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Conservation & Environment in Peru with Projects Abroad

With the end of my A-levels in sight I decided that despite not taking a gap year I should do something exciting with my long summer holiday. Going away with Projects Abroad fitted the bill perfectly, not only could I go to the jungle, somewhere I had always dreamed of seeing but I could choose exactly the dates of travel that suited me.

My arrival at Taricaya - the Conservation Lodge in Peru, was complicated slightly by my luggage getting lost in transit but it was definitely well worth the wait. Puerto Maldonado itself was a fascinating start, off the normal tourist route, and miles from anywhere else it has a real shanty town feel to it. But it did not compare to the excitement of heading off down the Madre de Dios River in a little wooden boat. Here and there along the shore line were gold panners and behind them the dense rainforest.

It was my first experience of the jungle and one of the most striking things was the noise; insects, birds and White Capuchin momkey in the jungle canopy in Peruanimals all calling away. Even the night was filled with the noise of insects. On arrival I was introduced to the other volunteers and almost straight away called upon to help build a beach. This initially struck me as a slightly odd idea as the lodge was right next to the river but the artificial beach was going to be used for burying turtle eggs and keeping them safe from poachers. My first evening at Taricaya was also particularly memorable; playing ultimate Frisbee on a sandbar in the middle of the river with a spectacular sunset over the jungle behind us.

Life at the lodge was always very varied and fun with a huge number different projects to work on. These ranged from donkey training, picking flowers to sell at market, working on the pilot farm, building new enclosures for animals, camping on the beach to collect turtle eggs and many more. My particular favourite was early morning observation from the canopy walkway. Despite the 5.30am wake up the views were always stunning and the bird life at that time of day was always busiest.

The canopy walkway was particularly exciting for me being moderately scared of heights. There was something aEarly morning observation from the canopy walkway little disconcerting about being 42 metres above the jungle on a wobbly walkway that volunteers like you had helped build. Nevertheless being at the top always justified the climb. The other really good job to get was lodge maintenance, this involved feeding and looking after all the animals on the animal release programme. Many of them had been pets in Puerto Maldonado and were slowly being accustomed to the wild again.

Between jobs we had time to relax in the hammocks around the lodge, read, play football or whatever took your fancy. I had made friends with one of the local staff, Oswaldo, and he would often take me fishing in the creek. We caught mostly catfish and piranhas and those that were too small for us to eat we gave to the jaguar as small snack.

My time in Peru came to an end far too quickly and I would love to go back to see how all the projects are developing. But I do have a huge number of brilliant memories last me until I do return.

Ben Lane's conservation project in Peru was arranged with Projects Abroad

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