Park and Reserve Assistant Volunteer

Ecocentro Danaus - La Fortuna , Costa Rica
Quick Facts: Placement ID: IND-241 Location: La Fortuna , Costa Rica Sector: Wildlife and the Environment Category: Conservation Min Duration: 3 weeks Lodging: Host Family / Lodge Language: Basic
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Volunteer Job Description

Ecocentro Danaus is a Biological Reserve that is focused on promoting conservation programs that educate people about the flora and fauna found within the park.

Ecocentro Danaus conducts joint environmental education activities in schools, colleges, businesses and the wider community as part of the projects carried out for the Ecological Blue Flag La Fortuna Program, (for 4 consecutive years the Centre has been the main driver of this committee).

To carry out these activities there is a room where presentations about cultural and environmental issues are conducted. Additionally, there is a tree nursery of native species which reproduces about 10 thousand trees per year from 30 different endangered species in Costa Rica such as: The Almond Yellow, Mahogany, Golden Fruit, Cenizaro, Cocobolo, Ojoche, among others.

Many of the animals and plants in the park are endangered species. 80% of the native plants and trees that are grown here are donated to other communities.

There is always much work to be done at the centre and the staff enjoy the experience of working with biological reserve volunteer assistants. They especially appreciate help conducting tours and assisting at the reception desk. These areas are where tourists require information about the park and all that it has to offer. Most of the tourists speak English and little or no Spanish, whereas the staff at the reserve, for the most part, speak Spanish and very little English; therefore English speaking volunteers are a great asset at these locations.

There are lots of plants and animals but not many people to help with all the work and upkeep, such as: trail maintenance, collecting butterfly eggs and feeding the birds and other animals.

Biological reserve volunteer assistants would also provide valuable assistance in the educational awareness campaign in the community in the Ecological Blue Flag Program, which encourages and promotes sustainable environmental practices in high tourist visitation areas. This education is focused on future generations who will inherit our natural resources, which the Centre endeavours to preserve.

Ecocentro Danaus does not require any environmental studies or experience but they really need help from volunteers who enjoy outdoor work and want to help nature and local communities.

Volunteer Tasks Required


A biological reserve volunteer assistant would help in the Reforestation Program by planting flowers and trees and would also help by working in the nursery area where volunteers would weed and water plants, help to fill bags and transplant species.

Butterfly Garden

A biological reserve volunteer assistant would help prepare food for the larvae and butterflies. The volunteer would also be responsible for cleaning the larvae drawers and collecting the eggs to move them to the hatchery.


Ecocentro Danaus has been helping local communities in striving to obtain "The Blue Flag Award", which is recognition of sustainable environmental practices in schools and communities. Biological reserve volunteer assistants would participate in the educational process preparing workshops related to recycling and the saving of energy and water.

Trail Maintenance

The Center gets their funds from their daily visitors. Biological reserve volunteer assistants would help with the daily maintenance of the trails by clearing the paths of debris and weeds in order to keep them free from obstacles and a pleasant trail to enjoy by all.

Tour Guide Assistant

A biological reserve volunteer assistant would help the local tourist guide or may be asked to conduct an English speaking tour through Ecocentro Danaus. Most of the visitors are English speaking and sometimes guides are involved in other activities or have not been able to be replaced on their days off and therefore volunteer participation is much appreciated.

Animals Care

The Center has a small refuge for animals that are injured or abandoned. Volunteers would be asked to prepare the food and feed the animals everyday, as well as be responsible of the cleanliness of the cages.

Host Organization Details

Ecocentro Danaus

Ecocentro Danaus is a Biological Reserve that is focused on promoting conservation programs that educate people about the flora and fauna found within the park.

The GOAL of this organization is to promote the importance of conserving resources such as water and trees and to promote the practice of recycling, to reduce waste. In addition this organization is committed to developing conservation programs that focus on environmental educational training geared towards knowledge of the sustainable use of the land in producing products that are environmental friendly. The reason this is important is because the organization wants to help find sustainable solutions to some of the pressing environmental issues.

Ecocentro Danaus strives to achieve this goal by developing programs that teach how to create and produce eco-friendly products while integrating management of natural resources. The team at Ecocentro Danaus Biological Reserve is dedicated to preserving wildlife, teaching environmental educational programs plus promoting ecotourism.

The Biological Reserve has approximately 3 hectares of land that has been preserved in its natural habitat. The land has been designated as a protected area to ensure that the wildlife, flora and fauna of the area can grow and not be disturbed from outside influences. The plants and animals found in this park are often used for research and educational purposes as some of them are on the endangered species list and because of their rarity are hardly studied.

