Costa Rica – Wildlife Rescue Center Caribbean

Costa Rica – Wildlife Rescue Center Caribbean

Wildlife Rescue Center at the Caribbean coast

Costa Rica

Work with rescued, mistreated and injured animals on Costa Rica’s laid-back Caribbean coastline, where reggae music fills the air and surfers line up on the horizon. Based just 4km from Puerto Viejo, a traveler hangout with a bohemian vibe, where tie-dye rules and Creole street food sizzles, you’ll help to rehabilitate the animals and re-introduce them to their natural habitat in a controlled, safe manner.

The rescue center was founded way back in 2004 by a European couple passionate about wildlife. After visiting Costa Rica several times and seeing firsthand the shocking mistreatment and killing of animals, they decided to move here and dedicate their lives to protecting the wildlife. Before long, the rescue center was inundated with reptiles, mammals and even a baby jaguar, highlighting the need for the sanctuary. Soon, the founders bought a large part of private primary rainforest so that they could gently re-introduce the animals to the wild. The rescue center receives no financial aid from the Costa Rican government, so they are dependent on the money and manpower of volunteers. By spending some time here, you’re not only helping to cared for injured animals – you’re also helping to keep the rescue center alive.

As a volunteer, you’ll work with monkeys, wild cats, sloths, racoons, anteaters and marsupials, so its safe to say that every day will bring new surprises. Your responsibilities will include everything from diet preparation to cleaning, monitoring and, finally, accompanying the animals as they are slowly re-introduced back into the wild.

Why join this project?

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Care for injured, endangered and mistreated animals of all shapes and sizes.

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Help rehabilitate the animals and return them to their natural homes.

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Live on a laid-back Caribbean beach with soft sand, reggae beats and a real hippie vibe.

Passionate about protecting wildlife?

During this project, you’ll take an active role in protecting the wildlife of Costa Rica, nursing abused, injured and endangered animals on the gorgeous Caribbean coast. Working for a non-profit organisation, you’ll set the animals on the road to rehabilitation and get them ready to be released back into the wild. The rescue center takes in all kinds of exotic animals, from monkeys to wild cats and sloths to raccoons, so it promises to be a varied and heartwarming experience. In addition, the organisation owns a private portion of jungle, where they ease the animals back into their natural habitat and protect them from poachers around the clock. It’s a really hands-on project, so you’ll have direct contact with the animals, caring for them and helping them recover from their traumatic experiences. The project believes that, like humans, animals need close, gentle contact to recuperate and build the strength to face their futures successfully.

Volunteering with this project, you can work at the rescue center itself or at La Ceiba, the project’s private reserve, where you’ll focus on accompanying the animals as they are slowly released back into the wild. At the center, you’ll be responsible for preparing the food, cleaning out the enclosures and observing the recovery of the animals. It’s a great place to get interactive with both the animals and the visitors to the center. At the same time, you’ll work within in a caring, tight-knit team and encounter all kinds of new experiences.

If you opt to work at La Ceiba, a private reserve tucked away in the rainforest, you’ll help directly with the re-introduction process. Covering 50 hectares of untouched primary forest, it’s a perfect spot for real nature lovers – secluded, peaceful and packed with wildlife. Here, you’ll lend a hand with releasing the animals back into the wild. It’s very involved, you’ll be given a high level of responsibility and the pricing works differently from volunteering at the rescue center. Challenging and rewarding in equal measure, it’s something that will stick with you forever.

Project duration:

Min 3 weeks. You can combine working in the rescue center with a week or more in the remote Ceiba reserve, where you’ll help to release the animals back into their natural habitat.

Location of project:

The rescue center is located on Playa Chiquita, just 4km from Puerto Viejo, a colorful Caribbean beach town with a thriving Creole culture. Puerto Viejo is around 22okm (roughly 5 hours) from San José. La Ceiba private reserve is a further 4km inland from the rescue center, tucked away deep within the beautiful jungle. It’s an isolated spot with no shops nearby, so you’ll need to bear that in mind.

Arrival airport:

San José Juan Santamaria Airport.

Activities:

  • Receiving and evaluating newly arrived animals at the rescue center.
  • Introducing animals to their new living quarters and helping them to settle in.
  • Making sure the rescue center runs smoothly by maintaining all of the facilities.
  • Carefully planning the diet and preparing the food of the animals.
  • Assisting with the daily care and, sometimes, helping to release the animals back into the forest.
  • Support during the reintroduction of the animals into their natural habitat.

Working hours:

On this project, you’ll work full-time hours, volunteering for 8 hours per day, 5 days per week. The working day normally begins at 7:30 and finishes at 16:30. You will be given 2 days off per week, but, as the center is open 7 days a week, these won’t necessarily be on the weekend. The first week, your first day is an orientation visit and you will start the Tuesday.

Getting to the project:

The project is based on Playa Chiquita, around 3km from Playa Cocles. You can reach Puerto Viejo from San José in around 4 hours by public or shuttle bus. Transport to and from the center is not provided and your best bet is to rent or buy a bike in Puerto Viejo. You can rent bikes from around $5 per day, or buy one outright for around $70 and sell it off to the next volunteer.

Requirements:

  • Minimum age 18.
  • As you’ll be working at very close quarters with the animals, the center requires all volunteers to take a tuberculosis test before arrival in Costa Rica
  • Recommended vaccines: Rabies, Yellow Fever (this is not present in Costa Rica, but depending from which country you enter Costa Rica this is a requirement to enter Costa Rica) and Tetanus.
  • Medical insurance.
  • For this project you don’t need to speak Spanish, but it is recommended to have a base of Spanish

What’s included

  • Arrival transfer in San Jose
  • 1 overnight in a comfortable hostel in San Jose, including breakfast
  • Shuttle transfer from San José to Cocles
  • Volunteer fee for the project
  • Accommodation:  Shared apartment-style accommodation in Cocles (3 km from the center in Puerto Viejo) and 1 km away from the center.  If you choose to stay in La Ceiba, you’ll stay in a private home buried in the jungle, you will share your room (there are 2 to 4 beds in each room)
  • Food: Tea, water and coffee at the project. The rest of the meals are not included, but both in Puerto Viejo and La Ceiba, your accommodation will have a fully equipped kitchen.
  • Support: Pre-departure helpdesk, local in-country team and 24 hour emergency support

What’s not included

  • Flights
  • Medical insurance
  • Your transport to your next destination after you finished your project time
  • It is not possible to combine this project with Spanish lessons, as it is a full time job

Day 1 (Saturday): Arrival into San José airport (airport code SJO)

Welcome to Costa Rica! Today you will be met at the airport by our english speaking driver and transferred to your hotel in San José. Here, you’ll receive a welcome package that includes your travel itinerary, arrival information, a rundown about the wildlife conservation project, sightseeing recommendations and travel tips, and vouchers for your confirmed services and transfers. The rest of the day is free for you to recover from your journey or set out and explore the city. San José is a metropolitan city of about 300,000 inhabitants, perched in a high valley between green volcanic mountains. San José is a pretty compact city and most of the main sights will be within easy walking distance from your hotel. Wander through the shady parks, visit the museums, take a walk through the colorful Mercado Central, stop for a casado (traditional plate of rice and beans, beef or fish, plantain and salad), watch the world go by over a freshly brewed Costa Rican coffee and soak up the local atmosphere. If you are already in Costa Rica, we can arrange the Saturday night in San José for you, or you can make your own way to  Puerto Viejo on Sunday and head straight for your accommodation with the project. Please contact us for more information.

Day 2 (Sunday): On your way to the Caribbean – Puerto Viejo de Limon

After breakfast this morning,  you’ll be picked up by a shuttle service and set off on the journey to Puerto Viejo de Limon on the Central Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica. The bus will drop you off near your lodge accommodation at Cocles, 3km from the town of Puerto Viejo itself. You’ll stay at lodge accommodation with other volunteers in the area surrounding the project, sleeping in standard private rooms with shared facilities or apartment-style rooms.

During the 5-hour bus journey from San José to Puerto Viejo, you’ll see fantastic landscapes unfold from the window. You’ll drive through the rainforest of Braulio Carrillo National Park, with beautiful views, rivers and lush vegetation. Next, you’ll pass by pineapple and banana plantations until you see the Caribbean Sea and rainforest opening up before you. Puerto Viejo is a little beach town with a laidback pace that wins the hearts of many weary travelers. Visitors often plan to stay for a couple of days and leave weeks, months or even years later. It is firmly on the backpacker and surfer trail, so expect tie-die trousers, coconut shell earrings and the constant echo of reggae music. Recently, an international mix of residents has flooded the town, but this hasn’t dented the strong Creole culture, which can still be seen, heard and felt in the reggae, Caribbean food and relaxed character of the old-time locals from Jamaican origin. The inland area of the Southern Caribbean part of Costa Rica is home to the Bribri indigenous tribe and you’ll most likely encounter the friendly Bribri people during your stay. The mix of cultures gives the town a open-minded, tolerant atmosphere where everyone feels at home.

After settling into your accommodation and meeting your fellow volunteers, you can check out the surrounding area, wander around town and pick up some groceries. The best way to get around is by renting a bike, but you can always hop in a taxi until you get a bike of your own. If you want to hit the beach, head to nearby Punta Uva or Punta Cocles, where you’ll find stretches of golden sand with swaying coconut palms and lapping waves. Puerto Viejo has a handful of creative European fusion restaurants, and the pace picks up in the evening with some lively bars and reggae bands. On the weekend, the party really gets started, so don’t miss out!

Day 3 (Monday) Introduction day at the rescue center

Today, will be your first day at the rescue center, which kicks off with a visitor tour and orientation meeting. You’ll need to arrive at at 11:00am to complete some paperwork. During the visitor tour, you’ll get to know the rescued animals and the installations as well as your fellow volunteers! After lunch, you’ll be introduced to the project staff and your personal day-to-day contact. The team will cover all kinds of important information. You’ll find out what is expected from you at the project, given a rundown of do’s and don’ts, learn about how the rescue center operates get essential tips about staying safe while helping these wild animals. You will spend the rest of your day learning the ropes before heading back to your accommodation for a well-earned rest.

Day 4 (Tuesday) to Day 8 (Saturday): Time to get stuck into some volunteering

Work starts every morning with a meeting at 7:30am. Here, teams are put together for the day and the staff will explain everything that needs to be done during the day. You’ll also be given feedback about your activities from the previous day. The morning is set aside for cleaning the cages, preparing meals for the animals and making sure everything is running smoothly at the center. Then, at 9:30am, you’ll sit down for a well-deserved with the other volunteers and staff.

