Reptile & Amphibian Diversity Research

founded in 1998
Ask A Question
Coordinator | Bella
Coordinator | Bella
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.


Observe unique Costa Rican amphibians and reptiles in their natural habitat.
Visit an incredibly jaguar-dense area and one of the only locations in the world where jaguars are known to prey on adult sea turtles.
Explore the rainforest by canoe and walk the pristine Caribbean beaches.
Learn biodiversity survey techniques and gain real field experience.
Undertake turtle nesting surveys and monitor nesting sites during turtle nesting season.
Hike through the Costa Rican rainforest identifying reptile and amphibian species. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+
Travel to the heart of Tortuguero National Park, to assist the Costa Rican Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications, MINAET by conducting biodiversity surveys of the area. Record sightings of reptiles and amphibians, as well as mammals and birds, identified as significant indicators of health and of importance for further research by MINAET. Some of these significant reptiles include the gorgeous eyelash palm pitviper and the always popular red-eyed tree frog. 

From April to October, you can also get involved in research projects, concerning the main reptile we study at this GVI base, sea turtles. In partnership with MINAET and the Sea Turtle Conservancy, you will join GVI staff and participants from around the world to conduct nightly beach surveys recording evidence of mother sea turtles and morning walks recording turtle nests. 

Depending on the needs of our partners at the time, you might also have the opportunity to conduct jaguar research, monitoring camera traps and tracks on the beach, and bird research, traveling down the canals of Tortuguero National Park identifying aquatic birds on the river banks and in the canopies. 

Due to the fact you will work in a national park, you will need special scientific permit to approve you for conducting research. Further permits are required for turtle and jaguar research. The permit for turtle research takes about one month to process, while the permit for conducting jaguar research takes about 2 to 3 months to process. 

Health & Hygiene:

The work we contribute to across the globe remains important and new measures allow our participants to continue to join our programs and continue impacting positively on their world and the communities we work with. Changes to our existing protocols have been made by our health and hygiene team to strengthen our health and hygiene protocols and ensure that international standard safeguards are in place to protect our participants, staff and host communities. Please inquire for more information on the protocols. 

Typical day

You will be waking up at about 5 or 6 AM with the first survey running from 6 AM until 10 AM. After this you will be having lunch and then your second survey for the day runs from about 1 PM until 4 PM. Then you will be having dinner together and are off to bed by about 9 PM. However, if you are participating in one of our nighttime turtle patrols, you will be busy until about 2 AM (during the Leatherback season) and until 1 AM during the green turtle season - of course then you will have the morning off on the next day. 

You will be going out on two surveys a day, except for Friday afternoons and Saturdays which is your free time. Once a week you will be on kitchen duty and cook a delicious meal for the other participants. 

You will be getting training on all species and surveys! We have four general projects that you will get training in:
  1. Forest Biodiversity: Tropical species surveying and identification techniques which will be comprised of surveys in the forest focusing on the whole biodiversity of the area (amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles). Data recording and Input, volunteers will assist in inputting the data collected on surveys into the projects databases (all year, during turtle season less surveys on this) 
  2. Canal Birds: Canal bird population and distribution studies carried out on a canal. 
  3. Jaguars feeding behaviour and population studies including a 15 mile survey on the beach (once a week) to monitor the number of predated sea turtles and the use of camera traps to ID jaguars and monitor their feeding patterns. Seasonal Feb to Nov. Also scats (faeces) gathering in order to study and genetic studies. 
  4. Marine turtle (seasonal end of march to October) conservation using a international protocol to ID nesting greens, leatherbacks (March to June) and some hawksbills.

Free-time activities

You will be based at the research station within the National Park, located 1 hour by motorboat from the nearest town of Tortuguero, and working on the surrounding canals, rivers, forest, beaches and in the nearby communities. Travel around the local area is limited and dependent on expedition staff and water taxi services. Due to the remoteness of base, we offer a long weekend (3 free days) every 4 weeks, so people can travel around Costa Rica at the start of project or once a month, be sure to budget for it if you would like to visit more places in Costa Rica. Likewise, there is a close by restaurant, and volunteers have the option of ordering fried chicken and sodas every Friday at your own expense, cost is between 6 to 10USD. Before and after your program you could explore the rest of Costa Rica, or travel onwards throughout Latin America. Buses are cheap but basic, and regional flights are relatively affordable. With so much culture and adventure it's sometimes hard to know where to start – the possibilities are endless! Travelling around the region is possible by bus with connecting services from Caño Blanco to cities across the country. It is useful to know that street addresses are not really used or known in Costa Rica - landmarks are used instead. For example, to get to Hostel Casa Colon ask to go “En contraesquina de Torre Mercedes” (translated: "across the street from Torre Mercedes).



