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This program is now open and accepting volunteers from October 1st 2020

Sustainability Initiative: Apply to receive your 4th week of volunteering for free. Stay longer, make a stronger impact, reduce your carbon footprint. Schedule a call with us to find out how!

Join GoEco on a volunteer adventure in Costa Rica to help sloths and other indigenous animals at one of several wildlife rescue sanctuaries!

Program Highlights:
Your Schedule at a Glance - minimum two-week commitment (itinerary subject to change):

Arrival Day, Thursday:
Arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO). A representative will pick you up and take your new host family.  

Days 2-3 (Fri-Sat): The wildlife sanctuaries require a COVID PCR test 72 hours before arrival. Our local team will arrange the test on Friday so you can get the result by the following day. While you wait for the results, you will attend an orientation meeting on Saturday about safety, traveling and volunteering in Costa Rica. 

Day 4, Sunday: Transfer by bus to the animal rescue center and settle in your new home. Please note that we work with four amazing animal sanctuaries. Based on availability, we will help decide where to volunteer before you arrive to Costa Rica.  

Weeks 1-2: Orientation on Monday and meaningful volunteer work at the wildlife sanctuary (Mon-Fri). Volunteers staying only two weeks will return to their San José host family for departure the next day.  

We highly recommend! 
Join our Spanish language immersion week before you volunteer. Stay with a local family and gain essential Spanish skills to interact with staff and other volunteers. See "Travel Highlights" below for more details. 

Planning to come for one month or more? Combine this project with our Sea Turtle Conservation program, for a diverse wildlife experience. We will assist with the transfers.  

Check out what our past volunteers had to say!
Location of the Project:  Various locations, Costa Rica
Project length:  Minimum 2 weeks - Maximum 12 weeks
Arrival Airport:  Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO)
Volunteer Work:  Preparing food and caring for the animals, monitoring animals, cleaning cages and trails and general maintenance
Age:  18-70
Number of Volunteers:  Varies from 12-28 international volunteers, depending on the placement location

What's Included

Accommodations:  Homestay or dorm-style accommodations depending on placement location
Food:  Two meals per day during orientation week (breakfast & dinner) and three meals per day while at project
Airport Transfers:  Airport transfers are included on arrival day.
Orientation:  Volunteers will take part in an orientation week prior to beginning the volunteer program. This week includes Spanish lessons and various cultural activities.
Support:  Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.

What's not Included

Flights, visa (if required), travel health insurance, lunch during orientation week, local transportation in San José (approx. $1-2 USD per day), transportation to volunteer site from San José after orientation week ($10-$100 one way), taxi to accommodation for departure (approx. $12), personal expenses, COVID test in San Jose before volunteering ($100+$10 transfer to lab).
Costa Rica is one of the world's most popular destinations for eco-tourists because of its rich biodiversity. Small in land mass, the country is home to over 5% of the world's plant & animal species. Costa Rica is Spanish for the rich coast. One can expect to find this place to be the ideal tropical paradise with diverse landscapes, flora and fauna. From rainforests, to dry tropical and temperate forests, to volcanoes, to Caribbean and Pacific beaches, to high mountains and marshy lowlands, this country has much to offer. 
Costa Rica is a well-known destination for sustainable and nature tourism. Yet, its diverse wildlife is still under many threats. These include habitat loss because of development, electrocutions, dog and cat attacks, and illegal pet trading.

We work with three excellent wildlife centers, run by NPOs and supported by the National Parks and Wildlife Refuges of Costa Rica. They dedicate themselves to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of local wildlife.

As a volunteer you can help the local staff treat sick, injured and orphaned animals. Their primary goal is to release animals back to the wild when possible. Our on-site coordinator will assign your sanctuary placement during orientation. Based on availability and the needs of each center.

Pacific Cabuya Center: This center is home to several species of birds, monkeys, macaws, parrots, opossums, porcupines, and deer. Volunteers work from 6:00 AM to 4:30 PM, six days a week. The center, surrounded by abundant vegetation, and is approximately six hours from San José. The volunteer house has a swimming pool. This location has a minimum duration of two weeks and is available throughout the year.  

Puntarenas Pacific Sanctuary: This sanctuary is home to sloths, birds, jaguars, ocelots, spider monkeys, and tortoises. It is on the North Pacific side of Costa Rica, approximately six hours from San José. Volunteers work six hours per day, six days a week. This location has a minimum duration of two weeks.  

