Costa Rica – Animal Rescue and Conservation

Join GoEco on a volunteer adventure in Costa Rica to help sloths and other indigenous animals at a top wildlife rescue sanctuary! The program begins with an exciting Spanish language and culture week in San Jose.


Program Highlights:


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

Week 1, Sun – Sat: Spanish Immersion Week

Start your Costa Rica experience with our Spanish language immersion week at one of the best Schools in the country. Live with a local family and gain essential Spanish skills to interact with staff and other volunteers. This includes:

  • Airport pickup on Sunday
  • Orientation sessions to prepare for chosen volunteer project
  • Lodging with a host family in a private room
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • 20 hours of Spanish lessons, 5 hours a day (Mon-Thu)
  • 2-6 students per classroom with one instructor
  • Latin Dance and Costa Rican cooking classes
  • Spanish classes run from 9 to 12 noon, with one hour for lunch, and continue from 1 to 3 pm (total 5 hours a day, Mon-Thu).
  • Evenings and weekends are free to enjoy the city or travel in Costa Rica, see tour options below.


Week 2 and beyond: Wildlife Volunteer Program 

Sunday: Our team will assist you transfer by bus to the animal rescue center and settle in your new home.
Mon – Fri: On-site orientation on Monday, followed by meaningful volunteer work at the wildlife sanctuary. Volunteers usually get one day off a week.
Sat-Sun: Transfer back to San Jose is on your last Saturday at the program. You will spend one night in San Jose with our host family, and on Sunday, catch your flight home.

We highly recommend: 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.


Location icon Location of the Project: Various locations, Costa Rica

Project length Project length: Minimum 2 weeks – Maximum 12 weeks

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO)

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work: Preparing food and caring for the animals, monitoring animals, cleaning cages and trails and general maintenance

Age Age:  18-70

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: Up to 50 international volunteers.


What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: Homestay in San Jose and dorm-style accommodations on the volunteer placement

Food Food: Two meals per day during orientation week (breakfast & dinner) and three meals per day while at project

Airport Transfers Airport Transfers: We will pick you up from the airport or any requested location in San Jose on arrival day.

Orientation Orientation: Spanish Language Immersion week and pre-volunteer orientation sessions in San Jose.

Support 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 and daily transportation by bus to/from the language school (approx. $1-2 USD per day)
  • Public transportation to volunteer site from San José after orientation week (around $5)
  • Departure transfer from homestay – airport, if desired (around $35)

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.

The Spanish Immersion Week takes place in San Jose, and the wildlife volunteer program is in Turrucares, Alajuela Province.

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.

The Alajuela Rescue Center is home to various species of birds, monkeys, macaws, parrots, opossums, porcupines, and many sloths. Animal enclosures include an aviary, sloth gardens and monkey cages that are surrounded by nature to provide the animals a stimulating habitat for rehabilitation and well being.

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.


Your tasks may include:

  • Preparing food for over 100+ animals
  • Feeding the animals
  • Washing the animals’ eating and drinking areas
  • 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
  • Building and implementing new animal playthings made of wood, tree branches, or trunks (animal enrichment).
  • Taking part in educational community projects.


Daily schedule:

07:30 – breackfast

08:45 – Morning meeting and allocation of volunteer task groups.

12:00 – Lunch and free time

13:30 – Afternoon meeting and continuation of volunteer tasks

18:00 – Dinner, free-time and occasional fun night activities.

Note: schedule and tasks may vary depending on the amount of volunteers and tasks required.


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 volunteer work plus 1 week of the Culture/Immersion week and it requires an intermediate level of Spanish proficiency. Please contact us to discuss this option.

Internet icon Internet: Internet is available during orientation week at the school and at the animal rescue center.

Laundry icon Laundry: During the project there is a washing machine and clothesline available. 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 icon Accommodations: In San Jose, you will stay with a host family, which is a short bus ride away from the language school if you are doing the Spanish week. They will provide you with a comfortable, basic private room in their home. Your accommodations throughout your volunteer placement will be in a dorm room with 6 bunk beds and shared bathrooms. The center has a pool, common area, and hammocks for relaxing during down-time.

Food icon Food: While attending the orientation sessions and language classes, breakfast & dinner are included at the homestay. At the volunteer project, you will receive three cooked meals per day. Vegetarian and vegan food is available as well. Other dietary options need to be requested in advance.

  • GoEco Interview
  • This project recommends all participants to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
  • 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 the 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

Tour options

We recommend traveling around Costa Rica before, during the weekends 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)

Volunteer Experiences

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