GVI: Internships in Costa Rica

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GVI: Internships in Costa Rica
GVI: Internships in Costa Rica
GVI: Internships in Costa Rica
GVI: Internships in Costa Rica
GVI: Internships in Costa Rica
GVI: Internships in Costa Rica
GVI: Internships in Costa Rica
GVI: Internships in Costa Rica
GVI: Internships in Costa Rica
GVI: Internships in Costa Rica
GVI: Internships in Costa Rica
GVI: Internships in Costa Rica
GVI: Internships in Costa Rica
GVI: Internships in Costa Rica


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.

  • 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.

GVI has a Community Development Internship in Thailand!

This is an opportunity to learn more about Chiang Mai's local Karen hill tribe culture, gaining intercultural communication skills and valuable teaching experience.

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.

Questions & Answers


based on 10 reviews
  • Growth 8.2
  • Support 9.1
  • Fun 9.1
  • Housing 8.7
  • Safety 9
Showing 1 - 10 of 10
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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.
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.
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!
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.
Read my full story
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!
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.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Life Changing

I know a lot of people say that trips such as this one change their lives, but this really did for me. I was at a stage in my life and career where I had to decide if I continue pursuing my dream of working in conservation, or give up and take a different path. I chose to do the 6 week internship in Jalova, Costa Rica and it was one of the best decisions I every made. I chose the internship over the standard conservation volunteering as I felt it offered me more opportunities to grow the skills I need for a career in conservation and build my confidence as a leader. It was definitely the right decision, I just wish I had chosen to stay longer!
The staff on base are a credit to the company and really make you feel safe and welcome from the moment you meet them. They have so much knowledge about Tortuguero National Park and all its inhabitants you will definitely learn a lot more from them than you could ever gain from books alone.
The camp is very remote, but this is part of its charm. Get away from technology and enjoy the sights and sounds around you. This remoteness also helps staff and volunteers to form very close friendships in a short space of time. The facilities are described as basic, but a lot of work was being done while I was there to update things and really, when you are living in the middle of the jungle, it is pretty impressive how well equipped they actually are.
I saw so many amazing species while I was in Jalova, you get extremely involved in all of the research being conducted in the park. The birds were the surprise for me, I knew they would be a big part of the ecosystem (as they are all over the world) but what surprised me was how much I loved seeing them and the thrill of identifying them.
Since returning home, Jalova now has a special place in my heart. I am determined to work in conservation and am considering returning for a long-term internship. I feel the place has so much to offer, no two days are the same and I feel I could still gain so much more from it.
Be prepare to be constantly sweaty and sandy, go with a positive attitude and say "Hola" to Big Steve the camps resident green iguana for me!

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Two months to remember

This is an exceptional programme run by some of the most caring and determined people in the world. Everyone I met, everyone I had the pleasure of working with were exceptional and half a year later I still miss them.

A bit about the programme, you are located in a small town called called Quespos in a building that while not very luxurious is now very safe. Monday is spent planning the weeks work, you are normally split into your groups and everyone is very helpful and supportive... even if your not very competent. From Tuesday to Friday your walk to project ( unless it is pouring with rain, in which case you'll get treated to a taxi ride). You spend about 3 hours a day on project, which doesn't sound much, but 20+ kids for 3 hours when it's 30+ degrees is not easy. It is however very rewarding. If you don't know Spanish you will have to take lessons which was also good fun. My teacher was a legend who didn't really speak any English... so we had a great time guessing what each other were saying! The weekends are your own and almost every weekend me and other volunteers went exploring. You can get almost anywhere by bus or by hiring a car, either is relatively inexpensive but I would recommend saveing up before you go if you want to explore all the country has to offer.

Overall... this was a fantastic programme and if I could... I would travel half the way around the world and do it all again.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Expreience of a lifetime.

