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Endangered Wildlife Trust is a British nonprofit that owns the Pacuare Nature Reserve, 10.5 square kilometers (2,600 acres) of tropical rainforest on Costa Rica’s northern coast, near Tortuguero.
[pullquote align=right]March-June is the leatherback turtle season, and July-September is the green turtle season.[/pullquote]The reserve’s 6 kilometers (nearly 4 mi) of beach is said to be the most important nesting site in the country for the giant leatherback turtles, and hawksbill and green turtles occasionally make their nests there as well. In addition, there are some 30 species of mammals, 230 species of birds, and countless reptiles and insects that call the reserve home.
In February, volunteer activities are related to the preparation for the nesting season: doing repairs on the facilities, such as painting, beach cleanup, and so on. At the height of the season, March-September, the beach is patrolled at night in three- to five-hour shifts. On the patrols, volunteers will have the chance to help biologists monitor the nesting turtles, recording nest location, dimensions, and other data. During the day, volunteers can help out with composting and the vegetable garden, or help with environmental education, either by accompanying a biologist on a local school visit or by working with children who come to the reserve to learn about the turtles and the forest. March-June is the leatherback turtle season, and July-September is the green turtle season.
In their free time, volunteers can walk or bicycle in the reserve, take a guided night hike, look for monkeys near the lagoon, take a boat ride along the canal to look for caimans and crocodiles, or just hang out in a hammock.
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Endangered Wildlife Trust
Pacuare Nature Reserve, Costa Rica
Application Process: To apply, send an email, and you’ll be sent an application form. There is no minimum age to volunteer (as long as minors are accompanied by an adult); families are very welcome.
Cost: US$25 per day, including housing, if staying in the volunteer cabins. There is also a US$20 charge for boat transportation from the canal to the reserve. US$85-95 per person, per night, if staying at the Casa Grande, and boat transportation is included.
Placement Length: Minimum of two nights if staying at the Casa Grande; otherwise minimum of one week.
Language Requirements: None.
Housing: Volunteers normally stay in simple cabins, 2-3 to a room, and bathrooms/showers have cold water and are outside of the cabins. There is also a more private, three-bedroom house called the Casa Grande, which has solar-heated hot water for the shower; it can be rented by room or in its entirety for a two-night minimum. There is no electricity on the reserve. Three meals per day are included with both accommodations.
Operating Since: 1989
Number of Volunteers: Around 60 in 2012
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Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Volunteer Vacations in Latin America.