VOLUNTEER WORK COSTA RICA
Would you like to make your contribution to species and nature conservation? Make a difference! You can make a difference at the Turtle Research Project on the Osa Peninsula. Support the continued existence of endangered turtles by accompanying researchers as they collect data on their beach patrols. The Osa region is a remote and quiet place, but is home to paradisiacal nature that is almost untouched. Still undisturbed by humans, the turtles can come ashore and lay their eggs. But the peaceful sea creatures are threatened with extinction, especially due to fishing and plastic waste. That’s why the project is committed to protecting them in the most species-rich place in Costa Rica. The camp is located in the middle of nature, isolated from civilization, on one of the most active nesting beaches in the South Pacific. There you live in harmony with the flora and fauna of incomparable beauty and live in the camp together with 20 researchers and volunteers from all over the world in a great community.
Type of program
Start of program
Length of time
Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
6 hours per day, 6 days per week, time of day varies
Every 1st Saturday of the month
Spanish or English
Loves animals and close to nature
At the beach
Shared room in the project camp
3 meals per day included
Contact person via WhatsApp
Mobile internet with SIM card from WanderWorld Travel
Type of program: Turtle Research
Program location: Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Working hours: 6 hours per day, 6 days per week, time of day varies
Program start: Every first Saturday of every month
Duration: 1-6 months
Minimum age: 17 years
Language: English or Spanish
Requirements: Close to nature
Accommodation: shared room in the project camp
Meals: 3 meals per day included
Support: English-speaking contact person in Costa Rica
Internet: Wi-Fi on the project site
Price: 1510.00 EUR
The Turtle Protection Project on the Osa Peninsula was founded in 2018 by two women who have made protecting sea turtles their life’s work. The organization’s goal is to protect turtles in the long term, support local people and educate future generations about protecting our natural resources. Over time, the project developed further, initially registering 2.5 km of beach with around 1000 nests per season and now securing 7000 nests per season on 8 km of beach. The organization built its camp right on the beach, which serves as a base camp and where the research assistants and volunteers live. The camp is located on one of the most frequented turtle nesting beaches in the country, near Corcovado National Park. The project helps ensure that almost half a million baby turtles each season can begin their young lives and find their way safely to the sea. The turtle species most commonly found in this region are the Olive Ridley and Pacific Green.
The region around Corcovado National Park is very remote, especially since it is relatively difficult to reach from the capital San José. But the region is increasingly gaining popularity and eco-tourism. Because there you can admire the rich biodiversity, lonely beaches and the beautiful rainforests. Nevertheless, tourism hardly improves the living conditions of the local population. The organization has therefore made it its mission to work closely with the locals and to help by creating jobs and educational opportunities. They have launched community initiatives such as women’s groups and plastic upcycling. Community is very important here – not only with the volunteers and employees of the project, but also with the locals.
The ultimate goal of the project is to increase the population of marine life by increasing the hatching success rate. However, it is important to the organization that the little turtles hatch naturally, which is why they leave the nests on the beach and do not collect them – in contrast to many other turtle projects. This means that the nests are protected primarily by the presence of humans. This means that wild animals and predators do not dare to approach the nests. Only in extreme cases are the eggs relocated to the hatchery. The regular patrols on the beach are intended to keep poachers and predators away from the eggs, which works very well. In addition to human poachers, loose dogs are a major threat to the turtles. Street dogs smell the eggs through the sand and eat them. To prevent this, the project is working on coverings made from branches and leaves, further protecting the nests without moving them. In order to tackle this problem at its source, the project works in collaboration with veterinarians to provide cost-effective neutering, place dogs with families through adoption, and provide education for local dog owners.
In some cases, injured turtles are found that have been damaged by fishing nets, plastic waste, bycatch or other animals. The project provides help and tries to provide the turtles with medical care so that they can return to the sea. This is intended to extend the lifespan of adult turtles.
