standard rate for a large load of laundry. 

  • Overall, we suggest a budget of $20 to $35/day to cover food, transportation, laundry, field station fees and other costs. Short-term volunteers will likely have costs on the higher end, longer-term volunteers will find opportunities to reduce daily costs. Groups of 2 or more volunteers will also be able to significantly reduce per-person costs.

As a non-profit operated on a pro-bono basis by board members and officers, we do not have the resources to host volunteers at no cost.  Fuels (for transport) and food are the primary costs to volunteers, and transportation expenses are high in the region. We have considerable investment in the facilities at our field stations and need to be able to maintain them. We work to minimize transportation and other costs wherever possible, but volunteers need to cover their own expenses. We try to be as upfront about those expenses as possible. 

Are there age limits for volunteers?

In general, volunteers need to be 18-years of age or older, and in good health. We do accept unaccompanied 17-yr olds if they have parental / guardian permission; but only when a Project Amazonas principal is on site for the duration of the volunteer activities. Minors accompanied by parents or legal guardians are also welcome. As long as you are in good health, there is no maximum age for volunteers. We strongly encourage volunteers of all ages to to consult with their personal physician prior to travel.

 What length of time can I volunteer for?

With the exception of volunteers with needed specialized skills, as well as medical and dental volunteers, we require a 10-14 day minimal commitment. Logistics, travel time, orientation, and the necessary coordination mean that fewer days just aren't worth it. Maximum length of time that we will accept volunteers for is 2 months (with rare exceptions). 

Are there any other requirements?

Travel to volunteer locations from Iquitos always requires travel by boat, so we require that all volunteers know how to swim. Also you need to prove that you are sane and reasonable. This can be done by timely and interesting and intelligent email exchanges. QAnoners and anti-vaxxers need not apply. Speaking of the latter, it is your responsibility to check out the CDC recommendations for vaccinations prior to travel to the Peruvian Amazon. There are vaccines for rabies, yellow fever and typhoid,, but if you want to take your chances with the vampire bats, mosquitos and 'adventurous food', it's on you. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Medical Volunteers

Our medical objectives are to strengthen the ability of local institutions and medical/dental care provisioners to meet the needs of isolated or cash-poor communities and individuals in the Peruvian Amazon. We work with rural clinics and community health promoters to help provide material resources as well as the technical expertise that they may need and want.

 

As part of this initiative, we conduct regular boat-based medical care trips to various rivers in the region, helping to meet the immediate medical needs of the population, while working to increase the capacity of local institutions and health care providers.

 

Direct medical service is generally restricted to medical professionals and advanced medical/dental students. Advanced to fluent Spanish is essential for clinic-based work. For students, all patient contact and care must be under the supervision of a licensed medical professional who is authorized to practice medicine/dentistry in Peru by the Peruvian College of Medicine. A licensed Peruvian MD accompanies all of our boat-based expeditions. Foreign medical professionals will need to apply for authorization well in advance. 

Medical and public-health related opportunities include:

 

  • Participation on regularly-scheduled medical service trips (boat-based)

  • Volunteering at urban or rural clinics (we ourselves currently operate the Orosa River clinic, other clinics are all under the direction of the Ministry of Health).

  • Health education campaigns

  • Anti-malaria and bed-net campaigns and education

  • Dental health campaigns and education in communities and schools (open to non-medical volunteers as well)

  • Public health and sanitation programs and campaigns (open to non-medical volunteers as well).

  • Community health-worker training workshops.

  • Assistance with various community-health initiatives directed by communities themselves, which could include programs to improve environmental health in and around communities, improve nutrition, and efforts to improve reproductive health and break cycles of disease transmission.

  • Operation of the Orosa River rural clinic (opened in early 2017), and material and technical support to other established rural clinics in the region (supply of materials and medications, facilities upgrades and support, transport of patients to more specialized facilities in Iquitos, etc.).   

General Volunteers

Currently we cannot accept volunteers due to pandemic restrictions on travel. We can plan ahead, however, and we will accept volunteers again as of 1 April 2021, when the coronavirus will magically go "poof". 

Seriously though, we can't wait for this to be over either!

If you are interested in working with us, kindly fill out the Volunteer Application Form, but please do carefully read through all the information on this page before doing so. 

So what do non-medical volunteers do? 

Education & Mentoring

Most rural children will have lost an entire school year due to Covid-19, so volunteers who can work with students to raise skills, comprehension, and enthusiasm for leaning will be able to make a huge impact

Sustainable Development Activities and Community Engagement 

An opportunity for service that may appeal to professional tradespersons as well as to individuals interested in community engagement in general.  Advanced Spanish will likely be essential, as well as past experience in related work.  Some technical, diplomatic or legal skills/knowledge may also be required for some projects.

  • Community resource management plans – mapping of resources, planning for sustainable harvesting of resources, developing and implementing management plans, etc.

  • Community governance – strengthening community institutions and promoting democratic participation in local governance.

  • Conflict resolution – training in how to reach consensus and to manage/resolve conflict within and between communities.

