At a glance
- Explore Costa Rica’s lush tropical dry forest and contribute to valuable conservation work. It’s the ideal volunteer conservation programme for wildlife enthusiasts and budding conservationists.
- You’ll work in the Barra Honda National Park. Completing bird and monkey surveys, reforestation work and many other activities which will undoubtedly set you apart as someone committed to solving global conservation issues.
- You’ll live in host family accommodation with other volunteers, giving you the opportunity to bond as a group.
16 or over
Is Conservation volunteering in Costa Rica right for me?
This environmental sustainability project is ideal for thrill-seekers. Living in the forest, trekking through dense vegetation, and exploring sprawling cave networks is an adventure lover’s dream!
Animal conservation volunteering work in Costa Rica’s tropical dry forest is also perfect for you if you’re interested in environmental science, at home or abroad. You’ll gain practical skills studying plants and animals, which is great preparation for a career in botany or zoology. You’ll also be working closely with some of the top minds in conservation.
You don’t need any skills or qualifications to join. You just need to be physically fit and comfortable getting your hands dirty doing practical work. Our local staff will be there to support you 24/7.
The project runs all year round, so you can join whenever it suits your schedule. The minimum duration is one week, but we recommend staying longer to fully immerse yourself in life in the forest and have an even greater impact.
What will I do on this Conservation placement in Costa Rica?
You’ll spend your days assisting with conservation work in Barra Honda National Park. Here are some of the tasks you’ll do:
- Help with biodiversity studies to develop effective conservation strategies
- Combat climate change and restore natural habitats through reforestation work
- Do maintenance work to keep the park running
Your work will focus on the following main areas:
A large portion of your time will be spent collecting data for biodiversity studies. You’ll work with experts to survey wildlife and record details about their behaviours and distributions. With this information, the park will be better equipped to develop effective conservation strategies.
You’ll collect data during hikes through the dense forest. Some of the species you’ll be surveying include:
- Howler monkeys
- Scarlet macaws
Human expansion and forest fires, exacerbated by climate change, have caused the destruction of a large portion of Costa Rica’s forests. This has a devastating effect for a range of species. With much of their habitat destroyed, many animal populations have been drastically reduced.
You will help restore the habitat of many species. By working in the park’s tree nursery, you’ll care for young saplings until they are strong enough to be planted in the forest.
This reforestation work also helps combat climate change, by increasing the number of carbon dioxide-absorbing trees in the area.
Barra Honda relies heavily on volunteer support to continue their conservation work. As a volunteer, you’ll help with the running of the park. This could include tasks like clearing trails, maintaining fire breaks, or helping with general camp upkeep.
Although these seem like more menial tasks, they play an important role in the overall functioning of the park. For example, clearing trails means people will be less likely to walk through vegetation and disrupt the habitat of indigenous species.
For this project, we’ve partnered with government-run Barra Honda National Park. This partnership ensures the park has volunteers to support their important work. It also means our volunteers work alongside and learn from park staff, who are experienced professionals.
Where in Costa Rica will I work?
This project is based in Barra Honda National Park, a wildlife reserve in the northwest of Costa Rica. The park is located in the Nicoya peninsula, about a 25-minute drive from the town of Nicoya.
You’ll stay in host family accommodation only around 1km away from the forest. This is the perfect place to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of daily life and connect with nature.
During your free time, you can relax in a hammock, beneath the leaves of towering trees. Or challenge a fellow volunteer to a board game. With very little internet access, it’s the perfect opportunity to live in the moment, connect with fellow volunteers, and experience something completely different.
We set out the aims and objectives of our projects in documents called Management Plans. We use them to properly plan the work you’ll do. They also help us measure and evaluate our achievements and impact each year.
Ultimately, our Management Plans help us make our projects better. This in turn means you get to be part of something that makes a real impact where it’s needed. Read more about our Management Plans.
Measuring our impact
Our projects work towards clear long-term goals, with specific annual objectives. Every volunteer and intern we send to these projects helps us work towards these goals, no matter how long they spend on our projects.
Every year we take a step back and look at how much progress we've made towards these goals. We put together a Global Impact Report, which documents our achievements. Find out more about the impact our global community of volunteers, interns and staff make, and read the latest report.
Leisure activities and free time
With more than 25% of its land protected in national parks, Costa Rica is a nature lover’s paradise. It has everything from volcanoes to tropical rainforests, and magnificent waterfalls to beautiful sandy beaches. This tiny country is also renowned for its biodiversity and boasts an array of wildlife.
Most of our projects are based in the vibrant city of Liberia, capital of the Guanacaste province. A striking mix of old and new, Liberia retains a rich colonial history, as well as being home to an array of modern tech companies and shopping centres.
Liberia is also a fantastic starting point for weekend excursions. If you’re a fan of the great outdoors, you’ll be able to explore the nearby Santa Rosa and Rincón de la Vieja National Parks.
You're never far from the coast in Costa Rica. Spoilt for choice by the number of idyllic beaches, you'll have plenty of opportunities for water-based activities like surfing, swimming, or scuba diving in your free time. In Liberia, you can get to many of the nearby beaches with a short bus ride.
There will likely be other volunteers in Costa Rica with you. So you can choose to explore on your own or as a group.
Safety and staff support
Your safety and security is our prime concern. We have many procedures and systems to ensure you have the support you need to enjoy your trip with peace of mind. Our Projects Abroad staff are available 24 hours a day to help, and will be on-hand to make sure you settle in well at your accommodation and placement. If you encounter any problems, they will be available to help at any time.
Find out more about safety and backup.