The rest of the day will be dedicated to caring for the animals, as well as training and observations within the rescue center. You’ll work with a huge variety of wildlife, including monkeys, wild cats, sloths, racoons, anteaters, marsupials, reptiles and amphibians. The center operates a really hands-on policy, which means that direct contact with the animals is an important part of the work. You will have a varied timetable and you’ll be working with local and international staff as well as your fellow volunteers. Not only this, but you’ll meet visitors of all ages that come to the center on tours throughout the week. The day ends around 4pm. However, this is a rough estimate, as your work ends when everything is finished and the animals have everything they need until tomorrow.

Note: As the first day (Monday at 11:00) at the project is considered an introduction day and the real work starts on Tuesday, you’ll spend 6 days at the center instead of 5 during your first week.

Day 9 (Sunday): Time off!

After a hardworking week, you now have some time off to to chill on the beach or set off to do something more exciting. Get out and explore all the sights, sounds, smells and tastes that Puerto Viejo has to offer! Beach hop between golden stretches of sand fringed with swaying palms and turquoise waters, surf the breaks at Playa Cocles, explore the little shops and tasty restaurants of Puerto Viejo, hike through Cahuita National Park or try some tropical whitewater rafting on the Pacuare River.

Note: As the animals at the Rescue Center need help around the clock, the volunteers arrange their 5 days of work and their 2 days off with the center. This means that you won’t necessarily get weekends off.

Following weeks

The following weeks will follow a similar pattern of working at the project and enjoying your free time. Time will fly by so make the most of every minute enjoying this special hands-on with the animal’s experience!

Your last volunteer day (Saturday)

On your last day of work at the Rescue Center you’ll have the chance to focus on your favorite activities, giving you the  chance to have one ultimate experience during your volunteering stint. Having said your fond farewells to the animals, your fellow volunteers and staff, taken your final photos and packed your bags, it’s time to go your own way, whether you are heading home or exploring more of Costa Rica.

david valley appartment 4There are two options for volunteers working with this project. If you’re working at the rescue center itself, you’ll live in a shared apartment in Playa Cocles, very near to Puerto Viejo, a laid-back beach town with a bohemian vibe and reggae-rich culture. The apartments are kitted out with kitchens, TVs and Wifi – everything you’ll need to make yourself at home. A cleaning service is also included. Puerto Viejo is a 15 minute bike rude from the rescue center, so you’re only really stone’s throw away.

Volunteers working at La Ceiba Private Nature Reserve will stay in a private home called Casa Heliconia, buried in the midst of the jungle (4km inland from the Rescue Center). It’s a small, cosy house that can accommodate up to 10 people in a mix of dorms and shared double rooms. The house has a fully-equipped kitchen and the local shops are a short taxi drive away, so you’ll organise your own meals. You’ll need to prepare yourself for isolated living, with no Wifi, no TV and no mobile reception, although there is an emergency phone available. A laundry and drying service is available for around 10 USD (depending on how many kilos of laundry you’re talking!). It’s a special place, and its remote location is all part of the experience.

This project runs all year round, giving you plenty of opportunities to get involved! Volunteering stints begin on Mondays, so you’ll need to be in Puerto Viejo on the Sunday night before you begin.

Due to its tropical climate, Puerto Viejo gets its fair share of rain, making the weather slightly unpredictable on a year-round basis. However, the showers are always followed by bright bouts of sunshine and they keep the surrounding forests lush and green. If you get caught in a shower, head for a hammock under cover with a good book or an afternoon snooze. The sun will be back in no time!

How do you organize your meals?

Volunteers are responsible of buying and cooking their own meals. Usually they organize this with other volunteers staying in the same accommodation.

How do you get everyday to the rescue center??

The best way is to rent a bike during your stay (about 5 USD per day). Or buy one for around 50 USD

What should I bring?

Comfortable clothes that you usually don’t use, extra-clothing to work (if possible, fast drying clothes). At least a pair of long pants. Recommended not to use open footwear. Bring a padlock.  Flashlight (it gets dark early). Repellent

Do I need to bring cash money?

No, credit card is accepted in Puerto Viejo and there are several ATM’s.

This project is on the lookout for…

Volunteers at least 18yrs old, with a real passion for wildlife protection and no fear of being in very close contact with animals. You’ll need to be independent, as you’ll living outside the project and make your own way there everyday. If you’re interested in working in La Ceiba, you’ll need to be prepared for almost complete isolation, as you’ll be living deep in the forest.

About

Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo is a much-loved beach town perched on the shore of the Caribbean in the south of Costa Rica. With a laid-back, lively Creole culture and reggae music permanently drifting through the air, it’s somewhere very easy to get beautifully stuck for a while. The vibe is bohemian through and through, with surfers, hippies and locals all living together peacefully in the sunshine. Expect tie-dye, dreadlocks and a big-hearted welcome.

The Creole influence comes from the Jamaican immigrants that arrived in Costa Rica to work on the railways in 1900, and the flavour of Puerto Viejo is firmly rasta. It’s the kind of place to stretch out on the beach, sip on a cold beer, linger over a sunset and swing in a hammock slung between two palm trees. Firmly on the traveler trail, it’s no stranger to foreigners and you’ll find all kinds of bars, restaurants and streetfood stalls scattered through the town. But beware – Puerto Viejo is highly addictive. Many travelers plan to stay for a couple of days and leave months or even years later…

The nearby Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildife Reserve offers great opportunities for hiking, kayaking and snorkeling in the tropical waters. There are also several protected beaches where sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. Though the beaches in town are not the best for swimming and sunbathing, head east and you´ll find golden stretches of sand, complete with swaying palms and turquoise waters. The nicest are Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita and Punta Uva, both just a short tuk-tuk ride away. Slightly further afield the tiny beach town of Cahuita situated right next to a stunning national park with the same name is a great place to relax.

Ideas for

days off

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Get active at the nearby Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildife Reserve, where you can hike, kayak and snorkel your day away in the tropical waters. You’ll also stumble across several protected beaches where sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs.

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Hit the beach at Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita and Punta Uva, all just a short tuk-tuk ride away. On these beaches, you’ll find yourself in a postcard-perfect paradise with swaying coconut palms and golden sands.

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Reef snorkeling. Transparent waters, vibrant coral reefs and a myriad of multi-colored marine creates make snorkeling around Puerto Viejo a must.

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An hour away from Puerto Viejo, the tiny beach town of Cahuita is a wonderful place to explore, perched on the coastline right next to a stunning national park with shady hiking trails and playful monkeys.

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Feast on fresh seafood in the sunshine, packed with Caribbean flavours and the taste of the ocean. There’s no better way to celebrate an evening off.

Drop us a line!

Costa Rica – Wildlife Rescue Center Arenal

Costa Rica – Wildlife Rescue Center Arenal

Wildlife rescue center

Arenal, Costa Rica

Care for rescued animals, learn Spanish and stay at a welcoming homestay at the same time, volunteering for this inspiring project tucked away in the mountains of Costa Rica. Dedicated to wildlife protection, environmental conservation and meaningful cultural exchanges through education, it’s a wonderful place to lend a hand for a few weeks. Back in 1995, the project was founded by a local veterinarian who has devoted his life to protecting injured and orphaned animals. Nowadays, it serves as a rescue center for wildlife of all shapes and sizes. While some of the animals heal sufficiently to be released back into their natural habitat, others are not so lucky. At the rescue center, creatures too weak to return to the forest live in ethical enclosures that recreate their natural homes and treated with respect at all times.

Many of the animals have been involved in road accidents, attacked by local dogs or shocked by electricity poles. Others were confiscated by the government after wildlife traffickers were caught trying to smuggle the animals out of the country. Costa Rica has no set up for these confiscated animals to go, and without wildlife centers like this one, they would be sadly put down. This is what makes the project so special. There’s no state funding for these rescue centers, so all of their income comes from volunteers programs and private donations. They exist purely because of the passion and warm-heartedness of dedicated human individuals. By volunteering with the project, you’ll be bringing much-needed funds as well as a willing pair of hands. In this way, you’ll really make a difference.

Why join this project?

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Care for orphaned and injured animals in the beautiful mountains of Costa Rica.

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Stay at home with the locals, learn Spanish and feel the difference in no time.

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Explore the heart of the Arenal volcano area and its many options for adventure sports: ziplining, canopying, waterfalls, cloud forests and mountains in your spare time.

Want to care for rescued animals and learn Spanish at the same time?

 This project will bring you the best of both worlds. You’ll volunteer in the animal rescue center, stay at home with the local families and learn Spanish – all at the same time! Over the years, road accidents, electricity poles and smuggling have taken toll on Costa Rica’s beautiful, exotic wildlife and this project cares for injured and orphaned animals of all shapes and sizes.  You’ll take a hands-on role at the animals rescue center, based just 27km from La Fortuna, the adventure capital of Costa Rica. Amongst other things, you’ll assess the rehabilitation of the animals, feed them, clean their enclosures and help release them back into the forest.

The project is also passionate about supporting the rural communities surrounding La Fortuna and will provide all kinds of opportunities for you to get to know the friendly locals in the area. The aim is to create meaningful cultural experiences, where people from all over the world learn about animal conservation and, most importantly, learn from one another. During your spare time, you can wobble across treetop bridges on canopy tours, explore the tropical hills by mountain bike and gaze up at smoking volcanoes.

Project duration:

Minimum of 1 week. For this project you need to arrive on Mondays. The departure is always on Saturdays.

Location of project:

The institute is located in a small rural town called Javillos, just 27 km away from La Fortuna, the popular base for exploring the Arenal volcano. Around 300 families live in Javillos, a sleepy place with gorgeous scenery and brightly colored houses. In the surrounding area, there’s elementary school, a church, a handful of local markets and several sunny open plazas where the locals play soccer in the cool evening hours. Javillos is approximately 100km from San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital. It takes around 2 hours to reach the area by shuttle/bus from San Jose, and, in total, 3 hours to reach the institute itself. The shuttle buses will always right on the doorstep of the institute.

Arrival airport:

San José Juan Santamaria Airport.

Activities:

  • Receiving and evaluating newly arrived animals at the rescue center.
  • Introducing animals to their new living quarters and helping them to settle in.
  • Making sure the rescue center runs smoothly by maintaining all of the facilities.
  • Carefully planning the diet and preparing the food of the animals.
  • Assisting with the daily care and, sometimes, helping to release the animals back into the forest.
  • Helping out during surgical procedures for the animals, where necessary.

Working hours:

This is a full time job. You will be working from 8 am till 4pm with lunch at the institute. If you opt to take Spanish lessons, you’ll work part time and study from 8:30am to 12pm before setting off to volunteer with the animals or the local community.

Getting to the project:

Local transfers between your homestay and the volunteering project are included in the cost, leaving around 8am and returning at 4pm.

