The Merazonia project was truly built by volunteers for volunteers (and animals, of course), and this remains a big part of what makes it special. Supporting Merazonia has direct effect: with the help of volunteers and donors, we implement groundbreaking rehabilitation programs for primates, sloths, felines, parrots and even the Neotropical otter. Currently, the project houses various species of monkeys (tamarins, capuchins, woollies, howlers, night monkey), kinkajous (nocturnal mammals), a puma, and other mammals, such as sloths, and parrots. Because the Merazonia project is a rescue and rehabilitation center, animals are constantly released or relocated. Volunteers are asked to perform animal care, which is rewarding but difficult. Animals must be fed three times a day, and each feeding can take 2-3 hours.
In order to join the program, you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date.
In general, the following vaccinations are recommended for Ecuador: Hepatitis A + B, Typhoid, Yellow fever.
You will need to have a basic level of fitness, as most work is physical and you will be walking through the jungle and its surroundings
The accommodations are jungle-based: there is a fully equipped kitchen (gas for cookers, oven, fresh drinkable water) and hot showers. There are dry toilets and dormitory-style rooms housing up to 11 people.
Usually volunteers will cook their own breakfasts (porridge, eggs, toast, pancakes, fruit, etc.), and make their own lunches as well (supplies to make sandwiches, omelets, pasta, etc. are available on hand). Volunteers take turns cooking a communal dinner. Food is often vegetarian, and there usually is also a vegan option.
We recommend that volunteers fly into the closest international airport, which is Quito. Guayaquil is also an option.
From Quitumbe, the town of Mera is a 4.5-hour bus ride (about $7). From Mera, you can take a taxi, which will take you up to the entrance of Merazonia for $5. You'll get detailed instructions after booking the trip.
We strongly recommend purchasing international travel insurance that covers emergency medical expenses.
Merazonia has a strict hands-off policy for most of its animals! As we try to focus on rehabilitation, it is very important to minimize human interaction with the animals, as this is the first vital step toward their rehabilitation. Because of this policy, the center succeeds to release a relatively high percentage of animals back into the wild.
The closest internet access is in the town of Mera.
There is no electricity at Merazonia. The generator is normally used for a few hours about twice a week in order for people to charge batteries, computers, etc.
After paying initial fees (15%), the remaining fees are paid in cash on-site. Volunteer fees are used for shopping twice a week in the local markets where they only accept cash.
Volunteers work five and a half days per week, alternating free days.
Volunteers gather at 7:30 am to prepare the animals’ food, and then divide into groups to clean different animal enclosures and feed the animals. After the feeding, you will have breakfast and get ready for the rest of the day. Lunch is around 1:30 pm You will gather to feed the mammals again at 3 pm, after which there is time to hang out with other volunteers, enjoy the scenery, swim at the waterfall or river, or relax in a hammock. If there are enough volunteers, the project organizers try to have an activity day once a week, alternating working together on a project in the center of taking the time to do something fun or cultural together in the center or in the area.
During "lazy Sundays," volunteers feed the animals only once a day and do chores, but no other work is done, leaving plenty of time to relax or enjoy the surroundings.
It becomes chilly in the evenings. Take with you clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty.
We have rubber boots in an assortment of sizes, but if you have rather large feet (larger than European size 44), we recommend you bring these, as Ecuadorian sizes do not tend to run this high.
Price: $345 / 2 weeks