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The Gap Year Blog

Project Blogs - Costa Rica


In July 2018, I had the good fortune to spend two weeks in Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula doing a conservation project run by Frontier. Volunteers were provided with the opportunity to attend trails surveying primates, turtles, big cats, neo-tropical river otters, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and insects, collecting data with a view towards eventually determining the diversity and distribution of the area.

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I Met Christian at the coconut bar at 7 o’clock. On the 22km (27km with the walk to and from Camp!) we saw Sloths, Anteaters, koarti, poison dart frogs (both black and greens and black and red), Tapier tracks, a hummingbird, a crocodile and many more animals that I’ve now forgotten

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Four different species of sea turtles can be found on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, the Olive Ridley, Green, Hawksbill and Leatherback. The aim of our conservation project is to help protect and preserve some of the few natural nesting sites of these turtles that do not hold an official category of protection from the Costa Rican government.

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When I signed up to volunteer in Costa Rica, it was with the hope of being able to experience the incredible wildlife that it is so rightly known for. Although a mere pinprick on any world map, the Corcovado National Park (located within the Osa peninsula) has been labelled “the most biologically intense place on the planet”, so it’s fair to assume that there’s something there for everybody.

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Having retired the previous year I decided to undertake some volunteering overseas - having spent several months working out options I chose Frontier as an organization I would like to work for - the process soon gained momentum and June 2019 saw me flying to South America filled with some trepidation and an overall excitement to be working in one of the world’s most bio-diverse places on the planet.

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On Thursday 27th June, Camp Osita was asked to give a presentation on their camera trap project to the guests at a local lodge – Laguna Vista. Four members were fortunate enough to participate, and we were super excited at the prospect of a meal at the lodge (which we were told about after volunteering for it!).

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After pancakes for breakfast, at 6.15 we were ready to get our day started. Our morning was off to a good start before even meeting our guide as we spotted a Coati whilst walking down the road. We met our guide, Christian, at the coconut bar and decided that on our return we would treat ourselves to a coconut as a reward.

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As part of the turtle project, we spent our Sunday helping build a hatchery. The hatchery is used to put turtle eggs that are nested on our beach (Carate). This is to prevent predation and increases the hatchling success rate as the nests are more closely monitored by both the local community of COPROT and the staff and volunteers at Camp Osita.

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With the Olive Ridley nesting season just over the horizon, the community of Carate are working their socks off to get the beaches ready for their arrival. An important part of making the nesting season successful are the hatcheries, where nests that are laid too close to the shoreline are relocated to a safer environment further up the beach.

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Costa Rica, where do I begin? You have been the most incredible adventure. I have learned more than I could have imagined about wildlife and conservation. I have seen some pretty amazing sights, from a puma and an ocelot, to green and olive ridley turtles nesting and hundreds of hatchlings, to tamanduas and kinkajous, to all the manakin species.

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