Wildlife Volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica

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to Natuwa!

Wildlife Volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica is an experience that provides knowledge on the management of wild animals of the Neotropic. If you are looking to work with wild animals, in NATUWA, you can have the opportunity to learn about ethology and management of animal species such as jaguars (Panthera onca), sloths (Choloepus hoffmanni), macaws (Ara macao and Ara ambiguus), tapirs (Tapirus bairdii), anteaters (Tamandua mexicana) and more.

The custody of animals and the environment care that NATUWA develops requires people with a high standard of commitment and cooperation.

You can perform numerous and diverse functions to improve animals’ life, so you are not required to have specific knowledge about animals. But willing to understand how to manage wildlife appropriately in a Wildlife Sanctuary.

All activities will always carry out under the company and the guidance of the organization’s staff.

Learn how to manage wildlife while volunteering

The opportunity to volunteer in Costa Rica with wildlife, offered by NATUWA, does not promote the domestication of wild animals. Our primary goal is to raise awareness among people about NOT REMOVING organisms from the ecosystem to be used as pets. Besides, assist animals if they require it, without interfering with their natural behaviors and processes.

Therefore, if you intend to touch animals for fun, kiss them, hug them, or talk to them. So, we recommend you find another project. Otherwise, if you want to give your precious time and learn about these beautiful creatures helping the team to manage them, NATUWA is your project.

Wildlife Rescue Team

Wildlife volunteer learning about jaguars management

Wildlife Rescue Sanctuary

Wildlife volunteers who come to NATUWA join our team to help with a daily routine of caring for the animals. Volunteers actively participate in various tasks, including feeding monkeys, jaguars, tapirs, macaws, sloths, and many other species. Additionally, volunteers take part in the animal rehabilitation and rescue process.

They also carry out maintenance work in enclosures and conduct environmental enrichment activities to enhance the well-being of the animals permanently housed within the compartments.

All tasks are carried out under the guidance of veterinarians, biologists, the center director, and other professional NATUWA staff.

This volunteer opportunity provides valuable experience in managing wild animals while preventing accidents that could endanger both the animals and the caregivers, and contributes to our conservation efforts.

The tapir in NATUWA Costa Rica

Supporting Local Families

As a volunteer, your role goes beyond assisting the animals; you are making a meaningful difference in the lives of families responsible for caring for these creatures. 

By participating in the maintenance and restoration of nature, you are directly helping families who rely on employment at the NATUWA Wild Animal Sanctuary. This essential source of livelihood is the only one of its kind in the community of Aranjuez, focusing on restoring nature and preserving wildlife.

When you invest in our Volunteer Program, you are not only contributing to the well-being of the animals but also supporting the livelihoods of the workers’ families involved in this noble endeavor. 

We invite you to learn more about the symbiotic relationship between wildlife conservation and local human welfare during your time at the best wildlife animal sanctuary in Costa Rica, NATUWA. Your dedication and support make a significant difference, both for the wildlife and the people involved.

Volunteer with sloths in Costa Rica

Tow finger sloth rescued by NATUWA

Characteristics of sloths

One of the most emblematic creatures of the tropics in Costa Rica is the sloths. These charismatic animals with dense hair live in the forest, immersed in the vegetation, sometimes they are confused with mounds of termites or imitate the environment very well, which makes it very difficult to spot them.

Learn more about our sloths here!  

In Costa Rica, there are two species of sloths; a kind is of daytime habits, the three-fingered sloth (Bradypus tridactylus) while the other, the two-fingered sloth (Choloepus hoffmanny) prefers to be active during the quiet of the night.

The roads go through the natural habitat of the sloths; often, they are trying to understand this big asphalt mace in the middle of their house, their forest. Many are injured, others orphaned due to different reasons (dog attacks, road raids, destruction of its habitat), where the human being is always responsible.

Costa rica animal rescue center

Volunteers play a vital role in the rehabilitation of these beautiful creatures, dedicating countless hours of work, both day and night, to ensure that sloths can be returned to their natural habitat. At NATUWA, volunteers gain comprehensive knowledge about the management and care of these charismatic sloths.

