Frequently Asked Questions about volunteering
How does the permit process work?
Anyone who wishes to conduct research in Peru in a protected
area needs a research permit from the office of SERNANP (Servicion
Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas), in Puerto Maldonado. Once
a year the principal investigators of the macaw project have to
submit a proposal to SERNANP outlining the activities that will be
taking place. Together with the proposal we need to submit a list
of all the people who will be working on the project, together with
each person's (i.e. volunteer's) curriculim vitae, a presentation
letter from an employer or school, and a letter of intent.
Templates for the latter two letters are provided with the accepted
volunteer information. We usually do this in December. Volunteers
who apply to be on the project before these periods are included on
the original permits. Anyone who does not send in their documents
will be added onto the permit through an appendix. We can only take
out 3 appendicies per year, so we try and do one every 4 months or
so. You should send pdf copies (or scans) of the papers to the
project coordinator and mail (via traditional post) the original
documents (letters and CV) to the coordinator in Peru.
Once the permit or addendum with your name on it has been
issued, you can print out 3 copies if it has been e-mail to you or
you will have 3 copies given to you by the project assistant in
Puerto Maldonado. For getting to Tambopata Research Centre you need
all 3 copies - as you need to leave one copy at each of the two
control posts that are stationed on the river on the way up and
keep one copy with you. One control post is before Refugio
Amazonas, and the other is before Tambopata Research Centre.
The permit process is normally always subject to delays that you
may want to bear in mind. These are: letters getting lost on their
way to Lima; waiting for sufficient participants to make it worth
the costs of taking out an adenda; and waiting for SERNANP to sign
an adenda (this can take weeks or more if the paperwork is not in
Why do I have to pay to volunteer?
Essentially, volunteering as part of the project is free. The
project take care of permit costs, cover the costs of all staff,
website hosting, and we do a lot of work to maintain training
material, and also deal with all correspondence and various aspects
of project management. However, our budget does not extend to being
able to pay for all aspects of participation. As such you only need
to pay for food and accommodation and other services provided by
Rainforest Expeditions and costs for such are very reasonable. In
fact, there is probably no cheaper long term monitoring project in
What is the average team size?
Although the number of assistants and volunteers average about 6
throughout the year, and up to 12 towards the end of the year, the
normal team size is 4 people from Apr – Oct and 6+ from Nov –
Will I have to work alone?
There are tasks where monitoring is usually done alone:
Monitoring of the clay lick, parrot point counts, and looking for
foraging parrots. These are conducted in relatively safe
environments, and we do not leave people to work by themselves
until they are confident of their surroundings and the tasks they
are required to perform. Walking tasks are conducted alone if
participants are confident enough to do this, but this is not
obligatory. There should always be clear communication and division
of tasks so that the field leader knows where team members are.
Safety should always be a top priority in all tasks.