Assist in the protection of endangered Jaguars, whilst living and working in Costa Rica’s rainforest. Since the 1950s the population of Jaguars within the Americas has plummeted from over 400,000 to an estimated 14,000 now.
During your stay, you will not only contribute to the preservation of the elusive jaguar, but you will join a team contributing to the development and management of long-term wildlife conservation efforts along Central America’s Caribbean coast.
You will be searching for signs of jaguars and their prey species, by setting up remote cameras and surveying a 16-mile stretch of turtle nesting beach. Relaying data to the Costa Rican government and other prominent conservation organisations, our team aids the conservation effort through monitoring and tracking on Costa Rica’s beautiful Caribbean coast in the Tortugero National Park.
Even though jaguar related research activities will be a main part of your activities, during your time you will gain a holistic understanding of the Costa Rican rainforest and its ecosystem by conducting important research on turtles (seasonal) and aquatic birds. You will receive additional training across a wide variety of subjects and gain a plethora of skills that will help you further your ability to operate professionally in the field.
Through unique and hands-on training you will have the opportunity to understand the rainforest and the variety of wildlife that depend on it’s future.
Getting the chance to go on this unique adventure in a Costa Rican National Park; enjoying life at the research station; learning about the wildlife and their habitat; seeing unique wildlife in marine and coastal rainforest environments including remote Caribbean beaches and tropical rainforest, seeing endemic and protected species; joining the research team to undertake research inside a protected area; exploring this wonderful Central American country.
We are always looking for enthusiastic and dedicated people to join our team. This project offers qualifying and high-performing volunteers the chance to stay on the project for a longer duration on a GVI Scholarship free of charge and as part of the staff team in the field. If you would like to work towards a field career and make the very most of your time abroad, you might want to work towards a place on a GVI Scholarship. Successful scholars may find themselves offered full time employment with GVI, and many of our current staff have come through this route. Contact us for more information.
Please note, the awarding of scholarships is at the sole discretion of GVI and may be offered immediately after the completion of your program or at a later date.
GVI is real volunteering
Our projects are constantly evolving according to the needs on the ground at any given time. All the information displayed here will give you an overall feel for the project, but you should be prepared for any changes in the field when you travel. An evolving project means that we can constantly meet the needs and requirements of our partners, who dictate the work that we do. The way it should be.
Carrying out the programs activities on the beaches and forests in the area, you will live on our base at Jalova.
With Tortuguero’s amazing scenery, incredible beaches and through dawn patrols, spectacular sunrises as the backdrop, you will hone your research skills collecting important data.
Through the processing, analysis, and recording of data, you will also get to grips with the technical aspects of field based research.
Making lifelong friends, and invaluable contacts in the research world, you will live on our small but comfortable base with fellow volunteers, forging a tight-knit group experience you will never forget.
Habitat and food source degradation as a result of human activity are the major threats to jaguar populations. Through the correlation of jaguar prey species, jaguar feeding behaviour and population numbers, this project helps the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment to develop well rounded and consistent conservation policies.
You should also expect to be involved in further research projects according to the requirements on the ground at any time. This could include marine turtle monitoring (March – October) of nesting green, leatherback and hawksbills sea turtles; or bird monitoring and the research of 30 key aquatic species to collect long-term seasonal trend data on resident and migratory birds.
How this project makes a difference:
GVI’s data goes out to national and international organisations, is presented at international conferences, and is used in species and area management policy development.
Jaguar conservation efforts have been successful in recording new and useful data about jaguars and their habitats that is being used worldwide to restore declining jaguar populations.
Jag walk was one of the more challenging things that I have ever accomplished. You use every ounce of strength you have to walk 15 miles down the beach looking for turtles that have been predated by jaguars. There is nothing that compares to the feeling of arriving in Tortuguero after the hot slog down the beach and enjoying a well deserved cold drink to accompany the euphoria of having completed the walk.
It’s every big cat lovers dream to be able to capture a glimpse of the elusive jaguar, and being here gets you so close to realizing that dream. The excitement of setting up jag cams, being able to ID these cats and witness new behaviours is truly addictive. Knowing these amazing cats are thriving here gives hope for future conservation.
Volunteering with GVI not only allows you to participate on programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield either before or after your program. Many decide to travel after volunteering, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program.
Our long term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with GVI. Our Jalova field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Costa Rica!
Optional Side Trips
Given your isolated location, a lot of your down time will be spent on base, the rainforest is not a place to go wondering! However there are still some possibilities in the immediate area for you to make the most of your time in Costa Rica. You can visit Tortuguero Village, browse its small souvenir shops, visit the delicious bakery and just watch the world go lazily by. For longer term volunteers on long weekend breaks, you could decide to head off base and further explore the Caribbean region. Hiking, snorkelling, fishing, or canopy and zip-line tours are just some of the activities that are possible in the area. For something a bit more intense, you could raft on the white waters of the famous Pacuare River on class III to IV rapids over the course of 1- or 2-day trips. And if the adventure activities are not for you, then simply relax in a laidback Caribbean village!
Further Travelling Opportunities
Costa Rica is an amazing country with an abundance of travel opportunities further afield with the following just a snapshot of the many possibilities!
Admire the famous and active Volcan Arenal from a distance and relax in the natural hot springs; surf the Salsa Brava – a hotspot of the Caribbean for the advanced surfer; ride horseback on the beach in Puerto Viejo or simply enjoy miles and miles of beautiful beaches kissed by palm trees; spot migratory raptor birds in the Talamanca Mountains and visit indigenous villages to learn more about their amazing culture; discover the cloud forest at Monteverde, visit the hummingbird gallery, enjoy the locally made ice cream and other fresh dairy products or walk among the treetops on the hanging bridges; enjoy the organised wildlife tours of Braulio Carrillo National Park; travel across the country to discover the beautiful Pacific Coast with its hidden white sand beaches; visit Volcan Irazu and discover coffee farms on the way back to San Jose; back in the capital, visit the Gold Museum or the Jade Museum, attend a play in one of the numerous theatres or take in the Latin American vibe with its lively nightlife.
Build Your Program
- Pre-departure support and discounted services
- 24-hour emergency phone
- Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
- Arrival orientation
- Long term experienced staff
- Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
- All meals (unless otherwise stated in field manuals)
- Welcome meeting
- Location orientation
- All necessary project training by experienced staff
- All necessary project equipment and materials
- 24-hour in-country support
What's Not Included
- Medical and travel insurance
- Visa costs
- Personal kit
- Additional drinks and gratuities
- Extra local excursions
- International and domestic airport taxes