Assist with marine conservation initiatives and gain practical experience working with several species of sea turtle in vibrant Costa Rican habitats, plus choose from additional research or career experience!

Kekoldi will be your home away from home, as you participate in one of our most unique internships, where you will not only work on a variety of projects related to general conservation and sea turtle research, but you will also gain a formal leadership qualification, as you lay the groundwork for practical solutions to protect the three main turtle species that nest in this area.

Photo of a sea turtle crossing a beach towards the sea. A jungle is in the distance..

Costa Rica is widely regarded as the birthplace of ecotourism, with the coastline playing host to multiple beaches providing a location for nesting for four of the world’s sea turtle species, namely the green turtle, hawksbill and leatherback. Sea turtles are endangered around the world, and programs like this one, which works toward protecting and preserving their nests, along with assisting with research initiatives, ensure their chances of longer term survival and sustainability.

On this program, you will be assisting with both day and night surveys along with our partner’s staff, who have been extensively trained by our partners on the ground. This internship is multifaceted and will require involvement in various programs carried out, such as participating in rainforest and wildlife surveys, and birds surveys . There will be a higher focus on maintenance of resources for the successful execution of the projects on the ground.

This internship involves comprehensive staff mentorship, extensive training, feedback, and evaluation. This greatly improves your general employability whether you are looking for a career in sustainable development, conservation or teaching. You will gain practical, hands-on experience in the field, which give you the opportunity to further your career prospects as well as give you an edge over other candidates hoping to get a job in the conservation field.

As an intern you will also be expected to be proactive and flexible, to embrace this unique experience and to learn all you can.


  • Explore one of the most exotic locations in the word, as you work on an internship in the beautiful Kekoldi region of Costa Rica.
  • Meet and learn from your fellow international interns as you grow your employability and global citizen status.
  • Immerse yourself in the vast wildlife that Costa Rica has to offer, including some of the most majestic birds you will see around the world.
  • Assist with the conservation of an endangered species, while also learning more about the sector as a whole.
  • Our partner offers professional recommendations for future employers once you complete this internship.
  • Gain practical hands-on experience working with endangered sea turtles.

Our Award-winning Partner

Conservation Careers has teamed up with an award-winning, mission-driven organisation with a team of passionate experts across the globe who will make your experience a truly unforgettable one.

Founded in 1998, they run programs in 21 locations, in 13 countries around the world, each aligned to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as well as the objectives of local partners. They welcome participants from all around the world and help facilitate their development into global citizens. This is how they achieve their mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Their commitment to running high-quality sustainable development and experiential education programs has earned them recognition from numerous organizations such as Panthera, the Seychelles Parks & Gardens Authority, as well as Stanford, NYU, Duke, and Ohio State.

If you register your interest below, you’ll put you in touch with our partner to take the booking and to plan your trip!

To see all our Conservation Careers Internship opportunities, please click here.

Photo of interns wildlife-watching on the beach

Enhance your internship with Career or Research opportunities

You can choose to do only the Core Internship, or extend and specialise your experience by choosing between Career or Research internship options.

Career Internship

A career internship will give you a leg up into your career as a conservation or sustainable development practitioner. Career internships are best suited to participants who are looking to gain additional experience collaborating on impactful initiatives with our global partners.

The main focus of our career internships is for you to complete practical work at a base and then a range of virtual project work with our international partners.

Your career internship fee will cover your pre-departure support and materials, food, accommodation, training and orientation, long-term field staff, 24-hour in-country support, and project equipment. As well as:

  • Pre-program training.
  • Three online courses endorsed by the University of Richmond.
  • Training on our partner’s ethics and work with the UN SDGs, your internship location and project focus.
  • Practical experience working in the field alongside local and international experts.
  • A remote internship supervisor who’ll provide you with one-on-one support and guidance.
  • A project with a partner.
  • A professional reference upon successfully completing your internship.
  • A LinkedIn reference and skills endorsement upon successfully completing your internship.
  • Access to a job portal of available roles in conservation and sustainable development.
  • Preference on opportunities to work for our partner.
  • An employment guarantee (if your career internship was longer than 6 months).

You’ll also get the opportunity to gain insight into how projects are implemented in a variety of our career internship locations, when you meet and collaborate virtually with other career interns, and partners, across our locations around the world.

