Costa Rica: The Sea Turtle Initiative with Discover Corps

Video and Photos

The group doing yoga poses after being slathered in mud!
Sunset!
Baby sea turtle in the ocean for the first time!
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About

Dive into Costa Rica's animal kingdom, and get up-close and personal with rare and endangered species including howler monkeys, butterflies, toucans, and of course sea turtles. You will be based on the Nicoya Peninsula and spend 3-4 days either releasing baby sea turtles back into the ocean or observing nesting sea turtles depending on the season. End the trip with a zip lining adventure through the trees and tubing adventure down the nearby river.

Our Purpose: The population of Costa Rican sea turtles has declined by 90% since 1980. Over the course of the time we spend on the coast, we’ll dig up hatched nests to determine the hatch success rate, do a beach cleanup, and release baby turtles back into the ocean. We’ll also do night patrols to gather eggs and collect scientific data. Our presence at these unique locations ensures that living sea turtles are much more valuable to the local economy than turtles sold for eggs, meat or jewelry.

Highlights
  • Release baby turtles back into the ocean during peak nesting season (mid Aug - Dec)
  • Head out each night for beach patrols to observe nesting sea turtles during off-peak nesting season (Jul - mid Aug)
  • Boat through unspoiled mangroves to view crocodiles and tropical birds
  • Fly through the treetops on a zip line adventure
  • Go tubing down a jungle river surrounded by lush vegetation

Questions & Answers

Reviews

100%
based on 4 reviews
  • Impact 9.5
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Value 10
  • Safety 10
Showing 1 - 4 of 4
Default avatar
Sean
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A different way to experience Costa Rica

I have been to Costa Rica before, I spent time in the more visited surf towns like Tamarindo & Montezuma, so when my wife suggested we look into the Sea Turtle Initiative I was intrigued. Right away, Discover Corps' friendly and knowledgeable team answered all our questions and provided us with a wealth of information to help us decide if this was the right fit. We've never been group travelers but we were ready to have someone else do all the trip planning for us. The week long trip offered up more than we were expecting. Behind every activity, our awesome guide Tara provided context and education and was extremely knowledgeable about the local communities we visited. The volunteer piece was pretty neat, the beach patrols were late at night and while we were told that turtle sightings aren't guaranteed we lucked out and saw 2 sea turtles nesting in the sand. We stood quietly and watched as she dropped all her eggs then used her rear flippers to push sand over the top and disguise the nest. We then took the eggs and relocated them to the hatchery where they are to hatch in protection. We also had the chance to release newly hatched sea turtles into the ocean a different night. I personally really enjoyed the visit to Bejuco Artisnal fishing village and the visit to "Jungle Mike's" where we learned of his enthusiasm for entomology. He toured us around his property and rattled off all the scientific names for every species of plants and insects we came across, very fascinating. Overall we thoroughly enjoyed our trip with Discover Corps, all 3 accommodations were great and the food was delicious. We highly recommend this trip to anyone wanting to see a different part of Costa Rica in a safe and comfortable way. We are already planning our next trip for 2020!

What would you improve about this program?
Nothing I can think of. I'd say the whole week was carefully planned out, it rained quite a bit but that's just part of the experience!
Default avatar
Barbara
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Trip

The Sea Turtle Initiative trip with Discover Corps was wonderful. EVERYTHING, from meals to transportation, was taken of as advertised. The guide/interpreter was personable and knowledgable about the culture and country. The diversity of backgrounds of the other volunteers and researchers with Turtle Trax made for interesting conversations. I was able to help with moving sea turtle nests, releasing hatchlings, and beach clean up. The night beach patrols were amazing--the stars above, sound of the surf, and walking in the sand were very calming.
I knew some about problems sea turtles face, but this trip changed my view of how to help & I highly recommend this experience.

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

Excellent volunteer experience

Our Costa Rica tour was an amazing experience where we learned sooo much about the sea turtles and the people of Costa Rica. We had beach patrols every evening looking for females laying eggs. When the females were found, we helped move the batch of eggs to a safe location in the "hatchery" down the beach so the eggs could be protected from poachers and dogs. When they hatch in a few weeks, the baby turtles will be taken to the beach to go their own way and hopefully grow up to adulthood. It was a once in a lifetime experience to watch a female laying eggs and help to save this species. The Discover Corp guides work with local eco-organizations who seek to educate the public as well as tourists on this important mission to save the turtles. Everything was handled for us and there is no way we could have had this experience without all the planning from DC. The guides were awesome and we also had some super fun days at the end when we went white water tubing and zip lining!

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

Fantastic Experience!

This was a simply amazing and unforgettable experience. We got to volunteer with a non-profit that does fascinating work helping to preserve the sea turtle population in that part of the world, we got to see this beautiful country and its warm and friendly people, and have fun adventures like fishing in a mangrove, zip lining, horseback riding, and going to a gorgeous resort and covering ourselves with skin-enriching mud before taking a refreshing swim! My favorite moment was watching the baby sea turtles confusedly and *very* slowly make their way to their vast new home--the ocean--with us watching over them ensuring this first journey of their lives is a safe one. My second favorite was jumping over waves in the ocean when it started raining, and joyously running back to shelter with my fellow travelers. A truly magical experience.

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