Learn about rainforest conservation in this biodiversity hotspot.
Join a team of international participants in Tortuguero National Park on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. Your hands on work will contribute to the long-term management and conservation of this stunning rainforest reserve.
This expedition is the essence of remote adventure. Live in the heart of the jungle surrounded by the natural beauty of Tortuguero’s rainforest-lined Caribbean beaches. Hike the jungle trails conducting biodiversity surveys, walk along the beach looking for evidence of sea turtles during turtle nesting season, check camera traps for footage of jaguars, and explore the rainforest canals noting important aquatic bird species.
Volunteer work is 5-6 days a week
January – November, set start dates
Not only does this program offer you the opportunity to get involved in ongoing conservation efforts, but you will also be provided with the training and experience to grow professionally by mastering both transferable and technical skills. These include teamwork, intercultural communication, and best practices for recording biodiversity data. You will also learn how to conduct turtle nesting surveys and monitor nesting sites during turtle nesting season. Additionally, you will be afforded with the opportunity to gain real field experience and learn biodiversity survey techniques.
Days can be long but rewarding! An example of a daily schedule: wake up 5/6am, 1st survey 6-10am, lunch, 2nd survey 1-4pm, dinner, bed by 9pm. Nighttime turtle patrols are 8/9pm-2am (you would have the morning off the following day!). Usually, you will go out on 2 surveys a day, except for Friday afternoons and Saturdays which is free time.
Project core activities:
You will be based at the research station within the National Park, located 1 hour by motorboat from the nearest town of Tortuguero, and working on the surrounding canals, rivers, forest, beaches and in the nearby communities. Due to the remoteness of base, we offer a long weekend (3 free days) every 4 weeks, so people can travel around Costa Rica at the start of project or once a month, be sure to budget for it if you would like to visit more places in Costa Rica. Likewise, there is a close by restaurant, and volunteers have the option of ordering fried chicken and sodas every Friday at your own expense. Before and after your program you could explore the rest of Costa Rica, or travel onwards throughout Latin America. Buses are cheap but basic, and regional flights are relatively affordable. With so much culture and adventure it’s sometimes hard to know where to start – the possibilities are endless!
Mixed dorm rooms
Accommodation is in shared (mixed sex) dorms with shared bathroom facilities at the field station. There is running water available for washing and cooking, with suitable water for drinking and brushing teeth. Supplies are limited and usage may be restricted when necessary. Bucket-flush toilet facilities are available, and participants share responsibility for base duties, including cooking, cleaning, and other chores.
Volunteers take it in turns to prepare meals for the group. Food is very basic and mostly vegetarian, with meat rarely available. Breakfast could be porridge or occasionally pancakes, typical lunches and evening meals may include lentils, chicpeas, pasta, beans, or rice, with vegetables. Fresh fruit is provided each afternoon.
You will have limited access to long-distance communications whilst on the programme, so make sure friends and family know how often they can expect to hear from you. Participants typically use internet cafes to keep in touch, with access to phones and (sometimes unreliable) internet about once every two weeks when visiting Tortuguero.
Mobile/cell phone reception is very limited on base and unreliable unless you have a local sim card and a 3G phone. Kolbi brand sim cards get the best signal on base, and can be bought at San Jose International Airport arrivals desk.
The nearest emergency medical facilities are located in Tortuguero, approximately 1 hour from base via motorboat. In the event of an emergency we can access hospitals via river/road, light aircraft or helicopter. We have emergency procedures for foreseeable events, the staff is first aid trained and volunteers receive a safety briefing on arrival. The base camp is equipped with a comprehensive first aid kit.
Provided, more details to be provided upon confirmation
Passport, Criminal Background check, Medical form
Doctors note must be signed if you have any illnesses to declare
Scientific Permit – we will assist with this application
Kit list will be sent across at time of confirmation
Once you have confirmed your spot on this program, you will be allocated to a dedicated program expert who will assist you as you prepare for your program.
Project staff on base who facilitate the project, run training’s & assist with any additional health & safety needs if required. 24 Hour emergency phone. Please ask your program expert for more information.
You will be given the option to pay in instalments for an Instalment Fee of £125 per booking. If you select this Instalment Fee option, a non-refundable deposit payment of £350 is due within 48 hours of notice of acceptance onto the program, 50% of the balance will fall due 16 weeks before departure and the remaining 50% of the balance will fall due 12 weeks before departure. If you the Participant cancel this agreement, the Participant shall not be entitled to a refund of any monies paid.
If you do not select the Instalment Fee option, the full cost of your booking is due within 48 hours of notice of acceptance onto the program. If you the Participant cancel this agreement more than 16 weeks prior to departure, the Participant shall be entitled to a refund of the full amount paid minus £350.
If you the Participant cancel this agreement between 16 and 12 weeks prior to departure, the Participant shall be entitled to a refund of 60% of the full amount paid. If you the Participant cancel this agreement less than 12 weeks prior to departure, the Participant shall be entitled to a refund of £100.
Rather than rambling on about how much fun this was, I just want to summarise simply. If your someone who seeks adventure, wants to help the planet while doing so and working with a wonderful cast of people...this course is for you. From the moment I came onto site everyone made 110% in making me feel comfortable, me being the introvert I took a while to get used to people and participate. But after a while I felt like I belonged and was part of the group. The only thing I would recommend to people is to be open to how your living and don't expect too much glamorous living in the jungle. I think some people are shocked when they see where they will be living for a month and how. For example, I was expecting more simple foods but it generally impressed me. Got me to like hummus for example! But yeah, expect little meat and dairy products, more vegetarian and vegan meals! It's been 9 months since I went and I always think fondly of the experience I had :) Just get on out there and enjoy yourselves while helping the planet!
I did a short-term wildlife internship with GVI at their Jalova, Costa Rica project in 2019. I researched many different organisations and decided on GVI, I loved their ethos and was glad to experience every bit of it being true. I felt in safe hands from the moment I booked, the support staff were friendly and gave lots of useful information. I was met at the airport by GVI and transfered to my hostel the day before travlling to base so I felt safe arriving on my own in a new country. On base, the staff were excellent, very friendly and extremely knowledgeable. Despite being in the remote Costa Rican jungle amongst the wild animals, I felt very safe. The opportunities to learn were second to none and we dived straight in to our duties after a solid orientation. I got to experience beautiful habitats and tonnes of wild animals in their natural environment. Contributing toward the protection and conservation of that special place was one of the best experiences of my life. If I wasn't mid-way through study then I would have undoubtedly stayed longer, I just didn't want to leave. The food was excellent and adjustments were made for any dietary requirements (vegan/gluten free etc.). I now have a wealth of practical conservation experience and have made many friends for life, whom I see as much as possible back in the UK! I was so impressed with GVI that I have booked another trip (delayed due to Covid-19), but I am eager to work with GVI in 2020 to make the world a better place.
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