During this week, you will support the wildlife sanctuary, Natuwa. Wildlife volunteers who come to NATUWA join our team to help put together a daily routine about caring for the animals. The performance includes feeding monkeys, jaguars, tapirs, macaws, sloths, and many more. In addition, participate in the animal rehabilitation and rescue process. Tasks are carried out under the direction of a veterinarian, biologist, the center director, and professional NATUWA staff’s operation. It is an excellent opportunity for the volunteer to learn to manage wild animals avoiding accidents that endanger the physical integrity of the animals and the people who care for them, and, of course, conservation. This volunteer project is quite different from other Wildlife Santuaries around Costa Rica. We never have a shortage of work! And have over 500 animals that need daily care. If you are lack motivation or passion for animal care and conservation, this may not be the project for you (¡and that’s ok!). Our daily schedule can be intense, but the work here is delightful!
The sanctuary is continuously operating to improve the lives of the jaguars, tapirs, sloths, macaws, and many more Costa Ricas wild animals. Volunteers will participate in activities such as:
- Feeding and providing water for the animals, including baby animals
- Assisting animals in case of emergency.
- Participate in efforts to rehabilitate and release animals.
- Planting trees.
- Assisting in giving tours of the sanctuary.
- Maintenance of the sanctuary, animal enclosures and property.
- Constructing organic structures for the animals.
- Participate in the environmental enrichment of all types of animals.
- Agricultural production (for volunteers and animals).
- Cleaning and enclosures and under animal feeding stations
- Providing fresh-cut grass to our herbivores.
- And anything else that needs to be done
Hours of volunteering, schedule of the day
06:00-08:00 - Morning feeding of animals with supervision.
08:00-08:15 - Breakfast
08:15-10:30 - Daily tasks
10:45-12:00 - Daily tasks
12:00-13:00 - Lunch, WiFi, and nap time
13:00-15:00 - Afternoon feeding of animals with supervision. After the afternoon feeding, volunteers are free to do whatever they would like for the rest of the day
The opportunity to volunteer in Costa Rica with wildlife, does not promote the domestication of wild animals. Our primary goal is to raise awareness among people, not about removing organisms from the ecosystem to be used as pets. Therefore, if you intend to touch animals for fun, kiss them, hug them, or talk to them, then this is not the project for you. Otherwise, if you want to give your precious time and learn about these beautiful creatures helping the team to manage them, then this is the place to be.
You will spend 4-7 days at a Turtle Sanctuary that we support, ASVO Montezuma. During high season, you’ll be protecting the eggs and hatchlings of Olive Ridley, Black Turtle, Hawksbill and Leatherback species, who visit local ‘semi intensive’ nesting beaches at night to nest. The principle objective of the project is to protect adult female turtles that frequent beaches along this coastline, and their nests, from human predators and wildlife, natural events such as beach erosion and flooding due to high amounts of rainfall in nesting season.
This is achieved by maintenance of infrastructure and surroundings, beach cleaning, night patrols to look for nesting female turtles (in season), transport of food and water, collection of data and releasing baby turtles into the ocean (in season) and the construction of a ‘hatchery’.
Conducting environmental education in the community of Montezuma
Collaborating in the socio-environmental projects of the Station
Planting trees native to the area (reforesting)
Supporting in the signaling of beaches and construction of the nursery of the sea turtle project
Performing night walks of protection, monitoring and collection of information of sea turtles (Nesting season)
Perform functions of surveillance and protection of the nursery
Supporting the construction and repair of public use trails in Playa Montezuma
Cleanliness of the beaches
It is important to note that although turtles nest frequently in peak nesting season (July to November), there will be times where turtle activity is very low.
During low season, we still need help during most of the year for the construction and maintenance of the hatchery, critical for the upcoming season. You will also be involved with many community projects with the local school.
You will have 2 x 45 minute Spanish lessons (usually between 09:00-11:00) from Monday to Friday. Tuition is delivered by accredited and licensed teachers and on day one you will receive a short test to establish your level and objectives. These lessons will be tailored to suit all levels from beginner to intermediate and are designed to help you interact and immerse with the local community and enjoy being in a Spanish speaking country.