Volunteer with sloths Costa Rica, NATUWA Sanctuary.
Speedy, the two-fingered sloth baby (Choloepus hoffmanni)
Baby sloth rescued by NATUWA Sanctuary
Orphanage sloths

Caring of the baby sloths

Caring for animals is a challenging task that requires dedication and responsibility. However, the challenge becomes even greater when taking care of baby sloths who are unable to feed themselves and entirely dependent on human assistance to survive.

Tragically, many baby animals are removed from their ecosystem, often because people see them as “adorable” pets. The illegal pet trade takes a toll on Costa Rica’s fauna, with parrots, monkeys, parakeets, and others being sold locally or taken out of the country.

Wildlife Volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica offer a unique chance to help these fragile creatures at rescue centers and sanctuaries, providing them with the care and support they need to thrive.

Baby Sloth rehabilitation by NATUWA Sanctuary Costa Rica
Papita, the orphan baby who survived the attack of dogs. His mother died.

Wildlife Rescue Sanctuary

For these baby sloths and other orphaned animals, animal refuge centers become their only chance at life, offering them safety from violent deaths and the opportunity to return to life in the trees once again.

At NATUWA, with the dedication of our Volunteers and Interns, we prevent these animals from suffering and provide them with the chance to return to their natural habitat through the NATUWA Wildlife Rescue Sanctuary. By supporting our efforts, you contribute to the conservation and well-being of these incredible creatures.

Volunteer typical day

This volunteer project is quite different from other Wildlife Santuaries around Costa Rica. We never have a shortage of work! And have over 500 animals that need daily care. If you are lack motivation or passion for animal care and conservation, this may not be the project for you (¡and that’s ok!). Our daily schedule can be intense, but the work here is delightful!

The sanctuary is continuously operating to improve the lives of the jaguars, tapirs, sloths, macaws, and many more of Costa Rica´s wild animals. Volunteers will participate in activities such as:

  • Animal feeding.
  • Cleaning enclosures.
  • Assisting animals in case of emergency.
  • Participate in efforts to rehabilitate and release animals.
  • Planting trees.
  • Assisting in giving tours of the sanctuary.
  • Maintenance of animal enclosures and property.
  • Constructing organic structures for the animals.
  • Participate in the environmental enrichment of all types of animals.
  • Agricultural production (for volunteers and animals).
  • Cleaning under animal feeding stations.
  • Providing water to animals.
  • Washing enclosure floors.
  • Sanctuary maintenance.
  • Feeding baby animals.
  • Providing fresh-cut grass to our herbivores.
  • And anything else that needs to be done!

Volunteer daily schedule.

6:00am-8:00am – Morning feeding of animals with supervision.
8:00am-8:15am – Breakfast!
8:15am-10:30am – Daily tasks (see list below)
10:45am-12:00md – Daily tasks (see list below)
12:00md-1:00pm – Lunch, WiFi, and nap time!
1:00pm-3:00pm -Afternoon feeding of animals with supervision.
After the afternoon feeding, volunteers are free to do whatever they would like for the rest of the day! Dinner is ready by 6:00pm.

Wildlife Volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica

Animal enclosure maintenance

Animal feeding

Volunteers feeding animals in NATUWA

Cleaning enclosures

Ecological restoration

Make tours

Recorrido guiado en NATUWA

Environmental enrichment for animals


Accommodation Types: Dorm Room

Currently, volunteer housing is in two separate buildings. One building is a typical Costa Rica country style house with one room, including bunk beds, three fans, storage space, and windows. Only for long-term volunteers (4 weeks or more). 

The second building is a modified shipping container with three rooms. Each room of the container includes two bunk beds, a fan, and storage space for personal items for four people maximum. It is advised for volunteers to bring their mosquito nets. Volunteers must keep their areas free of plastic litter and respect the property of others.

The location of the bathrooms and showers are in a separate building adjacent out of the rooms. No hot water is available for the showers.

There is an area to do the laundry by using a machine and for drying on clotheslines.

WiFi is currently available in volunteer housing.

Loundry service

There is a sink for washing clothes, however we offer laundry service at very low cost of 1 kilogram = $3.

NATUWA volunteer facilities

How to get to NATUWA from the airport?

Participants of the Natuwa Volunteer Program are required to be transferred from the Airport directly to NATUWA by the transportation we provide. NATUWA will not accept anyone coming by public bus or any other transportation service. The cost is $120 USD.

If you are already in Costa Rica, you can coordinate your admission to our volunteer program at this cell phone number +506 86444666.

