Biodiversity Research Institute in the Tropical Forest of Brazil

Video and Photos

IPBio Team
IPBio Team
Bioacoustics Research
Bioacoustics Research
Boia Cross/Tubing
Boia Cross/Tubing
Volunteers in GreenHouse
Volunteers in GreenHouse
Wildlife Conservation
Wildlife Conservation
Tree Inventory
Tree Inventory
Photography Volunteer
Photography Volunteer
Bioluminescent Mushroom Research
Bioluminescent Mushroom Research

About

The Biodiversity Research Institute (IPBio) is a place where research meets conservation. IPBio is an NGO that develops projects in environmental education and scientific research on biodiversity, ecology and on the behavior of species. In addition, IPBio 's mission is to encourage conservation, management and sustainable use of natural resources; promote the development of eco-tourism and cultural projects.

With only 7% of the Atlantic Forest remaining, we are rapidly losing one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspots. 200 birds and 21 primates are endemic. Conservation is critical. Volunteer Roles: 1) In Research Projects: Bioluminescent Mushrooms; Bioacoustics Project; Tree Inventory and Monitoring; Amphibian Research 2) Reserve Maintenance and Gardening: maintain trails, aquarium and microclimate greenhouse 3) Photographers/Movie Producers: wildlife photography; produce volunteer videos; short documentaries; our videos have been used by Discovery Channel 4) Fundraising and Communications - develop our social media; write grants for research equipment
Highlights
  • Visiting the town with the highest concentration of bioluminescent mushrooms in the world
  • Gaining hands on experience in the field of research and conservation
  • Participate in exciting activities such as tubing and visiting caves and waterfalls
  • Work for an organization which received accreditation as an advanced outpost of The Atlantic Forest Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO

Related Programs

Questions & Answers

Reviews

95%
based on 84 reviews
  • Impact 9.1
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.6
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9.5
  • Housing 8
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Value 10
  • Safety 10
Showing 1 - 15 of 84
Default avatar
Jason
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I helped discover new species of mushrooms here

IPBio is an awesome organization. In terms of communication, they do an awesome job considering the challenges of the jungle. In terms of organization, I found the work comfortably structured but also open ended as I was able to design and pursue many of my own projects. While I was there, I had the opportunity to grow 5+ species of never-before-grown species of mushrooms, and I was able to take part in a lot of the same work the professional biologists on the reserve were doing. I was incredibly comfortable once I adjusted, and I felt like part of a family and community in IPBio and in Iporanga. 9/10 highly recommended! The most common complaint I heard during the program was the wifi in the jungle was not the best. But once you get used to it, I found it pretty refreshing.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
The best advice I can give you is to make the most of every moment and to keep a record of your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Meet and talk to as many people as you can. Learn Portuguese, start with just a few words every day. Make friends, be open-minded, try everything! Learn as much as you can: to make fire anywhere anyhow, to travel for dirt cheap, to ask more questions and talk less, to grow bioluminescent shrooms, to Samba and Forro, to haggle, to make a killer caipirinha, etc. And don't forget to talk to and hang out with the awesome staff, they are some of the most interesting people in the world. Oh and have fun!
Default avatar
Rhiannon
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The most incredible volunteer experience

I spent 6 weeks at IPBio in the summer of my 2nd year studying biology at university. My experience was incredible, the organisation is doing such incredible things and it so great to know that the work you do as a volunteer is actually being used for scientific research. The atmosphere at the reserve is super welcoming and the staff are supportive and relaxed. This makes the work really enjoyable, particularly for the role of Eco-volunteer (which I had), which means that you get to participate in a multitude of projects, so that you never get bored. I found it to be a perfect combination of practical work experience as well having an amazing social aspect. There are stunning caves, waterfalls and hikes in the area as well as an unbelievably friendly local community. I honestly can’t put into words how much I enjoyed my experience, taking home to many incredible memories and making life-long friends.

Default avatar
Nicole Larissa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

unforgettable life changing experience

It was the most beautiful place I've ever seen! It was simply incredible to explore so many different plants, animals and observe the biodiversity in one place only. I enjoyed having a mixture of film work and "eco biology- work" especially because I could combine my passion for nature and being involved in different projects of the Reserva. The time I spent there exceeded all my expectations!

