Volunteering in Tortuguero National Park
Making a difference to the wildlife of Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica
Why volunteer in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica?
Tortuguero National Park is located on the northern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and was created in 1970 to protect endangered nesting sea turtles. Its closest town, also named Tortuguero, is so remote that is only accessible by boat or plane. This is one of the wildest national parks in Costa Rica, only navigable by boat, and it provides essential habitat for numerous species of wildlife that are truly unique and spotting them is a really magical experience!
If looking for a remote jungle setting, cut off from the rest of civilisation, thus allowing you to truly get back to nature, this is the place for you! It’s the perfect spot for wildlife conservation in Costa Rica, whether you are here to simply see exotic wildlife whilst making an impact, or developing those skills for a future conservation career.
And there’s so much more!
Volunteering has really changed my life. It was the best experience I’ve ever had, and in the short time I was there, I learnt so much. I decided to go to Costa Rica as I study Geography and am hugely interesting in conservation and wildlife. Being immersed in an isolated location in the jungle with new people, doing incredible work for important research, really appealed to me! I grew up and spent most of my life in the Middle East so I never miss out on the opportunity to travel. Arriving in San Jose by myself after a long trip from Ireland was a little bit nerve wracking but I met by such happy, friendly staff that I felt instantly at ease. The other volunteers and interns I met as we travelled to base were so interesting and I knew we’d all be great friends. The trip to base was so memorable. Going through the cloud forest was amazing and I spent the entire journey looking out the window in awe. I loved living on base. It was amazing to get away from the real world, spent hours talking to such inspiring people every day and working with incredible wildlife I thought I’d only ever see on National Geographic. I woke up before the sun rose every day and loved listening to the birds and wildlife wake up. I’d be one of the last to go to bed at night, making sure I didn’t waste a minute to soak up the whole experience. I could talk about the trip forever but in a nutshell, the things I saw, the people I met and the work I did, as well as the beautiful country of Costa Rica itself, have been the best experiences of my life and I am so glad for it!
Tortuguero National Park Volunteer Projects
Get ready to live in the heart of Tortuguero National Park in an area closed to tourism where we are the only ones allowed to live in and assist in the protection and conservation of the elusive jaguar.
Location: Tortuguero National Park
Duration: 2 – 12 weeks
Tortuguero National Park Volunteer
Our project base is located in the stunning Tortuguero National Park, surrounded on three sides by protected rainforest and on the other by the Caribbean Sea and a beach that is home to one of the largest nesting colonies of Green Turtles in the world.
This is the area is also key for many interlinked conservation efforts and a natural stronghold for jaguars with over 40 jaguars documented in the past 7 years in a 15 mile stretch of land.
For those animal lovers, you ́ll be certainly in the right place since you ́ll get the chance to spot some of the unique species inhabiting the area such as spider monkeys, capuchin monkeys and howler monkeys, jaguars, pumas, ocelots, sloths, river otters, and manatees. over 300 species of birds, 111 species of reptiles and57 amphibian species including red-eyed leaf frogs and strawberry poison dart frogs.
Volunteering in Tortuguero National Park
Here you can walk a few yards into the most idyllic sunset setting on the beach while also doing night surveys to encounter the incredible wildlife of Tortuguero National Park, so don’t miss out on this wonderful destination!
By joining our team in Tortuguero you will spend your time surrounded by the breathtaking scenery and wildlife of the rich canals, tropical rainforest and Caribbean beaches.
There is no road access to this location, so all transportation is via canoe and motorboat, through the stunning canal and river system surrounded by tropical rainforest and wildlife.
Volunteer Highlights & Excursions
You will be located in Tortuguero National Park surrounded by beaches, forests and mountains so there are lots of activities to do around your base such as chilling by the beach, hiking, surfing, etc.
Tours and trips can be easily booked through us but here are some ideas on the main activities you can do in the area and also travelling a bit further.
Located in northern Costa Rica, Arenal Volcano is one of the most popular destinations in the country offering access to the rainforest, waterfalls, a volcano, the country’s largest lake, and a diverse selection of hotels!
For those who enjoy adrenaline-pumping experiences, ziplining, sky tram tours, and high hanging bridges offer intense experiences with views to match. Lots of options in all regions of the country.
Depart for the Catamaran Island Cruise, a 1-day boat tour in the calm waters of the Gulf of Nicoya. Sail past 23 islands en route to the famous Isla Tortuga. On the island, swim, snorkel, play volleyball, kayak, or just relax in a hammock.
White Water Rafting
A journey of unsurpassed beauty and exploding whitewater. For the adventurous beginner and experienced rafter alike, the class III/IV rapids fill you with adrenaline as you paddle hard!
