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Costa Rica - Sea Turtle Conservation
GoEco volunteers GoEco volunteers

Costa Rica - Sea Turtle Conservation

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Matapalo

The sea turtle conservation project was my last project after 5 weeks in Costa Rica. When I first arrived here, I was really well welcomed by all the volunteers and the staff. I immediately felt really comfortable in this place and I could already know that I was about to have a great time here.

Every day, we knew at what time we were supposed to work in the hatchery for 6 hours and it was located in front of the most beautiful beach ever. I really felt like my presence had a meaning there and that my work was useful. We also had to patrol by night to find new eggs and I felt really sad when I saw that people stole the eggs on the beach. This project really need more volunteers to do a better job because we were not enough!

The lifestyle there was really cool, we were free to do whatever we wanted and it was easy to travel because we had buses passing every day. I could go to the park Marino Ballena, to Dominical ... There, "Pura Vida" really had a meaning !

I felt really lucky to work in that project and I learned a lot about other aspect of life since it was so different than my lifestyle in Paris. I met people passionate with the sea turtle conservation, working to save them since 18 years. If I could come back tomorrow I would pack immediately ... I could not ask for more during my 2 weeks there!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    8

Saving sea turtles was one of the best experiences I've had!

So the review below is mine but I meant to submit it in a different program..awkward. BUT, volunteering with sea turtles was like a dream come true. At first I was a little thrown off because it was way out of my comfort zone, it's really rustic and don't expect a five star hotel kind of stay because it is not like that. However, in only three days I got used to being there and it was probably one of the best things that has ever happened to me. You meet people from all over the world, you literally get to see turtles every night, collect over 200 turtle eggs every night as well, and I was lucky enough to see three nests hatch! I was in Camaronal Wildlife Refuge and I loved it so much, it made it hard to leave. The only thing was that you can't do much because it's so far away from everything! So if you want to do a volunteering program AND travel around Costa Rica, I recommend staying one week more after you're done with the turtle program, because there are so many things to see in Costa Rica! If you are reading this review and have even the slightest want to go, don't think twice and GO, I promise you won't regret it. It's an amazing experience and so worth it.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

Most Amazing Experience!

I volunteered at a sea turtle conservation project on the Caribbean side as well as the Pacific side, and I have nothing but great things to say about both! I have a lot of anxiety over little things; so you can imagine how I must of felt before the trip started, knowing nothing about what I was going to experience in the next 6 weeks. But honestly, I have never felt more comfortable or accepted anywhere. I never felt self conscious or like I had to try hard to fit in. The housing family, the workers at the projects, the locals, and the other volunteers made everything feel like home. What amazing people! I am so grateful I got to meet the people I did. As well as the people, of course, there were SEA TURTLES!!!!!!!!! How insane it was to see them up close! You get to touch and work with these huge dinosaurs! They are so beautiful. I even got to go under one while she was laying her eggs and gather them so we could put them in a safer place. Definitely an experience I will never forget. Working with the turtles is so rewarding! Not to mention, while you are doing the work the scenery was breath-taking! The sites, the smells and the noises of the jungle are incredible. I recommend this to anyone who loves the ocean and the creatures in it. You will carry it with you forever! Thanks GoEco!

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    9

Carly's experience

My experience volunteering at a turtle conservation in Costa Rica was absolutely life changing. Immediately after exiting the airport I was overwhelmed with feelings of excitement and adventure. Living within the community and immersed in such an interesting and exciting culture gave such a different and more meaningful experience than just staying in some hotel. Seeing how people in Costa Rica live their day to day lives was such a positive addition to the experience. Going to school in San Jose and learning the language was something I never thought I would be able to do. It was so incredible being able to actually apply my knowledge right away and test out what I had learned on my host family, who would also help me with my Spanish. Having the weekend off was another positive aspect as it allowed for myself and other volunteers to travel to other parts of the country that we would not experience once on our placements. Actually getting to the turtle conservation was a feeling I don't even know how to describe. I was excited, nervous, anxious, inspired, all of these emotions started to overwhelm me and I just couldn't wait to get started. At first I was a little disappointed to find out that it was low-season for the turtles and I wouldn't get to release any babies. But I took a step back and realized that the work that is done during the low-season sets a standard for how the high-season would go, and that without cleaning the beach and collecting the eggs, there would be no safe environment for these baby turtles. Collecting the eggs from my first nest is something I will never forget, I still get chills thinking about it. The staff were so kind and caring and really helped to make sure the volunteers were getting the most out of their time at the conservation. I never thought I'd meet people from Austria or Switzerland and now I have friends from across the world whom I still keep in touch with. Overall this was the most incredible experience of my life and I would recommend it to anyone.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Living Situation