In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (basic level)
Criminal Background Check
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday

What's Included

Services by GVI


  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff provided online 8 weeks prior to program:
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting


  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs (where necessary)

Airport Pickup at Tobias Bolaños International
Most volunteers arrange international flights to arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose (IATA code: SJO) at least one day before the expedition starts. Airport pick-ups can be arranged from 06:00 PM - 10:00 PM the day before your program start date, please request this from the GVI office. If you arrive outside of the pick-up time or arriving in San Jose by other means, will be responsible for their own transportation. Official airport taxis are orange, and cost approx US$22 to the hostel. Alternatively, you can get a bus from outside the airport (approx. US$1, every 20-30mins). 
Accommodation is in shared (mixed sex) dorms with shared bathroom facilities at the field station. There is running water available for washing and cooking, with suitable water for drinking and brushing teeth. Supplies are limited and usage may be restricted when necessary. Bucket-flush toilet facilities are available, and participants share responsibility for base duties, including cooking, cleaning, and other chores.  
Dorm Room
Food & Beverages
Volunteers take it in turns to prepare meals for the group. Food is very basic and mostly vegetarian, with meat rarely available. Breakfast could be porridge or occasionally pancakes, typical lunches and evening meals may include lentils, chicpeas, pasta, beans, or rice, with vegetables. Fresh fruit is provided each afternoon. 
Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Tobias Bolaños International (SYQ) in San Jose. We assist you to find cheap flights to Costa Rica.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Costa Rica provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in Costa Rica you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Costa Rica.

Dates & Fees


Details on arrival

Due to the current situation you have the flexibility of changing the destination and start dates for this program at no extra cost. 

  • 09 Jan 2021
  • 23 Jan 2021
  • 06 Feb 2021
  • 20 Feb 2021
  • 06 Mar 2021
  • 20 Mar 2021
  • 03 Apr 2021
  • 17 Apr 2021
  • 01 May 2021
  • 15 May 2021
  • 29 May 2021
  • 12 Jun 2021
  • 26 Jun 2021
  • 10 Jul 2021
  • 24 Jul 2021
  • 07 Aug 2021
  • 21 Aug 2021
  • 04 Sep 2021
  • 18 Sep 2021
  • 02 Oct 2021
  • 16 Oct 2021
  • 30 Oct 2021
  • 13 Nov 2021
  • 27 Nov 2021
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2 - 12 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
2 weeks (min. stay)
4 weeks
6 weeks
8 weeks
10 weeks
12 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees
$899 /week

The organization charges its fees in EUR. The price table in USD is subject to currency fluctuation. GVI will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with GVI during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

Extra security layer by Volunteer World
Volunteer World is the world's leading comparison platform for international volunteer opportunities. We guide you through a safe and easy application process - including all necessary payments. Planning your next meaningful trip with Volunteer World gives you free access to our:
Quality Assurance
High ethical standards & transparent social impact
Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if GVI cancels your trip
Support & Mediation
We cover your back no matter what happens
Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by GVI.

What are people saying about Volunteer World?

Reptile & Amphibian Diversity Research

Hike through the Costa Rican rainforest identifying reptile and amphibian species.


You might be also interested in

[Remote] Global Public Health Virtual Internship Devon, United Kingdom GVI
Join this Online Internship to gain real-world experience and a contextual understanding of the day-to-day responsibilities of a public health professional.
[Remote] Marine Conservation Virtual Internship Devon, United Kingdom GVI
Most conservation organisations agree that marine species are under threat. Join this online Internship to kickstart your career and help solve this problem.
[Remote] Climate Crisis & Clean Energy Internship Devon, United Kingdom GVI
Join us on the Climate Crisis and Clean Energy Virtual Online Internship to gain experience in projects that help to prevent the climate crisis.
[Remote] Wildlife Conservation Virtual Internship Devon, United Kingdom GVI
Join this online Internship today to gain real experience contributing to the work of NGOs, government organisations and social enterprises that focus on key issues.
Himalaya Trek & Nepali Immersion for Teens Pokhara, Nepal GVI
Make an impact by improving the health and safety standards of educational facilities in Pokhara and hike the Himalayas with other teen volunteers.
Wildlife Conservation for Teens Hoedspruit, South Africa GVI
Spot lions, elephants, rhinos and other wildlife on a safari conservation awareness experience with other teens in South Africa.

Why am I seeing this?

You requested a page that doesn't exist on this site any more. This could be caused by a link you followed that was out of date, by a typing in the wrong address in the address bar, or simply because the post has been deleted.

Take Me Home