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Costa Rican Rainforest Exploration And Cultural Immersion Teen Volunteer Program

Join teens from around the world on this high-impact Costa Rican adventure.

Program Code: CRQU0519F

Program Information

Live and work with team of international teen volunteers in the Central Valley region of Costa Rica. Contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, UN SDGs, enjoy the beautiful beaches along Puerto Viejo de Limón, hike and snorkel in the Cahuita National Park.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals


Travel to the popular Latin American destination of Costa Rica to make new friends with a group of international teen volunteers.  You will contribute to projects related to the UN SDGs in the Central Valley town of Cimarrones.

Teen volunteers might contribute to UN SDG #4, Quality Education, by constructing or renovating local classrooms, and assisting primary school students with English language lessons.

During your time on this teen volunteering program in Costa Rica there will be plenty of opportunities to learn more about Latin American culture and those of your fellow teen volunteers from all around the world, helping you kickstart your journey toward becoming a global citizen.

All GVI teen volunteer programs, including this one taking place in Cimarrones, Costa Rica, have been specifically designed for teens between the ages of 15 and 17 years old, who are looking to volunteer abroad. GVI has successfully been operating ethical and responsible programs for under 18s since 2012. Since then, it has treated health and safety as a number one priority and takes extra measures for its under 18 programs. As such, it is also a British Standards 8848 compliant provider. This means that all our younger volunteers have access to additional support and supervision provided by our own staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by us. All our under 18 volunteer staff are selected because they are experts at what they do and have an enthusiasm and passion for teaching that inspires young people to get involved in global issues.

Although all teen participants are greeted by GVI staff at their arrival destination, flight chaperoning services are also available upon request. Chaperones provide on-flight accompaniment and in-airport assistance. To book this service please contact one of our enrollment managers. Teens with less time on their hands can also choose to book onto the program for one week. This allows them to complete volunteering projects included in the two-week program, but not the adventure activities.


  • Meet and travel with teens from around the world.

  • Contribute to ongoing high-impact sustainable development projects in the region.

  • Hike and snorkel in the Cahuita National Park.

  • Successfully complete this program and get a professional reference from your program manager. You’ll also have the option of earning a certificate endorsed by the University of Richmond if you choose to complete our included online leadership course, which is valued at €345.

  • Experience Latin American culture.

  • Gain insight into how human encroachment has impacted sloths on your visit to Aviarios del Caribe.

Program Details

Further Program Details


Your adventure begins once you arrive in the tropical paradise of Costa Rica. GVI staff will collect you at the airport and travel with you to a hostel in San Jose. Here you will have time to relax from your flight, take in your new surroundings and get to meet the rest of your group. The next day, you will be transferred to your new home, the town of Cimarrones.

Upon arrival there you will attend a brief orientation, including a welcome presentation explaining the history of our ongoing, long-term sustainable development development projects in the region, a guided tour of the community and an introduction to health and safety.


The exact construction work will depend on the needs of the community at the time. In accordance with international sustainable development best practices, our projects are led by local community members. The exact nature of the project will change as the needs of the community evolve. However, all projects are aligned not only to long-term community objectives but a number of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs.

Teen volunteers can typically expect to get involved in some basic maintenance, renovation, or building work. They might contribute to UN SDG, #2, Zero Hunger, by setting up or maintaining community gardens, or UN SDG #4, Quality Education, by renovating a school. Before starting work on the project teen volunteers will learn how their work will be contributing to the overall objectives of GVI in the community of Cimarrones, Costa Rica.

For the first few days, teen volunteers will undergo specific training depending on the renovation or construction project selected for the group to work on. This will include construction or renovation methods, as well as an introduction into how to use the tools and materials required safely and effectively.

During your time in Cimarrones you might have the opportunity to participate in additional cultural activities like traditional Costa Rican cooking and salsa dance classes. There will also be time to shop for souvenirs.