Requirements:

  • Minimum age 18.
  • As you’ll be working at very close quarters with the animals, the center requires all volunteers to take a tuberculosis test before arrival in Costa Rica
  • Recommended vaccines: Rabies, Yellow Fever (this is not present in Costa Rica, but depending from which country you enter Costa Rica this is a requirement to enter Costa Rica) and Tetanus.
  • Medical insurance.
  • For this project you don’t need to speak Spanish, but it is recommended to have a base of Spanish

What’s included

  • Arrival transfer in San Jose
  • 1 overnight in a comfortable hostal in San Jose, including breakfast
  • Shuttle transfer from San José to the project
  • Volunteer fee for the project
  • Accommodation: Homestay accommodation in the village itself, in a private bedroom with shared bathroom. Laundry is also included.
  • Food:  Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all included in the price of this project. You’ll be treated to a healthy breakfast and dinner at your homestay and given a lunchbox for you work break.
  • Transport: between homestay and the project.
  • Training: In-country orientation.
  • Support: Pre-departure helpdesk, local in-country team and 24 hour emergency support.
  • Half day Spanish lessons are available at an extra cost.

What’s not included

  • Flights
  • Medical insurance
  • While volunteering your transfers to Fortuna or Arenal are not included

 

Costa Rica’s extraordinary wealth of diverse flora and fauna, variety of climates, contrasting eco-systems and friendly people, make it a fascinating and rewarding destination to explore and roll up your sleeves at a wildlife conservation project. Over 25% of Costa Rica’s landscape is protected, making it the real conservation capital of the world. With this project, you’ll nurse injured and orphaned animals back to health, surrounded by rich jungle and smoking volcanoes.

Day 1 (Sunday): Arrive into San José airport (airport code SJO)

Welcome to Costa Rica! When you arrive, you’ll be greeted at the airport and  transferred to your hotel in San José. Here, you’ll receive a welcome package containing your travel itinerary, information about the wildlife conservation project, recommendations and travel tips, as well as vouchers for your services and transfers.

The rest of the day is free for you to recover from your journey and start exploring the city! San José sits in a high valley between green volcanic mountains. It’s a pretty compact city and most of the main sights are within easy walking distance, so you can spend the day wandering through the shady parks, exploring the colorful Mercado Central, stopping for a casado (traditional plate of rice and beans, beef or fish, plantain and salad) and sipping on your first Costa Rican coffee.

Day 2 (Monday): The road to Javillos and your introduction

After breakfast, you will be picked up by your shuttle transfer service and driven to the Wildlife Rescue Institute in the Central Highlands of Costa Rica. During the 3-hour journey from San José to Javillos, you’ll pass through picturesque villages, coffee plantations, strawberry orchards and fern fields, so there’s no chance of getting bored!

Javillos is a small rural town in the county of San Carlos were approximately 300 families live in beautiful, brightly colored houses. The town is home to an elementary school, a church, a handful of open plazas where kids play soccer and several local markets. Just 27 km down the road, you’ll find Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna, where you’ll be offered every adventure activity under the sun, from canopy zip-lining to mountain biking, horse riding, hiking, waterfall rappelling, hot springs, volcano hikes and more!
After arriving around 11:00, you will be welcomed by the staff and taken to your host family, where you will have your own bedroom and shared bathroom as part of the family. Staying here, you can practice your Spanish every day, learn about the Costa Rican way of life and feel at home with locals.

After settling in and enjoying a traditional family lunch, you will be picked up for your introduction tour of the rescue center. First, you will join the half-day visitor tour of the institute, where you’ll learn about the territories, life spans, diets and social behaviours of each creature. You’ll get to know the rescued animals and meet your fellow volunteers. Afterwards, you’ll help to feed the animals before being transferred back to your host family for dinner.

Day 3 (Tuesday) Orientation day at the Wildlife Rescue Institute

Today you will have breakfast with your host family before being picked up around 08:00 and transferred to the rescue center. First, you’ll be introduced your day-to-day contact and then, as a team, you’ll be taken through what is expected from you at the project, the do’s and don’ts, what needs to be done in every installation and how to stay safe while helping the animals. This is also a brilliant chance to ask any burning questions – so don’t hold back!

After lunch, you’ll listen to an informative talk about Costa Rica and an educational interactive meeting on ‘Wildlife Trafficking’ – one of the biggest threats to animals all around the world. The project is dedicated to wildlife protection, environmental conservation, and inspiring cultural exchanges through education. It serves as an animal rescue center, a Spanish school and a volunteer center – all rolled into one.  The project aims to give injured wild animals the care and respect that they deserve whilst nursing them back to health in order to release them into the wild. It also educates the public about the struggle faced by these animals. The institute receives no financial aid from the Costa Rican government, so it relies upon the money and manpower of volunteers to keep the rescue centre alive.

Day 4 (Wednesday) to Day 6 (Friday): Getting stuck in..

You’ll be picked up by the local shuttle transfer around 08:00 for the journey to work every day. After a couple of hours, you’ll take a well-earned coffee break and carry on working until lunch. You’ll be transferred back to your host family around 16:00 and the rest of the day is free for you to relax. At the center, you’ll lend a hand with cleaning the enclosures twice a day, help with painting and repairing and prepare food for the animals. In addition, you’ll assist with creating a more stimulating environment for the animals and make them feel more at home, observing and recording their behavior. Your timetable will be varied and you’ll be working with all kinds of animal species.

If you also decide to take Spanish classes, your lessons will run either from 08:30 to 12:00 or from 12:45 to 16:00. All of the classes are given in Spanish with a high focus on conversation techniques, individually or in small groups. On the first day, you’ll take an evaluation exam to determine your level and your teacher will provide all the materials. All you need to bring is your brain and a dictionary!

 Day 7 and 8 (Saturday and Sunday): Free time!

After working hard all week, you will now have some well-deserved free time. Chill and hang out or do something more exciting – the choice is yours! There are all kinds of activities up for grabs in the area, from tropical white-water rafting on the Sarapiqui River to zip-lining or canopy walking over suspension bridges amongst the rainforest treetops. You can saddle up for some horseback riding, take a kayak tour of Lake Arenal, head off on a mountain bike or try a local chocolate tour. And don’t forget to soak in one of Arenal’s natural hot springs – it’s heaven!

Following weeks…

The next few week will follow a similar pattern – working, taking Spanish classes and enjoying your free time in Costa Rica. Time will fly by so make the most of every minute! It’s an experience packed with challenge and reward.

Your last volunteer day (Friday)

On your last day of work at the rescue center, you can say your fond farewells to the animals, volunteers and staff before setting off home to pack your backpack.

Departure (Saturday)

Today you will wave goodbye to your host family and hit the road again, after a conservation adventure to really remember.

 

Costa Rica rural_jpgYou’ll stay with a local family in Javillos, where you’ll have your own private room with shared bathroom facilities. All of the homestays have been very carefully selected by the project, so you’re in for a warm welcome and a wonderful community experience. You’ll be treated to three healthy meals a day and laundry service is included. In total, the project can accommodate up to 35 volunteers across all of its homestays.

Your host family will be middle class by Costa Rican standards, but please bear in mind that the way of life is simpler here and be prepared to adjust a little. You can help your host family by asking if you can lend a hand with the the farming, gardening or painting. They’ll appreciate every last second of your time and it’s a great way to get to know the community.

This project runs all year round and volunteering project begins every Monday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“A Magic Journey”

Reviewed May 23, 2015 Your heart will be touches by the beauty of the animals. Your hope in humanity’s goodness will be inspired by the compassion and excellence of Proyecto Asis. Paradise, fun, and life memory!

By, Kathleen Sullivan, USA

“Part of a family”

Reviewed June 11, 2014 Wow what a great experience! I stayed here only for 5 days as part of a study trip but would definitely recommend to go here, learn Spanish, stay with the loveliest host family and take care of the animals at the centre. As this project is in such a small community you feel part of this very fast and within…

By, Susan Braam, The Netherlands

“Terrific Experience”

Reviewed March 23, 2014 It’s a worthwhile organization doing great work with rescued animals. The tour gives visitors a chance to get up close and personal with some amazing animals—holding hands with spider monkeys, feeding birds and a playful coati, and handling a small boa constrictor, among much else. I stayed for five days with my family as volunteers (I’m pretty sure mine is one of the families mentioned in the dumb review below). We got to know the amazing staff, as well as the animals. We’re back in the US now, but my 7-year-old daughter keeps asking about the animals and wondering how they are. I can’t recommend this highly enough. If you go for the tour, it’s great, but volunteering for a week made it even more meaningful.

By, Paul Caputo, USA

“Nothing Like It”

Reviewed February 18, 2014 I worked as a volunteer for a month and a half, and got treated with nothing but open arms- and the same will happen to you if you go there! Very family friendly place, with a very nice staff. If you go there, definitely go on the longer option of helping feed the animals. When i saw visitors walking through there feeding the monkeys, birds, etc. there was nothing but smiles! It really is a life-changing experience. Nothing like this anywhere else. Thank you Proyecto Asis, for the amazing experience!

By, Summer Grandy, USA

“What a wonderful experience!!”

Reviewed October 29, 2011 I spent two weeks in Costa Rica through a program with my veterinary school and Proyecto Asis. It was one of the best experiences of my life! The homestay was fantastic! We spent the first week taking Spanish classes, taught by wonderful teachers and the next volunteering at the center and travelling around Costa Rica. The people there are some of the kindest, most genuine people I have ever met, and the animals themselves are great!

By, Kathleen Sullivan, USA

Arenal and La Fortuna can be visited any time of year and there is always plenty to do, however if you want to see the Arenal Volcano peak free of low-hanging cloud against a backdrop of blue skies, then certain times of the year are better than others. December through February are the rainiest and cloudiest months, then from March to the beginning of August weather is hit and miss and changes fast. The absolute best time for volcano gazing is late August to early November.

How do you get everyday to ASIS?

The people of ASIS picks up all volunteers and take them to the project.

What should I pack?

Clothes that can get dirty, long pants, swimsuit, had, rubber boots, raincoat, beachtowel (for hotsrpings), flashlight. Spanish dictionary if they are taking classes.

What can I bring to the family that receives them?

Our families love it if you bring something special or typical of your culture.

Can I use the phone in the home stay?

Yes, most families have a telephone. You can purchase a phone card for different amounts and use it with any phone.

This project is on the lookout for…

Volunteers of all ages with a real passion for protecting wildlife and supporting rural local communities. It’s ideal for anyone looking for a personal and supported experience, staying in a family environment and taking Spanish classes every day.

I had a great time at Proyecto Asis in Costa Rica. I worked with the animals firsthand almost every day, and I learned a lot about the animals and culture of Costa Rica. Having Spanish lessons helped improve my Spanish, as did living with a host family. I experienced the life of Costa Ricans in my everyday life with the host family in all aspects; the food, the language, the way of life.