Included Services

  • WiFi access (Only in the reception and the volunteer facilities).
  • Accommodation type: Dorm Room.
  • Three meals are provided for volunteers. Vegetarian options will be provided upon request.
  • Everyday training in wildlife management.
  • Information on travel within Costa Rica. And support in reservations and transfer.

Food & Drink

Food & Drink Details

The meals are typical dishes of Costa Rica. Almost every meal includes rice, beans, or salad. Juice or coffee is offered for every meal. It is very important that you inform us if you have any special diets or food allergies.

Example Breakfast Meals: (8:00am)
1. “Gallo pinto” with: egg, plantain, or sausage.
2. Cereal.
3. Fruits (watermelon, banana, and papaya).

Example Lunch Meals: (12:00md)
1. Rice and beans with a meat.
2. Rice and beans with spaghetti.
3. Meat and vegetable soup with rice.

Example Dinner Meals: (6:00pm to 7:20pm)
1. Rice and beans with a meat.
2. Hamburger.
3. Cold cut sandwich.

NATUWA´s Rules

It is essential that before making the decision to be part of our wildlife management program, you agree to follow the following rules.

  1. No smoking inside or outside of NATUWA´s property.
  2. In order not to tame the animals, do not talk to them.
  3. Do not feed the animals (outside feeding time).
  4. When taking pictures, the use of flash is prohibited.
  5. The use of any type of ilegal drug is prohibited.
  6. Alcoholic beverages are not allowed.
  7. Be respectful of the staff of the sanctuary (sexual harassment, racism, homophobia or xenophobia will not be tolerated).
  8. Do not allow strangers (outsiders) to enter the sanctuary.
  9. People working in shorts are not allowed.
  10. Follow the safety rules according to the activity (gloves, helmet, eyeglasses, boots, pants).
  11. Do not carry any electronic device during working time (Cell phones and camaras).
  12. Insect repellents containing DEET are strictly prohibited.

We greatly appreciate your collaboration. However, we emphasize reminding you that the Sanctuary’s main objective is to ensure animal welfare for all species of wildlife that we house (See the list of animals). Therefore, our rules promote the interest of the species in NATUWA and the people who care for them. For this reason, it is essential that you understand the rules before deciding to be part of our volunteer program in Costa Rica with wild animals.

We have a vital natural process to provide animals with the best care and welfare. We invite you to be part of the process. However, not respecting the rules is interfering with our objective. If you intend to touch or caress animals, our program cannot carry out this practice since it puts your health and the animals we shelter at risk.

It is essential to clarify that you will be part of a team of wildlife management specialists. Therefore, you will constantly interact with wild animals respectfully and ethically to create a benefit for the animal under the supervision of specialists.

What do you have to bring with you?


  • Rubber boots.
  • *Natural repellent (without DEET).
  • Sunscreen.
  • Mosquito net.
  • *Long pants (working pants).
  • Clothing that dries quickly.
  • Hat.
  • Afterbite.
  • Shower sandals.
  • Quick drying towel.
  • Beach items.
  • Many pairs of socks.
  • Reusable water bottle.
  • Topical medicine for allergies.
  • Allergy pills.

Optional items:

  • Thin bed sheets (one pair is provided).
  • Bandana.
  • Long sleeves.
  • Rain jacket.
  • Work gloves.
  • Books.

Donations (Amazon wish list)

There are a few items that would help the animals that are difficult to purchase in Costa Rica. These items are on the list of our Amazon wish-list. Items most accessible to carry in luggage are Harrison’s Organic Juvenile Bird Formula and the Meyenburg’s goat milk powder. Volunteers are encouraged to bring these items to help the animals!

Best season to be a Wildlife volunteer

Costa Rica has two seasons, the wet season and the dry season. The wet season is from May to November, which brings rain almost every day, but at the same time highlights the lush green landscape of Costa Rica. During these months, the weather is cooler, making it easier to work in.

The dry season is from November to May, during this time there is a lot of sunlight and a beutifull blue skye. The landscape is covered with fruits, such as mangos and beautiful flowers multicolor!. NATUWA is located in the dry forest where it is very hot, especially during the dry season.

Then, you decide on what season of the year you will do your wildlife volunteer work in Costa Rica.

