Volunteer Abroad FAQ Volunteering Costa Rica

Protection of Endangered Sea Turtles

Prior to departure to Costa Rica

Do I need specific requirements or abilities to apply for this project?

In order to apply for this project you need to be over 18. You don’t need any special abilities, but for this project it is important that you have some prior Spanish knowledge and be physically fit. That is why we need a doctor’s certificate confirming your state of health and physical fitness. You need to adjust to the different climate and the different working shifts easily. Furthermore, you might need a Visa for your volunteering work. Depending on the duration of your stay and your destination the requirements might vary. You might check out the foreign department’s website for the Visa standards or ask the NATUCATE team directly.

What services are included?

We will save you a place on the project and support you during preparation and organization. We will help you arrange your flights and transfer to the project. There will be some additional costs for your first night at a hostel and your transfer from the airport. Accommodation and food is also included.

Do I need certain medical precautions or requirements?

You will need a travel insurance to start your volunteering work with NATUCATE. We can provide you with all the necessary information. In general you need to talk to your doctor and make sure you are vaccinated against Morbilli, Mumps and Rubella. We advise you to get vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B, Polio and Tetanus. For current information and warnings regarding your destination you should check out the homepage of the foreign department and inform yourself beforehand about possible risks like Malaria, Dengue or the Zika.

What kind of equipment should I take with me?

You don’t need to bring special equipment. But you should be prepared for any kind of weather conditions. You need hiking boots, dark colored clothes and headgear. We also suggest you to pack sunblock and a refillable water bottle. Additionally you will need to bring bedding, pillow, insect repellent, personal hygiene products, flashlight or headlamp with red light, mosquito net, closed toe shoes and a waterproof jacket.

When is the best travelling time?

The breeding season is between July and November. At that time it is probable to release baby turtles into the sea. However, support in the project is needed throughout the whole year.

Arrival in Costa Rica

How do I arrive at my destination, do I have to organize it myself?

We will help you plan your arrival, but cannot execute the booking. You have to book the flight on your own. You should book a flight to Juan Santamaría International Airport in San Juan. You will be picked up at the airport and brought to a hostel where you might spend the first night. The team will arrange your transfer with the public transportations to the projects location.

What happens after my arrival?

After your arrival in San José you will be picked up and spend one or more nights at a hostel in the city. The following day you will attend the preparation course to get to know the project and your future working environment. If you are a volunteer at the Montezuma project you will take the public bus to get to the site. If you are a volunteer at the Buena Vista Beach you will spend one more night at the hostel until you set out to the project site the next morning. If you arrive in San José before 12 p.m. you might attend the preparation course on your first day and only have to stay in the city for one day.

During the project in Costa Rica - general information

What is the project’s procedure?

Montezuma: Four tortoise species are endangered that show up at the beaches along the pacific coast. Multiple conservation projects try to protect these endangered species.

Buena Vista Beach: A high number of turtle visits the pacific coast for their egg deposition. This project tries to protect the turtles at the beach close to Sámara.

Tortuguero Nationalpark: The nationalpark on Costa Rica’s east coast was founded in 1975 in order to protect feral sea-turtles (Green Turtle) as a highly endangered species. The area stands out due to its unique biodiversity and therefore needs to be preserved.

During the project in Costa Rica - internship

What is my main function? Can I choose my tasks and will I be working independently?

In the “Sea-Turtle Conservation Project” you will help out with the turtle and tortoise research and collect data about movement patterns, brood behavior and living. You will also help with the maintenance of infrastructure and surroundings. You will help clean the beach and go on day/night patrols, look for nesting female turtles, monitor and secure hatcheries, release baby turtles into the ocean, reach out to the community and collect further nest data.

In the project “Conservation Tropical Rainforest” it will be your task to protect one of the most diverse but also fragile ecosystems in the world. You will help out with construction work to maintain infrastructures of the conservation area and even do some research projects yourself. If you have basic Spanish skills you will be capable of working in the tourist information center and learn about land-use and management of nature conservation areas. Besides that it is possible to work with volunteers in the project. It will be your turn to support and advise the volunteers and to prepare different activities during their stay in Costa Rica.

