Below are some projects we recommend based on personal visits, previous volunteer’s experiences, and established history of successful conservation contributions. These positions are all directly through the individual conservation project rather than a for profit “volunteer facilitator”.
High quality gratifying volunteer opportunities can be difficult to find because sometimes expectations of volunteers and the organizations needing help are quite different. If you’re interested in a “job” that “pays in kind” (room and board), work away opportunities are easier to find.
Turtle Trax has operated one of the most successful Sea Turtle research, conservation and rescue programs in Costa Rica since 1998. Now on four of the remotest and most beautiful beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula. Volunteers stay in a project station house in the tiny communities of Playa San Miguel, Coyote (Costa de Oro), or for the ultimate experience choose playa Caletas where the project camp is off the grid on the completely undeveloped beach.
Volunteers (one week or more) work alongside research assistants and project coordinators (longer volunteer positions with some qualifications) to monitor turtle nesting, relocate eggs to the nursery and release baby turtles.
Families are welcome and kids are some of the most enthusiastic helpers.
Pricing ranges from $95 to $375 a week and includes room and board.
The Ara project has been a huge contributor to changing the status of Scarlet Macaws from endangered to downright common and they are working to have the same impact on Green Macaws which were all but extinct in Costa Rica just a few years ago.
Volunteer positions require a minimum of one month up to a year commitment. Volunteer duties include anything from construction and handyman maintenance to foraging for natural foods, cleaning cages and maybe if you’re lucky assisting with a release.
The cost is $300 per month which covers your room project housing. Food is purchased and prepared as a group by all the volunteers and typically costs $50-$75 per person per week.
Osa Conservation offers volunteer opportunities on several projects. Each has the same basic requirements of a $300 program fee to cover admin and equipment plus $49 a day for food, lodging and wi-fi and requires at least one week minimum commitment.
Use the links below to see more details or apply to the Osa Conservation volunteer project.
Asis is a wildlife rescue near Arenal Volcano. For a nominal fee (about $85 U.S. and $65 for kids – all funds benefit the animals) they’ll provide a day tour with the opportunity to participate in preparing and feeding the resident’s meals plus other work around the project as needed. They also offer homestays with extended volunteer opportunities if you want to stick around.
Kids Saving the Rainforest
KSTR was created 20 years ago by two nine year olds growing up in Manuel Antonio. It is a a U.S. 501 (c)(3) non-profit that focuses on international education about the environment and practical projects like monkey bridges in the local community and throughout Costa Rica.
They have a changing schedule of short and long term volunteer opportunities. Recommended.
There are a number of other programs that seem very good as well but those listed above are the ones we can vouch for personally. If you’re involved with a non-profit that has volunteer opportunities you’d like us to check out please let us know.