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Volunteer in Costa Rica [Cortes]

Do you want to make a difference in paradise? Has Costa Rica been calling your name? Volunteer in Cortes, Costa Rica with IFRE’s life-changing programs!

Cortes is a small city located in southern Costa Rica near the border of Panama. It is nestled in the beautiful Rio Grande Terraba Valley. Located conveniently along the coastal highway, it is a quick drive to beautiful, unspoiled beaches and surrounding lush rainforests.

Costa Rica is a traveler’s paradise, but many locals suffer from poverty, lack of access to reliable healthcare in rural areas, and other social ills. Human encroachment on wildlife habitat and illegal logging threaten otherwise pristine natural areas, and many species are in danger of extinction.

IFRE offers a variety of impactful volunteer programs in Costa Rica to address these problems and make a difference in Costa Rica. You can work with underprivileged children, help indigenous tribes conserve their way of life, work at a veterinary internship, teach English, volunteer in healthcare, and much more.

In our program, you will improve the lives of local Costa Ricans while immersing yourself in a rich and welcoming Latin culture. You will also make memories to last a lifetime and feel great knowing you will leave paradise better than you found it.

Do you want to make a difference in the world and contact IFRE today to learn more about volunteering in Cortes, Costa Rica!

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Volunteer Programs in Costa Rica : Available Projects

IFRE offers a huge range of very different and unique projects in Costa Rica. No matter what kind of difference you are hoping to make, we have a project you can get excited about!

Are you pursuing a degree in veterinary medicine and want to gain hands-on practical experience working in the field? IFRE offers two exciting internship opportunities in Costa Rica for volunteers who are vet students or recent graduates with a professional and/or educational background in veterinary medicine.

If your passion is wildlife, we offer two-week minimum programs working at the veterinary clinic in a wildlife rescue and sanctuary.When you join You will shadow and assists doctors and wildlife professionals in the rescue, rehabilitation, and care of injured wildlife or animals confiscated from the illegal pet trade. If you’d rather work with animals of the domestic variety, we have another program with a 4-week minimum where you will help set up much-needed castration and vaccination clinics for dogs and cats, help care for and adopt out stray pets, and educate locals on the importance of pet care.

Do you want to use your love for the creatures that share the planet with us to provide immeasurable support and comfort to animals both wild and domestic?

Visit the project page for complete information.

Are you interested in learning about sustainable agriculture? Spend your time volunteering in Costa Rica working on a small, working organic farm which raises coffee and other sustainable crops using ecological methods. Dig your hands into the rich mountain soil as you help out weeding, harvesting produce, caring for livestock, tending to the plant nursery, and sowing crops.

At this unique, hands-on project, you will learn to utilize non-synthetic pesticides, emphasize local varieties and species of crops, incorporate native plants, raise pastured livestock without the use of hormones or antibiotics, and practice crop rotation. Learn sustainable farming methods that can help positively impact the environment and help save Mother Earth.

Do you want to do your part in protecting the environment and advancing sustainable agriculture? Visit the project page for complete information.

Help preserve an ancient and unique indigenous tribe made up of less than 800 people! The traditional way of life for these people is in peril, but you can help them preserve their heritage through this unique volunteer program in Costa Rica. By creating museums, cultural sites, and tourism material in English which educates tourists on the tribe’s fascinating culture, you can help the tribal members sustain themselves in a changing and modern world while still retaining their heritage.

You will have the amazing opportunity to not only help the members of this tribe but also to become immersed in their unique culture. You will be taken to sacred sites, take part in cooking traditional meals and partake of sacred drinks, take language classes, engage in workshops on mask making, learn about their history, and be honored by observing traditional ceremonies. Help preserve an ancient way of life and open up your eyes to a new way of seeing the world!

Immerse yourself in one of the most unique cultures in the world and help preserve their way of life for the future! Visit the project page for complete information.

Underprivileged kids in Costa Rica need your help! IFRE teams up with a variety of local organizations working hard to support children in need. From orphans to street children to kids who have been removed from abusive and dysfunctional homes, there are countless young Costa Ricans who desperately need the kind, compassionate care and support of international volunteers like yourself.

Volunteer in Costa Rica and make a difference in the lives of underprivileged children struggling through difficult situations. You will provide care, teach English, engage the kids in fun extra-curricular activities, and provide support to the organizations working so hard to provide the children with a safe place to live and a chance at a brighter future. If you love working with children and want to make a big impact, this is the project for you!

Fulfill your love and passion for children and make a difference for those most in need. Visit the project page for complete information.

