"We were in the Paradise"
Renáta Várkonyi and her partner Tamas, from Hungary, volunteered for 1 week in November 2019
Participating in the turtle rescue program was one of the most beautiful experiences of our life. If I want to describe it in one word: touching. We were in the Paradise. The middle of the nothing the palm and ilang-ilang trees, the sandy beach, the warm ocean were the perfect venue. During one week we could release at least three hundred teeny-tiny turtles in the middle of the night. We were standing on the beach waiting for the perfect moment to release them. Seeing these little creatures as they find instinctively their way to the ocean was absolutely amazing and touching. I always asking myself, how? How are they able to make this big journey alone? Every time I wished them to succeed.
We were walking on the beach for hours looking for the turtles every second night. We weren’t lucky. Patrolling almost every night we couldn’t see any turtle. But the last day sleeping in the bed suddenly a sharp voice slit into the dark through the walkie-talkie. Turtle! Turtle! We heard the magic word. We became vigilant at once. Quickly got dressed and rushed. One side was a jungle on the other side was the ocean. Everything was pitch-dark but the waves were implausibly white. We were like cats who can orient in the dark perfectly. Just rushed towards the turtle. Then, we saw her laying eggs. Our steps slowed down and finally stopped behind her. We saw and felt everything. The dropping eggs the importance of the moment. Wowww. We were in deadly silent and just watched. It was so natural for her and so important for the nature. It lasted almost twenty minutes . She buried the nest and went back to the ocean as if nothing had happened. We were just standing there smiling until she disappeared into the ocean.
"I had a great experience with the project"
Anastasia Nefedova, from Russia, volunteered for 1 week in July 2019
I had a great experience with the project and have learned so much – I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for anyone opened to understanding more about the environment and Sea Turtles particularly. I liked the wilderness of the location, learning about how to bake bread and make coconut oil and milk and interacting with the biologists.
I would like to express a heartfelt appreciation to the project staff on site: Ashlee, Helena and Juan who have gone out of their way for everyone to have fun, stay active and learn. My experience wouldn’t be half as good if it wasn’t for them!
"My expectations were met and more"
Louise Raun, from Denmark, joined the project as a volunteer for 2 weeks in 2018
I had a really good time at the project. I learned a lot about something I knew very little about. I am an Architect and as such not a “turtle professional” just interested. My expectations were met and more. I had a really amazing experience there. It is such important work and I admire all the professional people who do it for nothing. Laura, Fernando and Emily are really awesome and I am happy to have met them. And I know that I will follow them to see what they get up to in the future.
"The staff are really passionate about the environment"
Aleksandra Smirnova, from Russia, joined as a volunteer for 1 week in August 2018
I liked my experience very much, it was a lot of fun, good work and great people. Fernando and Laura from the project are really passionate about the environment and I really appreciate the opportunity to volunteer for even just one week.
"My volunteering experience was absolutely amazing"
Matteo Ferrarini, from Italy, joined the project as a volunteer for 4 weeks in August 2018
My volunteering experience was absolutely amazing; I really liked working with sea turtles, I think the conservation project was run in a professional way and I learnt a lot about how is the work in the conservation field, that is very useful for me because I’m studying to work in this field. Beside that I also really enjoyed the way of life there, that was simple and genuine, and also the work not strictly related with sea turtles like doing the classes with the local kids or making coconut oil that we used to cook. Also the coordinators of the project were great.
"We were able to meet people from all over the world"
Samantha Miller, from USA, volunteered with her 15 year old daughter for 2 weeks in July
Natalie and I had a wonderful time volunteering at the Sea Turtle Conservation Project. We learned about the environmental challenges the turtles face. We also went on night patrols, helped measure turtles and relocated the eggs to the hatchery. We especially liked the fact that we were able to meet people from all over the world and get their perspectives in a variety of topics.
"I would love to do it again!"
Tineke Lothe from Norway, joined as a volunteer for 1 week in August
I had a great time volunteering. It was an amazing place, I loved the project and the other volunteers were lovely!! I am really happy I chose to go there! I had gotten the impression that it was only a few nightshifts per week, however, it was almost every night – which was quite intense and hard. Despite this, it was a great volunteer experience and I would love to do it again!
"A truly memorable and life-changing experience"
Andy White from the UK volunteered for 10 weeks from October to January
Volunteering with the Pacific Sea Turtle Program was a truly memorable and life-changing experience. Having the opportunity to work closely with such amazing, prehistoric creatures was unlike anything I’d ever done before and something I would recommend to anyone with an interest in animals, conservation or the natural world in general.
While challenging at times, particularly during the torrential downpours at the start of my ten-week volunteer period, each day provided an exciting new adventure. The camaraderie between the international mix of volunteers was really positive, with everyone pulling together and having a blast while doing so. I made many new friends while on the project and getting to know people from such a variety of different cultures was eye-opening and thoroughly enjoyable.
The Pacific Sea Turtle Programme provided the perfect platform for me to develop numerous interpersonal and professional skill, particularly as I was given the opportunity to take on a leadership role, passing on what I had learned to new volunteers and heading up night patrols and morning censuses.
As someone who has always been passionate about nature, being in such a beautiful, wild location with a group of inspiring and dedicated individuals was unforgettable. Magical census sunrises, babysitting hatchlings as they set out on their incredible journey, the mesmerising dance of a nesting Olive Ridley and turtle tagging during midnight patrols under a sky full of stars are just a handful of the memories that will live with me forever.
I feel honoured and privileged to have been able to support the Sea Turtle Programme and would unreservedly recommend it to anyone with an interest in conservation!
"You feel a connection with the turtles"
Previous volunteer Laura Hickey, from the USA describes her time at the project
Coming to Costa Rica and volunteering was a spur of the moment decision of mine. If I could go back to that moment, the only change I would make would be planning to extend my stay. One week here, while wonderful, surely wasn’t enough for my liking. From the moment I met two other volunteers in our travels to the Hacienda, I felt welcome and excited.
Landing in Puerto Jimenez, we were greeted by departing volunteers and a wonderful staff. When I did some research about the program prior, I felt very prepared for the workload and program.
An unexpected surprise, however, was the family-like atmosphere. Each meal, day,and patrol is shared with others from many different areas of the world, contributing their own personalities and cultures. Of course, I also learned a lot about turtles in my stay here. The nesting process, identification, and general activity of sea turtles was very unexpected and beautiful to be able to witness. You feel a connection with the turtles as you record and possibly relocate their nests. I felt like another parent in the situation. Along with turtles, Costa Rica and the Hacienda have much more wildlife to see and learn about including a variety of reptiles, birds, and small mammals. Overall, I only have great things to say about Rio Oro, the staff, and of course the turtles. I could only wish for more time here.
"I will never forget the people and the wildlife and I hope I can return soon"
Previous volunteer Daniel Ridley from Scotland describes his time at the project
I thoroughly enjoyed my two weeks at the project working, socialising and patrolling the beach. The research assistants and head of the project, Aida, have made my stay very comfortable and great fun. They are extremely friendly and although their primary job is turtle conservation they are always making sure you are enjoying yourself and are happy with the activities and the general day to day goings on. The people I have stayed with here have all been very welcoming and some of the most interesting and diverse people I have met. Patrolling and seeing turtles has got to be the highlight of the trip but learning about the local area, working to help the project, exploring the surrounding area and hanging out with the other volunteers don´t fall too far behind. It has been an experience of a lifetime here and I wish my writing skills were good enough to convey my appreciation of my time here. I will never forget the people and the wildlife and I hope I can return soon.