Custom Programs
Costa Rica Women in Wildlife Adventure

Applications are open for September 2024!

If you love animals, want to learn more about them, want to support an amazing rescue center, long to be a part of wildlife research, but also want to get out into Costa Rica and see the volcanos, wildlife, and beautiful beaches its famous for, this is the trip for you! Join other Women in Wildlife for the adventure of a lifetime helping animals, exploring, and learning what it takes to protect dolphins, sloths, and other Costa Rican wildlife on this two-week adventure!

See wild dolphins and whales up-close in your boat-based research in the Pacific Ocean, provide check-ups and care to wildlife in need, and experience magnificent Costa Rican rain forests, volcanoes, and beaches first-hand.

Program Overview

The Costa Rica Women in Wildlife Adventure begins at Rescue Center Costa Rica, a wildlife rescue center just outside of San Jose that rehabilitates, reintroduces, and cares for animals who are victims of wildlife trafficking, human animal conflict, or who otherwise need care.

You’ll be living at the Rescue Center for the first week of the program and have the chance to learn about and care for the animals there. From enclosure maintenance and food prep to veterinary lectures and labs, you will learn the ins and outs of caring for these animals, including birds as well as primates, sloths, and other small mammals. The program includes observing and learning about the animals at the facility and learning from your  trip leader and your on-site local program staff in the classroom, clinic, and rescue center. You’ll have the chance to help care for the animals, including doing sloth rounds, during your time there.

We will pack a lot into this first program week, including full-day trips to Manuel Antonio National Park and to a volcano.

Your second week is spent living and learning on the Gulfo Dulce on the Osa Peninsula, on the Pacific Coast about six hours from San Jose. This specially-designed research program gives you the opportunity to participate in ongoing research on wild dolphin populations in Gulfo Dulce. 

You will be trained in the on-site research methods and goals, and participate in on-boat research of wild dolphins, whales, and sharks. Your time will be split between the boat and the lab, where research includes examining photographic data for photo ID processing and image analysis, necropsies of fish that the local dolphins eat to determine their health status and analyze stomach contents, collecting and analyzing biometric data, and lots of behavior sampling tracking a known population of dolphins.

September is a great time of year for humpback whales, which become a research priority at that time. In addition, the research partner will be starting a project at that time focusing on training local women as humpback whale guides.

*Please note: swimming with the dolphins is not permitted, and there are no captive dolphins on-site. This is a wildlife research project. Gulfo Ducle is home to tiger sharks, stingrays, crocodiles, and mangroves, so while it is a wonderful area for marine research, free swimming in the ocean is not permitted for safety reasons. We will have opportunities to swim together in safe beach areas during the program.

Who It’s For

This program is open to participants 18 years of age or older. This “Women in Wildlife” program is open to folks who identify as female or non-binary only. While specific wildlife experience is not necessary, folks who are passionate about and interested in working with and protecting wildlife will most enjoy this program. Please note that you will be living at a wildlife rescue center and a dolphin research center and volunteering and traveling with your group throughout the day. Housing is in dorm-style shared rooms, by gender, and is very rustic. Meals are provided on site but are not fancy. This is not a fancy trip. This is a wake-up early, work hard, get dirty, learn-a-lot kind of adventure.

Participants should be physically fit enough to safely participate in moderate physical activity outdoors in hot weather for a full work day. Walking on uneven surfaces, climbing stairs, and spending time on a small boat is required.

There are no pre-requisites for this program. You do not need to be in school currently to apply. Individuals of any nationality may apply.

All programming is in English – no Spanish skills are required (but if you have them, you can definitely use them!)


  • Care for sloths, kinkajous, monkeys, parrots, and other Costa Rican animals
  • Learn from dedicated veterinarians about the identification, physiology, and veterinary care of Costa Rican mammals, reptiles, and birds
  • Learn about zoonotic diseases, necropsy, nutrition, diagnostics and therapies, wildlife immobilization, and how to provide wild species with good welfare in captivity
  • Visit Manuel Antonio National Park, frequently ranked as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, for amazing wildlife spotting and beach time
  • Visit a nearby volcano on a full-day tour
  • Study and research wild dolphins and learn from the dolphin research experts about their work in the field
  • Relax and connect with other women in wildlife to share your experiences, build your skills, and refresh your perspective

Dates open for Enrollment

Fall 2024

Sunday, September 22 – Saturday October 5


 apply now


The dates above indicate the day you must arrive in San Jose and depart from San Jose, which may mean leaving  your home country the day prior or returning the day after, depending on your flight time and beginning travel location.

Please note that there is no group flight for this program. Participants will be picked up and dropped off at the San Jose airport. Loop Abroad reserves the right to cancel any program at any time; in case of such cancellation by Loop Abroad, all payments will be returned in full.


It’s important to note that the animals at the wildlife facility will vary. This is a true rehab and release program, so lots of animals come and go. But there are some animals who have been on-site for a long time, and whom we can expect to see when we’re there.

  • Parrots
  • Kinkajous
  • Sloths
  • Macaws
  • Capuchin and howler monkeys
  • Coatis
  • Owls
  • Toucans
  • Turtles
  • Snakes

Please note that for the dolphin research week, the research is done on wild dolphin populations. You will not touch the dolphins or swim with the dolphins, although you will track them from the boat and travel very near them. There are no animals housed on-site during the dolphin research portion of the program.


