VOLUNTEER WORK COSTA RICA
Do you love living nature, untouched landscapes and are you interested in a fascinating world full of exotic animal species? Environmental protection is important to you and you want to give something back to nature? You have always dreamed of living in the middle of the rainforest, far away from civilization? Then the project in our nature reserve is just the right thing for you! Here you have the unique opportunity to live in the middle of the Costa Rican cloud forest and get to know the environment while working. Get your hands dirty reforesting the rainforest, lead groups of guests through the reserve, live out your creative side and support renowned researchers in their studies of flora and fauna. You will learn a lot of exciting things about our wonderful planet. In your free time, go swimming in natural pools, cook with your new colleagues, or just enjoy the tranquility of nature. A spectacular adventure awaits you!
Type of program
Nature conservation project
Chirripó National Park, Costa Rica
approx. 6 hours (7:30-13:30), 5 days
Every 1st Saturday of the month
Spanish or English
Close to nature
In the middle of the rainforest
Shared apartment with other volunteers
English speaking contact person on site
Mobile internet with SIM card from WanderWorld Travel
From 1.260,00 €
Type of program: Conservation project
Program location: Chirripó National Park, Costa Rica
Working hours: approx. 6 hours (7:30-13:30), 5 days
Program start: Every 1st Saturday of the month
Duration: 1-6 months
Minimum age: 18 years
Language: Spanish or English
Prerequisites: Close to nature
Location: In the middle of the rainforest
Accommodation: Shared apartment with other volunteers
Meals: Not included
Support: English speaking contact person via WhatsApp
Internet: Mobile internet with SIM card from WanderWorld Travel
Price: from 1.260,00 €
The Rainforest Reserve Project was founded in 2002 by two adventurers from New York with one mission: To stop deforestation. The two actually came to Costa Rica as tourists to climb the country’s highest mountain, Chirripó. When they looked down from up there at the surrounding deforested areas, they were shocked and decided to come back to Costa Rica and do something about it. In the years that followed, they not only bought up and reforested areas, but also set up an entire rainforest conservation project.
This is how the private nature reserve in the Talamanca Mountains developed into a unique and innovative reserve. The area is characterized by its breathtaking nature and is world famous for it. Untouched cloud forest as far as the eye can see, wild rivers and waterfalls are a paradise for numerous exotic animal and plant species. The reserve includes an enormous variety of tropical trees, plants, birds and insects and a wide range of diverse floras and faunas found nowhere else. It’s a setting unlike anything you’ll see in the movies.
The preservation of the reserve depends on the commitment of volunteers. Since 2002, the environmentalists who manage the reserve have already purchased nearly 300 hectares of the nature reserve. This includes 70 hectares of pristine primary forest that has never been logged. The overarching goal is to preserve and reforest the cloud forest and surrounding farmland, but education and research are also part of the reserve’s mission. This is because it is impossible to imagine the extent of the impact that the cloud forest has on air, water and soil quality, flood control, climate, and numerous known or as yet unknown plant and animal species. Forests and areas like these impact not only the life that surrounds them, but the entire planet. You too can become a part of the team that gives everything to preserve our nature. Take advantage of this unique opportunity and learn about life in the rainforest – an unforgettable nature experience!
The nature reserve welcomes visitors from all over the world 365 days a year. Hiking and trekking tours are offered for all ages to make the park accessible to everyone. It is also possible to stay overnight in the reserve. Three beautiful houses in the middle of the Costa Rican cloud forest are rented to interested guests.
The project works wholeheartedly to preserve the cloud forest and all the natural resources that go with it for current and future generations. To do this, they use only green energy, produce minimal waste, promote plant-based diets, and protect the land and local people. The project was founded with the purpose of reforestation and revitalization of land. It is a great success that by now the entire reserve has been reforested and the natural habitat of animal and plant species has been restored.
Since then, the main concern of the project has been education and research. Environment-related topics are addressed and creatively communicated through student programs, lectures, exhibitions and guided tours. Also, important research projects and studies are carried out in the reserve area by scientists from all over the world. The project welcomes undergraduate and graduate students to conduct their own research there and provide interesting insights into their work and study of natural sciences.
