Voluntourism in Jogjakarta Indonesia

Ecoteer Volunteer in Jogjakarta Indonesia

Voluntourism in Jogjakarta Indonesia is one very unique experience that if anyone interested in volunteering, you should give it a try. As for me, I came here in January 2014 to participate and understand what actually goes on at voluntourism places therefore this is my first hand experience here which I would like to share with everyone reading this or who is interested in Volunteer Tourism. 

My Voluntoursim in Indonesia Story

As this was also my first time in Jogjakarta or Yogyakarta as some call, I had a rough idea of that the city would look like and I was spot on! A cute airport where immigration lines extend out to the tarmac of the airport and a baggage system that left me quite confused. Yes, Jogja in short, is a very busy city located to the southern part of central Java and is home to about 500,000 people. However, this place is more popularly known for one of the old wonders of the world, the Borobudur Temple. 

Anyway, as I arrived here, I was picked up by the driver (supir) of the Jogjakarta Wildlife Rescue Center and whisked away to the center which is about one hours drive from town. Passing through smaller villages and paddy fields, this reminded me of a combination of Bandung city and Bali. Traffic was no surprise to me at all.

The beautiful Javan rice fields next to the Jogja Wildlife Rescue Center
Upon arrival at the Jogjakarta Wildlife Rescue Center, I was greeted by Rosa who is the center's marketing manager and Ashley, a qualified yoga teacher from the UK who is the Karma Yoga instructor here and not forgetting Sian Cowen, the crazy Scottish girl who volunteers there and also teaches English to the local kids in the village. A general briefing was conducted as soon as I was comfortable in the centers main common hall where everything about the voluntourism program was shared in detail.

Jogja WRC Standard Room 
The accommodation facilities was something that caught me totally off guard as they were equivalent to a two or three star hotel! And no I am not kidding. I  was given a room with complete amenities, air-condition, television and attached bathroom with basic amenities. It was also located in the main common area next to the kitchen where walking to your daily chores was a very short distance.

Since I was only here for five days and on a journalistic mission to cover this story, I was introduced to the many activities in volunteering with the various animals housed here. There is a long list of animals, but the prominent ones would be the orangutans, gibbons, birds, reptiles and even the shy jungle cats. From preparing the food to feeding them and cleaning the cages, it was all in a days work when you are here. Proper gloves, boots and masks are required to be worn whenever anyone is in the conservation area too.

If I write my every experience here, you would already know what goes on so I leave it to your imagination on how everything is done, better still, take that time off and come do your part here. I promise you will not regret it.

Some of the other attractions at the WRC
Jogjakarta Wildlife Rescue Center

The volunteer program at the Jogjakarta Wildlife Rescue Center is one of the pioneer places for this and my experience here in January 2014 opened up my eyes to this genre of tourism. Having traveled to many sanctuaries or conservation centers around Asia, this was the first one where I was amazed with the level of service and hospitality here.

As a volunteer you will not only get your hands dirty by cleaning cages of the animals but help to provide greater benefits to the local villagers. You will hold informal interactive sessions whereby the villagers learn English through Conservation. We call this Conservation English. You will conduct a once weekly Conservation English session for the staff of the centre and then a 3 hour Conservation English session at the local primary school. You will also visit one of the workers home for dinner once a week. These sessions are designed to help informally improve the villagers and children’ English and environmental awareness.
In the future, plans to develop the community aspect of the programme and also visit more schools on a regular basis, creating Educational benefits for the people of Jogja through conservation is in the progress. This volunteer programme is perfect for any animal lover who wants to help teach and interact with the local villagers of Jogja.



One thing is that the cages for the orangutans and gibbons are small. There are plans afoot for a new enclosure based around living trees where the orangutans and gibbons can live in a more natural environment. This project is long term and if on schedule will be ready for the residents by 2017.