San Carlos Rescue Center: This center is home to tapirs, spider monkeys, green macaws, scarlet macaws, and several species of felines. Volunteers work from 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM, five days a week. This location has a minimum duration of one week and is approximately three hours away from San José. Please note that the accommodations are with host families who speak a little English.
Alajuela Rescue Center: This center is home to several species of birds, monkeys, macaws, parrots, opossums, porcupines, and many sloths. Volunteers work from 6:00 AM to 4:00 PM, six days a week. The center, surrounded by abundant vegetation, is approximately 1 hour from San José. The volunteer house has a swimming pool. This location has a minimum duration of two weeks and is available throughout the year. 

Your tasks at all centers may include:
  • Preparing food for the animals
  • Washing the animals’ eating and drinking areas
  • Feeding the animals
  • Washing utensils & cleaning the kitchen where food is prepared
  • Separating ripe and green fruit and storing in proper areas
  • Distributing food on the trails and around the rescue center
  • Placing fresh water in the bird cages
  • Providing a caring environment for the animals and checking for injuries
  • Monitoring activities: weekly walks on trails to monitor wild animals and supply fresh fruit; look out for any new wild animals on the premises and report sightings; visit the observation area to check the animals and monitor their behavior.
  • Facility maintenance chores: repairing, cleaning, planting, installing, building, painting, reforesting, etc. Assisting the on-site vet when possible.
  • Foraging for leaves & branches
  • Gardening
Note: schedule and tasks may vary depending on the amount of volunteers and tasks required. Dynamic health regulations at the centers may require volunteers to stay on site or nearby during their free time. You can also accumulate your days off and travel after the program.
Internship option: For an additional fee, qualified volunteers can join this program as an intern. To ensure a valuable experience, interns must join this internship for a minimum of four weeks and it requires an intermediate level of Spanish proficiency. Please contact us to discuss this option.
Internet:  Internet is available during orientation week at the school and at all the animal rescue centers.
Laundry:  During the project, volunteers have to wash their own clothes and hang out to dry. At the home stay in San Jose, they wash your clothes on a weekly basis; however, you must wash your own undergarments. Remember to bring biodegradable detergents.
Accommodations:  During the orientation and Spanish course, you will be placed with a host family in San José. All wildlife placement options provide clean and comfortable accommodations. One project offers a private room at a homestay, while all other placements offer shared rooms and bathrooms. For a two-week duration, accommodations are with Spanish-speaking host families. 
Food:  While attending the orientation sessions and language classes, breakfast & dinner are included at the homestay; at the volunteer project, you will receive three meals per day.
Please review this project's minimum requirements:
  • GoEco Interview 
  • All volunteers need to provide a negative COVID PCR test up to 72 hours before arrival at the animal center. The local team can arrange the test in San Jose for an extra fee of $100.
  • Basic Spanish required. We recommend beginners to enroll in a 1 week Spanish course on-site or on-line (for an additional fee)
  • Minimum age of 18
  • Able to cope with basic conditions  
  • Physically fit
  • Love and respect for animals
  • Flexible and open-minded to do all kinds of chores, depending on project needs
  • Adaptability to the weather in Costa Rica (tropical climate - high temperatures and humidity during the rainy season) 
  • All volunteers coming from South America or Africa must have a yellow fever vaccination certification in order to enter Costa Rica
Spanish Immersion Week 

Join our Spanish language immersion week before you volunteer. Live with a local family and gain essential Spanish skills to interact with staff and other volunteers.
Extra fee: US$450 for one week, this includes:
  • Airport pickup
  • Orientation
  • Home-stay accommodation in San Jose
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • 20 hours of Spanish lessons, 5 hours a day (Mon-Thu)

Tour options

We recommend traveling in Costa Rica before or after your volunteer placement. You can either explore the country on your own or simply join a tour. Here are a few popular options that you can book with us in advance:  
  • Arenal Volcano and hot springs, one day (transportation, lunch & dinner & entrance to springs )
  • Doka coffee plantation, Poas Volcano &  La Paz waterfalls  (transportation & lunch) 
  • Irazu volcano, Orosi valley & Lankester gardens (transportation, tour & lunch)   
  • Sun & white sand beaches (Carara National Park, Punta Leona: includes breakfast, lunch, transportation)
  • Manuel Antonio National Park, lovely beach on Pacific coast (includes transportation, breakfast, lunch). 
  • White river rafting (includes transportation, breakfast & lunch)
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