Facebook Pinterest YouTube  Email us     


contact us | request a call back | brochure | reviews | login




Volunteers' Stories




Conservation in the Amazon Rainforest, Peru


The Travellers Worldwide conservation project in Peru was exactly what I hoped it would be and exactly what it claimed to be…It was also the best value for money I could find and encompassed a broad range of skills, experience, and opportunities that other projects lacked.

When did you decide to take a gap year and why?

I decided in my final year at university to take a gap year after graduating. I wanted to follow my degree with a masters but wasn’t sure if this was the right choice at the right time. I have always wanted to take some time to go travelling and this seemed like the perfect time.

Where did you go and why?

I went to Peru, South America. The conservation project Travellers Worldwide advertised was the best value for money I could find and encompassed a broad range of skills, experience, and opportunities that other projects lacked. Also, Peru really appealed to me because I have never been to South America and I wanted to build the conservation project into a 4-month trip where I could go travelling afterwards and explore the continent and its culture.

Which different options did you consider?

I spent months searching the internet for gap-year projects, considering a variety of themes such as community work, and teaching English. In the end I narrowed my search down to conservation-related projects to follow on from my degree and pursue my interests in these areas. I ruled out projects that focused purely on one specific conservation task, e.g. projects where you spent all of your time with turtles, or all of your time with monkeys, as I wanted a more rounded experience. I also ruled out projects that claimed to be a conservation project but on further inspection seemed to revolve around physical work such as path building and erecting sign posts – i.e. minimal relevance to conservation of species.

The Travellers Worldwide conservation project in Peru was exactly what I hoped it would be and exactly what it claimed to be.

What was the best thing about the year and the worst thing?

The worst thing was acclimatising to the altitude in Cusco and getting used to the locals’ style of driving (!).

The best thing was being surrounded by rainforest and the nature that it supports. Even after a month it is amazing that in the space of about 30 minutes you could see parrots and macaws, toucans, vultures, giant butterflies, leaf cutter ants, spider webs as big as a car, wild cat footprints, and a snake or two – as well as hundreds of other exotic species. It is truly amazing.

How did you fund the gap year?

My gap year was funded with inheritance money I have been saving. I also worked at my university for a few months to allow me to travel after the placement.

What benefits do you think it has given you in terms of employability?

I am seeking work in the environment sector and so the project is relevant to my career. It demonstrates to employers that I am serious about a career in the environmental sector and that I have a genuine interest in conservation. It also emphasises personal attributes such as: confidence, team work, hard working, dedicated, etc. These are important skills that employers look for examples in.

How would you talk about it in an interview with a prospective employer?

For my career I would emphasise my role in the project in terms of research, record keeping, species identification, and my passion for biodiversity. I would provide examples where I worked with minimum supervision to demonstrate my competence and reliability, and times where I worked as part of a team. Employers are also keen to know that you are able to work with a variety of people and so I would also give examples of this.

Do you think you have made the most of the gap year on your CV?

I participated in the project purely for my own enjoyment, rather than the associated benefits to my employability and how it looks on my CV. I have a range of more relevant experience for my line of work and so I have stated the nature of the gap year on my CV in one short sentence.

What advice would you give to a school leaver thinking of taking a gap year before uni?

I think it is better to take a gap year after uni where you are more confident and independent. You have the skills and maturity that enable you to really make the most of a gap year and are better equipped to travel afterwards/follow other opportunities that arise.

However, for those who want to go before uni I would advise to:

  • Take time to compare projects and organisations – Find one that suits you and gives you what you want for the price you can afford

  • Plan carefully – expect the unexpected

  • Be flexible – it is easy to plan TOO much

  • Keep in close contact with the organisation and take emergency numbers with you (including emergency numbers within the country e.g. British embassy)

  • Find out what previous participants thought and talk to people that are going at the same time as you – it’s good for reassurance

  •  Allow time before and after the project to settle in/relax and get used to the culture

  • You do not need everything on the kit list or everything your mother suggests – don’t waste money buying all the gadgets, be sensible about what you take but don’t go overboard (it’ll get very expensive)

  • Take a small stash of comfort food – it is very rewarding when rationed

  • Check with your bank whether you can use your debit card – very important. Some cards won’t work in some ATM’s. Some won’t work in some countries. Some will charge you, some won’t. Some banks will block your card as a defense against theft and you will need to know the answers to questions about your card and account to unblock it again – e.g. where it was opened, how much money is on it, when and where you last used it and how much you spent, etc etc. You could take two different cards just in case

  • Take a travellers cheque just in case (small amounts are better because they are easier to cash)

  • Be aware of security and safety issues, walking around a city in the middle of the night with your camera in one hand and wallet in the other is NOT a good idea.

  • Take padlocks

  • You cannot exchange small change of a foreign currency in England so spend it all when you are there.

  • Don’t miss out on opportunities that surround your project – get a guide book. e.g. I wasn’t about to fly all the way to Peru and back without seeing Machu Picchu.

  • Bringing photos of loved ones doesn’t help home sickness. Nor does talking to them every single day.

  • Make sure you can make the most of every second – there is nothing worse than coming home wishing you had done more.

More Information about your Trip with Travellers

List of ALL PROJECTS in Peru