Unearthing New Experiences

Tortuguero Rainforest Conservation Teen Volunteering In Costa Rica

Live with other teens on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast while learning about rainforest conservation.

Durations:  2 weeks

Program information

Learn what it takes to become an international conservationist while exploring the rainforests that line the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Learn how researchers are working to protect jaguars and other important species.

undefined 31 May 2022

Included in your program

Make the most of our unique programs with these exclusively curated local adventure and wellness experiences.

Learn to pick and husk a coconut

Visit the world's oldest sea turtle research group

Meditate on the beach at sunrise

Take a jungle nightwalk and frog watch

Canoe along jungle river canals at dawn

Stargaze and learn the northern constellations

Hike an extinct volcano, Cerro Tortuguero

Visit a sustainable chocolate farm

Connect with our alumni
Want to connect with some of our past participants about their adventures? Get in touch with hundreds of friendly ambassadors all over the world who would be more than happy to answer any questions.
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Grace Rowlands

14 Jan, 2020
In July 2018 I went to Costa Rica with GVI on their under 18s wildlife conservation program- being involved with GVI makes you feel apart of a family who all have the same interests and passions. I first started to look for a programs and finding a interest in conversation while I was having a very difficult time in hospital. From such a dark place, my interest in conservation was born. Me and mum would often visit the GVI website and dare to think maybe one day I could actually do a program because you see, me and family are not from a financially privileged background and so we know it would be a mission impossible. Once I was fully recovered and started walking again we decided to book a GVI program and that was when I got involved with the Under 18s program. Being a GVI volunteer felt really amazing, I felt apart of a group who understood my beliefs. While I was volunteering for the two weeks we got to endure in different activities each day. At the base camp were we stayed we did rainforest servays between three different roots and collected data on the animals we found, where they where and which trail it was on. We learnt all sorts of different skills like camera trapping and how to collect data on surveys, learning these skills can help Improve the data we collected end we can also get visual data from the camera traps. Doing the surveys was really good fun as we got to find lots of species we have never seen before and the data also helped the local people and their small growing businesses. Being able to help people while doing something fun and exiting made me feel I was doing something productive for the community. The GVI staff where amazing inspirational people who where very passionate about wildlife. They made me feel like I was in a big family while I was away and that made me feel really comfortable being away from home, I felt very safe and supported while I was away, the staff made it feel very feel very comfortable if I wanted to go and speak to them about anything and they would support me with everything they could do. From start to finish the staff and the whole experience was absolutely amazing and I would highly recommend it. I was very nervous travelling all the way to Costa Rica but I am so glad I jumped into the deep end. During this trip i discovered that I wanted to help keep the conversation of animals and how much it hurt me to see all off the plastic pollution on the beaches of a small country. After the trip had finished strength away when j got home I wanted to do something productive for the environment and I feel the need to carry that on. This experience opened my eyes to the world and I now know there is so any extraordinary things I can do to help with the conservation of animals. While being away and doing some amazing things, we also got to go to San Jose and ride down Costa Rica's white water Rapids for the weekend which was amazing! Being able to have that opportunity was incredible and it definitely gave me a different perspective on Costa Rica due to how small we where in that boat compared to the giant trees and sawing birds above our heads. Over all the experience with GVI has been a life changing dream, once did I ever think that I would be doing late night walks on Costa Rica's beach finding a turtles nesting. But I did it. And I want people who have been in my difficult position to be able to experience something so special.