Research Internship

Are you in the process of completing a research paper, thesis or dissertation?

The main focus of a research internship is to support you in collecting and/or analysing the data that you’ll use to write up your paper. And thanks to our partner’s involvement in global conservation and sustainable development, you’ll be able to supplement your research with insights from existing datasets that were 20 years in the making.

Research internships also help you to prepare for your future career in the industry by giving you experience with field research methodologies.

Your research internship fee will cover your pre-departure support and materials, food, accommodation, training and orientation, long-term field staff, 24-hour in-country support, and project equipment. As well as:

  • Pre-program training.
  • Three online courses endorsed by the University of Richmond.
  • Training on our partner’s ethics and work with the UN SDGs, your internship location and project focus.
  • Practical experience working in the field alongside local and international experts.
  • A remote internship supervisor who’ll provide you with one-on-one support and guidance.
  • Support with completing a research paper or thesis.
  • A professional reference upon successfully completing your internship.
  • A LinkedIn reference and skills endorsement upon successfully completing your internship.
  • Access to a job portal of available roles in conservation and sustainable development.
  • Preference regarding opportunities to work for our partner.
  • An employment guarantee (if your research internship was longer than 6 months).

Not to mention unforgettable, off-the-beaten-track, life-changing experiences!

Photo of the internship's base in Jolova, Costa Rica. Three wooden huts are shown with jungle behind them.

Location – Kekoldi

Our research station in Kekoldi is found in the stunning Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve, surrounded on three sides by protected rainforest and on the other by the Caribbean Sea and a beach that is home to one of the largest nesting colonies of Green Turtles in the world. Spend your time surrounded by the breathtaking scenery and wildlife of the rich canals, tropical rainforest and Caribbean beaches. There is no road access to this location, so all transportation is via canoe and motor boat, through the stunning canal and river system surrounded by tropical rainforest and wildlife.

Life On Base

Unplug and get in touch with nature in Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve. Situated in the heart of the jungle, our base is the ideal location for those with a passion for wildlife conservation and adventure. During field work, you’ll hike the forest looking for signs of jungle cat species, migratory raptors, tropical birds, and a wide variety of primates, lizards and amphibians. You might even encounter more elusive animals like sloths and tamanduas. Morning patrols feature spectacular sunrises over the indigenous forest, and night walks reveal a star-filled sky. We also assist with turtle hatching sites on local beaches.


Our base is located in the heart of the reserve, with the jungle right on our doorstep. You are sharing the jungle with abundant wildlife, who often pass through the property, allowing many opportunities for sightings. You’ll sleep in shared dorms, and the bathrooms are also shared. We have limited power. A power bank portable solar charger is a useful item to bring along.


All airport transports and transport into town will be organised by our team. To arrange transport for weekend trips or to spend your free time, speak to your program manager. For project work, you’ll only need your feet.


Internet connection is limited on base, and usually only available at night. Participants can travel into towns where there is WiFi. There’s also the option of buying a SIM card on arrival in Costa Rica which will allow you to access a 3G connection.


Meals will be prepared by local chefs.


Costa Rica is a tropical country, with a climate ranging from warm and rainy to hot and humid. Being a rainforest, the weather is highly variable and it can rain at any time of year. On average July is the wettest month and September the driest. The maximum temperature is around 29°C (84°F) with the minimum temperature around 17°C (63°F).


The program is physically demanding. Most days are spent out in the jungle on surveys, hiking across difficult, mountainous terrain that is exposed to the heat and elements. You’ll definitely be hitting your 10,000 steps.

Photo of a group of interns looking through binoculars at wildlife in the jungle canopy above them.


This program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.


All internships include three courses (Leadership, Careers in Sustainable Development and a specialisation course) offered in partnership with the University of Richmond and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.


Orientation: Your Health, Safety and Wellbeing

Learn about COVID-19 pre-departure guidelines, base expectations, personal and area hygiene practices and what we are doing to keep you safe.

Orientation: Travelling Responsibly and Ethically

Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.

Orientation: UN Sustainable Development Goals

Introduction to the history and evolution of sustainable development, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and how these related to your project work.

Orientation: Further Opportunities for Impact

Learn about our country locations and further opportunities available to you during or after your program.


Community: Women’s Empowerment

Learn about gender equality, skills development and examples of income generating activities.