Basically you can choose your tasks freely, but the priorities depend on many different factors like season, temperatures and rainfall.

How big is the group?

The group size in Montezuma is limited to 14 volunteers and the groups in Buena Vista Beach will not reach more than 20 volunteers. In Tortuguero Nationalpark there will be a minimum of one person and a maximum of six persons participating.

During the project in Costa Rica - volunteering

What is my main function? Can I choose my tasks and will I be working independently?

In the “Sea-Turtle Conservation Project” you will help out with turtle and tortoise research and collect data about movement patterns, brood behavior and living. You will also help with the maintenance of infrastructure and surroundings. You will help cleaning the beach and go on day/night patrols, look after nesting female turtles, monitor and secure hatcheries, release baby turtles into the ocean, reach out to the community and collect further nest data.

How big is the group?

The group size in Montezuma is limited to 14 volunteers and the groups in Buena Vista Beach will not reach more than 20 volunteers.

Life on site in Costa Rica

What is the accommodation like?

Montezuma: The accommodation at Montezuma is a basic house – actually two apartments joined together – that consist of a large common area and balconies, kitchen and eating area. There are three dorm rooms with bunk beds for the volunteers. There are showers and toilet facilities, running water and drinking water available.

Buena Vista, Sámara: The accommodation at Buena Vista is a rustic wooden structure that consists of a large common area, kitchen and eating area downstairs. There is one large dorm area upstairs with bunk beds for volunteers. There are showers and toilets facilities, running water and drinking water available. There is no electricity.

Is it possible to get placed with a partner or friend?

It is possible to get placed with your friend, but it always depends on the current booking occupancy. Let us know if you want to get placed with a partner when applying.

How is the food provided?

Volunteers will receive three meals a day at the project (breakfast, lunch, dinner). Food provided is according to a typical Costa Rica diet, and consist mainly of rice, beans, salads, pasta, vegetables and fruit.

Is it possible to receive vegetarian meals?

Vegetarians do need to bring supplements to add to their meals to ensure a balanced diet – the island does not cater well for vegetarians or vegans. Supplements could include nuts, snack bars or any other snacks which have high protein content or a protein shake.

How are working hours and free time divided?

You will work 6 to 10 hours a day, hours depending on weather conditions and season. Usually you work from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Every volunteer works six days and gets one day off (usually Sundays). Work always depends on how many volunteers are working at the site.

How can I spend my free time?

During your free time you can just relax and enjoy the tropical rainforest. You can also go for a swim or visit the city. There are many beautiful places you can visit during your free time. One of those places is the National Wildlife Refuge where you can watch the national phenomenon called arricada. During this event thousands of Olive Ridley turtles come to the beach to lay their eggs.

Do I have a contact person on site?

On site you will be working with a team of volunteers and project leaders. The supervisors will be responsible for you and may help you with your problems.

What expenses do I have to expect during the project? Can I withdraw cash on site and do I have to pay in local currency?

In general you don’t need a lot of money during the project. You need money for your transfer from the airport to the city and the nights at the hostel. You might also spend money for additional snacks, beverages or free time activities as well as extra transfers outside of the project. You can exchange and withdraw money easily at the airport. There are ATMs in almost every city. Inform yourself about the current exchange rate before leaving your country.

How can I contact family and friends at home?

The cell phone signals are often very weak, but there is also a telephone for emergency calls. When you are in Buena Vista you can visit Sámara to use the internet. When in Montezuma you can find some internet cafés nearby. You may also try to get a Costa Rican prepaid card to connect with your family and friends.

What’s the weather like?

Costa Rica has a subtropical to tropical typically hot and humid climate with raining season from May till November. The temperatures lie between 26 °C and 35 °C. The air humidity varies between 50 and 90 %.

Got questions? — We'll call you back