Half day City Tour of San Jose
Set out on a half-day excursion to see the National Museum, the National Theatre, San Jose’s famous Central Market, and the Metropolitan Cathedral.
Cahuita National Park
South along the Carribean coast, you will find Cahuita, popular among visitors because you can snorkel among the protected coral reef off its coast, spotting uncommon marine species.
Tortuguero Hill Hike
Trek to the top of the ancient dormant volcano that is Tortuguero hill. You will be rewarded with a magnificent view stretching from the hectares of jungle to the shores of the Caribbean sea.
An hour’s motorboat ride away from our base in Tortuguero National Park, the town of Tortuguero, offers an insight into the laidback pura vida lifestyle of Costa Rica. Practice your Spanish and taste some Costa Rican delicacies.
Just South of Cahuita National Park is possibly the most popular beach destination on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica among international visitors, this town is known for Punta Uva beach, miles of pearly white sand lined with palm trees, excellent surfing conditions, and hip eateries. The famously advanced surfing spot known as Salsa Brava can be found here.
Manuel Antonio National Park
Enjoy half-day hiking in Manuel Antonio National Park. The national park abounds in diverse flora and fauna including howler, squirrel, and white-faced monkeys; two-toed sloths; coatimundis; iguanas; and over 350 species of birds.
Get Your Scuba Certification
Manuel Antonio is located on the pacific coast of Costa Rica and is home to the best beaches in the country. The scuba course takes place in the Manuel Antonio National Park, which is home to a bustling tropical marine oasis.
You will be based in an area of Tortuguero National Park which is closed to tourism and we are the only people allowed to live there due to the nature of the research we do, what makes us pretty privileged!
Our base in Tortuguero National Park is the perfect way to unplug and get in touch with the natural environment. It is located in the heart of the jungle on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, an hour’s boat ride from the nearest small town.
You will be staying in shared (mixed sex) dorms with shared bathroom facilities. There is running water available for washing and cooking, with suitable water for drinking and brushing teeth. In your free time, relax at our small camping-style base, which is solar-powered and designed to have as minimal an impact on the natural environment as possible. We are much like a big family on base, and share cooking and tidying duties.
Know Before You Go to San Jose
Code of Conduct
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Costa Rica safe to visit?
It is considered one of the safest countries in the world! However, you should always be paying attention and be on the lookout for pickpockets or similar petty thieves.
We take our volunteer’s safety very seriously and we ́ll give an in-depth induction upon arrival. Please check our Safety Tips as well.
What is the weather/climate in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is known for its warm tropical weather. Temperatures in San Jose range from 22-32°C (72-90°F) year-round. ‘Green season’ lasts from May to October with the wettest months being September and October. ‘Dry season’ is from November to April.
What is the currency in Costa Rica?
The currency is the Colon, but U.S. dollars are accepted in all places of business.
It is fairly easy to exchange other currencies and ATMs are also available throughout the country.
MasterCard & Visa are usually accepted.
Which Electrical Plugs are used in Costa Rica?
All city-based accommodations have electricity available 24 hours a day. Electricity throughout Costa Rica is 110V, 60Hz – the same frequency used in North America. Be sure to check your electronics and small appliances for compatibility, and purchase any adapters or converters necessary.
Electrical outlets are both 2-prong and 3-prong. Please note that 2-prong outlets are the most common in Costa Rica.
What is the language in Costa Rica?
The official language of Costa Rica is Spanish although there are at least five living local indigenous languages spoken by the descendants of pre-Columbian people.
What should stay in your hand luggage when travelling?
All valuables should be kept in your hand luggage, not left in your checked bags.
Volunteering Safety Tips
- Be sure to keep track of your belongings at all times.
- Keep your belongings on your lap while riding the bus.
- Do not accept drinks from strangers.
- Use busy and well-lit streets when walking and never walk alone after dark.
- Only use official taxis and public buses.
- Keep small change in your pockets and hide large bills.
- Be vigilant when using an ATM.
- Never count your money on the street or in public.
- Take special care with your camera, laptop, jewellery, purse, and electronics.
- Save your project manager’s number on your phone and make sure to provide us with a copy of your emergency contact person at home.
We will review safety again in detail during your orientation.
Costa Rican Vaccinations
Please consult with your private physician or doctor in regards to what immunizations or vaccinations are needed.
- Hepatitis A&B: Recommended
- Typhoid: Recommended
- Rabies: Recommended
- Yellow Fever: Costa Rica is NOT at risk to yellow fever but if coming from a yellow fever country you need this vaccination together with proof of having it.
- Routine vaccinations including measles