During weeks 3 and 4 on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday (2-3 hours per day), you participate in volunteer projects designed to conserve and respect local natural resources. Project work is varied and priorities are seasonal and weather dependent. However, most of our efforts are focused on the following areas:
Here we work alongside the Santa Teresa Lifeguards. Having seen the amazing beaches of Santa Teresa, and adjoining Playa Hermosa and Playa Carmen, the recreational opportunities are clear. However, beaches need to be maintained to keep them clear of debris that not only looks unsightly but can cause harm to people and wildlife. Work includes promoting Lifeguard issues with regard to beach safety and etiquette (through signage, presentations and speaking to visitors), organizing clean ups with focus on recycling.
Blue Flag Initiative
Formed in response to water and beach pollution, this government-backed initiative aims to reward communities that adhere to their guidelines on conservation practice. By awarding the Blue Flag, the communities gain international recognition for their beach and can attract more tourists and investment.
We are leading the charge in our local community to create as many recycle stations and collection points for plastic waste in particular so that Bionics can easily collect it all once a week from main road. We have built two recycle stations on our street and this has reduced the normal garbage by 30% or more. As a result, on our street alone we collect a huge amount of plastic for Bionics each month.
We clean the beaches of plastic once a week at least and participate in community clean ups on a monthly bases and this month collected close to a ton of recyclable rubbish in one day with the help of about 100 volunteers. We go once a week to the Bionics Depo 30 mins away in Cobano to help them clean, organise and package the plastic for shipment to the USA where they turn it into shoes, T-shirts, building blocks and a whole variety of consumer goods, hence giving real value to this recycled material. This is the future and this is what may just save the planet or make a difference at least. Once this "rubbish" has value people will start to take notice and collect it and turn it into something useful. This way we show our students the full cycle of events, how plastic gets into the eco system, how hard it is to take it out once it's in there, and finally the light at the end of the tunnel, what we can do with it once we collect it.
Our main focus is the forests' most important resource - water! You help with the maintenance and supply of our tree nursery; planting carefully selected saplings, gathered seeds and ongoing support of recently planted trees to ensure their success. We support the local Waterkeepers who patrol the river systems of Santa Teresa and neighboring tropical forest resources by helping to report any contamination, clear forest debris and litter from streams before it is washed out to sea and can cause further damage to wildlife, and by maintaining walking/hiking trails that allow visitors to access this beautiful area. It is also a great opportunity to learn about the biodiversity of flora and fauna in this special part of the world.
During the weekends, there are a lot of opportunities to expore the area and try out different activities. If you're into yoga, try a beach session on Sunday mornings: get up a little earlier than usual to enjoy a pre-breakfast yoga session on the beach. Yoga is very popular in this part of the world and 45 mins costs around $15. You can also try white water rafting, horse riding, surfing, kayaking, snorkeling, whale watching, a jungle canopy tour etc. There is always something to do and if it all sounds to active, you can just enjoy the beach or pool.
Please note: Travel on the weekends, or any of the extra activities is at your own expense and risk. We cannot be responsible but, if anything happens, we will of course be there to assist. Please ensure that you have adequate medical insurance before you carry out any activity.
Police Clearance Certificate
Show Proof of Negative PCR Test Result:
You must get a COVID-19 PCR test within 48 hrs of your planned arrival at NATUWA, only if you have not been vaccinated. Your test result must be negative. A rapid test or other test type will qualify if you are vaccinated. You must show your proof of a negative COVID test result upon your arrival.
Volunteers need to be flexible and keep an open mind concerning their placements as situations can arise beyond our control which could require you to be placed at a different project than the one you have initially chosen. We will of course always do our utmost to fulfill your initial wishes but do remember that where you are going is quite different from where you are coming and as such one should be prepared for things not always going according to plan.
Volunteering and intercultural travel share a common trait: the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. This program is designed for proactive individuals and groups that are prepared to adapt to the local environment and its current needs. Naturally, the scheduling and activities of our program are subject to change. Alterations in activities are mainly due to changes in local conditions, which we believe is part of what makes overseas programs the interesting adventure and incredible learning experience that they are.
Our projects range from 1 week up to approx. 30 weeks. Projects have a specified minimum stay, then it’s up to you how long you can commit. In our experience the longer you stay the more you will gain, as your understanding of the project broadens and you take on more responsibilities.