lunes, 17 de octubre de 2011

Dear Volunteers,

Hopefully this will answer all of your questions and give you a general idea of what life is like on my farm here in Picacho. I apologize for not being able to respond to your e-mails personally as it’s nearly impossible to get to the internet here.

I request a minimum of 2 persons arriving together and stay at least 3 weeks.
I’ve made a google calendar to make it easier for you to organize your stay here.

Password: bolivia1
Go to: calendar and write in your names, including your e-mail and wwoof-membership number and the lenth of stay. (Thoug if you would like to stay longer we can try to arrange it).

I can only host 3 people at once as I have 1 shared room for volunteers. The room has one double bed and one single bed – for whatever combination of 2 or 3 people travelling together. However – I would prefer to only host 3 people if you already know each other so as not to force strangers to live together.

· There is only room for 2-3 people at a time on the farm. It is very important to keep this number, not only for accommodation of people but most importantly for the organisation of work and the amount of food.
· Please do not come alone as one person at a time is not sufficient for our work schedule.
· Most importantly put your name on the calendar along with your email address so I can contact you with information if need be.
· If you don not put your name on the calendar you face the possibility of being sent back as there is not space for more than 3 people.
· Also if your plans change and you can no longer come please REMOVE your name from the calendar. I am greatly appreciative of help from wwoofers and if you do not keep the calendar updated I will be very disappointedly left without help.

Hope seeing you soon, hasta luego Uschi

PICACHO, an organic farm in Bolivia


There is no bad time of the year to visit the farm, as while every season has it’s benefits, equally they all provide a tropical climate that is easy to enjoy.
The weather in Picacho can generally be divided into three seasons – the dry season (May-Sept), the rainy season (Dec-March) and the transitional months in between.

Dry season (May-Sept)
This is the cooler season but the average temperature during the day is around 27 degrees centigrade, dropping slightly in the night. The dryer season makes available routes and walkways to many incredible locations near the farm, and the ability to climb dazzling waterfalls on the mountain face.

Rainy season (Dec-March)
This is the warmer season with the average temperature 28-30 degrees, and not usually going much below that (night time is usually 24-25 degrees). Most days there are short but heavy bursts of tropical rain, and it remains warm.
During this season we enjoy swimming in the nearby lagoons and waterfalls, but the large amounts of water can often make the roads inaccessible and make travel challenging.

The houses at Picacho are adobe constructed, with thatch roofs built in the local style and open-air planning. Newly built and renovated, the beautiful homes of the farm blend easily into the tropical landscape, providing comfort and a great place to sling your hammock for an afternoon siesta.

You can start the day with fresh fruits from the garden. Later we share two Bolivian-influenced vegetarian meals (a hearty brunch and dinner) in a family environment.
Sometimes we eat fish (usually when someone catches it) and there is plenty of self-grown fruit available.
We bake our own bread, and make dairy products, dry fruits and jams.

Most of our cooking is done with firewood, and the water we use is fully potable, pure, drinkable spring-water.

While we are equipped with a flush toilet, all of our washing is done by hand, and our shower is cold water. (Which often happens to be perfect for our tropical temperatures.)

There are plenty of games and books (the latter mostly in German) for entertainment in the evenings. The life of Picacho is based around the tranquillity and simple joy which is inherent in this incredible place. For this reason we happily go without television, phones, and internet, but there is still solar power available for recharging cameras, music players and lights. Our kitchen and dining area is solar powered, but in the rest of farm we enjoy candle light.

I can only host 3 people at once as I have 1 shared room for volunteers. The room has one double bed and one single bed – for whatever combination of 2 or 3 people travelling together. However – I would prefer to only host 3 people if you already know each other so as not to force strangers to live together.

Medical care
The nearest medical care is a 30-40 minute drive away in the dry season and often inaccessible in the rainy season (although a longer journey may be possible by boat). For serious medical emergencies there is a plane that can be arranged from Santa Cruz, or a boat that goes across the border to Brazil.

(Swiss) German, Spanish, English, French, Italian and sometimes Portuguese

If you’re coming or going from Brazil be aware that there’s no official border crossing into/from Brazil, as despite being 16km from the Brazilian border, there is no immigration control (which means you can’t get an entrance/exit stamp and will not be legally entering or exiting either country). The most common way to arrive in Picacho is by road from Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

Picacho is located in the north east of the tropical part of Bolivia, close to the Brazilian border and the Nation Park Noel Kempff Mercado. The closest villages are Remanso (16km), Cafetal (Puerto Villazon, also 16km), Piso Firma (40km) and San Simon (15km). Arrival is typically by bus from the city of Santa Cruz, which lies 750km south-west.
Google-Erth: 13º 32 48 43 S
62 00 13 22 E

We participate in the WWOOF program and have the capacity for two-three wwoofers at one time.

To ensure your time here is sufficient, we strongly recommend a minimum stay of three weeks and you are welcome to stay as long as three months. The following information provides a basic idea of what you can expect during your time at the farm.

Working and helping on the farm:
We work from Monday to Saturday, about 6 hours a day, mostly in the morning and late afternoon.
We need help with:
· Feeding and general care of animals such as, cows, horses, pigs, chickens and ducks.
· Stable and general cleaning
· Building and renovating fences
· Cleaning pasture land
· Construction with natural materials such as mud, palm leaves, wood, etc.
· Renovation of houses and stables
· Collecting and maintaining firewood stocks
· Fixing roads, water pipes, car, etc.

In our orchard there are different types of bananas, plantains, pineapples, lemons, grapefruits, oranges, mangoes, guavas, mandarins, biribas... The kitchen garden includes typical vegetables growing under a tropical sun. You can help us with cultivating, watering, weeding, and picking.

If you like cooking or making bread or dairy products we look forward to your help. General household help is also appreciated.