One of the major programs implemented by this organization is working on environmental sustainability initiatives. Ecocentro Danaus strives to teach individuals about the importance of sustaining both local and national bio-diversity. Over the past four years, Ecocentro Danaus has partnered with the Ecological Blue Flag Committee to help conduct educational programs to schools, universities, colleges, businesses and people in surrounding communities about various conservation issues. This program has been very success and volunteers have enjoyed being part of this campaign.

In addition to educational programs, Ecocentro Danaus has a tree nursery that produces about 10,000 trees per year. Many of the trees that they grow are endangered species. From the trees that are grown approximately 80% are donated to surrounding communities. This helps these communities to reestablish their tree capacity in areas that were heavily logged in previous years. The types of trees they grow include: the Almond Yellow, Mahogany, Golden Fruit, Cenizaro, Cocobolo, and Ojoch. To help fund this program the organization has created a fundraiser called, "Adopt a Tree Program", where people who would like to donate to the organization, by buying a tree, can do so.

The trails throughout the Biological Reserve allow visitors to wander through the beautiful park. The maintenance of these trails is a continuous undertaking for this organization and one of great importance. Their constant and efficient trail maintenance ensures that the team has access to all parts of the park and provides a delightful way for visitors to observe the many sights the park has to offer. The staff do routine walks through the park to ensure that no illegal logging or poaching is taking place. At the same time, the staff keep a sharp look-out for any injured animals so they can be brought back to the reserve and attended to. Maintaining the trails also allows for students of their educational seminars to observe some of the natural wonders that this park in Costa Rica offers. As well as, the opportunity to perhaps sight animals and plants that are close to extinction. This is a very important aspect in their program.

When They Were Founded

Ecocentro Danaus was founded in 1999 by, Robel Alvarado and his wife. They realized the need to establish an area where the flora and fauna could flourish and rare species of plants and animals could be protected. At the same time, they hoped that the organization would provide an education to the community, as well as, the general population regarding environmental issues.

How Are They Funded

This ecocentre receives money from tourists through entrance fees and donations. It receives money from the community for some of the workshops that the organization conducts. Ecocentro Danaus also receives some funding from other environmental organizations such as: Ecologica del Norte, and Associacion Ecologista Ojoche.

Donation Requests

Ecocentro Danaus would appreciate any type of donation. Specific items that they have requested include: crates, computer equipment, kitchen supplies, building supplies and equipment, (shovels, a wheelbarrow, building gloves, bricks, cement and building safety equipment), as well as, first aid supplies.

Placement Location Information

La Fortuna , Costa Rica

Ecocentro Danaus is a Biological Reserve, that develops conservation programs. It teaches environmental education and the importance of sustainable use of the land and its by-products. There are trails through a secondary forest where you can see, in their natural habitat, a wide variety of plants and animals. One of the main attractions of this location is the butterfly farm, which has a special site for the display of larvae, pupae and eggs. Danaus Ecocentro, has reproduced about 30 different species of butterflies. The park also protects a natural water spring which is another major component of Ecocentro. It is a special place to observe birds, especially waterfowl, alligators, iguanas, and basilisks. Home to hundreds of species and thus has been documented by the UNA and UNED, as nationally, one of the most important sites for nesting water bird colonies.

The medicinal plant garden is another attraction; to date they have over 60 species of medicinal plants labeled. The garden areas are arranged by families for easy identification, among which are orchids and heliconia.

It is common to see tourists interacting with the different species on the site. There are two and three toed Sloths, the poisonous red frog, the red-eyed tree frog, and more than 150 species of birds; most are easily observed.

For the preservation and rescue of cultural values, Ecocentro Danaus, has an indigenous Maleku house. Here is carried out performances that exhibit their cultural mode as well as sell their handicrafts. The Maleku or Guatusos is one of the smaller ethnic groups, both in population and in the area occupied within the reserve. They are located in the northern plains, in the canton of San Rafael de Guatuso, province of Alajuela. They have retained their physical traits and cultural expressions. Maleku language is spoken, as well as, Spanish, and the importance of preserving their language is stressed in bilingual schooling.

Inhabit three settlements: El Palenque Margarita, Tonjibe and El Sol. The main agricultural activity is the cultivation of cocoa, peach, and palm. They are also river fishermen and craftsman who make indigenous figures, pottery, balsa wood and wood bows and arrows.

Transfer From BaseCamp

Take a bus to San Jose downtown at 7:00am and get off the last bus stop. From there walk six blocks to the west through 5th avenue and turn to the right at 12th street and walk three extra blocks or take a taxi at 7:45. The bus to La Fortuna leaves at 8:30am and it takes 4 hours to get to La Fortuna. Once in town take a taxi to Ecocentro Danaus, it is 15 minutes away by taxi.

Distance & Time

Distance from BaseCamp: 145 km
Travel Time from BaseCamp: 4:30

Weather in the Area

The weather in Costa Rica is usually quite warm. The weather in the Alajuela region is hot and humid, with temperatures ranging usually from 25-32 degrees Celsius. The dry season is between December and April and then again from September to October. The temperature during this period is usually about 28 to 35 degrees Celsius.