    5

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Health & Safety

    6

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Sea Turtle Conservation on the Pacific

Going to Costa Rica was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life! I scheduled the trip to be five weeks long: one week taking Spanish classes in San Jose, three weeks doing sea turtle conservation work and another week exploring the country. As my plane took off, I was shaking with both excitement and nervousness for I decided to travel alone. GoEco had a taxi waiting for me at the airport. I was taken to my homestay and had my own room. Each morning, my homestay mother made the most delicious coffee I had ever tasted! Each volunteer was placed in a Spanish class based on skill level. The teachers were wonderful and patient and held a small graduation ceremony when my week was over. Throughout the week, I met three other volunteers going to the same project site and we explored the city. I received a bus voucher through GoEco and made the trip to Camaronal Beach on the Pacific.

When we got off the bus, a pick-up truck was waiting to take us to the wildlife preserve. I couldn’t believe the beauty of the countryside! We had orientation our first day of volunteering and settled in to our cabin. We performed beach patrols each night for four hours-and on my very first night, I saw a sea turtle! I had never been somewhere so beautiful. We had a whole beach to ourselves. At night, the stars and moon were so bright we didn’t need flashlights and the waves glowed yellow from plankton. The next three weeks were filled with hard work during the day (building the hatchery, cleaning the beach, maintaining the land) and beach patrols at night. We collected eggs from and tagged six turtles in my time. We had each weekend off and would travel to nearby beaches. We were given breaks throughout the day and would spend them exercising, relaxing on the beach and playing games.
The last week of my trip was truly amazing! Two other volunteers and I decided to travel together and we met many other travelers along the way. We went white water rafting, hiking, swimming in natural springs, repelling through waterfalls and zip-lining! I made friends with people from Turkey, England, Belgium, Israel, Canada and other places around the world. I often find myself day dreaming about my experiences in Costa Rica. It was the trip of a lifetime.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    7

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Community Engagement

    5

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Camaronal sea turtle experience

I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to the biologically diverse country of Costa Rica. I spent a total of three weeks there; one week in San Jose and two weeks in Camaronal. The first week in San Jose was spent going to Spanish class a few bus stops away from my host family (which was the nicest and most welcoming family I've stayed with). The first week was beneficial to me in meeting other people coming from across the world. I already was fluent in the Spanish Language but I still chose to spend the initial week in the capital for the purpose of meeting others and getting a better experience of the culture. Overall, the education was very helpful and not overly strict to the students, which I find to be an effective combination. The host family was very knowledgeable and caring; providing all necessary information to be familiar with the city and a better understanding of the Costa Rican culture at the same time.

The following two weeks were spent at my project location of "Refugio Camaronal". Massimo was an excellent supervisor of the entire project location. He expressed his passion for the cause he is attending to. It was evident that he knew what he was doing and he enforced necessary rules and guidelines to us. We all did hope for some slightly better housing but that's not why we were there and sometimes you have to get a little dirty. In fact, this location proves to be one of the more tougher areas to volunteer at. There are daily beach cleanings, maintenance work of the location, and numerous sea turtle duties to attend to. I will say, if you are looking for more of a relaxed place to volunteer at, this is not the place to go to. The duties performed here and the odd hours prove to be difficult tasks but it is also a top spot for sea turtle conservation. That saying, all the tough and dirty work done here will make you feel like you are truly making a difference to the cause at hand.

