Volunteer in Costa Rica

Conservation, ecotourism and education work in the Santa Elena Cloud Forest
Monteverde       1 - 4 weeks

Volunteer project: The Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, located in Monteverde, is a project that combines conservation, ecotourism and education. This project is an example of a protected area that is well administered by a small community which directly benefits from it.

With an area of 310 hectares, a great biodiversity and the source of many streams and rivers, the Reserve supplies the local communities and their surroundings with a nature preserve among a mosaic of protected neighboring areas: The Children’s Eternal Rain Forest, The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and Arenal National Park. Together, these constitute a joined protected area of forest of approximately 28 000 hectares, where populations of endangered animals, such as the tapir, jaguar and quetzal, have been revived. For all of these reasons, the Reserve receives annually about 20 000 tourists.

Thanks to the help of national and international volunteers, people from the community, and students, the Reserve has developed a good infrastructure of trails, a visitors' center, a store and a small restaurant. Many volunteers with technical and professional experience also help with environmental education and sustainable development projects.

At Santa Elena Reserve, helping hands are always welcome. You will not only have the unforgettable experience of knowing one of the most world renowned centers of conservation and biodiversity, but you will also enjoy the opportunity of meeting a new culture. Costa Ricans, in general, and people from the Monteverde area, in particular, are known for their friendship, respect and kindness.

Volunteers will mostly work along the crew of the Reserve. Their tasks include:
• maintaining and creating trails,
• repairing infrastructure,
• helping with the reforestation project of the local high school,
• assisting at the main office in town with reservations and translations.

Orientation: An orientation will take place in San José on the first day of the project.

Language: English

Duration of the project: 1-4 weeks. Please select the dates that work best for you and submit them with your application.

Accommodation: The volunteer will live with a local host family.

Location: Santa Elena of Monteverde (Puntarenas Province)

Terminal: San José

Age range: 18 and over

Extra fee: 238 USD for 1 week; 325 USD for 2 weeks; 413 USD for 3 weeks;
The extra fee is intended to support the local host of the project who does not have sufficient funds. It is due upon arrival.

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Environmental activities in Loro River Water Springs Park
Cartago       1 - 4 weeks

Volunteer project: The Municipal Park “Naciente Rio Loro” (or Loro River Water Springs) is located in the Central Mountain Range of Costa Rica at approximately 1200 meters above the sea level and consists of 23 hectares of land.

The creation of the park was an initiative of the Running Water Technical Commission of the Municipality of the small city of Cartago aiming to protect the springs that provide running water to the nearby communities. It also aims to offer environmental education and a place for leisure for the people of these communities and of downtown Cartago.

During the school year (from March to November), the park receives groups of elementary school students. Over the weekends and during the "summer" vacation (from December to April), the park receives visitors that come to spend the day with their families and friends.

As a volunteer in this project you may:
• clean trails,
• maintain infrastructure,
• assist with the groups that visit the park,
• translate into other languages if necessary,
• do some office tasks if necessary.

Orientation: An orientation will take place in San José on the first day of the project.

Language: English

Duration of the project: 1-4 weeks. Please select the dates that work best for you and submit them with your application.

Accommodation: The volunteer will live with a local host family.

Location: Ochomogo, Cartago, in the Costa Rican Central Valley

Terminal: San José

Age range: 18 and over

Extra fee: 225 USD for 1 week; 300 USD for 2 weeks; 375 USD for 3 weeks;
The extra fee is intended to support the local host of the project who does not have sufficient funds. It is due upon arrival.

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Sea turtle conservation program in Playa Junquillal
Junquillal       2 - 4 weeks

Volunteer project: This volunteer project is based in Playa Junquillal of Santa Cruz, Costa Rica and since 2001 is working for the conservation of sea turtles and the Rio Nandamojo. The goal is to ensure the conservation of threatened ecosystems and contribute to the well being of communities who depend on them.

Junquillal is a very important breeding zone in Pacific Costa Rica for endangered Leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), Black turtles (Chelonia mydas agassizii) and Loras turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea). Volunteers will join the efforts to protect the sea turtles, mitigate poaching, ensure optimal conditions for nesting turtles through active conservation and community support, and increase the welfare of the local population of Junquillal.

