Advice on helping at animal refuge or reserve for someone a little older!

DWQA QuestionsCategory: General Travel QuestionsAdvice on helping at animal refuge or reserve for someone a little older!
pippa asked 6 years ago

Hello you two ( plus one!)
I am writing to you from lovely New Zealand.
First I would like to say thank you SO much for creating this marvellous website.
It is really attractive and FILLED with so much inspiring and inspired advice..Just Great!
I have a few serious question for you both ( I have been building up to writing to you for many months so I apologise that there are several questions).
I visited Costa Rica when I was 30 years old and it made a huge impression on me.At that time I travelled to Monteverde, and also On the coast where I volunteered with the turtle nesting preservation…..which was amazing.
I have always wanted to go back…but the years have past..and now I am 56 (heavens again).
I harbour a particular desire to volunteer at ( or at least visit) animal refuges and spend a lot more time in and near the forest with it’s wealth of life.
I am coming to the USA at the start of October and thought THIS is the time to head down the line to Costa Rica from approx mid October through late November, early December
SO the questions are :
1) Am I mad to be considering travelling at that period of the year ?
The more research I do the more I get the impression that the parks shut down due to heavy rain, and/ or impassable roads getting to them.
What are you considered views of the issue of trying to “help” and be there at that time.
I noted that the OSA peninsular was largely shut completely down then…but that does leave other parks, and places at a higher altitude.
Would this be an especially bad time to travel mosquito wise( I attract Mosquitos like a magnet!)
2)The locations I was planning to approach were:
the Nosara animal refuge,Cloudbridge reserve,Corcovado National Park.
Would you have any knowledge of how volunteers have got on with any of these organisations…are there any favourites where the volunteers loved their experience?
Due to my age now I probably would find super heavy path construction too challenging..but lean more towards ” softer” stuff like animal care, general support .
Some require many months of commitment which can be challenging given the logistics.
Would you has advice on which organisation is most open and supportive ( perhaps offering a pick up or something of that nature) to there volunteers?
Would you have the names of any others I have not considered who are good to work at apart the ones I have mentioned?
3) I am unable to find out how to obtain a visa for those with a NZ passport ( would you have any links for this?
4) Finally and not least..do you think it I is incredibly had to get to the refuges if there is no pick up.
I have been doing Rome2Rio search and the logistics look so tricky.
I don’t have the flight in yet but I imagine all flights from the States land in San Jose.
During the period I was there travellers were very much advised not to take internal flights as there was a very bad record with air accident with the local carriers…so it seams that the road …bus or other…is the way( I won’t be renting a car)
So any suggestions on that front would be great!
Warmest regards from he South Pacific and I look forward to any advice you..or any others would have
Pippa

1 Answers
Jenn and Matt Staff answered 6 years ago

Hi Pippa, 
Thanks for your comments about our website, glad that you have found it useful! Also that is awesome that you’re looking to come back to Costa Rica after all that time, I bet you will be surprised about how things have changed. For your questions: 

  1. The weather in mid-October will be best on the Caribbean coast/Caribbean Lowlands, so you could consider going there first. November and early December will have rain on the Pacific but not as bad as in October. Mosquitoes can be bad everywhere, depending on conditions, so we’d recommend coming overly prepared and reducing your chances of getting bit. If you haven’t seen it, you should read our Mosquitoes post for some tips. 
  2. We don’t have much specific information on the volunteer groups that you are looking at but hopefully they have information on their websites. We will say that on our last visit to Cloudbridge, most of the volunteers were doing more of the heavy lifting type stuff but you never know what other things are available. A couple other ideas to add to your list are the Tree of Life Wildlife Rescue Center in Cahuita and the Sea Turtle Conservancy in Tortuguero ( both on the Carribean Coast). And also Projecto Asis near La Fortuna/Arenal Volcano. We are also big fans of the Ara Project, which has locations on both coasts, one sort of near Nosara and the other in the southern Caribbean.
  3. We’re not exactly sure about how it works if you are from New Zealand but most people coming into the country are given a 90 day tourist visa. If you plan to stay longer you will have to check out and back in at one of the borders to renew it. 
  4. Usually the volunteer opportunities won’t offer pickup but will give some good directions for taking the bus. Also, small planes are used more widely now and the two major carriers (Sansa and Nature Air) haven’t had any incidents that we know of anytime recently. There are also a whole bunch of private and shared shuttle van services that might be able to get you there. 

Hope this helps answer your questions and hope you have a great experience revisiting Costa Rica! 

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