Share your experience at Esperanza Verde !

Please tell where you're from + when and how long you stay at Esperanza Verde. Thanks !
9 entries.
Aze Peeters from Leuven wrote on 23 May 2018:
Working at Esperanza Verde means being part of a new family, a family consisting of both animals and volunteers. The 3 months I've been there were the most exciting months ever!!
Laurie Verbrugge from Utrecht wrote on 24 April 2018:
Volunteering in this project was the most amazing experience in my life! In the beginning I had a hard time getting usted to the new environment, the heat and all the cockroaches. (I'd never traveld so far, and back to basic like this) But after a while I felt so happy living in the jungle. Getting up every morning and seeing the animals getting awake, feed them and taking care of the baby animals. It feels so rewarding. I don't think there is an other place where you get so close to the animals as in Esperanza Verde. And actually, because there is no mobile connection, I didn't missed my phone at all.

I miss Kipa, who likes to sit on your had, or Tawaki who would try to jump on you. And Otis & Luna, who are so full of joy.

The family gives these animals the best life they can get!

Wish you all the best,

Lisette Stok from Soest wrote on 9 February 2018:
Volunteering for Esperanza Verde was one of the most wonderful experiences I have had so far. The lush jungle surprised me everyday with all its wilderness, colours, and shapes. I enjoyed working with the animals. You learn so much about their behaviours, the jungle, and living in it. It was a lot of fun working with the other volunteers, even though the work was sometimes quite tough too (I have gained soo much muscles while I was there!) Also, the family was very kind for each new volunteer. And this, while they have had over 500 volunteers staying there! So much respect for what they have achieved already! Keep up the good work ๐Ÿ™‚

I miss catching crickets with Marlon, watching the monkeys play, making long strolls with a babymonkey strapped around my waist, playing cards with the volunteers, and even Kipa (one of the big birds) trying to grab my underwear while working ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hope to be back some day!
All the best, Lisette
Laura Tuk from Ouddorp wrote on 25 June 2017:

I spent 10 weeks at Esperanza Verde at the beginning of 2017 as part of an internship for school. As a volunteer and intern I had an amazing experience. There are so many diverse things to do and to learn about. However busy things might have been, Douwe and Olivia would always take a moment to teach and explain about different things. Ranging from the meaning of a sound a certain animal makes to how to properly build part of an enclosure or how to harvest termites for termite eating animals (something I never expected to learn).

I'd recommend going to Esperanza Verde to anyone. As long as you are open to an adventure, ready to leave behind certain luxuries and to work but have a fun and unique experience you're good to go.

I spent several months in Bolivia and Peru before arriving at Esperanza and my experience, as well as those of other volunteers shows that it's often a good idea to spend some time in the country before you go to EV. Give your body some time to adjust to the climate, different foods and bacteria etc before you start working.

What to bring:
Headtorch + batteries - zip lock bags/good quality waterproof bags/tupperware box (cockroaches will eat through thin pieces of plastic) - a good power bank

Like I said, a once in a lifetime experience but, like many others I'd love to go back (soon)!
Ridge Droste from Leiden wrote on 26 March 2017:
Volunteering at Esperanza Verde was a wonderful and awesome experience! The activities to be done are very diverse, fun and purposeful. This is the place if you would like to be actively involved in better animal welfare and sustainability of the jungle. In addition, nothing beats the feeling of eating dinner, chatting about interesting topics, playing games and watching a starlit night near bonfire, after a hard working day. The Amazon can really be enchanting and it is very nice to experience it while volunteering at Esperanza Verde. Six weeks passed by so quickly and I wished that I stayed longer. I learned so many things and respect what Douwe & Olivia have established. Keep up the great work!

All the best, Ridge
Carlos from Austin wrote on 17 March 2017:
Yo hice el voluntariado con mi hijo Lucas el 2012 durante un mes y ambos encantados por lo que pudimos aprender y ayudar, prometemos volver a esperanza verde, muchas gracias por darnos la oportunidad de ayudarlos.
Carlos y Lucas sinti.
Asta Lubanski and Rikke Jespersen from Copenhagen wrote on 16 March 2017:
We met a guy called Ben in Rio and he told us about this place.
We decided to go there and with no doubts that was the best decision!
We had an absoluty amazing time with experiences that we never could dream of.
Further more we had such a nice time with the other volunteers and got friends that we never will forget.
Thank you so much !