I would recommend this program to anyone with a passion for animals and latino culture.

Camilla from Scandinavia

July 2015

About

Arenal

The small town of La Fortuna is located a short (but safe!) distance from the Arenal Volcano. After lying dormant for around 400 years the Arenal Volcano erupted spectacularly in 1968 and remains active to this day. Since the grand eruption, the town of La Fortuna has been steadily growing as more and more visitors come to the region to see the fiery Arenal peak and explore the natural beauty of the region.The presence of Arenal is everywhere. Whether you are wandering around La Fortuna village hunting for souvenirs, canopy-rappelling through the forest, boating on the beautiful Lake Arenal, horse riding or hiking through the countryside – the Arenal Volcano is there, brooding away on the horizon. In the evenings, the sunset turns the active side of the volcano a glowing pink colour, and the surrounding green pastures and forests light up in the sunshine.The wildlife of the region is also fascinating and with much of Costa Rica’s wildlife coming out after dark night time, nighttime nature-spotting excursions are popular here. You´ll have the chance to see sloths, howler monkeys, night herons, spectacled owls and American crocodile.

Ideas for

days off

N

Relaxing in the hot springs is a must in Arenal. Eco Termales is our favorite for its views of the volcano. Also, its daily visitor limit means it never gets too crowded.

N

The Caño Wetlands are one of the best places in Costa Rica to see wildlife year round. As well as many bird species you´ll see capuchin monkeys, sloths, iguanas, river turtles, caiman and the basilisk, a lizard which can walk on water!

N

Take the Lava Walk to see the Arenal up close! It´s an easy walk to the lava fields and from there you can see and hear huge boulders and billowing smoke being ejected from the volcano peak. You´ll be at a safe distance, but it might not feel like it!

N

Visit the Fortuna Waterfall on foot or by horse. Plunging down a forested cliff into a deep blue pool, the Fortuna Waterfall is a beautiful picnic spot. The brave can jump into the pool for a very refreshing dip in the chilly waters!

N

Don’t miss out on exploring the forest from on high, either zip-lining or canopy walking over suspension bridges. The bird’s eye view vista is the best way to see the cloud forest wildlife.

Drop us a line!

Costa Rica – Turtle Conservation

Costa Rica – Turtle Conservation

Turtle conservation project

Costa Rica

Help protect the native sea turtles of Costa Rica, learn Spanish and get a huge dose of Caribbean sunshine at the same time.

This non-profit organization is run by volunteers for volunteers, so it needs all the help it can get. Its sole mission is keeping the sea turtles safe and finding a way for the locals and turtles to live together in harmony. Poachers, fishing nets and pollution have led to a serious decline in both the Leatherback and Green Sea Turtle population.

As a volunteer, you’ll patrol the beaches, lend a hand with turtle rehabilitation at the rescue center and help out at the hatchery. At the same time, you’ll contribute to improving the living standards of the locals, who will act as paid guides during your beach patrols.

It’s beautiful, community-centered stuff. Started in 2006 by two Dutch friends, the project quickly became a leading light in turtle conservation. Staffed entirely by open-minded volunteers, the atmosphere on the beach is packed with kindness and enthusiasm. You’ll need to be prepared for a totally immersive experience, as the location is remote and you won’t find a wisp of Wifi for miles around. The whole place is solar-powered, so there’s no electricity, although there are a few (weak) cellphone hotspots dotted along the beach that might let you send the odd text message. Castaway doesn’t even begin to cover it. Prepare to be out of touch with technology for your duration of your stay. Tap into with the gorgeous scenery around you and forget the rest of the world for a while.

Why join this project?

E

Lend a really important hand to keep the native sea turtles alive and kicking.

E

Help educate the local community to live in harmony with their turtle population.

E

Learn Spanish on a castaway Caribbean beach and feel part of an inspiring community.

Want to protect turtles on an isolated Caribbean beach?

This project is all about inspiring humans to live in harmony with nature. As a volunteer, you’ll protect the sea turtles of Costa Rica and help the locals achieve a balance with their native wildlife at the same time. It’s all about an isolated community working together to create a safe, happy home for the turtles – and for each other. Started by two Dutch friends back in 2006, the project is run entirely by passionate volunteers and volunteer managers. As a result, the beaches radiate an atmosphere of real energy and dedication.

Volunteering with the project, you’ll lend a hand with the rehabilitation of injured turtles at the rescue center, patrol the beaches to keep the turtle eggs safe and help out at the on-site hatchery. You’ll also bring some much-needed income to the locals, as they will act as paid guides during your patrols. Right now, the Leatherback and Green Sea Turtles of Costa Rica are in serious decline, constantly under threat from poachers, fishing nets, pollution and more. Leatherbacks are the most critically endangered, as their eggs are believed to hold mysterious aphrodisiac powers. The Green Turtle is famous for its delicious meats and eggs, so it fights off poachers on all fronts. By becoming part of the 24/7 turtle watch, you’ll literally be keeping these beautiful creatures alive. When the eggs have been laid, you’ll whisk them off to the hatchery, to ensure that the baby turtles are born in a safe place, giving them the best chance of survival.
Fancy learning some Spanish to get you off on the right foot? This project has its very own language school, making it the perfect place to knuckle down to some serious Spanish.

Project duration:

Minimum of 1 week, recommended maximum 2 weeks, you can always extend locally

Location of project:

A beautiful, wild and isolated beach on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, around 1km north of the mouth of the Pacuare River. The project covers almost 10km of the coastline and the beach is part of the 50km stretch between Tortuguero National Park.

Arrival airport:

San José Juan Santamaria Airport

Activities:

  • Patrolling the beaches at night with a local guide to protect the turtles from poachers, come rain or shine.
  • Lending a hand at the hatchery to help the turtle population survive and thrive.
  • Caring for recuperating turtles at the rescue center.
  • Helping with the day-to-day running of the project.

Working hours:

As the beaches are patrolled at night, be prepared to work irregular shifts through hours of darkness. During the day, you’ll help out at the hatchery and rescue center, or lend a hand behind-the-scenes. No two days will ever be same! You will work between 5 and 8 hours per day.

Getting to the project:

You will be met at the bus stop in the centre of Bataan, a small banana plantation town approx 2.5hrs away from San Jose, at 11:30am. Public buses from San Jose to Bataan depart at 9am, so you’ll definitely need one night in the city before you set off for the project. All of your bus details will be included in the confirmation email that you receive when you reserve a placement. If you arrive from Limon, just cross over the street to the San Jose bus stop and you’ll find your representative waiting. From Bataan, you’ll continue by 4×4 through the banana plantations to the dock and then by shuttle boat through the canals to the project itself.

Requirements:

  • Minimum age 18.
  • Full medical insurance.
  • Reasonable level of fitness
  • Bring a headlight with red led light (this is obligatory to bring)

What’s included

  • Private transfer from the International Airport San José to the Hotel
  • 1 overnight in a comfortable hostal in San Jose, breakfast included
  • Donation fee for the project
  • Private transfer from your San José hotel to the public bus terminal Los Caribeños,
  • Bus ticket from San José to Bataan, Local transportation between Bataan and the project
  • Dorm accommodation with shared facilities at the project
  • Food:  while at the project all meals are included
  • Local transportation on Monday or Thursday between the project and Bataan.
  • Support: Pre-departure helpdesk, local in-country team and 24 hour emergency support

What’s not included

  • Flights
  • Medical insurance
  • Spanish classes optional, these can’t be booked in advance, but you can coordinate this locally- aprox cost 80 USD per week
  • Return journey from Bataan onwards

 

Working with this project, you’ll find that every single day is different, bringing new rewards and challenges. You’ll need an open mind and flexible attitude towards last minute changes, but in general, this is what your first week might look like…

Day 1 (Sunday or Wednesday): Arrive into San José airport (airport code SJO)

Welcome to Costa Rica! Today you will be welcomed at the airport by our English speaking driver and tranferred to your hotel in San José. Here, you’ll receive a welcome package that includes your travel itinerary, handy arrival information, general information about the wildlife conservation project, travel tips, as well as vouchers for your confirmed services and transfers.

You will have the rest of the day free to recover from your journey and get a good night’s sleep before tomorrow’s first night patrol at the project. However, you can  also spend a few hours exploring the city! We definitely recommend stocking up on some groceries and grabbing some cash at an ATM today (banks are closed during weekends), at the project is located in the jungle on a very isolated beach.

San José is quite a compact city, so most of the main sights are within easy walking distance. Drop by the parks and museums, wander through the colorful Mercado Central, stop for a casado (traditional plate of rice and beans, beef or fish, plantain and salad), try some local coffee and soak up the atmosphere.

If you are already in Costa Rica, we can arrange the Sunday or Wednesday night in San José for you as well, so that you’ll be ready to start your program on Monday or Thursday. Volunteers always start on a Monday or Thursday (March – August). Please contact us for more information.

Day 2 (Monday or Thursday): On your way to the Caribbean as well as Orientation and the First Volunteer Work– Pacuare River mouth on the Caribbean beach

After breakfast this morning, you’ll be picked up by our English speaking driver and transferred to the Los Caribeños public bus terminal. Here, he’ll buy you a ticket for the 9am bus to Bataan on the route to Puerto Limon (in case there is no availability, you will get a ticket for the next bus available and the project will be informed, as public bus tickets can’t be purchased beforehand and Bataan can only be reached by public bus).

During the 2.5-hour ride from San José to the Caribbean, the fantastic landscape will unfold before your eyes. You’ll pass through the spectacular rainforest of Braulio Carrillo National Park, where you’ll see beautiful rivers and lush tropical plants from your window. Next, you’ll weave between pineapple and banana plantations before reaching Bataan, the meeting point of the project.

In Bataan, a representative will be waiting for you. Here, you can do some last minute shopping before being transferred to a 4×4 taxi that will drive you through the banana plantations to a small dock. Now, the real adventure begins! From the dock, you’ll set off on a shuttle boat ride through the narrow canals and mangroves to the project, located on an isolated Caribbean beach 1 km north of the mouth of the famous Pacuare River. You’ll be accompanied by the loud roar of howler monkeys on the way. On sunny days, it’s possible to see 3 different types of monkeys including everyone’s favorite cheeky swinging white-faced monkeys. You’ll also see many species of birds, fresh water turtles, iguanas, Jesus lizards, caimans and – if you are really lucky – crocodiles!

On arrival, you’ll be greeted by the manager and given a health and safety introduction as well as a general explanation of how things work. Next, you’ll be shown to your accommodation, a dormitory-style beach cabin that sleeps up to 6 people. There’s no electricity at the project, but solar power is used to pump water from the fresh water well and provide lighting in the public areas. It’s really important to bring a headtorch with a red LED light option, both for evening and for your night shifts.