Voluntariado en Costa Rica con animales silvestres

How to travel to NATUWA ?

Wildlife Volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica
Wildlife Volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica

Public busses run everyday (except Sunday) to and from the sanctuary for the volunteers. At 6:00 am the public bus arrives in front of the sanctuary to transport people to the town of Puntarenas where there is a bus station with busses to travel around Costa Rica. The bus leaves from Puntarenas to Aranjuez at 11:30 am, arriving to the sanctuary around 1:00 pm. The price of the public bus is about 1 mil colones (equal to about $2).

A taxi service can be requested to bring volunteers to the sanctuary. From Puntarenas to the sanctuary, volunteers can expect to pay about $50. From  the Juan Santamaria Airport to NATUWA the cost is $120.

Places to visit near NATUWA and Free-time activities

Every week, volunteers will receive a day off to be able to relax and explore surrounding areas. The staff of the sanctuary can help organize places to visit. Options include the beach, local river, Puntarenas, Monteverde (two days), Volcano Arenal and others.

A taxi service can be requested to bring volunteers to the sanctuary. From Puntarenas to the sanctuary, volunteers can expect to pay about $50 for a taxi, and about $120 from the airport (Alajuela) to NATUWA.


We need you!

Each wildlife volunteer has a huge impact on the lives of the animals. Because, with your help  We can guarantee quality of life to the animals through activities of environmental enrichment, proper feeding, surveillance and general care. Together, we can improve the lives of animals in captivity and focus our attention on our rehabilitation efforts.

NATUWA is a wildlife volunteering opportunity where you can help and learn about how to conserve amazing creatures and their importance to the ecosystem.

Why you should volunteer at NATUWA?

At NATUWA, we are all animal lovers. And we know for a fact that many wild animals require our help. But, without interfering with the interactions they have with their natural environment, their ecology. However, being an animal lover comes with a lot of responsibility and comminment. It is our responsibility to direct our love in a positive manner. Loving an animal does not mean hugging, touching, or showing “affection” to an animal, but rather having scientific knowledge of how to care for an animal in a way that will allow it to succeed in nature. 

Come to NATUWA and learn with us to be a real Wildlife Volunteer. In few words, to learn to coexist in harmony with the environment that surrounds us.

Volunteering at NATUWA is a wonderful and unique experience that is perfect for people of all ages and all backgrounds. Volunteers will be able to positively impact the animals of the sanctuary, learn and practice Spanish, meet new people from all over the world and experience a different culture.

Interested in the Wildlife Volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica?

Please fill out the contact form.

Your confidential information will be analyzed to accept you into our program. We will be in contact as soon as possible. ¡Many thanks!

Environmental enrichment for macaws.

Price of our wildlife volunteer program

Ask how to get a discount
$ 45 per night
  • Wifi
  • Three meals a day
  • Acommodation

This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. Turner Morrison

    I volunteered at Natuwa for 3 weeks and it was an amazing experience. The staff of Natuwa are great people and they all care so much about the animals. I would recommend this program to anyone who has a love for animals and nature and wants to see them where they belong, in the wild. The housing was basic but had everything I needed and the food was delicious. If you decide to volunteer during the rainy season I would highly recommend rain gear and rain boots. I promise that if you decide to volunteer at Natuwa you will not regret it!

  2. Kevin Sutton

    I was a volunteer at Santuario de Lapas (SdL) twice. The first time was with International Student Volunteers and the second was on my own. Both trips, SdL was welcoming, encouraged direct involvement in the care of the animals (feeding, cleaning, etc.), and made sure to educate me on the significant issues surrounding the animals, why the issues existed, and how I could continue to help, even after leaving SdL. The food is amazing, the sleeping quarters were great, and the site is pristine. In my opinion, there is no better place to spend a few weeks volunteering, learning about the environment, and becoming a part of the community.