Community: Human Empowerment

Learn about our empowerment principles.

Conservation: Survey Techniques and Logistics

An introduction to different survey techniques and best practice guidelines for surveys; introduction to different types of data and how to record information via a datasheet.

Conservation: Biodiversity & Target Species Identification

Learn about biodiversity and how biodiversity is measured, and classifying different species and how to identify species that indicate the health of the habitat.

Marine Conservation: Pollution and Plastics

Learn about issues with plastic and measures that can be taken to help reduce plastic consumption.

Jaguar Monitoring Training

Learn about jaguar biology and behaviour, how to identify a specific specimen, how to identify tracks, and how to set up a camera on a trail or on a predated turtle.

Turtle Monitoring Training

Learn about turtle biology, how to measure a turtle, perform a health check, how to distinguish between old and new turtle tracks on the beach and how to excavate a nest.

Canal Bird Identification Training

Learn how to identify target species, and how to input data from these surveys.

Biodiversity Survey Training

Learn how to identify 40 jungle species that indicate the health of the habitat, how to record and enter data, and the protocol of forest surveys.

Photo of a young turtle on a beach.

Your Impact

All of our programs have short-, mid- and long-term objectives that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Prior to your arrival on base, you will be educated about the UN SDGs. Then once you arrive on base, you’ll learn about the specific goals we have in this particular location, our various objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to be an active global citizen after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.


During your program, you’ll also have the opportunity to experience tailor-made adventure and wellness activities. These have been specially designed to further immerse you in the diversity and richness of the habitats and cultures around you.

Exclusive local experiences:

  • Cook traditional cuisine with local experts.
  • Learn how to weave your own hammock.
  • Reflection hike through the lush rainforest.
  • Waterfall hike through Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve.
  • Stargaze and learn about the constellations.
  • Wildlife photography in remote habitats.
  • Chocolate-making on a working cacao farm.
  • Panoramic views from a canopy tower.

Photo of a tree frog perched on a sheet on a washing line.

Cultural Immersion

Engaging intimately with a new context teaches global awareness, adaptability and critical thinking – skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and will also be one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many different activities that you can get involved in during your free time, or before and after your program.

On our community programs, the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore topics like local cuisine and religion, or how sustainable development challenges are affecting local contexts.

Cahuita town

The Kekoldi Indigenous Reserve (KIR) is home to the Bribri tribe, one of several indigenous groups that live in Costa Rica. Participants have the opportunity to work closely with the KIR’s community members and contribute to long-term sustainable conservation programs. You’ll also get a chance to spend time within the community, learning about the tribe’s culture and history, their use of medicinal plants, and their practice of traditional chocolate making. At the same time, it is an invaluable opportunity to gain insights and perspective on Costa Rica’s history, where Afro-Caribbean and Latin American cultures and heritages converge in complex and historically significant ways.

Photo of a river running through a jungle.

Free Time

Volunteering with us not only allows you to participate in programmes assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems, but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield either before or after your programme. Many decide to travel after volunteering, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on the programme.

Our long term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with us. Our Kekoldi field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in Costa Rica!

Weekend Trips


Cahuita National Park is home to the biggest and best-preserved coral reef in Costa Rica. Part of the park’s protected area extends into the ocean – offering up incredible marine life. Here you can spend time snorkelling, looking out for uncommon marine species.

San Jose

Spend the weekend in Costa Rica’s capital city, San Jose. You could visit one of the city’s many museums or parks, join a guided food and walking tour of the city, or spend time at Central Market – filled with food stalls where you can sample a range of traditional Costa Rican foods.

Tortuguero National Park

Head north up the coast to Tortuguero National Park, one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful national parks. The name “Tortuguero” can be translated as “land of the turtle”. The park is most well-known for its green turtle population, with leatherbacks and hawksbills frequenting its beaches. Very occasionally a loggerhead might pay a visit. Sea Turtle Conservancy, the world’s oldest sea turtle conservation organisation, is based in the park.

Trek to the top of Tortuguero Hill, an ancient dormant volcano. You’ll be rewarded with a magnificent view – stretching from the jungle to the shores of the Caribbean sea. You could also experience the wonders of the rainforest from a different perspective with a zipline canopy tour.

