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Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary

About

The center is situated on a mountain in the heart of the jungle and is within walking distance of Villas Alturas Hotel which offers spectacular views of the South Pacific Ocean. Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary has enclosures for over 75 animals and was designed with the assistance of the Costa Rican government. The wildlife we rehabilitate is cared for by our professional team of qualified staff. We also operate a dynamic volunteer program along with educational programs for local and national schools and international universities. Additionally, we provide guided sanctuary tours where you and your family can learn about the amazing wildlife of Costa Rica and the work that we do to protect it.
Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary is a non-profit organization and every visitor, volunteer and donor directly helps provide food, housing and veterinary care to a diverse range of native animal species.

Founded
2015

Reviews

Default avatar
Todd
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing experience

We volunteered at Alturas for a couple of weeks and had an amazing visit. Your time there really does make a difference, as you get to work closely and directly with lots of animals. My favorite thing about Alturas is knowing you're volunteering in an ethical way and not as a tourist. The needs of the animals come first, and you are there for them...not the other way around. And that's what makes volunteering at a place like Alturas so rewarding and memorable. The staff is very friendly, accommodating, and willing to help in any way to ensure your time there is comfortable. As a bonus - you get a chance each day to enjoy some time to relax or explore the area, as they want to ensure you're having a good, fun time. I can't recommend Alturas enough!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
We would stay another week! Though you work hard, time flies by because you'll love.
Default avatar
Nicki
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Experience

I knew it would be, but this truly was a life changing experience.
As an animal welfare supporter, advocate and volunteer back home to have the opportunity to help out at a place like this with these animals was humbling.

Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary is an incredible set up. At the heart of what they do is the welfare of animals whether that is to rehabilitate, treat or provide sanctuary to. The people who work there are dedicated, hardworking and passionate. Particular call out to Laura and Loyal who I learnt so much from.

As a more mature volunteer I was prepared to take on all the responsibility and workload required of me, at the end of the day we are there to help and provide a much needed role to the sanctuary. I did find that was not true of all the volunteers. I think if you are going to go you need to understand that you, as a volunteer, are a cog in a wheel and that you are there to WORK and if you don't take it seriously it is the animals that will feel the effects. It is not a holiday on the days you are scheduled to work. However, make sure you do make the most of your days off. Costa Rica and what it has to offer is superb and I found those who had a less enjoyable experience to me were those who didn't go and explore on their days off. Things may not be cheap but they are worth it and if you've come all this way why wouldn't you.

The team at Alturas will do the best they can to make your stay enjoyable and interesting. Sometimes things may not go as planned or scheduled if they say they'll take you to the beach or a waterfall during the break between shifts....that's life people. An emergency case may come in or they are short staffed. Why not do some animal habitat enrichment instead and enjoy the experience you have been given to be near and around these incredible animals :)

The volunteer house was simple/basic and I believe there are plans for a refurbishment and improvements which I support as there were some areas that needed some attention. It was a nice set up though. The trouble is with such a turnover of volunteers you are depending on those leaving to have the respect and care to clean and tidy before they go and also to have basic care and consideration for the property and those who will be/are staying but as we all know if you have every shared accommodation this is not always the case!!!

The purpose of my stay was for the animals and that did not disappoint. You get out what you put in and I put in a lot and I got out a hell of a lot out. I am planning my return :)

LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!!!!

What would you improve about this program?
There is always room for improvement. Some of the volunteer activities didn't happen but I was over during Xmas & New Year but I also think this needs to be actioned if is promised on the site.
Default avatar
Nena
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Couldn't recommend this program enough!!

I stayed at Altura's during my Spring Break (late March). I flew in to a small local airport and I was shuttled to the sanctuary. From there I met some of the staff, who where all warm and welcoming. The guest house is simple and well stocked (be sure to tell the guest house coordinator of any specific foods you would like). Upon arriving I was given a tour of the house and I was left to set up. This is a good opportunity to walk the sanctuary and get an idea of where everything is. Most of the other volunteers are working, so they won't have much of a chance to give you a tour. During my stay there all the volunteers got along great. It's just a general courtesy to clean up after yourself and I must say, all of us where on the same respect level! The volunteers varied in ages from 19 - mid 40's/50's. It was great being able to see the animals, and even more so, that those animals aren't in a Zoo. The sanctuary workers where all kind, friendly and fun to work with. The hotel staff was also very friendly and welcoming to all volunteers and guests. I can't recommend Alturas enough. It was a great experience working with the animals and being able to visit Dominical and all this quaint town has to offer. Oh! Go to the Tiki mart. It's amazing, so many great local, clean products there!!

What would you improve about this program?
I think a lot of incoming guests felt a bit lost upon first arrival. Maybe have a program or tour to acclimate them a little more and show them what will be expected of them for their stay.
Default avatar
Alison
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing

I spent three weeks there at the sanctuary and it was one of the best things I did. It was great to be up close with animals that you may never again have the opportunity to interact with. The staff is absolutely phenomenal and always willing to help and teach you about the animals and their stories. One thing I definitely did not expect was to see a troop of about 20 wild Capuchin monkeys crossing overhead our patio every morning. Honestly one of the coolest things.

One thing to keep in mind is that you will have a LOT of free time. There was a lot of stuff going on during my time there that they couldn't really control. But just as I was leaving, things started to fall more into place. They made a schedule with some pretty cool daily activities which was awesome. There is a beach close by, but the taxis are ridiculously expensive so don't expect to spend everyday there. It's actually quite nice just to sit in hammocks, eat mangoes, and get to know the other volunteers. They're all pretty neat.

Yes, there were a few bumps in the road, but keeping a positive attitude is key. Just remember that you're going there to volunteer, not for a vacation.

Default avatar
Nicole
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable

Volunteering at Alturas Sanctuary was a life-altering experience. It provided hands-on work (picking up poop, cleaning cages, doing more laundry than I ever would have expected, building toys, and feeding and transporting animals); education (about wildlife, the greater environment, and other ways of life); and fun (roaming around with other volunteers on days off, attending a concert, etc.). The environment was professional, safe, and comfortable (albeit be ready for some spiders and cold water showers).

The staff are overwhelmingly genuine, caring whole-heartedly about the well-being of the animals, while still taking the time to ensure that the volunteers weren't forgotten. The vet (Laura) would often share stories and answer questions during breaks - get to know her if you're logical, she's one of the coolest people I've ever encountered.

The animals are just as memorable. You'll build friendships quickly, and refer to them by name. I don't think I'll ever forget them.

My 3-week stay was during the busiest time of year, amid many changes (lack of dedicated coordinator, new volunteer house construction, etc.). This meant less organization, but going with the flow is all part of the Central American lifestyle. Although I found that some others had minor complaints, escalated items were addressed. The staff is there to help.

Be aware that the program is relatively new, but established. I expect that it will continue to develop. The owner shared goals regarding future projects, which I have high hopes for. While I'm extremely grateful for the experience I've already had, I'm definitely hoping to return.

It isn't a vacation; it's better. Go alone. Make friends (with people and animals). And use free time as an opportunity to learn and build relationships with those around you. It will change your life.

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