After settling in and meeting some fellow volunteers, your Turtle Patrol Training will begin. Be aware that you will be expected to work with the turtles on your first night, as you are often replacing volunteers that have left earlier that day. Be sure to get good night’s sleep the night before arrival!

Most of the local people in the area participate in the project, as it brings them some much-needed income. This means that the locals will usually be your guides during your turtle patrols. Throw in your co-volunteers, usually from every corner of the globe, and this mix of cultures creates a relaxed atmosphere where everyone feels at home. You’ll meet your fellow volunteers at dinner, hear their turtle stories and pick up some project tips.

During the Turtle Patrol Training, you’ll be introduced to your personal day-to-day contact. Your trainer will cover all kinds of important information and instruct you on the do’s and don’ts – the correct protocol to follow on finding a nesting turtle as well as how to record the various data that you will responsible for collecting while she is nesting.
You’ll also find out about your own patrol schedule during the meeting.

As turtle activity happens at night, volunteers tend to rest after dinner in preparation for their shifts, reading a book or playing card games. Then, 15 minutes before your patrol shift begins, you’ll meet your local guide and get ready to save some turtles! These nightly Turtle Patrol Shifts usually last between 4 and 5 hours.

Day 3 (Tuesday or Friday): Helping out with the turtles

Congratulations! You are now officially part of an inspiring, significant project for sea turtles and humans alike. Over your first breakfast, you can share all of your turtle experiences from the shift last night.

After breakfast, you will receive your some important hatchery training. This will allow you to man the turtle hatchery and guard the nests that, sooner or later, will explode with energetic little baby turtles. Turtle hatchlings take place from May until the end of August. If you volunteer at the beginning of the season, you’ll construct the hatchery, which involves a lot of digging, sand sifting and carrying buckets of sand. Your trainer will instruct you on the correct protocol to follow whilst volunteering in the hatchery.

You and one other will be responsible for measuring, weighting and releasing the baby turtles as they hatch. Shifts can be between 4 and 6 hours long and the hatchery is manned by volunteers on a 24 hour basis to stop predators getting into the nests. Crying is completely allowed when you see the babies flapping madly towards the sea and their new lives! It’s a beautiful, emotional experience.

Day 4 (Wednesday or Saturday) to Day 8 (Saturday or Tuesday): Time to get stuck into some good volunteering

The rest of your volunteer time will be a mix of patrolling the beaches for turtles at night (in all weathers) with the local guides, manning the turtle hatchery and caring for recuperating adult turtles in the turtle rescue and rehabilitation centre. You’ll also be involved with the behavioral study and care of rescued adult turtles as they recover in tanks with the guidance of an onsite vet.

During your stay, you may also be involved in turtle exhumations. This is when the resident biologist or research assistants, with your help, dig up a nest of already hatched turtles to investigate why some eggs didn’t hatch. It’s a great daytime opportunity to take photographs of baby turtles in their nest.

On top of all this, you’ll also lend a hand with the day-to-day operational duties of running the project. You’ll help out with raking the beach, washing the dishes, cleaning the bathrooms and preparing the daily meals provided by the project. In your free time, you can play card games, catch some sun, practice your Spanish, swing in a hammock, make friends with locals and co-volunteers, snooze, read books from the project library, watch wildlife, hand-washing your own clothes, take long walks, write your travel blog, and listen to the sounds of the jungle or the waves breaking on the beach.

No two days are the same! You’ll be working with both turtles and people as part of a team and getting all kinds of new experiences. Be prepared for a challenge, but a very rewarding one! The work at the project can sometimes be physically demanding, as you’ll walk for several hours on the beach in all weathers, mainly at night time, looking for nesting adult turtles. During your stay, you’ll be given lectures that cover the lifecycle of turtles with various facts and figures. You’ll learn all about the positive impact of volunteers on the program, which will give you a deeper understanding of the difference that you’re making during your stay. We can guarantee you that it’s heartwarming, meaningful and packed with animal magic.

Spare Time!

Around volunteering hours, there will also be time off to chill on the beach or set off to do something more exciting. You can go fishing, sunbathe on the beach, read a book in a hammock, play board/card games, start up a soccer or volleyball match, hike, make new friends from all over the world and learn Spanish.

If you are interested, the project has a language school that offers accelerated intensive Spanish course for beginners and improvers at an additional. You can also head out on a canal trip with Freddy’s Wildlife Boat Tour, a brilliant two hours of cruising the canals and mangroves with your camera whilst enjoying the abundance of wildlife and nature around you.

Note: As the turtles at the project need constant help, the volunteers coordinate their rest days on the spot, usually after 10 days of volunteering. You won’t necessarily get weekends off, so you need to be prepared for complete project immersion!

Following weeks

There is a 7 night minimum stay at the project. If you are staying longer, the next few weeks will follow a similar pattern to the week described above. Time will fly by, so make the most of every minute during your hands-on turtle experience!

Your last volunteer day (Monday or Thursday)

On your last day, you’ll leave by boat at 5am for the journey back to Bataan. We definitely recommend that you pack your things during daylight hours on the day before your departure. Turtle patrols are usually optional for volunteers on their last night, but you’ll be involved in some final hatchery work during the day.

Now, it’s time to take your final photos of the giant butterflies, iguanas and leaf-cutter ants around the project and a few shots with your fellow turtle friends. Having said your fond farewells to everyone at the project, it is time to go your own way, either heading home or exploring more of Costa Rica.

 

la-tortuga-feliz08You’ll sleep in a dorm-style cabin right on the beach that houses up to six people. You’ll need to expect the simple life here. With no electricity and no wi-fi, it’s time to tune out of technology and tune back into nature. The cabins are located in the jungle on an isolated beach, so there are no shops nearby. It’s all about the bare necessities.

On arrival in Bataan, you can pick up a few last minute things at a supermarket before heading off by 4×4 and boat to the project itself. All of your food will is included in the price of your volunteering stint and the project happily caters for vegetarians.

This project runs from the 1st of March till the 31st of August. This is the time frame the turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. The program has space for 15 volunteers at the same time. Placements fill up fast, so it is recommended to book in advance! Turtle hatchlings are present from May till August. The Months March and April you will help contract the hatchery.

The program always starts on Monday or Thursday and it ends also on Monday or Thursday.

“Great opportunity”

Reviewed May, 2015

This is a great opportunity to get a first hand experience of what wildlife conservation is all about. LTF is very organized in their daily (and nightly) activities and really care for the well being of the turtles. The Leatherback turtles are truly living relics from the past. You got to see one in person to appreciate the size and beauty of these mysterious animals.
Collecting their eggs and burying them in the hatchery (for incubation and protection) were both once in a lifetime experiences. You do not need to know Spanish to volunteer as most of the other volunteers and the staff speak English as well. However, to converse with the locals, you will need to brush up your Spanish skills!
Tips for other travellers

1) Please remember that there is a lot of hard work involved during the day and odd hours during the night. Do not expect to be sitting around sipping pina colada in paradise though you do get some downtime during the day. However, you will be a lot fitter when you leave 🙂
2) Please bring long sleeved tops, full pants and socks (all dark colors) no matter how hot and wet you think it will be. The sand flies (and mosquitoes in the wet season) will feast on you otherwise and trust me, you don’t want that.
3) Bring your camera and binoculars to observe the wildlife around the camp.
4) Food is healthy and tasty (vegetarian) with a lot of variety for lunch and dinner.
5) Give yourself a few days before or after the program to explore the rainforests and volcanoes of Costa Rica. This is a paradise for nature lovers.

Rajesh from USA

“Great experience”

Reviewed May, 2015

Overall, a great experience! My two weeks were an ideal mix of good, solid work with the turtles and time to relax and get to know the other volunteers from around the world. I’d recommend this project to anyone interested in having fun while putting forth a solid effort to help an important cause- both in helping the turtles and in working to build a sustainable enterprise within the local community. Also- the food is amazing!

Tips for other travellers
I recommend staying at Hotel Aranjuez.

Emily from Canada

“Amazing life changing experience!”

Reviewed April, 2014

I recently finished volunteering for 3 months with a non profit organisation protecting sea turtles in Costa Rica and i really want to spread the word. Working with the turtles was definitely one of the most rewarding and life changing experience of my life. The project area is on a unique place at the caribbean with lots of wildlife! My daily activities included beach patrolling and hatchery work. Living conditions were basic as expected, however, the amazing food was a welcome surprise. The rewards not only consisted of the opportunity to bond with a diverse group of people but also
to actively participate in an organisation that truly helps both; the marine wildlife and the local community. If anyone is interested in cheap voluntary work in Central America, i couldn’t recommend LTF more!

Matthijs from the Netherlands

 

“Feliz, Feliz, Feliz”

Reviewed November, 2014

LTF is a great organization with an inspiring mission. The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is gorgeous, and I was able to spend my time working with sea turtles and helping their legacy, as well as see tons of other wildlife, including sloths, which are my absolute favorite! An amazing cultural immersion, as well as rewarding conservation work. Highly recommend!

Julia from Florida USA

 

What are the daily activities?

You can help with the realization of the project objectives mainly by patrolling the beaches at night (in all weathers) looking for adult nesting turtles together with the local inhabitants in shifts, manning the hatchery and working in the turtle rehabilitation centre taking care of any turtles that maybe unwell. There are daily operational duties too.This means that you will be working irregular hours and no 2 days are the same!!

In the off-season from late November to late February, you can help with maintenance of buildings and the creation of an ideal environment for turtles to lay their eggs. You are also involved with day to day running of the project. Expect to be busy!

In which months am I welcome?

You are welcome all months of the year. The  only period in which you can’t see turtles is from late November to late February but there are lots of other essential working activities to be involved with during this time. We have to deconstruct the hatchery and then reconstruct another and prepare the sand for the new season. Beach cabins need to be painted and prepared. Beaches need to be cleared of plastic bottles and trash. Day to day operations continue with cooking for volunteers and bathrooms to be cleaned. You will see monkeys, fish, crocodiles, 145 species of birds, iguanas and fresh water turtles. You may also see dolphins, sloth’s, foxes and wild cats.

What is the availibility?/When to reserve?

Volunteers are needed all year and you can check with us availability for your proposed dates. This project gets booked up very quickly, so as soon as you know your travel plans let us know

What do I have to bring?

  • Some dark-coloured clothing for patrolling.
  • High factor Suncream
  • Mosquito spray/repellent
  • Rain clothing
  • Head Flashlight (with red light option for turtle work) with batteries.
  • Good shoes/training shoes (old ones are best as they will get wet and sandy).
  • Alarmclock (Battery operated)
  • Books/playing cards
  • Towel
  • Basic First Aid Kit
  • Black Bag for your backpack should it rain on the boat. Rain is usually very heavy and starts suddenly.
  • Anti-itch cream
  • Thick long socks

 

Do you cater to vegetarians?

