Wilderness Experience FAQ Peru –
Educational Courses in
South America

Wilderness Experience and Internship

Prior to departure

Do I need specific requirements or abilities to apply for this project?

In order to apply for this project you need to be 18 year or older and have sufficient English skills to participate within the course. Furthermore you should be physically fit; therefore we need a doctor’s certificate about your state of health and your vaccination record. You might need a visa for your journey. Depending on the duration of your stay and your destination the requirements might vary. You should check out the foreign department’s website for the visa standards or ask the NATUCATE team directly.

If you would like to do an internship you need to submit a cover letter describing your motivation for taking part as well as two letters of recommendation. Furthermore we require your CV/résumé and conduct an application interview with you (in English).

Which services does the price include?

Prior to your departure we will support you during your preparation and help you choose a reliable travel insurance. We will also help you arrange the flights and visa application. Transportation within the project as well as the pick up from the airport is also included (an exception is the optional transfer from Puerto Maldonado to Cusco during the course “Tropical Ornithology”). Furthermore your accommodation and food will be provided. You can always contact us during your stay.

Do I need certain medical precautions or requirements?

In general you need to talk to your doctor and see what vaccinations he suggests. It is advised to be vaccinated against Diphtheria, Morbilli, Mumps and Rubella (MMR). In case of injuries it is also advised to be vaccinated against Tetanus. For current information and warnings regarding your destination you should check out the homepage of the foreign department. You definitely need a travel insurance to start your volunteering work with NATUCATE. We can help finding something for you.

What kind of equipment should I take with me?

You will be spending a lot of time outside - that’s why you should consider packing light, comfortable clothing which can get dirty. For you daytrips through the jungle you will need a back pack, water bottle, insect repellent and binoculars (except for the Wildlife Photography). Furthermore we advise you to pack a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses. Generally you should pack a sturdy pair of boots or rubber boots and long sleeved shirts, as well as a pair of long pants to protect you from the mosquitos. We also suggest you to pack a laptop, cell phone, zip lock bags and an additional towel. Since you have to wash your clothes by yourself you should also get biodegradable detergent.

If you participate at the Wildlife Photography you will need your camera equipment and a waterproof bag for transportation.

Arrival

How do I arrive at my destination? Do I have to organize it myself?

We will support you during your organization and planning process. You will have to book your flight to Puerto Maldonado International Airport on your own. Once you have arrived you will be picked up and taken to your field station. In certain courses you will spend your first night in a hostel in Puerto Maldonado. The next day you will take a cab to Laberinto. From there you will go on a boats tour on the Madre de Dios River until you reach the research station after several hours.

During the course

What is my main function? Can I choose my tasks and will I be working independently?

Tropical Primatology: In this internship, you will track primate species and groups, observe their behaviour, take samples to monitor the health of the animals and enter data into a database. Experienced scientists will be by your side at all times to pass on their valuable theoretical and practical expertise. You will be trained in the basic knowledge of rain forest navigation and orientation as well as its corresponding safety measurements. Furthermore you will gain theoretical knowledge through scientific literature in the fields of tropical biology and conservation work. During the practical work you will get a deep insight into the behavioral science of primates.

Tropical Ornithology This NATUCATE-Wilderness Experience will give you the chance to explore the birds of the Amazon region and their biology. Students participating in this course will learn a variety of approaches to gain a deeper understanding about bird behavior, taxonomy, ecology and conservation methods. Most of the time will be spent in field activities, complemented by nightly lectures. This is intended to foster an interest in conducting scientific research, with a special focus on developing analytical skills relevant to tropical biology.

Tropical Entomology: The course covers groups ranging from butterflies to beetles, bees, and aquatic insects, among others. Students will be introduced to an astonishing array of terrestrial and aquatic habitats that shelter a greater diversity of plant and animal species than anywhere else on the planet. You will spend most of our time studying actual insects in the field from the tops of towering tropical trees to the bottom of oxbow lakes. Our field activities will be supplemented by selected readings from the primary literature covering topics on theoretical and applied tropical biology and entomology, as well as conservation in the Andes and Amazon regions. Participants will also gain exposure to cutting-edge research in other tropical biology fields at one of the most active biological research stations in the neotropics.

Tropical Herpetology: In this course, participants will develop an understanding of the natural history, anatomy, ecology, and conservation of neotropical reptiles and amphibians. We will additionally examine the roles of chemicals in herpetological studies, focusing on defense, food capture, aboriginal use, and modern pharmacology. Moreover the students will learn about different field-research methods such as telemetry and implementation of field studies. There will be a focus on practical work during daytime and nightly lectures which convey theoretical knowledge

Tropical Biology: This course is intended to provide an introduction and broad overview of Amazon forest ecology and conservation, with a taxonomic focus on plants and a geographic focus on the Madre de Dios basin in southeastern Peru. The overarching theme is the incredible biodiversity of Amazon rainforests, the key factors and processes underlying its creation and maintenance, and the impact of anthropogenic disturbance on these critically important forest ecosystems. Classroom-style lectures will complement extensive field-based activities and interpretation, and individual and group projects.