An hour’s motorboat ride away from Tortuguero National Park is the town of Tortuguero, where you can experience the laidback “Pura Vida” lifestyle Costa Rica is known for. Here you can practise your Spanish and taste some Costa Rican delicacies.

Puerto Viejo

Just south of the programme base, is one of the most popular beach destinations on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. This town is known for Punta Uva beach, where you’ll find kilometres of white sand lined with palm trees, excellent surfing conditions and popular eateries. The famously advanced surfing spot known as Salsa Brava can also be found here. And if you’re looking for something more off the beaten track, head to Manzanillo, a neighbouring beach town.

Tortuguero National Park

Head north up the coast to Tortuguero National Park, one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful national parks. The name “Tortuguero” can be transl…

White Water Rafting

Organise an adrenaline-inducing journey over the rapids of the Pacuare River. The beautiful Turrialba region is known for its variety of outdoor activities. Being a valley that is crossed by various rivers, it’s especially known for its white-water rafting. The Pacuare river is world-renowned for being one of the best white-water rafting rivers. If you’re looking to float around, you can choose one of the more peaceful rivers, like the Pejibaye or the Reventazón river. While visiting the area it is easy to combine rafting with other activities like canyoning, night hikes and lake kayaking.

Local Adventures

Sloth Sanctuary

Book a tour of the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica

Photography and videography

There are endless opportunities around the base for wildlife photography. Staff and other participants often bring camera equipment with them – and spend their free time in the coconut tree area or on the beach, working on their photography and videography skills.


There’s a small library with lots of textbooks and flashcards for species study and identification practice, as well as educational materials about conservation threats and wildlife biology.

Physical activities

Frisbee, volleyball, yoga and pretty much any exercise can be done on the beach. There’s also a ping-pong table on base.


An advantage of our remote location is the lack of air pollution. This means that on a clear night, you can look up and enjoy a sky filled with stars. On some nights, you can even see the Milky Way. Storm watching is amazing – lightning lights up the forest and on night walks you can watch it flash over the ocean.

Games night

Card games are a part of the culture on base. Whether you’re already a master or have never played before, be sure to join a game night – or even host your own.

Book collection

We’ve added many good books to our on-base library over the years. Pick one that looks interesting, find a spot overlooking the ocean and lose yourself in the pages.

Movie nights

Join staff and other participants for movie nights. We set up the projector and make some popcorn. Do you like your popcorn sweet or salty?

Birding or frogging

Our base is home to a variety of bird and frog species. Fellow participants are likely to be just as passionate about conservation and the natural world as you are, so get a group together and find some birds. If it’s been raining, find some frogs too.

Further travels

Water sports

Surfing, windsurfing and kayaking are just some of the many water sports you can enjoy on either of Costa Rica’s two coasts.

Coffee and chocolate farms

Learn more about how the raw products of these everyday treats are produced at one of Costa Rica’s many coffee and chocolate farms.

Talamanca mountains

Explore the natural wonders of the Talamanca mountain range, including the UNESCO-protected La Amistad International Park. Hiring a guide is necessary as the Talamancas aren’t easily accessible if you’re unsure of your route. While in the area, learn about the history and customs of the Naso, Bribri and Ngöbe-Buglé people, who have lived in the region for centuries.

Other national parks

Travel to a few of Costa Rica’s many other National Parks, like Manuel Antonio Park, Corcovado National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve (where you can visit the hummingbird gallery), or Braulio Carrillo National Park.

Duration, Dates & Costs

Duration of fieldwork: 4 – 12 weeks

Register your interest below to learn about upcoming start dates and costs.

Photo of an intern attaching a camera trap to a tree.

What’s Included

  • 24-hour emergency desk
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All project equipment
  • Food (except on long-term internship placements)
  • Safe and basic accommodation (usually shared)
  • Group introductory call
  • Welcome presentation
  • Endorsed Specialisation Course
  • Endorsed Leadership Course
  • Sustainable project work
  • Leadership responsibilities
  • Program training
  • Remote Internship Supervisor
  • Preferential recruitment on our partner’s positions
  • Job portal access
  • Endorsed Careers Course
  • Career coaching sessions
  • PDF reference – upon request

What’s Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • COVID-19: Health and Hygiene Fee
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs

Photo of a grove of coconut palm trees. People walk along the path through the grove into the distance.

Register your interest!

Reserve your place or ask a question