Yes we do.

Do I need vaccinations?

Vaccinations are a personal decision. Check with your doctor as to what is recommended for Costa Rica so you can make an informed choice.

Are hiking shoes a must, or is it possible to use firm training shoes?

That depends…. Some people like hiking shoes and others training shoes.
You have to imagine that the sand is not hard, but very soft (old ones are best as they will get wet and sandy).

Can you make sure I am in the same dormitory as my friend/partner?

Depending on space we can usually make this happen if you mention this on arrival at the project.

Is there a medical service nearby?

We can get you to a hospital in just under an hour but a basic first aid kit helps.

What about Travel//health Insurance?

Travel/health insurance is highly recommended.

Do you have electricity?

No. We have solar power to pump water from our well and it provides lighting in public areas only.

Do you have internet access?

No. Please let family/friends know that you will be out of contact during the period of your stay.

What can I do in my spare time?

After volunteering you can fish, sunbathe on the beach, read a book in a hammock, play several board/card games, play soccer or volleyball, hike, make friends with co- volunteers/world travellers and of course learn Spanish.

Do I have to speak spanish?

No, You dont have to speak Spanish! But we stimulate you to learn and speak it. It makes it easier to communicate with the local inhabitants because they hardly speak any English.

Are there shops near the project?

We are located in the jungle on an isolated beach with no shopping options. On arrival in Bataan there is the possibility to do some last minute shopping at a supermarket before we head off by taxi and boat to the project.

Does my cell phone work at (or around) the project?

There are some spots around the island that sometimes, with much patience, provide you with a small signal that is enough to send/receive text messages. No guarantees.

Is there a phone connection?

Not yet. You will receive Emergency Contact details for your family in your reservation confirmation email after booking.

Where should I go after I arrive in Bataan?

You will be met off the bus at the bus stop in the centre of Bataan. If you arrive from Limon you will need to cross over the street to the San Jose bus stop and we will meet you there at 11.30am. WE ALWAYS MEET THE BUS.

I reserved for 3 weeks but I might leave after 2 weeks?

Breaking your commitment sometimes has negative effects on the turtles, local community and your co-volunteers. If you are undecided as to whether this volunteering opportunity is for you we recommend making a short reservation with a view to extending if you love it.

What shouldn’t I bring to the project?

Surfboards,diving equipment, laptops or anything that relies on electricity.

I am a young female who has never travelled alone before and I love the thought of helping to save turtles but am a little nervous about the trip.

Many of our volunteers fall into this category and we have taken this into account by giving you all the necessary information you need to get here safely in your confirmation email.

Can I wash my clothes at the project?

We provide soap powder, buckets and sunshine for hand-washing or for a small fee will wash it for you.

My flight home is on the day I arrive/leave the project!

We NEVER recommend leaving or arriving on the same day that your flight is scheduled. Costa Rica suffers extreme rains which sometimes results in long delays in traffic which could result in you missing your flight home. As you are usually replacing volunteers who have just left the project you will be needed to begin working with the turtles the night you arrive. Arriving tired to the project after flying is not a good idea. Most volunteers stay their first and last night in San Jose

 

 

 

 

 

This project is on the lookout for…

Anyone over 18yrs old with an open mind, a love of wildlife and a sense of adventure. You’ll be patrolling the beach on foot during all weathers for several hours at a time, so you need to be in reasonably good shape! The project is based in a very remote area, with no internet connectivity or phone reception, so you also need to be prepared for simple living.

The happy turtle project has been fantastic, it has been a super experience 🙂

Staying in Tortoga feliz was amazing and Rob is just a fantastic chef. We where lucky to be spend a week with a super group of volunteers and taking part in the happy turtle project has been a fascinating and happy experience.

Thanks Encounter for helping organizing

Maj & Hans - July 2015

About

Tortuguero

The project is situated almost 3 hours from San Jose on a beautiful isolated beach 1km north of the mouth of the Pacuare River. It covers almost 10km of the coastline between Tortuguero National Park and the harbour town of Limon. Right behind the beach, you’ll find the Amazon of Costa Rica, a mangrove rainforest criss-crossed by rivers, canals and lagoons. The area can only be reached by motorboat, making it a wild, remote location. Tortuguero is the largest green turtle nesting site in the Caribbean, but hawksbill, loggerhead, and giant leatherback turtles also trundle ashore to breed. Although the population is now stable, the turtles are still vulnerable and conservation efforts are extremely important to their future.

The area is known for the lushness of its rainforest and the tropical life that it supports. The jungle trails are overhung with vines and bromeliads and the forest floor is dotted with bright, rare orchids. There are over 300 species of birds here, as well as crocodiles patrolling the canals, monkeys, iguanas and tiny dart frogs. The whole place glints with rain and sun and the tropical colors of its rainforest wildlife.

Volunteering here, you’ll be staying in a true tropical wilderness, living in a cabin on the beach. There’s no electricity, no wi-fi and only the tiniest hint of cellphone reception. Prepare to be out of touch with the rest of the world for the duration of your stay. Unplugged from technology, you can tune into your natural surroundings and become part of a welcoming, isolated community.

Ideas for

days off

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The beach really is a hidden tropical paradise, so life here is all about the simple things. After volunteering you can fish, snorkel and sunbathe on the beach, swing in a hammock, play soccer or volleyball and go hiking.

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As you’ll be in a remote location, you’ll have plenty of time to learn Spanish in total peace at the project’s own school.

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Head to nearby Tortuguero National Park and rent a kayak to paddle through a maze of twisting jungle canals and mangroves. It’s a great way to spot wildlife – your own private water safari!

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Make a beeline for the Caribbean Conservation Corporation’s Visitor Center to learn even more about the efforts to protect the turtles through Tortuguero. Admission is free, and it’s a inspiring way to get up to speed on the entire area.

Drop us a line!

Cusco – Peru

Cusco – Peru

Children’s eduation center

Cusco, Peru

Spend a few weeks in colorful Cusco giving the local kids a hand with their homework, boosting their creativity and giving them a much-needed sense of stability. Many of the children here lead tough lives, facing abuse from parents or having no homes at all. This project exists to give them a loving learning environment, a brief relief from their daily struggles and kit them out with skills to build a brighter future.

Started in 2004 by one incredible man with a burning desire to make the world a better place, the project is all about education through love. The idea is that the most beautiful gift you can possibly give others is opportunity – and that’s exactly what you’ll do here. In the process, you’ll learn just as much about yourself as you teach the kids. You’ll work with kids between the ages of 5 and 17 years, running theatre, music and painting workshops, helping to upkeep the library and teaching the kids about world cultures and ecology.  Not only this, but you’ll living in the magical Cusco and close to the Lost Kingdom of Machu Picchu.

Why join this project?

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Live in to the atmospheric and magical Cusco, the beating heart of Inca culture.

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Support children, given them tools to make something of their future.

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Explore the awe-inspiring Lost Kingdom of Machu Picchu, the secrets of the Sacred Valley in your spare time.

Want to inspire creativity and understanding in spirited local kids?

Created to provide peace and stability to kids in Peru, this very special project is uplifting and unique. The main goal is to support the local children and help them to build skills that will set them on the road to a brighter future. Many of these kids not being cared for or don’t have homes at all. The project offers a loving, kind learning environment during after-school hours and receives children between 5 and 17 years old from several public schools in the areas.

Established in 2004 by a young Peruvian guy with a big dream and no funding at all, the project is run entirely on the passion and kindness of people all over the world. It offers the children help with their school homework, as well as different kinds of creative workshops and seminars covering world cultures and religions and ecology. Today, the project has its very own cultural center and welcomes over 100 children every single day.

Volunteers come here to teach, but learn a whole lot about life at the same time. Ultimately, the goal of the project is to build a sustainable eco-village for the children and all of the income generated by the hostel, restaurant and volunteers go towards this cause, so you’ll really help to make a difference during your stay. It’s somewhere very special and an experience that will stick with you years to come.

You will need to have a good base of Spanish for this project. In case your Spanish is basic, we can set you up with a 2 week (or more) ~Spanish course of 4 hours a day prior to the project, but in case you want to improve your Spanish, you can also take classes while volunteering.

Project duration:

Min 1 week – Max 6 months (agos check)

Location of project:

Cusco, in the pitoresque San Blas, located at a walking distance to the main square

Arrival airport:

Cusco Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ)

Activities:

  • Helping local kids complete their homework, reading stories and monitoring each child personally.
  • Getting involved in creative workshops focused on theatre, music, painting or dance.
  • Assisting with group sessions that discuss life issues such as a world cultures, religion, ecology and sexuality.
  • Lending a hand in the library.
  • Pitching in with absolutely anything else that crops up!

Working hours:

The School is opened from Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm and 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm, and on Saturdays from 10:00 am to 1:30 pm (depending on where they go exercise). The hours that the volunteer will have to help, depends on the exact help that the volunteer will provide which will be assigned upon arrival and considering the volunteer skills. Each working day however, has an average of 4 hours working hours.

Getting to the project:

The hostel where you will be staying is connected to the program and is a 10 minute walk

Requirements:

  • Minimum age 20.
  • Police certificate
  • Basic Spanish required.
  • Medical insurance.

What’s included

  • Volunteer fee for the project
  • Accommodation in a shared room at the hostel
  • Food: The hostel provides your breakfast
  • Airport pickup: Included on arrival date.
  • Support: Pre-departure helpdesk, local in-country team and 24 hour emergency support

What’s not included

  • Flights, insurance, visas, additional activities
  • Spanish Classes
  • Other meals
  • Return journey to the airport

Volunteering with the project can be perfectly combined with a local language school, giving you a chance to make a difference and brush up on your Spanish at the same time. Spanish classes are 4 hours either in the morning or the afternoon

Day 1 (Sunday): Arrive into Cusco airport (airport code CUZ)

Our volunteer coordinator will pick you up from the airport and transfer you to the hostal where you will be staying for at least 2 weeks. The hostel is owned by the project and located at a 10 min walk from the education center.

Day 2 (Monday) – orientation day

Your day starts with an orientation meeting at 11 at the center. here you will meet the other volunteers and you will discuss together with your coordinator in what tasks you will assigned to. This will depend on your level of Spanish and interests.

Day 3 (Tuesday) to day 6 (Friday) – working with the children

Depending if you take Spanish classes your volunteer work will be either in the morning or the afternoon. Usually you will work the first 2 hours with the children in reinforcement of education (reading, computer, math, art etc). The last 2 hours are for workshops. Working times will be either from  08.30 to 12.30 Hs or in the afternoon  from 15.00 to 19.00 Weekends are free.