You will need:
· Yellow fever vaccine and international certificate to prove it.
· Insurance – Picacho has no insurance so if you require it you must organise it yourself beforehand.
· Malaria protection if desired – we have never had a case of malaria at Picacho, however care should be avoid being bitten by mosquitoes in the neighbouring villages en route. If you feel more comfortable taking preventative medicine then feel free, and ensure to bring enough for the duration of your stay.
· Insect repellent – being in the depths of the Bolivia jungle means that you will be living with a variety of jungle insects, some of which you may wish to repel. We recommend that you bring enough insect repellent to last your stay (lotion is generally better than a spray as it lasts longer and the bottle can be disposed of easier than the can).
· Sun cream, sun hat.
· Torch and batteries – a head lamp is the most convenient. And as many batteries as you think you’ll need – rechargeable is better (again there are disposal issues with conventional batteries) but you will need to bring your own recharger. We use solar energy to recharge, which is usually reliable. Cameras and MP3 players can also be charged using the solar panels.

· Clothes – Bring clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, there are some work shirts available. If you have some sturdy work shoes bring them. In the rainy season, if possible, we recommend bringing rubber boots, as it can get extremely wet and muddy. Flip flops or thongs are useful, as leather sandals generally don’t last.
· Sleeping bag required in the cooler season or at any time of the year if you feel you need it.
· Sheets – you can also rent them for 10 Bolivianos a week.
· Toiletries – Please bring toilet paper, soap for the shower is better than gel,
· Candles and lighters for your room
· Enough soap (blocks) to wash your clothes.
· You are invited to bring fresh vegetables and dry food (beans, lentils, chickpeas, seeds, nuts etc.) if you wish. The nature of Bolivian season means that there is sometimes not a large variety of vegetables, but always plenty of good fruit..
· If there is a food that you can’t live without then stock up before you leave, as shops in the villages 16km away don’t have a wide selection.
· Personal requirements of medication – if there is anything that you need or particularly like, please bring it with you.
· Please do NOT bring any drugs to Picacho as this could result in serious problems for you and Picacho. Spot checks are no unusual on the bus between Picacho and Santa Cruz.


The typical method of arriving at Picacho is via bus TRANSBOLIVIA from the city of Santa Cruz, Bolivia to, Picacho (the last village to arrive is Remanso, o Cafetal in the rainy season).

The bus runs normally once weekly, and the length of the journey can differ greatly depending on the season. During the dry months the journey is typically one and a half day, but during the rainy season trip times can range upwards of ten days due to very muddy conditions. In all, the journey to Picacho should always be considered as part of the experience, allowing you to get a real taste of Bolivia, both of the beautiful jungle and the people who live there.

The bus usually departs from Santa Cruz every Thursday midday (the bus does NOT leave from the main bus station!):
In the dry season you will usually arrive in neighbouring San Simon on Friday night, and in Picacho on Saturday morning. As the bus usually arrives in San Simon on Friday night in the dark, it is not unpacked until the following morning in daylight. You will stay on the bus in San Simon Friday night and will need to ensure you have your bags taken down from the roof so that you can be dropped off easily when you pass Picacho in the morning. The bus leaves San Simon to go to Remanso or Cafetal and Picacho is about 40 minutes along that road. Picacho is a well known location, and the driver can easily let you know when you have reached the farm.

When departing Picacho, the bus usually departs on Sunday, and does not overnight in any location on it’s return voyage to Santa Cruz

You need to be in Santa Cruz to reserve and to purchase your ticket at least two days before departure as tickets sell out fast. The prices is somewhere between 150-180 Bs (approximately $20-$25).

Reservation (must be done at least 5 days before and not more than one week before):
Please call the
TRANSBOLIVIA, office phone: (0) 33 - 64 81 21 or - 36 38 66 - they speak only Spanish
(reservation to PICACHO, everyone knows the farm) - if possible get the seats on the right side of the bus (less risk to get wet from water dropping from the roof)

If your Spanish is not good enough to do a phone call, please write one week in advance to a friend of mine in Sant Cruz to do it for you:
Claudia Molina de Braner:, handy: 731 64 110
Claudia will do it for you - but even tough you have to purchase your ticket at least 2 days before departure.

If your plans change and you can no longer come please UNDO your reservation!

Tickets must be purchased at the TRANSBOLIVIA office, from where the bus also departs :
3rd inner ring between Avenida Brazil/Radial 8 y Avenida Virgen de Cotoca (behind the main bus terminal “Terminal Nueva Bimodal”), where the micro Nº 74 passes by.
The taxi drivers often can't find the place, so it's good to make sure the driver knows where to go and you fix the price beforehand (from the center more or les 15 Bolivianos)

It is best to remain aware that in Bolivia, especially during the rainy season, the bus schedule can be unpredictable. The bus journey can take a few days so we recommend bringing a few items to make the journey through the jungle more comfortable, especially should you face unexpected delays.

We recommend:
· Water – fizzy drinks are usually available along the way but not water.
· Food – is also available on the way but new comers to Bolivia may find the cuisine difficult to stomach.
· A sleeping bag if travelling in the cooler season.
· Insect repellent.
· Toilet paper toothbrush and sun cream.
· Personal medication, if required.
· A change of clothes, and a good book or two.

3 comentarios:

  1. Great pictures, great story, great work in here, GREAT BLOG ! CONGRATULATIONS for what you're doing, with all my respect Robert from Romania !!!

  2. Hola !
    Yes, it's great but we can't enter on the email box to access to the calendar, the "gmail" ask for verifying if we are the real owner of the account : ask a phone number, or a secret questions...
    Que pena !
    How can we contact you for coming in April ?

  3. Yes I am the same problems with the gmail calender asking for a verification. It seems like you have a lovely operation here!