VOLUNTEER WORK COSTA RICA
Would you like to help out in a national park on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica? Would you like to get to know the exciting animal and plant species and help to preserve their natural habitat? Then join our partner organization to help preserve the ecosystem and work in the most famous national park in Costa Rica: Tortuguero! Tortuguero National Park is located directly on the beach and offers a unique habitat for many animal and plant species due to its many freshwater rivers. There is a lot to do and discover in the park: from animal observation, welcoming visitors to maintenance, reforestation and small research projects. Your adventure in the Caribbean is waiting for you!
Type of program
Nature conservation project
Tortuguero, Costa Rica
approx. 6 hours, 6 days
Every 1st Saturday of the month
Spanish or English
Close to nature
On the beach, village within walking distance
Shared rooms on the project site
English speaking contact person in Costa Rica
Mobile internet with SIM card from WanderWorld Travel
From 1.580,00 €
Type of program: Conservation project
Program location: Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Working time: about 6 hours, 6 days
Program start: Every 1st Saturday of the month
Duration: 1-6 months
Minimum age: 17 years
Language: Spanish or English
Prerequisites: Close to nature
Location: On the beach, village within walking distance
Accommodation: Shared rooms on the project site
Support: English speaking contact person in Costa Rica
Internet: Mobile Internet with SIM card from WanderWorld Travel
Price: from 1.580,00 €
As a volunteer in Tortuguero, a very special variety of tasks and impressions awaits you: experience the unique Tortuguero National Park with all its breathtaking plants, rivers and exotic animals. Tortuguero is located in the southern Caribbean of Costa Rica, in the middle of the jungle, whose climate is tropical, humid and rainy. This climate is perfect for many native animal species, which are even found only there.
Our partner organization has existed in Costa Rica since 1989 and is committed to various protected areas in several locations throughout the country. Tortuguero National Park is home to a particularly biodiverse and fragile protected area. All land and river wildlife that find their habitat in the national park, such as otters, howler and capuchin monkeys, crocodiles, parrots, snakes, jaguars, turtles, Amazon kingfishers, sloths, and hundreds of species of fish and birds are protected.
The organizations’ goal is to protect the region’s gigantic biodiversity, monitor and clean the park and beaches, and work closely with visitors to the park and the community of Tortugueros.
The beaches on the beautiful Caribbean coast are also known for the many turtles that come to the shores to lay their eggs (mainly June – October). Rare species, unfortunately threatened with extinction, such as the green sea turtle (Tortuga Verde) and the giant leatherback turtle (Tortuga Baula) can still be seen there. The population of these unique turtles continues to dwindle due to pollution and illegal predation of the turtles as well as their eggs. Turtle soup and turtle eggs are still considered a delicacy.
Along with this, the organization takes care of environmental awareness and education of the surrounding communities and involves them in the development of sustainable projects. This includes visits and educational lectures at local schools and offers for internships and voluntary community work for the locals. For example, people are taught how to use natural resources without destroying them and how they themselves can contribute to environmental protection. Here, everyone pulls together! The multicultural and intergenerational aspect of the organization makes it very special.
Only with the help of volunteers is it possible to fight for the preservation of the ecosystem and environmental protection. All staff and volunteers are personally committed to conservation and changing the future together.
As a volunteer you can support in the following areas and contribute your curiosity, creativity, willingness to learn and skills. Working hours are approximately 8 hours per day, 6 days per week. Sunday is free for all volunteers. Daily working hours may vary depending on the tasks. Tasks are also highly dependent on the weather, if it rains, plans often have to be changed spontaneously.
Working in the National Park. In the park, you will assist the staff on patrols, help observe and document animals and plants, and explore the entire reserve. Here you are often on the way with a canoe. Thereby you can learn everything about the exciting vegetation and the animal species in Tortuguero and get very close to one or the other exotic. You will also help with the cleaning and maintenance of the national park. There will be tasks such as collecting garbage, clearing paths of branches, building benches or painting signs.
Reception of visitors. The famous national park is visited daily by locals and tourists. You will assist with ticket control at the entrance and educate visitors on proper park behavior. Likewise, you can pass on your newly learned knowledge about the park and the animal species to them.
Reforestation. There are also different species of plants and trees that are planted by the volunteers in the park so that the coastal region can be reforested. Parts of the rainforest are also being reforested, for this the seedlings must first be raised in a small tree nursery in the project and then planted. The goal of the nursery is to reforest the beach with a tree species that is a natural beach barrier, the Icaco (Chrysobalanus), and the Mountain Almond (Dipterix Panamensis), which is also the main food of the green parrots.
Housekeeping tasks. These include cleaning the house and the garden, as well as assisting with meal preparation. In the volunteer house, everyone lives communally and also devotes time together to activities such as cleaning, cooking, washing and working in the garden. There may also be tasks such as raking leaves, painting, composting and planting flowers. There is also a chicken garden, here you can feed the chickens and clean out the coop.
