WHAT WILL BE EXPECTED OF ME?
PETEN – The Mayan Biosphere Reserve (MBR), located in the northern Petén region of Guatemala
Our first and most established project is our Wild Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Center situated on 45 hectares of forested land on Lake Peten Itza across from the town of Flores in the northern Peten region of Guatemala, 45 kms from the world famous Mayan archeological site of Tikal. Volunteers at the Rescue Center help in feeding and caring for the animals at the center which include parrots, macaws, spider and howler monkeys, jaguars, margays, ocelots, coatimundis, kinkajous and (do you know what these are?) tayras. Nearly all of these animals have been seized from smugglers and are very young; needing constant care and attention. There are also opportunities to take part in veterinary medical treatment, animal releases and wildlife surveys, though the scheduling of these activities is irregular and space is limited, so we cannot guarantee you will be able to participate.
HAWAII PARK – south coast of Guatemala
Our other volunteer program is at the Parque Hawaii, home to our sea turtle and mangrove conservation project near the town of Hawaii, 7 kms east of the touristic center of Monterrico on the Pacific coast of Guatemala. There, volunteers assist in conducting nightly beach patrols in search of nesting sea turtles, collection and burial of eggs in the hatchery, release of hatchlings on the beach and collection of research data. Volunteers can also collaborate in the monitoring of the health of the local mangrove ecosystem and in reforestations in the mangrove and on ARCAS’s farm, El Salado, and can help out with the caiman and iguana captive-breeding project. There is a lot of community work to be done in the five coastal communities of the Hawaii area, and volunteers can take part in educational activities in area schools (beach clean-ups, ecological festivals…), ecotourism development, handicrafts and other sustainable community development projects. The olive ridley sea turtle nesting season in Hawaii is from July to December with peak months of August to October. For the much scarcer leatherbacks the nesting season is November to January.
PLEASE NOTE! – In addition to volunteering at the projects in Peten and Hawaii, ARCAS is also in need of volunteers in environmental education, and interns and researchers on other projects. Contact us for more information.
HOW LONG CAN I VOLUNTEER FOR?
Minimum of one week. No limit.
WHAT QUALIFICATIONS, IF ANY, DO I REQUIRE?
WHAT LANGUAGE WILL I NEED TO KNOW?
HOW DO I GET TO PETEN?
To get to the Rescue Center in Peten, take a bus with Linea Dorada, AND or Fuentes del Norte. Luxury buses leave Guatemala City at @10AM and 9PM and cost @Q150-190. TACA airlines, (Tel: 2470-8222, 2279-8222, 45 minutes) flies from Guatemala City to Flores for $160-$280 depending on the season.
The free ARCAS boat leaves for the Rescue Center at 8AM & 3:30PM Monday through Friday from the arch on the causeway that connects Santa Elena with Flores. Please confirm with the staff in Peten or check in at the café at the arch as boat times may change. Apart from the free ARCAS boat, you can rent a tourist boat going to the Petencito Zoo for Q20-40. The Rescue Center is also accessible by car taking the dirt road 18kms past the Villa Maya Hotel.
HOW DO I GET TO HAWAII PARK?
To get to Hawaii, we recommend taking a tourist shuttle van from Guatemalan City, Antigua or Xela to the Hawaii project. The following companies offer daily shuttle vans leaving from Antigua at 8AM arriving in Monterrico @10.30 for $15. They will pick you up anywhere in Antigua.
STA: 7834-8581 , – 1493;
Monja Blanca: 7832-8797;
NOTE! Make sure when you are getting on the shuttle or on any reserved taxi, that the driver has your name and destination. There have been cases of tourists getting into pirate taxis and then later being robbed.
The famous Guatemalan “chicken buses” are a cheaper, more colorful mode of travel, but unfortunately they are less safe than the shuttles. If you want the chicken bus experience to Hawaii, you can take the Cubanita bus from La Terminal de la Zona 4 or El Trebolito in Guatemala City to Escuintla and Taxisco, changing buses there for La Avellana where you will take the public boat across the canal to Monterrico. There are also buses from Antigua. Total trip is@4hrs, @Q50. From Monterrico, take one of the 5X daily local buses from the Puesto de Salud or rent a pick-up taxi for Q50 to PARQUE HAWAII 7kms away. Use a moneybelt!
ARE THERE ANY COSTS INVOLVED TO VOLUNTEER AT PETEN OR HAWAII PARK?
ARCAS relies on volunteer fees to sustain its conservation projects and help insure its long-term financial self-sustainability.
Click HERE to find out up to date costs and requirements for volunteering with ARCAS.
WHAT TYPE OF ACCOMMODATION, MEALS AND FACILITIES CAN I EXPECT TO BE AVAILABLE TO ME?
Meals are provided at both the Peten and Hawaii projects, as is drinking water and sheets. Volunteers live in spacious volunteer houses with comfortable wooden bunk beds, “western” shower and toilet facilities and US-style 110 electricity. They eat and socialize at a separate spacious kitchen/dining room rancho. In Peten there is a very nice floating dock on Lake Peten Itza for late afternoon swims. There is internet service at the Rescue Center and at the Hawaii Park, as well as in nearby internet cafes.
WHAT WILDLIFE SPECIES ARE THERE?
Peten: Macaws, Parrots, Spider and Howler monkeys, Jaguars, Ocelots, Margays, Tayras, Coatimundis, Crocodiles and Guans.
Hawaii: Parrots, freshwater turtles, sea turtles, nutrias, crocodiles.
WHAT ATTRACTIONS CAN I EXPERIENCE DURING FREE-TIME?
Swimming, exploring Maya ruins, kayaking, hiking, bird watching, caving, climbing volcanoes, travel to Antigua
More important than language and technical skills, ARCAS needs volunteers with individual initiative and an understanding that ARCAS, as an under-funded, non-profit, volunteer organization, may not be able to meet all your expectations in terms of personal attention and work experience. Volunteers must be fairly independent and accustomed to working in at times “rustic” conditions. In addition to performing tasks such as feeding and caring for the animals, we also expect volunteers to carry out such mundane chores as cleaning out cages and washing dishes. It’s important to remember that essentially we are all volunteers and ARCAS staff and volunteers need to work as a team collaborating in the same goal of ensuring a better future for Guatemalan wildlife.
For more information on ARCAS, please visit arcasguatemala.com
For important information on travelling overseas, please read ‘KNOW BEFORE YOU GO WILD!‘