Case Studies

  • Group:Capel Manor College
    Peru 2018
  • Age:16-20+ years old
  • Group Size:30 students and 4 staff members
  • Project:Conservation & Environment
  • Destination:Taricaya Ecological Reserve, Peru
The group from Capel Manor College posing for a photo in the rainforest in Peru
The group from Capel Manor College posing for a photo in the rainforest in Peru

At the end of March 2018 I volunteered as part of the Conservation & Environment project for 2 weeks with Capel Manor College in the Amazon Rainforest at the Taricaya Ecological Reserve.

Traveling

We travelled from London Heathrow to Sao Paolo, Sao Paolo to Lima and then Lima to Puerto Maldonado. Once we landed in Puerto Maldonado, we were greeted by a member of Projects Abroad who then transferred us to the motorboats for an hour boat ride down the Madre de Dois River for the last leg of the journey. The boat trip was truly breath-taking, passing through the Amazon River, watching the city of Puerto Maldonado disappear in the distance behind us whilst the jungle closed in around us. It became peaceful, the jungle began to grow and so did the jungle noises. It was very surreal and filled every single one of us with pure joy as we approached the entrance to our new home for the next 2 weeks, in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest!

For me this was my first EVER time flying! However I was beyond excited about the amazing trip and adventure that awaited. The view as we flew over Lima was phenomenal, with clear skies, snow-capped mountain peaks and the Amazon River unveiling before my eyes.

A view from the plane of the snow-capped Andes Mountains
A view from the plane of the snow-capped Andes Mountains

What We Did

The day would start off with breakfast hand cooked by the amazing chefs who created delicious meals from local foods throughout our stay. Due to the large size of the group, we were split into smaller groups who we would spend our time with when participating in any activities. These groups were also our bunk mates which meant new friendships were instantly being made.

Within the reserve is the Taricaya Ecological Reserve Rescue Centre, Peru’s first official animal rescue centre, which is run by an incredibly passionate group of staff members and volunteers. An exotic mix of species can be found in the rescue centre such as Spectacled Bears, Pumas, Howler and Spider Monkeys and Parrots.

During a bird banding activity, a volunteer safely holds one of the 500+ bird species that can be found in Taricaya
During a bird banding activity, a volunteer safely holds one of the 500+ bird species that can be found in Taricaya

Activities carried out included bat monitoring at night, bird banding, animal feed preparation and enrichment for the rescue centre. We also ventured out onto the Madre de Dois River at night to go looking for Caiman under the clear, night sky where all the stars could be seen. We could even see constellations like Orion’s Belt and the Milky Way! In London, you’ll rarely see a few handfuls of stars, so this was an absolutely breath-taking view.

Cutting their way through thick vegetation, one of the groups pause for a photo
Cutting their way through thick vegetation, one of the groups pause for a photo

The activities would find you exploring and walking deep into the rainforest. We crossed a rope bridge and stepped foot into a whole new world. It was an incredible experience to be able to live in the moment in the heart of the rainforest, admiring and taking in every single moment of such a naturally beautiful place. We walked through swamps, trekked deeper and deeper into the jungle, even crossing paths with spider monkeys jumping between the trees and macaws flying over us.

One of the many frogs found at the reserve resting on a staff member’s finger Volunteer with a previously released Spider Monkey
One of the many frogs found at the reserve resting on a staff member’s finger

Not only did we explore the grounds of the rainforest, but we also climbed 45 meters high above the rainforest to the bird canopy to carry out bird observations as the jungle came alive early in the morning.

Halfway through the placement, we visited the Palma Real indigenous community to donate school supplies from Capel Manor and plant Ironwood saplings for the community to use as building materials once fully grown.

45m above the forest floor, the canopy walkway provides a great lookout for watching birds
45m above the forest floor, the canopy walkway provides a great lookout for watching birds

The Weekend Trip

After living in the rainforest for two weeks, we spent the final weekend in Cusco, with the transition to a hotel in the middle of the city being another surreal moment. We were slowly traveling home at this point, but it felt like a whole new adventure had only just begun! We visited lots and lots of markets to spend our money and buy ponchos, lama keyrings, crystals, rocks, magnets you name it! It was like a Peruvian Camden market.

One of the many beautiful sunsets as seen from the boat
One of the many beautiful sunsets as seen from the boat

Machu Picchu

An early 4am start, a two hour coach journey and an hour train ride took us to Machu Picchu. The travel and increasing altitude was absolutely worth the breathtakingly gorgeous view of not only the magnificent mountains, but the incredible historic view of one of the seventh wonders of the world, Machu Picchu!

A shot of everyone at Machu Picchu on their final weekend
A shot of everyone at Machu Picchu on their final weekend

On Reflection

The trip was incredibly well organised. At Taricaya, the community of staff and volunteers were super friendly, helpful and made sure we got the absolute most of our time in the jungle. They even sent us off with a BBQ on our last night (which of course, had to be one last rice meal). Outside of the jungle, we were looked after wherever our next adventure took us. Whether it was the city of Cusco or the top of Machu Picchu, the Projects Abroad staff were both supportive and helpful and knew everything about the area we were in.

This trip was my first ever time traveling abroad and it was an unforgettable experience. It has completely changed my attitude in terms of traveling, so much so that I have now caught the travel junkie bug! Not long after coming home from Peru, I was off again to Isle of Man to go whale and dolphin watching. I hope to go on many more adventurous travels in the future so many thanks to the influence of the Projects Abroad project and Taricaya for what you have imprinted on me for life!

- Lucy Luck, 2nd year student on the Animal Management & Zoology Degree course at Capel Manor College

A volunteer on the canopy during a bird watching activity A Bat being measured during one of the evening activities
A volunteer on the canopy during a bird watching activity

If you would like to learn more about our Conservation Project in Peru then please click here.

If you would like to learn more about our Conservation Projects then please click here.

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