On Fridays there is a meeting with your coordinator to discuss the week end to prepare the next one

Day 7 & 8 (week end) free to explore Cusco and surroundings

Cusco has many many things to see and do. If you are a real adventurous there are many trekkings & mountainbike trips into the sacred valley, exploring tiny villages. Cusco itself also has many things to do and see. Sometimes during the week end the center organizes special activities, but this is usually not the case.

YYanapay magic hostalou’ll stay in a welcoming hostel owned by the project and packed with character, sleeping in dorm-style accommodation with shared bathrooms. Each dorm houses up to 10 volunteers and there are private rooms with shared bathrooms available at an additional cost. Breakfast and lunch are included on a daily basis. Breakfast is a healthy and delicious buffet affair featuring breads, jams, oatmeal, granola fruits and hot drinks.

With a playground for the neighborhood kids, the hostel is popular with the community as well as volunteers, giving you a great opportunity to get to know the local people. Home to beautiful green areas scattered with colorful hammocks as well as a restaurant and bar, it’s wonderful place to relax at the end of a working day. There are all kinds of conscious activities up for grabs, including yoga, drum sessions and massage circles. The hostel also organizes regular social events such as barbecues, karaoke, move nights and salsa lessons.

This project runs all year round, and always starts on Mondays. You’ll need to commit to at least one full week, but beyond that, the timing is very flexible. Simply let us know when you want to arrive and we’ll take care of the rest! If you’re staying for at least a month, you’ll be given more complex, trusted responsibilities. The longer your stay, the more rewarding your experience!

This project is on the lookout for…

Volunteers at least 18 years old dedicated to promoting peace, love and stability. You’ll need to commit to the project for at least one full week and be prepared to give 110% when you are working with the kids. You’ll need energy, consistency and a willingness to get stuck in to all kinds of activities, from teaching to sweeping or washing. A decent grasp of Spanish is recommended, but we can book Spanish classes alongside the project if you’re a bit of a novice.

About

Cusco

Cusco is the beating heart of Inca culture, nestled in the Andes near to the magical Lost Kingdom of Machu Picchu. With friendly locals, atmospheric cobbled streets and a constant carnival atmosphere, it’s a brilliant base for a volunteering stint. Encased by crumbling ancient walls, it’s a city where legend lingers in the streets and ancient traditions remain alive and kicking. The Incas called Cusco the ‘belly button of the world’ and as soon as you arrive, you’ll see why. It’s somewhere bursting with life and color that will get you right into the Peruvian thick of things. The only tricky part is leaving…

You’ll find shady plazas filled with dancers in local costumes, gorgeous colonial buildings, quirky cafés and lively bars perfect for a Pisco Sour (or two). As a crossroads for travelers coming to or from Machu Picchu, Cusco has a bohemian vibe and an air of real excitement. Not only this, but the scenery is simply to die for. Surrounded by snow-dusted Andean peaks, cloud forests, rushing rivers and tiny villages, there are all kinds of adventures waiting beyond the city walls. Suffice to say, it’s a really special place to call home.

Ideas for

days off

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No visit to Cusco would be complete without heading up to the Lost Kingdom of Machu Picchu, swirled in magical morning cloud. It’s the highlight of any trip to Peru, so you can’t possibly miss it!

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Cusco is home to a handful of local markets piled high with a colorful jumble of bright textiles, crafts and ponchos. At the end of Avenida el Sol, you’ll find artisan markets packed with handicrafts, while San Pedro Central is packed with vegetables, fruits, flowers and souvenirs.

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Cusco city centre – People watch in the central square and take in the churches and colonial balconies with the Andes as a backdrop. Check out the cathedral and its Cusqueña school artwork. Spot the guinea pig in the painting of the Last Supper, or the non-Christian images depicted on the main doors.

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Get killer views amongst the enormous stones of the Sacsayhuaman ruins up above the city centre. It’s a great spot for a hike (or jump in a cab if the altitude is getting to you!) and a place to really soak up the energy of the city.

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Artists and great views – Take a (slow!) walk up to San Blas, the artist’s quarter, where you can visit artists’  workshops. Don´t miss the Mendevil museum with the llama necked religious figures.

Drop us a line!

Ipauratu – Colombia

Ipauratu – Colombia

Community program

Ipauratu, Colombia

Lend a vital hand in a remote indigenous community in Colombia, living on a local finca (farm) and teaching disadvantaged kids. Based in the tiny village of Paluato, home to just 480 people of the Mocora tribe, this project aims to improve living circumstances for its residents, who have very limited access to educational resources. Over 200 of the 480 villagers are children, so the project is constantly swamped and always eager to take on enthusiastic volunteers with big hearts and kind natures. Right now, 90% of the Mocora people live below the poverty line, so you’ll be helping to get these spirited, wonderful people on the road to a brighter future. It’s a chance to make a real difference in a place where it’s really needed.

There are all kinds of ways to get involved with the project, from caring for kids with special needs to spending time with the older generation and helping them feel part of their community. You can organize sports and recreation facilities, empower the local people through education and broaden horizons. Right now, most of residents of Paluato struggle to secure a stable income, mostly cultivating the land or taking on construction projects. Families often go for days without electricity or gas because they can’t afford the monthly bill. Volunteering here, you’ll be helping the locals pave the way to a better life, through education and understanding. At the same time, you’ll live within a very special community, where everyone knows your name and every second of your time is appreciated.

 

Why join this project?

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Make a real difference to in a remote, disadvantaged community.

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Learn about life in a remote and warm-hearted Colombian village.

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Stay on the property of the project itself, learn Spanish and feel part of the family in no time.

Want to help build brighter future for a remote community?

This project, based in a tiny mountain village 100km from Cartagena, aims to make a real difference to a small, indigenous community living below the poverty line. Living on a working finca (farm), you’ll get involved in all kinds of activities to help broaden the horizons and enrich the lives of the local people from the Indian Mocoro tribe. The village – Paluato – is home to 480 inhabitants and a whopping 200 of these are kids. Right now, the focus of the project is education, as Paluato has just one school and its limited resources mean that it can only teach children up until 9 years old. After that, they have to set off all the way to Galapa, the nearest town, to go to school.

During this project, you can lend a hand teaching the friendly kids, help children with special needs feel comfortable amongst their peers, promote team-building on the football field and work with the elderly to give them a sense of meaning and belonging. It’s an all-encompassing project that brightens lives and builds hopes for the future. Volunteering here, you’ll quickly become part of a tight-knit, welcoming village that really needs and appreciates every minute of your time. It’s intense, inspiring and totally unforgettable.

Fancy learning some Spanish to give you a good start in country? Why not study Spanish while you are here, the project offers Spanish classes along side the volunteering.

Project duration:

Min 2 weeks – Max 3 months.

Location of project:

Paluato village, 100km of Cartagena and 18.5km south of Baranquilla

Arrival airport:

Cartagena International Airport (CTG) (4 hours away) or Barranquilla  (45 min away) or Santa Marta (2 hours away). Our transfer is included from Baranquilla.

Activities:

  • Assisting the local teachers with pre-school classes for toddlers between 2yrs and 4yrs old, helping them with speech, counting, manners and hygiene.
  • Helping the football coach to train children that can’t afford a membership to an official school, building both football skills and values such as co-operation, team work and sportsmanship.
  • Lending a hand with a local youth group that welcomes kids from neighbouring villages and teaches English, leadership values and cultural differences.
  • Volunteering at a local home for the elderly, helping the residents to feel appreciated by practicing English with them, making handicrafts and – most of all – providing them with some kind, patient company.
  • Helping kids with special needs at to feel a sense of real belonging. As these kids cannot attend the normal local school, the project established a special needs school of its own and you can get involved by playing, teaching, and giving structure to the lessons.
  • Rolling up your sleeves and helping to keep the finca running by painting, scrubbing, building and maintaining the vegetable garden.

Working hours:

You’ll work for 5 days a week for between 4 and 6 hours per day. The weekends are generally free for you to explore Colombia, although extra activities are sometimes arranged for the children and your help is always very welcome!

Getting to the project:

You’ll arrive in Baranquilla, less than 20km from Paluato village. From here, we’ll arrange a transfer  for you (included in the price of the project), so you’ll be welcomed at the airport and driven directly to the project.

The different volunteer activities take place around the project house and also within the village. Your placement will never far from your home – just a short walk or a short ‘moto taxi’ ride away. Transport between the different programs is included in the price of your stay.

Requirements:

  • Minimum age 20.
  • Screening meeting via Skype with the volunteer organization
  • Travel/Medical insurance
  • Police clearance certificate/Criminal background check. Volunteers will also need to sign a child protection policy document upon arrival.
  • Basic Spanish as a minimum. In case your Spanish is basic, we also recommend taking Spanish classes at the project.
  • Fluent in English.

What’s included

  • Volunteer donation fee for the project
  • Accommodation:  The finca can accommodate up to 10 volunteers at one time, in dormitory-style or double rooms with shared bathrooms.
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner – two hot meals and one cold meal per day. Volunteers help prepare the meals and help clean up.
  • Airport pickup from Baranquilla. Your arrival time needs to be between 7 am and 6 pm, as it is not recommendable to travel at night. In case you arrive at night, we can help you book a hotel or hostel in Baranquilla.
  • All transport from the finca itself to local project initiatives is included and arranged by the foundation.
  • Training: In-country orientation, Pre-departure helpdesk, local in-country team and 24 hour emergency support

What’s not included

  • Flights,
  • Medical insurance
  • Spanish Classes
  • Return journey to Barranquilla (this can be arranged by the project at an approximate cost of COP45,000 or $21 USD)
  • Accommodation during week ends if you leave the project

Every day will be different during your volunteering stint with the project and you’ll need to adapt to any changes that might crop up. However, here’s a rough idea of what you can expect during your first week with the community in Paluato.

Arrival day: Arrive into Barranquilla airport

Today, you’ll be met at the airport and transferred directly to the foundation in Paluato, your home for the duration of your stay. Once you’ve cooled off and settled in a little, the owner will show you around and tell about the foundation, as well as all of the social programs underway in the village. You’ll have plenty of time to ask questions and get familiar with the owners as well as the other volunteers. The rest of the day will be free for you to rest and recover from your journey or get to know your surroundings. Dinner is around 7pm and after a game or chat with other volunteers, you’ll probably find that you’re ready for a early night before your early start tomorrow.

If you can’t arrange a flight that gets you into Barranquilla on the specified arrival date, try flying in a day early. We can pick you up at the airport anywhere between 7 am and 7 pm or arrange a hotel stay in Barranquilla for you. Just let us know in advance and we’ll help get everything organized.