Environmental education for the community. You will also plan and implement environmental actions and educational events in the surrounding communities. This is where your creativity and organizational skills are needed. You can visit the local schools and report about your work in the organization. But there are always other cool actions as well. For example, trees are planted in the area, joint beach clean-ups are organized, and we work together to preserve and expand the national park.
Support for research work. The research work does not take place throughout the year, but is seasonal. You will help with different research activities, such as monitoring wildlife on the water and land trails of Tortuguero National Park. The research work is very important to ensure the “health” of the park and to develop new methods to preserve the ecosystem. Help with sample collection and documentation of data is always appreciated. In this regard, the team works hand in hand with the park staff. For example, individual animal species are observed, counted and documented, sand samples are taken, or the distance of vegetation from the sea is measured. The water quality is checked, camera traps are set up and thus changes in the flora and fauna in the park are recorded.
Turtle Observation. During Turtle Season (mainly June – October), you will help count turtles and identify species, then mark nesting sites. The turtles come to the beaches mainly at dusk. If you are lucky, you can even see them laying eggs. (However, there is no turtle rearing or release of babies).
Pura Vida in Tortuguero National Park! The name Tortuguero means “place where the turtles come” and comes from the Spanish word for “turtle”, “tortuga”. Untouched rainforest, full of animals and plants and almost deserted dream beaches are waiting for you here. The national park is a lagoon landscape surrounded by dense rainforest and is simply unique. Here you can observe the most different animal species: Sloths, iguanas, caimans, toucans, parrots, several species of monkeys, crocodiles, manatees and over 300 bird species can be discovered here.
In Tortuguero, the main means of transportation is by boat. There are public ferries, but also the so-called “boat-taxis” that sail daily over the waters. The boat is also the best starting point to explore the park and to go on an animal observation tour.
The village of the same name, Tortuguero, is located between the Caribbean Sea and a wide river, only 40 km from the border with Nicaragua. The village can only be reached by boat or by plane. About 500 villagers live here mainly from fishing and the ever growing tourism. The center of the village is only a few minutes walk away. There you will find restaurants, bars and stores as well as small supermarkets for your daily needs.
Tortuguero is located in the southern Caribbean of Costa Rica, in the middle of the jungle, whose climate is tropical, humid and rainy. In the Costa Rican Caribbean region you can expect rainfall all year round, there is not the classic dry and rainy season as in the rest of the country, but everything is beautifully green. You should definitely not forget your rain jacket and rubber boots! The temperatures are between 30 and 35 degrees during the day and about 25 degrees at night.
But not only the flair and the weather, but also the cuisine in the Caribbean region is different from the rest of the country, it is spicier and cooked a lot with coconut milk. Typical Caribbean food is rice and beans with fish, which you should definitely try.
You can spend your free time under the sun on the beach or you can play soccer or volleyball with the locals. Since the village is very small, you can quickly get in touch with the locals and get to know the way of life of the warm-hearted Ticos.
You do not need any special prerequisites for the program. You should have a desire to work in nature and be motivated to protect plants and animals sustainably. Also, openness to new cultures is very important to us, because you will meet people from all over the world, work together with them, make new friends and learn a lot. You should like to be in nature and like it quiet. The house of the organization is located in the middle of nature – perfect for all outdoor fans.
The national language in Costa Rica is Spanish. Since you will be in contact with locals a lot, basic knowledge of the language is an advantage for this project, but not a requirement. If you wish, we can organize a language course for you before the start of the project. Your knowledge will also improve playfully on site.
In Tortuguero you have the Caribbean Sea right in front of your door. There, all volunteers live together in a lovingly furnished house on the premises. Here you will share a shared room and bathroom with the other volunteers. In the house there is a large kitchen and a cozy common area. The accommodation is typical for the country and very simply furnished. The standard is not comparable to Germany. You should therefore adjust to a simple lifestyle, but you will settle in quickly. Three delicious Costa Rican meals will be freshly prepared for you every day. Mostly the typical breakfast “Gallo Pinto” is served and for lunch the “Casado”, which is rice, beans, plantain and vegetables or meat.
The Volunteer House is only a 5 minute walk from the center of Tortuguero village. The beach is also close to the house, as well as a soccer and volleyball field. Despite the proximity to the village, the house is secluded in nature and it is not uncommon to have an insect or two in your room. There are also a lot of mosquitos. But don’t worry, you will get used to it with time. But you can experience nature more intensively than ever before and you will certainly never forget this special place.
YOUR CONTACT PERSON IN COSTA RICA
Lisa is German and emigrated to Costa Rica with her Costa Rican husband. Before that, she has visited the country a few times and therefore already knows very well about the culture, traditions and local conditions. After falling in love with the country and its people, she decided to live where others vacation. She speaks fluent Spanish as well as German and English. Lisa will be happy to welcome you in San José with her warm and funny nature and is eager to introduce you to her beautiful adopted country. As a German contact person on site, she will answer all your questions and you can always approach her if you need help.