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The Gap Year Blog

Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates and Turtles

12 Dec 2017 14:50 PM
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Mojeane spent just over a month on our Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates and Turtles project, spending it with amazing people and some of the world's most unique wildlife.

1) Why did you choose this particular project?

I chose the Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates and Turtle Conservation trip for two reasons. Firstly, I am very fond of both sea turtles and monkeys, and love animals in general, so when I saw that this trip gave me the opportunity to work with them, and study them I jumped at the chance. Secondly, personally I am planning on studying biology and I felt that this trip would give me hands-on experience.

2) What kind of work and activities did you do during your project? 

During the project I tried to do as much as I could, meaning I would partake in the surveys and trails that were scheduled for each day (e.g Primate surveys, Otters+ Tracks, Lagoon swims etc). My favourite trails were those revolving around turtle conservation, and those usually run very early in the morning and at night, were we would triangulate nests, excavate nests, do health checks on turtles, relocate nests etc. 

3) How did the culture and people differ to home? What were the locals like?

I'm from Canada, and that's a country where people immigrate from all around the world and the inhabitants rely on themselves rather than one another. In Costa Rica, it seems as though everyone is family with each other and they trust and are kind to one another; I could never imagine hitchhiking in a country like Canada, but it's so normal in Costa Rica. The locals are so kind, helpful and friendly and they made me feel a lot safer and more at home, rather than feeling like an outsider.

4) What was the accommodation like?

The accommodation was much nicer than I expected, and consisted of 1 shelter for eating/reading/hanging out, 2 hammock decks (where people sleep and keep their belongings), 1 tent deck, 1 laundry area and 2 toilets. All around the camp you can find hammocks to read and sunbathe in, and clothes line to dry your clothes. 

5) What were the staff and other volunteers like?

The staff and volunteers were so incredible, and I found some amazing friends while on my trip. Since I arrived on the trip as a (very nervous)16 year old, I was a little younger than most of the other volunteers/staff but they all treated me the same, they made me feel as ease and I enjoyed the trip so much more because of the people. 

6) What was your most amazing moment and what’s your best memory?

One of my favourite memories was during a morning turtle patrol, and it was my first time ever seeing hatch lings. We arrived on the beach, got to watch the sunrise got to release some baby turtles into the sea and were lucky enough to spot a pod of dolphins swimming across the shore and it all happened before 9AM. 

7) Do you feel the work you were doing was worthwhile?

Definitely, twice a week we would need to do OSA work which includes panting seeds, shoveling dirt, working on the hatchery and even though it was work I enjoyed it, and I felt a though I was helping to make a difference.

8) What sort of wildlife did you encounter?

On this trip you will see so much wildlife that you will be unable to remember it all. There were a lot of monkeys, scarlet macaws, vultures, spiders, turtles and frogs everywhere you looked and that's not enough a quarter of all the wildlife you'll see on this trip. 

9) What were you hoping to learn while on project and have you achieved those goals?

I didn't have a particular goal set before coming on this trip, but I definitely feel as though I have learned a lot about nature and culture i Costa Rica as well as a lot about myself.

10) Any tips and advice you might like to pass on to future volunteers?

There are a lot of things I could advise future volunteers, however I think the main thing is to stay positive throughout the whole thing; you'll get bug bites, you'll get homesick maybe and there will be times where you'll be frustrated or angry but try to stay as positive as possible because your attitude can really make or break your trip. 

11) What do you have planned next?

For now, I will be studying and working at home for a little while but I am already planning future trips and hopefully will be returning to Costa Rica.

12) Anything else you would like to add?

Just that this experience has been one of the best of my whole life.

By Mojeane Sadrzadeh - Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates and Turtles

Frontier runs conservationdevelopmentteaching and adventure travel projects in over 50 countries worldwide - so join us and explore the world!

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