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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, recommended stay of at least three weeks):

Day 1, Sunday: Arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) and be picked up. Settle in with your host family.

Days 2-5, Monday- Thursday: Partake in an exciting cultural immersion week, including Spanish language lessons, salsa lessons and more!

Days 6-7, Friday and Saturday: Free time in San Jose! (See Travel Highlights below for travel destination suggestions.)

Days 8-9, Sunday and Monday: Transfer to sanctuary. Transfer day is dependent upon sanctuary placement. 

Days 10-13, Tuesday - Friday: Meaningful volunteer work at the wildlife sanctuary.

Day 14, Saturday: Volunteers staying only two weeks will return to their San Jose host family for departure the next day.

Day 15, Sunday: Departure day for those staying just two weeks. 

Weeks 3-12: Additional weeks allow for weekdays of exciting volunteer work and fun weekends.

Please note: For a two-week duration, there is only one placement option and accommodations are with Spanish-speaking host families.

Check out what our past volunteers had to say!
Location of the Project:  Several options in Alajuela (Central Valley & San Carlos area) & Puntarenas Provinces (Pacific coast). Upon arrival in Costa Rica you will attend a general orientation meeting as well as two orientation sessions with the local placement team to finalize your project location.
Project length:  Min 2 weeks - Max 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 10-65 international volunteers, depending on the placement location
Important Note:  Registration procedure includes a Skype interview with local staff and a one-on-one orientation during 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; your placement will be determined during orientation.

What's Included

Accommodations:  Homestay or dorm-style accommodations depending on placement location
Food:  2 meals a day during Spanish course and 3 meals a day while at project
Airport Transfers:  Included on arrival and departure in San Jose
Orientation:  Upon arrival in Costa Rica you will attend a general orientation meeting (1st Monday at school) as well as two orientation sessions with the local placement team to finalize your project location. Your first week will include cultural enrichment activities and Spanish lessons (all levels).
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 1st week language course, local transportation in San Jose (around $1-2/day), transportation to volunteer site from San Jose after orientation week ($6 - $30 round trip), cost to return by taxi to accommodation for departure (approx $12), personal expenses
Costa Rica is one of the world's most popular destinations for eco-tourists because of its proportionally huge amount of 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.
Despite being a small country, Costa Rica has a great natural wealth. 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. Rescue and conservation is organized through the Costa Rican government National Park Association, as well as with private conservation organizations. 

First Week Orientation and Spanish Courses (included)
The first week of the program takes place in San Jose. It consists of cultural enrichments and Spanish courses that facilitate acclimation into the Costa Rican culture before the volunteer leaves to begin the project itself. The courses include Spanish grammar rules, emphasis on pronunciation for increased ease of conversation, and allows plenty of practice time for verbal and written Spanish. The goal of this program is to provide the student with basic language skills and functional fluency. Participation in the orientation week is mandatory as it acts as an important stepping stone for the volunteer before traveling into the rural areas where the reserve is.

If you already speak fluent Spanish before coming on the project an exception may be made to waive the orientation, though it is highly recommended in order to have the most fulfilling experience. Please contact GoEco to discuss this option prior to registration.

*Beginners are encouraged to add an additional week of Spanish courses.

A typical day during orientation: Spanish class begins at 9am, with a one hour break for lunch at noon and then finishing for the day at about 3pm. You will then have the chance to join different cultural enrichment activities such as Latin dance classes, Costa Rican cooking courses, yoga lessons or informal Spanish conversation practice. After 5pm, you will have the evenings free to explore the area with fellow volunteers, study or relax at home.

The goals of each individual center varies, but in general, the work focuses on the care, rescue and rehabilitation of injured or displaced Costa Rican wildlife, including but not limited to: tapirs, spider monkeys, sloths, turtles, jaguars and tropical birds. Volunteers work closely with center staff to assist in day-to-day operations.

Some of the daily chores you will be assigned:
  • Preparing food for the sloths and other indigenous animals
  • Washing the animals’ eating and drinking areas
  • Feeding the animals
  • Washing utensils & cleaning kitchen where food is prepared
  • Separating ripe and green fruit and store 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, 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; visit the observation area to check the animals and monitor their behavior.
  • Maintenance chores:  repairing, cleaning, planting, installing, building, painting, reforesting, etc. facilities.

Important Notes:
  • Your placement will be confirmed during orientation week in San Jose.
  • Depending on the project location, direct contact with the animals may be restricted. 
  • Most rangers and other Costa Rican personnel at the site do not speak English (conversational Spanish is required).
  • Work lasts approximately 6 hours during the day and will include various chores related to animal care as well as maintenance of the facilities, and any special activities being currently developed by the project staff.
  • You will receive one day off per week. Bringing books and table games is recommended for leisure time.
Internet:  Internet is available at all the animal rescue centers.
Laundry:  Volunteers have to wash their clothes and hang out to dry, except for those staying with a host family at the Alajuela center. At the home stay, your clothes are washed on a weekly basis, however, you must wash your undergarments. Remember to bring biodegradable detergents to wash your clothes.
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, there is only one placement option and 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/day.
Please take note of this project's minimum requirements:
  • Conversational Spanish required. Beginners should enroll in a minimum 2-week Spanish course (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
For an additional $200 volunteers can join this project as an Intern. Internships are designed to provide participants with professional experience for career exploration and development. To ensure a valuable experience, you need to join this internship for a minimum of 4 weeks (2-6 months are recommended).  An intermediate level of Spanish proficiency is usually required and, regardless of the Spanish level, at least one week of Spanish Immersion course and orientation prior to the start of the program is recommended.
This Internship Program includes accommodation in San Jose with a host family for the first week (2 meals included), accommodation at your respective project site (cabins or a volunteer house with 3 meals included), Spanish course, orientation, weekly follow-ups and 24/7 support during the program with a final evaluation. Interns will be required to work 6 days per week.
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