On Friday morning, depart for Puerto Viejo de Limón. The Costa Rican Caribbean extends from the San Juan River, border with Nicaragua, to the Sixaola River along the Panamanian border. It covers 200 miles of coastline, it is well known for its coral reefs, multi-colored sand beaches (black, yellow, and grey), coastal vegetation, and
medium-high forests teeming with wildlife. Here you will experience a myriad of activities involving adventure and natural history that exceptionally complement the Caribbean culture, gastronomy, music and cuisine.

Saturday will be an early start. You’ll be heading to Cahuita National Park which has the largest system of Coral Reefs in Costa Rica, including 6 species of coral, a wide range of colorful tropical fishes and the occasional encounter of a harmless reef shark or stingray. This beach has a horseshoe shape, with the entrance of the park at one end and beautiful Punta Cahuita at the other end. We start with a scenic 20-minutes boat ride to have two snorkeling sessions. Then we get drop off at the Punta to enjoy a nicely presented fruit and snacks break at the beach followed by a 3.5 kms (approximately 1.5 hours) guided hike in this wonderful coastal forest: monkeys, sloths, birds, iguanas and other interesting encounters are common and complemented with great info from your guide.

On Sunday, you will begin to make our way back to Cimarrones for the final week of community work. On your way, you will visit Aviarios del Caribe where the group will receive a fun, informative introduction to sloths: how they live, why they are unique and how human encroachment affects them. You will meet the sloths in enclosures within the Learning Center. There is no direct contact with sloths on any of our tours, for the safety of the sloths.


On the final day the entire teen group will return to San Jose, travelling all the way with GVI staff members. Before departure you will participate in a reflection session with other teen volunteers, facilitated by a GVI staff member. The purpose is to think about what you have learnt while on your volunteering project in Costa Rica, discuss key events or concepts with others, and think about how the experience changed your perspective.
Change your location and dates free of charge.
Payment Plans
Flexible payment plans available.
Cancellation Waiver
Cancel anytime and receive a full refund minus your deposit.

Select a Start Date

  • 2022

Select a Duration

Select a start date first.

Covid-19 Response

Health and Hygiene

For over 20 years, GVI has prioritised the health and safety of our staff, participants, partners and local community members. In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, GVI has created the GVI health and hygiene team to put in place new standards of cleanliness, norms and behaviours that meet or exceed international recommendations to ensure the ongoing safety of GVI’s participants, staff and communities around the world. Internationally recommended practices, such as advice from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the governments Australia, UK and US, continue to be monitored and the standards are likely to change if and when international advice changes.

The work GVI is contributing to across the globe remains important and the following measures allow our participants to continue to join GVI’s programs and continue impacting positively on their world and the communities we work with. The following changes to our existing protocols have been made by the GVI health and hygiene team to strengthen our health and hygiene protocols and ensure that international standard safeguards are in place to protect our participants, staff and host communities.

What's It like?

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Live Updates

Follow GVI Volunteer-In-Cimarrones's Facebook page for live updates straight from the field. Get an idea of the types of projects you might be involved in, meet our staff and participants, experience life on this GVI base, hear about free time activities, and learn about the local culture and environment.

Arrivals Info

When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from their initial contact with us, all the way through their program, and even afterwards, when they become part of GVI’s Alumni network.

Flight chaperoning services are available for all our under 18 participants. To book a chaperone simply speak to one of our enrolment managers. Upon arrival at the airport, participants will be greeted by a member of our in-country staff, who will be wearing a GVI t-shirt or carrying a GVI signboard, and will always be wearing a friendly smile. From there, participants will journey to their accommodation and meet up with other volunteers in their group to start their GVI adventure.


COVID-19 Safety

Please note that the above images were taken pre COVID-19. All airport pick-ups and program operations now run with enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place. Learn more


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As GVI is providing this portal as a service we are not responsible for the accuracy of this site.

We are also not responsible for any loss, damage (including loss of profits or consequential damages), injury, illness, harm or death in relation to your flight and travel arrangements.

