Whilst on the project you will spend your time caring for the turtles and you will do so in a variety of ways including:
This will include monitoring the turtles nesting in the area and gathering crucial information on them. You will also help with the tagging and management of both the adult and baby turtles. You may also get the chance to help relocate some of the eggs back to the sanctuary, and if the timing is right you could even be on hand for a baby turtle release, helping to scare away predators as they make their way to the ocean.
Beach Clean Up
This is a major part of the work here; as you will need to make sure the nesting sites remain as healthy and safe as possible to give the turtles the best chance of survival. Something as simple as a plastic bottle can be a death trap for a baby turtle, so you will need to be thorough in this task.
Night Patrols On The Beach
Another very important part of the turtle conservation effort you will be a part of throughout your stay, you will spend time monitoring the beaches where the turtles nest, keeping an eye out for poachers and other threats to their safety.
You will help educate the local children about the wildlife in their area with the help of the Butterfly Garden. You’ll be preparing workshops, making crafts, and participating in outreach activities like beach and river clean ups alongside taking part in the maintenance of the butterfly garden!
This project is not all work and no play and there is good opportunity to enjoy some time off. You will have the chance to take part in many different activities including: surf lessons, horseback riding, hiking, diving and many others! There are plenty of shops and restaurants within walking distance of the Reserva, but if you want to take part in any of the activities then get in touch with your project facilitator.
Crocodilian, Mammal, and Bird Inventory
The project is not just about turtles and you will be helping to monitor and then inventory some of the crocodiles, small mammals such as monkeys, raccoons, coatis, kinkajous, weasels, otters and bird species from the region!
Please note that this is only a rough guideline, and the itinerary may be subject to change depending on the needs of the reserva
Day 1 – The Adventure Begins:
After arriving into San Jose (and staying the previous night in a local hotel) you will be transferred to the project site to begin your volunteering trip. Once settled into the accommodation at the reserve, you will receive an induction all about where the project is located, a brief summary of the project activities, and how you’ll be helping the turtles during your time here!
Day 2 - Training Day:
You will receive a full days training about nesting sea turtles, their biology, the difference between the species, and what to look out for in their behaviour. Later in the day you will visit the Tortuga Beach to learn about the research protocol and turtle hatchery.
Day 3 - Field Work:
You will be spending the day exploring the reserve, seeing many of the local mammals, When night comes you will then switch to turtle duties, spending 3-4 hours searching for nesting sea turtles and collecting the eggs to bring them back to the safety of the hatchery. This will be your first chance to truly study the turtles up close and help gather biometric data from the adults.
Day 4 - School Visit:
After spending some of the previous night working with the turtles, you’ll be pleased to hear you’ve got the morning off to catch up on some rest! After this you will spend the afternoon working with the educational collaboration officer, taking care of the butterfly garden or producing educational material for the schools you’ll be visiting.
Day 5 - Forest Work:
Today you will head off into the forest to help set up trail cameras in an attempt to spot the mammals who live in the area. Since 2013 when the mammal monitoring began there have been more than 17 medium sized animals spotted, and you’ll be learning how to set up the camera, identify footprints and pick up skills you can only really learn in the field!
Day 6 - Rest Day:
After working hard for five days this is your chance to rest or further explore the area. You may want to spend the day relaxing on the beach, or maybe even book one of the tours which are available in the area including trips to waterfalls and, if you travel between July to October, the Marino Ballena National Park where you may be able to spot Humpback Whales!
Day 7 - Cayman Monitoring:
Depending on the weather conditions you could be spending today monitoring the local crocodilian population by kayak on the waterways around the reserve, taking notes on the number, size, and species of any you come across. During the night and depending on the research protocol, you could partake in an exciting night walk in the rivers and estuaries under starlight, or even go on a boat trip down the longest river in Costa Rica the Terraba to capture, mark, and identify individuals.
Dates, Availability & Price
To secure a place on this project a deposit of £195 is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.
Select a duration below to see the available start dates. All dates shown are currently available for you to join this project!
Updates & Outcomes
Playa Tortuga is primarily an Olive Ridley turtle nesting beach (although it is possible that other species occasionally arrive), and thanks to the efforts of the Reserve, was officially declared a nesting beach in 2014.
In the past two seasons they have successfully protected over 140 nests and released 5,000+ hatchlings (each nest contains on average 100 eggs).
Volunteers are helping to ensure that there is a future for the turtles in this region, and working alongside the local scientists is the best way to do this. The project was created by community members with the intention of protecting the local wildlife, and volunteers play a big role in ensuring this happens.