I started on this GVI project in January 2016. I was originally only here for 3 months as a standard volunteer, however after falling in love with the wonderful kids and seeing the positive direction this project is going in, i decided i wanted to stay for a whole lot longer. The staff take time to hear your issues and accept each person as an individual. Issues get sorted fast with care and love

What would you improve about this program?
Have more communication between the ranks, of different levels of management. That way issues will be solved fast and more efficiently.
Default avatar
No, I don't recommend this program

Do it yourself for a fraction of the cost

I completed a six month internship with GVI in Costa Rica in 2010 and I have to admit that I was angry with them when I left. A year later and my feelings are somewhat mixed. I felt compelled to write this review because I feel that at least with respect to the Costa Rica program they are misleading people and taking their money whilst hiding behind the banner of being a “volunteer organization”. People deserve to know exactly what they are being sold. That being said I did have an amazing time!

Overall impression:

On the one hand I saw some stunning wildlife and came back with lots of great photos. I made some friends for life who share my interest in natural history and the experience of living for three months in a protected area where even regular tourists are not granted access cannot be understated. On the other hand I am still angry with GVI because I feel that they misled me in terms of the experience I was originally sold and on more than one occasion I feel they behaved in a less than professional manner during my stay

Okay so to get it out of the way first. The big issue about profit/not for profit. When you truly volunteer for a program you shouldn't have to pay more than is necessary to cover your food/lodging. GVI charge £1050 for two weeks at Jalova working on the jaguar camera trapping project. That's £75 per day. I'm not going to get into the debate about whether 70% of your fee goes back into the project because I think the numbers speak for themselves. The staff are paid around $100 per month each, the food is mostly rice and beans and they need to buy gasoline to power the generator (1-2 hours per day) and boat. You do the maths. The point is that this is not a volunteer program and by calling their paying guests "volunteers", advertising the whole thing as a volunteer program and using language such as "scientific research" and "research station" they are being dishonest and misleading. Make no mistake; this is most definitely a FOR PROFIT organization. This doesn't have to be a bad thing however; you just need to be aware of this up front. The place can be more accurately described as a holiday camp for grown-ups who are interested in natural history and don't mind roughing it in basic conditions in order to get close to the wildlife. If this is what you are looking for then it may well be worth considering. You are going to have to weigh your options though because for £1500 which is what GVI are charging now for 4 weeks at Jalova you could spend a month visiting many of the wildlife hotspots in Costa Rica including Tortuguero staying in decent accommodation and you would see some amazing stuff. It's a small country, it's crawling with wildlife, it’s safe and public transport is cheap and efficient. People looking for a proper volunteer experience or wanting to assist in scientific research however should definitely look elsewhere. Costa Rica is something of a world capital for eco-volunteering and there are plenty of true volunteer options available that won't cost you the earth.

This may sound harsh given that there are indeed a number of surveys run at the camp but the key problem is that they are not scientific and in general they are not run by scientists (see below). One exception to this is probably the turtle survey (see below). The whole thing just feels like a rouse to make people feel like they are actually volunteering and doing some good but if you challenge GVI on what is happening to the data that is being collected you'll come back with a blank. This happened during my 3rd/4th week at Jalova. A number of people were feeling let-down by the lack of science and the fact that most, if not all the permanent staff have no scientific background or training. Several of the volunteers had a scientific background from university and were frustrated by the way the surveys were planned and organized in that they never seemed to follow proper scientific protocols. We were told that the data goes to MINAE which is the Costa Rican department for the environment but aside from a few "posters" which summarize the data and have been created by GVI we couldn't find any examples of conclusions made or scientific papers that included GVI data let alone examples of environmental policy that were based on GVI's findings. If this stuff is important to you I would suggest that you challenge GVI on this before you join the program and ensure that you are satisfied with their answers before you hand over your cash.


The key attraction with this program is the fantastic location. Let's face it; you get to live in an area of a national park where even paying tourists are refused entry. I suspect that the base at Jalova has only been allowed by the Costa Rican authorities because of the turtle work that is done there which receives international attention. This turtle work is not run by GVI but by the STC (see below) and having a base at this end of the park helps them enormously because of the size of the beach transects they need to cover.

You will see some truly amazing stuff. Even the more common species in Costa Rica can be beautiful and if you’re from Europe like me then you'll be blown away by the diversity, colours and sheer numbers. It's really amazing to wake up every day not knowing what cool critter that you haven't seen before might make an appearance.

