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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.
The first two days are spent running through introductions to base, GVI and also Health & Safety procedures.For volunteers staying two weeks, training for the jaguar and other survey projects will be given during the first week. Volunteers are expected to participate in other surveys as well. They will also be doing the ‘jag walk’ (15 mile walk) on the Thursday of the second week.
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, amphibian monitoring and biological assessment surveys. Volunteers will go on two surveys a day, with the exception of Friday afternoons and Saturdays which is free time. Once a week volunteers will also be on kitchen duty.
A day in the life of a volunteer:
Please note that the emphasis of the program can change according to the time of year.
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.
Internet: Internet facilities are only available in town (trips can be made on the weekends, at the volunteer’s expense). There is some phone reception on the beach, but it is unreliable.
Laundry: Volunteers wash their laundry by hand.
Accommodations: Facilities will be more basic than you are accustomed to – please travel with an open mind and a willingness to adapt to local conditions. Accommodation is in shared (mixed gender) dorms with shared bathroom facilities at the field station. There is running water available for washing and cooking, with suitable water for drinking and brushing teeth. Supplies are limited and usage may be restricted when necessary. Bucket flush toilet facilities are available, and participants share responsibility for base duties, including cooking, cleaning, and other chores. There is limited electricity – only a few hours a day generator supply.
Food: Volunteers take turns to prepare meals for the group. Food is very basic and mostly vegetarian, with meat or fish rarely available. Breakfast could be porridge or occasionally pancakes, lunch is rice and beans, with fruit and vegetables, and a typical evening meal may include lentils, pasta, beans, rice, and vegetables.
Please take note of this project’s minimum requirements:
All volunteers must hold a Scientific Permit. We will obtain the permit on your behalf; however, you must submit the following materials following registration:
Volunteers must apply at least four weeks prior to their desired start date to allow for sufficient time to process the permit.
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.