VOLUNTEER TURTLE CONSERVATION
15 days from
- Trek Code:
- Costa Rica
- Budget Lodging
- Age Range:
- > If lucky, watch baby turtles hatch on the beach!
- > Work to safeguard endangered marine turtles
- > Spend your days and nights on stunning beaches
Turtles are under threat in Costa Rica and in the past there had been very considerable poaching of turtle eggs which were then sold or consumed, leading to the turtle species becoming endangered. Much work has been done by local communities with various projects being set up to help preserve this species and limit the amount of poaching, and there has been a steady increase in the numbers of hatchlings making their potentially treacherous journey back into the sea safely. However these initiatives do not receive any government funding and rely heavily on the help of volunteers.
The main objective of the projects is to protect the marine turtle nests from human poachers, animals and more recently from the erosion of the beach. Before the conservation projects started up the poaching rate was over 95%. This has now decreased to 10% but volunteers are needed to continue protecting these wonderful creatures. Not only will your efforts impact on turtle conservation immediately, but through assisting with research and maintenance your work will continue to help their survival well beyond your stay.
Although the main objective of all the projects is of course turtle conservation, the project in Pacuare also focuses on self-sustainable living. It is still getting started with new initiatives beginning and others being continuously improved. Currently there is a butterfly garden, fish and shrimp ponds, vegetable garden, and initiatives to reuse waste products.
- Work on an established turtle conservation project
- Professional travel service, preparing you for your volunteer experience
- Thorough orientation on arrival and ongoing support from the in-country team
- Access to a 24 hour emergency phone number
- Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included
- A portion of our volunteer project fees will also be used to directly provide practical supplies to this project through the "Big Giving" programme: tag applicators, tags to identify individual turtles or equivalent
- Free airport pickup by an in-country representative
- 3 nights hostel + 11 nights accommodation in a multi-share room on-site at the project.
15 days from SAN JOSE
Help the locals preserve the stunning paradise of Costa Rica> Read more
15 days from SAN JOSE
Work alongside the local community to protect nesting turtles.> Read more
Our routes have been carefully chosen to include the best night stops and highlights. However, as local conditions and passenger requests vary, no two trips will ever be the same. With the guidance of your Trek Leader you may modify certain night stops and highlights to give a truly unique experience!
As this tour departs at 1700 we recommend that you book pre-tour accommodation. Please request hotel details at the time of booking.
From March to August, we offer turtle conservation projects based in isolated beach locations on the Caribbean Coast, in Gandoca or Pacuare.
Most project locations are rural and quite remote. Although there will be local people living close by, towns with internet access or international telephone are likely to be a bus journey away, accessible on your day off.
Dependent on location you may live on-site at your project, or it will be within walking distance.
Usually 6 days a week, a mix of day and night work, with shift durations of between 2 and 8 hours. You may do a mix of shifts in the morning, afternoon and evening. All other time is free. As the project operates 24/7, you will need to be flexible!
Please note that the main project start date is Sunday. If you are joining a volunteer project after a tour in Costa Rica (normally ending on Friday, Saturday or Tuesday), then we can advise you on alternative joining arrangements to make sure you arrive on time and are still able to have an orientation session with the in-country team.
Day 1: Arrival into San José International Airport
If you join the project after the end of your TrekAmerica tour, you will make your own way to the arrival accommodation (approx 1 hour transfer across San José). If you are joining the project directly from an international flight, you will be met at the airport by a member of our friendly Costa Rica team, and taken to our Alajuela hostel where you'll be spending your first two nights.
If you arrive before 6:30pm a tasty welcome dinner is provided, and the rest of your time is yours to spend as you choose - exploring Alajuela, getting to know your fellow volunteers or catching up on some sleep! The hostel is just a short distance from bars, restaurants and banks.
Day 2: Orientation
At 8:30am a member of the in-country team will pick you up and take you to our local office for orientation. This will give you a good insight into Costa Rica and our projects - the culture, things to do and see, what to do in case of an emergency, how to get to your project and much more! It is also a good opportunity to meet other volunteers and ask the team any questions you may have. You'll then be given some lunch and will have the afternoon free to explore or relax.
Day 3: Transfer to the project
Today you will transfer to your project by public transport which will take between 4 and 6 hours (Gandoca or Pacuare on the Caribbean Coast). Here you will be welcomed into the wonderful world of sea turtle conservation. You will be introduced to the project staff, and you may receive training in the afternoon, and be assigned a shift to work in the evening - it could be a hatchery watch or night patrol! Take the time to get to know everyone and how things work - it's your quickest route to getting the most out of your trip.