If you get lucky and find yourself with a group of like-minded wildlife enthusiasts who are also there for an extended period you'll undoubtedly make friends for life. I'm still in touch with a number of the people I met there. Keep in mind though that this place attracts all sorts. You are likely to meet people who are keen on wildlife but it is also possible that you’ll meet someone who has been sent there by mummy and daddy, can't stand the bugs and spends a lot of time complaining and wishing they were at home.

The turtle project is important and unlike all the other surveys at the site the data is actually used by scientists and published to the wider scientific community. It's also an amazing experience counting the eggs and excavating nests. The turtle project is not managed by GVI however. When I was there it was run by the Caribbean Conservation Corporation (now the Sea Turtle Conservancy) which I believe is a proper conservation body. We as GVI volunteers were used as man power for data collection. I would recommend volunteering with them directly if you want to work with turtles in Tortuguero NP - http://www.conserveturtles.org/ For £1226 you can spend 2 weeks working with leatherbacks, you'll get hotels in San Jose included + 1 internal flight and you'll get to work directly with the conservation body cutting out the middle man (GVI).


GVI do not seem to screen their candidates properly before taking their cash. They give you a telephone interview where I assumed I would need to impress them enough to accept me but it was just an informal chat. When I was there one new volunteer arrived on site that couldn't swim. When you're isolated on a strip of land surrounded by water and many of the activities involve boats this ends up being not just unfair on the individual concerned but somewhat dangerous and irresponsible.

This is not a research station. There may be people with a scientific background at the site but this is the exception rather than the rule. When I was there, there was a Costa Rican biology graduate on site. I can't emphasis enough how much this contributed to the experience I had there. I was able to learn so much from him about his native flora and fauna and his passion for everything especially reptiles was infectious. As it happened I was doubly lucky as also on site when I was there was a biology graduate who was a six month volunteer like myself and had elected to spend his second phase again at Jalova. His knowledge of birds was unbelievable and being a science graduate he threw himself into recording all the sightings around the base and putting them into a proper database with relevant information. These people have now left the base though and the permanent staff are mostly past volunteers with no scientific background. The base is run by a mathematics graduate. If learning more about the natural history of the area is important to you during your visit I would ask GVI up front specifically about the backgrounds of their on-site staff and bear in mind that staff are coming and going at a rate that is difficult to keep track of. When I left the base a number of the volunteers were better at identifying the local flora and fauna than some of the permanent staff. They do try to hire people with a background in biology/zoology but inevitably these people arrive, realise there is not really any science going on and then leave fairly quickly.

GVI appeared quite prepared to mislead their volunteers when it suited them. During my time on base at Jalova this happened more than once. I think there are two main things that lead them to behave this way, worries about reputation (bad press) and the fear of being sued. Unsurprisingly both are financial motivations. During my time at the base two new staff members who had experience of working with elusive big cats left the base after only 4 weeks because of a disagreement with one of the permanent staff members over the Jaguar camera trapping program. They had experience of live trapping and camera trapping of other endangered felines and felt that they were not being listened too. In effect, as prospective staff members I think they had been miss-sold something too. Rather than be honest about events we volunteers were told by a GVI staff member that they had had to return to Europe because one of their parents had taken seriously ill. I had become friends with these people so I made enquiries and discovered that they were still in the country and very angry with GVI. This is one of a number of events where information given to volunteers by GVI didn’t seem to tally with some of the facts. It doesn’t leave a good impression.

