Costa Rica – Macaw and Wildlife Sanctuary

Volunteer for a renown wildlife sanctuary that promotes the conservation of wild scarlet macaws, great green macaws and provides an essential refuge for threatened animals in Costa Rica. You will begin your program with an exciting Spanish language and culture week in San Jose.


Program Highlights:

  • Help provide daily care for over 500 animals under the guidance of a dedicated team.
  • Work closely with indigenous Costa Rican wildlife such as macaws, sloths, jaguars, ocelots, monkeys, tapirs, white-tailed deer and more
  • Live with volunteers from around the world in a beautiful jungle setting.
  • Ethical volunteering and wildlife interactions
  • Add a tour before or after the program and visit natural wonders, such as the Arenal Volcano National Park.


Your Schedule at a Glance – minimum three-week commitment (itinerary subject to change):

Week 1, Sun – Sat: Spanish Immersion Week

Start your Costa Rica experience with our Spanish language immersion week at one of the top Schools in the country. Live with a Costa Rican family and gain useful Spanish skills for your volunteer adventure. This includes:

  • Airport pickup on Sunday
  • Orientation sessions to prepare for chosen volunteer project
  • Accommodation with a host family in a private room
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • 20 hours of Spanish lessons, 5 hours a day (Mon-Thu)
  • 2-6 students per classroom with one instructor
  • Latin Dance and Costa Rican cooking classes
  • Spanish classes run from 9 to 12 noon, with one hour for lunch, and 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.


Week 2-3 and beyond: Wildlife Volunteer Program 

Sunday: Our team will assist you transfer by public bus to the animal rescue center. Private transfer is also available for an extra fee.
Mon – Fri: On-site orientation on Monday, followed by meaningful volunteer work at the wildlife sanctuary. Volunteers usually get one day off a week.
Sat-Sun: Transfer back to San Jose is on your last Saturday at the program. You will spend one night in San Jose with our host family, and on Sunday, catch your flight home.

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.


IMPORTANT NOTE: For those doing the Spanish Culture week in December 2023, the school classes will be closed on the weeks of Dec 17th, 25th and January 1st. The Classes will re-open on the week of January 7th 2024.


Location icon Location of the Project: Various locations, Costa Rica

Project length Project length: Minimum 3 weeks – Maximum 12 weeks

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO)

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work: Preparing food and caring for the animals, monitoring animals, cleaning cages and trails and general maintenance

Age Age:  18-70

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: Varies from 12 to 28 international volunteers.


What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: Homestay in San Jose and dorm-style accommodations on the volunteer placement

Food Food: Two meals per day during orientation week (breakfast & dinner) and three meals per day while at project

Airport Transfers Airport Transfers: Airport pickup or from any requested location in San Jose on arrival day.

Orientation Orientation: Spanish Language Immersion week and pre-volunteer orientation sessions in San Jose.

Support 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 and personal expenses
  • Lunch during orientation week,
  • Daily transportation by bus to/from the language school (approx. $1-2 USD per day),
  • Transportation to volunteer site from San José after orientation week (around $10 for a public bus or $85 for a private transfer, one way),
  • Departure transfer from homestay to airport on the last day (around $35, if desired).

Costa Rica is a popular destination for eco-tourism because of its rich biodiversity. Although relatively small, the country is home to over 5% of the world’s plant & animal species. Costa Rica is Spanish for the rich coast and it is truly an ideal tropical paradise with diverse landscapes, flora and fauna. From rainforests, to temperate forests, to volcanoes, to Caribbean and Pacific beaches, to high mountains and marshy lowlands, this country has much to offer.

The Spanish Immersion Week takes place in San Jose, and the sanctuary is on the North Pacific side of Costa Rica, approximately six hours from San José.


Although Costa Rica is a well-known destination for sustainable tourism, its diverse wildlife is under many threats. These include habitat loss because of development, electrocutions, dog and cat attacks, and illegal pet trading.

The Puntarenas Pacific Sanctuary is on the North Pacific side of Costa Rica, approximately six hours from San José. It is home to macaws, sloths, birds, jaguars, ocelots, spider monkeys, tortoises, and other animals with the following aims:

  • Provide a refuge for rescued wildlife with modern infrastructure for the benefit of the animals
  • Rehabilitate and release animals back to the wild, when possible.
  • Carry out a comprehensive Macaw conservation and breeding program, with over 200 macaws on-site.
  • Run environmental education and ecological tourism programs


The sanctuary has over 500 animals that need daily care. As a volunteer, you will help the Wildlife Rescue Team carry out the following tasks: 

  • Preparing food for hundreds of animals
  • Feeding the animals
  • Washing the animals’ eating and drinking areas
  • 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
  • Creating environmental enrichment initiatives for the animals.
  • 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.
  • Planting trees
  • Foraging for leaves & branches
  • Provide information for visitors


Typical Daily Schedule:

The daily schedule can be intense, but the work here is rewarding for animal lovers!

  • 6:00-8:00: Morning animal feeding (minimum of 3 days)
  • 8:00 – 8:15: Breakfast
  • 8:15 – 10:30: Daily tasks
  • 10:30 – 10:45: Juice break
  • 10:45 – 12:00: Daily tasks
  • 12:00 – 13:00: Lunch, Wi-Fi, and nap time!
  • 13:00 – 15:00: Afternoon animal feeding (minimum of 3 days), followed by free time
  • Dinner is usually ready by 17:00pm


The local team will allocate the volunteers tasks in work groups, following proper orientation and training. Volunteers work six-eight hours per day, six days a week. This sanctuary has a minimum duration of two weeks of volunteer work.

Note: schedule and tasks may vary depending on the amount of volunteers and tasks required.

Alternative Placements: This volunteer program fills up quickly! In case your requested date is full, we can place you with another excellent wildlife sanctuary near San Jose.

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 volunteer work plus 1 week of the Culture/Immersion week and it requires an intermediate level of Spanish proficiency. Please contact us to discuss this option.

Internet icon Internet: Wi-Fi connection is available during orientation week at the school and at the animal rescue center.

Laundry icon Laundry: A laundry machine is available on the program. At the home stay in San Jose, they wash your clothes on a weekly basis; however, you must wash your own undergarments.

Accommodations icon 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 and built for adventure, not comfort. Depending on the animal center, the dorms can house anywhere from 4 to 10 people. The photos below provide examples of the accommodation provided.

Food icon 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. The meals are typical dishes of Costa Rica. Almost every meal includes rice, beans, or salad. They also offer juice or coffee for every meal. It is very important that you inform us if you have any special diets or food allergies.

Please review this project’s minimum requirements:

  • GoEco Interview
  • $100 cancellation penalty from the GoEco deposit if you cancel your trip or change projects.
  • This project recommends all participants to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19
  • Basic Spanish recommended.
  • 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 the 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

Tour options

We recommend traveling around Costa Rica before, during the weekends 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)

Volunteer Experiences

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