Are you pursuing a career in the field of healthcare and can’t wait to get out and gain some experience in the field? Or perhaps you are an experienced medical professional and would like to lend your expertise to underprivileged patients in need? IFRE partners with a variety of local organizations, hospitals, and clinics to provide international volunteer aid in Costa Rica to important programs offering care to local patients.

Your placement and volunteer duties will vary based on availability and your background, skill set, and specialization. When you join volunteer program in Costa Rica, you will gain valuable insight into Costa Rica’s healthcare system and learn about a variety of illnesses and injuries in varied settings. You will shadow local doctors and nurses, provide basic care, or help set up health camps or educational programs to promote good hygiene and personal health.

Do you want to gain medical experience while improving the lives of entire communities through your passion for healthcare? Visit the project page complete information.

The English language is in high demand in Costa Rica, and though the public-school system teaches English,the quality of this education is often very poor and basic. Most English teachers are not native speakers, or even fluent, and most students graduate without a real grasp of this valuable skill.

In the workplace, Costa Ricans can make much more money and have many more opportunities if they are fluent in English. That’s where you come in! International volunteers like yourself are needed to come and help teach them this valuable skill!

As a volunteer in Costa Rica you will have the option of two English teaching programs. One program gives you the chance to teach English to kids in local schools, while another allows you to teach English to adults who are seeking to learn the language to better their chances of being successful and getting a well-paid job. Help local Costa Ricans get ahead and experience their beautiful country at the same time!

Help open doors and opportunities for Cosa Ricans with your love of the English language! Visit the project page for complete information.

In addition to the exciting projects listed above, IFRE also offers group programs for high school and college students, family volunteering, alternative spring breaks, and many other unique programs. Contact us today for more information


Volunteer Programs in Costa Rica: Fees & Start Dates

Program Dates

IFRE programs begin every Monday year-round. If you have travel constraints, you can still start your chosen program on any day of the year.

Our Fees

Since 2006, IFRE has been the most trusted and respected volunteer abroad organization in the world, and also the most affordable. We’re dedicated to providing the highest quality volunteer programs at the lowest fees, which make it possible for everyone, especially students, to volunteer internationally and make a positive impact in the lives of others.

We believe in 100% transparency. Rest assured, we never use middlemen. Your one-time registration fee of $299 covers our administrative costs. The low weekly fee is paid in the host country directly to your host family and project (via country coordinator), and includes housing, food, and minor expenses. IFRE is a non-profit organization, so your program fees are tax deductible.

Volunteer Program Fee (US$)

Duration All Projects Ciudad Cortes Medical/Health Projects Ciudad Cortes
  1 Week $260 $360
  2 Weeks $445 $545
  3 Weeks $630 $730
  4 Weeks $815 $915
  5 Weeks $1000 $1125
  6 Weeks $1185 $1310
  7 Weeks $1370 $1495
  8 Weeks $1555 $1680
  9 Weeks $1740 $1890
  10 Weeks $1925 $2075
  11 Weeks $2110 $2260
  12 Weeks $2295 $2445

Comprehensive Travel Insurance $3.49/day »

How your fee is allocated?

Program Fees Cover:

  • Accommodation (host family)
  • Food (local food 3 times a day)
  • Airport Pick up/Transfer
  • Program Orientation
  • In-country support
  • Personalized project
  • Pre-departure information
  • Certificate of completion
  • Fundraising ideas and letters
  • Discount for returning volunteers

Program Fees Exclude:

  • Visas
  • Airfare
  • Personal expenses on soft drinks and foods
  • Daily transportation
  • Airport return transfer

Airport Pickup /Transfer Packages for Puntarenas and – Ciudad Cortes,

We will manage the following airport transfer services for you:

Option One: If you arrive in international Airport of Juan Santa Maria -SJO, Alajuela early in the morning (before 12 PM), you will be able to come to Ciudad Cortes in the same day by bus. In this case, it is possible to purchase the following pick up service package:

Osa/Pick Up (same day service- for one person): $50

Includes: airport picks up, transfer to the bus station, orientation and assistance and again to the bus station. The last time we recommend leaving from San Jose to Ciudad Cortes is on the bus at 2:30 PM (volunteer should land before 12:00 PM for this option)

Option Two: If you arrive after 12 PM in Alajuela, you will stay one night in Hostel Dorm Room in San Jose, before transferring to Ciudad Cortes the next day.

