Dive into Costa Rica's animal kingdom, and get up-close and personal with rare and endangered species – and the conservationists who protect them.
The population of Costa Rican sea turtles has declined by 90% since 1980. Volunteer with a conservation organization and help ensure the survival of these fragile creatures. Also, visit inspirational places that rescue animals and preserve the rainforest while enjoying all of the natural wonders the country offers.
Due to nesting patterns, we’ll split our time over the course of the year between two coasts. From January to July, we are based in a small village on the Caribbean coast. From July to December, we are based on the Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific Ocean. On both coasts, we’ll volunteer our time with the turtles, ride a boat through the unspoiled jungle, zip line, raft down a river and experience firsthand the wildlife that Costa Rica is known for.
Your Community Project:
Sea turtles face a myriad of threats such as boat traffic, domestic animals, climate change, accidental catch by industrial fisheries, and increased trash in oceans and beaches (which they mistake for food). We’ll spend three days volunteering at a turtle conservation organization working to protect the turtles. Given the declining population of turtles, every bit of help is welcome and each turtle is precious.
During the peak nesting season (Pacific: mid Aug.-Dec. / Caribbean: May-July), we’ll dig up hatched nests to determine the hatch success rate, do a beach cleanup, and release baby turtles back into the ocean. We’ll also do night patrols to gather eggs and collect scientific data. During the off-peak nesting season (Pacific: Jul.-mid Aug. / Caribbean: Mar.-Apr.) when adult females come to nest (but babies have not yet hatched), local staff will measure and tag their flippers for monitoring and we’ll do morning
patrols with the staff of the conservancy, help with maintenance projects in the hatchery, and make signs to raise awareness of the turtles on the beaches.
You will arrive at the airport in Costa Rica where a member of our staff will meet you and take
you to a nearby hotel where we’ll spend the first evening. After a warm welcome into Costa Rica, your
host will discuss the schedule for the coming week. Enjoy an authentic local dinner together and have a
relaxing evening getting to know one another.
Enjoy a classic Costa Rican breakfast and freshly brewed local coffee before taking off to the
beaches of the coast. We’ll drive for about three to four hours through the mountains to the sea turtle
conservancy. We’ll settle into our accommodations near the beach and receive a briefing about the
work of the conservancy and how we will support them the next few days. That night, we’ll go out on a
moonlight patrol with one of the staff members to scope the nesting area.
After an early breakfast, we’ll spend a couple of hours doing a beach cleanup as well as other projects
around the conservancy. The cleanliness of the beach is an important factor in the health of the turtles.
Turtles mistake plastic bags for tasty jellyfish and choke after eating them. Have some free time at the beach
or cool off in the shade before returning to work at the hatchery in the late afternoon. After dinner, we’ll do
our beach patrols in shifts again.
After breakfast, we’ll ride a small artisanal boat through unspoiled jungle where you might catch a
glimpse of crocodiles and other types of fish rummaging around the river floor. This is an amazing place for
birdwatching and soaking in nature’s wonders. In the afternoon, we’ll spend a few hours volunteering at the
turtle hatchery or enjoying the natural surroundings. Enjoy dinner with a local Costa Rican conservationist
and learn more about the challenges facing local wildlife. We’ll take turns on different shifts doing patrols at
night or in the very early morning.
Between January-July on the Caribbean coast, we’ll have breakfast together before taking a boat
from the village back to the mainland. We’ll take a short drive to the small town of Siquerres where we’ll
spend the next three days tucked in pristine Costa Rica rainforest. Spend the morning rafting down a river
that meanders through jungle stopping along the way for lunch on the river. After lunch, we’ll continue down
the river to our jungle lodge, our home for the next two nights. Spend the afternoon exploring the nearby
trails and waterfalls before an evening dinner together at the lodge’s restaurant nestled in the trees.
Between July-December on the Pacific coast, we’ll spend the morning helping with some maintenance
work around the hatchery. We’ll have some free time to enjoy our last day at the beach. If you’re feeling
adventurous, you can take a hike along the beach with our staff for the afternoon. In the evening, we’ll have
a farewell dinner together at a beautiful restaurant on the beach.
Between January-July on the Caribbean coast, today will be a full day of immersion into the
Costa Rican rainforest. Spend the morning zip-lining through the jungle and across the river spotting
wildlife along the way. Enjoy a fresh Costa Rican lunch followed by hiking and visits to a local
waterfall in the afternoon. You can also opt to relax at the lodge and simply take in the natural
beauty surrounding you.
Between July-December on the Pacific coast, we’ll return to the region around Liberia. After
driving a few hours we will visit an animal rescue center that rehabilitates endangered wildlife such
as pumas, ocelots, and even jaguars! After lunch, we continue on to a mountainside hacienda where
you’ll have time to visit a natural hot springs, butterfly farm, and a serpentarium where you’ll have a
chance to take a picture with a live boa!
Between January-July on the Caribbean coast, we’ll enjoy a nice breakfast at the eco-lodge
before loading into boats for a morning of rafting on local rapids (class III & IV). For those 12 and
under, enjoy a morning riding in a basket pulley-system over the river as well as horseback riding
through the rainforest with a stop at a butterfly center along the way. After lunch, hop in the van for
our three hour drive back to San Jose. Check-in to our accommodations for the night and enjoy a
farewell dinner together.
Between July-December on the Pacific coast, we’ll have a day packed with adventure! Ride a horse
down a short trail to a natural watering hole and ride a zip line through the tree tops. After lunch, ride
an inner tube down the Rio Negro and watch the dense rainforest pass you by. At night, we’ll enjoy
our farewell dinner together and reflect on all the amazing memories we’ve collected over the past
Wake up with breakfast at the hotel. Throughout the day, travelers will be taken to the airport
for their flights home.