FAQ

Do I need vaccinations and what is the health/medical infrastructure like?
  • It is your responsibility to ensure you are fit and healthy for your trip.
  • You are unlikely to need any inoculations but we advise you to check with your GP.
  • There are two doctor’s surgeries/clinics and a very good physiotherapy clinic on Bonaire. These are not free.
  • There is a hospital on Bonaire, but anything major will require a flight to Curaçao or Miami, so medical insurance is a must (see below).
How do I get to Bonaire?
  • Volunteers are expected to cover the cost of their travel to/from Bonaire
  • Once you arrive on Bonaire, someone from the Echo team will meet you at the airport to take you to our Conservation Centre at Dos Pos.  You will also be provided a return trip to the airport upon your departure.
  • The most regular flights are via the US (Houston, Atlanta, Newark and Miami) or via Amsterdam.
  • You need to make sure that your passport is up-to-date and valid for entire duration of your visit.
What about Visas and Travel Insurance and Money?
  • For most countries Bonaire does not require a Visa and you can stay for up to 90 days, citizens of the Netherlands and other countries which have an agreement with the Netherlands can stay for 6 months within a 12 month period. Find out more here: http://www.bonaireinternationalairport.com/home/customs-immigration/
  • You must provide Echo with your travel insurance before departing for Bonaire. Team members have used World Nomad, STA, Snowcard and Down Under in the past. Ensure your insurance policy covers you for scuba diving down to 30m, mountain biking, abseiling, and motorcycle/motor scooter riding if you intend to do any of these things whilst here.
  • The currency is US dollars and there are Mastercard and Visa ATMs on the island.
What are the living conditions like?

The living conditions at Dos Pos are very basic and very much outdoors. You will be living with a small team of other people who are working or volunteering with Echo.

  • The field camp has a small house with two bedrooms, a kitchen and an outdoor dining area.
  • There are also ‘outside bedrooms’. These are two corrugated shelters with gravel flooring, some shelving, and mosquito nets inside over the beds.
  • There is a composting toilet, 15 metres walk from the house and an outdoor cold-water hand-pump operated shower, both of which are enclosed.  For more information on composting toilets, visit this helpful link: http://www.omick.net/composting_toilets/composting_toilets.htm.  Echo uses the bucket and sawdust system.
  • You may have to share a bedroom or sleep in one of the outside bedrooms if there are more than two volunteers staying.
  • You may also have to share a bedroom with a member of the opposite sex, depending on the composition of the team during the time of your stay.  If you have serious concerns regarding this, please bring it up with the Operations Manager.
  • We have a dog at the volunteer house as well as at the Echo office.  Team members are expected to share in the feeding and care of the Dos Pos dog.
  • The Dos Pos accommodations are on a solar power system, which is used to power lights, charge batteries and computers, and run a refrigerator.
  • All the members of the Echo team are expected to clean and contribute to the day-to-day running of Dos Pos.
  • There is no internet or mobile phone reception at Dos Pos.  There is access to internet across the street at the Echo office.

It can be tough living in these conditions in a close space with others and is not for everyone.

What are the potential hazards of living and volunteering on Bonaire?
  • Tap water is fine to drink and doesn’t need purifying.
  • The incidence of crime is low on Bonaire but, like anywhere in the world, if you go into the wrong place late at night you may encounter trouble.
  • There are mosquitoes, house flies, small biting flies, and ants on Bonaire but only at certain times in certain places are they bothersome. Most of the time you will not notice them. Windy areas in particular are typically fine.
  • Malaria medication is not required as there is no risk of getting it on Bonaire.
  • There is a slim risk of Dengue Fever, Chikungunya and Zika Virus if the wrong mosquito bites you.
  • European honeybees are common on the island, so if you have any bee allergies, please bring any necessary medication.
  • There are scorpions on Bonaire. They are quite elusive and their sting is not venomous, it will hurt as much as a bee sting.
  • There is a species of snake on the island, but it’s about the size of a worm and hardly anyone sees it.
  • Due to the constant warm temperatures experienced on Bonaire (average 28degs C/83degs F year round) it is possible that your body may experience heat exhaustion due to fluid loss when you first arrive. It’s a good idea to bring some electrolyte tablets/powder (such as Gatorade) to add to your drinks for the first couple of weeks while your body adjusts.
What can I do in my free time?
  • We try to keep a regular work week so you will have free time on the weekends.
  • Some of the activities on the island include – snorkelling, scuba diving, swimming, bike riding, hiking, kite boarding, wind surfing, wake boarding.
  • You can buy a good snorkel and mask on Bonaire for $30USD.
  • There is a Marine Park fee if you plan on getting in the sea: $10 /$25USD for snorkelling/scuba diving.
  • You can get your PADI open water dive certificate on Bonaire for ~$325 USD.
  • Kite-boarding lessons costs ~$210 USD.
  • There may be opportunities to assist some of the other island NGOs with their work such as Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) http://www.bonaireturtles.org/ depending on the time of year that you visit.
  • For more information about Bonaire check out: http://www.tourismbonaire.com/ and http://ilovebonaire.com/bonaire/en/
What can I expect to be doing for a typical work week?
  • All volunteers are expected to put in a 40 hour week of work.
  • A typical day begins around 6/6:30am when parrots are fed and plants are watered, depending on the size of the team, not all members will be getting up at this time every day of the week.  Work begins around 8am and goes until mid-day.  The team takes a two-hour lunch break from 12-2pm and then works again from 2-5pm.  Typically, we work Monday – Friday with the weekends off.
  • The work you will be doing will be dependent on what time of year you are visiting and your volunteer position.
  • Fieldwork is great fun but also physically demanding requiring walking through tough terrain in hot conditions. It is recommend that you have a reasonable level of fitness before participating in this kind of work.
  • PLEASE NOTE: The work we do with parrots is very ‘hands off’. We keep interaction and handling of wild parrots to a bare minimum and for scientific research only. This also applies to our rescued/captive parrots, although some of our rescued parrots that were previously pets do enjoy human interaction and benefit from daily ‘chats’ :-)
  • You will also get to be involved with other aspects of Echo’s work including community awareness and education, our native plant nursery, habitat restoration, husbandry of rescued parrots, and improvements to our Conservation Centre’s infrastructure. There is always a variety of work – you won’t get bored!
What will I eat?
  • The team “forage” collectively once a week for the weeks supplies (breakfast, lunch and dinner) at the local town of Kralendijk which is a 25 min drive from Dos Pos.
  • You can expect to pay between $50-75USD per week for food.
  • You can of course buy personal treats such as chocolate, biscuits, meat etc.
  • If you have specific dietary requirements (lactose free, celiac etc.) you will need to buy these food stuffs separately.
  • Note: We have had celiac volunteers in the past and it is relatively easy to cater to your needs here, if a little more expensive.  We have special gluten-free pans and plastic containers for celiac use.
  • During the team shopping trip you’ll have time to do other personal errands.
  • There are also small grocers in Rincon, which is only a 3 min drive/20 min cycle from Dos Pos.
  • All the members of the Echo team are expected to cook and do dishes.
  • All team-prepared meals are vegetarian; if you wish to add meat to your meal you may do so.
What will I need to bring?

