Rainforest and Marine Conservation

£432 p.w.

Price is based on 12 weeks
1 month

Volunteer in Costa Rica in rainforest and marine conservation

  • Volunteer, live and work on the incredible Osa peninsula of Costa Rica
  • A mixture of volunteering activity involving the rainforest and marine projects
  • Get involved in research and education; turtles, wildcats and much more
  • If you like nature, it doesn’t get any better. Costa Rica is a bio-diversity hotspot
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Project summary

This is a conservation project in the beautiful Osa peninsula of Costa Rica, where 2% of the world’s biodiversity can be found in one place. It is run by a non-profit organisation aiming to preserve a pristine area of rainforest by promoting good land stewardship and agro-ecology, backed by research and education.

They are maintaining and expanding one of the world’s best biodiversity hotspots by slowly buying back areas of forest from private owners to create more national park. The project planted over 85,000 trees on one year alone and works with six local schools to educate the local community as a priority.

The project covers an area of rainforest stretching down to coast, so is ideal for those interested in both forest conservation and marine conservation. Wildlife in this area is under threat from deforestation from agriculture, coastal pollution from plastics drifting in across the pacific ocean and pollution from agricultural pesticides.

The project has three main areas of animal conservation: sea turtles, wild cats and amphibians. Volunteers help with observing and recording populations and encounters. Turtles are given additional protection during the nesting when nests are protected from predation.

Volunteers interested in working with wild cats should note these species are nocturnal and shy, so direct sightings are scarce. The project has a series of infrared night cameras to monitor and capture their appearance. Training will be given in the identification of local species and how to record scientific data. Good observational skills are required.

The project is currently building an organic garden to supply the ranger and volunteer centre with food. So if you have gardening skills you would be welcome to come and help with this project.

This volunteering experience is suitable for student gap year volunteers and those with a passion for outdoor living, research and conservation.

Volunteer roles and responsibilities

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A typical day may be 7am until 2 or 3pm. Turtle watches during nesting seasons may involve overnight work. Volunteers walk trails identifying and recording observations of wildlife and their behaviours. Sightings are recorded, wildlife found is weighed and measured. Infrared motion sensitive night cameras are monitored for footage of nocturnal animals.

Training is given and volunteers are expected to write up their findings in the research station library which has computers and internet. Priorities at the moment are on studying amphibians, wild cats and sea turtles.

Volunteers are also involved in clearing vegetation from paths to keep the trails clear and occasional beach clean ups, as well as tree planting if your visit coincides with a planting day.

For those with an interest in gardening there is opportunity to help establish a new organic vegetable garden to supply the centre.

How you can make a difference

The activities and interest of volunteers helps in a number of ways; maintaining a unique biodiverse habitat, adding to the scientific understanding of the forest environment, its wildlife and the effects of pollution, and educating local people on the importance of conservation and repopulating a rainforest. Currently this project would not be able to fund local workers or attract local volunteers to do the same job.

What is distinctive about this project:

This is a well organised project with a strong scientific interest and unique opportunity to live in eco accommodation in the heart of the forest, yet accessible to town and the beautiful pacific coast. If you like nature you couldn’t get much better – you are surrounded by nature; forest trees, wildlife and the coast.

Blue Tiger Features:

This is an incredible opportunity to enjoy a diverse conservation experience in a marine and forest location. You will be with other volunteers, but given the semi-remote location and variety of learning opportunities you need to be capable of acting proactively and independently.

All this wildlife and forest living means you will need to be comfortable with an outdoors lifestyle, both in your working and living environment.


The project is available all year round, but be aware the rainy season is very rainy, in particular Sept/Oct, creating muddy conditions and fast flowing rivers.


The project Director and volunteer coordinator speak English, but other local staff only speak Spanish. We recommend basic Spanish which we can help with, but you will get by with other volunteers in English.

Experience required:

You do not need to arrive with any experience, but rather an appetite to learn and contribute. Good observation skills help, including the ability to be patient and calm, and some basic biology is an advantage but not essential – being a nature lover is.

Good to know:

A typical days walking of the trails may be 12 km. The volunteer’s house, research library and communal kitchen are simple but comfortable and well equipped; they even have wifi, but no mobile signal. You are living in the jungle though, so expect insects, spiders and reptiles to be part of your community.

Price table

4 weeks8 weeks12 weeks

Includes: Comprehensive travel insurance (supplements may apply to older travellers). Accommodation, food, extended airport transfers and accommodation en route from San Jose, travel to projects, in-country support.
Excludes: Flights, visas, vaccinations. Spanish lessons are not included but can be arranged upon request

Things to see and do

  • Visit the volcano
  • Go white water rafting
  • Waterfalls in abundance
  • Canopy tours
  • Bird watching
Javier Cano

Country co-ordinator

Javier Cano

Javier has been working as an experiential teacher since 2001 with a focus on the benefits of outdoor education. He joined Outreach International in 2007. He provides an excellent level of support to our volunteers encouraging individuals to grow and develop through their projects. Javier believes that volunteering can be an excellent opportunity to reinforce positive values that will aid students in the future. Sharing his creative and leadership qualities with students has made his educational career successful.

About Costa Rica