Volunteer Abroad Costa Rica: Turtle Conservation
The species conservation project in Costa Rica gives you an opportunity to play your part in the survival of endangered sea turtle species by helping the animals to lay their eggs in a safe part of the beach and monitoring their clutches. You will act as a go-between between people and the natural environment, which will involve documenting the behaviour of these animals and their clutches. You will be part of an international team working at Costa Rica’s picturesque Caribbean Coast at the location Pacuare. Experience all of the variety which Costa Rica has to offer and play an active role in helping endangered sea turtle species.
- Receive hands-on training in species conservation at Costa Rica’s Pacuare beach
- Support the survival of endangered sea turtle species
- Live and work as part of an international volunteer team
- Experience the fascinating biodiversity of the country
- Actively contribute to preserving this biodiversity
Plan your trip
Included in the programme fee
- Placement in the programme
- Assistance with travel arrangements
- Assistance with selecting travel insurance
- Assistance with booking flights
- Risk coverage certificate
Meghan, your travel agent for Costa Rica
Don't hesitate to contact me if you would like to learn more about this journey! I answer all of your questions and assist you before, during and after your adventure abroad.
Volunteering on the Costa Rican coast
As a volunteer in this turtle conservation project you’ll become actively involved in species conservation and support the study and survival of endangered animals on the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica.
Arrival and orientation in Central America
After your arrival at Juan Santamaría airport in the capital San José on Sunday/Wednesday, you spend a night in a hotel/hostel in the city and make your way to the office of our partner the next morning for an orientation meeting. For an extra charge ($45) you can also be picked up from the airport via private transfer. After that you take public transportation to get to the project site in Pacuare. The cost for the hotel/hostel stay and for transportation by public bus (about $15) from San José to Bataan, the meeting point of staff and volunteers, must be paid by each volunteer.
Volunteer activities in Costa Rica
This voluntary project is devoted to protecting sea turtles in order to maintain the Central American country’s natural biodiversity. As a volunteer, you will play an active role in the species conservation project and work together with other volunteers from around the world to research and conserve these animals on the Pacific west coast of Costa Rica. This project focuses on protecting the animals which come to lay their eggs on the beach as well as the eggs themselves in the nests along the beaches.
The second important aim is to acquire a better understanding of the animals themselves through detailed data collection. You document the behaviour of various species and record data regarding their clutch.
Together with your team you document which turtle species can be found on the beaches at which time, collect information regarding the number of laid eggs and the hatchlings. The findings made can be used to enable artificial breeding grounds to be improvised at more suitable locations.
To monitor and observe the animals, beach patrols will be organized every day but also at night. You and another group of volunteers walk the beach together with an experienced patrol leader and look out for nesting female turtles. Once you find one, you record measurements and data and relocate the eggs in the project’s own breeding ground. The work in this breeding station involves monitoring the nests, keeping away enemies, and measuring and releasing the hatchlings. There will also be small volunteer tasks like maintenance work, cleaning the beach etc.
Accommodation during the conservation project
The accommodation that you share with other volunteers is a basic guesthouse where you sleep in multi-bed rooms and use shared bathrooms with a cold water connection. Furthermore, the house offers lockers for personal objects; electricity is produced via solar cells and should be used economically. You will receive three meals per day – these are either already prepared or need to be cooked by yourself using the provided food. Drinking water will be provided from a well. To get in contact with friends and family at home you should buy a Costa Rican SIM-card.
Leisure time on Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast
It is difficult to say in advance just how much free time you will have during your volunteer period as the tasks and the time spent on the project depend on the season and the weather. You will work together with the team between 6 and 10 hours per day, so that there will be plenty of time left to explore the location and surroundings, or just relax in the house or on the beach. The project is located quite remotely, surrounded by Costa Rican rainforest with no shopping facilities available. However, you can make excursions into the exotic natural environment and surrounding sandy beaches, participate in wildlife-tours on the canals or take a look at the production of coconut oil.
Arrival in San José
Orientation meeting in San José and transfer to the project site
Your stay in Pacuare: A typical volunteer day
Last day in the turtle conservation project and departure
“I had hoped that the work would be so much fun that it wouldn't feel like work at all, and that's exactly what happened.”
“The feeling I had when I saw "my" first mama turtle was indescribable. I will certainly remember that for many years to come. I met many special people there, had many good conversations and protected small and large turtles. What more could you ask for???”
“The everyday meals and the games, were always the highlight of the day for me, because you could exchange experiences with everyone.”
Internship in Central America: Fabienne joined our species conservation project in Costa Rica to help protect the country's endangered sea turtles. Check out some of her impressions here.
“The highlight of the project for me was seeing the baby turtles making their way out to the ocean and getting pulled in by the waves.”
“The location of the project is unique. To be able to live away from civilisation and see how little you really need was a great experience.”
“One of the project highlights: to see one of the adult turtles laying their eggs.”
Education and outdoor adventure in Central America: Varina went to Costa Rica and spent eight weeks as an intern protecting endangered sea turtles. Here you can find some of her stunning impressions:
1. Caribbean Coast
The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica stretches from the border with Panama to the border with Nicaragua. Above all, it captivates guests by its unique climate, its cultural variety and a breathtaking nature including an immense biodiversity.
Travellers will find the country's most lush tropical jungle, with its diverse flora and fauna. In addition to fascinating rainforest, picturesque coral reefs, fantastic beaches and colourful coastal towns ensure an unforgettable travel experience.
Purpose of the turtle project in Costa Rica
Sea turtles are found in tropical and subtropical seas across the world. Their fins make them perfectly suited for life in water. However, because they are descended from land turtles, they have to come on land to lay their eggs. To do this, they dig deep holes on the beach before laying up to 100 eggs in them. Their eggs are then incubated by the heat of the sun. Ultimately, only 1 out of a 1000 newborns will reach the age at which they can reproduce. Because of this low fertility rate and the additional threat posed by a loss of habitat, pollution, fishing and illegal egg gathering, it is particularly important to monitor clutches and register as many animals as possible to ensure that sea turtles breed successfully.
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