If you have not purchased the Arrival Package, then the meeting point is at Hotel Santa Elena in Monteverde on Monday at 12:00
Monte Verde National Park - including hiking trips to explore Cloud and Tropical Forests
Departure to Turtle Placement
Turtle conservation volunteer placement at CIRENAS Playa Ario (about an hour drive from Santa Teresa).
Monday - Friday
07:00-08:30 - Breakfast
09:00-11:00 - Spanish Lesson
12:00-13:00 - Lunch
14:00-16:00 - Surf or Yoga (Week 1 - Mon and Thurs, Week 2 Tues and Fri) and Volunteering (Week 1 -Tues and Fri, Week 2 Mon and Thurs)
Wednesday from 14:00-16:00 you will join a hike exploring the local area.
Saturdays and Sundays
Brunch. The weekends are always free for you to spend as you like!
In week 1 we go on a 4x4 overland adventure to explore Monte Verde National Park. We will stay in the picturesque town of Santa Elena and enjoy hikes to explore two national parks - one in Cloud Forest and the other in Tropical Forest.
We will be based in the town of Santa Elena, staying at a hostel (breakfast and lunch provided with lots of local options for dinner). Each morning we will get up early to enjoy a 2-3 hour hike exploring this unique biosphere including guided tours of two national parks, Cloud Forest and Tropical Forest. After we explore the village of Santa Elena and surrounding area to get our bearings and discuss the plan for next couple days - for those who have a head for heights and want to ‘hug a tree’ there is a huge ‘Stangler’ fig tree that we can climb inside. Back to hostel for chill time before dinner.
After breakfast we enjoy a guided hike to the Monte Verde Reserve to explore Cloud Forest and find out about its inhabitants and flora. This is one of the few places on earth where you can see the rare Quetzal bird and get spectacular views of both the Caribbean and the Pacific Oceans. There are three kinds of monkey, medicinal plants and a plethora of insects and bird life. Back to the hostel for lunch and then your afternoon is free to chill or enjoy one of many activities including rope bridge, bungee jump and zip lining (from USD 50 per person), or visit to a coffee, cocoa and sugar cane plantation (from USD 30 per person), horse riding (from USD 50 per person), ATV tour (USD 60 per person) and canyoning (USD 70 per person).
After breakfast we enjoy a guided hike to the Curicancha Reserve. This is primary rain forest hosting an array of animals plants and insects. Our guide will be able to identify and explain medicinal plants and wildlife, many unique to this environment. Back to the hostel for lunch - afternoon and evening free!
There will be lots of stunning hikes and amazing places to visit plus the chance to try out some extra activities or chill.
We head to the turtle rescue centre for a week of volunteering.
You will spend 4 to 7 days at a Turtle Sanctuary that we support, CIRENAS Playa Ario. 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.
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. We still need help during most of the year for the construction and maintenance of the hatchery, critical for the upcoming season.
Besides the Turtle conservation you will do in Cirenas, there will be some other works you will do:
Caletas-Ario Mixed National Wildlife Refuge
- Maintenance and Hikes on the trails
- Bird watching
- Monitoring of Wild Fauna through camera traps
- Identification of native trees
Permaculture and Healthy Eating
- Sowing and planting
- Irrigation installation for plants
- Prune fruit trees and harvesting
- Hen house
- Collection of seeds of native trees by dry season
- Sowing in seedbeds
- Reforestation of native tree species on and off campus.
Each day Monday to Friday there will be 2 x 45 minute Spanish lessons (usually between 09:00-11:00 with breaks but subject to change depending surf conditions). 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.
You will join volunteer projects designed to conserve and respect local natural resources (2-3 hours per day). 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) and organizing clean ups with focus on recycling.
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.
We would like you to enjoy Nicoya Peninsula - an area of outstanding natural beauty - so each Wednesday in weeks 1 and 2 we will explore our surroundings on foot. The first is a 2 hour ‘jungle river trek’ along a river that runs by Jakera Jungle Surf Camp and into the lush tropical forest that surrounds us. You will quickly find yourself ‘lost’ and wondering which direction the seemingly nearby beach is.
The second Wednesday we hike from ‘beach to waterfall’ to discover a multitude of waterfalls and rivers that tumble and twist through the rainforest and out into the Pacific Ocean. This hike helps us to understand how the whole eco system works. There is a huge range of flora including trees with specific medicinal applications. We begin to understand the beauty of this truly diverse location.
4 Surf lessons (approx. 2 hours) are delivered by a local professional surf instructor. As well as showing you the basics - or taking you to the next level - you learn basic safety principles taking into account local issues such as rip tides. Boards are provided for surf lessons. Additional lessons are available on request as well as board rental.
Alternatively, you can enjoy professional yoga instruction. For a long time now, this magical place has been a destination for yogis from all around the world. What better place to learn or practice yoga than on a wild beach with the sound of waves crashing on the soft white sand, or in our jungle lodge surrounded by lush foliage to the sounds of the river and birds? Many people come here every year to practice and teach yoga so there is a class to for every level from absolute beginner to advanced yogi. You will receive 8 vouchers for yoga lessons. You are free to use them when you wish during Week 1.
Popular classes include Yoga for all, Vinyasa Flow, Slow Flow, Ashtanga, Hatha, Deep Restorative, Relaxing & Mediation. You are invited to try a variety of forms of yoga during your time with us. Each class is 90 minutes (max of 8 classes per week) - a combination of group and private classes depending your needs. Yoga provides mental balance, body control and it will help you to relax and enjoy every part of your journey in Costa Rica. Enjoy the mantras and discover a new way to relax and be in tune with your body (and nature) by doing yoga and living the pura vida lifestyle.
During the weekends, there are a lot of opportunities to expore the area and try out different activities such as 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 too 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
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.