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Volunteering in Costa Rica: My experiences
Costa Rica is fast becoming one of the world's top volunteer destinations. Its biodiversity and beautiful landscape are just some of the many reasons that Costa Rica is such a popular destination. Many people are unaware of the fact that a volunteer experience in Costa Rica doesn’t have to be very expensive. I recently returned from a three month stint where I volunteered in three different locations and paid less than 200$ in fees.
Volunteering in a Hostel in Costa Rica
My first experience was in the beach town of Uvita about 30 minutes from the surf town Dominical. Here, I volunteered in a hostel helping the owner with various chores. I received free accommodation and breakfast in exchange for about 5 hours work per day. I found this opportunity through the website workaway.info which I paid 20euros for a 2 year membership. Uvita is a very small town located about 30 minutes walk from the beach. Both of the beaches nearby Playa Ballena and Playa Uvita are national parks, this means you have to pay to enter, however they are very beautiful and well worth a visit. During my time in Uvita I had many wonderful experiences, including whale watching, surf lessons, and jumping off the local waterfall. One complaint I would make about Uvita is the fact that it’s more expensive than the rest of Costa Rica, a fact that no one could explain.
Volunteering in Costa Rica
Low Cost Volunteer Opportunities
After spending two weeks in Uvita I moved on to volunteer in the mountain village of San Gerardo de Rivas. This little village on the foot of Mount Chirripo is home to about 250 people. I volunteered with a community project known as Proyecto San Gerardo. I found this volunteer opportunity through Idealist. I spent just over two months working as an English and Computers teacher there. The project coordinator in the village organised a home stay which worked out at about 50$ per month for food and accommodation. If you are looking to volunteer for a long period of time and don’t want to spend a lot of money I would certainly recommend a home stay. Although it may be a bit more intense the added benefits include local food and the opportunity to learn Spanish. My home stay was a great experience; I was accepted into the community as if I was one of their own and got to experience the true meaning of the term “Pura Vida” or “pure life”.
Volunteering on an Organic farm
My third and final volunteer experience in Costa Rica was on an Organic farm near the town of San Isisdro de General. When I was planning the trip I wanted to use woooff to find a long term placement on an organic farm. I sent many emails to different farms in Costa Rica and found the majority wanted payment for working in their farm. Some farms asked for as much as 15$ a day. Luckily we got in contact with Noe in Tropical Dojo, which is an organic farm that also has a guest house. I stayed there for a week and helped Noe out with some light chores, I paid 10$ a day for food and accomdation. The tropical dojo was a lot of fun; I did yoga and meditation with Noe every morning and helped a little with the animals in the afternoon. At night we usually watched a DVD and just relaxed. Overall I found the 70$ I paid for the week good value for money and would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn a little about Organic farming or Yoga.
I certainly would recommend Costa Rica as a volunteer destination and would advise against spending large amounts of money on volunteer placement unless it involves some serious education as well.I found most of the above links through a website about alternative travel options for graduates and I have linked to all of the resources in the article above. I hope they are of use to you!
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