On your arrival day (Sunday), you will meet the other volunteers that are already there and the some of the staff. You can use the rest of the day to visit the town and get settled in. Your orientation meeting and training will start Monday at 11:00, where you will be introduced to the other volunteers and join a tour of the Center with tourists (approx. 90 min). After that, your volunteer manager will get you started.
Since the Rescue Center offers tours to tourists throughout the week and the animals need constant help, the volunteers coordinate their 5 days of work with the center (so you will not necessarily have weekends off). The work normally starts at 07:30 and ends around 16:00. This is a rough estimate as the work day ends when the work is done, which could be earlier, but also later.
The first day of the project is an introduction day (starting on Monday at 11:00) when the volunteers get shown around the project, they then start working the next day, so the first week is 6 days long including the introduction day, after that the volunteers work 5 days a week. You will also receive 3 days training. The schedule for working is organised with the volunteer coordinator, but as the center is open 7 days a week, the volunteer may have days off during the week and work on weekends.
During the following weeks, the work can include a broad range of tasks, from doing the dishes and cleaning up after the animals (which is a constant!), to building and remodeling enclosures, or baby-sitting a new arrival to ease the stress of their new environment. The schedule for working is organised with the volunteer coordinator, but as the center is open 7 days a week, the volunteer may have days off during the week and work on weekends.The Animal Rescue Center works with a hands-on policy, which means direct contact with the animals is an important part of the work. Most of the animals have lost their mothers, or gone through traumatic experiences, and the center believes that direct contact is fundamental for the animals to build a strong defense mechanism to face their future successfully.
Activities in the Animal Rescue Center
• Cleaning and reparation of the facilities and different areas
• Maintenance of pathways and areas around animals
• Diet Preparation and assistance to the keepers
• Attending to visitors, guiding them
• Training and Observation
• Help caring for animals
During your stay you will also visit La Ceiba which is a private reserve tucked away in the rainforest, there are 50 hectares of primary (untouched) that the center has purchased along with some investors as a way of conservation. It is located 4 km away from the animal rescue centre. This is where many of the animals are eventually released back into the nature if they have recovered. You will receive an explanation about the work done at La Ceiba and go on a night tour of the reserve.
As this project works with animals every day is a working day, public holiday or not. Volunteers do have their 2 days free as from week 2, but this is not necessarily during the weekends.
The volunteers are the heart and soul of the work done by the center. It is because of their direct efforts that they are able to help so many ill, injured and orphaned animals.
All participants are expected to fulfill certain requirements in order to participate in the projects. The work is demanding, mostly repetitive, but can also vary from day to day. Participants must know that they will be working with wild animals that are not pets and should behave accordingly. These requirements are to ensure that volunteers bring the right expectations and enjoy their experience with Animal Rescue Center.
- Minimum age of 18
- Basic level of Spanish is recommended
- A photo of the volunteer
- Travel/Medical insurance
- Proof of complete vaccination against Covid is necessary
- Recommended vaccines: Tetanus
- Tuberculosis test: As you work closely with monkeys, you need to be tested for Tuberculosis and get a certificate including the date and result. If you have already been vaccinated, you need take a copy of your vaccination card as proof on arrival. If you arrive without the correct documents you will NOT be allowed to join the project.
- In Costa Rica, Rabies is almost unheard of; however, you will be working with wild animals, so whilst not compulsory you may want to consider getting the Rabies vaccine, it's an individual decision.
- If you are travelling to Costa Rica from certain countries, you may need to show a Yellow Fever certificate on arrival. Please make sure to check if you need to get one.
- Keep in mind that the seriousness, discipline, order and cleanliness must be the basis of working with animals. If you do not respect the basic rules of common sense it puts the lives of animals at risk.
- A USD 20 deposit is required on arrival for your room key and towels, this will be refunded on departure providing you return the towels and key. The deposit should be paid using PayPal.
The Animal Rescue Center is located on the Caribbean coast in the town of Puerto Viejo. Puerto Viejo is a much-loved beach town perched on the shore of the Caribbean in the south of Costa Rica. With a laid-back, lively Creole culture and reggae music permanently drifting through the air, it’s somewhere very easy to get beautifully stuck for a while. The vibe is bohemian through and through, with surfers, hippies and locals all living together peacefully in the sunshine.
The nearby Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildife Reserve offers great opportunities for hiking, kayaking and snorkeling in the tropical waters. There are also several protected beaches where sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. Though the beaches in town are not the best for swimming and sunbathing, head east and you´ll find golden stretches of sand, complete with swaying palms and turquoise waters. The nicest are Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita and Punta Uva, both just a short tuk-tuk ride away. Slightly further afield the tiny beach town of Cahuita situated right next to a stunning national park with the same name is a great place to relax.
The Rescue Center is located 4 km from Puerto Viejo and 220 km from San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. It takes around 4 hours by shuttle/bus from San Jose to reach Puerto Viejo.
The humidity levels in the Caribbean are very high, which means that both infrastructure and your belongings can suffer from this humidity, for example, it can be difficult to dry your clothes. It's best to keep things packed in plastic covers or boxes, and for your personal hygiene we recommend using baby powder ‘talcos’. And do not bring your nicest clothing, which in fact also wouldn’t be very useful at the project.
- Comfortable raingear and a small umbrella as in the rainforest, like the name suggests, it usually - and sometimes very unexpectedly - rains.
- Clothes that you don't mind breaking or getting dirty. We also recommend you to bring extra clothing to work, and if possible, clothes that dry fast and preferably neutral or dark colours, no bright colours.
- A pair of long trousers (especially male volunteers) to be able to work in the forest with the monkeys.
- Proper footwear such as boots. It is not recommended to have open footwear like flip flops, because much of the time there is mud or plants that could harm you.
- A flashlight/headlight as it gets dark around 18:00
- A padlock so that all your belongings are safe, wherever you are lodging during your travels
- Zip lock bags for keeping things dry
- Insect repellent since like in any other tropical area, there are mosquitoes. You can, of course, also buy mosquito repellent once you get here.
- Please bring a passport photo with you on your first day.
- Volunteers are required to work on public holidays. Please also note that public services like transportation may be affected on these days.
- Upon departing any airport in Costa Rica one has to pay a departure tax. This must be done in person and cannot be pre-arranged with a tour company or airline. The tax for some international flights leaving Costa Rica is around USD $29 and for domestic flights, depending on the airport, it varies between USD $3 and USD $5. All prices are subject to change. Please check with your airline to see if the departure tax is included in the price of your flight.
Volunteers need to be flexible and keep an open mind concerning their placements as situations can arise beyond our control which could require you to be placed at a different project than the one you have initially chosen. We will of course always do our utmost to fulfill your initial wishes but do remember that where you are going is quite different from where you are coming and as such one should be prepared for things not always going according to plan.
Volunteering and intercultural travel share a common trait: the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. This program is designed for proactive individuals and groups that are prepared to adapt to the local environment and its current needs. Naturally, the scheduling and activities of our program are subject to change. Alterations in activities are mainly due to changes in local conditions, which we believe is part of what makes overseas programs the interesting adventure and incredible learning experience that they are.
Our projects range from 1 week up to approx. 30 weeks. Projects have a specified minimum stay, then it’s up to you how long you can commit. In our experience the longer you stay the more you will gain, as your understanding of the project broadens and you take on more responsibilities. You will receive a certificate at the end of your stay