From May until early September is the rainy season. The temperature during the rainy season is between 18 to 26 degrees Celsius. Most travellers to Costa Rica feel that even in the rainy season it still feels hot. The rainy season in Costa Rica is very humid and generally the rain only lasts for a few hours.

City/Village Description

La Fortuna de San Carlos is a touristic destination knows as the home of one of the principal attraction Costa Rica has: Arenal Volcano.

A charming and quiet town, La Fortuna is easily accessible from the capital city San Jose. At La Fortuna there are many hotels to choose from, most of which are conveniently located near restaurants, internet cafes and the town center. The hotels that are outside of the town’s boundaries are more expensive, but they offer great volcano views and more amenities than those near the center of town. La Fortuna has a number of good restaurants and bars, as well as banks, grocery stores, pharmacies, gift shops and more.

The La Fortuna and Arenal area has a wide range of activities, including horseback riding, whitewater rafting, waterfall rappelling, hiking, canopy tours, cave explorations, and more. Volunteers will sure enjoy relaxing at the La Fortuna Waterfall or at the area's various hot springs. Arenal is the adventure center of Costa Rica, and as such it’s difficult to get the full experience in less than three days.

Nearest Medical Clinic

Clinica La Fortuna
Del Parque Central 200m este y 75 metros norte
La Fortuna
TEL 1: 555-5555

Placement Address

Ecocentro Danaus
Al Tanque, 600m Toward Agua Azul
La Fortuna
Costa Rica

Accommodation and Meals

All of our volunteers begin their stay in Costa Rica at our BaseCamp Center in San Jose. Given that this placement is more than a 1 hour 15 minute commute from BaseCamp, volunteers here will be living with a host family after your orientation. Living with a host family is an awesome experience for a person looking to really experience Costa Rica and its culture.

The following information outlines a brief description of life at BaseCamp and also what someone can expect living with a host family in Costa Rica.

If you think that living with a host family is not for you, then this placement might not be the best fit with what you are looking for. You should try completing our application. It's totally free and will allow our team in Costa Rica to come up with a list of exactly which placements they would reccommend for you based on your personal preferences, background, skills and interests.

BaseCamp Costa Rica

BaseCamp Costa Rica
BaseCamp Costa Rica Address

Ave 16 St. 39&41
Los Yoses Sur
San Jose, Costa Rica

BaseCamp Costa Rica Contact Details

Tel: 506-8763-9595
Tel: 506-4030-1891
Mobile: 506-8763-9595

Take a Tour of BaseCamp
Accommodation in Costa Rica

All volunteers on our program in Costa Rica start out at our BaseCamp Center. The center is located in the capital city San Jose, and is a fantastic place from which to start your adventure.

Once volunteers have finished their orientation, where they live depends largely on the location of their placement. If their placement is more than a 1 hour 15 minutecommute from BaseCamp, then the only accommodation option may be host families or volunteer lodges in the national parks. However, if the placement is within a 1 hour 15 minute commute, then volunteers can choose whether or not to stay with us at BaseCamp or live with a host family.

BaseCamp Costa Rica is located in the province of San Jose at Los Yoses area. This is a fantastic area closed to the University of Costa Rica, San Pedro Mall, banks, supermarkets, restaurants, embassies and stores. Walking distance to down town and only 30 minutes away from the Juan Santamaria Airport.

BaseCamp has four bedrooms and three wash-rooms. The beds are mainly bunk beds in dormitory style rooms. Pillows, sheets and blankets are provided. There is a large common area where movies, books and games are available to our guests and there is a patio with a nice set up. This is an ideal setting for reading, studying Spanish or just some quiet relaxation.

BaseCamp is where volunteers first come when they arrive in Costa Rica and where they live for at least the duration of their orientation and training. The meal plan at the centre is based on a 14 day rotating schedule of a variety of traditional dishes from around the country. This meal plan allows volunteers to gain comfort and familiarity with both Costa Rican food and meal etiquette before making the transition to living with a host family.

Orientation and language training sessions take place in the BaseCamp Center. Each day of orientation blends some workshops and lessons with a mixture of outings to explore and become familiar with transportation and knowledge regarding the city.

Living With a Host Family in Costa Rica

Living with a host family in Costa Rica is a fantastic way to gain a deep understanding of and appreciation for the people and customs of the country. Each home-stay will provide a bed and three meals per day for our volunteers. The majority of host families offer private rooms with only one or two volunteers living with the family.

In the case of a volunteer lodge or ranger station (which is often the only option for placements within a National Park), volunteers will be living in dormitory type accommodation and meals will be provided in a mess hall or dining area.