Carrying out research work is also an important part of the organization. They collect data and conduct studies to contribute to scientific knowledge and make politicians aware of the importance of protection.
Since environmental pollution from plastic waste is also a massive problem for the animals, the Turtle Protection Project supports a cool recycling initiative. With the help of volunteers, plastic from nature is collected, shredded, recycled and processed into new creative products.
As part of this unique nature conservation project, you can help prevent the destruction of the environment in many places. There are a variety of tasks, you live in the middle of nature and work with a great team. Sounds good? Then become a volunteer at Trutle Protection on the Osa Peninsula!
Do you really want to make a difference together with the large team of researchers and volunteers? Are you motivated to support the environment and protect animals at night or in bad weather? Then you’ve come to the right place with this great nature conservation project! With around 20 researchers, employees and other volunteers, you will save the sea turtles, which are threatened with extinction, and whose continued existence should be ensured through various measures.
The main task is to collect data together with the research assistants. Nesting sites are searched for and documented during nightly patrols on the beach. The turtles typically come ashore at night or at dawn to lay their eggs, so the team will walk the beaches in shifts. Daily patrols are either approximately 4-7 hours at night or approximately 3-5 hours in the morning. As a volunteer, you will accompany the night patrol about 1-2 times a week and the morning patrol 1-2 times a week. The data collected is intended to increase knowledge about the turtle species in order to then be able to develop suitable protection strategies. Research is extremely important to understand the effects of climate change and other factors on turtles and to counteract negative impacts. This is the only way to bring about change together with politicians and also with local schools and universities. Here you have the chance to work directly with the researchers as a volunteer and make an important contribution to knowledge about turtles. Not only are you involved in data collection, but you can also see the exciting results and analyses.
The night and morning patrols are not only used to count the nests, but also to prevent predators and wild animals from taking the eggs from the nests. Here you can actively support them and build covers made of branches, bamboo and leaves and bring them to the nests. This allows the eggs to be left in their natural place. Only in extreme cases are the eggs dug up and moved to a hatchery. You’ll spend a lot of time walking in nature and get to know the diverse flora and fauna of the region.
You’ll also be there live when the baby turtles hatch and find their way into the sea. You will help provide them with a safe path and watch as they begin their life in the sea. A wonderful experience that you will remember forever!
The time during the day is used to work in the garden, do housework and maintain the camp. Everyone pitches in together when it comes to cooking and cleaning, so there is time to relax and catch up on sleep.
The project also cares about the collaboration and support of local people, where you can get involved in organizing environmental education presentations, workshops or English lessons.
The organization at Corcovado Park is occasionally visited by interested tourists or locals. Help guide visitors on tours and explain everything about protecting marine life. It is particularly important to educate people about environmental and species protection and to show initiatives how everyone can get involved.
Also get involved with the beach clean-ups and the recycling project! You help collect waste from nature and recycle it into cool products. To do this, the plastic is cleaned, sorted, shredded and you can then make your own products, such as: E.g. plates, bowls, flower pots or jewelry.
The Osa Peninsula
The southern peninsula of Costa Rica on the border with Panama is a true natural treasure. The region is one of the most biodiverse areas in the entire world and is home to around 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity. This is thanks, among other things, to the country’s largest national park, Corcovado Park. The protected area with an area of approximately 424 km² offers untouched nature for a variety of ecosystems. There you will still find original primary rainforest, as well as animals and plants that can only be found there, such as: B. the tapir. Red macaw parrots, turtles, various species of monkeys, coatis, mountain pigs, wild cats, and even pumas and jaguars make their home there, to name just a few species. The rainforest is surrounded by numerous beautiful sandy beaches where you will only encounter a few tourists. On one side of the peninsula the waves of the Pacific meet land, where there are large waves, some of which are suitable for surfing, and wild beaches. On the other side lies the Golfo Dulce, an inland sea with moderate waves and breathtaking views of the mountain landscape of the mainland opposite. Many sea creatures feed and reproduce there, such as: E.g. turtles and humpback whales.
