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This program is open to international volunteers!

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, Saturday before noon:
Arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO). A representative will pick you up and take you to your new host family. During the afternoon, you will attend an orientation meeting about safety, traveling, and volunteering in Costa Rica. During your free time, you can explore sites in the city, our team will assist you.  
Day 2, 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). Departure is usually on a Saturday. 

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:  You will be picked up from the airport or any requested location in San Jose on arrival day.
Orientation:  You will receive an on-site orientation in San Jose before departing to the volunteer location.
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, $35 for departure transfer from homestay - airport.
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 four 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, is approximately six hours from San José. The volunteer house has a swimming pool. This location has a minimum duration of three 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 most the animal rescue centers. Some animal centers don't have the best internet connection, so a local SIM card upon arrival is recommended.
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:  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 volunteer house with bunk beds and shared bathrooms. Facilities are very rustic, they are built for adventure, not comfort. Depending on the animal center, the dorms can house anywhere from 4 - 10 people. The photos below provide examples of the types of accommodation provided. 
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.
Updated COVID-19 Guidelines for Costa Rica: 

The Costa Rican Health Department has announced that from the 8th of December 2021, tourists will need to present a vaccination card if visiting bars, restaurants, social events, stores, or any other local activity. 

This means that you can still enter Costa Rica with just a PCR test. However, you will need a double vaccination certificate (at least 14 days after your second shot) in order to travel freely in the country.  

To avoid any complications in-country, our local partners require volunteers to get fully vaccinated at least 2 weeks before arriving in Costa Rica.

Please review this project's minimum requirements:
  • GoEco Interview 
  • Depending on the selected volunteer placement, you may be required to get a PCR test before flying to Costa Rica. 
  • 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 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)
  • 1-3 students per classroom with one instructor 
The Spanish course starts every Monday, so you can arrive in Costa Rica on Sunday. Classes are conducted from 9 to 12 noon, one hour for lunch, 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. 

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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