Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica
Help save the turtles and make a difference!
Book now for £49
Group Size: Varies
Trip code: CRTC
Duration: 2-4 weeks
Get involved as a volunteer at rewarding sea turtle conservation projects along Costa Rica’s Caribbean or Pacific coasts. Help to protect and hatch newly laid sea turtle eggs, patrol nesting beaches at night and help release hundreds of hatchlings safely back into the sea. High level of Spanish is required: Beginners can add in our Learn to Speak Spanish in Costa Rica programme.
- Volunteer in sea turtle protection centres along Costa Rica’s coastline: Help protect the future of a variety of sea turtle species, including Leatherback, Pacific Olive Ridley, and Green Sea turtles
- Patrol beaches at night looking for newly laid eggs to take into hatchery protection, monitor protected turtle eggs in the hatchery and release new hatchlings turtles into sea
- Live in a home-stay or volunteer house for an immersion in Costa Rican culture
- Enjoy a detailed orientation in San José before you begin volunteering
- Explore the amazing country of Costa Rica in your time off!
Become a volunteer at this amazing turtle conservation project in Costa Rica and help protect threatened sea turtles. Go on turtle patrols, conserve nesting sites and help at egg hatcheries on this truly rewarding turtle volunteer programme. The prime time for seeing sea turtles is between May and November, so we recommend that volunteers attend this programme during these months.
Do I need to speak Spanish?
Yes; in order to take part in this turtle conservation project you will need to have a high level of Spanish. If you are a beginner with no previous Spanish-speaking experience, you can sign up for our 4-week Learn to Speak Spanish in Costa Rica programme. This takes place in the capital, San José and is an ideal introduction to both Costa Rica and to the Spanish language.
About the Sea Turtles
A range of amazing sea turtles seek out the coastline of Costa Rica as a safe haven in which to lay their eggs. Sea turtles that can be seen along the coast include Leatherback, Pacific Olive Ridley, and Green Sea turtles. Numbers of these remarkable sea turtles have sadly been declining in Costa Rica, due to habitat destruction, poaching and low hatchling survival rates.
About the Conservation Project
Aiming to conserve, protect, and sustain different species of sea turtle, the turtle protection and refuge projects were set up in order to encourage growth of turtle populations and prevent a possible species extinction. The conservation programme aims to collect newly laid clutches of eggs and put them in to hatchery protection, and also releases baby turtles into the sea to give them the best possible chance of survival.
Arriving on a Sunday you’ll spend your first two nights in San José, staying in a home stay with a local family in the city, with all meals provided. You will have an orientation session on the Monday, which is designed to provide you with all the details you’ll need to know about the turtle conservation programme and answer any questions you may have about your placement.
On the Tuesday you will travel to your allocated turtle project. You will then begin volunteering on the Wednesday. While volunteering at the turtle conservation project you will have a varying daily schedule, working both day and night shifts. One day a week is allocated in order for you to leave the park and explore some of the local area and attractions.
About Your Volunteer Role
As a volunteer you will get involved in a variety of volunteer tasks, helping to ensure the survival of the amazing sea turtles. Volunteer duties include:
- Day and night beach patrols to protect turtle nests and eggs
- Taking newly collected egg clutches to the hatchery for protection and monitoring
- Recording detailed information and tracking the development of the eggs
- Helping out at other community environmental projects
- Helping the baby turtles return to the sea
Optimum Turtle Season: We recommend that volunteers attend this trip between May and November as this is the prime turtle season in Costa Rica.
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You should arrange your arrival into San José (Juan Santamaria International Airport) on a Sunday, where you’ll be met by our team and taken to your homestay accommodation.
After orientation on the Monday you’ll be heading out to your turtle conservation placement on a Tuesday, situated along the Caribbean or Pacific Coast. You’ll be allocated a specific volunteer placement during your orientation. To reach your project, you’ll need to pay for your own bus transportation, though we’ll give you the help and advice you’ll need to arrange it.
