Wildlife Rescue Volunteering, Learning Spanish, Yoga & Surfing in Costa Rica

Opportunities for volunteers to work with animals and help improve the rescue centre, whilst also having the opportunity to learn Spanish, and take yoga and surf lessons. Located in the stunning Nicoya province on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, in a paradisical location surrounded by a large tropical garden overlooking the sea.  Conservation and Widlife Biology Internship positions also available for students.

Volunteers can join for 2 to 12 weeks in duration, and opportunities exist all year round.

Individuals, groups and families all welcome.

Cost includes lodging, 3 meals a day, training and supervision, project materials, backup and support; starts at £1105.

Scarlet macawsOpossum in coconutBaby howler monkey being fedVolunteer feeding baby deerFeeding through a syringeAnteater baby being fedCapuchin monkeySwimming pool and view of sea

Baby Capuchin monkey

About the Project

This Wildlife Rescue centre rescues injured and abandoned animals with the aim of returning them to the wild as soon as they are fit and able. For those who can no longer fend for themselves in the wild, we make them as comfortable as possible and hope that their presence will help to educate others of the dangers these precious animals face and what we can do to live more harmoniously with them in nature.

Volunteers are welcome all year round to help at the centre with the animals and also in the community.  We also welcome long term Conservation and Wildlife Biology interns for 12 week durations.

Volunteers can join for 2 weeks up to 12 weeks in duration.  Volunteers work up to 8 hours each day 6 days a week, allowing time off for Spanish lessons, Yoga or Surfing or just relaxing. 

Duties for 2 week volunteers may include but are not limited to:

  • Animal diet preparation
  • Feeding pre-release animals
  • Enclosure cleaning and maintenance
  • Making enrichment for animals
  • Grounds maintenance and gardening
  • Foraging for leaves and branches
  • Sign painting
  • Photography (under the reserve's T&Cs)

If you volunteer for 3-11 weeks, your duties will include those listed for 2 week volunteers as well as the following:

  • Nursery animal handling
  • Syringe and bottle feeding
  • ICU record keeping
  • Wound care
  • Administering medicine

And we also offer Long Term Volunteer positions for 12 weeks which are greatly discounted in cost.  You must be over 20 years to apply.  Duties are all of the above in addition to:

  • Force feeding*
  • Tube feeding*
  • Animal restraint*
  • Other duties, as needs dictate

*As long as the volunteer is willing to be trained and shows competence

Volunteers will also be assigned to tasks according to their own specialised skills when possible.  Volunteering also comes with waterfall hikes, tidal pools, and beach outings around the Nicoya Peninsula. 

Anteater released in Costa RicaPlease note that this is a rescue center, not a petting zoo.

While the idea of being up close and personal with wild animals is exciting, we require our volunteers to be fully dedicated to the rehabilitation and safety of every animal in our custody.  We receive many hurt animals that are beyond saving, despite our best efforts. This can be heartbreaking work.  We expect each volunteer to be fully committed to the causes which we represent.  The goal for all of our animals is release.  We've released howlers, capuchins, anteaters, deer, kinkajous, coatis, skunks, opossums, squirrels, and many more.

Special note: All decisions regarding animals are strictly for their welfare.  Since our aim is to release all animals as soon as possible, human contact will be limited to the bare minimum. Consistency of care reduces stress on recovering wildlife. This means that in the rare cases that volunteers must come in contact with the animals themselves, priority will be given to longer term volunteers who have been trained for such situations. As a volunteer, do not expect to touch animals at all unless it becomes necessary. It's not about us. It's about saving and conserving wildlife.

Internship Positions
We also offer two internship positions to students 20 years and older looking for relevant experience:  Conservation Internships and Wildlife Biology Internships.

Conservation interns: are expected to help the Rescue Centre educate the public on our goals towards the rescue, rehabilitation, and reintroduction of wildlife as well as the issues we face. Duties include, but are not limited to:

  • Research into the biggest threats facing local wildlife
  • Guiding educational visits of the centre
  • Help with educational programming through local school visits
  • Educating the public via social media
  • Help with fundraising campaigns

Wildlife biology interns: are expected to help the Rescue Centre with data collection and analysis to better care for current and future patients. Duties may include:

  • Data input and preliminary analysis of rehabilitation data through the Database
  • Behavioural focal scans of patients in pre-release to better understand their release criteria
  • Census and behavioural data collection of local howler troops
  • Life history research on local wildlife
  • Contacting other rescue centers to compare and share strategies

Although anyone over 20 may apply for the position, those with previous experience working with animals or studies in animal behavior, biology, or related fields will be given priority.

Specific duties are expected of our interns on top of full term volunteer tasks (you will have plenty of time with animal husbandry, we promise!). While we provide a framework for interns, we encourage you to make the most of your time here by applying your unique skillset and interests to the programme. If you want to apply as an intern, please send your CV/Resume to Victoria.McNeil@workingabroad.com along with your online application.

Anteater being fed by wildlife vet

About the Centre

Nestled in the foothills of the Cabo Blanco National Park in Costa Rica is where you’ll find this Wildlife Rescue Centre - the hidden gem of the Nicoya Peninsula.  Immersed in incredible natural beauty, this centre is the Costa Rican getaway you’ve always dreamed of.  Whether gazing upon jungle views from our gorgeous yoga deck, enjoying the ocean views from the infinity pool, or looking up at White-faced and Howler monkeys that grace our property on a daily basis, the centre is here to re-energize, reinvigorate and re-awaken the inner you.

Spanish lessons in Costa RicaSpanish Courses

Our Spanish immersion programme will allow you the opportunity to practice with locals whilst improving your learning in a fun and supportive environment. Whether it’s your first time learning Spanish or the culmination of a lifelong dream, this is an unparalleled place to study Spanish! “Ticos” (what Costa Ricans call themselves), famous for their hospitality and Pura Vida ways, are also well known for their “clean” and understandable accent compared to most Spanish speaking countries.

Spanish courses can be combined with volunteering.

All students will receive nearly 2 hours of applied learning along with nearly 2 hours of classroom instruction (Monday-Friday).

Applied learning is where you will put your new knowledge to the test on a daily basis, reinforcing what you’ve already learned.  This could mean a board game, a scavenger hunt or a walk to the waterfall with your instructor.  Quite often during your afternoon session you will have the opportunity to use your newly found language skills with Cabuya locals in a fun hands-on experience.

Yoga in Costa RicaYoga Classes

During your time with us in Costa Rica, you will fall gently into the flow of the class, not having to slow down for newcomers from day to day. You will get to know our instructors' next moves before they make them and our instructors will get to know your strengths and weaknesses so that together, you can take your practice to the next level. We often have other yoga instructors take our programmes and leave proclaiming that it was the best yoga class they've ever taken.

Our classes are Hatha Vinyasa, are held in a studio surrounded by nature, and are within earshot of the jungle sounds of singing birds and howling monkeys. We are open for all levels, teach in English, and space is limited to 15 people in order to keep classes intimate.

We have mats and props available for use and all levels of proficiency are welcome.  Yoga lessons are 90 minutes per day, Monday to Friday.

Yoga Classes can be combined with volunteering.

Surfing lessons in Costa Rica

Surfing Lessons

Costa Rica is known to have some of the most consistent waves in the world. With its diverse topography and coastal winds, there are waves for every surfer. Add to that the year round heat and warm ocean and there is never a bad time to pick up a board and head to the beach.

The areas of Cabuya, Montezuma, Mal Pais and Santa Teresa provide all sorts of breaks to choose from. Most of our classes revolve around Montezuma's Playa Grande, but if the group improves enough, our instructors will bring you to some other breaks in the area. Generally each class will last 1 hour and 50 minutes, but that may depend on your endurance as surfing is a rigorous and, often times, tiring sport. Either way you'll find 1 hour and 50 minutes to be more than enough to be ripping in no time. Lessons are done 4 days a week, with Wednesdays off for waterfall hikes, or other adventures

Surfing Lessons can be combined with volunteering.

Yoga and volunteer in Costa Rica

Dates & Costs

You can join the Wildlife Rescue Volunteer and Internship Programme for 2 up to 12 weeks throughout the year.

20th January to 3rd February 2019
3rd to 17th February 2019
17th February to 3rd March 2019
3rd to 17th March 2019
17th to 31st March 2019
31st March to 14th April 2019
14th to 28th April 2019
28th April to 12th May 2019
12th to 26th May 2019
26th May to 9th June 2019
9th to 23rd June 2019
23rd June to 7th July 2019
7th to 21st July 2019
21st July to 4th August 2019
4th to 18th August 2019
18th August to 1st September 2019
1st to 15th September 2019
15th to 29th September 2019
29th September to 13th October 2019
13th to 27th October 2019
27th October to 10th November 2019

Volunteers should arrive on a Sunday afternoon, and leave the project on a Sunday morning. Dates run all year round - if your preferred dates are not listed here, please email us at victoria.mcneil@workingabroad.com  or for any other questions.

Programme Costs

The cost to join this programme for 2 weeks is £1105 (£1295 for deluxe), 3 weeks is £1445 (£1845 for deluxe), 4 weeks is £1865 (£2395 for deluxe), 5 weeks is the same price as 4 weeks for both, and as from 6 weeks, the rate is discounted and is £1875 (£2675 deluxe), 8 weeks is £2435 (£3500 deluxe).  For anyone joining as a Long Term Volunteer for 12 weeks or a long term Intern, there is a one off £195 application cost and then your accommodation is offered for free and you are responsible for your own food costs. You can opt in for a meal plan of £60 per week if you want.  For long term volunteers, a £390 deposit is requested before arrival, £80 is kept as a donation to the centre and the remaining £310 will be returned at the end of a successful 12 week commitment.   For anyone joining as a Long Term Intern for 12 weeks, a £830 deposit is requested before arrival, £500 is kept as a donation to the centre and to cover the cost of hiring the internship supervisors and the remaining £330 will be returned at the end of a successful 12 week commitment.

Surfing in Costa Rica

Yoga classes in the afternoons cost £85 per week, and Surfing and Spanish lessons cost £250 per week.  All prices are in GB pounds sterling.

You can do volunteering on its own, or choose volunteering plus Spanish, or volunteering plus yoga, or volunteering plus surfing any week if you wish, as an add on, but must be booked beforehand.

The payment covers food (3 meals a day) 6 days a week (Saturdays only breakfast is provided, but you can eat locally or prepare your own food), accommodation in the simple rooms, training by wildlife vets, fun outings to waterfalls, tidal pools or beaches, in-country and WorkingAbroad Project support.  If you opt for Deluxe lodging, please refer to Lodging & Travel section for more details on what it includes.

The costs don’t include flights to/from Costa Rica, health and travel insurance, visa fee (if required), transfers to and from the Rescue Centre and personal expenses. It is mandatory for you to take out travel and medical insurance for the duration of the project.

Room in volunteer house in Costa Rica

Lodging, Food & Travel

You will be based in the volunteer accommodation within the grounds of the Widlife Rescue centre surrounded by tropical gardens. You will have a choice between staying in the simple or deluxe rooms.

Simple rooms for volunteers:

Our 3 shared, simple rooms sit near the front of our property.  Our Green and Purple Rooms each have a bunk bed and a twin and sleep up to 3 people.  They face the ocean and exhibit stunning sunrises during the winter months.  Our blue room has a double bed and may be reserved by couples (see right).

Each of our simple rooms have mosquito nets, fans and share a bathhouse with hot water showers.

Pool at volunteer programme in Costa Rica

Deluxe rooms for volunteers:

Deluxe rooms may be requested as shared or private.
Our 4 deluxe rooms contain either a queen and twin bed or 3 twin beds and can sleep up to 3 people.  Each contain A/C, private bath, hot water, satellite tv, digital safe and mini fridge as well as boasting pool and ocean views. 

If you are coming alone but choosing a shared room, you will be set up with a maximum of 2 roommates. If you come with a friend or two, we can place you in your own room at your request, depending on availability.  Couples will be given their own room with at least a matrimonial size bed.

Lounge at volunteer house in Costa Rica

This is all set on 5 acres of ocean view property.  Same day laundry service is available for a small fee.

When not working with the animals, learning Spanish, yoga or surfing, volunteers can relax in our infinity pool overlooking the ocean or read a book in a hammock in the lounge. Stereos and tv's as well as playing cards and board games are available in our common areas. 

Volunteers eating food with the chef in Costa Rica

Home Cooked Food


Breakfast usually includes such options as fresh fruit, yogurt, eggs, fruit juices, coffee and toast. The
typical Costa Rican breakfast is Gallo Pinto (rice and beans mixed together with coriander, onions and
Worcestershire sauce). A common variation is gallo pinto con huevos fritos (gallo pinto with fried eggs).

Lunch and Dinner

Volunteers get lunch and dinner served, Sunday through Friday, and it is generally international cuisine.  Dishes are mostly chicken, fish, seafood, vegan or vegetarian although special diets may be accommodated with advance notice.  On Saturdays, we serve breakfast only and allow our guests to use our kitchen or visit one of the many delicious restaurants nearby.  The food is always served with love and is delicious!  You also have access to a communal kitchen and fridge.

The cheapest and most authentic restaurants are called “sodas”. Here is where you will find the locals
eating their meals. If you decide to eat out and you order a “casado,” you can expect to get a heaping
portion of rice and beans served with pork, steak, fish or chicken, a small portion of salad, and fried
plantains. You can get all this for around $3-$5 in most of the country (including nearby in Cobano). In
Cabuya, this may cost closer to $8-$10.


Volunteers can visit the Montezuma waterfalls

Travel to the Wildlife Rescue Centre

There are several options to get the Rescue Centre in Cabuya.  The fastest and easiest is to fly into San Jose International Airport (code SJO) or Liberia (LIR) and then get an internal flight with Sansa Air or Nature Air which takes 30 minutes to the Tambor Airport (TMU), 45 mins. from Cabuya.  From Tambor, you'll need a $50, 45 min. taxi.   A cheaper option is to fly to San Jose or Liberia and catch a Sunday early morning shuttle direct to the Wildlife Centre, but you will need to arrive the night before, as they leave very early - price ranges from 50 to 60 USD.  We can also help if you want us get you collected from the airport on arrival on the Saturday night, transfer you to a hotel near the airport, one night stay plus breakfast and transfer to the Rescue Centre the next morning - this costs 85 to 95 USD depending on time of year and includes hotel to, and taxi from airport to hotel. This is a popular option.

Free Time in and around Cabuya

Volunteers can spend time at the beautiful Montezuma Waterfalls (right), or visiting tidal pools or beaches throughout the Nicoya Province.  A lot of people come to this part of Costa Rica for surfing and for its beauty and also to visit the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve.  Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve is the pioneer of wildlife and environmental conservation in Costa Rica, which became the first protected area in Costa Rica in 1963. Situated on the extreme southern tip of the Nicoya peninsula it protects 1788 hectares of ocean and 1270 hectares of tropical forest, 15% of which is primary forest where rare tree, bird and other endangered animal species can find refuge.

Up until now, 150 species of trees and around 240 species of birds have been recorded in Cabo Blanco, making it an important wildlife sanctuary.  Among Cabo Blanco’s endangered animals are the Jaguar, Puma, Ocelot, Jaguarundi, Margay cat, Spotted Owl, Caracara, and Giant Egret.

Interactive Map & Background

See below for an interactive map showing the project location:

Macaw landing in Costa RicaBackground on Species Reintroduction

As of 2017, 352 species are listed on the endangered species list in Costa Rica. In just two years it has jumped from 330.  Allowing this rate of increase would be tragic and further destroy the special biodiversity found here. This programme aims to boost populations of endangered species in order to try and reverse the trend of mounting population loss.

The Rescue centre has an alliance with AsoProLapa, a Scarlet Macaw breeding programme on the Nicoya Peninsula. Thanks to the proximity to the Cabo Blanco reserve, the Centre is an ideal spot for a Macaw reintroduction project and returning them to an area where they no longer exist.

Macaws have lived here in the past and two of their main food sources, the Mountain Almond and Beach Almond trees grow in abundance.  There is also no known predator here at the park, making it a perfect area for release and population growth.

The centre is currently fundraising to build the Macaw enclosures. Once this has been done, they will then start to release these magnificent birds back to where they belong.

The centre is also considering reintroducing the 3-toed sloth.  By many accounts, they once lived here on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. There have been sightings of 3-toed sloths as recently as 2007 in the neighboring town of Delicias.   There are several possibilities with the hopes of reintroduction to the area, which would strengthen and diversify populations to buck the current trends of animal loss and extinction.  Volunteers can all be part of this work.

Volunteers at Wildlife Rescue Centre, Costa Rica

Volunteer Testimonials

Working at the Wildlife Rescue Center was one of the most beautiful and interesting experiences I've ever had. The organisation was very good and the Director explained everything very well and was there when you needed help. But he also let you work independently. The location is gorgeous. It feels like working in paradise. There is a large garden, a beautiful pool and a nice chill out lounge. I have a lot of respect for him, there should be many more people in the world like him. I would work with him again anytime and will definitely come back.

Best wishes, Nicole

A basic day for was to work either the 6am-1pm shift ot 12pm-7pm shift depending on preference and what worked best with all volunteers. I would work with another volunteer to weight the baby animals, feed all animals, take them out into their enclosures if they have slept in the clinic (because they can't handle overnights outside yet), then we filled the time between feedings (which was generally 6am, 9am, 12noon, 3pm, and 6pm) with husbandry such as washing laundry, cleaning the fridge that the animals' food was kept, cleaning enclosures, and doing research on what the next step will be for the animals. The volunteers were absolutely the backbone and meat of the center. We created enrichment programs for the cognitive growth of our animals as well as experimenting on how to ween the animals from one food source to another more natural source in preparation for release into the wild. Sometimes we would get babies who had to be fed every 3 hours, so that's another 24/7 jobs split up between volunteers.

I have to admit, the center lucked out with the group of volunteers that worked late last year. We became best friends and organized hard workers. Our differences were our strengths and our similarities were the glue. It was just 5 of us, the stars aligned for us to meet.


Pool with milky way in Costa Rica

How to Join the Project

If you are interested in volunteering in Costa Rica as a Wildlife Rescue Volunteer, you will need to fill out the online application form. To secure a placement on the project, please complete and submit the form, including your application payment of £195. If for some reason, your application is not accepted, we will reimburse this payment fully. However, for those who are accepted, you will need to pay 25% of the balance within 14 days of being accepted on the programme, with the remaining 75% of the balance to be paid one month before arrival. Once we have confirmed your place, you will receive a pre-departure package with all detailed information on the project, Costa Rica, suggested items to bring etc.

Apply Now

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