Niamh Blundell

06 Mar, 2019
My name is Niamh Blundell, I am from Oxford in England and I am starting my A-Levels this September. This summer (2018) I took part in the Under 18’s Wildlife awareness programme in Costa Rica. This was my second Under 18’s trip with GVI as I went on a marine conservation and diving trip the previous summer in Mexico, and I wanted to go on a similar trip this year. A typical day in base for us would be breakfast at 8am, followed by a morning forest survey on one of 4 trails that were nearby. This would take up to a couple of hours, followed by lunch at 12pm. One group would go out for a forest survey at 2pm, whilst another would do a beach walk to look for turtle/jaguar tracks and turtle nests from the previous night. Before dinner we may have set up a camera trap, played some frisbee or just relaxed in our dorms. After dinner at 6pm, we may have a lecture on the different bird species, what to do if we encounter a jaguar or what to expect on a turtle night walk. Before bed we would either play a good old- fashioned game of cards or a group would go out on the beach to look for nesting turtles. The staff on our trip, Thijs and Charlie were so friendly and easy to talk to and served as amazing leaders through our conservation adventure. The rest of the volunteers and I bonded so much in the 2 weeks that we were with each other and were all good friends by the end of the trip. My experience with GVI has confirmed that I want to pursue a career in marine biology, and the information and training I have been given has made me better prepared to go into the field of conservation. For example, we were taught how to identify many vertebrate species in and around the jungle and canals, and I was able to distinguish the species of the turtle that we saw nesting and her behaviour. My advice for anyone joining a GVI programme would be to go with an open mind, and to expect the unexpected as you will be amazed and inspired by the experiences that you will walk away with. I started looking for opportunities to volunteer abroad as it had always interested me, I love travelling to new and exciting countries and I wanted to go somewhere where I could learn to SCUBA dive, which is what I did in Mexico, and discover more about the environment and biodiversity of the planet. I found the GVI projects through an advertisement on Facebook and from their website. At the start of the programme I was nervous as I was flying to an unknown country to spend 2 weeks living with strangers, so I did have my doubts about how much I would enjoy my experience. However, by day 3 of the trip I soon realised I had nothing to worry about as everyone was so lovely and the activities we did were really engaging. The 2 weeks flew by far too fast and I was very reluctant to leave behind my jungle home and the friends I had made. Overall, I had so much fun on this trip and learnt lots, my favourite part being the turtle night walk, where I was lucky enough to witness the spectacle of a turtle nesting her eggs, and walked on the sand for hours in the darkness (which is much more enjoyable than it sounds!) During the trip I learnt a lot about myself, including that I can survive without Wi-Fi and signal for days at a time! Most importantly I discovered that I can adapt to a challenging environment which is a lot different to the one I’m used to at home. Throughout the experience I felt completely safe in the staff’s hands, and that the other volunteers and I were constantly supported. To conclude, I had such a wonderful experience with GVI on this trip and I can’t wait to volunteer with them again in the future.

Hannah Barlow

11 Oct, 2018
GVI VOLUNTEERING EXPERIENCE -- COSTA RICA During the summer of 2018, I was fortunate enough to travel alone to Costa Rica to participate in a two-week wildlife and marine conservation under 18’s volunteering program with GVI. Alongside ten other people from different parts of the globe, we came together to form a team to fight against the heat, the thunderstorms, the language barriers and the constant fetid of dirty laundry, in an effort to support the future for Costa Rican biodiversity. The work that we assisted and observed on was carried out in order to help the preservation of the conservation of endangered species, but I also learned a lot about myself and where I would like to expand my skills as an environmentalist. My experience has had a positive impact on both my studies and my future, allowing me to grow and mature in accepting and dealing with the uncertain and changeable situations throughout new cultures and conditions, due to having been provided the fortunate opportunity to bring my own strengths and resources to the project. Volunteering enabled me to increase my confidence in meeting new people, being in unfamiliar surroundings and taking on new challenges whilst surrounded by an amazingly diverse rainforest. Meeting new people comes naturally, however, an experience like this was a great way to take me out of my comfort zone for enough time to appreciate everything around me and to grow from it. Whether it was exploring the jungle or observing a green turtle lay and protect its eggs, it was truly a rewarding and unforgettable experience. Also, there aren’t many opportunities like this, to meet new people from all around the world and learn about different cultures and life experiences of others my age, whilst coming together to contribute towards protecting the biodiversity of Costa Rica alongside local partners, facing difficulties together; something that in modern society is lost. We were provided a good balance between serious work and fun adventures, as we were taken on a trip further inland, for a weekend of white-water rafting, giving us opportunities to be involved in cultural and community activities, enabling myself to expand my personal teamwork and conversational skills. The daytime work was varied and often challenging. Our tasks over the course of the two weeks, ranged from recording the data of species we observed to visiting an indigenous school and witnessing their form of education and reflecting upon the fortitude of their characters. One thing which has stuck with me since this experience; alongside the mosquito bites, is the artistry of wildlife that is right in front of us, free for everyone to experience and admire. There was one day in which we spent the duration of the morning taking part in a beach clean in Jalova. In total we collected up to 229.5kg of rubbish off the sand. It pained me to see the ocean being polluted with plastic and glass from our carelessness and disrespect for the environment and witnessing its destructive impact on biodiversity has driven me to become more aware of the difficulties that marine life and wildlife face, causing me to believe that these localities are worth investing in and are worth protecting. It was spectacular seeing certain species like green turtles in their natural environment, at which the diversity of their life in Costa Rica is something you must experience to appreciate. Alongside all other countries around the world, the development of Costa Rica goes hand in hand with environmental degradation and it was eye opening and inspiring to see the work that organisations such as GVI complete, in an effort to conserve the growth of the country, so that many currently endangered species living in the jungle are protected and left safe, instead of only having a shadow of their prior beauty and productivity remaining. - Hannah Barlow

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