La Tortuga Feliz

About

La tortuga feliz is a non profit organisation, based in Costa Rica, whose aims are the protection of sea turtles with the help of volunteers. The participation of volunteers contributes to the improvement of the living conditions and education of the local inhabitants.

These local inhabitants guard/patrol the beach (Caribbean coast of Costa Rica) together with volunteers, collect the turtle eggs and bring these eggs to a hatchery which is manned by volunteers on a 24 hours basis. Volunteers also participate in the care for and study of recuperating adult turtles in the turtle rescue and rehabilitation centre.

By helping to generate an income for the locals, we hope to take away the necessity for them to poach the turtles and their eggs.

The partnership between the locals and the volunteers helps create an ideal environment for the turtles to lay their eggs.

Headquarters

United States

Reviews

Default avatar
Simcha
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Just imagine: full moon, desolated beach and in front of you a big leatherbackturtle covering her nest. You, sitting there in the sand, staring at her and safeguard a big plastic bag with turtle eggs. For me it was one of the best moments of my life. Tears of happiness, because I never felt so much alive and feeling what we were doing, truly did matter. While she was walking back to the ocean, we waved her goodbye promised her to take good care of her babies. Then our work started. Because we needed to walk back to the hatchery with 25 kg of turtle-eggs, digging a deep nest and guard the nests till the babies will come out. I promise you, you forget the heat, the blisters, mosquitos and rain. Instead you will enjoy the beauty’s of nature: drinking fresh coconutwater, watch the sunrise and (when you’re lucky) see babyturtles walking their first steps into the ocean. You will be accompanied with very passionate people from all over the world, enjoying the Caribbean beach, without getting disturbed by your phone. Just listen to the sounds of birds, calling frogs and howlermonkeys. The accommodation is simple but has everything you need. A hammock, a travel library and very healthy and tasty vegetarian food. For every nature and animallover on this planet, just go and don’t be sorry. Going to La Tortuga Feliz, was one of my best decisions in my life.

Default avatar
Julia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

LTF is a great organization with an inspiring mission. The Caribbean coast of Costa Rica is gorgeous, and I was able to spend my time working with sea turtles and helping their legacy, as well as see tons of other wildlife, including sloths, which are my absolute favorite! An amazing cultural immersion, as well as rewarding conservation work. Highly recommend!

Default avatar
Jessica
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I went for 2 weeks in July 2013 with one of my teachers. It was one of the most interesting and fun experiences I have ever had. Met some amazing people, got to really study in depth about the sea turtles. The coordinators absolutely love what they do and you can tell that by how they treat all of the people that come to the site. Beautiful location, wonderful people from all over the world come to volunteer at this conservation site, and it is definitely very informative and worth it. I got to see first hand how to tag and take data on the sea turtles and it was a life changing experience. I got to watch a nest of baby turtles make their way down to the ocean and it was just truly beautiful. Would definitely recommend this trip to anyone. Definitely would love to go back one day for a longer period of time.

What would you improve about this program?
I would change nothing honestly. I'm not the biggest fan of large bugs and animals in the dark, but it's easily adaptable and I got over it fairly quickly. But if you don't like late nights and bugs, then that is the only time I wouldn't recommend this trip.
Default avatar
Kelly
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The first time I volunteered at LTF was in the summer of 2008. I was there for four weeks and loved every minute of it! I can't even explain how it feels to see a turtle crawling up the beach to lay their eggs and know that you are a part of saving an endangered species legacy. Not only are the turtles amazing, but the relationships that you form with other volunteers could not be achieved anywhere else. I now have friends from across the globe that I would never have imagined! One of my favorite parts of the project is the feeling of community that you have while you are there. Everyone chips in to help out around the project site, everyone eats meals together, and everyone can play volleyball together! Not only were the volunteers amazing, but the locals are also quite hospitable as well. Everyone on staff at LTF is a joy to work with in every way. In fact, I have gone back to LTF every year since, and I even took two groups of high school students with me during the 2012 & 2013 summer vacation so they could have this exceptional experience as well. The information that is provided on their website will give you all of the information that you need to pack appropriately and be prepared. I can't wait to bring my fiancee to LTF in 2015!