Volunteer treatment at hotel prices. You are a paying guest but the staff will not treat you like one, remember that the daily rate you are paying GVI may be more than your average hotel in Costa Rica. You may well feel that the location and the experience are worth the price and that's fine but be aware that you are going to be treated like a volunteer. That means that every now and again you'll spend a whole day on camp duty cleaning toilets, preparing food etc. The staff are exempt from these duties and as a result I refused to clean the staff toilets. There are also lots of rules and restrictions in place which the staff will enforce. Many of these are for your own safety which is perfectly understandable but fear of being sued means that they can be quite strict and after 3 months at the place these rules can get to you. I didn't mind pitching in with the camp duties because for me it's part of the experience and I enjoyed communal living aspect of my time there but I have to say that at then end of the day I would rather have signed a waver promising not to sue them than have to follow all the rules. I'm an adult guest in my thirties paying upwards of £40 a day (depending on duration) and for that I expect to be able to walk on the beach with no shoes on if I want to, If I step on something nasty I'll take the consequences myself. Bizarrely a brief 5 minute demonstration on how to use a two-foot machete seemed to be all that was required before I was entrusted with this potentially lethal tool and sent off on trail maintenance so it's difficult to follow the logic behind it all sometimes. Also bear in mind that the staff members tend to be quite young (some are recent graduates) and older "volunteers" may have to bite the bullet somewhat when being told what they can or can't do.

Two weeks gruelling training in the Sweat Box! - I think they might have sorted this out now. I hope so! On arrival at the base the training started and it lasted nearly an entire 2 weeks. That's 2 weeks of sitting through presentations on how the survey's work, first aid, taking tests etc. mostly within the confines of an enclosed room with a metal roof. I was there for six months so it didn't bother me too much but some people had just paid for 2 weeks or 5 weeks and spent 2 whole weeks doing this rather than walking the trails. I would have been furious. After a while hanging out in the sweat box becomes the norm, in fact it's like the social centre of the camp but it does take some time to acclimatize!

Silly tests. - okay so it's important to be able to recognise the bird species so maybe regular testing on this makes sense and there is some important stuff you need to know before you go sticking your hand under a turtle but there was a lot of sitting tests with questions on really quite non-essential stuff. You get the impression that the exams were mostly to try and give credence to the scientific nature of the surveys (it actually had the reverse effect). If it’s not a proper scientific survey and the data isn’t going anywhere useful then I'd rather spend more time out and about thanks, I can learn the non-critical stuff on the job.


For those considering the six month internship, I’d say forget it. For the second 10 weeks of the internship GVI effectively just operate as a broker and sign you up to some other volunteer program in the country whilst charging you extra. You'll save significantly by just going to these places such as the turtle project at Samara directly. They'll be happy to have you at a fraction of the price. If you ask GVI before you go what the possible projects are for the second three months they’ll be very cagey. This is because they don’t want you to investigate these options independently. The additional support provided by GVI to transport you to the site of your second phase placement effectively amounts to handing over some cash (yes that would be some of the cash you gave them at the beginning when you first paid!) and being told to buy a bus ticket. The same is true of the Spanish language lessons in the middle. If you want to do a 2 week language course sort it out yourself, there are plenty in Granada and it’ll be cheaper than paying GVI a handling fee for doing next to nothing.

Recommending a visit to the research station at Jalova is trickier, past “volunteers” have mixed opinions and I think if you make a shorter visit you may be less affected by some of the issues I’ve outlined above. The location is fantastic. It’s GVI as an organization that’s the problem. There is no doubt that the turtle program has merit but if you want to volunteer with turtles please do it through a well established not for profit organization such as the STC (or any of the many others) directly. Now I’m back and I understand better how things work in Costa Rica I regret having giving my money to GVI. Apart from the beach cleaning it is difficult to see how the GVI base at Jalova is benefiting the environment of Costa Rica and indeed noise/light pollution, compost heaps and near continuous beach patrols may even be having a negative impact on the immediate environment which is Tortuguero National Park. Three months here left me in no doubt that GVI’s main priority is making money and lets face it a science research facility would not accept “volunteers” on 2 week visits. The sooner GVI own up and accept that they are running an eco-tourist operation and start calling us guests rather than volunteers the better. Making money under the pretence of saving the environment/conducting important scientific research is cheap and deserves to be fully exposed for what it is.

That said an eco-tourist will be hard pushed to find anywhere as diverse, isolated and beautiful as this site in Jalova so it will undoubtedly continue for as long as the Costa Rican authorities permit. I suspect that GVI need to maintain the “research station” rouse in order to stay open. Just make sure you keep your shoes on when visiting the beach!