Volunteer placements end on a Friday and you will then need to make your own way back to San José on the Saturday. The local team can help you arrange this locally. We recommend you do not book your return flight until the Sunday morning.
Optimum Turtle Season: We recommend that volunteers attend this trip between May and November.
All accommodation and meals are included.
For your first two nights after arriving in San José (Sunday and Monday) you will be provided with accommodation and meals in a local family home stay. Your volunteer accommodation will vary depending on your allocated turtle conservation project. You’ll either be staying at a volunteer house or in a homestay with a local Costa Rican family.
To make the most of your Spanish skills and to help you get to grips with the language, some volunteers will get to experience a true taste of real Costa Rican culture living in one of our home-stay placements. As a part of the family, you’ll be kept safe and enjoy clean accommodation, either in your own room or sharing with other volunteers. Free to come and go as you wish you’ll be provided with a door key, but please be sure to let your host family know where and when you’ll be out so they won’t worry.
Breakfasts, dinners and a laundry service will be provided by your host family, and they’ll be happy to cater for any special dietary requirements as long as you let us know when you book your place. A weekly change of bed linen will also be provided, though you’ll need to bring your own towels.
Although your accommodation may be a little more basic than a hostel or hotel stay, it will still be safe, secure and comfortable and the perfect place to experience real Costa Rican life and language in a friendly and hospitable environment. All of our host families have a genuine natural enthusiasm for helping out foreign students, and are selected due to their open-minded, friendly, outgoing and protective attitudes. As they take you around the local hotspots and cultural attractions, you’ll also find your families love to share their interests, hobbies and activities with you as you learn from each other. Evaluated on a regular basis, students are asked to complete a feedback form at the end of their stay so that staff can ensure a good placement service is maintained.
During your stay you should bear in mind that the majority of our host families do not speak English, but they are used to accommodating foreign students. One of the advantages of the homestay is the opportunity to improve your spoken Spanish and practice your conversational Spanish with your host family.
Some volunteers will live in shared accommodation with other travellers in our volunteer houses, where you can enjoy sharing your experiences with other like-minded volunteers. Breakfasts & dinners are provided. Vegetarian diets will be catered for as long as you let us know in advance, and you’ll find that Costa Rican food is generally healthy and simple, consisting largely of rice, beans, pasta, grains, meats, vegetables and a variety of seasonal fruits and juices.
Please note: The turtle project accommodation and facilities are often very basic, rustic and rural, and many do not have electricity.
The minimum age to participate on this volunteer teaching programme is 18 years.
To become a volunteer at a turtle conservation project in Costa Rica you will need to have a high level of Spanish. If you are a beginner, we recommend you take part in our 4-week Learn to Speak Spanish in Costa Rica programme. Please don’t hesitate to ask us for more information if you would like to add in this option.
British nationals will not require a visa in order to enter Costa Rica, and can remain in the country as a visitor for up to three months. Before departing for your trip, you should make sure that your passport will remain valid for six months or more after your entry date.
- During your stay you should expect to participate in some hard physical work in a hot and humid climate.
- You will be volunteering both during the day and at night.
- On turtle patrol you can expect to cover around 5 to 10km of beach in one session, walking across wet sand on night patrols. If you do work at night, you should be prepared to alter your sleeping habits accordingly and have the ability to see reasonably well in the dark.
- You must also be able to carry a heavy backpack of around 5kg.
- Patrols take place every night no matter what the Costa Rican weather!
- The turtle project accommodation and facilities are often very basic, rustic and rural, and many do not have electricity.
If you are travelling in to Costa Rica from a country at risk of Yellow Fever you must ensure that you obtain the required Yellow Fever vaccinations and bring a Yellow Fever certificate with you when you enter Costa Rica. According to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, visitors arriving from Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, French Guyana, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Gambia and Sudan are required to produce an International Certificate of Vaccination stating their protection against the disease. Even if you have not been through any of these countries before accessing Costa Rica, it is still wise to get yourself vaccinated. Certificates of immunisation are valid 10 days after the original date of vaccination, and you should consult your GP for more information.