What would you improve about this program?
I wouldn't necessarily change the program; however, volunteering isn't for everyone. Remember, you are in a rain forest and there are bugs, mosquitoes, and spiders. If any of those things really bother you, or the lack of electronics bothers you, then maybe you should find another program.
Default avatar
matthijs
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I recently finished volunteering for 3 months with a non profit organisation protecting sea turtles in Costa Rica and i really want to spread the word. Working with La Tortuga Feliz was definitely one of the most rewarding and life changing experience of my life. The project area is on a unique place at the caribbean with lots of wildlife! My daily activities included beach patrolling and hatchery work. Living conditions were basic as expected, however, the amazing food was a welcome surprise. The rewards not only consisted of the opportunity to bond with a diverse group of people but also to actively participate in an organisation that truly helps both; the marine wildlife and the local community. If anyone is interested in cheap voluntary work in Central America, i couldn't recommend LTF more!

www.latortugafeliz.com

Programs

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

Alumni Interviews

Alumni interviews are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Kelly Pirog

Kelly is 34 years old and currently teaches Biology, Chemistry, and Forensics at a high school in Massachusetts. Not having any children and a teacher's schedule is what affords her the opportunity to do so much traveling. She has been to LTF six times, but she recently went with a school group to the Philippines for a medical internship. After getting engaged to her boyfriend, she is making him come to Costa Rica with her this summer, even though he says he isn't interested in volunteering (she thinks he'll change his mind once he gets there). She's also an avid crossfitter and loves to see how much weight her body can actually lift!
Volunteers in Costa Rica

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

Kelly: Day to day activities include at least one of the following: a nightly turtle patrol looking for adult turtles that are laying their eggs OR a daily shift in the hatchery in which you check on the nests for hatchlings, measure them, mass them, count them, and send them out to the ocean!

Other day to day activities might include doing a beach trash clean up, helping around the project site with sweeping or other cleaning tasks, or even cooking some meals in the kitchen. Other than that, my other favorite activities include playing with all of the project site dogs and other beach dogs, taking naps in the hammock, reading a book on the beach, playing volleyball or cards with other volunteers, or going for hikes looking for monkeys or sloths!

Ten years from now, what's the one thing you think you'll remember from the trip?

Kelly: Ten years from now I will still remember EVERYTHING from my trips! The second year I was at LTF, I adopted my "forever friend" named Flaca. She chose me one day as my friend Sarah and I were exploring the beach. We had crossed a lagoon and Flaca tried to follow us, but she started to get swept out to sea. I was a life guard and so I jumped in and saved her.

dog in Costa Rica

From that point on, Flaca did not leave my side; she slept outside of my cabina, and even followed me to the beach and on my duties. Robert (the head of the program) helped me on the Costa Rica end by bringing her to the vet for shots and flea medicine, and I picked her up three months later on November 11 at Logan International Airport in Boston. Many animals are in desperate need of a home and I have never been more grateful for the opportunity to have her as a pet.

Has your worldview changed as a result of your trip?

Kelly: Each time I go to LTF, I remember that I CAN survive without electronics and half of my belongings; in fact, it's absolutely amazing the friendships that can be formed when you just sit and talk with someone without distractions. I also look around me and think how lucky I am to have all that I do, but that if you are happy with yourself, than nothing else matters.

Some of the people living near LTF have two pairs of shorts: the ones that they are wearing and the ones that they have drying on the line. There are no mirrors. There are no cars. There are no phones and no TV's. Yet, these are some of the happiest, most intriguing people I have met. I would love to have that carefree attitude and lifestyle.

What was the most interesting cultural difference you encountered?

turtle in Costa Rica

Kelly: The most interesting cultural difference that I encountered was the slang that many of the people used. The words were meant as terms of endearment, however, in the United States, some people might take offense to them. For example, a slang term used for a voluptuous woman would be "gordita" which literally means little fat girl. It's important to remember that when you visit other countries or parts of the world that different ideals are considered attractive.

Where would you most like to travel to next?

Kelly: I would like to travel the world! I am Polish so I would definitely like to visit Poland; however, I am also interested in Portugal for the nice beaches, Chile for the scenery, and Thailand for the culture.