• Costa Rica
Jul 13, 2020
Jul 17, 2021

About Program

Costa Rica holds some of the worlds most diverse ecology, and notably maintains careful preservation of parts of its land and maritime territories. All GVI programs ensure that you will be contributing towards purposeful sustainable objectives that have been carefully aligned with the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Build on your CV and develop professional skills in marine and wildlife conservation, education, and community development while also supporting the sustainable preservation of the countries ecological zones.

This is also a sure way to experience the abounding nature of the country, like trekking through the densely populated rainforests, viewing some of the countries most scenic volcanic formations, relaxing on a peaceful beach shore, or going on zip-lining and kayaking adventures in your free time.

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • Work alongside and collaborate with qualified field experts, and other international interns.
  • Improve your CV and develop professional skills in marine and wildlife conservation, education, and community development.
  • Learn about the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and contribute towards long-term objectives.
  • Become a global citizen as you immerse in and better understand different cultures, traditions and customs.
  • Improve your future employment opportunities with hands on practical experiences and a larger database of knowledge.

Popular Programs

Students conducting research in Costa Rica

Engage in ongoing marine and wildlife conservation activities at Tortuguero National Park. This is an opportunity to learn directly from expert international conservationists. Gain a variety of technical skills in; species identification, remote camera trapping, conservation management, data collection, monitoring and surveying turtle nesting sites, and contributing to the necessary research of the endangered jaguar.

Interns conducting research in Costa Rica

Receive an ILM leadership qualification on this internship expedition, while assisting and participating in a variety of research based activities. Aside from gaining practical conservation skills, you will be contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 15: Life On Land, Goal 14: Life Below Water, and Goal 13: Climate Change.

Baby sea turtle in the sand

Assist in the conservation of endangered leatherback, hawksbill, and green sea turtles. This is a collaborative internship where you will work together to protect their nesting sites while also contributing to wildlife survey initiatives. As an immersive program you’ll be equipped with the skills and experience to embark on a career in conservation if you so choose.

Students working on sustainable development in Costa Rica

Contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education, among others, while teaching and facilitating English for individual or group classes, child development projects and assisting with women’s empowerment initiatives. This is a great way to gain skills in international development through first hand experience, while exploring the diverse, rain-forested, beachfront landscape of Costa Rica.

Program Reviews

9.25 Rating
based on 12 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 91.67%
  • 7-8 rating 0%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 8.33%
  • Growth 8.4
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 9.2
  • Housing 8.6
  • Safety 9.1
Showing 1 - 8 of 12 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

First group in Cimarrones

I was part of the first volunteer group in Cimarrones Costa Rica. The people were all really nice and welcoming. There is also a nice river right on the property that is perfect for a quick cool down after the children's class. The women's class is also rewarding. All the students are so eager to learn that you end each class happy.
I was able to take charge of my internship project, and interview three people from the area. I would suggest more than 4 weeks for interns that plan on conducting interviews though. However, I was very comfortable volunteering 4 weeks (it felt like the perfect length). Without the desire for more interviews, I was very happy with my time.
The base itself is comfortable and has two showers (one with hot water). I personally never needed the hot water shower. There are also fans for those who need to be cool at night. Alicia, the cook, also makes the best plantains I have ever had. You will fall in love with her cooking!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Go on night walks with flashlights to see the nocturnal animals on the property. Make sure you don't go alone though.

For weekend trips, I highly suggest white water rafting the Pacuare River (the best whitewater rafting river in Costa Rica), and visiting Puerto Viejo.
Response from GVI

Hey Luca, thanks for your great review! I am thrilled to hear that you enjoyed your time with us as much as you did. Your hard work and efforts have certainly impacted this project in a meaningful way. Please do keep on spreading your love for GVI. And obviously, we would love to see you back on base soon!

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

It was the best experience of my life, I learnt so much!

I did a short-term wildlife internship with GVI at their Jalova, Costa Rica project in 2019. I researched many different organisations and decided on GVI, I loved their ethos and was glad to experience every bit of it being true. I felt in safe hands from the moment I booked, the support staff were friendly and gave lots of useful information. I was met at the airport by GVI and transfered to my hostel the day before travlling to base so I felt safe arriving on my own in a new country.

On base, the staff were excellent, very friendly and extremely knowledgeable. Despite being in the remote Costa Rican jungle amongst the wild animals and with basic living conditions, I felt very safe. The opportunities to learn were second to none and we dived straight in to our duties after a solid orientation. I got to experience beautiful habitats and tonnes of wild animals in their natural environment. Contributing toward the protection and conservation of that special place was one of the best experiences of my life. If I wasn't mid-way through study then I would have undoubtedly stayed longer, I just didn't want to leave. The food was excellent and adjustments were made for any dietary requirements (vegan/gluten free etc.).

