Wildlife Conservation and Climate Change Adventures in Costa Rica
93% Rating
(10 Reviews)

Wildlife Conservation and Climate Change Adventures in Costa Rica

Located in Central America, Costa Rica is nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean and is home to over 500,000 different species of animals, giving it the highest species density of any country in the world.

Sadly, the region and its inhabitants are being gravely challenged by habitat fragmentation and destruction, pollution, poaching and climate change. Over the past several years, Frontier has been working on the peninsula to carry out groundbreaking survey work and vital data collection in an attempt to combat the effects of these challenges and to preserve this area.

Frontier's camp is based amongst dense tropical forest on the edge of Corcovado National Park. Volunteers work together to carry out critical surveys and data collection activities. Joining this vitally important project will not only give you an opportunity to experience a world of fragile beauty and contribute to the conservation of Costa Rica's precious and unique habitats for the future.

Our most popular projects in Costa Rica include:

See what's happening on our Costa Rica Projects right now.

Highlights
  • Live on a vibrant and picturesque rainforest camp
  • Work with animals including sloths, howler monkeys and turtles
  • Improve your CV with a placement with a market-leading NGO
Locations
North America » Costa Rica » Puerto Jimenez
North America » Costa Rica » San José
Length
1-2 Weeks
2-4 Weeks
1-3 Months
3-6 Months
Language
English
Timeframe
Spring Break
Summer
Winter
Year Round
Housing
Lodge
Starting Price
$995.00
Currency
USD
Price Details
WHAT'S INCLUDED:
Before you go:
Pre-departure support & documentation
Travel and medical advice and documentation

In-country:
Accommodation
Food (on camp)
Project orientation
Project equipment
Airport pick-up (for those arriving on the first Monday of the month)
In-country emergency support
24-hour international HQ backup
Other Locations
Corcovado National Park

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Impact
    91%
  • Support
    87%
  • Fun
    83%
  • Value
    88%
  • Safety
    95%

Program Reviews (10)

Ambi
Female
22 years old
Hull
University of Hull

Costa Rica adventure

10/10

This was my first trip abroad on my own for 4 weeks, i was very nervous as a first-timer and frontier provided me with support on flights to book, what to take, and how i could raise the funds to afford the costs. When i arrived in country, a local was collecting people from frontier and took us to the safe hostel for the night, felt very comfortable. The flights down to Puerto Jimenez are great and the town is gorgeous. Getting the travel to the camp was like something out of david attenborough, driving through the dense jungle was incredible. The camp was clean and i had a bed of my own, the food was great and the staff were amazing! The volunteering involved mostly survey work and some beach cleaning. It was easy work but well organised by the Project leader that the time, she also organised loads of extra activities for us to do, most which were very low price, such as horse riding down the beach, boat rides in the bay dolphin watching, paddle boarding with green turtles and loads more. My favourite was a trip into corcovado national park, where i saw my first puma and tapers! The people that go are amazing too, i couldn't have wished for a better crew, we still meet up in the uk! Leaving was really hard, but i hope to go back again for longer!

Natalie
Female
21 years old
London, United Kingdom

Costa Rica Animal Rescue Project

7/10

I had very mixed feelings whilst volunteering abroad at the Costa RIca Animal Rescue Centre with Frontier. Overall the experience was mostly adequate, there are a lot of animals you get to interact with, you mostly spend the time cleaning their cages in which if your lucky a monkey or kinkajou may jump on your head! Time is also spent maintaining the gardens, checking the animals have food and water, preparing the food, etc. One of my major problems with this project was the lack of management (this was partially due to the fact that 1 week I was there the volunteer co-ordinator was on holiday and some long-term volunteers were in charge who weren't great, the 2nd week was better but not as good as I've perviously experienced). I don't know if I'd recommend this project to first-time volunteers simply because there isn't anyone holding your hand if that makes sense. There is no one telling you what to do, or how to do the tasks (which is highly problematic in some cases), it's very un-organised therefore I think you need to be a very proactive person who can take their own initiative and work independently. Also whilst I was there, there were A LOT of volunteers so jobs were limited. You actually only really worked 3 hours max in a day if you just did two tasks, therefore as I said being proactive really helps as you need to find things to do to spend your time. Despite the lack of management and organisation, I do think this place is worth volunteering at although I think you should go with helping in mind not just because you want to cuddle a sloth or touch a monkey. They need real help to release these animals and take care of the ones they can't, and I think they have a pretty good chance if they pull themselves together and have some good volunteers to support them.

