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Wolf Conservation Volunteer Project in Portugal - Mafra

Wolf Conservation Volunteer Project in Portugal - Mafra

Want to join a pack of Wolf Conservation volunteers in Portugal? International Volunteer HQ’s Wolf Conservation project is an exciting opportunity for volunteers to help at centres for wolves rescued from zoos, illegal trapping or human captivity. In a forested valley in Mafra, wolves live outdoors in large enclosures with the aim of providing them a life as similar as possible to what they would experience in their natural habitat.

  • Programs start every Monday
  • Affordable fees from AU$2000 for 2 weeks
  • Includes accommodation, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
  • Help rescued wolves live happy, active lives

  • Experience Portugal’s diverse natural environment

  • Stay in volunteer houses at a wolf conservation centre

Key information

Support wildlife protection efforts
Based at a wolf conservation centre
On-site volunteer house
Volunteers aged 20+
Fully hosted experience from AU$2000 for 2 weeks
Durations from 2 - 4 weeks
Explore less-visited parts of Portugal
Up to 8 hours volunteering a day

This program is ideal for:

Volunteers who have a high level of physical fitness, who love animals and are looking to join conservation efforts while spending time in quiet, natural surroundings, often only interrupted by the howling of wolves. Most of all, you’ll be contributing to a greater environmental and animal protection mission.
Who is this program suited to?

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

Wolves are known for their wild nature, but many in Portugal are unable to live in their natural habitat after becoming reliant on humans to provide for them. Wolf conservation centres accept wolves from zoos, illegal trapping or other captivity, helping to nurse them to full health and enabling them to be active and happy. The wolves are housed in large outdoor enclosures designed to replicate their natural habitat as closely as possible.

As a Wolf Conservation volunteer, local staff will guide you in your duties, though it’s important to note that you won’t have any direct contact with the wolves themselves. You’ll help with a wide range of tasks including:

  • Feeding the wolves
  • Animal observation and monitoring
  • Clearing Eucalyptus trees and replanting native species
  • Facility maintenance and upkeep

This is a unique project for those who want to volunteer with animals, where you’ll get to help animals that you may not come across at home.

Many tasks require medium to heavy physical effort, for example, carrying weights around 17lb/8kg. As the centre is in a forested valley, the ground is irregular and with steep slopes, so you’ll need to be able to carry these weights while walking in such conditions. A high level of physical fitness is therefore required.

This project is available for durations of 2 or 4 weeks and is not available in December or January, as the conservation centre is closed to the public.

Want to volunteer not just with wolves, but also with brown bears, otters, Euro-Asian lynx, deer, wild boars, eagles and lamas? Check out our Biological Park Conservation volunteer project in Miranda do Corvo, Portugal.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #15: Life on Land

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #15: Life on Land

Human activity has altered almost 75% of the earth’s surface and around 1 million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction. Nature is critical to our survival. We must promote kindness to animals and use regenerative techniques to combat deforestation, conserve biodiversity and protect wildlife.

Why do Wolf Conservation volunteering in Mafra with IVHQ?

When you volunteer with wolves in Portugal you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Improving the lives of wolves rescued from captivity
  • Supporting local animal welfare initiatives
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Gaining wolf conservation experience
  • Immersing yourself in Portugese culture
  • Exploring Portugal’s remote wilderness

Volunteer requirements

  • Volunteers need to have a high level of physical health and fitness to join the Wolf Conservation project. Many tasks require medium to heavy physical effort, for example, carrying weights around 17lb/8kg on steep and uneven ground.

  • Volunteers need to be 20 years or over to participate in this program. If you are under the age of 20, IVHQ offers other projects in Portugal which are open to younger volunteers, and also alternative volunteer opportunities for teens. Visit our High School Volunteer Abroad page to learn more.

  • All volunteers must speak fluent English, are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ before departure.

Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

Sophie Williams
15 Jan 2024

I learned something about the culture in Lisbon/Portugal but I also learned about the cultures of the other volunteers I met while staying in Portugal. To anyone who is hesitant about joining the program, I would tell them to not be afraid to work hard, the work would be easy if they didn’t NEED volunteers but the projects desperately do need help, its not just a holiday, its work.

Valentina Velazquez
05 Apr 2023

IVHQ was very helpful to guide me throughout the application and preparation process for my trip. They also helped me find projects that were connected under my interests. The local team were both helpful and friendly. I knew I could trust them with any questions or concerns I had. Being able to see all the different creatures that live under the water, and being able to help clean up their environment meant allowing them to continue living a safe life was my favourite moment. I learned that even one small action can lead to a large change in helping the world and the people on it. If you are considering volunteering, go for it! Stepping out of your comfort zone can be scary, but you will find that it will leave a good impact on your life and teach you many new things!

Hope Williams
24 Mar 2023

IVHQ did an incredible in preparing me for this experience and the local team were great and always available to answer my questions. I loved the project and really felt like in my own small way I was making a contribution. One of my favourite moments was when I had a beautiful cat jump on my lap and fall asleep. This program has inspired me to do another trip! I want to continue to give back and do another volunteer trip soon. It is a great way to contribute while at the same time push yourself out of your comfort zone. Dong the trip by myself was hard but once I did it, I knew I wanted to do it again. It feels wonderful to travel independently and meet new people while giving back to a cause I care about.