Hugs from Rikke and Asta
Carl N from Southampton wrote on 16 March 2017:

I was in EV for around six weeks at the beginning of 2016. I had a fantastic time. If you have any doubts in your mind about going...you should go, even if you're scared about whatever creatures you might find in the jungle!

The Amazon is a truly amazing place and EV really gives you the chance to work, see and enjoy it all. One of the reasons I selected to go was that the price seemed to much cheaper than some of the other stuff you find on the net, and I can say it is good value for money.

I worked with tree planting, GPS mapping and GIS, in addition to helping with animal care tasks (food prep, cage cleaning) and construction work. I was also incredibly lucky that during my stay, three baby monkeys arrived and I, along with everybody else, was able to share the experience of helping to look after them, probably my number one highlight!

However, it is important to remember, that these are wild animals, that hopefully will be released, so try not to become too attached!

Douwe and Olivia were fantastic and I learnt a lot from both of them in such a short time. They are both very knowledgeable at different things and are a great team. I can honestly say I really admire them for the way they are prepared to commit their entire lives to a worthy cause.

Of course living in the jungle does have its challenges; the humidity, cockroaches, snakes, spiders, no fridge etc. But really, this a part of the experience, and being away from home comforts makes you appreciate them so much more, and realize, actually how little you really need them.

I would also recommend maybe going with an idea beforehand about what you really want to get from your stay; a project in mind, learning ecology of certain species, habitat management restoration, wildlife photography, as having this an really help you make the most of your time there.

A few essential items I would recommend:

vacuum storage bag (if you're happy to buy the plastic), stuff will get damp there and it's a good way to prevent this.

Zinc tape / Headtorch / Good quality poncho / Bungee cords (never know when they could be useful).

Finally, I wouldn't bother taking anything like nice clothes and our experience was that there were old clothes to use for work there.

It's a great environment, you will help a good cause, the people are friendly and you'll have a wicked time. My only regret is I didn't stay longer and could go back again!
Kees & Irene from Breda wrote on 26 February 2017:
Hello there,
It is 26 feb 2017. We arrived about 4 weeks ago at EV for a 3 month stay. We just found out the times really flies when you have fun. And fun it is when you are doing one of the tours suchs as monkey tour, residents tour, baby monkeys tour, clinic or go for a walk with zambo. Each tour consist of a cleaning part and a feeding part. Most of the time the animals, especially the monkeys, are nearbye and some times trying to steel your brush or empty your waterbucket. The difficult part is not to interfear with them and just ignore them. Besides the walk and the tour there are taskings such as construction, cleaning toilets and bathrooms, helping cooking, etc. Also working together with the other volunteers is also a great joy. After the work we go to the waterfall or have some interesting talks about everything.
During this 3 weeks we learned a lot about the animals form Douwe and Olivia; how to read the animals behaviour, what to do when a monkey grabs your leg or steel your brush, etc. etc.
We are looking forward for the next 2 months!!!


Ali Ahmed, Canada (stayed 3 weeks February-March 2013)
I felt immediately welcome at Esperanza Verde when Seรฑor Douwe called out my name as I arrived. Since then, the last few weeks have been a collection of much more than could be done justice to write in a short space. But be it the work itself, the surroundings, the company of the fellow volunteers, or even falling ill, it has all amounted to a rewarding experience.


Jennifer Brown, Australia (stayed 4 weeks in February-March 2013)
Traveling to Esperanza Verde was already an adventure in itself- plane, two cars completely full of people and crossing two rivers by boat before arriving in the majestic jungle here. I canโ€™t say just one favorite thing. I really enjoyed the communal atmosphere and living with a family. Thereโ€™s no need for an alarm clock because the monkeys are up at dawn. Thereโ€™s been the heaviest rain Iโ€™ve experienced and itโ€™s so cute when the monkeys seek shelter just outside our bedroom. It was great to see how far the construction progressed while we were here. If there were an activity that we wanted to do while being here, Olivia and Douwe were really supportive to make it happen. I hope everyone else will enjoy the experience as we have.


