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IPBio often uses cameras for research on wildlife and as a result our biologists developed a passion for photography and film-making. Our interest in the interplay of photography, research and education drove to the creation of OBBIO

  • Observatory for Biodiversity which captures footage aimed at producing eBooks, documentaries, education videos as well as using the images for research purposes. For example, our videos have been sold to Discovery Channel. Check out our videos on YouTube: This role varies on the specific skills of the volunteer and whether their interest is in photography, video producing or both.
  • Best Shot Photography: this is aimed at taking high resolution photos and videos of wildlife in controlled conditions. For example, these images can then be used for our website, computer backgrounds or documentaries we produce. For this project, we collect flora and fauna and select their background settings (such as black background) and take images in controlled conditions.
  • Wildlife Photography: this has no specific time allocation but volunteers applying for this role are expected to take shots of all wildlife on the reserve in their natural environment. – OBBIO Image Bank: over the years we have collected, and continue to collect, images and videos of wildlife which are organised efficiently in our Image Bank. Volunteers can support in the organisation of this footage
  • Video Producing: filming, editing and producing videos on topics such as our institution, monthly news. projects or volunteer program is always needed to keep people updated on what is going on at the reserve.
  • Documentaries and Short Videos: we produce short educational videos for our Youtube channel on wildlife. In addition, we wish to produce our own documentaries so volunteers can support in these efforts as well.

Skills & Experience Acquired

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Time Commitment

Active Periods

All year round


Work and Activities Description

Typical Day

  • 9am meeting
  • discuss directors notes with coordinator
  • film footage needed
  • sort through existing b-roll
  • video edit

Free Time Activities

Caves: Iporanga is called “The Cave Capital of Brazil” with over 400 caves in the town. Below are just the highlights.

  • Casa da Pedra is the world’s largest cave entrance of 215 meters. The trip involves a 2-hour hike to the opening where there is a place to sit down and have a picnic and swim and then a hike back.
  • Temimina Cave has a large opening in the ceiling illuminating its oddly shaped diagonal garden. Then you enter into a dark cave where at the end you find a natural shower hole.
  • Nucleo Santana is a group of caves and is the most commonly visited as it has a wide range of different types of caves. In some caves you can swim.
  • Tubing/Boia Cross: is a sport where by you get on a big balloon and float down the river. There are various waterways you can do in Iporanga, some more radical and some in the big river which is very relaxing and can last 3 hours.
  • Cananeia: has various islands with dolphins swimming in between which are very easy to visualize. It is also known for its stunning beaches, awesome boat tours, great restaurants and the mangrove reserve where there are many crabs.
  • Waterfalls: Iporanga has many waterfalls. “Sem Fim” is a small waterfall walking distance from the reserve. “Vale das Ostras” has 12 large waterfalls in a row.
  • Quilombos: during the era of slavery many slaves would run away from the plantations and create settlements hidden in the forest. These communities live in relative isolation and you can visit their small towns. For some of the Quilombos the tours include travelling their by boat and having a traditional lunch at one of the families homes.

Social Events:

  • Dinners: there are many nice restaurants were volunteers can have dinner, some more classy like Casarao and some with traditional Brazilian food. There is also a great fish restaurant. Often volunteer will eat out on the weekends.
  • Town Parties: the are a couple of bars in town, some have pool tables and some have dancing areas. On holidays, there are usually town festivals on the streets.
  • BBQ: it is very common to have a BBQ on the weekend which is often accompanied with the traditional Brazilian drink called Caipirinha.



Accommodation Options

Private rooms, shared rooms in a volunteer house

Accommodation Description

Volunteers will stay at the Darwin Guest House, situated on the reserve itself, which accommodates up to 12 people in 8 rooms. Two rooms are collective rooms and 6 rooms are single rooms. All rooms have air conditioning or a fan, closet space and electricity outlets. Individual rooms have a desk with a chair. The house has 3 bathrooms with hot showers, a washing machine and has a fully equipped kitchen where volunteers can cook. A cleaning lady provides basic cleaning services for public areas and will provide fresh bed linen once a week. However, it is also the volunteer’s responsibility to maintain and clean the house; we take this very seriously. Volunteers work from 9am to 3pm during week days with an hour lunch break. Shops are located in the town of Iporanga 6km away from the reserve, which you can walk to or get a taxi, where there are various shops with all you will need. There is a small organic herb patch you can use and the gardener distributes vegetables when they are ripe.


