Kekoldi, Costa Rica

Volunteer in Kekoldi

Join a team of international participants in the ancient jungles of Costa Rica.

GVI’s research station can be found in the Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve, which stretches from the foothills of the Talamancan mountain range towards the coast of the Caribbean. The reserve is home to some of the richest jungle habitats in the world. You’ll spend your time surrounded by breathtaking scenery and some truly remarkable wildlife, including such species as ocelots, howler monkeys, toucans, sloths and coati.

Critical science

Critical science

You'll contribute to vital conservation research targeted at protecting the earth's most valuable ecosystems.
Ethical engagement

Ethical engagement

Using the UN's SDGs as a framework, we've made a commitment to positive, constructive and sustainable impact.
Beautiful adventures

Beautiful adventures

You'll spend your days exploring some of the world's most breathtaking, exhilarating and remote wildernesses.

Kekoldi volunteer projects

Program types

Working closely with our partners on the ground in Costa Rica – Kekoldi Hawkwatch and Turtle Rescue Cahuita – your hands-on efforts will contribute to the long-term sustainable conservation of the essential biodiversity of this stunning habitat. This includes hiking the jungle trails, conducting biodiversity surveys, checking camera traps for footage of wild cats, helping monitor sea turtle nests, and exploring the lowland rainforest noting important bird species.

During your time in Kekoldi, you’ll have the chance to encounter some of the most impressive animals, including vibrant and charismatic birds and a whole host of other fascinating mammals like monkeys and sloths. Kekoldi is home to hundreds of species of amphibians and reptiles, making every forest walk an exciting experience. 

We offer a wide range of volunteer and internship opportunities in Costa Rica, including:

  • Volunteer programs: Get up close with amazing wildlife and marine species, from safeguarding sea turtles to studying wild cat presence.
  • Internships: Boost your career prospects by working alongside experts in various conservation fields and gaining practical experience.
  • Professional apprenticeship: Begin your career with a 3-month placement, actively contributing to real-world conservation efforts.
  • Research fellowship: Access exclusive environmental and species data, conduct groundbreaking research, and share your discoveries through publications, enhancing your academic profile.

Kekoldi’s rainforest residents

Picture this: an 8500-acre expanse of Caribbean lowlands rainforest, brimming with thousands of incredible species, including some of Costa Rica’s most iconic wildlife. Kekoldi also ranks among the world’s top three must-visit spots for monitoring migratory birds. 

Kekoldi is home to a variety of species, including:

  • Migratory birds like turkey vultures, peregrine falcons and broadwing hawks.
  • Forest birds like the great curassow, the keel-billed toucan and the chestnut-backed antbird.
  • Jungle cats like pumas, ocelots, jaguarundis and margays.
  • Mammals like the mantled howler monkey, white-throated capuchin, white-nosed coati and the Mexican hairy porcupine.
  • Amphibians like Fitzinger’s rain frog, the green climbing toad and the Scarlet-webbed tree frog.
  • Reptiles like the Central American whiptail, the helmeted iguana and the annulated tree boa.

What species will I work with? 

When you join one of our volunteer or internship programs in Kekoldi, you’ll work on projects with a focus on the following species:

Where adventure meets conservation

When you volunteer in Costa Rica with GVI, you’ll live and work within the Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve. The reserve is home to a staggering variety of species found in the foothills of the Talamancan mountains, offering a unique experience that’s all about nature and culture.

Surrounded by popular tourist hubs, Kekoldi remains a unique haven. The nearby towns have rapidly developed to cater to the growing tourist demand. Despite being an indigenous territory, there’s concern that future legislation might open doors for investors to build resorts, impacting the region’s pristine nature. Our goal is to work towards safeguarding this remarkable territory. Through a solid biodiversity monitoring plan and other projects, we’re working towards showcasing how healthy this jungle is. This isn’t just about saving the jungle; it’s about having proof to keep this place safe if tourism grows. We also provide support to pre-existing projects like the Migratory Raptors Project and the Bushmaster Ecology Project, essential for the ecosystem’s well-being.

Top experiences at Kekoldi

  • Living right in the Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve, you get a real taste of the place. The jungle’s all yours to explore when you join our programs.
  • Watch the awe-inspiring migration of birds, ranking Kekoldi as the second-best spot in the Americas to witness this mesmerising natural event.
  • The nearby Caribbean coast is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and rich culture. Easily accessible during free time, it’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in local vibes.
  • Hike up to the Canopy Tower in the Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve. Catch stunning Caribbean sunrises and soak in the beauty of the night sky.

Join us in Kekoldi, and be part of a community that’s all about balancing nature, culture and adventure. 

Is there a minimum or maximum duration for volunteering?

We offer flexible durations for volunteering and internships. You can choose to join us for a minimum of two weeks or extend your stay up to several months, allowing you to tailor your volunteer experience to align with your schedule and goals.

What qualifications or skills are necessary to join a program?

We welcome individuals from all backgrounds and skill levels to join our program. No specific qualifications are required, but a positive attitude, willingness to learn and a collaborative spirit are highly valued.

Are there any safety concerns or health precautions I should be aware of?

Safety is our top priority at GVI. We provide thorough pre-departure guidance, on-site safety briefings, and 24/7 support. Kekoldi is a safe community, and we take necessary precautions to ensure your well-being. We recommend following our guidelines, including vaccinations and health recommendations, to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

What kind of support and guidance will be provided during my time in Kekoldi?

GVI offers extensive support and guidance throughout your journey. Our experienced and passionate staff will provide pre-departure information, in-country orientation and ongoing mentorship. You’ll receive assistance with project tasks, cultural adaptation, and any other needs to ensure a meaningful and impactful experience.

What opportunities are there for cultural immersion and exploration during my free time?

During your free time, you’ll have the chance to immerse yourself in Costa Rican culture. Explore nearby towns, participate in traditional activities and engage with local communities. Our team on the ground can also recommend nearby attractions and activities to enhance your experience.

Adventure is calling. Chase that feeling!

Save up to 15% when you book and pay by 31 July
Included in your program, at no extra cost

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

Offered once a month, expand your adventure with GVI Experiences. These are just some of the activities offered on your program!
Cook traditional cuisine with local experts.
Go on a waterfall hike.
Take part in moth or butterfly trapping.
Witness the natural spectacle of daybreak.
Watch a Costa Rican sunset from the rainforest.
Stargaze from a jungle tower.
Develop your wildlife photography skills.
Yoga in the rainforest.