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Sustainability Initiative: Stay longer, make a stonger impact, and reduce your carbon footprint. GoEco will cover your 4th week abroad and an online conservation course for free. 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, recommended stay of at least three weeks):

Day 1, Sunday:
Arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO). Volunteers will be picked up and taken to settle in with their host family.

Days 2-5, Monday-Thursday: Participate in an exciting cultural immersion week, including Spanish language lessons, several orientation sessions, Latin dance classes, a yoga session and more!

Days 6-7, Friday-Saturday (or through Sunday): Free time in San Jose! (See "Travel Highlights" below for suggestions.)

Days 8-9, Sunday-Monday: Transfer by bus to your selected animal rescue center. Transfer day is dependent upon sanctuary placement. Please note that placement is only determined during orientation week.

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 José host family for departure the next day.  Those remaining at the project will have a day off to enjoy surrounding areas (variety of places to visit!)

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.

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
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

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 ($6-$30 round trip), 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 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.
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. 

Spanish and Culture Week:
The first week of this minimum two-week program consists of Spanish lessons and cultural enrichment activities! The Spanish lessons help prepare volunteers for their time in Costa Rica and will enhance your cultural exchange experience throughout your trip. Participation in the orientation week is mandatory unless you are a native Spanish speaker.
A typical day during orientation:
Spanish class begins at 9:00 AM, with a one-hour break for lunch, and finishes for the day at 3:00 PM. You will then have the chance to join different cultural enrichment activities such as Latin dance classes, a Costa Rican cooking lesson, yoga classes and informal Spanish conversation sessions. After 5:00 PM, you will have the evenings free to explore the city with fellow volunteers, study or relax at home before dinner is served.

IMPORTANT:  If you speak basic or no Spanish, we highly recommend that you enroll in extra Spanish lessons for an additional fee, so you can better communicate with your host family and feel comfortable using local transportation. If you are fluent, an exception may be made. Please contact GoEco to discuss this option prior to registration.

Please note that your project placement will be only assigned during orientation. The possible placements are listed below:

Pacific Area 1: This sanctuary is home to sloths, birds, jaguars, ocelots, spider monkeys and tortoises. It is located 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 and is available throughout the year. Registration at least four weeks in advance is required.  

Pacific Area 2: 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. This program is offered throughout the year and requires registration at least four weeks in advance. This location has a minimum duration of two weeks. The center, surrounded by abundant vegetation, is approximately six hours from San José. The volunteer house has a swimming pool.

Central Costa Rica: This center is home to tapirs, spider monkeys, green macaws, scarlet macaws and several different 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 generally speak 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 is available during orientation week at the school and at all of the animal rescue centers.
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:  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 take note of this project's minimum requirements:
  • Conversational Spanish required. Beginners should enroll in a minimum two-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
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