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 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
  • 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 12 weeks (84 days) in a period of 52 weeks as a volunteer, without needing to apply for a residency or work permit.  If you plan to volunteer for more than 12 weeks, you will need to apply for a residency permit and a work permit.  Echo staff can assist you through this process.
  • For citizens of the Netherlands and the United States, you may volunteer for 3 months (12 weeks) without needing to apply for residency permit.  If you plan to volunteer for more than 12 weeks, then you will need to apply for a residency permit (a work permit is not required).  Echo staff can assist you through this process.
  • 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 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: $25 /$45USD 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 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: 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)

Where can I stay ?

You can find accommodation on Bonaire starting from $600 a month. Our team can support you in getting a great place to stay.

 

If camp and basic group accommodation is what you are looking for, you may stay on-site at the Dos Pos Conservation Center.

Echo offers basic accommodation at Dos Pos for volunteer working full time at the conservation center. However the living conditions at Dos Pos are very basic and very much outdoors.

 

Dos Pos 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.

Are you interested in living at Dos Pos ? Please inform the team by stating this in your application.

Will there be internet and phone access?
  • Internet is not available at the Echo you can purchase data on your phone if you have a local KLA sim-card.
  • 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 is limited phone reception when using KLA, other providers don’t have reception. Alternatively you can use Whats App or Skype to make calls when having  KLA sim-card.