At Camaronal, a typical day looks like:
Eat breakfast in the morning, work for 90 minutes, rest for 60 min, eat lunch, rest 30-60 min, work another 90 min, eat dinner and then rest until night shift*.
*Night Shift consists of patrolling the 3km beach with the Massimo (project coordinator) and Hatchery-watch, both which take approximately 3 hours a piece in the dead middle of the night. This is a grueling task for people who need their beauty sleep (I am a Night-Owl and love staying up late so this was of no difficulty to me). Night shifts are taken in turns and rotated each day, meaning you will never know which time of the night you get until the day of.

What I did in my off time here at Camaronal was spend a great amount of time at the beach. Whether it was kicking back, reading a book or taking a walk, the beach was a very peaceful place to be. There are many surfers present at all times of the day seeing as the Camaronal beach brings in some of the most excellent waves in Central America (quoted from Massimo himself). These rich waves are also the reason why the beach gets sea turtles all year round. If you are coming to see sea turtles and help them, this is your beach to go to because not every beach in the country gets sea turtles on a year-round basis.

Overall, I greatly appreciated all the work assigned here because that was my reason for coming out to this country. I enjoyed my time and I would be willing to come back at any time. This experience was a valuable staple of my life and I wouldn't trade it for anything. This is an experience that has brought me memories and friends that I will have with me for the rest of my life.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    9

Time of a Lifetime

An Amazing Time in Costa Rica
By Cassie Roberts
My Go Eco really was the trip of a lifetime. Beginning with a week in Spanish school gave me a real feel for how the locals live by staying with a host family. The Fernandez family made my trip truly unique and made me feel very at home. The exceptionally patient teachers at CRLA managed to teach me some of my first ever second language despite my ineptitude.
San Jose gave me a taste of how local costa Ricans live but the star of the trip was the turtles. Seeing the turtles in their natural habitat was a truly amazing experience. Watching them crawl up to the same beach they were born on to lay their own nests was awe-inspiring and I really loved collecting data to ensure their continued survival and protection.
No experience would be complete without an amazing group of people for which I am very grateful. A group of knowledgeable staff helped me practice my rudimentary Spanish and only laughed at my mistakes when they were especially funny. Best of all was the fantastic group of fellow volunteers that I will never forget.

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    7

  • Day to Day Life

    6

Very rewarding project but also very demanding

This project was one of the most rewarding projects to date however the very long hours, physically demanding work and the non-understanding nature of the coordinators make this project fall short of being one of the best out there.

In one day we released over 650 baby sea turtles back into the wild, it is so hard to explain what an incredible experience this was. Your sea turtle work includes looking out for hatched eggs, collecting and counting the number of babies and then releasing them onto the beach to watch them head into the waters. Other sea turtle work includes night watches to look out for poachers and also searching the beach for mothers laying eggs.

Beyond sea turtle work you also are required to construct new hatcheries, plant trees and search the beach for rubbish to clean up.

Your work day starts at around 8am and finishes at 4pm with a break in the middle of the day. However, once you have completed your day work you then go on a 3 hour night watch which are broken up between 10-12am, 12-3am or 3-6am. This is on top of your days work and you start back up again at 7am the next day. This can be quite demanding and after 1 week we were physically drained.

Like I said, very rewarding but you will be very tired by the end of your stay.

Date volunteered: September 2016
Recommended time spent here: 1 week
Living conditions: Dormitory style bunk beds, hot showers
WiFi: Okay - can go off for days on end with no internet access.
Vegetarian friendly: Yes
Additional Notes: The co-ordinators refused to allow myself and my partner to do night shifts together (even though 2 should be on at all times, we had to do ours alone). However, after 1 quick email to GoEco this was sorted out with no issue. If you have issues with your co-ordinators please contact your volunteer partner to sort them out.

Thank you to Go Eco for allowing us to experience this incredible volunteer project in Costa Rica. Our opinion is, as always, our own.