Wildlife Photography: The goal of this workshop extends beyond just the techniques that will enable you to get better shots under tough conditions, but also to convey the natural history of what you are shooting. Photography is a highly evocative art form with immense potential to increase knowledge and appreciation of the world’s incredible biodiversity. Your photos can tell stories when words alone fail, and for this workshop, your stories will be about the complex tropical ecology of the Amazon Basin. During the day you’ll be watching wildlife in the rainforest, while the evenings are for classroom discussions as well as using our guides and resources to identify the species that you have seen.

Internship: Our Peru internships aims at improving and broadening your knowledge and practical skillset in primatology and tropical biology. You can decide which of the following internship courses you would like join in order to gain deeper knowledge in important field research methods: Community Disease Ecology, Wildlife Handling, Priamte Communication or Primate Sensory Ecology.

How big is the group?

The Wilderness Experience programmes are limited to twelve participants. The Wildlife Photography course consists of ten participants. The capacity for the internship courses are limited as follows:

Community Disease Ecology: no limit

Wildlife Handling: six students

Primate Communication: eight students

Primate Sensory Ecology: four students

Do I have to regard any specific security measurements?

In the jungle you always have to pay attention and be aware of possible risks. The group leaders know what to do and when you need to be extra cautious. In general you don’t have to worry too much. Dangerous or poisonous animals don’t often come to close to humans and only react aggressive when they are being attacked. It is still important that you listen to their instructions and follow the rules.

Life on site

What is the accommodation like?

In each of our courses you will stay at one or more research stations, which are located in the Amazonian rain forest in Peru. Before and after the course you might spend one night at a hostel in Puerto Maldonado – depending on the course you chose. In each research station you will sleep in shared dormitories/rooms and shared bathrooms.

Each station also provides a kitchen, a dining area, classrooms and sometimes even a laboratory or a library.

How is the food provided?

You will be provided with three balanced meals daily. You will dine together with the other participants in the stations’ dining area. Usually there will be a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, but it always depends on the season. Throughout the day you can always get additional snacks like cookies and crackers as well as coffee, tea or hot chocolate, or bring your own ones if you want to. In case you need to spend one night in Puerto Maldonado before/after the course you will receive breakfast in the hostel; but need to organize all other meals.

Is it possible to receive vegetarian meals?

The food is balanced enough to realize a vegetarian diet. A vegan or gluten free diet is not that easy. You should inform us beforehand.

How are work time and free time divided?

During the intensive two week program you won’t have a lot of spare time, because every day will be used extensively to show you the Peruvian rain forest by hear. Depending on the program you might have some free time in the afternoon or evening hours.

How can I spend my free time?

You can use your spare time to connect with other participants or relax a little bit. We also suggest you to take some books with you. You can also check out the surroundings or get a book from the station’s library.

Do I have a contact person on site?

The team on site will always be at the farm and can answer your questions. They will be responsible for you and help you with any kind of problem.

What expenses do I have to expect during the project? Can I withdraw cash on site and do I have to pay in local currency?

In general there won’t be a lot of expenses for you during the project, since food, accommodation and transport is taken care off. You might need extra money for transfers beyond the project, additional snacks and beverages or souvenirs. The currency is the Peruvian Sol (Nuevo Sol). You can exchange and withdraw cash easily at the airport. You can also find ATMs in most of the cities. You should make sure you can withdraw money with your bank card in foreign countries before coming to India. For emergencies we advise you to take about 200 Soles with you.

How can I contact family and friends at home?

In most of the research stations there will be (slow) internet available. You can take your cell phone or laptop with you to connect with family and friends. Internet doesn’t work all the time and is rather slow – that’s why you might want to get a Peruvian prepaid card (the mobile network you need to choose is called "Claro").

What’s the weather like?

Usually the weather in the Peruvian jungle is quite nice and warm with temperatures around 24 °C. During the months May to July you might be confronted with cold weather fronts called friajes. During that time temperatures might drop to 8-12 °C. For the night you should consider packing something warm, since the buildings are only made of wood.

Is there a prohibition concerning alcohol?

Yes, it is strictly prohibited to consume alcohol during the project.

Will I receive a certificate after completing the course?

Yes, after successfully completing the exam at the end of the course you will receive a certificate. In some cases your university will give you credit for this course.

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