You will complete a variety of enrichment activities that help exercise the animals' wild instincts. These enrichments can be both environmental and nutritional. For the environmental enrichment activities, you will head into the rainforest to find the leaves of native trees and palms to make the animals’ enclosure as close to their natural habitat as possible. During nutritional enrichments, you will come up with ways to make the animals forage for their food, much as they would in the wild.
As a volunteer, you will help to observe the behaviours of the animals at the project site to ensure that the stress of moving enclosures or being introduced to other rescued animals is not too much to bear. You will work with sloths and other animals and be tasked with observing any changes in animal behaviour. Please note that you will be assigned to one animal so you will be able to more accurately observe any changes in their behaviour. You may be asked to record this data, if necessary.
The project is currently working on reforestation on a plantation 1.5 hours from the project site itself. On this plot, trees are planted to provide food, shelter, and a safe corridor for the local animals to use. You will be working in teams of three to plant the trees which will provide a safe haven for the local wildlife. Please note that this activity takes place once a month, so if taking part for two weeks only it may not be a part of your itinerary.
Food Preparation & Distributing
You will spend time collecting, preparing, and then distributing food and water to the animal residents at the centre. You will do this alongside a trained animal caretaker who will ensure that you approach the enclosures in the correct manner, and have prepared the correct food for the right animal.
Educational Research & Reports
A big part of this project is working to teach others about the importance of conservation, and this is something volunteers will be expected to partake in. You will have the chance to gather information on a topic you are passionate about and then share it with tourists and visitors in an attempt to help spread awareness.
To ensure that all of the animals at the centre have a hygienic and suitable environment in which to live, you will help by cleaning the enclosures on a regular basis (typically 3 times a day.) Cleaning will be done alongside an animal caretaker resident at the project site, to ensure safety and correct procedure.
Please note that this itinerary is subject to change so what follows is a rough guideline.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
After arriving at the project site from the airport, you will be given time to settle in and meet the other volunteers. Depending on your arrival time, you may be shown around the project site, including the laundry room, kitchen, pool, and all of the other facilities. Enjoy a delicious evening meal, and spend some time getting to know your fellow volunteers!
Day 2-14 - Project Days:
After a hearty breakfast you will begin work at around 8.30am, undertaking a series of vital and exciting activities such as enrichment and behavioral observation. The latter part of the day (3:30 until 5:30) may be spent walking the animals: each volunteer may be allocated a specific animal for the walks, but this is discretionary. The day’s activities will vary depending on what is most needed at the time, but they can include anything you see mentioned on the activities tab above.
Day 15 - Fond Farewells:
Today is your final day on the project, which sadly means it is time to bid farewell to your fellow volunteers! You will have a lovely send-off by way of a party, with time to share any favourite memories or photographs with your group, and of course to enjoy a delicious meal of your choosing.
For information on getting to the airport, please check the 'Getting There' section in the 'Details' tab above.
Dates, Availability & Price
You can join this project on any day of the year, so if you would like to join on a date that is not listed below please enquire and we can book your place for you.
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.
Updates & Outcomes
This project was founded back in 1999 by two school children with the help of one of their mothers, and it certainly had humble beginnings. Life began for the project at a small roadside shop, where the two young founders Janine and Aislin sold painted rocks to help raise money to protect the rainforest. From there things began to grow very rapidly and it eventually became the project you see before you today!
With only minimal resources, the project has taken huge steps towards achieving all of the conservation goals they have for the area. So far, the project and its volunteers have installed over 130 aerial monkey bridges, planted more than 7,000 rainforest trees, and beginning last year in 2016 they began planting 94,000 more! The wildlife rehabilitation centre on-site was founded in 2005 and it treats and releases almost 200 rescued wild animals each year. The wildlife sanctuary, which was opened in 2010, provides a safe home for those animals that are unable to be released back into the wild due to injury or other issues.
Without this sanctuary, injured and threatened wildlife in the local area would have nowhere to go for help, and your work as a volunteer plays a very important role in providing a better life for the animals in Costa Rica.
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Sloths, anteaters, monkeys or turtles? Find out which animal you could be working with as a volunteer in Costa Rica! With 10% off until the end of July, now is the perfect time to get involved in one of our amazing conservation projects so take a look and see if you could become our next volunteer in Costa Rica!
There are many reasons we here at The Great Projects love the small Central American country of Costa Rica and we wanted to share some of those reasons with you all! Take a look at our top 5 favourite things about this tropical gem and see if it inspires you to pack up your bags and head off on a Costa Rican adventure!
Is this trip for you?
