1. How long do I have to stay at least?
We have a minimum of one week stay, but we recommend at least two weeks so you have enough time to get to know the animals and the way of life in Costa Rica. You can stay for as long as you wish!
2. How much do I have to pay?
USD $35 per day. This includes the accommodation and 3 meals a day! $40 day includes 2 Spanish lessons a day (you can book as many hours as you want during your stay)
3. When do I have to pay?
You pay on location and on arrival please. This has the advantage that the money can´t get lost during the transaction and you can relax about having large sums of cash on you, and you change your mind about how long you stay whenever you want. In general we are very flexible, and volunteers often decide to stay longer than planned!
4. Who can volunteer?
We welcome all who are interested! You should come ready to pitch in whenever necessary, and be willing live in basic conditions. There is no max age - we have had volunteers in their late sixties stay with us. We accept volunteers as young as 11, although they should be accompanied by an adult.
We do not allow drinking at the Center.
Smoking is allowed in designated locations.
A basic requirement we have however, is that you are up to date on all your basic vaccinations and have full insurance coverage.
5. Do I need to know spanish?
No! You definitely do not have to know spanish. A lot of our Volunteers do not speak spanish (yet!) . A little knowledge in English OR Spanish is sufficient to communicate. And don´t worry – you are going to improve your language skills very fast!
6. How do I book Spanish lessons at the Center?
Our Spanish lovely teacher Sileny Venegas is very flexible and happy to come each day to our Rescue Center from Tuesday to Friday between 3 pm and 5 pm and Saturday from 10am to 12am to teach our volunteers. It would be good if you would mention your interest in Spanish lessons when you contact us, although it is possible to book lessons spontaneously right at the Center. There is no minimum or limitation of lessons you need to book.
7. Where will I live?
You live together with the other Volunteers right in the Rescue Center. You sleep in group dormitory-style rooms. The dorm rooms for our volunteers have 6-12 beds per room, and we provide sheets and mosquito netting for each bed.
8. What else do I need to know about my stay in the Rescue Center?
Costa Rica has a warm and humid environment, but our Center is well shaded, making the working conditions fairly comfortable.
At the center we have electricity, flush toilets, hot showers, and wi-fi. The electricity occasionally goes out for several hours at a time, so we recommend volunteers bring a headlamp to get around at night. The wi-fi can be inconsistent, so come prepared to be off-line at times.
We have a pool, common area, book exchange, fire pit, and hammocks for relaxing during downtime.
Our lovely cooks prepare a variety of dishes for our communal meals, from traditional Costa Rican food to a mix of international meals. There is a vegetarian option at every meal. If you have specific dietary needs, please inform us ahead of time and we will do our best to accommodate your needs.
We have a refrigerator available for our volunteers for personal snacks.
There is a washing machine and clothesline available to clean your clothing.
9. What will my day look like at the Rescue Center?
We have a Volunteer Coordinator who will coordinate our tasks for the day. Our volunteers help out with all aspects of the Center. The daily tasks include:
- Preparing food for the animals
- Feeding the howler monkeys, Capuchin monkeys, sloths, birds (Scarlet Macaws, parrots, owls, and others), olingo, and kinkajous
- Cleaning animal enclosures
- Cleaning the common areas
- Giving extra attention to the orphaned animals (two sloths and currently Feluco, a young howler monkey)
- General tidying of the Center (sweeping pathways, etc)
- Preparing toys and stimulating exercises for the animals
- Caring for our resident dogs
- Assisting with communications/public awareness
- And other great contributions you might have! We welcome creative initiative!
We rotate through different tasks to ensure everyone has a chance to work on all the aspects of the Center.
10. What kind of injections do I need before coming?
A standard set of vaccines is sufficient but if you want to be sure just check the recommendation in the Department of Foreign Affairs. It is not required to have an anti-rabies vaccination because the animals are medically checked before you are working with them so if you are a bit careful and have some germicide you can put on scratches or little bites from the animals with you, it should be fine. In 11 years we have never had a case of rabies at the Rescue Center.
11. Are there dangerous animals on the property like snakes, frogs or spiders?
There are some poisonous amphibians and insects in Costa Rica in general, so we cannot guarantee that you will not see one of those. But if you keep some simple rules like never going barefoot, especially not after rain, staying on the path and never touch unknown animals – everything is fine. We never had a case where a Volunteer got injured seriously by any kind of animal.
12. Do I have to work with dangerous animals?
No, definitely not - Our animals are not dangerous when treated with respect. Besides that you never HAVE TO work with any animal. If you feel insecure or uncomfortable working with one our animals, just tell us, it's no problem!
