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This program is now open and accepting volunteers from October 25th 2020

Sustainability Initiative
: Apply to receive your 3rd 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 (exact itinerary subject to change based on current local health and safety guidelines):

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 sanctuary requires a COVID PCR test before arrival. Our local team will arrange the test on Friday so you can get the result by Saturday. You will also have free time in San Jose! (See "Travel Highlights" below for suggestions).

Day 4, Sunday: Transfer by bus to your selected animal rescue center. Please note that we work with three amazing animal sanctuaries. Our local team will decide on your placement, based on availability.  

Weeks 1-2: Orientation on Monday and meaningful volunteer work at the wildlife sanctuary (Mon-Fri). Weekends are free to relax or/and travel. 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. Gain essential Spanish skills, useful to interact with staff and other volunteers, and enjoy fun cultural activities. Arrival is on Sunday, followed by an orientation on Monday. You will study around 5 hours a day of Spanish in small classes (Mon-Fri). Tours in and around the city are available to book in your free time. You can easily add the Spanish week once accepted to the program. 

Check out what our past volunteers had to say!
 
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Location of the Project:  Various locations, Costa Rica
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Project length:  Minimum 2 weeks - Maximum 12 weeks
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Arrival Airport:  Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO)
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Volunteer Work:  Preparing food and caring for the animals, monitoring animals, cleaning cages and trails and general maintenance
Age:  18-70
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Number of Volunteers:  Varies from 12-28 international volunteers, depending on the placement location
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Important Note:  Registration procedure includes a Skype interview with local staff and several one-on-one or group orientation sessions during the first week, to select the most appropriate placement. Your exact placement will only be determined upon arrival in Costa Rica and is partially dependent on the length of your stay. In order to gain the most benefit from your experience, a longer stay is encouraged. Some locations require a minimum three-week stay.

What's Included

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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
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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.
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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 ($6-$30 round trip), taxi to accommodation for departure (approx. $12), personal expenses, COVID test in San Jose before volunteering ($100).
Costa Rica is one of the world's most popular destinations for eco-tourists because of its extensive biodiversity. Costa Rica may contain as much as 5% of the world's plant & animal species - this in a country that is only as large as the states of Vermont and New Hampshire combined. Costa Rica is Spanish for rich coast. As such, one can expect to find this place to be the ideal tropical paradise with bewilderingly 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 it all.
Home to over half a million species and 5% of our planet's wildlife, Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. However, habitat destruction from deforestation, poaching, indiscriminate use of pesticides, the illegal pet trade, and the lack of wildlife protection have caused a decline in the populations of many species to levels that threaten their survival. Costa Rica is on the right path to protect its biodiversity and facilitate wide-scale sustainable tourism.

As a volunteer traveler, you can join one of the professional wildlife rescue centers established by local NGOs and supported by the National Parks and Wildlife Refuges of Costa Rica. Our local team will assign your sanctuary placement during orientation. Due to of the dynamic nature of new health and safety regulations in Costa Rica, availability may be limited for some centers. 

Pacific Area 1 (mostly available currently): 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, 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.  

Pacific Area 2 (limited availability currently): 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.  

Central Costa Rica (limited availability currently): 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.

Some of 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
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 (although two to six months are recommended). An intermediate level of Spanish proficiency is usually required. Please contact GoEco to discuss this option prior to registration.
           
Internet
Internet:  Internet is available during orientation week at the school and at all of the animal rescue centers.
Laundry
Laundry:  Volunteers have to wash their own clothes and hang out to dry, except for those staying with a host family at the Central Area center. At the home stay, your clothes are washed on a weekly basis; however, you must wash your own undergarments. Remember to bring biodegradable detergents to wash your clothes.
Accommodations
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 of the projects 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:
  • 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
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