Share your experience at Esperanza Verde !

Please tell where you're from + when and how long you stay at Esperanza Verde. Thanks !
21 entries.
Laura Voigt from Zwickau (Germany) wrote on 28 September 2023
Going there was definitely one of the best choices I ever made. The nature is extremely beautiful, working with the animals is exciting and fulfilling and the people I met there are just the coolest. After a few weeks they felt like family and we had so much fun together. Every day something different is going on and it never gets boring. I totally fell in love with the baby night monkey Yuna <3. Sometimes working with the monkeys can get a bit challenging but that makes it even more exciting and you learn so much during your stay here. (I stayed for 10 weeks)

Totally recommend it, 10 out of 10, definitely coming back as soon as possible!
Famkelisa Heeren from The Netherlands wrote on 23 April 2023
During my travels in Southamerica I stayed 2,5 months at esperanza verde. I didn't expect it to become such a highlight of my trip. If you like nature, animals, learning a lot, working hard for a rewarding goal together with amazing people you just have to come here!!
Sylvia Chan from The Netherlands wrote on 7 December 2022
My stay at EV has been one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. being surrounded by nature and so much life! I enjoyed every second of it.

I stayed for 9 weeks.
Kim from The Netherlands wrote on 10 November 2022
I stayed at Esperanza Verde for 8 weeks. Living and working in the jungle surrounded by amazing animals was one of the best experiences of my life!
Fieke Verschragen from The Netherlands wrote on 10 November 2022
I loved living in the jungle with all the animals, it was a dream of me to experience an I am so happy I went there.

I stayed for 8 weeks.
Cas Mulleners from The Netherlands wrote on 10 November 2022
I had an amazing stay at Esperanza Verde. I really like being in a completely different world for a few months and thats exactly what I got, being in the jungle and being around the animals is amazing. It is hard work but thats also what I like about it, you really feel like you are helping the animals and giving them as a good life as they can get. I think it is also a really good way of getting a better perspective on life in different countries specialy when you are from a country like the Netherlands, the way of life is completely different on almost every level. And its a really good way of appreciating what you have at home and having more respect for people that grow up in places where you do not have as much opportunities as you get in for instance in the Netherlands. Besides that you also learn so much about yourself and how you deal with insect, you do not have a lot of electricity so i read a lot of books and that was also really nice. You do not have that much internet but it depends also a bit on yourself. But i really like the detox from the internet and its just really nice not being able to respond to all sorts of email and messages but when it is really important you can use the internet and it almost always works, only when it is storming or raining it can be down. But my favorite thing will always be the animals and observing their life and how they act around eachother, specially the monkeys how they play with eachother and with the different monkey species. Even though you ca not make contact with most of them it is nice to see them healthy and happy and just having the best time.

Stayed for 10 weeks.
Luuk Moen from Lingel, The Netherlands wrote on 10 November 2022
It was a great experience where I got to know amazing people and animals. Amazing learning curve as well.

Stayed for 10 weeks.
Sjoerd van der Voort from Rotterdam wrote on 16 October 2022
In February and March 2022, I helped out at Esperanza Verde together with the other volunteers. My animal lovers heart brought me here and I will never regret it, the experience you obtain in this (way too) short period is fantastic.
First of all, you come to a place created by Douwe and Olivia, where you directly see the love for animals. The many birds, monkeys and other species are taken care of by us (volunteers).
Every day you are in charge to prepare the food for a different group of animals, you make sure their cages are clean and finally you make them very happy with some fresh fruits and vegetables. After some time you start to know the animals, see their behavior, and you are grateful that because of Esperanza Verde they can enjoy there life.
Next to taking care of the animals, the experience of being in the middle of the jungle without much luxury is very cool. In my free days, I explored the nature around the area. Highlights of the area are the mirrador (30min walk upwards), the beautiful sunset at the riverbank and all the night walks we have done. But already just waking up in the morning with the beautiful view, animal sounds and sometimes rain falling on the trees is amazing!
I'm very thankful to Esperanza Verde, Douwe and Olivia, and all the volunteers for this wonderful experience. Only been helping for 2 months, but after all I would have loved staying longer.

I wish Esperanza Verde all the best for future, and hopefully a lot of animals can be rescued by you (and that at some point this work is not necessary anymore).

Corinne Frieden from Neuchâtel wrote on 26 September 2022
My stay at EV was a dream come true. I could not imagine having a better experience (except for the mosquitoes maybe).

Volunteering at EV makes you feel truly useful. You work hard but you receive so much in return. The people there are amazing and the animals even more 😉
I could not imagine I would get to know their different personalities and habits that much and it's such a huge opportunity.
Furthermore, the scenery is also absolutely gorgeous.

I could only recommend volunteering at EV, so if you are hesitant, don't be and just go. You will not regret it! Just be aware you will miss it a lot when you'll be back.
Anna Gruyters from Helmond wrote on 20 September 2022
It's hard to put into words how special it is to work and live in the beautiful surroundings of the Amazon jungle where Esperanza Verde is located - but I'm going to try my very best.

As a volunteer you take care of all the different animals that live at Esperanza Verde. The work consists of preparing food for all the animals, cleaning their cages, feeding them and other extra jobs that are needed to be done - for example going on a walk through the jungle to gather leaves for the monkeys, help weigh the tortoises or do some extra cleaning jobs. While doing so you are always surrounded by beautiful nature and some monkeys swinging in the trees nearby. There's definitely never a dull moment!

Together with a group of volunteers - and the managers of the place - you make sure all the work gets done. You really form a close jungle family. And although it can definitely be challenging to live and work in the jungle - be prepared to get dirty and tired! - it is really rewarding to see how the animals at EV are given a second chance to live a life in (semi) freedom. If you are willing to leave some luxuries behind, don't mind to live with a ground of people in a house, understand that the animals at EV are not meant to be petted, are not afraid to roll up your sleeves and love animals and nature than EV is a lovely and amazing place to be!

I'm really happy I came back after 5 years and got to see how the center has grown - in size, knowledge and experience. Thank you to everyone who made my stay so exciting and unforgettable. Keep up this incredible good work! 😄
Leo Hayez from Belgium wrote on 26 August 2022
I came here to take care of a wide range of exotic animals in an atypical environment. But volunteering at EV is more than that. It's also seeing animals evolve and grow, and learning a lot about their behavior by spending hours watching them. It's also listening to adventurous stories of people that have spent years in the rainforest, having fun with people of various nationalities and much more...
Cheers to everyone I had the chance to meet during my stay 😉

Leó, Belgica, 28/06/2022
Lisa Segeritz from Giessen wrote on 25 March 2022
EV is a unique place, where I learned a lot and could broaden my horizon. It is the mix of warm, passionate and open-minded people with the remote, basic jungle location and the amazing neotropical fauna, which made me come back a second time 🙂
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 🙂

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 😉

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!


Ali Ahmed, Canada (stayed 3 weeks February-March 2013)
I felt immediately welcome at Esperanza Verde when Señor 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 can’t say just one favorite thing. I really enjoyed the communal atmosphere and living with a family. There’s no need for an alarm clock because the monkeys are up at dawn. There’s been the heaviest rain I’ve experienced and it’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 it’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 it’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. There’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 it’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 it’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 o’clock it’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 I’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 it’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 that’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. ¨You know, today I got almost killed by a snake. Good thing I had my machete with me¨, is something Douwe could say. Today we are preparing a lot of cakes since we are having a party in the evening. It’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 animals‘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 isn’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 Douwe’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.