They are certain rules to follow, If you're not too rebel you will not get kicked out, don't worry, the IpBio Crew was really super super kind, if you just follow the rules :P.

The working experience, was magical and the free time experiences even more magical

Living in the forest felt a bit like Avatar. There are glowing mushrooms and glowing insects, what I've found so fascinating. You see a million shining stars, even the milky way and each day you feel all the beauty of the universe. Everything was well organised, the volunteer's, IpBio Crew Are, and local people I've met were amazing and the moments I spent were just unforgettable, I will keep them in my heart!

The forest showed and taught me one more time, why humans should protect nature, instead of destroying it and how important animals as well plants are for our biodiversity and life on planet earth. A big thank you to the Institute making this trip possible and I hope I can come back and stay longer.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
It was crazy to see so many stars on one spot, so beautiful and well then an other thing was for sure the wandering spider (toxic spider) that was just super close to us onece, nothing tappend of course, we were totally safe =D .. but the most suprising thing for was the glowing (bioluminescence) mushrooms I've seen, really really impressing!!!!
Default avatar
Maria Africa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing experience

In IPBio the volunteering program has a variety of different activities which, in my case, complemented well with my theoretical knowledge from university. The staff have been friendly and helpful and the location is wonderful with many things to do during free time and weekends such as hiking, exploring caves, tubing down the Betary River, etc. It also shows the practical side of conservation projects. My experience overall has been amazing, and I would not only recommend it to nature lovers, but also people who enjoy travelling, adventure and meeting new and different types of people on the way!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would stay for longer!
Default avatar
Kieran
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Belter of an adventure

My name is Kieran and I study zoology at the University of the West of Scotland. I found IPBio while searching for places to complete my 3rd year work experience for university. A non-profit voluntary organisation for biodiversity research was perfect for a zoology student. The whole 3 weeks of my stay and volunteering were incredible. I learned a lot about the roles of an eco-volunteer and gained knowledge and skills that I can continue to use throughout my university course. Although my time at the Reserva Betary was primarily for my university work experience, I’d do it all again just for the sake of it. Every day at the Reserva Betary was remarkable, from living in the rainforest, to meeting other likeminded volunteers from all over the world, being a part the amazing team at IPBio and getting a taste of adventure. I’d recommend volunteering here to anyone really, it’s a great experience.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Enjoy the role and the volunteering, but everything else you do, wing it. Wing it all. Had some of the best experiences by just winging it all the time.
Default avatar
Kemp
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Would recommend!!

IPBio is an organization unlike the majority of the research institutes those of us from the global north may be familiar with. The institute is located about 5 kilometers from the nearest town in the middle of the Atlantic Forest. It is surrounded by beautiful mountains and dense jungle and to this day I have not met anyone who has not loved it. Every day was spent doing work that I felt was important and fulfilling. This institute offers the opportunity to be one of the first and few researchers to experience what the Atlantic Forest has to offer. There are various positions within the reserve but should you decide to change positions during your stay it is more than likely that you can. They are receptive to feedback and to answering any questions you may have and even receptive to hearing project proposals. All volunteers live in a communal home, sharing bathrooms and a kitchen and work on the reserve. There are meetings each morning where the day's activities are discussed and then groups split up into the different positions at the reserve.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would bring only clothes that I wouldn't mind ruining.
Default avatar
Larissa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

unforgettable life changing experience, forest you took my soul!

It was the most beautiful place I've ever seen! It was simply incredible to explore so many different plants, animals and observe the biodiversity in one place only. I enjoyed having a mixture of film work and "eco biology- work" especially because I could combine my passion for nature and being involved in different projects of the Reserva. The time I spent there exceeded all my expectations!
They are certain rules to follow, If you're not too rebel you will not get kicked out, don't worry, the IpBio Crew was really super super kind, if you just follow the rules :P.

The working experience, was magical and the free time experiences even more magical
Living in the forest felt a bit like Avatar. There are glowing mushrooms and glowing insects, what I've found so fascinating. You see a million shining stars, even the milky way and each day you feel all the beauty of the universe. Everything was well organised, the volunteer's, IpBio Crew Are, and local people I've met were amazing and the moments I spent were just unforgettable, I will keep them in my heart!
The forest showed and taught me one more time, why humans should protect nature, instead of destroying it and how important animals as well plants are for our biodiversity and life on planet earth. A big thank you to the Institute making this trip possible and I hope I can come back and stay longer.

