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This program is now open and accepting volunteers from October 25th 2020

Sustainability Initiative: Apply to receive your 4th week of volunteering for free. Stay longer, make a stronger impact, reduce your carbon footprint. Schedule a call with us to find out how! 

Become involved in every aspect of sea turtle conservation, from protecting eggs to caring for hatchlings along the coasts of Costa Rica! 

Program Highlights: 
  • Gain hands-on experience in wildlife care
  • Volunteer for the conservation of sea turtles during any time of year
  • Attend the city's best Spanish language academy during orientation to brush up on your Spanish skills
  • Combine volunteering with tourism is one of the top-rated destinations in Central America
  • Immerse yourself in Costa Rican culture through host family accommodations while in San José
  • Latin dance classes, Costa Rican cooking lessons, yoga classes and informal Spanish conversation sessions are available during orientation

Before Your Trip:  At least a week before arrival, the local team will schedule an interview to answer your questions and provide useful, pre-travel information.

Your Schedule at a Glance
Minimum two week commitment (exact itinerary subject to change based on current local health and safety guidelines):

Arrival Day, Sunday: Arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO). You will be picked up from the airport and taken to your homestay on the east side of the capital city of San José.  Spend the day settling into your new home and getting to know your host family.

Days 1-4, Monday-Thursday: If you are joining the Spanish language immersion week, your host will accompany you to the language school on the first day. You will spend five hours per day studying Spanish and will participate in orientation sessions that will help you choose your sea turtle project location, in the afternoons. You can also join Latin dance classes, cooking classes and yoga lessons during your free time. Volunteers who are fluent in Spanish are required to attend the orientation session on Monday and will depart for their project on Tuesday. (Some cultural activities could be limited due to local health guidelines, but tours in and around the city are available to book in your free time)

Days 5-7, Friday-Sunday: Enjoy the long weekend, taking the time to explore this small country: surfing and swimming at beaches on both coasts, trekking in national parks, river rafting, zip lining, hiking to visit a volcano crater, relaxing in hot springs and so much more.
Day 8, Monday: Transfer to your project location and begin your volunteer work. Depending on your placement assignment you may depart on Sunday or Tuesday.  Your daily duties may include work at the hatchery, beach cleanups and night patrols, where you will look for sea turtles and their nests. Eggs are collected and brought back to the hatchery for protection and monitoring, before being released into the ocean upon hatching.

Remaining Weeks: The remaining weeks will follow a similar schedule with one day off per week, depending on your placement. You will spend the last Saturday evening with your host family in San José before departing on Sunday.

Please note: A minimum stay of three weeks is highly recommended.

Check out what our past volunteers had to say!
Location of the Project:  Various locations on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, assigned according to demand and time of year. Placements will only be assigned during the orientation session in Costa Rica.
Project length:  Minimum 2 weeks - Maximum 12 weeks
Arrival Airport:  Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO)
Volunteer Work:  Beach patrolling, nest relocation, building hatcheries and assisting new hatchlings
Age:  18-49
Important Note:  Some placements require a minimum three-week duration; your exact placement will only be determined during the orientation session in Costa Rica.

What's Included

Accommodations:  Shared rooms with a host family and in a volunteer house
Food:  Two meals per day during orientation week and three meals per day during project
Airport Transfers:  Airport pickup is provided upon arrival to San José
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, daily transportation to and from language school (approx. $1.50 USD/day), transportation to project site from San José after orientation week (depending on location, approx. $20-$70 round trip), taxi from bus terminal to the homestay for last night in the city ($10-$12), personal expenses, COVID test in San Jose before volunteering ($100).
Costa Rica is one of the world's most popular eco-tourism destinations, primarily because of its incredible biodiversity. It is estimated that Costa Rica may contain as much as 5% of the world's plant and animal species! Costa Rica aptly translates to "rich coast" in Spanish for its diverse landscapes, which include rainforests, tropical and temperate forests, volcanoes, beaches, high mountains and marshy lowlands.
Local travel health rules and guidelines in Costa Rica are dynamic and therefore the program description below is also subject to change based on the local needs of the communities and animal centers. 