How can this program be improved?

Management desperately needs to be improved. There is no-one who knows what to do when it comes to the tasks, just a volunteer whose been there a week learning from a volunteer whose only been there for a week. There's no concrete person over-seeing the tasks which I think is detrimental when interacting with exotic species many people have never interacted with before. I'm not saying someone has to be there all the time but what I personally experiences was that I would volunteer myself for a task and expected just to get on with it. Obviously I was new so had no idea how, so would be forced to go find someone as I didn't want to put myself or the animals in danger. A volunteer would tell me "you sort of just do this, then that.. I think..." not the most helpful. They should make instructions more clear, or a person in charge should go over everything with you when you first start. Or a buddy system could be put in place so a long term volunteer over-sees some new ones for the first few days to explain how you complete tasks and show them what to do, etc.

Response from Frontier

Dear Natalie,

Thank you for taking the time to provide a review and some suggested improvements regarding your time at the Costa Rica Animal Rescue Centre in April.

As a partner project, this is aimed at volunteers with previous volunteering experience or those who have travelled previously, although that does not stop first time volunteers or travellers from being able to join the project. We’re glad that your second week seems to have improved your experience at the centre somewhat as you settled in to life on the project and got used to the running of the centre.

The centre certainly needs more volunteers with your positive attitude and flexibility to be able to fulfil their goal of being able to rehabilitate and release as many animals as possible. They rely solely on the hard work and contributions of their volunteers to be able continue the good work that they are doing. As such, there are times of the year which result in a higher number of volunteers than others and it seems that you were subject to one of those busy periods. This does mean that there are fewer activities to take part in and also that volunteers are required to be more flexible with these activities and ask what else is available - something which we can see that you did.

That being said, it is feedback such as this which helps to shape our volunteer programmes for future volunteers and we will certainly take your comments regarding the structure of the volunteer activities into consideration.

Thank you again for taking the time to provide a review of your project.

All the best,

The Frontier Team

Amy
Female
20 years old
Ashbourne

Costa Rica Frontier Climate Change/ Big Cats, Primates and Turtles Project

10/10

My time on the Climate Change project in Costa Rica was the best experience of my life! My only regret is that I didn't stay longer. I was naturally a little nervous about flying across the Atlantic on my own for the first time, but mostly excited. I spent a night in Alajuela Backpackers Hostel, which felt safe, before flying to Puerto Jimenéz with Nature Air (THE best flight ever!!) PJ is an adorable town full of excitement.
As soon as I arrived on camp I felt part of the jungle family. Everyone is like-minded so it's really easy and natural to get along with people. A healthy proportion of camp conversation revolved around food- the American's were intrigued and ever so troubled by the concept of a Yorkshire Pudding.
After the initial shock of humidity and the sheer noise of the jungle I soon fell in love with the Osa Peninsula. Every day was incredible- and unique. Waking up from my hammock at 4am became the norm in order to get to the trails to complete the surveys. The turtle patrols were my favourite surveys as they were so rewarding. Patrolling the beaches involved looking for fresh turtle tracks and relocating the nests if they were laid on part of the beach that is prone to flooding. Hot and sweaty work but seeing the little hatchlings waddle off into the ocean made it all worth it. During my time on the project I was lucky enough to tag an Olive Ridley Turtle which is something I can boast about now and saw two Green Turtles as well as releasing hundreds of hatchlings.
Other surveys we conducted involved birds, primates, Otters, tracks, scatt, and towards the end of my time, Poison Dart frogs, hummingbirds, butterflies and fauna. Working alongside Osa Conservation was inspiring. They work so so hard to protect the turtles and I felt that I adopted their passion whilst I was there. The staff on the project were also brilliant- who become your friends and share their knowledge with you. I learnt a ridiculous amount while I was on the project and that was 10 weeks, so I would encourage you to go for as long as you can- times flies by!
EVERYWHERE you went there was something insane- you look up and there's a group of monkeys swinging above you or Scarlett Macaws displaying their magnificent colours. Looking down you would come across Green Leaf-cutter Ants which I think are absolutely fascinating or the occasional fer-de-lance or Cane toad. We even had the privaledge of being home to a Boa Constrictor at one point, the same day as we hosted for 2 King Vultures and a Three-toed Sloth! The jungle never failed to impress us!
I trekked into Corcovado NP, which was one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen (sadly not the same could be said for my feet which had developing 14 blisters) We saw a Tapir!! Tamandua Anteater, Coatis, glass frogs and so much more.
Food on camp was amazing too- life as a veggie isn't too bad I suppose! Anyway, we took teh Colectivo (local bus equivalent truck type vehicle) into town most weekends where we could buy pizza and burgers, ice cream and even rum for our notorious parties. The culture is vibrant and Agua Luna (bar/club) holds a dear place in my heart- I will be back one day.
Other activities involved kayaking on the lagoon watching the sun set (with the croc), horse riding along the beach and through the jungle to a waterfall, climbing to the highest point at Piro, swimming in the sea, paddle boarding, the list goes on.