What would you improve about this program?
For me everything was super perfect, there was nothing to improve for me personally!
Default avatar
Marie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An amazing time!

I had a wonderful time at the Betary reserve. I chose the eco-volunteer role as I would like to get into conservation work in the future and wanted to have some experience with field work.
It was a great opportunity to learn about the biodiversity of the Mata Atlantica forest and to get involved in on-going research. The eco-volunteer programme included several different projects and I really enjoyed learning about the area's biodiversity from all various angles.

The location itself is beautiful and the staff were kind and welcoming. The group of volunteers I stayed with were lovely and when we were not working we would do lots of things together, such as enjoy weekend trips to beautiful locations nearby.

I had an unforgettable time at the Betary Reserve and I would definitely recommend it.

Default avatar
Chandler
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Out of my comfort zone, and grateful!

After 5 weeks as an amphibian researcher I can say being here has taught me so much. My background is in microbiology but working with tadpoles is nothing I've ever done before. There's many chances to think freely and create your own projects. It is also such a unique place that your experiences here capture your attention but also the attention of future employers as well. My favorite activities were working with the tadpoles and going on excursions on the weekend with all the other volunteers. You get to learn and experience not only the Brazilian culture, but also the culture of all the volunteers from all of the world. I would recommend making it a priority to get to know the biologists and staff that work here; they are so passionate and have real life experience with conservation work.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
What you get out of it is up to you, take advantage
Default avatar
Juliana
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Commentary

After staying here for four months, I would highly recommend this program to any nature-lover, as during the program you are constantly in contact with the astounding amount of biodiversity the Atlantic rainforest offers, and not just during working as a volunteer, but pretty much 24/7, as that you live directly upon the reserve. the staff here are friendly, easy-going, and are also incredibly knowledgeable about the flora and fauna, and so every time you work with them, it’s a learning experience. The work in the program is engaging, and what I found impressive, is that it is also always evolving; volunteers can suggest improvements to pre-existing projects as well as suggest new projects to add to the program, so that it is constantly improving. I would suggest that if you are going for about or over two months to get involved with a project, as some project can get a little repetitive after about 8 weeks. Also, there are seasonal differences which can affect the viewing of certain wildlife; for instance in the late summer here you are more likely to see many various species of frogs, but most likely will not see any of the monkey species, but in the winter it will in reverse.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
if you are staying around or over two months, get involved in a project as activities after 8 weeks can become repetitive
Default avatar
Lucy
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Lots of different activities

I spent one month at the betary reserve and had an amazing experience. I got to take part in lots of surveys and also work in the amphibian laboratory. I enjoyed having a mixture of lab and fieldwork and particularly enjoyed being in the river, catching fish for the fish inventory. My favourite part was working in the amphibian laboratory, supporting with the various tadpole studies. I had no real experience in a laboratory before so it was an invaluable opportunity for me. I learned so much and it was exciting to be part of practical research. The atmosphere is very supportive, with the staff really listening to your ideas.There was a lot of free-time, which sometimes dragged, but the location is beautiful and you can always go to the local town or there are some restaurants/bars down the road.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
When a tree snake fell out of a tree onto the decking in front of us with a huge smacking noise!
Default avatar
Malaurie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A once in a lifetime experience!

I spent almost 4 months at Reserva Betary as an amphibian researcher. These 4 months were the best 4 months of my entire life. Surrounded by all this nature and biodiversity, I felt like I wanted to stay here forever. The researches that are going on are very interesting. As an amphibian researcher, you spend quiet some time in the lab with frogs and tadpoles, the remaining time you will spend outside. I think this is a great balance. I met some amazing people and made some great memories that I will carry the rest of my life. The house where volunteers stay in, is very comfortable. There is a lot of kitchen equipment available and the location is very beautiful. My favorite spot was the river. I loved swimming and chilling there after a hard day of work. I would definitely recommend this experience!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
We went to Cananeía in our free time. There, I swam with dolphins in the sea. They come very close! It's amazing to see. We also saw some alligators in town.
Default avatar
Eva
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My 3 months at IPBio