Volunteer's main duties involve:
• Night patrols along the beach and nesting sites for turtles
• Monitoring of protected nests
• Ensuring that hatchlings born get alive to the sea
• Supporting the reforestation program and the climate change adaptation program
• Keeping the beach clean of waste
Volunteers will work 5-8 hours a day (depending on the tasks), 5 days a week.

Special requirements:
- Basic knowledge of Spanish
- To love nature and have strong environmental values
- Good physical condition
- Willingness to collaborate in outdoor activities and field work

Orientation: An orientation will take place in San José on the first day of the project.

Language: English

Duration of the project: 2-4 weeks. Please select the dates that work best for you and submit them with your application.

Accommodation: Volunteers stay in the volunteer center, with a host family in the community, or in a camping area near the beach that has electricity and drinking water.

Location: Junquillal Beach, Santa Cruz, Guanacaste, on the North Pacific coast of Costa Rica. The area's main attraction are the beaches that stretch for more than 5 km and the extensive mangrove, fed by the river Nandomojo. The place is 34 km from the city of Santa Cruz and 260 km from San Jose.

Terminal: San José

Age range: 18 and over

Extra fee: 500 USD for 2 weeks; 675 USD for 3 weeks;
The extra fee is intended to support the local host of the project who does not have sufficient funds. It is due upon arrival.

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Providing care and activities for children in a daycare center
San Jose       1 - 4 weeks

Volunteer project: Volunteers in this project will help at a daycare center for children in one of San José’s poorest areas. The center also provides lunch for single mothers and organizes night patrols offering alimentation to homeless people.

Volunteer help is needed:
• to assist in the daycare center taking care of the children,
• to assist during meal time,
• to work in the nursery with the smaller children,
• to assist in other activities and departments when necessary,
If the volunteer wants, it is possible to help with the night patrols to the slums and the Red Light District of San José where the center provides food to poor families and homeless people.

Special requirements:
- Only female volunteers are accepted in this project
- Basic Spanish level
- To be able to work with children and to organize activities for them.

Orientation: An orientation will take place in San José on the first day of the project.

Language: English

Duration of the project: 1-4 weeks. Please select the dates that work best for you and submit them with your application.

Accommodation: Volunteers live with a local host family near to the project site.

Location: Cristo Rey, San José

Terminal: San José

Age range: 18 and over

Extra fee: 375 USD for 1 week; 450 USD for 2 weeks; 525 USD for 3 weeks;
The extra fee is intended to support the local host of the project who does not have sufficient funds. It is due upon arrival.

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Support for elderly people in San Jose
San Jose       1 - 4 weeks

Volunteer project: The Home for elderly people in Guadalupe provides its residents with a place for recreation and special attention. Residents live in the centre all year round. The home also offers different activities to the elderly such as organized games, handicrafts, exercises, and many other.

The volunteer tasks are mainly related to accompanying and sharing with the residents. Volunteers will take part in activities with the elderly such as exercises or workshops (sewing, cooking, handicrafts, etc.). The volunteers could also organize new activities for them. Volunteers will help with cleaning or cooking at the center. It is also important to help during the meals. The volunteers could assist with medical cares, and also assist the physiotherapist.
Volunteers will work Monday to Friday, 9 am to 3 pm.

Special requirements:
- Intermediate Spanish level
- To be willing to work with elderly people

Orientation: An orientation will take place in San José on the first day of the project.

Language: English

Duration of the project: 1-4 weeks. Please select the dates that work best for you and submit them with your application.

Accommodation: Volunteers live with a local host family near to the project site.

Location: Guadalupe, San José

Terminal: San José

Age range: 18 and over

Extra fee: 325 USD for 1 week; 400 USD for 2 weeks; 475 USD for 3 weeks;
The extra fee is intended to support the local host of the project who does not have sufficient funds. It is due upon arrival.

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Care and support for children in the National pediatric hospital in San Jose
San Jose       1 - 4 weeks

Volunteer project: The Hospital de Niños is the most important institution for children’s health care in Costa Rica. Its staff is constituted by the most experienced pediatricians and surgeons specialized on children. As a consequence, the hospital receives babies, children and teenagers from all over the country and from all social backgrounds.

The volunteering opportunities at the hospital are arranged with an association of women who give love, support and care to children in recovery process from surgeries or treatment and who collaborate with some other general activities in the hospital.

Volunteers' main tasks in the hospital will be:
• to accompany bedridden children,
• to play with the children in the playground area,
• to help in some other areas of the hospital such as the laundry,
• to assist in specific activities assigned by the hospital staff in accordance with the volunteer’s specific skills.