Your Impact

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or 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 history of the UN SDGs. Then, once on base you’ll learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

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

Costa Rica was the first country in the world to make primary education both free and obligatory in 1869, funding the education program through the state’s share of the great coffee wealth. In those days only one in ten Costa Ricans could read and write. By 1920, 50% of the population was literate. In 1948, the country abolished its national army and shifted the portion of its national budget allocated to armed forces to the education system. By the 1970s 89% were able to read and write. Costa Rica now boasts a literacy rate of 93% for those ten years or older. In addition, in 1994, a policy to place a computer in each of the nation’s 4,000 schools, plus obligatory English classes, was implemented.

Despite this, education is not readily available to everyone. Elementary and high schools can be found in every community, but many cannot afford the required uniforms, and rural schools often lack books for students. Children often spend as little as three hours in school as the class schedule is divided into two sessions in order to accommodate the number of students.

Cimarrones, home to our volunteer community project, is a central valley town in the mountainous central region of Costa Rica which is home to multiple volcanos, botanical gardens and some of the oldest coffee farms in the country.

GVI has been working in local communities in Costa Rica since 2011 and aims to support those communities in developing themselves and particularly in developing the younger members of the community. GVI works in Cimarrones to support community and economic development, as well as education focused initiatives. Our current partners include the Liceo Rural Nairi Awari High School, Escuela Las Brisas de Pacuarito and a local women’s entrepreneur group.

As such, the main UN Sustainable Development Goals of this project include, #4, Quality Education, and #5, Gender Equality.

Project Objectives

GVI Cimarrones Long-term Objectives:

1. Improve access to education and wellness to Cimarrones and the surrounding areas of Las Brisas and Pacuare.

2. Increase environmental awareness in the local community.

3. Improve English literacy levels in the Cimarrones community and surrounding areas.

4. Assist in building sustainable, women-led businesses in the immediate community and surrounding areas.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.


We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.


Our 10 Ethical Commitments


Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.


Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conducted, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.

Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.

However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.

Program Ethics



We don’t offer any programs where our participants engage in medical treatment. This is because our participants aren’t typically qualified to do this work and would therefore not be able to do this work in their home country. Our participants only assist with public health programs.


Each one of our initiatives is aligned to objectives set by a local organisation or professional. Our staff and participants work to support these local actors in achieving their specific goals.


Our participants don’t replace the staff employed by local organisations. Rather, they support currently employed staff with achieving their objectives. Our goal is always to increase local capacity to address local problems.


Participants require training and support to ensure that they carry out tasks correctly. Our staff provide this training and support so that local staff can focus on what is truly important to their organisation at the time.


Cultural Immersion

Engaging intimately with a new context teaches not only global awareness but 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 is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many activities you can get involved with in 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 diverse and eclectic topics like Theravada Buddhism in Laos or how plastic pollution and climate change affects Indian Ocean coral.

Tortuguero National Park

The name ‘Tortuguero’ can be translated as ‘land of the turtles’. The park is most well-known for its green turtle population, but leatherbacks, hawksbills, and even the occasional loggerhead frequent its beaches. Despite being incredibly remote, Tortuguero is one of the most frequently visited in Costa Rica and it isn’t difficult to understand why. It has an incredibly high density of jaguars and is one of the only locations in the world where jaguars are known to prey on sea turtles. Its wide range of habitats including rainforests, beaches, and mangrove wetlands also allow many other species to flourish like the endangered great green macaw and even manatees.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is wildlife lover’s paradise, featuring one the highest biodiversities in the world, approximately four percent of the total species on the planet. There are literally hundreds of species which can only be found here. More bird species call this nation home than the entire North America, the United States and Canada combined. Researchers attribute this natural wealth to the country’s plethora of habitats and its location between the South and North American continent.


Costa Rican festival.

March to April: Easter is a popular holiday in Costa Rica and is celebrated with elaborate processions.

October: You can experience the city of Límon’s famous carnival in October.

December: A mostly Catholic country, the Costa Ricans celebrate Christmas with enthusiasm.

Spirituality and Religion

Most of Costa Rica identifies with the Roman Catholic religion and there are many festivals that are celebrated throughout the year.


