Why are volunteers needed?
The Sanctuary employs a full time staff including of two veterinarians and one animal biologist who rotate their schedules while working at the Sanctuary. We have additional working staff, but we can always use the extra assistance with general operations and our volunteers do offer much needed help. This extra help allows our staff to focus on additional tasks at the sanctuary and the needs of all the animals without difficulty.
The sincere help provided by the volunteers allows the center to run more smoothly and offers beneficial support for the animals that need more attention and care.
Where your contributions goes:
At the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary we have an animal quarantine area, a nursery for the very young and separate rescue enclosures for those animals that will be released back to their natural habitat once healed.
All funds and donations go 100% to the care and attention to the animals. We have a full functioning medical clinic where all medical procedures are performed.
We understand that volunteers want to know what happens to their donations once they have been passed to us. All of your program costs goes directly to the Animal Sanctuary to help in the care of the animals.
All donations received at the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary including the volunteer fees contributes directly to helping the Sanctuary and all the costs associated with operating the facility with the ultimate objective to help the wildlife and return them back to their natural habitat when possible.
What to expect when volunteering:
At the beginning of your volunteer experience you will be asked to perform general maintenance at the facility including cleaning of the cages, grounds maintenance, possibly some painting and so on. As you acclimate to the program the staff will determine when you are ready to become more intimate with the animals.
As you become familiarized to the environment, additional tasks may include feeding of the resident animals, cleaning of cages, sometimes while they are occupied and provide general care for the animals as directed. Some resident animals need more attention and love than others. Many of our animals have been domesticated illegally and have been confiscated by the Costa Rican authorities and brought to the Sanctuary for their care. When possible we will release these animals back into the wild at a later time.
It is possible that during the time of your original volunteer program you may wish to volunteer for a longer period of time in addition to the standard volunteer days and hours. If you would like to do so and are invited by the staff to assist further, this opportunity will be extended to you for no additional costs.
General Volunteer Information:
We offer a few different options for housing as well as the amount of time you wish to be with us as a volunteer. Please visit our rates page here. Lodging & Rates
We provide volunteer orientation for our new volunteers at the start of your volunteer experience.
New volunteers will start the volunteer program on either a Wednesday or a Sunday, so please plan your travel accordingly. Location We provide all new volunteers with a comprehensive induction to the work we do, an orientation of the center, a volunteer T-shirt, on-the-job training and a work and free-time schedule.
Volunteering hours are from 7:00 to 12:00 am and from 2:00 to 4:00 pm 5 days per week, 7 hours daily. After you have completed your daily volunteering duties you are free to do as you wish. You will have two days per week free depending on your schedule to explore the local area, visit the beach, or just relax on your free time at the Sanctuary.
At the time of your orientation, a weekly volunteer schedule will be created for the days we will ask you to volunteer. If you have a special request for certain days to be free during your stay with us, this can be discussed at the time of your orientation.
Daily volunteer jobs may include the following:
You may be asked to clean cages, prepare the various types of foods needed for the various animals as they all eat differently. All of the cages and enclosures are kept neat and clean daily. You may even strike up a unique friendship with a monkey, bird or perhaps another human being.
The sanctuary is not a petting zoo, but there may be more interactions with some of the domesticated resident animals who were once pets or in captivity that can not return to the wild. These animals usually need more human contact and attention in general. The young orphaned animals often need to be nurtured more intensively so you may be asked to act as a surrogate parent as one of your volunteer tasks. Location
Many of the animals on site are wild and need special attention and are possibly dangerous to handle. These animals require special care by an experienced handler and for these animals, our staff has this responsibility.
We do offer additional activities during your stay with us. These activities are scheduled depending on the amount of volunteers present and the needs of the sanctuary at the time. Please inquire about these additional activities and scheduling when you arrive.
Some of the additional activities we offer are a visit to the Nuayuaca,Falls for a hike and swim. Visiting the popular Uvita,WhalesTail and there you could see a whale depending on the time of year you chose to volunteer.
There is often daily and nightly activities in Dominical, that you may visit at your convenience and on your free time. Dominical is approximately 10 Kilometers north of the Sanctuary and if you would like to visit the cost is around $20.00 one way for a taxi. There is a good chance you can share the taxi fare to Dominical and back with other volunteers who may wish to visit Dominical. recommended.
All meals served during your volunteer program are vegetarian dishes with fish added occasionally for those who like to eat fish. Volunteers are required to prepare their own breakfast for the duration of their stay. Lunch and the evening meal are prepared 5 days per week by our in house chef. On the remaining two days per week volunteers are responsible for preparing all of their food needs.
The sanctuary requires all volunteers to have an up to date tetanus vaccination. It is recommended that all volunteers are up to date on all other routine vaccinations. Vaccination suggestions for travelers can be found on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Website:
While there is no risk of Yellow Fever in Costa Rica, the Costa Rican government requires proof of vaccination if you are coming from a country where Yellow Fever is present. A list of these countries is Available Here:
Here at the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary we do not have an established internship program however we can accommodate you and your specific needs for accreditation and customize your time with us. We will provide you with all needed documentation upon completion of your program with us. Please feel free to Contact Us with your questions.
There is internet service located on site and at your accommodations.
We will provide free calls to the U.S. and Canada from the hotel on a prearranged schedule if need be.
Age of Volunteers and Conditions:
Many of our volunteers are of college age however we do often have older volunteers who just love to help the animals as well. One thing that all age groups have in common is a love of the animals and pure desire to help the animals.
- Minimum age to volunteer not accompanied by an adult is 18 years of age. Young adults 16 years or older may be accepted for volunteering but we require a Skype interview before being accepted. Please inquire here for more information: Contact Us
- We require that all volunteers purchase separately travel/accident insurance. and are responsible for their own transportation to and from Dominical where we will receive you upon arrival. We will provide options for traveling to Dominical if you ask.
- If you have a special skill you would like to offer, please tell us.
What Should I Bring?
Work Clothing: Jeans, shirts, (long or short sleeved shirts and shorts).
Rain Gear: Alturas Sanctuary is located within a rain forest and some seasons have more rain than others.
Boots: Rubber boots or hiking shoes are good as it can get muddy in various locations.
Bug Spray: Bugs are not really a bad problem on location, but it is recommended to have it available.
Bathing Suit: If you plan to visit the beach or swim in the pool bring shorts and bathing suit.
Additional Notes: Casual clothes are recommended for dinning out or going to a local bar.
Costa Rica is a safe country however petty crime can be a problem. Always watch your bags and belongings while traveling and don't show off your valuables while traveling or visiting. If you forget anything at home don't worry, this is not a third world country. One can buy just about anything they need here.
If you would like to attend our program please fill out the Volunteer Application: