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Conservation Projects—Volunteer in Costa Rica!
MAXIMO NIVEL participants MAXIMO NIVEL participants

Conservation Projects—Volunteer in Costa Rica!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    10

A touching turtle tale

A holiday with a real purpose, that's what I was looking for, for me and my 2 teen sons. After endless online research, we zoomed in on IVHQ and Maximo Nivel's Turtle Conservation programme in Costa Rica. We all love wildlife, especially marine life (having worked for WWF-UK For 15years) and my boys were passionate about surfing and integrating with the local community, especially school kids.
Little did we know, this project was going to tick all our boxes and in more ways than we ever imagined!
We were not allowed to know where exactly we were going in Costa Rica until we were in country, which simply added to the feeling of adventure!
Upon arrival in early July and the most thorough, helpful and reassuring orientation with Maximo Nivel in San Jose and 2 nights spent with a wonderful host family, with utterly delicious food, we were bussed out to Junquillal on the northern Pacific coast of the Guananacaste region of the Nicoya peninsula to the Verdiazul Turtle Centre.
Managing my boys expectations was key at every step of the journey, but here was where it mattered most. The conditions were very hot and humid, with regular storms and downpours in between scorching sun and we were in a remote, dusty and basic location. The adventure had properly started - time to test our mettle!
It took a couple of days to settle in, to feel the rhythm of each day and the jobs required of us, but each day was brand new with the purpose that we craved. Jobs included tree planting to provide shade on the beach for turtle nesting, supervising and cleaning the hatchery to ensure it was always ready to receive new egg batches or release fresh hatchlings but best of all was night patrol (3hr shifts, with a guide, on a rota basis) patrolling the beach to find turtles laying their eggs. Our incredible guides expertly showed us how to locate the light bulb shape nests of the Olive Ridley turtle (most commonly found at this time of year). Finding over 100 eggs and carefully relocating them to the hatchery to protect them from predators and poachers whilst they matured was a very moving and unforgettable experience. Holding those 100 potential life forms in my arms felt like a huge responsibility, but I knew Verdiazul's success rate was 100% and this was the turtles best hope of survival. The Verdiazul team were simply outstanding, unknowingly standing out as positive role models for my boys. The team was headed up by the phenomenally inspiring Valerie, who has dedicated her life to the project and achieves so much success every day in tough conditions with a minuscule budget.
You need to be a team player if you are thinking of volunteering abroad - using your initiative and getting stuck into ALL jobs, not just the nice clean ones! Yes there are dirty dishes to be washed! You are living and working within a big family and everyone pulls their weight for the overall success of the project.
Upon finishing the project we had some time to explore more of Costa Rica's gems which of course were fantastic but nothing quite stripped us back and gave us that deep sense of purpose that the project gave us. We loved not feeling like a tourist, but an essential cog in the chain and I will never look back with anything but respect and an overwhelming feeling of success! Thank you IVHQ, Maximo & Verdiazul for having such a positive effect on 3 people's lives, forever.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    7

My amazing experience in Ostional

I lucked out by going to Ostional during the arribada which was absolutely fantastic to see thousands of turtles making their way up the beach. I met fantastic people and i worked alongside dedicated and hard working people. Jairo basically runs Ostional and he is absolutely amazing and kept the place fun and exciting. Anyone would be lucky to work alongside Jairo and all of the team at Ostional.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Top notch experience

I did not go to Costa Rica with any preconceived notions or fantasies about what this volunteer experience would be like, so I was a completely fresh slate who was enthusiastic to get busy and do my part. I left the country completely satisfied with what I able to contribute, given my limited time in-country. Maximo Nivel is a well-oiled machine (although with a few minor, but negligible, flaws), and they set my girlfriend and I up with a great project on the coast where we could be of service.

Verdiazul in Playa Junquillal provided me a great mix of hard work and island chill. The variety of beach patrols, hatchery observations, composting/reforestation, and general housekeeping kept me stimulated and because of the fact, I was able to give them optimal effort on my part to ensure the job is done. Spending time off relaxing on their hammocks, playing with their "adopted" dogs, and beach play were great ways to recuperate after a hard day's work. I'd do it again for sure. Valerie, Joselyn, Allen, Nathan, and the Verdiazul gang are doing good things out there - thanks for the experience.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Day to Day Life

    8

Playa Junquillal - Verdiazul

I got to stay at Playa Junquillal for three weeks. Which was amazing to say the least. But, also hard.

Be prepared for long walks on the beach- at night. Which that could be anywhere from 3 to 7 hrs long. That's depending on the Turtle and how long she takes to lay the Turtle eggs OR if you can find the nest! Be prepared for beach clean ups, going to the garbage dump and sorting. Be prepared to fall in love with the site and the amazing work that the staff do. Be prepared for the joys of walking up to the howlers (monkeys) outside your window in the morning waking you up. Be prepared for making long lasting friends from all over the world. Be prepared for Pura Vida you feel while being there.

But, also be prepared for the sad end when the time has come to say goodbye to the people you have met and to the place you called home.

This is not for the faint of heart. To get the best feel of this trip is to do it solo. Packing only the essentials and going for as long as you can. I can promise you one thing, once you leave you're going to want to come back the very next day.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    6

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    4

  • Community Engagement

    6

  • Health & Safety

    6

  • Day to Day Life

    3

Junquillal Turtle conservation

Living condition are alright, food was alright, there could have been more emphasis on teaching us about the turtles and what they do the different species and other biological factors. I also wish I had known that it was low season because it was much slower and mug different work than the high season.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Community Engagement

    6

  • Health & Safety

    6

  • Day to Day Life

    6

Turtle conservation

I had an amazing time conserving turtles in Ostional! The work that you do is much needed as well as attracting attention and tourism, beneficial to the local surrounding community. It was a very rural project, situated on the coast and staying in dorm style accommodation but I would recommend the digital detox to anybody! The staff at Maximo and at the project are incredibly welcoming and I have made friends and connections for life on this project!

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    8

  • Program Administration

    6

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Ostional Turtle Conservation

This was a really amazing volunteer experience. It was cool being able to work so closely with the turtles and had many rewarding moments such as having the opportunity to assist deformed turtles in digging their nests. The accommodations were basic but suitable and the food and company was great! My only complaint is that we didn't get to help much with data analyzation.

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    7

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    7

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    7

Turtle Conservation

Being a volunteer with Maximo Nivel to help the conservation of turtles was a really cool experience. I was able to be up close and personal with the turtles and really understand the hardships that they face.