Gain experience in the rainforests of Costa Rica for a conservation-based career, working and living alongside our research team.
You will learn a range of skills on the internship from those focused on research such as data processing, biological surveys, camera trapping, species identification, to practical skills such as first aid, canoeing and more.
On successful completion of your initial training phase, you will proceed to your work placement site and will work with either our team to help run and manage our conservation projects, or you will have the opportunity to work with one of our partner rainforest lodges doing wildlife and habitat conservation. Either way you will be working alongside a professional conservation team, learning from them all along the way.
After a successful internship, qualifying candidates may be given the opportunity to work for GVI or selected partner organisations in Costa Rica, or in other countries around the world where GVI operate. Field work positions can be paid or unpaid, range in duration from one month to one year, and availability varies. Qualification for possible GVI positions is at the sole discretion of Global Vision International.
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.
The internship’s first phase concentrates on training alongside GVI team members as part of our Expedition.
After successful completion of the first phase of the internship program, you will travel to nearby Nicaragua to explore a bit of Central America and attend 2 weeks of Spanish training while staying with a local family in their home.
The second phase of the internship is the work placement. Successful interns will be placed either within the GVI staff team to help run our conservation research program in Tortuguero National Park, or with GVI’s conservation partners in other regions of Costa Rica, where interns will represent GVI, assisting in local conservation efforts and/or scientific research.
By the end of the internship program participants will have the skills to monitor a wide range of mini-ecosystems in a very diverse location. Developing and applying a holistic approach to conservation, you will receive a range of certifications alongside valuable field based experience.
The program, once the rigorous training (including an obligatory first aid qualification) phase is complete; rotates amongst a series of focus projects:
Monitoring and Conservation of Sea Turtles (running March to October): Recording important conservation data on nesting for a range of marine turtle species including hawksbill, green, and leatherback.
Marine Turtle Predation by Jaguars: investigating the impact of Jaguar populations on sea turtle populations.
Jaguar, Mammal and Prey Species Abundance Study: we set up camera traps, and conduct transects that record tracks and signs in the National Park forest.
Resident and Migratory Bird Research: We monitor 30 key aquatic bird species to collect long-term seasonal trend data on resident and migratory birds on canoe based surveys.
Biological Assessment Survey (BAS): The aim of the BAS study is to identify all species of Amphibia, Aves, Mammalia and Reptilia across trails encompassing the four major habitat types around Jalova biological station, to provide important data necessary to understand and preserve local ecology and find a balance between human needs and those of all other species inhabiting Tortuguero National Park.
How this project makes a difference:
The volunteering carried out by GVI Costa Rica has provided a huge amount of critical data to the Costa Rican government to help them to make important conservation decisions and ensure the survival of the biodiversity of this unique area of the rainforest.
For example, much of our volunteering effort has been used to achieve massive reductions in sea turtle nest poaching.
"I am so pleased that I made a 6 month commitment to living and working in such a unique place. The wealth of biodiversity I wanted to experience has exceeded all my expectations. I have met wonderful people here who have further enriched my experience. I still have a month and a half before my internship is over and I know I’ll be very sorry to go. The GVI Jalova 6-month internship was a great choice for me and I would recommend it highly."
"One of the greatest places to be with some of the greatest people to meet! Living here will definitely give you a new perspective on life; from the work you do and the way you live to the beautiful surroundings and people from around the world it would be impossible not to have the experience of a lifetime. "
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
- Leading biological surveys course
- Teamwork and leadership experience
- Transfer to rainforest location
- GPS training
- Camera trap training
- Track identification training
- Wildlife identification skills
- Tropical forest ecology training
- Sea turtle tagging training (season and placement dependent)
- First Aid & CPR training
- Weekly evaluation with your mentor
- Final evaluation
- Certification and summary of training and experience received
- Confidential professional reference
- Work placement (if successful on training period)
What's Not Included
- Medical and travel insurance
- Visa costs
- Personal kit
- Additional drinks and gratuities
- Extra local excursions
- International and domestic airport taxes
- Internal transport to work placement location