Please note that your project placement will be only assigned during orientation. Due to the dynamic nature of new health and safety regulations in Costa Rica, availability for some centers may be limited. The possible placements are listed below:
Nicoya Peninsula (Pacific Coast 1 - Mostly available currently): This project location is in a protected area, seven kilometers from Carrillo Beach and is home to leatherback, olive ridley and hawksbill turtles. This location has a minimum duration of two weeks and is approximately six hours from San José. 
Pacific Coast 2 (limited availability currently): This project location is in a protected area, and is a 45-minute walk from Montezuma: a walk all volunteers must do to reach the site. During low nesting season (September-March), volunteers may have a chance to assist at a small vineyard, greenhouse, organic farm or other locations within the protected area. This location has a minimum duration of one week and is approximately six hours from San José. Please note that this project location has no electricity.

Caribbean Coast (limited availability currently): This program is in a remote location; the closest town is one hour away. To reach this location, volunteers travel by boat through canals leading to the beach, offering a view of the fabulous tropical vegetation and wildlife. Leatherback, green and a few hawksbill turtles nest at this site. This location has a minimum duration of two weeks and is approximately four hours from San José. Please note that this project location has no electricity.
NEW: all volunteers at the animal centers will need to provide a negative COVID PCR test within 72 hours of arriving to the center. Our staff in San Jose will help you with these arrangements during your Spanish Culture Week. The cost is $100 paid locally. 

Some of your tasks at all locations may include:
  • Monitoring sea turtle nesting activity (night patrols and morning surveys)
  • Installing signs at the beaches regarding location and adaptation of the hatchery
  • Building hatcheries
  • Patrolling the beach to look for sea turtles and their nests, either during the day or the night (four-hour shifts)
  • Collecting eggs found on the beach and taking them directly to the hatchery for their protection
  • Collecting information in the hatchery
  • Releasing “neonatos” (baby sea turtles) from the hatchery into the ocean
  • Maintaining the facilities of the project
  • Keeping the beach clean and free of debris
  • Participating in any specific environmental projects developed by the community
  • Assisting in community-oriented activities to improve local facilities

A typical day: Breakfast is at 7:00 AM. From 8:00 AM until 12:00 PM you'll assist with a variety of chores at the hatchery or on the beach. After a break for lunch, afternoon chores begin at 2:00 PM. These assignments will depend on project needs and weather conditions. Dinner is served at 6:00 PM. If you're assigned to night patrol (8:00 PM until 5:00 AM) you'll help search for turtles and their nests and gather eggs to bring to the hatchery. You'll have one free day per week to spend as you wish.

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 not available at all of the project sites; however, there will always be an available mode of communication for volunteers to use.
Accommodations:  During orientation week, you will stay with a host family in San José, which is a short bus ride away from the language school. They will provide you with a comfortable, basic room in their home. Your accommodations throughout your volunteer placement will be in a volunteer house with bunk beds and shared bathrooms. Facilities are rustic, yet comfortable. The photos below provide examples of the types of accommodation provided.
Food:  During orientation week breakfast and dinner are provided. Throughout your volunteer placement, you will be provided with three meals per day, which consist of typical Costa Rican dishes, such as rice, beans, pasta, red meat or poultry, vegetables and fruit. Check the packing list for items you may want to bring to the project, such as snacks which you can buy in the city before your trip.
Please take note of the project's minimum requirements:
  • Minimum age of 18
  • Basic Spanish knowledge. Beginners should be prepared to enroll in additional weeks of Spanish lessons for an extra fee.
  • Physically fit: the three-four hour night patrols and daytime monitoring require hard physical work
  • Good eyesight for night patrols conducted with special artificial lighting
  • Comfortably able to walk 5-15 kilometers per night (even when it's raining)
  • Adaptable to high temperatures and humidity
  • Ability to cope with remote locations and rustic living conditions (volunteer dorms offer bunk beds, shared showers and toilets) 
  • Flexible and open-minded in order to carry out a variety of tasks, depending on project needs

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