  3. Marina

    I was at Natuwa in Oct./Nov. 2018 for three weeks and I really loved it. It was one of the best experience in my life. I was so happy that I chose this voluntary project. Everyone was so nice and the work with the animals was just great. I could also work with the babyslots and the babyanteater! Aww… but my favorite was to feed the monkeys (I love monkeys!😍) The chicos are so helpful and funny and they show you everything with a lot patience and answer all your questions. The are so passionate and have a big knowledge about the animals! I really enjoyed my stay there, the park is so nice, the people are so cool and the animals are just amazing! I highly recommend to go to natuwa for voluntary work!😊👍🏻

  4. Stéphanie Gagné Clermont

    I volunteered in Natuwa for 2 weeks between December 2018 and January 2019. It was a really great experience! I learn a lot about many things : why some animals can’t be released and others can,
    the different behaviors according to the species, how to take care of babies animals (I loooved working with them!), what a person should do and no do if she/he find an injured or orphan animal outside, how they build this place and his vocation, etc. It’s a really nice rescue center, I saw their love for wild animals (not pets). We can see that the place and the cages are build for animals and not for humans. It’s not a zoo, it’s a rescue center, and we learn how to act with wild animals as a volunteer (not talks to them or touch them (the way we usually act with pets)). The owner, Rodolfo, is a really nice person, he know a lot of things about nature and, of course, wild animals. He is careful and open minded to new ideas to improve the place. He is always available to answer questions. I recommend it!

  5. Sam Rosenblum

    magical is the word to describe this place. I wasn’t able to stay as long as I wanted to but I plan to go again in the future for a long time. Not only were the staff and other volunteers so welcoming, being able to contribute to the well being of these precious animals is a feeling like no other. A huge perk is meeting people from different parts of the world and learning about their different cultures.

  6. Adrianna P Disla

    I volunteered in Natuwa for my Spring Break ( one week ) and by far has been one of my best experiences that I have had in my life. Everyone is very friendly and the program in Natuwa is very good, Would definitely recommend to everyone. One thing that I learned was that it doesn’t matter where you come from or what your future goal is in life when it comes to the benefit of these animals everyone is welcomed. One week was very short for me and that is why I will return for more time in order to learn more about the animals and on how to help them.

  7. Johanna

    Natuwa was one of my best experiences on my trip. I was here for four weeks and would have liked to stay even longer. If you have time, then visit this place. Here you learn a lot about animals and nature not only in Costa Rica. The history of the animals is interesting and moving. Rodolfo and the staff are super friendly and try to teach you Spanish in a fun way if you don’t speak it;) They are all committed to the cause. The work with the animals and people is just great. Every week you get to know new people from different countries. And even if you don’t have enough time for volunteering, visit the center once. The money is for a good cause!

  8. Elisa

    I had been looking for a meaningful project – one that has its focus not on creating a nice experience for volunteers, but one that is first and foremost a worthy cause, i.e. a real help for animals. Considering the information I had, I felt that NATUWA was the place to go.
    And I am so glad to say that I am absolutely happy to have supported NATUWA!! I tried to get to know the sanctuary as well as I could in the one week that I had become part of it. What I found was actually much more than simply a good sanctuary. My main reasons:
    1. The animal welfare indeed takes priority and the animals are cared for very well. This ranges from the sanctuary rules over hygiene to the diet they receive. For example the parrots are fed with a plethora of fresh fruits, nuts and more everyday – looks so delicious 😀
    You will realize that many, many animals that landed here after their confiscation can not return into the wild, because they are not native to Costa Rica and/or are too used to humans. That is very sad, but NATUWA gives those poor creatures (that had to suffer because of human activity) a new chance and a caring home – probably the best home they could wish for in their circumstances.
    2. NATUWA does not only care for the animals, but supports the local community as well – which is so important. With the help of the volunteers for example more jobs can be offered.
    3. NATUWA also attaches great importance to education. This is wonderful, as in my eyes education is one of the most important steps on the way towards a sustainable future.
    4. You get the chance of meeting and supporting very good people. You really feel their devotion to the animals and the project. The atmosphere of the team is very positive. Everyone is open- and kind-hearted. Also, I have the feeling that you always get help whenever you need it. The passion behind NATUWA is so inspiring!

    Muchas gracias for letting me experience this! I really hope that in the future NATUWA will be able to expand its positive impact on the lives of animals and persons – with the help of many good people, their visits, efforts for example as volunteers,…!!

  9. Bine

    I`ve been volunteering in NATUWA for four weeks and it has been a wonderfull experience. I learned a lot about the right treatment of wild animals and got to know a lot of friendly and open-minded people. The employeed Ticos are very helpful and diverting so that the work makes a lot of fun. In felt like my help was appreciated, learned some spanish and enjoyed the time with the animals. I definitly will go back to NATUWA.