An orangutan and her baby looks at Sian Cowen

Day-by-day itinerary at Jogja Wildlife Rescue Center
Monday: 
Arrival Day Pick up from Jog International Airport Briefing and orientation

Tuesday: 
6.30am Breakfast 
7.00am Morning briefing 
7.15am Split into groups Food preparation Veterinary rounds Cage Cleaning Gardening 
9.30am to 10am Tea break 
10.00am Feeding of the animals
12.00noon Lunch 
1.00pm Enrichment 
3.00pm Prep for Environmental English with Staff 
5.00pm Rest 
7.00pm Dinner

Wednesday: 
6.30am Breakfast 
7.00am Morning briefing 
7.15am Split into groups Food preparation Veterinary rounds Cage Cleaning Gardening 
9.30am to 10am Tea break 
10.00am Feeding of the animals
12.00noon Lunch 
1.00pm Final prep for English lesson 
3-5pm English lesson with adults – Environmental English 
7.00pm Dinner

Thursday: 
6.30am Breakfast 
7.00am Morning briefing 
7.15am Split into groups Food preparation Veterinary rounds Cage Cleaning Gardening 
9.30am to 10am Tea break 
10.00am Feeding of the animals
12.00noon Lunch 
1.00pm Enrichment 
3.00pm Prep for School Club 
5.00pm Rest 
7.00pm Dinner

Friday: 
6.30am Breakfast 
7.00am Morning briefing 
7.15am Split into groups Food preparation Veterinary rounds Cage Cleaning Gardening 
9.30am to 10am Tea break 
10.00am Feeding of the animals
12.00noon Lunch 
1.00pm Final prep for school club 
3.00pm School Club 
5.00pm Rest 
7.00pm Javan Dinner

Weekend: 
Relax. You can visit popular spots like Borobudur and Prambanan Temples, Beaches or Jogjakarta Town for some shopping and walking around. 


Below is a photo section of what I did during my time volunteering here in Jogjakarta. 

A volunteer cleaning the macaque cages as part of the chores
Animal food preparation is done in a special working area by volunteers and staff of WRC
one of the large macaque enclosures at WRC Jogja
Cassowary baby bird
A baby Cassowary bird is kept for observation in the veterinary department
Cassowary in Indonesia
An adult Cassowary bird with striking colors. In total, there are about 4 of these unique birds here
Parrot Picture
Confiscated parrots are also looked after in the bird enclosure among other birds
A baby Changeable Hawk Eagle (Nisaetus Cirrhatus) among the many raptors here 
Crocodiles are also cared for here
The unique Brown Gibbon of Jawa howling
An adult pig tail macaque displays his unwillingness to smile
You must be wondering what I told this monkey..... 
A baby jungle kitten which was confiscated from a market undergoes rehabilitation
After feeding him his fish, he still looks hostile. Mind you, cute but wild. 
More cats....Civet Cats or Musang
One of the longest working staff explains about the tortoise enclosure here
The animal food portions that I had prepared and handed to the rangers for feeding
Local village school kids get new name tags from teacher, Sian Cowen
Sian Cowen conducts the school club at a local village school
Ashley conducts the Karma Yoga sessions at 6am outdoors
When it rains. Ashley conducts the Karma Yoga Class at the centre 
One of the interesting things about my trip...was of course the food - Fusion mixed local and western
So what is Voluntourism?

Voluntourism is actually volunteer travel or volunteer vacations which includes volunteering for a charitable cause which vary widely in scope, from low-skill work cleaning up local wildlife areas to providing high-skill medical aid in a foreign country. Volunteer vacations participants are diverse but typically share a desire to do something good while also experiencing new places and challenges.

While it is still new in the tourism industry over here, many travelers have been involved in this genre of tourism over the years and recently in the last few years, it has made a positive impact in travel and tourism in this part of the world. 

Jogjakarta Map
How do I get here? 

There are numerous flights into Yogyakarta or Jogjakarta, mainly AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines that fly in there once a day from Kuala Lumpur. Other airlines from Jakarta or Singapore have flights there so best if you check with the respective airlines about the schedules. From the airport, it is a one hour drive where the center will arrange the transport for you.

How do I Volunteer? 

For those interested in participating in this amazing experience, you can do so by simply booking through the Ecoteer Volunteer Program or even visit the many other amazing volunteer programs around Malaysia and Asia offered by Ecoteer. This is one of the best experiences I have had forVoluntourism in Jogjakarta, Indonesia. 

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