Enchanting Costa Rica

Impact: 9
Support: 8
Fun: 10
Value: 9
Safety: 8

I am a serial GVI volunteer, having done stints on marine conservation programmes in Mexico, Fiji and the Seychelles since 2018. This year, I decided to try a terrestrial programme instead and chose the Costa Rica wildlife conservation programme at Jalova in Tortuguero national park.

I’m so glad I did - I had a fantastic, action-packed and soul-enriching time.

In common with other GVI bases, the staff were passionate and eager to share their knowledge while also ensuring we volunteers had fun.

The work was so rewarding - I did the 28km jagwalk: the programme’s key data gathering exercise, which looks for evidence of jaguar predation on sea turtles and also the distribution of the big cats in Tortuguero national park, one of the densest populations of the wild felids in the world. I learned so much about camera-trapping and jaguar behaviour.

I also loved learning to ID the target birds, not just visually but by their calls too, so forest surveys - in flooded swamps to dense forests to night trails - were eye- and ear-opening, even if the mosquitos and swarms of other bugs were sometimes a challenge. ;-) I also went on night turtle patrols and morning nest checks - green turtle season hadn't quite started, but one morning last week, we did a leatherback nest excavation (to check on hatching success) after spotting little tracks left by hatchlings - only to find a live baby turtle which was just a little slower than the others. So we had to dig a little trench on the side and bury it so it could continue to strengthen its flippers as it clambered out for the battles ahead with the waves, and also to allow it to imprint on the location and get its internal GPS aligned with the Earth's magnetic field. Utterly magic!

Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would
Year Completed