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Volunteer in Costa Rica [Cortes, Programs Puntarenas]

Have you always dreamed of working with wildlife in the rainforests of Costa Rica? Do you want to aid in the conservation of endangered species that need your help to survive? Then join IFRE in Costa Rica!

Costa Rica is alive with an astonishing array of life, home to an astounding 500,000 species of plants and animals including sloths, monkeys, parrots, toucans, jaguars, sea turtles, and more! The amazing scenery and fascinating wildlife are a dream come true for nature and animal lovers alike.

Sadly, wildlife in Costa Rica is often in peril due to human encroachment. Animals are losing their habitats, suffering electrocutions from power lines, getting hit by cars, being fed by uneducated tourists, and captured for the illegal pet trade. You can help solve all these problems and more!

From helping baby sea turtles make their way safely into the ocean to providing much-need care to animals in a wildlife sanctuary to becoming a citizen scientist and joining exciting and important research projects, IFRE has a wildlife volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica to make your dreams of working with wildlife come true!

The dedication and hard work of volunteers is the fuel needed to keep these extraordinary projects running, and by joining them you will have unforgettable experiences and make a huge difference in the lives of amazing animals that desperately need your help, protecting entire biospheres in the process.

Are you interested in fulfilling your love for animals and creating huge positive benefits for entire ecosystems? Then contact IFRE today to learn more about volunteering with wildlife in Costa Rica!

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

Available Wildlife Volunteering Projects in Costa Rica

You don’t need to be a biologist to help save the animals of the rainforest! Volunteers from all backgrounds can join our projects, so long as you are passionate about wildlife and willing to work hard making a difference. Take a look at our exciting offerings and find a project that’s calling your name!

Would you like to become a citizen scientist and contribute to fascinating scientific research being done in the rainforest? IFRE collaborates with a research based non-profit reserve on the southern pacific coast of Costa Rica carrying out vital scientific research and conservation efforts for this unique Costa Rica wildlife volunteer opportunity.

Our local partner works diligently to provide scientists and volunteers the opportunity to perform much-needed research in a variety of projects and do the important work of maintaining and rehabilitating the 70 hectares of rainforest, mangrove, and beach habitat that make up the reserve.

A variety of exciting research projects are carried out at the reserve year-round, and Costa Rica wildlife volunteers will have the chance to join all of them. These projects include Crocodilian monitoring, observing Scarlet Macaws, checking camera trips to develop an inventory of mammals living on the reserve, a Tree Boa population study, and research in a butterfly garden. Volunteers will also help do beach clean-ups and perform educational outreach.

This project also allows you to volunteer with sea turtles in Costa Rica! During turtle season (which is July-January in this location), you may help with night beach patrols to protect nests of three endangered species of sea turtles from poachers, take the eggs to the hatchery where scientific data will be gathered, and when the babies hatch you may get the once-in-a-lifetime chance to release them safely into their ocean home.

Do you want to help scientists perform vital research and conserve the amazing sea turtles of Costa Rica? Visit the project page to find pricing and complete information.

Volunteer with sea turtles in Costa Rica at this exciting project on the Caribbean coast that helps protect leatherbacks and other species of sea turtles from poachers and other threats. Located in a small, remote community only accessible by boat, this unique project has reformed former poachers who were taking eggs and hunting nesting sea turtles and taught them the error of their ways. They now team up with volunteers to perform much needed conservation efforts to protect the endangered turtles who nest in their community.

On this coast, the sea turtle season runs from March-October, and your help is needed to protect these endangered turtles! You will do nightly beach patrols, tag turtles, collect eggs and transfer them to the hatchery, release hatchlings, and help with maintenance, building, beach clean-up, and other operational tasks. This project also operates a field rescue center for injured turtles and performs environmental outreach to nearby schools and locals living around the beach where the turtles nest.

Are you interested in saving the sea turtles that are so vital to all marine life, improving conditions for all marine life in the process? Visit the project page to find pricing and complete information.

