Animal Rescue Center / Costa Rica
(cortesy translation from German)
My volunteer work in the animal sanctuary in Costa Rica was just great! I chose this project because on the one hand I wanted to improve my Spanish skills and on the other I wanted to work with animals.
To improve Spanish: I would probably do a language course next time, because you don't need any Spanish in the project, because everyone really knows English very well. So if you can speak it quite well, of course, you can communicate well with the locals. In my opinion, people speak very clean Spanish, which is understandable for me as a beginner.
About the project: It meets what it promises! You really have direct contact with the animals here, e.g. hold a sloth in your arms and teach him how to climb or take care of a howler monkey that had to grow up without breast milk and is therefore small and weak. Time really flew since I was always very busy. Very day you meet with the supervisors twice to clarify the work schedule and tasks. You sign up for what you would like to do. If you want to have a task in "active enrichment", i.e. direct contact with the animals, it is of course also important to do tasks such as cleaning cages. The team with the many volunteers works really well. The manager, Sarita is very lovable and is always available to answer questions and problems.
The first few days in the project were not so interesting, so you might be disappointed at first. This is because you cannot enter the cages for the first two days and must not come into contact with animals. But then it gets better every day. The last two weeks of my total of 4 weeks) I liked the most, because you really work here as a “professional” and can instruct the newcomers in the work.
You can set the day off per week yourself in consultation with Sarita. I have e.g. two consecutive days off to see more of Costa Rica. The national park Manuel Antonio is recommendable but also expensive. There are many other national parks that are not as touristy but also beautiful e.g. Parque Nacional Carara.
I particularly liked trips with another permanent employee of the project, who always showed me nice places as a local. Of course, you had to pay for the trips, but when you got together with several volunteers, it was really a decent price. I needed to get used to the dormitories at first because you sleep in a room with five to twelve people, but I quickly got used to it and even found it really nice to be never alone.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time in Costa Rica and can really recommend the project in the animal sanctuary!