Honestly, if you're contemplating whether or not to do this project JUST DO IT. Although be prepared to become addicted to wildlife and Costa Rica in general when you return!

How can this program be improved?

Some people would say the camp and living standards are basic for the money you pay but I ABSOLUTELY loved the simplicity as its such a contrast to life at home.

Karyn
Female
60 years old
Bristol, NH

Costa Rica Animal Rescue

7/10

Very beautiful animal rescue -- it needs some help cleaning out the extra trash areas, but very friendly & animals are a priority
BUT if you are going here BOOK direct. Bring extra cash to go into town to eat often!!

Response from Frontier

Hi Karyn

Of course we recognise that it would be cheaper to go direct with the in-country partner. However, please bear in mind that booking through Frontier offers various advantages that you would not have if you went straight to the partner in Costa Rica.

Initially, the partner does not have the capability to advertise their programs internationally, so the chances are you would never have heard about them otherwise.

Secondly, Frontier has offered you pre-departure support and legal reassurance that would not be provided by a local partner. Our London-based team of volunteer advisors, one of which you had specifically assigned to help you, and all the infrastructure surrounding that, cost significant sums of money to maintain.

Finally, the sanctuary very commonly gets booked up, and you would have no way of knowing this until you turned up in Costa Rica hoping to attend the program.

I'd also like to mention that Frontier is a not-for-profit organisation, so volunteer contributions go towards the running of our worldwide conservation and community initiatives.

Thanks.

Lara
Female
London, United Kingdom
University College London

An Incredible Experience

10/10

From the moment I arrived at the main Jungle camp situated in the lush forest at Piro, I knew that this project would be an unforgettable experience. The camp itself is quite simple yet blends in harmoniously with the jungle which gives it a sense of tranquility which quickly struck me as I settled in to camp life. Although I had some knowledge of the wildlife of the area before my arrival, the density and array of creatures that surrounded me during my stay were beyond what I had ever imagined. From playful squirrel monkeys swinging from the canopy to delicate, brightly coloured butterflies and all manner of wildlife in between, I was constantly in awe of this rich tropical forest. The weekends were spent at the nearest town, Puerto Jimenez, located an hour’s drive from the main camp. This was a great opportunity to find out more about the area’s culture and lifestyle as well to enjoy the energetic nightlife alongside new friends and locals. One of the highlights for me was the dolphin tour, where we explored the beautiful Golfo Dulce. Snorkeling in the warm tropical water, exploring a mangrove swamp and driving alongside a pod of dolphins were some of the most memorable experiences of the trip. Overall the project was an invaluable learning experience and I will definitely be returning to Costa Rica...two weeks was not enough!

How can this program be improved?

I would have stayed longer!

Vicky
Female
24 years old
Manchester, UK
Manchester Metropolitan University

An Awesome Adventure

10/10

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Costa Rica as a Research Assistant for the Big Cats, Primates and Turtle Conservation project. I spent four weeks there in total where I learned about survey and research methods in the tropical environment. The surveys were great fun and it was a real opportunity to discover many different species. I took part in turtle beach patrols, river walk surveys for Otters, forest walks to count and identify groups of primates and took part in cast moulds of big cat paw prints. I also learnt how to set-up camera traps, catch frogs and attach butterfly nets to trees.

Whilst in Costa Rica, I carried out my BTEC Certificate in Tropical Habitat Conservation. I enjoyed designing my own project and carrying out the surveys looking into frog diversity and abundance in Piro. The research team in the camp were really helpful and supportive and made it very easy to give my final presentation.

Camp life was relatively easy to get used to and everyone was very friendly and helped me to settle in. The food was delicious and the facilities great. Cooking for the group and creating recipes with what was available was also a fun experience - meals were simple consisting of Pinto (rice and beans), fresh fruit and vegetables - we definitely did not go hungry.

