Although Costa Rica is a very small country, the vegetation and wildlife are extremely diverse. The national parks system was established to protect the country's unique nature and biodiversity since the beginning of the environmental conservation movement. Costa Rica is known for its extensive eco-tourism industry, making the country's national parks world-famous travel destinations. The parks are dispersed throughout the country and offer a huge range of attractions, such as beautiful beaches, volcanoes, mountain ranges, rain and cloud forests, lagoons, rivers, waterfalls, and many different exotic animals. Most parks have a very diverse eco-system and unique flora and fauna. They are important refuges for endangered species. The species that make up Costa Rica's wildlife include a variety of mammals, beautiful birds, fish, and reptiles. Among the wild animals there are howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys, tapirs, jaguars, pumas, deer, squirrels, coati, peccary, marvellous butterflies, frogs, iguanas, toucans, and parrots. Furthermore, you can find a vast variety of water birds and about 70 different types of reptiles, like snakes and lizards. Sea turtles are the main attraction of many of the coastal national parks. In the areas that are open for day visitors, the parks offer outdoor activities like hiking, horseback riding, rafting, kayaking, canopying, and more.
The volunteer project is carried out in one of the first nature reserves created in Costa Rica back in 1963. It is a true symbol of environmental conservation. It is located in Puntarenas province, right on the edge of the Nicoya Peninsula. The project is dedicated to protecting and preserving Costa Rican wildlife, native forest, and the marine ecosystem. It consists of 1,373 hectares of wild and marine conservation areas. The Reserve only has the 5% of the total territory open for tourists. Their contributions represent the main way to sustain the Park financially. This reserve protects semi dry tropical forest. About 140 different species of trees have been identified inside the park. There is also a considerable variety of mammals in the park. Predominant among these and very easily spotted by visitors are the howler monkey and the white-face monkeys. Very abundant and easily seen are the white-nosed coati and the white-tailed deer. Also present, but harder to spot are the margay and the coyote. The greatest wealth in fauna is in the abundant marine birds, marine mammals including orcas, different kinds of fish, crabs and mollusks found in the shore waters of the offshore islands. Worth mentioning is the healthy population of brown boobies and pelicans found in the island, and the plentiful conch found on the park's waters.
Note: If you are looking for a Sea Turtle project (protecting sea turtles), please reach out to us, so that we can orientate you on the best project. Although in this project you might be able to see sea turtles in their natural habitat, this is not a pure sea turtle project.
The National Park where you will be doing your Eco Volunteering is located at the southern tip of the beautiful Nicoya peninsula. This is one of the most fascinating areas of Costa Rica. Dense forests with lush vegetation, a rich flora & fauna, dream beaches and small, idyllic fishing villages characterize the landscape.
San José, the country's capital is about 300 km, but due to the road conditions this will take at least a 5-hour drive. In any case, the long drive it worth it! Within the park itself, you will have plenty of possibilities to walk and hike. It is a rewarding feeling to see and hear the wildlife, be it different kinds of monkeys, exotic birds or other animals. Not only is the park is a real paradise but also the nearby beaches. Some of the beaches include Montezuma, Mal Pais, or even Santa Teresa. All three attract tourists from all over the world for their great surfing spots or just relaxing. In Montezuma and Santa Teresa, you can find restaurants, bars, as well as tour operators offering different kinds of outdoor activities.
The people in Costa Rica are friendly and relaxed, and live according to the motto "Pura Vida" - "pure life". In Costa Rica you can learn to enjoy life to the fullest! In addition, the "Ticos" speak a clear and slow Spanish, so that it is easy to understand them.
What we expect
Please do not put prejudices of the foreign culture and other people into your luggage. You do not need that during your stay abroad! On the contrary, tolerance is a very important feature if you want to be successful and have fun while volunteering abroad. Respect the foreign culture, the other habits and the different mentality with great respect. While the other way of working may not always make much sense in your eyes, the goal of volunteering abroad is not to criticize or smile at people for acting and doing, but to work with them for a good cause.
On a trip abroad, especially in developing countries, you leave your home comfort zone. It is very important that you are ready to adapt to a different life situation. In Latin America, you certainly will not find the usual standards of home again. Especially volunteer projects in developing countries are often located in very secluded areas in the middle of beautiful nature or you live with a local host family, who belongs to a foreign culture. But that's the exciting thing about volunteering abroad! Immerse yourself in a foreign land, experience culture, traditions and people up close, learn from them, just let go and adapt to the other life circumstances. A unique experience that will mature and grow you as a person!
In a voluntary work, the team idea is always over self-interest. Working in a team is fun and brings good mood and variety! So, for your volunteer work abroad, you should bring along a great deal of team spirit, because you always work together with other people, be it volunteers from other countries or local project staff. However, when so many foreign and diverse cultures meet, teamwork can become a whole new challenge. Even more important, that you have the ability to communicate in a group, work constructively and fairly and do not want to punch through your will at all costs.
- Be helpful and responsible
For most projects, volunteers who "do a good job" are most appreciated. By participating in a voluntary service abroad, you are consciously choosing to work in another country. You are not on a vacation trip. So, you have choosen to offer your help and valuable time to other people, nature protection or animals welfare. What really matters is your helpfulness! A really very important and unavoidable trait is the sense of responsibility. The volunteer project is counting on your support and your cooperation has been tightly scheduled. A high level of responsibility is the alpha and omega. During your volunteer work in Latin America, you are assigned to certain areas of activity that you must do on your own. Please take your role as a volunteer very seriously and carry out your tasks in the project conscientiously and carefully.
Be prepared for the fact that volunteering in Latin America is much different from what you know or are used to at home. The Latin Americans have a completely different order, time and work understanding. Even their logic of approaching certain things may not always make much sense in your eyes. The different language and culture can quickly lead to misunderstandings or communication problems. An important principle for you: always be flexible and spontaneous! You will soon realize that there is a solution for all situations and that you can quickly develop a plan B from a problem.
- Be proactive and take initiative
During your voluntary work abroad, do not expect someone to explain to you in a big way what needs to be done, where and when. Often there is only a brief introduction and then your proactivity and initiative are asked. Get actively involved, offer your help and see where you can best apply your skills and strengths. It is always great when volunteers constructively and friendly affix ideas and suggest their own small projects.