Dancing is part an integral part of Costa Rican culture. Locals learn to dance the fluid ballroom styles of cumbia, salsa, bolero and the merengue from a young age.


Learn to cook dishes using uniquely Latin American ingredients like beans, rice, avocados, peppers, tomatoes, and corn from local community members.


Quepos is the perfect place to practice your Spanish as most inhabitants speak only Spanish.


Cimarrones has historically been a rural farming community. The town is located along the El Camino de Costa Rica, a trail that stretches from one side of Costa Rica, on the Caribbean Coast, to the other side, on the Pacific Ocean. The area surrounding Cimarrones is home to some of Costa Rica’s finest coffee bean farms. Places of interest in the province include Irazú Volcano National Park, Tapantí National Park, Guayabo National Monument, Turrialba Volcano National Park, Death’s Hill, Lankester Botanical Gardens, and the Orosi Valley and Cachí Reservoir and Dam.

Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

Support & Safety

We won’t sugarcoat it — traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.


COVID-19 Safety

Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures are in place throughout each GVI program. Learn more.


Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.


Upon arrival at the airport, participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. The minimum staff to participant ratio on GVI’s programs is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.

Health & Safety Case Studies

19 Nov


It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.

1 Nov


As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.

6 Nov


The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.

5 Nov


Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.

What's Included

Under 18s

24-hour emergency desk

24-hour in-country support

Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)

All project equipment

Extensive pre-departure service

Adventure and cultural activities

Location orientation

Food (except on long-term internship placements)

Safe and basic accommodation (usually shared)

Pre-Program Training
Under 18s

Group introductory call

Welcome presentation

Endorsed Leadership Course

In partnership with the University of Richmond
Certificates & Achievements
Under 18s

PDF reference - upon request

In partnership with the University of Richmond



The following itinerary is an example of the activities and project work that participants might get involved in on this program. More specific details of the program are finalised several months before each start date. The itinerary shown below has been followed by our staff and group volunteers in the past.


Welcome to the laidback pura vida lifestyle of Costa Rica. Meet a GVI staff member at the airport and travel with other volunteers to your accommodation.


Learn about the work GVI does in the communities of Cimarrones and get an introduction to local life on a guided tour of this Central Valley town.


You’ll be helping out local schools by renovating old classrooms and playgrounds or building new ones.


You’ll be helping out local schools by renovating old classrooms and playgrounds or building new ones. In the evening, you will have an opportunity to receive an introductory lesson for merengue or salsa dancing, historically two of Costa Rica’s most popular dance styles.


You’ll be helping out local schools by renovating old classrooms and playgrounds or building new ones.


You’ll be helping out local schools by renovating old classrooms and playgrounds or building new ones.


Depart for Puerto Viejo de Limón. Here you will experience a myriad of activities involving adventure and natural history that exceptionally complement the Caribbean culture, gastronomy, music and cuisine.


Visit Cahuita National Park which has the largest system of Coral Reefs in Costa Rica, including 6 species of coral, a wide range of colorful tropical fishes and the occasional encounter of a harmless reef shark or stingray. Enjoy a guided hike where monkeys, sloths, birds, iguanas and other interesting encounters are common and complemented with great info from your guide.


Visit Aviarios del Caribe where you will receive a fun, informative introduction to sloths: how they live, why they are unique and how human encroachment affects them. You will meet the sloths in enclosures within the Learning Center.


Meet GVI’s partner schools in Cimarrones to understand the needs, successes and challenges of primary school students in Cimarrones. Visit one of the oldest coffee farms in Costa Rica and learn about sustainable farming practices.


Engage with primary school students through interactive activities to assist with their english language skills development. Participate in an interactive lesson in traditional Costa Rican cooking.


Engage with primary school students through interactive activities to assist with their english language skills development.


Engage with primary school students through interactive activities to assist with their english language skills development.


Return to San Jose for a walking tour of the capitol city. Other activities in San Jose can include a visit to the National Museum of Costa Rica or the Natural Science Museum La Salle.


Say goodbye to Costa Rica and travel with GVI staff and your new friends to the airport for your return flight home.