The project is located on the South Pacific peninsula, where the olive ridley and Pacific green turtles primarily come ashore to nest. There you can enjoy the unique wild nature every day and learn a lot about the plants, animals and ecosystems. You’ll spend the whole day outside and can explore the beaches day and night. A trip to Corcovado National Park is definitely worth it! However, for security reasons, access to the park is only possible with a guided tour. Boat trips are also offered in the region, for example to the island of Isla del Caño, which is particularly suitable for diving and snorkeling.
You do not need any special requirements for the program. You should be able to live in simple conditions, far from civilization. If you like camping holidays, this project is for you. Be aware that there is only one solar system in the camp, which only provides electricity on sunny days. There is no refrigerator and hardly any other electronic devices, which is why the cooking is mainly vegetarian and vegan. There is no warm water, but this is not necessary given the high temperatures. Since the property is open, you will encounter numerous insects, mosquitoes and other animals.
Of course, you should be motivated to help the turtles, be interested in research and care about issues such as environmental protection and sustainability. You should be prepared to work outside at night and in any weather. A lot of physical exercise is required, which is why you should have a basic level of fitness. Openness towards other people and cultures is particularly important for peaceful coexistence in the project. Please bring as little plastic as possible to this project and pay attention to sustainable products.
The national language in Costa Rica is Spanish. Since you will be in contact with locals a lot, basic knowledge is an advantage for this project, but not a requirement. At the camp, English and Spanish are spoken among volunteers and staff. If you wish, we can organize a Spanish course for you before the project starts.
The organization’s camp is located directly on the natural beach, secluded from civilization. The next larger town is about 1.5 hours drive away on a non-asphalted road, with numerous beaches and occasional houses owned by locals or tourists in between. The project site is located in the middle of nature on the edge of the famous Corcovado National Park, the largest national park in the country. The accommodation is very simply equipped and not comparable to European standards, it is more like camping as you spend the whole day outside and the rooms are only covered and have no external walls. It was very important to the founders to build the accommodation in harmony with nature, using mainly natural and sustainable resources. There is a two-story cabin which provides an airy dormitory with bunk beds for all staff and volunteers. You basically sleep in nature, wake up with the sunrise and in the evening you can listen to the sound of the sea and the sounds of the forest – a very special nature experience! In addition to the sleeping area there is a shower and toilet block, an open plan kitchen and communal areas. The camp is only powered by solar energy, so you should use as few electronic devices as possible and electricity is only available on sunny days. That’s why there is no refrigerator and no washing machine. Laundry is only washed by hand, which is why quick-drying clothing and towels are recommended. There is Wi-Fi, but it is slow and not always stable. So you should prepare yourself for an internet detox time and enjoy this adventure without social media.
Three meals a day and clean drinking water are included for you. The volunteers are divided into groups and take turns cooking themselves. Since there is no refrigerator, the cooking is mainly vegan and the food is delivered to the camp once a week.
Life in the camp should be made as sustainable as possible, which is why the project has set up a small cultivation of fruit and vegetables based on the model of permaculture and thus supplies itself with fresh food. This means they have a big goal in mind: to become a completely waste-free accommodation.
YOUR CONTACT PERSON IN COSTA RICA
Lisa is German and emigrated to Costa Rica with her Costa Rican husband. She has visited the country several times before and is therefore already very familiar with the culture, traditions and local conditions. After falling in love with the country and the people, she decided to live where others vacation. In addition to German and English, she also speaks Spanish fluently. Lisa would be happy to welcome you to San José with her warm-hearted and funny nature and would really like to introduce you to her beautiful adopted home. As a German contact person on site, she will answer all your questions and you can always come to her if you need help. Lisa will look after you during the introductory event in San José. If you have any questions about any matter during your stay in Latin America, a German-speaking contact person is available to you via WhatsApp in the same time zone.