If your vision of volunteering abroad is helping care for wild animals, this is the project for you! This amazing project helps rescue, rehabilitate and release wildlife who have suffered injuries or were forced into captivity from the illegal pet trade. The projectalso operates a sanctuarywhich is home to 450 amazing animals you will have the chance to help care for, including jaguars, sloths, anteaters, monkeys, over 200 macaws, tapir, deer, and more!

When you join wildlife volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica, you will improve the animal’s quality of life in the sanctuary, feeding, watering, and offering environmental enrichment. You will help clean and repair enclosures, offer tours to the public, assist in the rehabilitation and release of injured or confiscated wildlife, plant trees, work in the garden, and help care for orphaned baby wildlife. This exciting project will teach you the proper way to respect and care for wild animals and allow you to make a direct impact on their quality of life.

(For volunteers seeking to hold, touch, or pet animals, you should know this will not be permitted. Such activity is illegal in the country of Costa Rica, is not good for the wildlife, stresses the animals and may lead to their inability to be released back into the wild, and is dangerous for everyone involved.)

Are you an animal lover who wants to create a better life for abused and exploited wildlife? Visit the project page to find pricing and complete information.

While most Costa Rica sea turtle volunteer projects are seasonal and focus on nest patrols and protecting eggs from poaching, more research is needed in the water to learn about different habitats used, juvenile and male turtles, threats turtles are exposed to, their role in coral reefs, health status, size, and much more. You can help gather this much-needed data on the wild and bio diverse Osa Peninsula in southern Costa Rica.

Contribute to important scientific research as you head out on boats, capture turtles in a net, and bring them back to the beach to weigh them, take their biometrics, tag them, take tissue samples, and record any issues or abnormalities before releasing them back into their ocean habitat.

At this unique sea turtle volunteer project in southern Costa Rica, you will also give back to turtles in need by assisting at the rescue center for injured turtles.You will help change the water, clean the tanks, restrain and carry turtles, collect data, remove barnacles and parasites, and monitor the sea turtles as they make their journey to recovery.

Do you have a passion for science and helping animals who are on the verge of extinction? Visit the project page to find pricing and 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 offerings. Contact us today to learn more!


Wildlife Volunteer Opportunities in Costa Rica: Start Dates and Fees

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 Caribbean Coast, Pacuare) Osa Peninsula (Pacific) Wildlife Conservation(natuwa) Wildlife Volunteer(Tortuga Beach, Puntarenas)
  1 Week   $385   $435   $210   $372
  2 Weeks   $770   $870   $420   $520
  3 Weeks   $1155   $1305   $630   $780
  4 Weeks   $1540   $1740   $840   $1040
  5 Weeks   $1925   $2175   $1050   $1300
  6 Weeks   $2310   $2610   $1260   $1560
  7 Weeks   $2695   $3045   $1470   $1820
  8 Weeks   $3080   $3480   $1680   $2080
  9 Weeks   $3465   $3915   $1890   $2340
  10 Weeks   $3850   $4350   $2100   $2600
  11 Weeks   $4235   $4785   $2310   $2860
  12 Weeks   $4620   $5220   $2520   $3120

Mandatory Comprehensive Travel Insurance $3.49/day »

No Spanish Language Program with the Turtle Conservation Project

Wildlife Conservation Program - Transportation from Airport Juan Santamaria $80/one way

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

Osa Peninsula (Airport Pick up and Transportation)

The Osa Turtle Conservation site is 100 miles from San Jose. Here are the details of the airport pick up and transfer fee.

  • Airport Pick, first night at a hotel in San Jose $45
  • Sanjose to Punterenas by bus $8
  • Punterenas to Osa by bus $6

You will pay your airport pick up/transfer cost directly to staff in Costa Rica

Pacuare (Airport Pick Up and Transportation)

Pacuare Turtle Conservation site is 80 miles from San Jose. There are two options for you to choose from.

Option one- organized by IFRE Volunteers

  • Airport Pick, spend the first night in a hotel in San Jose $45

(If you arrive before 2 p.m. you can go directly to the project by taxi without staying in a hotel.)