Osa/Overnight Hostel Dorm Room with Transfer (for one person): $70

Includes: Transfer to a hostel from the airport, where you will spend the night. Dinner will be provided. Overnight stay will be in 10 people mixed gender hostel dorm room, and transfer to a bus station in the morning. The orientation and assistance will be at the bus station.

Option Three: If you arrive after 12 PM in Alajuela, you will stay one night in the family home (private room) in San Jose before transferring to Ciudad Cortes the next day.

Osa/Overnight Family Home with Transfer (for one person): $90

Includes: Picks up from the airport and transfer to a private family home to spend the night. Dinner will be provided. Transfer to the bus station in the morning, and orientation and assistance at the bus station.

The volunteering overseas in Costa Rica program fees will cover expenses that will begin on the first day of the program (usually the first or third Monday of the month) to the last day of the program. If you arrive before the first day of the program or you decide you stay beyond your program’s last day, you will be responsible for the additional expenses, which would typically be around $30 a day for room and meals at a hostel.

Take a minute to complete the form and we will be in touch.

Free Spanish Language in Cortes, Costa Rica

With the exception of the orphanage and medical projects, all the volunteer opportunities in Cortes include 10 hours of FREE group Spanish lessons. If you prefer a personalized Spanish learning experience or you want to learn the language in greater depth, our local office can arrange this for you. Please contact us for more information regarding our Spanish classes.


Accommodation & Meals

As a volunteer in Costa Rica, you will have the fantastic cultural opportunity to stay with one of our host families , where you will share a comfortable room with volunteers of the same gender. They will welcome you into their safe and comfortable home, and serve you three local meals a day, ensuring that you have the chance to deeply immerse yourself in their culture and daily lives.

Learn more about IFRE’s accommodations and meals in Cortes, Costa Rica.


Volunteer Programs in Costa Rica : Free Time

Choosing Costa Rica as your volunteer abroad destination is no doubt motivated by your desire to visit this exciting and tropical destination. And who can blame you? With mountains, rainforests, palm trees, deserted beaches, volcanoes, and a whole lot of adventure, this small country in Central America is a traveler’s paradise. Thus, you’ll be happy to know you have the evenings and weekends free to explore.

IFRE’s volunteer projects in Costa Ricaare located in Southern Costa Rica, within easy access of everything you have been dreaming of doing on your vacation.The Costanera is a new, paved highway that runs down the central and southern pacific coast of Costa Rica. You can head north to Dominical, Manuel Antonio, and Jaco, and to the South you have Pavones, the famed surf break, and the wild, rugged world that is the Osa Peninsuala,named the most biodiverse place on the planet. Panama is verynear, too, for cheap duty-free shopping.

Not far up the road north is Playa Tortuga, a nesting site for three kinds of endangered sea turtles and home to a wildlife research center and crocodilian preserve and monitoring site. Just north of that a string of beautiful and often deserted beaches make up the Marino Ballena National Park. Each beachis unique, like Playa Ventanas with its massive sea caves you can enter at your peril at low tide, or Playa Uvita with a sandbar you can walk out onto that is shaped like a whale’s tail. Many exciting tours leave from this beach, including whale watching and a day trip to the famed Corcovado National Park.

While IFRE doesn’t plan tours or activities during your free time, our Costa Rica volunteer project local staff and in-country coordinator are happy to provide you with suggestions on what to do and offer you with advice on booking your excursions. Be sure to include the funds for tours, activities, and food and drink in your free time in your budget.

Learn more about the exciting places to see and visit while volunteering in Costa Rica


Safety and In-country Support

Your safety is IFRE’s number one priority at all times, and you can have peace of mind knowing we will do everything possible to ensure you have a safe and secure experience volunteering in Costa Rica. We offer pre-trip support, reliable and comprehensive travel insurance, airport pick-up, and availability to 24/7 guidance and support by an experienced in-country staff that is right there on the ground to help you every step of the way.

In-Country Support

As soon as you arrive in Costa Rica, you will have the support of an experienced team of in-country field staff. The team is comprised of mature, educated, socially respected individuals who are dedicated humanitarians highly experienced in working with international volunteers.

Your main point of contact will be the in-country coordinator. They will select your Costa Rica volunteering project placement, make all the arrangements for your airport transfer, accommodations, and food, give you an orientation which covers culture, safety, and your service work, introduce you to your host family and project staff, and make periodic visits and calls to check up on your progress. You can reach out to the coordinator at any time with any questions, issues, or to ask for advice and they will be happy to assist you.

If you’d like to learn more about the safety features and field support offered by IFRE, click here.


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