Placement Fee: $975
Volunteers may assist with projects in a cloudforest reserve in Costa Rica. The primary work is assisting with the trail maintenance project. Trail work is extremely important to the reserve in order to provide limited and appropriate access into the forest for visiting eco-tourists. Because of heavy visitation to the reserve and the effects of rainy weather, trails are constantly eroding. Trail workers haul bags of sand to rebuild trails, cement blocks to build steps, cross-cut slices of fallen trees that are used to make step trails through wet areas. They also repair old foot bridges or build new ones. Other work possibilities include repairs and renovations of existing buildings, such as administrative offices, volunteer and guest lodging areas,"refugios" (primitive camping huts in the forest), or construction of new facilities. There are projects to build new environmental education teaching areas and a research station.
Volunteers work from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon and from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday; and from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon on Saturdays. There is some flexibility to the schedule. The work is often strenuous and exhausting. Conditions can be very wet and muddy (The rainy season is from June to December. The dry season is from January to May.) It can also be fun and rewarding. Volunteers have the opportunity to get to know the rainforest in a way that most tourists can't. Volunteers work closely with Costa Rican staff at the reserve and so they are able to improve their Spanish language skills and make friends with "ticos".
Volunteers who stay for extended time periods (3 or 4 weeks or more) have greater opportunities to be involved in other types of projects (assisting a researcher, helping with the environmental education program, working with an organic farming project in a neighboring community, reforestation projects, etc.)
The reserve protects six distinct ecological zones, including virgin rainforest, home to majestically tall trees, rich with orchids and bromeliads, lush ferns, vines, and second growth forest. There is a wide variety of birds, butterflies, reptiles and mammals.
Teaching Environmental Education:
Volunteers may assist with teaching environmental education at the reserve. School groups (mostly primary levels) from nearby communities visit the reserve to participate in classes, nature hikes and environmental learning activities and games. A background in environmental studies is helpful, but not required. Volunteers assisting with this project should have a strong level of conversational Spanish ability.
Organic Farming Project:
In a small agricultural community, located about 30 minutes from the reserve, several farmers participate in a project to produce organic crops. After working with the trail maintenance project and/or the environmental education project at the reserve, volunteers may be interested in spending a week or two weeks working with the organic farming project. Volunteers live with host families in the community and have the opportunity to see an entirely different side of life in Costa Rica.
Meals and Lodging at the Reserve: Volunteers have meals and lodging at a building at the entrance to the reserve. Meals are served in a dining hall. Food is good and plentiful. Lodging is basic, but comfortable bunkhouse/dormitory style. There are ample bathroom/shower facilities.
Fees: Lodging is free for volunteers. Meals cost $12/day (3 meals).
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