  • Human rights – helping communities and residents obtain legal title and recognition for their lands and territories (close collaboration with Peruvian institutions and a high level of Spanish are essential).

 

Conservation and Research Initiatives

Note that researchers are not in residence at all field stations at all times, and research underway may be of a nature that is not conducive to taking on un-trained volunteers.  We do NOT have an animal rehabilitation or rescue program – such activities are regulated by the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture and require separate permits, inspections and reporting requirements. Other organizations in the region are already engaged in such efforts and we can refer you to one of those.

 

  • Reforestation [REQUIRES ON-SITE ORIENTATION BY PA PERSONNEL – see scheduled volunteer trips - establishment and care of plant nurseries, planting out of seedlings, etc. This is concentrated at our Santa Cruz Forest Reserve where we have a working orchard of native fruit and timber trees and are rapidly reforesting degraded former agricultural lands.

  • Agro-forestry initiatives – working with individual farmers and communities to increase the economic and ecological value of their gardens and farms.

  • Establishment of medicinal plant gardens

  • Forest plot establishment and re-measurements of trees (at Project Amazonas field sites – such forest plots serve as a valuable resource and teaching tool for researchers and students). Re-measurements ideally take place at 5-year intervals.  [REQUIRES ON-SITE SUPERVISION BY EXPERIENCED FORESTERS/BOTANISTS]

  • Fish-farming and/or animal husbandry initiatives (in collaboration with local communities).

 

Facilities Development & Management, Staff Capacity-building, Research:

Our facilities – field stations and river boats - and Peruvian staff, are what give us the ability to host volunteers in the first place and to engage in this wide range of activities.  As such, any activities which improve the quality, life-span and functionality of our facilities, or which increases the technical and practical capabilities of our staff, will increase our effectiveness in other fields as well. The two field stations that we operate have differing levels of accessibility and of amenities, and different development needs, and will be where most volunteers would be housed.

 

Field Station Activities

  • Maintenance and construction of field station infrastructure

  • Trail maintenance, mapping and establishment of new trails

  • Forest reserve patrol and mapping activities

  • Bridge building

  • Boat maintenance, painting, re-construction

  • Motor maintenance and repair – training of staff in the same field

  • Design of new facilities

  • Grant-writing (volunteers can assist with this while still in their home countries as well)

  • Research assistance (if there is/are researchers in residence that can use research assistance)

  • General upkeep and orientation of visitors (during peak usage periods only). Advanced conversational Spanish is necessary for this.

Language and Culture Preservation 

In particular we are working with the Yagua people of the Peruvian Amazon to provide them with the resources needed to record and preserve their language, traditions, and culture, and to pass those values on to their younger generations. Volunteering with such initiatives requires a high level of Spanish fluency, and a background in anthropology or in practical community engagement is desired. Such work does NOT consist of partaking of the hallucinogenic ayahuasca drink with shamans or elders, and due to medical, ethical and legal considerations, we will not accept volunteers planning on participating in such activities.

 
 

Internships

Due to the Coronavirus epidemic, we are not currently offering any internships. Details on future (post-Covid) internship offerings will be posted here soon. 

What you should know before applying as a volunteer:

  • We ask for a current CV or resume from each volunteer.  As a first step, we ask that volunteers fill out the Volunteer Questionnaire

  • Volunteers must have the capacity to work independently. Frequently only the local caretakers might be present at the field stations.

  • Communities close the field stations are mostly small campesino communities. There are no restaurants or stores within walking or paddling distance, and all transport is by small private boat. There is no public transportation.

  • In the case of indigenous communities (close to Madre Selva only), their lifestyle is very similar to that of their campesino neighbors, even though they maintain some distinct differences. These communities have had decades of contact with “Spanish” culture and are largely integrated. All speak Spanish (very few speak an indigenous language). Don't expect to experience something out of a National Geographic "first encounter" report. 

  • There is no internet or Wi-Fi in the field stations, and often there is no or very weak cell phone signal (better at Santa Cruz than at Madre Selva). If you think you may suffer from nomophobia, the Amazon would be the place to confirm it. 

  • The climate is warm and humid, and mosquitos and other biting insects can be abundant at times. There is also an abundance of spiders, ants, wasps and frogs, and snakes (some venomous) can be regularly encountered.

  • The closest clinics are 5 to 45 minutes distant by small motorized boat. The closest hospital is 2 to 5 hours distant by fast boat.

  • It is not an environment suitable for everyone, but people are genuine and friendly, and it can be a magnificent experience for those prepared for the challenges of living in the Amazon. 

  • From time to time we schedule volunteer trips led by a director of Project Amazonas. These trips have a fixed cost which includes airport reception (in Iquitos), 2 nights accommodation in Iquitos, all river transport, field station lodging and food. Additional lodging (beyond 2 nights) and meals in Iquitos before or after the trip are not included.

 
 

Jobs with Project Amazonas

Sorry, we have no jobs currently available with Project Amazonas. 100% of our paid staff are Peruvian citizens born and raised in the Peruvian Amazon. We have no paid or recompensed positions in the USA or elsewhere. Should the job situation change, we will post a notice on this website. 

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