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GoEco

Jaguar Research and Conservation

Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica

Agency | GoEco

On this project you will assist in the protection of endangered jaguars, whilst living and working in Costa Rica’s rainforest.

The project

During your stay, you will contribute to the preservation of the elusive jaguar as well as join a team contributing to the development and management of long-term wildlife conservation efforts along Central America’s Caribbean coast. You will be searching for signs of jaguars and their prey species, by setting up remote cameras and surveying a 16-mile stretch of turtle nesting beach. This data will be relayed to the Costa Rican government and other prominent conservation organizations.

Although jaguar-related research activities will be your main focus, during your time you will also gain a holistic understanding of the Costa Rican rainforest and its ecosystem by conducting other important research, which may include studies of turtles (seasonal), aquatic birds, and biological assessment surveys.

Long term internships are also available (8 or 12 weeks). The first half of the internship is the same as the short-term volunteers, but also includes a certificate in Biological Survey Techniques. The second half of the internship is the work placement. 

Project Orientation

Upon your arrival, expedition staff will present a structured training programme that is given over the course of the first few days. A brief but intensive training period prepares volunteers to begin working on the research programmes, after which time you will continue to learn, with each survey becoming increasingly experienced. 

The location

This project takes place in the rainforest of Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean (eastern) side of Costa Rica. The volunteer camp is accessible only by boat and foot, and is nestled in a coconut plantation only 50 meters from the beach! 

Volunteer Tasks

At the core, the goal of this project is the ongoing completion of biological surveys that contribute to increased scientific knowledge and the overall conservation efforts of this particular area. In the field you will work collecting important data and learn a vast array of research skills. With many dawn patrols in the plan, you will get to see some spectacular sunrises on Tortugero’s breathtaking Caribbean beaches. At the station you will learn the technical side of working in the field, analyzing, processing and recording data. 

This program requires a high level of fitness. Volunteers must be comfortable with carrying all their belongings with them to base and with hikes as long as 15 miles in the sand.

Important notes

All volunteers participating on this project for more than two weeks must hold a Scientific Permit. We will obtain the permit on your behalf, however, you must submit the following materials following registration:

  • Scanned copy of passport
  • Brief CV or resume (1 page maximum), translated into Spanish (must be translated by a professional or native Spanish speaker)
  • High quality passport-sized photo 

Volunteers must apply at least four weeks prior to their desired start date to allow for sufficient time to process the permit. 

Typical day

A day in the life of a volunteer:

  • You will start the day early! Morning surveys go out at 5:00am which means having breakfast at 4:30am.
  • Everyone is back on base between 10:30 am and 2:00pm.
  • Lunch is served at 11:00am and there is a briefing at 1:00pm.
  • Afternoon surveys go out at 2:00pm.
  • Dinner is served at 5:00pm.
  • Volunteers will usually be on 2 surveys each day.

It is important to note that the emphasis of the programmes can change according to the time of year.

Also please note that the work you will be doing will contribute to jaguar conservation in the area, however, a real-life jaguar sighting is quite rare and not guaranteed.

Free-time activities

Further Traveling Opportunities

Costa Rica is an amazing country with an abundance of travel opportunities further afield with the following just a snapshot of the many possibilities!

Given your isolated location, a lot of your down time will be spent on base, the rainforest is not a place to go wandering! However there are still some possibilities in the immediate area for you to make the most of your time in Costa Rica. You can visit Tortuguero Village on the weekends, browse its small souvenir shops, visit the delicious bakery and just watch the world go lazily by.

For longer term volunteers on long weekend breaks, you could decide to head off base and further explore the Caribbean region. Hiking, snorkeling, fishing, or canopy and zip-line tours are just some of the activities that are possible in the area. For something a bit more intense, you could raft on the white waters of the famous Pacuare River on class III to IV rapids over the course of 1- or 2-day trips. And if the adventure activities are not for you, then simply relax in a laid back Caribbean village!

Admire the famous and active Volcan Arenal from a distance and relax in the natural hot springs; surf the Salsa Brava – a hotspot of the Caribbean for the advanced surfer; ride horseback on the beach in Puerto Viejo or simply enjoy miles and miles of beautiful beaches kissed by palm trees; spot migratory raptor birds in the Talamanca Mountains and visit indigenous villages to learn more about their amazing culture; discover the cloud forest at Monteverde, visit the hummingbird gallery, enjoy the locally made ice cream and other fresh dairy products or walk among the treetops on the hanging bridges; enjoy the organized wildlife tours of Braulio Carrillo National Park; travel across the country to discover the beautiful Pacific Coast with its hidden white sand beaches; visit Volcan Irazu and discover coffee farms on the way back to San Jose; back in the capital, visit the Gold Museum or the Jade Museum, attend a play in one of the numerous theatres or take in the Latin American vibe with its lively nightlife.

Swimming
Climbing
Hiking

Program Requirements

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).
Language Skills
You need to speak English (basic level)
Health Declaration
required
Criminal Background Check
required
Required Documents
Criminal background check (must be officially translated into English)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Basic English
Very good physical fitness
Full travel & medical insurance
Immunizations (please consult your doctor)
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 05:00 - 16:00

Suitable for

Singles
Couples
Groups
50+

Any questions? Just ask. We at GoEco are happy to help you.

Contact Project Coordinator
Contact & Reservation
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Included Services

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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by GoEco.
Services by GoEco
Accommodations:  Shared dorms, mixed gender
Food:  Meals prepared by the volunteers
Transfers:  Pick up from local hostel
Orientation:  Structured and intensive training program provided upon arrival
Support:  Local in-country team and 24hr emergency support
Accommodation

Facilities will be more basic than you are accustomed to – please travel with an open mind and a willingness to adapt to local conditions. Accommodation is in shared (mixed gender) 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. There is limited electricity - only a few hours a day generator supply.

Laundry: Volunteers wash their laundry by hand.

Internet: Internet facilities are only available in town (trips can be made on the weekends, at the volunteer's expense). There is some phone reception on the beach, but it is unreliable.

Dorm Room
Food & Beverages

Volunteers take turns to prepare meals for the group. Food is very basic and mostly vegetarian, with meat or fish rarely available. Breakfast could be porridge or occasionally pancakes, lunch is rice and beans, with fruit and vegetables, and a typical evening meal may include lentils, pasta, beans, rice, and vegetables.

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. An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) 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.
Vaccines
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.
Costs (Prices in USD)
2 weeks (min. stay)
$2,200.00
4 weeks
$3,020.00
6 weeks
$3,840.00
8 weeks
$4,660.00
10 weeks
$5,480.00
12 weeks (max. stay)
$6,300.00
Average fees
$813.00/week

You can volunteer at the project site in Tortuguero National Park/Costa Rica between 2 weeks and 12 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. GoEco will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Crowdfunding Service
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Costa Rica.
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 GoEco during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.
Americas Central America Costa Rica Tortuguero National Park, N/a
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