Do you want to get a taste of research and life in a unique natural environment? As a volunteer you will get special impressions, because you will get access to parts of the reserve that are closed to visitors. There is an outdoor gym where you can exercise and you will go on daily hikes. The community between researchers and volunteers is characterized by fun and a family atmosphere.
The staff of the reserve put special emphasis on community and a good working relationship. In the project you have the great opportunity to meet many special people from all over the world and have an unforgettable time. People often meet in the common rooms and the volunteers enjoy cooking together. There are also regular communal yoga or meditation classes that anyone who wants to can participate in. Once a week, there is a “meal sharing” where everyone brings something to eat and shares it in the round so that volunteers and staff can sit comfortably together at a richly set table.
The project is fully committed to preserving the cloud forest and all associated natural resources for current and future generations. To achieve this, only green energy is used, minimal waste is produced, plant-based diets are promoted, and the land and local people are protected. In addition, the project is committed to reforesting and revitalizing land that was cleared for agricultural purposes, purchased from Reserve, and now reforested to restore the natural habitat of many animal and plant species.
The nature reserve is incredibly diverse – just like the tasks you can take on during your time at the reserve. It’s not primarily about working here, but about learning a lot about nature, wildlife, and resource conservation. You can get involved in a wide variety of areas and pursue your own personal interests. It will certainly never be boring, because there is a lot to experience and discover. The following tasks are examples and may change.
The best thing about the tasks in the reserve is that you explore and hike the area yourself during your work. Again and again you will be surprised by exotic animals (don’t worry – you won’t put yourself in danger). As a volunteer you will hike about 5 – 7 km per day, so you will be physically very active and most of the time in the fresh air. Please note that some of the trails are very steep uphill or downhill – hiking shoes are mandatory!
Support the researchers from around the world who are conducting studies in the reserve in their scientific work. A real highlight for all nature lovers and biology enthusiasts. You will assist with field and lab work, data entry and other interesting tasks. This experience can be useful, for example, in your future studies. You will accompany the researchers when they go into the forest in search of bird, frog, monkey or tree species. You will support them in collecting and analyzing the data. For example, help with bird counts, setting up and checking wildlife cameras, observing the behavior of various wildlife, taking samples and measurements of plant species, and much more.
There is a stunning diversity of birds in the reserve, so many researchers are drawn to the project to do bird studies. In the process, species are identified and counted. If you are lucky, you will spot the unique and very rare Quetzal bird in the treetops. This is known as the magnificent quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno), which is listed as “near threatened” on the IUCN endangered species list due to habitat destruction. This makes conservation of the habitat in the reserve all the more important.
Some researchers also devote themselves to studies with butterflies. As a volunteer you can, for example, help catch butterflies with the help of a beetle, photograph the specimens and identify the species. However, the study content is constantly changing with the researchers who are currently working in the reserve.
Do you like physical work and getting your hands dirty? They welcome your assistance with general maintenance and upkeep of the reserve. One of your main tasks is to help the staff build bridges, steps and trails. Here it is important to keep the trails clear and passable, as well as the road to the project. Every now and then, new signs also need to be installed or benches, tables or huts need to be built. So that includes a lot of different tasks. Gardening and landscaping are also included. Design your own flower garden or even grow your own food.
Another important task for volunteers is working in the native tree nursery. Although all of the land in the reserve has been reforested, many of the surrounding areas in the local communities are still in need of trees. We grow native upland tree species from seeds we collect and nurture them in our nursery until they are ready to be planted in the local community. These may be private property owners or shared land. Volunteers will be involved in every step, from seed collection to propagation, seedling care, and composting.
If you stay at the preserve for more than a month, you can work at the preserve’s welcome center and greet guests. Here you will meet a wide variety of people from all over the world and get them excited about the exciting reserve. You will explain the trails to them on the map and answer their questions. This is a very important job as you will be the first face people see when they enter the reserve. It’s a great opportunity to practice your customer service skills and practice some Spanish. You often get to meet very interesting people and have great conversations.
Are you more of a creative mind than a craftsman? Then you can also contribute in the area of design and online marketing. Write exciting articles for the website and the blog and take care of the social media channels.
Of course, you don’t have to choose one task. As a volunteer, you have the opportunity to combine different areas. It is common to help with maintenance on a daily basis and later to assist a researcher with his studies. Volunteers are considered “research assistants” in the project, so they can get a really clear and diverse picture of everything that happens in the reserve.