There was a lot to experience in Costa Rica and I felt that I had learned a lot from the trip. The skills that I developed whilst working on the project have enabled me to progress into my chosen career.

I am in the process of organising my second trip with Frontier.

How can this program be improved?

I would have chosen to go later in the year, as we had a very small group - in January there were 5 staff and 2 volunteers. I would also have stayed longer in the country to enable me to see more. Learning Spanish would have helped too!

Alex
Male
42 years old
Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica
University of Edinburgh

Costa Rica - A Biological Paradise on the Osa Peninsular

10/10

I have been working on Frontiers Big Cat, Primates and Turtle Conservation programme for just under three weeks now and as a Conservation Biologist it has been an incredible experience.

It is hard to decide what has been my highlight. I love the birds especially. The Scarlet Macaws, Toucans, Tanagers, Hummingbirds, Woodpeckers, Pelicans, Frigate-birds, Parrots and Lorikeets are just some of the many different species that have beguiled me.

As well as these I have loved seeing a wide range of mammals. Four species of monkey I have seen around camp. As well as this I have seen Neo-tropical otters, Pacas, Bats, Coatis, Squirrels and Possums.

As a biologist it is not just the birds and mammals that fascinate me. I have loved seeing the amazing butterflies, the frogs, giant iguanas, snakes, spiders, lizards and the myriad of species of insects.

Around our camp we also have several species of Big Cat. A Jaguar was spotted close by in a camera trap, an Ocelot was footprint located recently on a track search and one of my colleagues saw a Jaguarundi on his first day! Lucky devil...hopefully one day I will see one of these elusive creatures.

Yet as amazing as all these things are they are not the highlight of working here so far for me. Recently I released 74 Olive Ridley Turtle hatchlings. It was a first for me a wonderful and life affirming experience that I will never forget.

I enjoy living on the camp in rustic conditions in tents and hammocks with great like minded individuals who want to help save Costa Rica's incredible biodiversity. Most places in Osa are five star lodges that would break the bank and I like that conservationists can come to work with and learn about these special animals in such a rich and diverse rainforest without having to be millionaires.

Luckily I have more time here in this unique part of Costa Rica and the world but it has certainly been a entrancing few weeks in this biologists nirvana!

How can this program be improved?

It is really hard to get a good supply of Scottish Whisky. :) Will have to get a bottle sent over for Christmas.

Dave
Male
24 years old
cambridge, uk
Other

Missing my Hammock!

10/10

Costa Rica is one of the coolest places I have ever been to. I was nervous about going until I met and made friends with the volunteers and staff, because it is the people who you are there with that make the trip. I really enjoyed the work that we did and the site in which we stayed especially, as sleeping in a hammock is a lot more fun then you would expect. I would have loved to have had stayed longer for sure, and was sad to have left but it was an experience that I shall never forget. I hope to go back or to do another project with Frontier and to keep in touch with all the friends that I made.

Travel.girl
Female
24 years old
London
Other

A breath of fresh air

10/10

The last four weeks spent as a Frontier volunteer on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica have been amazing! As someone who has no scientific background but just pure interest in the wild inhabitants, I have been totally blown away by the experience.

The surveys have been enriching and rewarding with some epic hikes around the forest. The views of the clear skies during the turtle night walks and the sunrises have been immense. Even the constant howling of the howlers and the annoying sound of the missile cercadas have been a breath of fresh air from the hussle and bustle of modern day life.

The most rewarding point for me during the four weeks has come within the last. One day we hear a noise- otters we hoped. Then on the next day we had a very long search around the river for possible homes to no avail. However, a few days later at 6:46am, we spotted the otter. It was casual, free and chilled in the morning light. This moment sticks out as the epitamy of the whole project itself - awesome!

Jenisme
Female
24 years old
Birmingham
Small Group (1-15)

Pura Vida on the Osa

9/10

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this project at all - I went over the Summer for 8 weeks (I also spent an extra 4 weeks travelling around Costa Rica after) and had an intense but fun time. Living on the Osa is one of those experiences that you can't really put in to words - I have never been to anywhere like it and the range of animals I saw was extreme - monkeys galore, scarlet macaws, snakes, caymens and much, much more.

The camp is headed up by Dan, who is a really friendly guy and although they expect you to do your fair share of work, it's quite a laid back vibe and everyone was very friendly and accommodating.

One thing - bring something to jazz up meal times - most people were quite happy with the food but after a while I craved some variety. Also, bring lots of mozzie repellant, they can be vicious!

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