Special requirements:
- This project only accepts female volunteers
- To have a basic Spanish level.

Orientation: An orientation will take place in San José on the first day of the project.

Language: English

Duration of the project: 1-4 weeks. Please select the dates that work best for you and submit them with your application.

Accommodation: Volunteers live with a local host family near to the project site.

Location: San José

Terminal: San José

Age range: 18 and over

Extra fee: 325 USD for 1 week; 400 USD for 2 weeks; 475 USD for 3 weeks;
The extra fee is intended to support the local host of the project who does not have sufficient funds. It is due upon arrival.

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Protection and conservation of the Quebradas River basin
Quebradas       1 - 4 weeks

Volunteer project: The Biological Centre and Natural Reserve in Quebradas are protecting the main water source, the flora and fauna of the area. International volunteers are invited to support the Biological Centre and Natural Reserve. The Reserve is located 3 km away from the centre of Quebradas (between 1000 and 2500 meters above sea level). The Reserve was created in 1989 as an answer to the problems of deforestation in the area. There's also an environmental education centre.
The main goals of the Reserve are:
- to stop the deforestation and preserve the basin of Las Quebradas River, which is the source of drinking water for the whole town of San Isidro and most of the region of Pérez Zeledón;
- to develop environmental education and awareness initiatives for children and the community;
- to establish various sustainable systems in order to guarantee the conservation of flora, fauna and water resources in the area;
- to become financially independent through ecotourism;
- to do research and to promote the support on conservation.

The Reserve is especially proud of the diversity of birds and butterflies that live in its forest. They have already constructed a butterfly farm to show all the different types of butterflies for the enjoyment of the visitors. Now, they also want to improve the bird watching opportunities in the area. Experts estimate that there are about 200 different birds in the protected area. The Biological Center wants to observe the habits of these birds in order to create leaflets about the types of birds that can be found in the area during the different times of the year. You can also find white-face monkeys and other small tropical mammals. The Biological Center also has a garden with medicinal plants, and they produce organic compost. In addition, within the 36 hectares of the Reserve, you can find a system of 4 trails, 3 of which have signs for educational guided tours.

The volunteer will join the conservation, protection and awareness work of the Reserve. Possible tasks for the volunteer:
• to maintain the garden of medicinal plants,
• to maintain the Butterfly Garden,
• to maintain the channel around the lagoon,
• to maintain the trails inside the Reserve,
• to clean and to maintain green areas,
• to make new informative wooden signs for the trails,
• to plant flowers and others on the access road,
• to paint and to maintain the buildings at the entrance of the Reserve.

Special requirements:
- to be able to work on physically demanding tasks such as construction and maintenance of trails,
- to be ready to walk uphill for 45 minutes every morning in order to get to the project site and walk back to the host family in town after finishing work every afternoon.

Orientation: An orientation will take place in San José on the first day of the project.

Language: English

Duration of the project: 1-4 weeks. Please select the dates that work best for you and submit them with your application.

Accommodation: The volunteer will live with a local host family.

Location: Las Quebradas is a small village near the city of San Isidro del General in Southern Costa Rica. Quebradas is located in the mountains, over 744 meters above the sea level, and it is part of the El General Valley. The valley is surrounded by high mountains such as Cerro de la Muerte to the north (3491 meters above sea level), and the highest mountain of Costa Rica, El Cerro Chirripó, at 3820 meters (about 12000 feet). The weather in the region is humid and, although the rainy season lasts from May until December, there will probably be some showers during the dry season as well.
Quebradas has some indigenous heritage from the pre-Columbian times, and some traces from those cultures can still be found in the community and the region. Las Quebradas was founded by farmers who moved to the mountains to the north of San Isidro and settled at the border of the river Quebradas. Currently, because of private and communal initiatives, Quebradas is preserving the high lands in those mountains to protect the river Quebradas, which is supplying drinking water to Quebradas, San Isidro and other communities in the surroundings. The main economic activity is agriculture (coffee, sugarcane, corn, beans, fruits and vegetables).

Terminal: San José

Age range: 18 and over

Extra fee: 238 USD for 1 week; 325 USD for 2 weeks; 413 USD for 3 weeks;
The extra fee is intended to support the local host of the project who does not have sufficient funds. It is due upon arrival.

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Long-term projects in Costa Rica