World Penguin Day is taking place on 25th April! Raise awareness of the plight of the penguins by educating yourself about these furry friends and what you can do to help them. You can celebrate the day by posting cute penguin pictures and facts!
Some species of dolphin are in fact endangered but many people are unaware of this. 14th April plays host to National Dolphin Day! It aims to spread awareness and expand people's knowledge about these intelligent marine animals. This is your chance to find out some interesting information about dolphins!
See the baby hawksbill turtles make their way back to the sea...and get involved with turtle conservation yourself!
Is this trip for you?
On this project you will be accommodated in the volunteer center where there is enough room for up to 15 volunteers to stay at once. Your will have your own room which is spacious with a good quality mattress, storage for your clothes, screened windows to keep out the bugs and at the turtle camp mosquito nets are provided for the nights you may stay there. Linens and a towel will be provided, and once a week you will be able to use the washing machine and the solar powered drying tent.
There are also two rooms available for couples (one with a queen sized bed and one a bunk bed) but these are only available on a first come first serve basis. Finally, there are two communal bathrooms on site - one for males, one for females. Both communal areas come with three toilets, as well as with three showers with running water.
All food and drinks are included within the cost of the project (apart from extra alcoholic drinks you may want to buy in the local towns and villages) and you will receive three meals a day. You will prepare these meals on your own with the assistance of the volunteer coordinator, and the food will give you a taste of the local cuisine with elements of what you are used to back at home! Dishes may include: tortillas, salads, chicken, beef, pastas, cereals, sandwiches, and fresh fruit and vegetables!
For this project you will be walking through the forest floor and maybe through river beds so you will need to have a moderate level of fitness to take part.
You won’t need any particular skills to be a volunteer except a passion for animal conservation! People of all abilities are welcome on this project as long as they are willing to put in the effort required.
The vaccinations required will depend on your medical history. We recommend that you consult with your GP regarding your own immunisation needs. In conjunction with this, we would also recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website.
When Is The Best Time To Volunteer?
December is the last time of the year to see nesting turtles and turtles do not return to nest until August. This is why we run this project specifically between August and December.
During this period the weather is good and most days are sunny, however, there can be rain in the evenings.
Along with being the best time for seeing turtles, it is also a good time for seeing amphibians and mammals and also migratory birds which arrive by September.
If you're ideally looking to travel between February and April, you may want to consider checking out The Great Turtle Project in Sri Lanka.
You will need to arrive at the San Jose International Airport (SJO) before 3pm on the day of your project start date. If you do then you will be collected and transferred to the project site. If this is not possible then we recommend arriving the day before and staying the night in San Jose before being picked up from your hotel the following day. We recommend staying at the Holiday Inn Express San Jose as this hotel provides 24-hour transfers from the airport. The project representative will then collect you from the hotel the following day. This transfer is around 3.5 hours. If flying from the UK you may have to get a connecting flight from another major European City such as Madrid.
you would like help booking your flights, please visit our flights page and fill out the form. A member of our team
will get back in touch as soon as possible with a suitable quote.
Please note that if you are travelling from an area which has not been given the all clear for yellow fever, you will need to produce evidence that you have been innoculated against the disease or you will be refused entry into the country.
British Nationals don’t need a visa to enter Costa Rica. Visitors can stay for a period of up to three months, but the exact number of days will be at the discretion of the immigration officer on arrival. For other nationalities you will need to check with the Costa Rican Embassy in your country. Immigration authorities are very strict about foreigners who have overstayed so please bear this in mind.
Your passport will need to have at least one day’s validity from the date you are leaving Costa Rica, but if you have anything other than a British passport different regulations may apply. You may also be refused entry into Costa Rica if you are unable to produce evidence of return or onward travel plans (E.G. a plane ticket) so please have this to hand on arrival.
Currency and Exchange Rates
The currency in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican Colon. The exchange rate is around 10 CRC = 0.01 GBP, 0.05 USD, 0.07 EUR. Please note exchange rates are subject to change.
You can however use the American Dollar throughout the country and this is dispensed from cashpoints throughout the country.
What's included in the price of the project?
- Airport transfers to and from San Jose Airport
- Three meals a day
- Accommodation at the project site
- Wifi Access
- Use of the washing machine and drying room once a week
- Knowledgeable project coordinator
What's not included?
- Travel and health insurance (please check you have one covering all aspects of the trip)
- Weekend leisure activities
- Alcoholic drinks
- Visa fees if applicable