Monday: First day at work

After an early breakfast (between 7 and 7.30 am), you’ll begin your first day at work. Your exact schedule will depend on your own personal program (which we try to base on your preferences), but you’ll be working in one of these three areas:

1) You’ll assist the teacher at the school for kids with special needs at the foundation, working from 8am to 2pm and having lunch together with the kids.

2) You’ll walk to nearby Guaimaral, where you’ll assist the kindergarten teacher. You’ll work from 8 till 11.30 and then walk back to the foundation for lunch at 12am. In the afternoon, you’ll help one of your fellow volunteers in the English classes for the youth.

3) In the morning, you’ll help prepare the English class for the youngsters that will arrive at the foundation in the afternoon. You’ll grab lunch at 12pm before teaching English from 2-4 pm, assisted by another volunteer.

If you’ve still got plenty of energy at the end of the day, you can help the local football coach in the evening and share your experiences with the other volunteers after dinner.

If you choose to take Spanish classes during your stay, these will be scheduled around your working hours.

Tuesday to Friday:

The rest of the week will run similar to Monday. We always try to mix up the schedule, giving you a chance to participate in all of the different programs run by the project. During the first week, we’ll ask you which programs you’re enjoying the most and take this into account for the following weeks. On Wednesdays, the afternoon youth class is all about building professional skills, while Friday afternoon are reserved for sports and games.

If you enjoy teaching English, you can also lend a hand teaching classes for the employees of the project itself. Alternatively, you can roll up your sleeves and get creative, painting and working in the garden. We’ll do everything we can to give you the best volunteering experience possible, so be sure to let us know your likes and needs!

Saturday and Sunday:

It’s the weekend! Unless there is a special activity going, these days are all yours to rest, recover and explore! As the foundation is tucked away in a rural area, there isn’t much a great deal to do at night or on the weekend. That’s why we always recommend that you take a weekend trip away from the village. Head to Cartagena to explore the cobbled streets and salsa the night away, party on the beach at Santa Marta or Taganga or trek through tropical Tayrona National Park. The owners of the project will help you to arrange your trip.

You can leave Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, but you’ll need to be back in Paluato on Sunday before dark. If you opt to stay at the foundation for the weekend, you can take a day trip to the beach, a nearby nature park or a museum in Barranquilla. Sunday is an official day off for employees and the owners, so you’ll need to prepare your own food (all provided to you by the owner).

 

RoomYou’ll stay in a volunteer house at the project itself and you’ll feel like part of the family in no time! You’ll sleep in shared rooms or dorm-style bunk bed accommodation with shared bathrooms. You’ll receive to 3 meals a day – 2 warm and varying meals including fresh fruit juice and one cold meal. Everybody eats together and the Dutch owner is passionate about home-cooked, so you’re in for a treat. Tea, coffee and water will be available all day. There’s a fully kitted out kitchen, laundry facilities and a lovely terrace to kick back during your time off. It’s a project where everyone pitches in, so you’ll lend a hand preparing meals, clean your own rooms and wash your own dishes. In total, there is room for around 10 volunteers at any one time, so you’ll be living in a close-knit group with like-minded people.

Important reminder: If you have any allergies or other dietary needs, you’ll need to inform the owners in advance so that they can prepare for your stay.

This project runs all year round, so there’s no excuse for missing out! Volunteers arrive on Saturdays and leave on Saturday, after staying for a minimum of two weeks.

February: carnival is celebrated in the region, volunteer spaces fill up fast during this time of year, so book ahead!  During the months July and August, school are closed for holiday and activities may change.

My experience at Ipauratu

Ipauratu is the perfect example of how a few people can make a difference, little by little, for an entire community. What do I love about this place?

I love the opportunities offered to the people of Paluato village. Whether it be offering a fun and friendly place to learn, have fun and explore their creativity or whether it be a project that helps the community as a whole (for example obtaining running water and gas for the houses within village.

I love the openness to new ideas and the eagerness to continue to grow in ways that will make is possible to offer more opportunities for the people of this community.

I love the selflessness of Inten, Jeovanny, Roberto, Sylvia and the rest of the members of the foundation; putting all that they have into helping improve the lives of others.

I love that here you can experience what it is like to whole heartedly give back to a community while witnessing the laughter and joy in the childrens faces.

I love being a part of something thats sole purpose is to help others.

For me this experience was priceless and even though we extended our stay here, I would have loved to stay longer. My husband and I hope to return sometime in the future and to bring our children (when we have them).

If you are someone that wants to experience what giving back to a community feels like, then this is the place for you. Jeovanny, Inten, Sylvia and Roberto are the most warm and hospitable people and we felt at home right from the moment we arrived. We ate lovely fresh food and practiced our Spanish while conversing about all sorts of interesting topics. We enjoyed our adventures when taken on walks around the area by the very friendly children. On top of all of that it is very relaxing being here with the beautiful views and cool afternoon breeze, so we also enjoyed our time relaxing and listening to the sounds of the animals, wind and children playing.

Ashari and Guy from Australia

El tiempo que yo podía quedarme en la fundación fue una experiencia inolvidable, muy importante y interesante para mi. La fundación es una casa única con mucho cariño y lleno de felicidad y discusiónes interesantes. Trabajando con los niños en este lugar en las semanas antes de carnaval y navidad me pusé en situaciones especiales y a caso difíciles. Aprendí mucho de la cultura colombiana de los costeños, a través de los niños, de la fundación y otra gente que me acompañaron durante este tiempo.

Con muy poco la fundación está capaz de cambiar mucho en la vida de los niños y las familias de Paulato. Durante mi estancia trabaje con diferentes grupos de niños, en la escuela dando clases de inglés, jugando, dibujando y contando historias a los niños de la primer infancia de Paulato, invitándoles a la fundación para proyectos creativos, dándoles a un grupo pequeño la oportunidad de dibujar y pintar y también visitar al barrio “el Carmen” en Galapa y darles unas horas divertidas haciendo una cosa nueva a los niños de allá.

Estos proyectos creativos fueron por ejemplo, haciendo manillas o collares de su gusto con materiales que la fundación les ofrecía a ellos. Los resultados fueron muy distintos y llenos de imaginación. Siempre estuve muy impresionada de la improvisación y de los ideas que tienen ellos. Con poco ya están capaz de hacer un pequeño pedacito de arte.

Realisé nuevamente que comunicando y viviendo con los habitantes de un pueblo de un país sí grande como Colombia me ayudo comprender mejor a la cultura y probar el ‘sabor’ de la vida costeño.

Muchas gracias!

Magdalena de Suisse.

 

They say “All good things come in small packages”.

Change the good to Great and that pretty much sums up this Fundacion. Paluato is fortunate to have a small foundation with a BIG Heart!!  Inten and Jeovanny run the foundation with so much love and heart, it was an honour to be a part of, even for a short time.

What the foundation is doing for the local community is golden. To see the smiles on the childrens faces, whether they are learning English, playing football, making paper mache fish or making Halloween masks…would melt a grown man’s heart. The foundation is always thinking of and open to new ideas. Anything to help the local community…. ‘’The door is always open’’.

I am not sure what I was expecting before I arrived but my first impression was what a wonderful set up they have and a beautiful setting. Inten and Jovanny welcomed me with open arms to “ my house’’. Being thousands of miles from home their welcome was very reassuring and comforting. I can not thank Inten and Jeovanny enough for making me so welcome.

I can only wish them and the foundation the very best for the future! They are doing wonderful things and I have learned so much. I will never forget my time here and the amazing people I’ve met.

Hasta la proxima vez!!!

Sarah ,Ireland

 

Paluato sits in the tropical Caribbean region of Colombia, so temperatures are almost always high and humid. This means that you can visit the project on a year-round basis. In general, the driest months are January, February, March and November, with blue skies and sizzling heat. You’ll see the most rain during May, July, August, September and December, although there are plenty of bouts of bright sunshine between the cooling showers. Broadly speaking, the warmest month is August and the coolest month in November, so you can choose to travel at a time that suits your own weather preferences.

How important is it to speak spanish?

Not all the time the people in charge of the project who speak English are in the project. For this reason basic Spanish is recommended. Depending on your level of Spanish you will be able to really help the project. In case your Spanish is basic, we recommend you to take Spanish classes at the project

Are there any shops close by?

No, the project is located in a rural area, so there’s no shops close by.

How big is the village of Ipauratu (how many people live here)?

The village inhabits approximately 480 people, of which 200 are children (about 148 families).

How do volunteers get to the big city?

The people of the project will help you to coordinate transport services in case you want to visit close villages or any attractions in the surroundings. The closest village is Galapa (it has bank service) at 10 Km.

Is it wise to bring cash money?

Yes, you will need cash for any extra services. the closest bank is in Galapa

Are there buses running during the night to get to the project?

No, volunteers need to be back before 19.00 Hs.

This project is on the lookout for…

Independent, pro-active volunteers over 19 years old who want to get involved with a tiny, remote community. The project is very small-scale, with a maximum of 10 volunteers lending a hand at any one time, so you’ll need to be ready for a tight-knit experience. You’ll need a firm grasp of Spanish, although additional classes can be arranged during your stay at the project.

They say “All good things come in small packages”.

Change the good to Great and that pretty much sums up this Fundacion. Paluato is fortunate to have a small foundation with a BIG Heart!!  Inten and Jeovanny run the foundation with so much love and heart, it was an honour to be a part of, even for a short time.

Sarah, Ireland

About

Palualto

Paluato is a really special and eye-opening place that will introduce you to a totally different way of life. Tucked away in lush mountains, 100km north of Cartagena and 120km from Santa Marta on the Caribbean Coast, it’s surrounded by rich green countryside just begging to be explored. With a cool breeze and warm sunshine, it’s perfect for hiking and biking.

The village itself is tiny, tight-knit and open-hearted. Home to just 280 adults and 200 children, Paluato is worlds away from the bright lights of Cartagena and Medellin. The people of Paluato belong to the Indian Mocana tribe and the vast majority of the villagers live way below the poverty line. Most of the residents make a little bit of money with agriculture, or work as house-help for richer neighbours, but this still doesn’t give them enough to get by. You’ll need to be prepared for this and understand that you’re heading into a isolated area where life can be really tough.

Ideas for

days off

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Hop on the bus to Cartagena, a fairytale maze of cobbled streets, brightly painted colonial houses and shady plazas. Salsa the night away, relax on Playa Blanca or wander through the ancient walled city.

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Hit the beaches around Santa Marta or Taganga to party on the sand and soak up some weekend sun.

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For a relaxed weekend, you can explore the hills, forests and villages surrounding Paluato on foot or by bike. It’s a great way to get to know your neighborhood.

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If you’ve got a whole weekend to play with, make a beeline for Tayrona National Park, around 5 hours from Cartagena. Trek between gorgeous wild beaches and forests, sleep al fresco in swinging hammocks and feel a million miles from the city lights.

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