Housing and Meals

You will be living in shared, dorm-style housing at the Rescue Center for the first week and at the dolphin research base for the second week.

Our housing will be only for Loop Abroad students and staff. Housing is shared rooms with bunk beds, which have screened windows and fans, with shared bathrooms, as well as a shared common area and dining area and a small outdoor swimming pool. There may be other volunteers or guests staying at either facility (in other rooms).

All meals are included in your tuition. Meals are local cuisine and are prepared on-site. We can accommodate vegetarian and vegan diets and food allergies with advanced requests.

Please note that this project offers simple, rustic lodging and food.

Program Fee

The Program Fee is $4,200 USD, which includes airport transfers in Costa Rica, all housing, all meals, all teaching and instruction, 24/7 on-site support staff, all listed tour activities, and a program tee shirt. Please note that the program fee, and all prices listed by Loop Abroad, is in US Dollars.

Interest-free payment plans are available. Your space is not held until your $1,000 deposit (credited toward tuition) is paid. Deposits are due July 1, 2024 to hold your space in the program. Your balance of payment for your program fee will be due August 1, 2024.

The Program Fee is all-inclusive except for airfare. Program Fee does not include medical insurance (the policy we suggest is under $25), a passport, snacks, and any COVID testing required for travel.

Airfare is not included. There is no group flight for this program. We will have a set pick-up time and drop-off time for the airport in San Jose on arrival and departure day. Your transportation between the San Jose airport and the program location is provided and included in your tuition.

No alumni discount or other discounts are available for this program.


For programs starting after August 20, 2023, COVID-19 vaccinations are recommended, but they will no longer be required.

All participants must follow the Loop Abroad COVID policies, which include testing negative 2 days before travel, reporting symptoms if they arise during the program, masking or testing if asked to by staff, and isolating if you test positive.

About “Women in Wildlife”

WIW is an Australian not-for-profit organization aiming to connect and amplify women and non-binary people working in the wildlife industry around the world. They provide a platform to highlight women’s work and stories, as well as providing a strong support network for women while navigating a career in this male-dominated industry.

On this program, you’ll be joined by Eliza Stott, the Founder and Director of Women in Wildlife. Eliza is a wildlife biologist and a full-time PhD student at the University of Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia studying wildlife disease (Veterinary Science). She has worked in a variety of roles in the wildlife industry, from zookeeping at Australia Zoo to undertaking research in remote locations around the world. She is also working a wildlife ranger in Australia, working with seabird rescue and rehabilitation, as well as koala conservation. Eliza has participated in  many overseas volunteer wildlife programs, which have had a huge impact on her career. She is so excited to be joining upcoming wildlife conservationists in Costa Rica!

Apply Now



The rescue center works to help abandoned, sick, or injured animals and, ideally, re-release them into the wild. During the first week of your program, you will spend your days at and around the wildlife clinic and you’ll stay a short drive away at the release site in the rainforest.

You will arrive at the main international airport in San Jose, and Loop Abroad will provide transportation to the project, which is a full day drive from San Jose.


Your research will be capturing and analyzing data about wild dolphins and other marine life. You will not have physical contact with live dolphins – we believe in leaving wild animals in the wild. However, you will be able to see them VERY close from the boat throughout your work. It can be even more rewarding to watch the dolphins interacting with their natural environment from a distance because this is when their true personalities shine!

The research vessel will be captained by on-site project staff and exclusively for your Loop Abroad group. Your first full day on the project includes an orientation and safety training for participating in the program.

Students will always be accompanied by trained guides and volunteer coordinators who will instruct students in how to safely complete their wildlife research.


This itinerary is subject to change, but should give you a good overall program feel.

You will arrive in San Jose on Sunday and meet your group. We will then spend one night in San Jose and travel to the wildlife center the next day. (We will advise you on what time to arrive if you’d like to minimize waiting time to meet your group.)

At the center, your weekdays will be full with a combination of:

  • Learning from and shadowing the vet in the wildlife clinic
  • Learning wildlife care skills from blood pathology to wildlife immobilization
  • Helping to keep the center running with work such as preparing animal meals and maintaining enclosures
  • Hands-on field lectures so that you can learn everything you need to know about the animals who live at the center

You will learn from your Loop Abroad instructors and the local vet, during custom lectures, labs, and activities. During clinic shifts, you’ll help the vets respond to animals that arrive at the or in routine management of inpatient cases.

In the evenings, we will enjoy dinner together and the relax as a group at our housing. Housing has wi-fi but no cell signal.

At the start of the second week, we’ll take a long drive through Costa Rica down to Gulfo Dulce, where we’ll get orientated and explore the area. During your week with the dolphins, you will spend time out on the boat as a group gathering data about the wild dolphin population, from photos and videos to recordings to blowhole capture. You’ll learn how this data is analyzed and used by the research team, and you’ll have time back at the research facility to learn and work together, as well as to relax and connect as a team. Meals are provided on-site in a peaceful, rusti wilderness setting.

We will return to San Jose on the final program Friday before departing flights on Saturday. Overall, this program is a chance to explore wildlife conservation, medicine, and research in Costa Rica while getting to see first-hand how a successful conservation project or research project runs. You will have the chance to network with other women in wildlife and see the great work being done to conserve and better understand the wildlife in this beautiful part of the world, and you’ll get up close and personal with some breathtaking creatures and landscapes.