Hanna MacDonald
08 Feb 2023

I think that IVHQ does a wonderful job at getting things organized and settled, and the support from the local team was phenomenal! The accommodation was great! Better than i thought it would be. I think my favourite moment was orientation where we got to meet each other and have a tour of the city in a Tuk Tuk. Very good ice breaker! The way people live and the way their culture is had the greatest impact on me. It is so relaxing and refreshing and also very eye opening. I would tell people who are hesitant about volunteering abroad that they would be missing out if they decided not to go.

Riley Thompson
09 Dec 2022

The ability to ask questions with someone from IVHQ when preparing for the trip was great and super beneficial for making the planning of the trip as easy as possible. The support of the local team was amazing and always there if you needed any questions asked. Being able to get up close and interact with the animals in the wildlife park was my favourite moment on the program. Meeting and forming connections with so many great people from all over the world had a massive impact on me. There's definitely something there for everyone so if you are thinking about volunteering, I'd recommend giving it a good consideration!

Lyndiana Marina Rumsayor
05 Feb 2021

I am from Indonesia and currently studying in Milan, Italy. I recently volunteered in Portugal on the Wolf Conservation project. My volunteer experience was marvellous. I worked with the team there everyday and it made me feel at home and helped me understand and love animals more and more. I made lifelong friendships with others volunteers and I had a great adventure when we explored Pena Palace. I will never forget this once in a lifetime experience.


To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

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Wolf Conservation volunteer abroad project in Portugal with IVHQ


IVHQ’s Wolf Conservation project is based near the small town of Mafra. Mafra has plenty to offer visitors including the Royal Building of Mafra which includes a palace, basilica, convent, garden and hunting reserve all of which was built for King D. João V in the 18th century. The palace alone boasts hundreds of rooms and the buildings are stunning with their impressive Baroque architecture. The Hunting Park is now home to a wide variety of wildlife and is open to the public for a range of outdoor activities including walking, mountain biking, horse riding, archery and crossbow shooting.

The wolf conservation centre is set in a steep forest valley out of town.

Arrival and orientation

The program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of every month, and volunteers need to arrive in Lisbon the day before their orientation.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at Lisbon Airport (LIS). Your airport pick-up is included in your program fee. Volunteers under the age of 18 are required to travel with written consent from both parents or guardians in order to enter Portugal. Volunteers under the age of 18 who require a pre-arranged visa will also need their visa application to be signed by a parent or guardian.

When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation in Lisbon for orientation. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.

If you are travelling in Portugal prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up from a prearranged location in Lisbon on the day before your program orientation.

Orientation is hosted by our Portugal team at the accommodation. It begins the morning of your chosen start date and lasts for a full day. The orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Portugal – an introduction to Portugal, culture and customs, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities, and an introduction to your project and placement.

After orientation on Monday, you will have Tuesday free to explore Lisbon and then will be transported to your accommodation in Mafra on the Wednesday.

Volunteer schedule example


Volunteers on the Wolf Conservation Project will start volunteering on the Tuesday following their orientation. Start times and daily workload will vary.

A typical schedule:

8:00 AM Breakfast
9:00 AM Project activities begin
1:00 PM Lunch
3:00 PM Project work continues
7:00 PM Dinner. After dinner, you can use your free time to relax or as you wish.


You’ll have your weekends free on the Wolf Conservation project. As well as being able to fully explore and enjoy the Royal Building of Mafra you can also relax in the town’s beautiful parks, on its excellent beaches, take a short trip to Ericeira which is a world-renowned paradise for surfers, or take a bus back to Lisbon.

Accommodation and WiFi

Volunteers on the Wolf Conservation project will be accommodated in houses on-site in Mafra. As the houses on the Wolf Conservation project have limited rooms, volunteers are not able to be separated by gender. Volunteers should expect to be accommodated in mixed gender rooms with up to four other volunteers. These houses have fully-equipped kitchens and comfortable living spaces for volunteer use.


The Wolf Conservation project is self-catering with volunteers required to purchase and prepare their own meals for the duration of their stay. Volunteers will be provided with transport once or twice a week to the nearest town to obtain groceries and other supplies. Volunteers can cook together or individually and tap water is fine to drink.


  • USD
Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
2 weeks AU$2004 Equivalent to AU$143/day
4 weeks AU$3192 Equivalent to AU$114/day
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Airport pick-up
  • Personalised preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Discounts on language lessons
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately AU$527) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in AUD.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, public transport to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers on Lisbon based projects and on the Wildlife Conservation project generally find US$65 to be sufficient for basic weekly expenses. For those on the Wolf Conservation project, we recommend a weekly budget of US$150.
  • Any changes or cancellations within 14 days of your start date are subject to a US$200 late change/cancellation fee.

Free-time experiences & tours in Portugal

Take your volunteer experience to the next level with IVHQ's affordable activity and tour add-ons in Portugal! Explore your options below and learn how to book them once you've been accepted onto the IVHQ Portugal program.

Language Lessons
Language Lessons

Enhance your Portuguese language proficiency at the most affordable rate while volunteering in Portugal.

From AU$505
Language Lessons
Language Lessons

Enhance your Portuguese language proficiency at the most affordable rate while volunteering in Portugal.

From AU$505

Check what's required to visit Portugal

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Capital Lisbon
Population 10.46 million
Languages Portuguese
Currency Euro (EUR)
Time zone UTC+00:00

Weather and climate: Lisbon has a Mediterranean climate with dry hot summers and mild winters. During winter, from December to February, temperatures are mild and vary from 8°C to 14°C (46°F to 57°F). Summer, from June to September, is dry and hot with temperatures ranging between 18°C and 29°C (64°F and 84°F). Rainfall is heaviest in December/January and driest in July/August.

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How to get started

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