I now have a wealth of practical conservation experience and have made many friends for life, whom I see as much as possible back in the UK! I was so impressed with GVI that I have booked another trip (delayed due to Covid-19), but I am eager to work with GVI in 2020 to make the world a better place.

What would you improve about this program?
Nothing to improve really, you get out what you put in with these kind of experiences. I only wish I could have stayed longer.
5 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey John, thanks for your review! I'm thrilled to hear you had such a positive experience with us and enjoyed your time on base as much as you did. We'd love to have you back on base sometime soon!

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Couldn't recommend enough!!!

I absolutely loved my programme with GVI. I went on a 6 week internship to Costa Rica where I did biodiversity, jaguar and turtle surveys. I was really nervous about going on a conservation programme as I have no conservation experience at all. I didn’t need to be though as they taught me everything I needed to know. The staff were absolutely amazing and really passionate about the programme. I felt like I was part of a family during my time there and am already planning on going on another GVI programme. I was really pleased that I could see where my money was going, which was really important to me. I felt like the work we were doing was important and making an impact and I really believe in the core values of GVI as a company. I couldn’t recommend GVI enough!

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
I was really worried about not having any experience in the field. I thought that everyone would know exactly what they were doing and I'd have no idea. It didn't matter about my lack of experience though. They provided training for every project and made sure that we all had the knowledge required to take part in the surveys. It turned out to be really fun learning about a completely knew field.
4 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Amy, thanks for your review! I'm thrilled to hear you had such a positive experience with us and enjoyed your time on base as much as you did. We'd love to have you back on base sometime soon!

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible experience!

My time with GVI in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica was phenomenal. I did the short-term internship in between my second and my final year of my university degree as part of my placement year and choose this program due to their very good reputation and to build my skills in conservation.

My role as an intern was to assist with the research projects which were being carried out at the biological research camp I was living at. Whilst there, there were jaguar and biodiversity projects running so I helped with the tracking and camera trapping of jaguars and biodiversity surveys of the surrounding habitat. Also, whilst on this internship I completed GVI’s biological survey technique program where I learnt how to apply conservation practise to a range of ecosystems and I also did an emergency first aid program to prepare for the realities of practising conservation in the wild. In addition, I completed the ILM endorsed leadership certificate where I had to do several presentations, assignments and attend weekly one to one sessions with my mentor.

The staff were paramount to the incredible experience as they offer a wealth of knowledge and make you feel welcome from day one in camp. Due to the remote and basic living conditions you quickly form very close friendships, unforgettable memories and meet amazing, like minded people along the way which makes the experience so wonderful.

My high expectations of this program were massively exceeded, and I wish I choose to stay for more than 8 weeks. Don’t just consider doing a GVI program, DO IT, you will not regret it at all. I can hands down say this was one of the best experiences of my life and helped give me direction to my future career plans and shaped me massively as an individual.

Pura Vida!!!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would change the length of my stay - I loved it so much and did not want to leave at the end of my 8 week internship.
3 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Belinda, thanks for your review! I'm thrilled to hear you had such a positive experience with us and enjoyed your time on base as much as you did. We'd love to have you back on base sometime soon!

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Absolutely Incredible in Costa Rica

My name is Genevieve (Gen) Barrett, I was an Intern at GVI's Costa Rica Jalova Base whilst on a gap year in 2019. My time in Jalova was incredible, words cannot describe how much I value the experiences I have had in that beautiful place. Tortuguero National Park is extremely beautiful, and the wildlife there is like nothing I have ever seen before. My favourite surveys were the Bird Boats (bird watching from a canoo) and Forest Biodiversity surveys. I have learnt so much that will aid me at university and I'm my future career. I would definitely recommend this Internship to anybody interested in a career in wildlife or anybody who is just looking to learn more about the wonderful world we live in - especially Costa Rica. I assure you that you won't regret attending.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I saw a Jaguar swimming across the river whilst on a bird survery. It was insane!
3 people found this review helpful.
Response from GVI

Hey Genevieve, thanks for your review! I'm thrilled to hear you had such a positive experience with us and enjoyed your time on base as much as you did. We'd love to have you back on base sometime soon!

