Iracambi works to protect the Atlantic Forest through “a program of research, education and hands-on practical actions.” They are based in Minas Gerais, the second-most populous and fourth-largest state in Brazil, just inland from the Atlantic coast. Their office is in the town of Rosário da Limeira, and their research center is 12 kilometers/7 miles (30 minutes) away. It is very close to Serra do Brigadeiro State Park, part of a UN Biosphere Reserve.

The Atlantic Forest is different than its more famous sibling, the Amazon.Volunteers typically join ongoing projects, and responsibilities may include monitoring forest cover and growth, water, fauna, and weather; caring for the forest nursery and planting trees; constructing new facilities for community-based tourism; helping with social media, IT, or graphics; fundraising and marketing; or creating photography and videos. If volunteers have special expertise and ideas for other ways to help, Iracambi would like to hear about that as well. Volunteers should be self-motivated and be able to work independently. The workday is 8am-5pm, with a break for lunch.

A dirt road cuts through lush, rolling green hills in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil.

The beautiful green hills of Minas Gerais. Photo © mar2rocha/123rf.

The research center is located on a working farm, with “rivers to swim in, mountains to climb, forest trails to hike, fruits to pick, and a welcoming local community to explore.” Weekends offer a chance to visit nearby colonial towns.

The Atlantic Forest is different than its more famous sibling, the Amazon. It is humid, but cooler, with an average temperature range of 14-21°C (57-70°F). Winter (Apr.-Oct.) is typically dry and can get downright cold at night, while summer (November-March) is hot and wet. Iracambi is located in a drier part of the forest, which is not technically considered rainforest.


Minas Gerais, Brazil
tel. 55/32-3723-1297

Application Process: Set up a Skype call to discuss. Volunteers must be age 18 or older.

Cost: US$625 for the first month, including accommodations in the guesthouse and meals. Staying in a semiprivate cabin is an additional US$100. There is a slight discount for subsequent months.

Placement Length: Minimum one month recommended, but exceptions may be made.

Language Requirements: None, but basic Portuguese is highly recommended. Portuguese is required for those wishing to volunteer in the community-based research work.

Housing: Volunteers stay in one of the center’s six houses, in rooms shared with members of the same sex. There is 24-hour electricity, wireless Internet, and hot water. Fresh, organic meals are provided (vegetarians always have an option), and volunteers must buy their own beverages. Volunteers can also ask to move into a homestay after an initial stay at the center.

Operating Since: 1999

Number of Volunteers: 32 in 2012

Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Volunteer Vacations in Latin America.