13. Which currency is used in Costa Rica? Do I have to change my money before?
Ticos (how the native Costa Ricans are called) pay with Colón (Colones) but the US Dollar is accepted almost everywhere as well, especially when you have small bills.
14. Is there a Hospital, Bank, Supermarket close to the Rescue Center?
We have a hospital 30 minutes away but there is a good doctor and the red cross with ambulance service 10 minutes away. The bank is 10 minutes away. A small store is within walking distance. The doctor fee is $40.
15. Is there Wifi at the Rescue Center? How can I contact my family?
Yes, We have WiFi, it´s jungle WiFi so it's not always in working order. If you need WiFi and it's not working at the Center, there are places in town where you can go to get connected.
16. Is there anything I should bring?
Closed-toe shoes and Shirts which dare to get a little dirty, a flashlight and if you are coming between May and September a raincoat.
Here is a suggested Kit list:
( When buying your kit, please use an element of common sense. The kit list is intended to cover all of the items that you could possibly need. While some items are compulsory, others you will manage without, but many of these you will probably be very grateful to have brought with you.
Furthermore, flight companies are becoming increasingly strict on weight allowance, so pack with caution. Please do not bring expensive clothes or equipment. Likewise, expensive items such as jewellery and fancy watches will attract attention from the locals and will be a temptation to steal. At the end of phase any clothes, medical equipment, stationery, toiletries or other things you leave behind will be donated to the center or local community. )
Travel – For travelling bring a rucksack (65 litres should be adequate) and day pack (20-25 litres). Make sure it has a rain cover.
Zip lock bags – Useful for keeping everything (especially electrical items) dry and dirt-free.
Flashlights and batteries – Bring a head torch with some batteries, these are invaluable for late night toilet visits. If you can, get your hands on a solar powered battery charger and bring a couple of sets of rechargeable batteries as backup.
Waterbottle- there is an overabundance of plastic water bottles in Costa Rica, and to limit our negative impact on the environment we require that you bring your own refillable water bottle to use while here. Please make sure it is labelled as well, for your own sake.
Toiletries – bring your own towel. Sarongs dry the fastest and are light-weight. Please try to only bring biodegradable products in order to limit our impact on the environment.
Bug spray - and essentials for caring for mosquito and bug bites. If you can find of DEET free repellent, this is preferred as it will not harm the animals or the environment as much.
Clothing – Rough work clothes, along with a lightweight waterproof coat, and a long sleeved top for protection against mosquitoes are all useful items. A warmer top will come in handy for those colder nights and long trousers to protect you against mosquitoes will be a help.
Footwear – A pair of sturdy hiking boots are most appropriate for working. You may also want to bring some comfortable trainers for your free time, and sandals or flip-flops for relaxing in.
Medical & Hygiene – Please make sure you have read the medical and safety guidelines within your project area. No matter how careful you are, you will always find yourself getting numerous small cuts and grazes. Make sure you have plenty of plasters/band-aids, bandages, decent tape, lots of cotton wool and an adequate supply of Betadine and Cicatrin powder and talc.
Music – You are welcome to bring any mobile phones, music and walkmans/mp3 players you may have, however make sure you have plenty of batteries as you may not be able to recharge where you’re staying.
Other – Insect repellent is a must, there are a number of different brands but make sure you find one of suitable strength. A good Spanish dictionary will be useful for learning the local language. Also, do not forget to bring lots of sun cream (at least factor 15), sunglasses, and a wide brimmed sunhat.
Donations- we are always in need of supplies for the rescued animals so if you would like to bring anything it would be greatly appreciated! Meyenberg Non Fat Powdered Goat Milk is only around 10 USD and is used for all infant sloths, spider monkeys, capuchins, howler monkeys etc. . Also toys for the animals (Monkeys, kinkajous, birds) is very warmly received! The center has an amazon wish list if you would like to get ideas for what is needed. And we always always always need more building supplies and equipment!
Please check your kit list and ensure you haven’t forgotten anything essential.
17. Who will pick me up at the airport?
When you have confirmed your travel plans with us and if you have ordered airport pick up, we will have one of our trusted Taxi drivers to pick you up. They will have a ''Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center'' sign and will wait for you in the arrivals section, after you have received your luggage. They speak mainly spanish but are very friendly. Airport pick up costs 30USD after 9:30 is 40USD and should be paid cash to the driver uponarrival at the center.
If you want to bring anything in the form of donations and supplies to the center feel free to contact us as firstname.lastname@example.org for specific items we are in desperate need of at the time of your arrival!
Other: Being a Volunteer at the Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center is definitely something for adventure-lovers! You should love animals and working with them, which sometimes means getting a little dirty!