We're finally going round the world! travel blog

Our first day and already Tinga (the coati) came for a cuddle


Faustino, the live in howler monkey!

In our first we we hitched to get to the park as...


Imogen and Vanesso (Tara is taking over from her when she leaves)




Faustino having a nap on his shelf

Mille and Soeren at our temporary place in Santa Maria

The kitten in Santa Maria

Not every day you see a sign like this!



Vanesso is very cute!

Vanesso is likes to lie down!

Vanesso playing with a snake he found

Get back over here!






Tara getting her first cuddle from Vanesso (and it is how she...






A pretty butterfly


A frog




This is a pio (like an emu) cleaning itself

On my way to work!!

Popular, the mountain puma. I am helping to fix his cage with...




Elsa, the other mountain puma - I pass her on my way...


Tinga having a nap

























































































































































































Terry & Andy's Hangi (Maori way of cooking - it takes about...

Enjoying the food


Mike, Rider, Morten and Keith giving performance to raise money for the...




Daniel showing his impressive fingers for the person who wins the massage

Maria and Laura















































We'd been hearing about Parque Ambue Ari (Communidad Inti Wara Yassi) since the beginning of our trip from other travellers who'd volunteered there, and Tara had been wanting to go (Darius wasn't so keen!). We were unable to go to Noel Kempff as planned, and the Park was only six hours from where we were, so it was the perfect opportunity for her to strike!... and after 8 months of fighting about it, she won and we went!

The Park is in an amazing area with no electricity and no contact with the outside world. Initially we'd decided to stay for 2 weeks but the temptation of working with an ocelot was too much for Tara and we ended up staying a month. The Park rescues animals from unsuitable human environments (like circuses, restaurants, or the homes of people who didn't realise that the cute baby would grow big, eat a lot and get tricky to manage!!). At Ambue Ari, many of these animals are big cats, and the volunteers work with them enriching their lives since they can no longer be released into the wild.

On a typical day, we rolled out of bed just before 7am (you quickly get used to the straw matresses) to feed the house animals and do our morning chores (which were on a rota) before breakfast at 8am. From 9am till 12:30pm and 2pm till 5:30pm we did our 'permanent' jobs (looking after an ocelot for Tara!) or construction work. In the evenings, after dinner, we played cards, chess or werewolf by candlelight listening to others playing the guitar, or made our way (by bus or pick-up truck) into the nearest village, Santa Maria, where we slept for our first couple of weeks (we arrived at a particularly busy time at the park).

Darius chose to work on different projects and not with a specific cat. He mostly helped Popular's carer, Keith, to fix his cage - Popular (who is a gigantic and lovely mountain puma) even got a swimming pool with drainage system! When he wasn't doing that, he spent time with Talia the monkey and baby Rumi, who she looks after, or worked with the house animals: parrots, macaws, toucans, Faustino the howler monkey, coaties (called Techons here) including extremely cute baby Tinga who was released on our last day, Herbie the tapir, Bambi and Rudolfo the deer, and Mundi the dog. He also walked with the three adorable sisters (jungle pumas Inti, Wara and Yassi) who were like kittens (just a bit bigger and scarier), and Katie (the cutest & friendliest jaguar); and helped to build her new Jurassic park sized cage.

Tara has always wanted to see an ocelot in real life, so being able to work with Vanesso (an incredible, beautiful ocelot) each day, and make friends with him, was more than a dream come true. Walking with him in the jungle, playing with him, watching him investigate tortoises and frogs, play with snakes, and paddle in the lagoon, having him sleep in her lap, and learning to know each other better each day has been the most incredible, unforgettable experience. When she wasn't with him, she also helped to build Katie's cage (knowing how to mix and lay cement is now one of our unexpected new skills!), and went for a walk and swim with the sisters (swimming with a puma is also incredible!).

Besides for the work, it was a great community – we made some really good friends and had some memorable times in the nearest town when we needed a night out together (and some electricity!), or to celebrate birthdays. The experience will be one we never forget – it’s not very often you get to say you walked a juguar, or pumas, or an ocelot through the Bolivian Jungle!

* For travelers wishing to go to the park please note it's not all fun and games: they need people who genuinely want to help animals, many of whom have suffered horribly, to have a better life. If you have professional skills in animal care they would especially welcome your help and skills, although all you need to volunteer is enthusiasm and a love of animals. The work is varied but can be very hard, especially the construction work. Life is simple and communal: at Ambue Ari there's no electricity, cold showers and simple food - it might not be the right place for you if these things bother you. It's an amazing experience, but don’t go just for a good photo.

Oh, and if you can take anything with you to donate, they always need construction tools - hammers, nails, wire, sacks for carrying rocks and sand, etc, and climbing rope (it's stronger than anything they can get locally).

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