  10. Brandon

    I just finished up a month-long volunteering stint at Natuwa from mid June through mid July! There were a bunch of things that I was concerned about before arriving like would there be enough food, would the living arrangements be too basic, would the mosquitoes be overwhelming, would the climate be too hot ext. Once I arrived and got comfortable (after about a week) all of my original concerns disappeared. There was always more than enough food, the living arrangements were interesting but more than adequate, and the mosquitoes and climate were totally bearable – as long as you came prepared with proper repellant/clothing. Highly recommend natural repellents with 30% lemon eucalyptus concentration. On days where I was consistent with re-applying every few hours, I was able to avoid being bitten entirely!
    The work, as advertised, is not for the faint of heart but is not overly strenuous and is overall quite rewarding. Make sure you keep in mind that you are there to do a job, and that you signed up to work not to have a holiday in a wildlife refuge. There will be days where you will be able to take group trips to the beach in the afternoon, or plan more extravagant all day excursions. These just have to be organized with Rodolfo whom is extremely accommodating, and understanding when it comes to giving his volunteers a reward when they have been consistently putting in solid work.
    The key I would say, as with anything is to manage your expectations. What you have signed up for is an experience in a wildlife refuge in the Costa Rican jungle. It is a place that is meant to be challenging, and one should prepare to be challenged upon starting their adventure there. If you are not going to be able to handle a 6- hour work day where you get various breaks all throughout (breakfast, fresco, lunch), and you have to take extra breaks to smoke cigarettes throughout-then don’t bother showing up, because you only shift the burden onto your fellow volunteers whom would be fully able to shoulder the work without you anyways! Besides the fact that this creates a health risk, minor as it may be, for the animals whom we are supposed to be helping-not hurting.
    The animals are beautiful, the workers are amazing, helpful, and fun to be around, Rodolfo is extremely caring and does the best that he can for the volunteers and animals every single day, and Minor makes one hell of a piña colata!
    Would recommend staying at least a week and a half as the first week is largely spent getting your bearings, learning names, navigating the park, learning the jobs ext.
    I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to work at Natuwa and meet so many wonderful and interesting people! I wish the best to all the people and animals still there, and to all those yet to come!
    Con corazon y amor yo digo muchas gracias y buenas suerte a todo quien anda los senderos de el Santuario de las Lapas por ahora y siempre!

  11. Daniela Trujillo Suárez

    Ser parte del grupo de voluntarios en NATUWA ha sido una experiencia que cambió nuestra visión sobre lo que un santuario significa. Es un gran grupo de personas trabajando por un objetivo compartido, esperamos regresar pronto.

    Daniela y Daniel.

  12. Allison Sloane

    Hi, I am by now “ bugging” you, just wanted to let you know that we will be staying in town so u don’t have to worry about accommodations for us, we want to help, but not take up space!!!

  13. Paloma Spina

    NATUWA is the perfect place to volunteer if you like animals, nature, and meeting new people. The work isn’t always easy – you will have to wake up early to feed the animals and might even get dirty cleaning the enclosures, but overall it is extremely rewarding. Based on my experience with other similar projects in Latin America, I was actually very impressed with how hands-on volunteers are able to get at the sanctuary. You actually feel like you are making a difference and contributing directly to the animals’ well-being everyday. I definitely learned more at NATUWA than I had expected and would 100% recommend to anyone thinking about going! If you can, stay for at least two weeks. I came to NATUWA on my vacation from work, which was only two weeks, but I would have definitely preferred to stay longer. Keep in mind that it takes about a week to learn the ropes and become comfortable with the work and schedule.

  14. Alexandre 'El Gallo' Baert

    What an experience … I have been volunteering in Natuwa for 2 months between December 2019 and February 2020 and it has been one of the best experience of my life.

    First of all, the accomodation: Basic but i never felt uncomfortable, there are a maximum of 4 volunteers per room and space to put your stuff on a shelf and there is one electrical outlet per person to recharge your phone or other stuff.

    Food: You will be able to enjoy the world famous Gallo Pinto (rice and beans) multiple times ! Don’t worry, you will get use to it at some point ! One day per week we had hamburgers or hot-dogs. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you only have to say it to the kitchen ladies and you will get another dish according to your diet.