lab, volunteer house, greenhouse, aquarium, deck by the river where you can swim, 7 trails and lots more

Facilities Description

  • Laboratory equipped with magnifying glasses and stereoscopic microscopes that capture digital images, laminar flow chambers, incubators, autoclaves, freezers and workbenches.
  • Aquarium installed in an artificial lake of 500m2 with five aquatic environments that can be observed though underground tunnels with windows.
  • Greenhouse with amphibians and bromeliad that houses native flora, waterfalls and marsh environments. - Dark room where one can observe the curious phenomenon of bioluminescence in fungi from the region.
  • Classroom, which seats 50 people for lectures, technical courses and multimedia projections. - Dining area that can accommodate groups up to 60 people or be used for exhibitions.
  • Seven research trails through the forest where observations of native species are made.
  • Six pitfall sites, each containing 5 pitfalls (used to collect amphibians, reptiles and small mammals), distributed around the reserve.
  • OBBIO – The Observatory for Biodiversity is a network of video cameras that record the fauna and flora 24 hours a day, generating films and content for use in research and education. - 3 Bushnell Camera Traps for photographing and filming mammal in HD
  • motion/temperature sensor, infrared, programming options, LED lights.
  • 5 GoPro cameras with 2 subaquatic cases.
  • 2 bioacoustics “Song Meter SM4” recorders from Wildlife Acoustics with software for data analysis.
  • Database with over 5000 images taken in natural habitats of each species. - Release Centre with enclosures for the birds.


9 staff members - manager, biologists, release center coordinator, volunteer coordinators, cleaner, reserve keeper


House with locks, security camera etc. Although we are in rural Brazil where crime rates are low.

Food & Drink

Volunteer will cook and clean for themselves

Internet Access

Yes - good enough that I can regularly do skype interview. Not good enough to download movies.

Phone Signal

Yes - complete cell phone coverage

Nearest Facilities

There is a small town called Iporanga 6km away from the reserve with shops, emergency hospital etc.

Airport Pickup

Details of how to get here explained in the volunteer package


Language Requirements

Either English or Portuguese at a high level, Spanish can work also

Document Requirements

Nationality Requirements

Qualification Requirements

video-editing or photograph skills - best pick out of applicants

Medical Requirements

Other Requirements

Either English or Portuguese at a high level, Spanish can work also

Recommended Gear

Full list of what to bring in the volunteer package

Included Services

Before Journey Services / Support

  • Interview
  • Comprehensive Volunteer Package will all information needed

On-Site Support

  • Daily meetings
  • Training for research projects
  • Coordination during activities
  • Support for organising tourism activities for weekends


Pricing Breakdown

Volunteers at IPBio are required to pay 650 reais per week (please check up-to-date exchange rate in your currency). This fee covers the volunteer’s accommodation, internet access and project costs for the specific dates agreed upon. Volunteers are also responsible for paying for any extra costs such as travel costs, visa costs etc. A volunteer only confirms their placement once their payment is made. Once a volunteer makes their payment there is no refund if they decide to cancel for whatever reason. We will provide you with specific payment options by email. The currency in Brazil is the Real. There is an ATM machine in Iporanga which accepts Visa Credit/Debit cards. ATMs give a better exchange rate than Exchange Houses. Check with your bank to see if your cards will work in Brazil, and tell your credit card company that you will be traveling overseas. Exchange some money prior to arriving in Brazil. The amount of money you want to bring is really up to you. Volunteers are responsible for purchasing products for the house such as garbage bags, cleaning products and toilet supplies. Volunteers are also responsible for buying their own food and cooking for themselves. On average a volunteer spends 450-1000 reais a month on total although of course this varies on your lifestyle choices. This covers living costs such as food, drinks, transportation and house supplies. On the high end of 1000 reais you would be going out for dinner regularly and doing various weekend activities but this is up to each volunteer hence we put a price range. Dinner out (without drinks) ranges from 15 to 30 reais. Cost of tours (including a guide, equipment and entrance fee costs around 110 to 140 reais depending on how many volunteers go.

Not Included in Price

Volunteers are also responsible for paying for any extra costs such as living costs, travel costs, visa costs etc.

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