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Rainforest Conservation Research

Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica

Agency | GoEco

This placement aims to provide invaluable data research that will ensure the continued environmental and wildlife conservation efforts of the Costa Rican government.

The project

The placement is based on a research station in Jalova in the heart of the Tortuguero National Park, and aims to provide invaluable data research that will ensure the continued environmental and wildlife conservation efforts of the Costa Rican government. The expedition immerses volunteers in the unique biodiversity of the rainforest, focusing on numerous research and data collection tasks to provide a hands-on and educational experience. Volunteers will need a high level of fitness as the program is physically challenging but rewarding. 

The focus of the project varies between the effect of Jaguars on the turtle population; census of Jaguar and their prey; resident and migratory bird research; as well as Marine turtle nesting surveys (subject to season) and conservation projects.

The location

The Jalova research base, on the northern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, is located within the protected areas of the Tortuguero National Park. The park itself is only accessible via plane or boat and is a stunning network of freshwater canals, remote pristine beaches, and diverse rainforest. The lack of roads means that transportation within the park is via foot, boat, or canoe only. The bio-diversity of the reserve is a result of its eleven different habitats: swamps, beaches, rainforest, and lagoons to name a few. The beaches in the area are also prime nesting locations for the endangered sea turtle making it a focal point of many environmental conservation and research expeditions.

Volunteer Work

Volunteers will spend the first week in intensive training, with testing on the material at the end. Conditions can be rough so volunteers will need a good level of fitness. Volunteers are allocated a staff mentor and work with the research team to gather data on the populations of sea turtles, jaguars, and aquatic birds, while gaining an invaluable insight into the delicate eco-system of the Costa Rican rainforest. Partake in daily fieldwork expeditions while receiving professional training and testing in data collection, research, and conservation initiatives.

Important Notes

All volunteers participating on this project from April - December 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

The projects will specifically focus on the following

  • Canal birds: research is done on canoes looking at specific species distribution
  • Turtles (seasonal): census of the Leatherbacks, Hawksbill and Green, night-walk identification as well as daytime nest excavations
  • Jaguars: set camera traps and identify prey, specifically turtle

Without road access, transportation to and from the base is either by foot or through the beautiful green canals via boat and canoe. This is a great way for volunteers to explore the area, including remote Caribbean beaches. 

Details on Arrival

This project hat set lengths of 4, 8, 12 or 16 weeks.

Free-time activities

Volunteers can take a boat to Tortuguero in their spare time, taking the opportunity to kayak on the canals or simply relax in a hammock. Costa Rica itself offers a great travel experience and is a gateway to Latin America. Though there is not enough spare time during the project to take any long trips, volunteers can continue their adventure after the program. Buses and regional flights are generally affordable, and make it easy to discover new adventures and cultures that thrive in Central America. 

Water Sports

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)
Criminal Background Check
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
High level of fitness
Minimum 4 weeks participation
Ability to work in a team
Interest in wildlife and environmental conservation
Time Commitment
Regular working hours are hardly predicable. It mainly depends on the work force. Get in touch with GoEco straight ahead to get more infos about current to dos and objectives.

Suitable for


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

Contact Project Coordinator
Contact & Reservation

Included Services

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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by GoEco.
Services by GoEco
Accommodations: Dormitories (mixed sex)
Food: Meals provided, prepared by volunteers
Airport Transfers: Included 
Support: Local in-country team and 24hr emergency support
Airport Pickup at Juan Santamaria International Airport

Included upon arrival the evening before the start date


Dormitories with mixed sex rooms. Accommodation is basic with only a few hours of generator electricity per day, cold running water for showers, and bucket flush toilets.

Laundry:  Hand-washing can be done, although drying is often difficult because of the air humidity. Laundromats can be found in town before and/or after your time out in the field.

Internet:  There is no Internet on the base however Internet cafes are accessible in Tortuguero on the weekends. Phone reception is unreliable.

Dorm Room
Food & Beverages

All food is provided, volunteers will take turns preparing meals and doing chores on the base. Meals are vegetarian and consist of rice, beans, pasta, fruits, vegetables, lentils, and chickpeas.

Internet Access
Sorry, no 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 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.
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)
4 weeks (min. stay)
6 weeks
8 weeks
16 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees

You can volunteer at the project site in Tortuguero National Park/Costa Rica between 4 weeks and 16 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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