Meet Nibbler – Our Team Mascot!

Squirrel Monkeys

Read about the South America gap year squad and their first week at the Animal Rescue Centre (thanks Emma!).

We had a great start to the week with an awesome weekend in Banos. After our first week in at the animal rescue centre we were happy to check in to a hostel with a cozy bed! As soon as we arrived we saw signs for bungee jumps, rafting and mountain biking so we knew it was going to be an adrenaline filled weekend. On Saturday morning we travelled about an hour to go white water rafting. Everyone got suited and booted in wet suits and helmets and we headed down the river white water rafting. Safe to say we did more pushing each other in the water than actual paddling. To quote the instructor ’10 year olds were better at rafting that us!’ By the time we got to the bottom of the river everyone was beaming. In the afternoon we went to the ‘swing at the end of the world’ which was awesome – some very cool pictures were taken. We were all shattered by the evening but squeezed in a steak dinner before bed. On Sunday some of us rented quad bikes and buggies and headed up the mountain to the waterfalls in Banos. There were awesome views along the way and we were all raving about how much fun it was to drive around. As if we hadn’t had enough adrenalin, the brave ones went on to do the bungy swing. Mentally extremely tough but (yet another) incredible experience. In the evening we all headed back to the jungle!

White Water Rafting in Banos on a Gap Year in South America

We had just as good a time this week at the animal rescue centre as we did last week. Every morning we prepared food for the animals and fed them in their enclosures (fighting the wind and heavy rain!). The whole group has developed a love for the squirrel monkeys, which are absolutely adorable. They climb all over us and are very playful which is amazing.  The monkeys have taken a shining to Tom, by the end of the week they were crawling in his shirt and snuggling up to him. Such a special experience to be in such close contact with all the animals. We’ve also got a team mascot in the form of a parakeet named Nibbler, who always seems to get into trouble somehow.

Protecting the toucans in ecuador gap yearIn the afternoons we were hard at work, building bird houses to protect the toucans, went fishing and collected grasshoppers. Also on Wednesday a school of 12 or so kids came to the rescue centre to learn about conservation and protecting animals in the Amazon. We played loads of games with them and went swimming in the lake. They seemed to be having too much fun pushing us all in and jumping on us. We also all got the chance to feed the ocelots which is fascinating to watch. They are extremely beautiful animals!

In the evenings we had our regular bonfires, with Sam providing great entertainment on his guitar.  Also since Alex’s return the food has gone from rice and vegetables to food you could serve in a restaurant! On some days we even had 3 courses including pancakes and chocolate mousse for dessert!

Overall we’ve had an amazing 2 weeks at the animal rescue centre and have grown close to all the animals and other volunteers here. It’ll be sad to leave, but we’re looking forward to the next adventure at the Shuar tribe (and a hot shower this weekend!)

Volunteering with Squirrel Monkeys in Ecuador

Find out more about our South America program
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Gapforce run independently inspected and award winning expeditions, outdoor training courses, volunteer abroad programs, conservation and aid programs. From 2 weeks to 1 year, your adventure starts here!