As science and research is particularly important to the project, there are also regular presentations given by the researchers or the volunteers themselves. Here you have the opportunity to gain a lot of new knowledge about biology and ecology and have exciting conversations with the researchers.
Chirripó National Park
In the breathtaking Talamanca Mountains in Costa Rica, the nature reserve is located on the western edge of the famous Chirripó National Park in a fantastic geographical location. As part of the largest nature reserve in Central America and due to its ecological diversity, it has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The reserve is home to a wide variety of exotic animals such as the quetzal, tapir, puma, jaguar and many others, and is especially famous for its large bird population.
The national park is also home to Cerro Chirripó, the highest mountain in Costa Rica at approximately 3820 meters, from whose summit you can see both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea on clear days. The incomparable nature you can admire during the climb and the spectacular view you will be rewarded with after the hike, make the climb an unforgettable experience.
The small towns of Rivas and San Gerardo are very close to the National Park. There you will find small restaurants and supermarkets. The authentic little village of San Gerardo is home to only a few inhabitants, but is beautifully situated on the edge of the mountains and shows how the friendly Ticos live there in the countryside.
You reach the reserve from the capital San José. By bus you will go to the city of San Isidro de General and continue to the nature reserve. From the project to the next village you can reach on foot in about 30 minutes.
For a weekend trip you can visit the beautiful beaches of Quepos, Manuel Antonio and Uvita, which you can reach by bus from San Isidro.
For your work in this project you do not need any special requirements or experience. It is only important that you have a desire to learn and that you are open to a new culture, people from all over the world and a new way of life. You should be interested in topics from biology and ecology, because a big part of the project is about research. You should also enjoy exercise and like to hike, as you will be doing a lot of work in the steep terrain of the reserve. You should be motivated, work well in a team and be willing to share your habitat with other people for a time. In return you can expect a unique community, a life in breathtaking nature and above all a lot of fun at work.
The national language in Costa Rica is Spanish. You do not need to know Spanish to participate in the program. It is only required that you can speak English to communicate with the other volunteers from all over the world and the leaders of the project. Knowledge of Spanish is still very helpful. If you don’t have any knowledge yet, we recommend you to attend a language course at the beginning of the trip, which we will gladly organize for you. Your language skills will also improve on the spot.
You will live in a shared room together with other volunteers from all over the world. The room is located on the project site in the middle of the beautiful nature of the cloud forest. A single room can be arranged on request for an extra charge. The accommodation is spartan, but you will have everything you need to live.
There is a well-equipped kitchen where you can cook together with the other volunteers. Once a week, reserve staff will shop at the local market, volunteers can write a shopping list and groceries will be brought (at their own expense). You are also welcome to accompany the staff to check out the local market. You can find a small supermarket in the next village.
Besides the rooms and the kitchen, there is also a cozy common area. Volunteers and researchers come together in the library where they can work at the desks or read a book on one of the sofas. There are many more open-air seating areas in the reserve to relax in nature.
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 go for 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 chosen home. As your contact person in the country, she will answer all your questions and you can always approach her if you need help.
SERVICES AND PRICES
- 1st month in starter package: € 1,260.00
- Extension month: 740,00 €
- As 2nd or 3rd programme: 990,00 €
- 1st month in start package: 2.280,00 €
- Extension month: 1.700,00 €
- As 2nd or 3rd programme: 2.010,00 €
Find out more about our services here.
“Take every opportunity you get in your life, because sometimes it only happens once.”
“At first I wondered about the saying ‘pura vida,’ but I’ve since come to understand that it’s a way of life. It’s the attitude with which you get up in the morning, with which you greet strangers in your country and take life as it comes.”
Hanna didn’t just want to see one country and one project, but visited three projects in Costa Rica and Colombia. In Live Q&A we asked her about her time in the Rainforest Reserve, Turtle Protection Project in Costa Rica and the Hostel Experience in Colombia.
In this video, our participant Ronja talks about her experiences in the Rainforest Reserve. She participated in the project for two months and enjoyed nature in the jungle to the fullest. She talks about what a typical day was like and how the researchers involved her in their work.