During your time at the project you will be staying in shared accommodation with up to 8 other volunteers of mixed genders. Bathrooms are also shared between volunteers, and you will have access to a kitchen complete with a fridge, so you will be able to have a steady supply of cold water and chilled snacks!
If you wish to upgrade your accommodation during your stay, then one of the private cottages may be available for an additional cost. Please enquire with us to check availability.
Lunch is the main meal of the day at the project and this large meal will always consist of rice, beans, a salad and vegetables, with the other parts of the meal changing on a regular basis to ensure variety. For breakfast and dinner, food will be provided but it is up to you to cook it yourself so we recommend taking turns with the other volunteers to prepare a delicious Costa Rican meal!
Clean drinking water and a variety of juices and sodas are available to drink throughout the day at the project site, but please note that whilst alcohol is not prohibited, it is not provided.
Please note that the project is able to cater for vegans, vegetarians, and those with allergies but please let us know before you travel so that we can inform the project team and they can get the appropriate ingredients in.
You will spend a lot of time on this project on your feet and walking from location to location, so you will need to have a good level of fitness. It can be very humid in Costa Rica so please bear this in mind when deciding if this is the project for you. When the offer to visit the reforestation plantation comes up, please be aware that this involves a lot of walking on uneven ground, as well as up and down quite steep terrain. In the rainy season this land can be quite treacherous, so be sure to take the correct footwear for this activity, as well as taking into account your own physical capabilities.
The vaccinations you require will depend on your medical history. We recommend that you consult your GP regarding your own immunisation needs. In conjunction with this, we would also recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website. Please note that volunteers with Measles or the Herpes Simplex Virus will not be able to work with the monkeys as the animals are very susceptible to viral infections. The project also requires that you provide proof of both the Hep A vaccination and a tetanus shot upon your arrival.
When Is The Best Time To Volunteer?
As this project is predominantly based around the rescue and rehabilitation of sloths and other animals year round, there is no preferred time to volunteer when it comes to the wildlife. However, weather can have an impact. The dry season runs from January through to the middle/end of April, and throughout this time the forests will be slightly barer due to a lack of rain. The rainy season in Costa Rica runs from May until December, and this is when the forests in the region really come to life. It will still be very warm between these months, with the rains typically falling in the afternoons or evenings, therefore the best period to volunteer is between May and December when the forests are at their fullest and there are fewer tourists in the area.
You will need to arrive into San Jose airport in Costa Rica and then make your way to the project site on your project start date. Transfers are not included within the cost of the project, but a taxi can be arranged at an additional cost if you let us know in advance.
The cost of a pre-arranged taxi between the airport and the project site is around $150 each way, and the driver will wait at the exit of the airport with a sign and drive you directly to the project site. This journey will take around 3.5 hours. If you arrive at the same time as other volunteers it may be possible to split the cost with them. Alternatively, there are regular buses available between Quepos and San Jose; these take between roughly 3 hours and 5 hours and cost only around $7 USD (though you will have to make your own way to the project site from Quepos.) Please contact us for further information on scheduling and pricing.
Please note that other taxis from the airport, or those that you flag down, are likely to cost more - the drivers of these taxis are at liberty to charge extra, so it is strongly recommended that your transfers are pre-arranged and with a price agreed.
If 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.
British nationals do not need a visa to enter Costa Rica and can stay as a visitor in the country for up to 3 months, although the exact period is at the discretion of the immigration officer upon arrival. For other nationalities please check with your local embassy as the requirements to enter Costa Rica may vary from country to country. Your passport should have at least one day’s validity from the day you are leaving Costa Rica, but if you hold a passport other than a British one different regulations may apply. You will also need to provide evidence of onward travel plans to ensure entry into the country.
Currency and Exchange Rates
The currency in Costa Rica is the Costa Rican Colón. 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 Dollars throughout Costa Rica; these are dispensed from cash points throughout the country. We recommend taking dollars with you to use at the project site if you wish to purchase canned drinks, however do be aware that in Costa Rica it is not unusual for restaurants, store cashiers and so forth to round USD up, effectively charging extra for your purchase. With that in mind, it is suggested to take Colones with you for spending in the local town.
What’s included in the price of the project?
- A monetary contribution to the project itself
- Full orientation and support from the project managers
- Accommodation and meals as indicated
- All activities on the project site
- Laundry Facilities (once a week)
- Access to a swimming pool
What’s not included?
- Visas (if needed)
- Snacks and alcoholic beverages
- Outside leisure activities
- Prepared meals for breakfast and dinner (food will be provided)