Below is a basic list of recommended equipment and clothing for volunteers – whether your role is parrot keeper, plant conservationist, or communications volunteer.

Please use this list below as a check-list when packing :-)

Essential equipment:

√ Head torch
√ Tweezers (for cacti spines)
√ Personal first aid kit
√ Personal medication
√ Water bottle (s) or Camelbak
√ Towel
√ Sunscreen
√ Insect repellent
√ Sunglasses and hat
√ Day backpack
√ Power adaptors – USA sockets used on Bonaire

 

Essential Clothing: 

√ 5+ t-shirts/singlets (if spending time in the field, try to bring dull, natural colours so as to match the vegetation.)
√ 3+ pairs of shorts
√ Lightweight walking trousers. The zip-off kinds are GREAT for this.
√ A good pair of flip flops or sandals with a solid sole to avoid cacti spines
√ Lightweight, but tough walking shoes or boots. They will need to withstand the sharp coral-limestone and prickly vegetation.
√ Lightweight waterproof jacket.
√ Swimming shorts/bathing suit/bikini.
√ Tidy clothing for wearing into town and going out in the evening eg. Jeans and a short-sleeved shirt or casual but tidy dress. We try to avoid wearing scruffy field clothes in town as everyone knows who we are.

TIP:It’s possible to get most everyday things such as bathroom toiletries at the supermarkets here. Bring ‘travel size’ ones for when you first arrive if you like, to save space in your pack. You will be able to buy ‘full size’ when you make your first shopping trip.

TIP: Outdoor gear, field work clothing and footwear are hard to come by on Bonaire so make sure to bring them with you.

 

Fieldwork kit: 

If you are doing primarily fieldwork, please bring these also:

√ A good pair of binoculars. The best for spotting/ tracking birds tend to be 8x or 8.5x magnification.
√ Hard cover notebook and pens
√ A wristwatch
√ Safety whistle to attach to your back pack
√ Small point and shoot digital camera
√ Laptop (at your own risk)
√ Compass

TIP: Don’t spend an outrageous sum on binoculars, but do make sure you choose a mid-range pair, if possible. These tend to cost between $200USD and $400USD. It is your choice if you prefer porro prism or roof prism style. Porro prism (classic old-school style) tend to go out of alignment more easily, but you can still find some great models with good optics in this style. Roof prism (slim line style) are usually more comfortable to hold. Make sure to have a good soft neck strap and read the instruction manual on how to focus the binoculars to suit your eyes. :-)

 

Optional Items:

This is a list of some things which may make your time more pleasant:

√ Mask, fins and snorkel if you plan to snorkel or scuba dive (we do have some spare masks available for your use)
√ Rash guard (or other shirt) to protect your back when snorkeling
√ Water shoes (most of the shoreline is made of coral rubble and sharp rocks)
√ A battery powered fan (especially if you are coming between August – October when the winds die down)
√ An electronic reading device (there is also a small library in the Dos Pos house)

 

What not to bring?:

You will NOT need to bring the following as these will be provided by Echo

× Bed sheets
× Roll mat
× Mosquito net
× Sleeping bag is OPTIONAL (it rarely gets cold enough but may get cool enough in December/January)
× Pillow
× Basic cooking equipment

Where will I stay?

You will be staying at Dos Pos, which is located in a beautiful area about 3 km from the small town of Rincon. It is a Birdlife International, Important Bird Area and is close to a Ramsar site with Flamingos and shore birds. It’s also close to Karpata, one of the best snorkelling and diving spots on the island.

Will there be internet and phone access?
  • Internet is available at the Echo office during working hours for work purposes only and during free time with prior notice given to the Operations Manager.
  • There is also a local restaurant nearby Dos Pos which is open on most days of the week where free wi-fi is available.  On the weekends you can use the internet at this same restaurant in Rincon or at various cafes in Kralendijk.
  • There’s no phone reception at Dos Pos but there’s limited phone reception in Rincon. Alternatively you can use Whats App or Skype to make calls.