Location: San Isidro del General, Costa Rica
Duration: Minimum 4 weeks commitment
Start Dates: This project is ongoing and you can join whenever suits you best, depending upon availability.
Cost: $760 USD for the first 4 weeks + $17 for each additional day
- Gain hands-on conservation experience
- Gain exposure to a range of scientific survey techniques and topics
- Help to protect a rich biodiverse environment
- Work alongside a passionate and highly-skilled team
- Keywords: Costa Rica placement, Research assistant, Costa Rica research, environmental research, environmental conservation, Costa Rica research assistant
Gain excellent hands-on research experience in a Costa Rican mountain cloud forest nature reserve. This project is dedicated to teaching visitors more about the local wildlife and environment, aiding in conservation efforts, and researching reforestation and the cloud forest environment. Education and research plays a huge role in the reserve, which is where your assistantship proves invaluable.
Students, graduates and professionals with a background in biology, forestry, or environmental sciences are all welcome to apply. You will gain valuable conservation research experience while immersing yourself in the natural landscape of the majestic Talamanca mountains. There are over 400 species of vertebrates living within the reserve, 15 of which are listed on the IUCN red list of threatened species.
You will be trained how to conduct research and assist research interns and researchers with their work, which can be used for conservation purposes, along with the general protection of rainforests and the reserve. Working alongside a passionate and educated team, you are required to commit to the placement for at least 4 weeks.
Research assistants assist the interns and researchers at the reserve with their work, which includes research into cloud forest ecosystems, reforestation, and/or the flora and fauna of the area, with the results being used to make management decisions and/or published within scientific journals. They study a wide variety of topics including biology, forestry, ecology, geology, climatology, and sociology. The reserve’s location is largely understudied, giving the opportunity for researchers to make new, exciting discoveries along the way.
This placement best suits those who have minimal practical or academic experience in research, but who want to gain experience or get exposed to a wide variety of survey techniques and topics; or those with previous research experience who cannot commit to the 10 week minimum required for a full research internship.
Some examples of projects research assistants have worked on include: camera trapping, bird surveys, reforestation success assessments, butterfly diversity, and animal and plant inventories. Research assistants are also sometimes put in charge of some of our smaller studies, like our monthly owl and bat surveys.
You will typically be working 30-40 hours per week from Monday through to Friday, which equates to around 6-8 hours per day. However, hours can vary depending upon the type of project you are working on. Depending on the need of the current research interns and researchers, you will be assigned to assist them with their work. Work assignments are rotated so that you will have the opportunity to work on most, if not all, of the different research being conducted at the reserve. The tasks you carry out on a daily basis will vary, but will typically include conducting field work, maintaining in-depth field notes, and inputting data results into computer records. Most of the year, it is sunny in the mornings and rains in the afternoons. As such, work starts at 7 am so that you can get back from the field before it starts to rain.
For leisure activities, the reserve and surrounding area has extensive trails to hike on (including a hike up the tallest mountain in Costa Rica), clear mountain rivers to swim in, frisbees and footballs to throw or kick around, board and card games, and a projector for movie nights. The reserve is also within walking distance of several restaurants, a fish farm where you can catch your dinner, a football pitch to play games on, and a thermal springs. A short car/bus ride down the mountain, there is a community which has cheese, chocolate, bread, and gelato makers; a bar with artisanal and local beer; and a butterfly garden. On the weekends, many assistants will take trips down the mountain to visit one of the many beach destinations available to swim and soak up the sun.
Travel & Accommodation
You will be given easy to follow instructions on how to reach the project from the airport.
Assistants stay on-site in one of our 6 dormitories, which hold between 4-8 people on bunk-beds. Rooms are rarely filled to capacity and volunteers usually share a room with 1-3 other people, although it is dependent upon current occupancy. Private rooms may be available in the dormitories or one of our cabins for an additional fee (subject to availability). Bedding and towels are provided.
You will need to buy and prepare your own food, which is often done with other volunteers and interns. You can eat a basic, mostly vegetarian diet for around $5-7 USD per day. Weekly trips to the local village for grocery shopping are provided. For more exotic or specialty food items (ex. vegan, gluten-free), supermarkets with a selection of local and imported food are available in a town located an easy bus trip down the mountain.
Kitchen and bathroom facilities are shared, and located in the common building. The kitchen is equipped with a gas stove and oven, table top burners, two refrigerators, microwave, and a variety of pots and pans and cooking utensils. There are four bathrooms with flush toilets, three of which have hot showers. The common building also serves as a common area and is equipped with tables, chairs, couches, a book exchange, a research library, and Wi-Fi. Outside, there are several hammocks to relax in.
- Minimum age 20.
- Minimum 10 weeks commitment.
- Practical or academic experience in flora and fauna
- Physically capable of walking up and down steep hills and steps
- Practical or academic experience in your desired area of study
- Self-motivated with the ability to meet realistic deadlines
- Have good time keeping skills
- Comfortable living within a close-knit community
- Necessary vaccinations
- Necessary flight & visas.
- Full travel & medical insurance – full assistance provided in arranging everything you will need if you choose our Premium Support
$17 USD per day + $250 one-off admin fee
(= Total of $1,440 for the first 10 weeks)
* Check the latest currency conversions with xe.com
** All payments incur a 5% bank transfer fee
*** Placements are confirmed with a $250 deposit
Project Fee includes accommodation, orientation, in-country support and project activities.
What’s not included:
Food, flights, airport pickup insurance, visas (if applicable) and vaccinations. Full assistance will be provided in getting all these arranged if you choose our Premium Support.
Premium Support Upgrade
We understand there’s a great deal to plan and organise for your trip. When booking a Placement, many of our participants choose to purchase our Premium Support Upgrade to benefit from the expertise, knowledge and experience of our Project Coordinators.
We can provide the personal advice you need to ensure your trip is organised with excellence and planned with efficiency; ensuring the very best experience possible. Read more about how we can help you.
Note: Map coordinates are approximate