  • San Jose to Pecaure in a private taxi $150
  • The boat transportation cost is 35$

Option two- travel by yourself to the project

If your flight arrives early in the morning, or before 10 a.m., you can choose to go to the project directly by public bus

  • San Jose to Siquirres $6
  • Siquirres to Las Vegas de Imperio $3
  • The boat transportation cost is 35$

Bus Departure time from San Jose: 11 a.m.

Directions - traveling to your project

  • From the Gran Terminal del Caribe of San José, take the 11:00 a.m. bus to Siquirres. You will arrive at Siquirres around 1:15 p.m.
  • From the terminal at Siquirres walk to La Estación Intercantonal, also called Parada de los Calvos, (300m). (If you are not sure, just ask people where you can get on a bus to Las Vegas de Imperio).
  • Take the 2:30 p.m. bus to Las Vegas de Imperio, getting off at the last stop.
  • A staff member will be waiting for you there. The boat transportation cost is 35$ per person, both trips.

You will pay your airport pick up/transfer fee directly to staff in Costa Rica: Map

Gran Terminal del Caribe of San Jose: Map

Terminal of Siquirres: Map

Las Vegas de Imperio: Map

Project location: Map

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.

Accommodation/Food/Supervision

Traveling to a new country you aren’t familiar with might seem a little overwhelming at first, but while volunteering with wildlife in Costa Rica with IFRE you have absolutely nothing to worry about. We carefully plan every detail of your trip and are there to support and guide you every single step of the way.

We make sure you have safe, secure, and comfortable housing, healthy local meals, and the supervision of our passionate and experienced in-country staff. The specifics of your housing and food will vary from project to project.

Details are available on each project page. Most projects house their Costa Rica wildlife volunteers on-site, and you will often be sharing space with your fellow volunteers. This is a fantastic chance to bond with people from all over the world who are just as passionate about wildlife as you are!


Free Time

Have you been dreaming of getting out and exploring the tropical paradise of Costa Rica? You’re in luck, because this Central American gem is full of amazing things to do! You’ll have weekends and evenings free from your Costa Rica wildlife volunteer work, so get out and explore!

Where your project placement is located will determine what activities are available right near your project site, but Costa Rica is a small country with a whole lot going on, and it has a cheap and extensive local bus system you can use to travel around the country on the cheap.

If you’re volunteering in Costa Rica with sea turtles, odds are you’re right next to at least one amazing beach. If not, there’s one probably not too far away. Walking down a spectacular beach is an event in itself, but in some locations, you’ll also find restaurants, massages, paragliding, jet skiing, and more.

The capital city of San Jose has its own charms and is often within a day’s bus ride of just about anywhere in Costa Rica. You can check out museums, visit the National Theater, and check out the culture and people of this unique city.

You can trek up volcanoes, hike in a cloud forest, visit a wildlife sanctuary, go ziplining, raft down a river, eat fresh seafood or local chocolate or sip Costa Rican coffee to your heart’s content. Explore jungles and climb mountaintops. Whatever your Costa Rica wildlife volunteer dream vacation looks like, there’s plenty of opportunity to make it come true.

Learn more about the exciting places you can see and visit while volunteering in Costa Rica.


Safety: Wildlife Volunteer Opportunities in Costa Rica

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 abroad. We offer pre-trip support, reliable and comprehensive travel insurance, airport pick-up, and availability to 24/7 guidance and support.

In-Country Support

As soon as you arrive in Costa Rica to volunteer with wildlife, 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. You can count on them to watch over you.

Your main point of contact will be the in-country coordinator. They will carefully select your project placement, make all your arrangements, 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.

Learn more about IFRE’s dedication to safety and in-country support.


Other IFRE’s volunteer programs in Costa Rica

Volunteer in Costa Rica- San Jose

In San Jose you can partake in a variety of volunteer programs. You can bring joy during the holidays,

teach English,

help with construction,

provide childcare,

work in the medical sector,

help with conservation and much more.

Volunteer in Costa Rica – Cortes

If you want to volunteer in Cortes, there are many ways for you to make a difference there. You can teach English,

work with an indigenous tribe,

assist local veterinarians,

work on a coffee farm,

provide childcare or healthcare, and much more.

Contact IFRE today to learn more!

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

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