You will also have a little bit of time to settle in to your new home. Think pristine tropical paradise and stepping out of your everyday life! If you will enjoy simple beach living, have a genuine interest in nature and conservation and are happy to spend time in the close company of like-minded individuals, with a bit of physical labour thrown in, you will love your stay in Costa Rica and enjoy being immersed in this genuine cultural experience.
If your project is in Gandoca (Caribbean Coast)
You will be staying in a shared bedroom in a cabin or a house owned by a local family. The cabins have electricity and running water, as well as western style toilets and cold water showers. You should bring a sleeping bag liner or a light blanket instead of a bulky sleeping bag, and you will need a mosquito net; bed sheets will be provided. All homestays are located within Gandoca village and in the boundaries of the project reserve. It's a maximum 15 walk to the research station.
If your project is in Pacuare (Caribbean Coast)
You will be staying in dormitory rooms (maximum 6 people per room) in a large house. Bedding is provided, and each room has a bathroom with cold running water, a shower and western style toilet. Electricity is only by generator and is usually only available three hours a day so remember to have your torch at the ready and leave the hairdryer at home! The dorms are just off the beach, behind palm trees. There is a seating area, where you can hang out and relax with your fellow volunteers. Although basic, the accommodation is pleasant and the setting beautiful.
Day 4 - 14: Turtle Time!
Baby turtles hatch within 45 to 60 days depending on species and incubation temperatures, generally hatching during the night (although some people sunbathing on the beach during the day see a little turtle head popping up through the sand!).
During your time at the project you could be involved in a whole variety of activities such as clearing beaches in preparation for nesting, night beach patrols watching for turtles coming up onto the beach to lay their eggs, collecting turtle eggs, general construction and maintenance of the hatcheries (hard work but vital!), and other activities requested by the project.
You'll receive specific training which will enable you to help with research and data collection, and you could be gathering and recording measurements and other information about the turtles and their new hatchlings. You may also help share information about the conservation work with local communities and schools, or support fundraising for the Project. So not only will your efforts have a practical impact on a day-to-day basis but you'll be supporting the future of the turtles too!
If you're based on the Caribbean Coast at Pacuare, you might also be able to get involved in the sustainable living projects there - the butterfly or vegetable gardens, fish and shrimp ponds, or waste reuse projects.
These projects for anyone who loves being outdoors, enjoys living a unique way of life, loves conservation and the thought that they will be helping to preserve an endangered species. You will need to be flexible due to the demands of the projects and have a good level of fitness - the work can be demanding, and there could be long night walks on the beach until the early hours on the night patrols. Just think: spending your days and nights on tropical beaches... hmmm, not too bad!
But it's not all sweat and hard work! If you are based in Gandoca on the Caribbean Coast, you might like to go on local tours to the jungle, the Laguna or to the organic farm during your free time. Volunteers in Pacuare could head to the nearby town of Bataan to check your e-mails or do some shopping, or visit the beautiful Tortuguero National Park to see species such as jaguar, the ocelot, tapir, manatee, sloth, monkey, and more than 400 bird species.
Day 15: Fond farewells...
It's time to bid a fond farewell to your new friends, and head back to San José or off for further adventures! On departure day you will make your own way back to the hostel in Alajuela. Directions for this are given inside the Welcome Pack you'll be given in Costa Rica.
We offer one free night in the Alajuela hostel before departure if you require (e.g. if your flight leaves early Sunday morning, you can stay in Alajuela on the Saturday night). The Alajuela hostel is also able to offer return transfers back to the airport. And don't forget that the in-country team are also there to help you if you need any advice!
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Tours begin and end at designated hotels in the departure and arrival cities, starting at 7.30am (check your tour voucher for exact details) and finishing at around 5pm, so it's a great idea to book a room for the night before and after your tour. You can book hotels either online when you book your tour or by call our sales team.
SAN JOSE - ALAJUELA BACKPACKERS HOSTEL
This modern boutique hostel in the heart of Alajuela boasts a roof top bar terrace, movie lounge, free Wi-Fi and tropical swimming pool.
Twin share: per person per night Matched with another traveller of the same sex. Full room: per room per night Single or double room for travellers on the same booking.
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