Volunteering in times of Corona

Great news: Merazonia is open for volunteers! In this article we list all the extra safety procedures currently in place at Merazonia. Volunteers from Europe, America and Ecuador have made the trip and can answer specific questions you have, or you can e-mail or WhatsApp us.

We revise our protocol weekly and when possible losen the safety procedures, when this does not pose an extra health risk for our staff, volunteers and animals. To enter Ecuador, you should show a negative PCR corona-test that is no older than 3 days, carried out in your home country. If you have proof of vaccination (vaccination passport), a PRC-test is no longer requiered. European countries and North America all have their own requierements for re-entering, so it is good to look into that before you go.

Currently, Merazonia upholds a one week of quarantine before entering the reserve, also for vaccinated people. We work and live close together and feel this is still needed for everybody's safety and peace of mind. We recommend a hostel in Mera to quarantine at, called Tika Chiraw, which is close to us, offers a safe environment and gives you more space to move around. Busses are functioning again and curfews are lifted, but traveling by private transport is still strongly recommended.

Quarantine

Thomas and Kaya Merazonia volunteers 450 x 600The quarantine period of one week can also be done elsewhere in Ecuador but you should refrain from socializing and pick places where you can self-isolate! After a week of quarantine, you can apply for the quick corona test (blood test). We also accept self test kits.

When staying in Mera, the test can be done in a nearby German-Dutch run clinic in Shell. It costs $20 to $30 and the result is known within the hour. We will assist you when going there. In other places labs also come and test you in your hostel. If the result is negative, we will welcome you with open arms in Merazonia! If the result is positive, an extra PCR test will be needed to discard infection.

National travel

As said before, interprovincial busses are running again but a private taxi is still recommended to lower the risk of infection. We work with various reliable taxi drivers. The ride costs around $130 one way. If possible we can put you in touch with other volunteers so you can travel together.

We asked Thomas to make a short video of the trip to Ecuador and the onward travel to the jungle so you have an idea of what to expect. The spectacular views on the end of the video are made with his drone, showing the entrance road to Merazonia.

Life in the jungle

Especially densely populated areas in Ecuador had high numbers of corona. But on this side of the Andes, in the thinly populated areas, numbers are low. Merazonia itself is a corona free safe haven, tucked away in the jungle with plenty of fresh air and natural attractions of its own. There is a lot of space to move around in (and animals to take care of!). Currently there are 10 to 15 people working here, a mix of managers and volunteers, working side by side for the wellfare of the animals.

We have prepared ourselves and put protocols in place for when a corona case is suspected. There is also a very highly regarded German-Dutch run clinic in Shell (15 minute drive) that can do tests. They also see patients for any kind of other medical issue, which is reassuring.

Corona protocols

On site, things run a little different at the moment. Volunteers stay mainly in Merazonia during their stay here or spend their free time in our nearby ofice/house overlooking the Amazon. In our region there are very few cases of Covid-19, but we like to keep the risk of infection to a minimum. People that go explore nearby are advised to use private transport.

View Merazonia Wildlife office volunteer houseTourist hot spots like Baños (1 hour away) are receiving few tourists. To compensate the restrictions in movement, we have opened our office for volunteers to spend their free day. This house is a few miles down the road from the centre and overlooks the Pastaza valley, the Amazon basin and the mountainous national Park, Sangay. The views are breathtaking! The house has several rooms, electricity and wifi (and a domestic cat, see photo). At the moment we only ask for a small extra fee to spend the night here.

Controlled relaxation

The nearby Swiss Bistro has opened its doors again in the weekends and is a longstanding favourite among volunteers. They offer great food, a swimming pool and beautiful views towards the Merazonia reserve and the National Park Llanganates we border. Other local places woth a visit include La finca de Josue, Cascada el Kilo and Mera's famous viewpoint over the Amazon.

It is also possible to go into the town of Mera, Shell or Puyo and their are some fun local activities to do (exploring caves, waterfalls, bike rides). Wearing a face mask in public is compulsory in Ecuador and bringing a small bottle of hand sanitizer to wash your hands after any interaction in town.

We are aware that there is still a lot of uncertainty in the world and that traveling comes with a risk. But we hope this article clarifies things for you, and family members, so you can make a well informed decision. You can always contact us, and some of our recent arrived volunteers are also willing to share more details of their experiences with you in person.

Volunteers and managers MerazoniaMerazonia office and volunteer houseMerazonia volunteer with puppy