Volunteer in Costa Rica at an Animal Rescue Center
Based on a private ecological reserve in northern Costa Rica, our animal rescue and eco-reserve volunteer project acts as a home for rescued wild animals.
The illegal animal trade is the third largest in the world, and unlike other rescue centers, this animal reserve is focused on rehabilitating wildlife and releasing them back into the wild. This center was founded to give endangered, injured and abandoned animals a home.
The rescue center has grown tremendously in recent years, and more animals get dropped off every day. Without your help, there would not be enough hands to feed the animals, build and clean the cages, maintain the beauty of the center or connect with the local community through outreach. Read about the animals at the project!
How You Will Make a Difference:
You will have the opportunity to work alongside volunteers from around the world to support wildlife conservation efforts in Costa Rica.
- Help feed, observe and administer general care to animals
- Assist with various conservation projects
- Work in the greenhouse
- Help maintain trails on the reserve
- Help with construction of new habitats for the animals
- Assist with community outreach projects in the area
What do our alumni say about the program?
“Besides a couple incidents involving monkey poop, I had an amazing time in Costa Rica. My host family went above and beyond to make me comfortable and to make sure that I had an enjoyable time. Everyone I met there was incredibly friendly and welcoming and I had such a fun time with all the cute animals! I’m so glad I got to experience their culture, I definitely learned a lot. Thanks for all your support!” – Evelyn Scafe, Greenheart Travel volunteer alumna
Read more alumni reviews of the program on GoOverseas.
All participants should plan on arriving in Costa Rica on the Monday their program starts. Flights should arrive no later than 4:00 pm, since it takes 3 hours to drive to the animal sanctuary. Participants can choose the program length between 1-12 weeks.
Summer dates do fill up (especially July), so if your schedule is not flexible, you should apply early to secure your place on the desired date.
|Program Start Date||Deadline to Apply|
|May 1, 2017||April 1, 2017|
|May 8, 2017||April 8, 2017|
|May 15, 2017||April 15, 2017|
|June 5, 2017||May 6, 2017|
|June 12, 2017||May 13, 2017|
|May 20, 2017|
|May 27, 2017|
|July 3, 2017||June 3, 2017|
|July 10, 2017||June 10, 2017|
|July 17, 2017||June 17, 2017|
|July 31, 2017||July 1, 2017|
|August 7, 2017||July 8, 2017|
|August 14, 2017||July 15, 2017|
|August 21, 2017||July 22, 2017|
|August 28, 2017||July 29, 2017|
Can’t decide when to go? Costa Rica experiences two distinct seasons, the rainy season and the dry season. The dry season generally runs from January to May and the rainy season goes from May to December. However, in the San Carlos province where the projects are located, is very rainy even during the dry season so you should plan accordingly.
Please note, all prices are listed in USD
- 1 Week: $1,540
- 2 Weeks: $2,070
- 3 Weeks: $2,470
- 4 Weeks: $3,100
- 5 Weeks: $3,590
- 6 Weeks: $4,010
- 7 Weeks: $4,330
- 8 Weeks: $4,640
- 10 Weeks: $5,510
- 12 Weeks: $6,390
*1 week is equal to 6 nights
Want to improve your Spanish language skills? You can add morning Spanish lessons for $150 per week!
- Accommodations with a host family
- 3 meals per day
- Airport pickup and drop off to/from San Jose airport
- Culture & Etiquette guide book
- Medical/Accident insurance
- 24-hour emergency support
- Pre-departure and arrival orientations
- Personal assistance from a Greenheart Travel program manager
- Certificate of Completion upon request for successful completion of the program
- Greenheart Travel also donates a portion of your fee to offset the carbon footprint of your travels.
What’s Not Included:
- Airfare to Costa Rica
- Airport exit fee in Costa Rica
- Spending money for souvenirs or snacks while in Costa Rica
All volunteers live with carefully selected local host families near the volunteer project. Prospective host families undergo a rigorous screening process, and participants can rest assured that only suitable host families will be selected. In order to qualify as a host family, the prospective hosts must:
- Undergo and pass an in-person interview with program staff
- Agree to and pass a home inspection
- Successfully pass a criminal background check
Costa Rican host families are very welcoming! Most of the host families have hosted foreign students from this program in the past but keep in mind that a majority of the host families do not speak English so you should be prepared to communicate primarily in Spanish. It is recommended to learn common Spanish phrases so you can communicate with them.
What do our alumni say about their host families?
“So my time here is half up- and I can say I’m feeling the sadness of the goodbyes already. Before coming to Costa Rica to volunteer, I’d never thought I’d make this many new friends, new coworkers, and even a new family. I can say that you will miss EVERYTHING about this place. Like I said, it’s like my second family here! All of this is a life changing experience, which I had no idea I was going to have. I now feel like my heart is in two places; half in my home town, and half is here”. – Summer Grandy, Greenheart Travel Volunteer Alumnus
What is a typical volunteer day like?
You will wake up around 7am to have breakfast with your host family, then head to the volunteer site. Around 4pm you will be driven from your project back to your host family. You will have weekends off to relax, and have a chance to do some sightseeing.
Are there fundraising opportunities or scholarship offered by Greenheart Travel for this project?
All funds will have to be provided by you; however we do highly recommend fundraising! Read our detailed fundraising guide on how to raise money for your trip, or check out our scholarship page for available scholarships.
Can I apply with my friend/spouse/significant other?
Absolutely! We are happy to accept friends and couples.
What about allergy/specific dietary requirements?
Host families can cater to vegetarian needs quite easily. Any other specific diets should be discussed with us to see if we can arrange to have your needs met.
How can I contact friends/family from home?
The best way to communicate with friends and family is to get a local phone card and call from your host family’s phone. Keep conversations to a minimum, around 10 minutes, and make sure you ask permission before using the phone to make sure the family isn’t expecting a call.
What can you expect the host family to be like?
Costa Rican host families are very welcoming! Because the projects are located in a rural area, most host families are farmers. Typically they wake up early in the morning and go to bed early. Homes are kept very clean, so you will need to be sure to pick up after yourself. Follow their general lead and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Will I have internet access?
There will not be a wireless connection at your host family’s home, but wifi is available to volunteers at the sanctuary daily from noon to 1pm. You need to bring your own laptop or device to connect to it.
Volunteer as a Group
Want to share this life-changing experience with your family, friends or students? We take special care in putting together a customized itinerary for your group to ensure that you get the most well-rounded volunteer experience possible.
Check out this video and get inspired by a group of Chicago volunteers who made a positive impact in Costa Rica.
What kind of group are you?
- A school or teacher looking for international experiences for groups of students
- A service-based or religious organization
- A business looking for unique team-building opportunities
- A group of friends looking to get culturally immersed and have fun
Greenheart Travel combines significant service work with exciting excursions and cultural activities depending on your group’s needs. We can accommodate groups from 4-25 individuals with project lengths ranging from 1-4 weeks.
Benefits to traveling as a group:
- For groups of 10 or more people, one person gets to go for free!
- You’ll receive the same inclusions as our individual programs, like homestay accommodation, 3 meals per day & drop off to/from San Jose airport
- Includes exciting excursions like exploring the Arenal Volcano and hot springs.
- You can add on optional Spanish lessons!
Take a look at our example itinerary below to see what your group could do with 2 weeks in Costa Rica!
For customized group itineraries and pricing, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.