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Patagonia Wildlife Conservation

Listed under Environmental Conservation in Patagonia, Argentina.

  • Photo of Patagonia Wildlife Conservation
  • Photo of Patagonia Wildlife Conservation
Photo of Patagonia Wildlife Conservation
Photo by flickr user NatalieHG
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I always wanted to go on a big South American adventure – the kind you’d want to write a book about climbing mountains, forging raging rivers, abseiling down rocky peaks, all that sort of thing – but I didn’t expect that when I did I’d end up counting cachana parrots on my way.

Great swathes of Patagonia are still uncharted wilderness, and when I say uncharted I mean people have a vague idea of where the rivers run and the incline and elevation of the peaks but no one really knows what’s there, and that’s what these projects are generally about – finding out what’s there. I had no idea that these kind of surveying operations were done in such a rough and ready manner – we definitely played up the ‘harking back to the explorers of old’ angle as we climbed, trekked, scrambled and slid – but there we were looking and walking and counting and filling in forms.

Specifically I was part of a group monitoring the behaviour of these quite special parrots and of huina cats in the Lanin National Park, but there was also some counting of types of trees to be done – it may not sound that thrilling but it’s actually quite technical when you use the biological survey techniques you’re trained in at the beginning of your expedition and the country you see is flat out take your breath away stuff.

Each project in the area has a slightly different focus to it which could translate to counting different things but doesn’t quite, and works with one of a few local conservation or government groups. The overall aim of having volunteers in the area is to give us an experience while raising awareness of the need to protect Patagonia’s sensitive ecosystems, so it’s not just what you do while on project but what you do once you get back that counts as your contribution. For that reason the organisers are keen that volunteers get a lot out of the experience and we had the chance to complete first aid courses and outdoor survival type exercises – in my case that included trying out some ice climbing which I’ve always wanted to have a bash at.

Camping out in three man tents was fine for me but even that was a bit of a challenge for some of my team – who you get pretty close to pretty quickly! But the research staff were great with egging people on to really enjoy themselves. We took a few turns to go out into it, but much of the time we were returning to base camp – still a camp – at the end, or beginning if you were on nights, of the day, where it was school camp campfire time again – always fun!

So to sum up in less words: An indulgent yet useful adventure in the true sense of the word.

Written by  Cam Chapman.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

How did you apply for this programme?

Dear Cam Chapman,

I'm Hildert Zoethout and I live in the Netherlands. At this time I'm planning a trip abroad to participate in a conservation programme. I love to hear how you applied for this programma, because it sounds very exciting and interesting to me.

Kind regards,

Hildert Zoethout

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