A day at Esperanza Verde by Arne Lysaker from Norway (stayed 4 weeks in February-March 2013)
The sounds from the forest, just outside the open window, fill the bedroom as you are waking up. The house is quieter after the kids (Marlon and Kayla) and Douwe or Olivia have left to the other side of the river to the local school, and now itโ€™s time for the rest of the house to wake up.
There are still a lot of people around and since everybody lives in the same house itโ€™s difficult to oversleep, though it can happen. There are animals that need food, cages to build, fixing the paths or helping Elena out in the kitchen. Thereโ€™s always so much to do that you will never be bored during the day. Douwe, the man of the house, likes to sing songs that he finds suitable for specific moments. He leads a group that consists of volunteers and Machico and Roldan (two local working machines who always work faster and carry more stuff than you. This is the type of work that many people find very manly. Carrying rocks from the river, mixing huge amounts of cement by hand and general carpeting are typical activities. It does not matter if you have experience or not, everyone gets tasks so you will be hungry by lunch time for sure. While that is being done, Erik and Jen (resp. from Norway and Australia) are feeding the animals since itโ€™s their turn today. The routine goes like this: cutting fruit, mixing food and placing it in their respective buckets. Then go to Rincay, the tapir, who will try to take a bite of your clothes. Cuddle with him and make sure that he and his friend Pepito, the tortoise, are healthy. Continue to the birdcage and from there go to the monkeys. Mica is the least shy of the monkeys and will probably follow you around for most of the trip. She tends to fall in love with volunteer guys, but ignore her and its fine. At the monkey feeding table you will also see Igor, Tika (the coati), Camilla and Jordi, which is an amazing sight. In the evening itโ€™s time to feed the favorite animals of the volunteers, Elmo the sloth. As soon as you enter the cage he comes straight towards you and tries to climb onto you.
At twelve oโ€™clock itโ€™s time for lunch which is prepared by Elena. After the morning work, lunch is much anticipated. Speaking for myself, some of these lunches are the best Iโ€™ve ever had. It might have something to do with the need for energy after three hours of carrying rocks or whatever task Douwe has in mind. Lunch is served in the kitchen and we all sit around the table and eat heaps of food. Olivia is more or less the expert on animals and will always have a good monkey story during the day. Work continues after lunch until 4pm and after that itโ€™s nice to go to the waterfall for a swim or just hang out, reading a book or solving a Sudoku. We cook dinner in turns so thatโ€™s always a nice end of the day. We sit in the kitchen and share the experiences of the day and listen to the crazy stories of this jungle family. ยจYou know, today I got almost killed by a snake. Good thing I had my machete with meยจ, is something Douwe could say. Today we are preparing a lot of cakes since we are having a party in the evening. Itโ€™s raining and all the volunteers are gathered in the kitchen, high on sugar.


A day at Esperanza Verde by Frank Mcnaghan, Ireland (stayed 3 weeks in April 2013)
A normal day at Esperanza Verde usually begins with preparing the animalsโ€˜food and then feeding them. We do this once again in the afternoon, and it is a really fun way of getting to know the animals which are kept here. After the morning feeding there are plenty of tasks which occupy our day. These range from helping make or repair the animal enclosures to taking Elmo the baby sloth out for a walk to encourage him to climb the surrounding trees. Moreover, there is a lot of construction work in and around the site which we can help with. A good thing about working here is that we can chose what work will suit us best and concentrate on that task. At the weekends we can relax here on site, but if we want to contact home via internet or go for a few drinks there are towns near-by (a village about one hour away, and the city of Pucallpa about four hours away).
The project itself is in a really beautiful setting – surrounded by lush rainforest, it takes a while for it to really sink in that you are living in the Amazon jungle! There is a little stream right beside the house and a waterfall up river where we can swim and cool off in the afternoons.
In the evenings, we all eat together and relax. There isnโ€™t a huge amount of electricity on tap, but there is enough for lights while we read, chat or play games with other volunteers. Staying and working here is a great way to meet other travelers and spending time with Olivia and Douweโ€™s family is nice. The atmosphere here is really welcoming, and there is a big effort to show us volunteers the surrounding area and wildlife. For example, walking tours of the surrounding jungle or trips up river to look for flocks of wild parrots which nest here.
My stay at Eperanza Verde has been an overwhelmingly positive one, and is a trip that I highly recommend. It has been an amazing way to experience the rainforest while here in South America, and definitely a highlight of my trip so far.


Bryony Lee, UK (stayed 3 weeks in April 2013)
Esperanza Verde has been a great experience. Spending 3 weeks in the jungle is something I never imagined doing and will stay with me forever. The family is brilliant and Olivia and Douwe have gone out of their way to make sure we feel welcome and happy. I really appreciate the efforts they have gone to take us on jungle walks, to see the parrots and hopefully, within the next week, on a night walk.