First of all, I have to say that my three months at the betary reserve of IPBio have been amongst the best ones of my life. I was there as an amphibian researcher, but this took up less than half of my working time here, the other time I spent together with the eco-volunteers. I always loved the workdays as, even though we worked on a more or less fixed weekly schedule, every day was new and unique in its own way. A big part of this has to do with the mindboggling nature. I think the Atlantic rainforest is greatly underestimated by the wider public. Even I had never even heard of it, Brazil’s rainforest is the Amazon right? But once I arrived here, I knew I was in my own little paradise. It was not only the visit of monkeys or the colorful butterflies everywhere, not even the hummingbirds which are flying around your head like little helicopters, it was the extreme diversity of this place. And because you are volunteering here you live in the forest and through your work you get to interact with the place like no holiday ever can. You start learning the scientific names of a variety of sighted birds, search for macroinvertebrates or just help weeding in the greenhouse. You can feel that your work is valuable and needed and it is apparent that every volunteer makes a contribution to sustaining this wonderful place. As an amphibian researcher I started getting attached to the frogs in our care and see tadpoles grow, and all of this in the name of scientific research and the conservation of this unique place. Of course, it is a non-profit organization and it doesn’t have the facilities an established university has, but we have the dedication to improvise and make it work. The living space was surprisingly comfortable with a working kitchen, a sofa and TV, the rooms have either AC od a fan and the beds are made every week. The weekend activities made the experience complete, whether it was going downriver on a boia or hiking to a cave or going to swim with dolphins in Cananeia!
I have fallen in love with this place, with the stars during the night, the people, the bioluminescent mushrooms and everything else! Leaving IPBio is definitely the hardest thing I have done in my gap year.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
First of all, read the volunteer package and bring a laptop. And then if you stay for two months or longer, apply for a specialisation. You still get to do most of the regular projects but you also have an additional one to immerse yourself in.
Zane
Zane
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I adore being there

I am Zane from Latvia. I was in Reserva Betary in Brazil for 2 months as eco volunteer where I could help for different nature observation projects.
It was amazing!!! Great job, awesome people, beautiful nature, cute animals, glowing mushrooms, fresh air and just wonderful living, traveling and working experience.
I adore that besides all other amazing activities (bird, mushroom, fish, habitant, etc. inventories) I also had a chance to see and to take some photos of butterflies and moths as well as other animals.
And I absolutely love all great caves and stunning waterfalls nearby and delightful mountains and charming trails.
It could be highly recommended for those who love nature and adventure!
Even just being there and feeling nature all around was magic!!!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Most surprising thing I saw was a green snake jumping from a tree on deck in front of us. And most surprising thing I did was working in quite fast river and catching fish during fish inventory.
Matthew
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Welshman Abroad

I’m Matt from Wales and I spent eight weeks at IPBio working in the frog lab and setting up a camera trap project. My time at IPBio has been filled with fun and learning at every stage. From hiking through the forest to check for amphibians in the pitfall traps, to studying disease in tadpoles in the lab. The staff at the reserve are extremely friendly and always happy to assist in any way they can; they know a huge amount about the native fauna and flora so ask many questions! The facilities at the reserve are very good, and the volunteer house is clean and comfortable. The number of volunteers present at any time is perfect. There are many opportunities for weekend activities whilst at IPBio; including swimming beneath waterfalls, exploring huge caves, and if you’re here in early March – Carnival! I recommend you bring plenty of mosquito repellent, and arrive with a desire to immerse yourself in the forest and have an awesome time!

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Absailing down a waterfall in the rainforest with the other volunteers!!

Location

Location:
Brazil
Currency:
Brazil Real
Weather:
Jan-Mar
93 F / 63 F
Apr-Jun
90 F / 52 F
Jul-Sep
90 F / 52 F
Oct-Dec
91 F / 59 F
Airports:
Guarulhos International Airport
( GRU )
Presidente Juscelino Kubitschek International
( BSB )
Galeão International
( GIG )

Brazil is home to 2,000+ beaches, 1,000+ islands, and 62 national parks, not to mention an array of carnivals, sporting events, and other city-wide events. Visit the Amazon and Iguacu Falls for a taste of nature, or opt for city life in Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro.

Interviews

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About IPBio - Biodiversity Research Institute

The Biodiversity Research Institute (IPBio) is a place where research meets conservation. IPBio is a non-governmental, non-profit organization that develops and supports projects in environmental education and scientific research on biodiversity,...