    The sanctuary: As I was saying, it feels so good to be in the middle of nowhere. You will live in a city named Aranjuez (north of Puntarenas). You will live in the sanctuary with all these beautiful animals around you. The sanctuary itself is really beautiful because of the work from the staff and volunteers everyday that are taking care of it. There are animals everywhere, some of them have been released but are still flying around, others are waiting their time in correctly sized enclosures. I will let you discover by yourself the story of the sanctuary and then realise how big it has become now.

    Free time: There is a minimarket at 1km, we used to go there a lot to buy some cakes, drink some beers, discussing, play with the children on the football field in front of it. There are severals rivers around the city where you can walk (10-30mn walking) and bathe inside. It happened really often that the staff organized some trips to the beach or other places by calling a minibus (cost around 6-8$ for the roundtrip depending where you go obviously). You are free to join or stay at the sanctuary.

    Bus: There is a bus that leads you to the city of Puntarenas where you can grab other buses to get everywhere around (Liberia, Monteverde, San Jose, Quepos, Jaco, etc.) The schedule of these buses is available at the entrance of Natuwa.

    Work: You will work 6 days a week, it starts with the feeding of the animals. After breakfast you will be assigned to a task (it changes everyday). Per examples: watch the Tamandua and Sloths during their outside time; pick up leaves on the paths; enclosure maintenance; cleaning cages; turning on the daily showers in the enclosures; water the vertical garden; cleaning the Tapir pool; cleaning the window in the Jaguars and Ocelote enclosures; etc.
    One day per week you will be working in the shop of Natuwa for a full day, you will have to clean the benchs, check if there is a potential tree branch falling on the path, cleaning the entrance of the sanctuary, water the plants in front of the shop and doing tours to visitors (can be simple visitors, touristic groups or schools).

    Before coming to Natuwa I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy my time there, if the work wouldn’t be to hard… Then after two months i miss every single second of my time in the sanctuary. I met such great people there, the staff which is a real family, the other volunteers that you will share your time with. All of them have been fantastic and my time there has really been fabulous. The staff teaches you so much about all these animals. It has been a real pleasure to feed the animals everyday and helping the staff making their lives better. If you are hesitating to come in Natuwa as I was before… I would say just do it, you won’t regret it for sure. This place is so peaceful and some good memories are waiting for you !

    To finish I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart all the staff that are like a family to me now: Rodolfo, Meinor, Beto (mi pollooo), Carlooos, Marta, Mario, Dario, Helen, Coyol, Gina, Margarita.

    Gracias por todo

    Alex ‘El Gallo’ Baert

  15. Carly

    With my university, I traveled to Costa Rica. We volunteered at Natuwa for 3 days. Many of us were impacted by their values. Our view for conservation and care of wildlife grew even further. It grew our passion also. We all learned so much and enjoyed the experience at Natuwa. The staff was very welcoming and helped us with all our task for the animals. The only thing I wish out of the experience is to be there for a longer time. Part of my heart is still there, and I hope to return in the near future.

  16. Hogan Wells

    I may have only volunteered at Natuwa for 3 days but it left a lifelong impact. I’ve always been conservation minded but never this extreme, everything they do is either for conservation or their animals that they are taking care of. Nothing goes to waste and everything is given back to the environment. The work experience was amazing and it taught me so much about how animals should be treated. Everyone should be able to experience this type of dedication to animals. Rodolfo and the volunteers at Natuwa have the biggest hearts and are truly great people. I would recommend this trip to everyone and I would love to make it back down someday.

  17. Kinsey Guthrie

    I just got back from a spring break trip with a group of 24 students and faculty. Natuwa was the best part of the trip hands down. Students flourished and gained experience with the keeping staff. We learned about the culture and made new life long friends there. We were treated like family. We can’t wait to go back! We are already discussing when the next trip should be. Thank you all for the great experience. I can’t wait to be back!

  18. santuario


  19. Victoria

    I just did 2 weeks of volunteer experience in Natuwa, it was my first volunteer experience and I regret to not doing this before. All the team is so lovely, you work near to wonderful animals, for the animals. You feed them, you try to make their life better digging swimming pool for tapirs, painting the enclosures.. And also improve your Spanish and English with the team and other volunteers. But beyond that you just learn to give, to share and you receive so much in return. Thank you once again! ❤️.

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