On this project you will assist in the protection of endangered jaguars, whilst living and working in Costa Rica’s rainforest. During your stay, you will contribute to the preservation of the elusive jaguar as well as join a team contributing to the development and management of long-term wildlife conservation efforts along Central America’s Caribbean coast. You will be searching for signs of jaguars and their prey species, by setting up remote cameras and surveying a 16-mile stretch of turtle nesting beach. This data will be relayed to the Costa Rican government and other prominent conservation organizations.
Although jaguar-related research activities will your main focus, during your time you will also gain a holistic understanding of the Costa Rican rainforest and its ecosystem by conducting other important research, which may include studies of turtles (seasonal), aquatic birds, and biological assessment surveys.
Long term internships are also available (8 or 12 weeks). The first half of the internship is the same as the short-term volunteers, but also includes a certificate in Biological Survey Techniques. The second half of the internship is the work placement.
What's not Included
This project takes place in the rainforest of Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean (eastern) side of Costa Rica. The volunteer camp is accessible only by boat and foot, and is nestled in a coconut plantation only 50 meters from the beach!
At the core, the goal of this project is the ongoing completion of biological surveys that contribute to increased scientific knowledge and the overall conservation efforts of this particular area. In the field you will work collecting important data and learn a vast array of research skills. With many dawn patrols in the plan, you will get to see some spectacular sunrises on Totrugero’s breathtaking Caribbean beaches. At the station you will learn the technical side of working in the field, analyzing, processing and recording data.
A day in the life of a volunteer:
- You will start the day early! Morning surveys go out at 5:00am which means having breakfast at 4:30am.
- Everyone is back on base between 10:30 am and 2:00pm.
- Lunch is served at 11:00am and there is a briefing at 1:00pm.
- Afternoon surveys go out at 2:00pm.
- Dinner is served at 5:00pm.
- Volunteers will usually be on 2 surveys each day.
Also please note that the work you will be doing will contribute to jaguar conservation in the area, however, a real-life jaguar sighting is quite rare and not guaranteed.
Please take note of the project's minimum requirements:
- Min. age 18
- Basic English
- Very good physical fitness
- Full travel & medical insurance
- Immunizations (please consult your doctor)
All volunteers must hold a Scientific Permit. We will obtain the permit on your behalf, however, you must submit the following materials following registration:
- Scanned copy of passport
- Brief CV or resume (1 page maximum), translated into Spanish (must be translated by a professional or native Spanish speaker)
- High quality passport-sized photo
Project Orientation (included)
Upon your arrival, expedition staff will present a structured training program that is given over the course of the first few days. A brief but intensive training period prepares volunteers to begin working on the research programs, after which time you will continue to learn, with each survey becoming increasingly experienced.
Further Traveling Opportunities:
Costa Rica is an amazing country with an abundance of travel opportunities further afield with the following just a snapshot of the many possibilities!
Given your isolated location, a lot of your down time will be spent on base, the rainforest is not a place to go wandering! However there are still some possibilities in the immediate area for you to make the most of your time in Costa Rica. You can visit Tortuguero Village on the weekends, browse its small souvenir shops, visit the delicious bakery and just watch the world go lazily by.
For longer term volunteers on long weekend breaks, you could decide to head off base and further explore the Caribbean region. Hiking, snorkeling, fishing, or canopy and zip-line tours are just some of the activities that are possible in the area. For something a bit more intense, you could raft on the white waters of the famous Pacuare River on class III to IV rapids over the course of 1- or 2-day trips. And if the adventure activities are not for you, then simply relax in a laid back Caribbean village!
Admire the famous and active Volcan Arenal from a distance and relax in the natural hot springs; surf the Salsa Brava – a hotspot of the Caribbean for the advanced surfer; ride horseback on the beach in Puerto Viejo or simply enjoy miles and miles of beautiful beaches kissed by palm trees; spot migratory raptor birds in the Talamanca Mountains and visit indigenous villages to learn more about their amazing culture; discover the cloud forest at Monteverde, visit the hummingbird gallery, enjoy the locally made ice cream and other fresh dairy products or walk among the treetops on the hanging bridges; enjoy the organized wildlife tours of Braulio Carrillo National Park; travel across the country to discover the beautiful Pacific Coast with its hidden white sand beaches; visit Volcan Irazu and discover coffee farms on the way back to San Jose; back in the capital, visit the Gold Museum or the Jade Museum, attend a play in one of the numerous theatres or take in the Latin American vibe with its lively nightlife.