Living with a host family can greatly enhance your performance at your placement. For one, it will have a huge influence on the speed with which you gain familiarity with the local language. This, along with your deeper understanding of cultural practices and beliefs that you are likely to gain in this environment, can go a long way to improving or strengthening your relationships with your team mates at work. Furthermore, a significant percentage of our host families are closely affiliated with the organizations with which our volunteers work. As such, even the evening meal or hanging out around the house can become valuable time during which volunteers can share their ideas and continue their support of their host organization.

All of this being said, living with a host family is not for everyone. It is very important for volunteers to honor the house rules in their host family and to be punctual. Also, depending on how remote your placement location, host families can be very rustic. Our staff in country can give you a better idea of what exactly you can expect from a host family in any particular community. However, in general, if these things sound like they might pose a challenge for you, we strongly suggest that you look at a placement within commuting distance from BaseCamp Costa Rica.

How the Program Works

Our program structure and costing is completely flexible which lets our volunteers ensure that they only pay for exactly the degree of support that they want.

Option 1 - Free Services

Some volunteers prefer to coordinate their own accommodation, meals and other support while overseas.

Anyone is welcome to use our volunteer placement search tool to help in finding a placement that is well suited to their interests. Once someone finds a placement that they wish to work with, they are welcome to make all the rest of their arrangmeents on their own.

As well, our team of staff overseas are often able to offer a few helpful pointers for volunteers 'doing it on their own'. Just send us an email with your questions and we will put you in touch with our team abroad. We only ask that you keep your requests fairly general, as this type of advice is exactly how our team earn their living. :)

Option 2 - Placement Support - 250 USD

Other volunteers would like assistance in selecting and confirming their placement, but they plan to manage their own accommodation and other expenses on their own.

These volunteers have the option of choosing to only have our assistance with selecting and confirming their placement. This option also includes ongoing placement support while abroad, so a volunteer would be able to ask our team for help if things at their placement were not working out.

In providing Placement Support, our team works with each volunteer through email, telephone and either Skype or Google Hangouts, to ensure that each volunteer has a clear understanding of their placement options. Our in-country staff will put together a custom list of placement options for each volunteer that they believe are the most appropriate matches with the volunteer's background, skills and interests. Then each volunteer can work with our team both in Canada and abroad to go through each of the options and narrow-down their selection.

Option 3 - Full Program Support

For most volunteers who are volunteering for less than a year, they are looking for an option that includes their accommodation, meals, airport reception, country and program orientation and placement support. This is what our Program Fees are designed for.

We are proud of how over the years we have ensured that our program fees are amoungst the most reasonable of any program in the world while we continue to provide exceptional volunteer support both at home and abroad.

Our Program Fees and listings of what these do and do not include are listed below:

Program Fees

Program Fees - Costa Rica

  Registration Fee
  1 Week
  2 Weeks
  3 Weeks
  4 Weeks
  5 Weeks
  6 Weeks
  7 Weeks
  8 Weeks
  Additional Weeks

Costa Rica wildlife and conservation placements require an additional $7 USD per day fee to cover park fees and accommodation. All program fees are listed in US Dollars.

What is Included
  • Pre-Departure support
  • Placement consulation
  • Airport reception & transfer
  • 2 Day orientation
  • Accommodation (BaseCamp or host family)
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • Emergency & placement support

What is Not Included
    Before Departure
  • International flight
  • Travel medical insurance
  • Visa costs where required
  • Work permits where required
    While Overseas
  • Daily transportation to and from placement
  • Transport to airport on departure
  • Placement fees if requried

Program Dates

Our regularly scheduled program start dates are the first Friday of each month, every month of the year. We strongly recommend beginning your program on one of these dates as this will allow you to go through our orientation alongside other international volunteers.

If you would prefer, our application will also allow you to select a custom start date for your program. Keep in mind that there is an additional fee for a custom start date which ranges from 50 to 75 USD.

Feb 04, 2022 Mar 04, 2022 Apr 01, 2022
May 06, 2022 Jun 03, 2022 Jul 01, 2022
Aug 05, 2022 Sep 02, 2022 Oct 07, 2022
Nov 04, 2022 Dec 02, 2022 Jan 06, 2023
Feb 03, 2023 Mar 03, 2023 Apr 07, 2023
May 05, 2023 Jun 02, 2023 Jul 07, 2023
Aug 04, 2023 Sep 01, 2023 Oct 06, 2023
Nov 03, 2023 Dec 01, 2023 Jan 05, 2024


These dates are the day that volunteers should plan to arrive on the ground in country. We can accommodate arrivals in-country at any time day or night on these dates.

Give us a Call
Canada / USA 866-646-4693 (toll free)
UK 866-646-4693 (toll free)
Australia 866-646-4693 (toll free)
International 613-353-3000
Send us a Message