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

The start of a long, exciting journey

The best way to show everyone how good my experience with GVI Jalova was is to state some facts. When I signed up for the program, I was doubting to go for 2 or 3 months. Eventually I signed up for 4. I ended up sticking around for more than 2 years. I gained many skills in wildlife identification (camera trapping, use of binoculars, using the behavior of the animals). Perhaps more important are all the opportunities up for grabs in Jalova. I managed to become an EFR instructur, Leader of a long term monitoring project, intern manager and alumni coördinator within 6 months. Granted, this is what i wanted to achieve and I was fully commited to this, but i'm just trying to show it IS possible with GVI. Thanks to this experience I now feel ready for the next step in my conservation career, and I have the references and certifications to back it up with! The living conditions have sometimes been hard, but it made the experience complete. With a positive attitude and open mind you can accomplish great things for yourself and the national park here. I believe this is the best place in the world for a volunteer to truly experience wild nature. I have encountered incredible wildlife on a daily basis, finding new species almost weekly even after spending 2 years there. The educational and fun atmosphere created by the people in base can almost be described as magical. I learned incredibly much and never had so much fun doing so.

What would you improve about this program?
More resources should go towards the station to improve accomodations and study materials.
4 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

I loved Jalova :)

I was in Jalova as a 2 Month (Short term) Intern and I got to say 2 months are too short! I would suggest if you choose to do an internship stay as long as your money allows you to. The only time I would not recommend staying long is if you get homesick easily.

I have a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and I really wanted to gain more experience doing field work which is why I chose this internship in Tortuguero National Park. The two weeks are basically orientation, learning the species, first aid, getting to know people and getting used to our new surroundings. Then we start doing the surveys, there's the Forest Biodivery Survey, Canal bird surveys, Jaguar walks and camera traps, and turtle stuff (though I didn't stay long enough for that).

For the internship, you are most of the time paired with a project leader and they walk you through the internship. A short-term internship is mainly focusing on leadership with no additional work related to biology. But since the leaders are fantastic they let me do both the biology and leadership work, which was a lot to cram in to 6 weeks but I did it thanks to Allen! I think that the internship is a great way of seeing if conservation work is right for you if your still on the fence. Also, you will see so many awesome animals like Central American spider monkeys, Collared Aracari, and many Slender anoles. The animals are adorable and you will see a new species each time you go out!

The friends that you get from Jalova though is by far one of the best reasons to come. I came in January so the group I was in were the first batch of the year. The jungle put us through the ringer the first month, rain, more rain, solar powered things stopped working, the water tower broke... We became so close since we went through everything together and it also helped that the leaders were somehow still so enthusiastic when the sky was raining cats and dogs and we had to go out on a survey.

I was so sad when it came time to leave, I honestly didn't want to. I think I was lucky with the staff I got and the other volunteers I was with during my time there. But I'm sure if you give it a chance you will have a great time and learn a lot of card games!

What would you improve about this program?
They need to get their fridge working haha!
3 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

GVI Jalova, Costa Rica- Short-term internship

The short-term internship at Jalova has given me a kick-start in my career in wildlife conservation. My time spent working on the projects at Jalova has confirmed that I want to spend my life working in conservation, and has given me the confidence and skills to pursue this career. The work undertaken at Jalova is at the forefront of wildlife conservation, and I really felt like I was part of a project that is making an essential contribution to wildlife conservation and sustainability.

The experience of living and working in a remote tropical environment has been amazing- being surrounded by the life of the jungle meant that there was never a dull moment on base! Volunteering with GVI provides the perfect opportunity to travel and be part of different cultures. Through this experience I've worked with brilliant, passionate people who have the same interests as me- I've made friends for life from all corners of the world.

One of my favourite moments was counting the eggs of a green turtle while she was laying. I was lying on my belly in the sand, with my hand under the turtle up to my shoulder, to catch the eggs as they fell. I have never been so close to a wild animal, and such a breath-taking one at that. I could hear and feel her breathing as she laid her eggs. This was without a doubt one of the most magical experiences of my life- I will never forget it!

A typical day in the life at Jalova went like this: I'd wake up to the sound of howler monkeys amongst the dawn chorus. The morning would usually be spent surveying- this could be checking turtle nests or jaguar camera traps along the beach, a biodiversity survey in the forest, or a bird survey along the canals in our canoe. The afternoon would involve more surveys, or we'd spend time entering data or doing chores. After dinner volunteers and staff would gather in the dining room to chat and play games, generally chill out and have fun, while yet more surveys were conducted at night, including night walk along the beach to monitor turtles and mark their nests.

During my two-month internship I had the opportunity to leave base and travel within Costa Rica with other volunteers. This was a great opportunity to see another part of the country and to bond with the people I was volunteering with.

I can honestly say that the two months I spent with GVI at Jalova were the best two months of my life. Every day was an adventure that came with its own challenges, accomplishments and unforgetable moments. Completing an internship with GVI has been an invaluable experience, and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in wildlife conservation and the will to make a difference.

4 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers