Our Montezuma volunteer program is for environmental enthusiasts who are inspired by experience through hands-on conservation initiatives and who enjoy being surrounded by exotic nature.
Located near Montezuma on the Nicoya Peninsula, Refugio Mixto de Vida Silvestre Romelia will give you the true experience of being in a remote jungle area. The shear number of incredible wild animals and the beauty of your surroundings will ensure you never want to return back to “civilization” again!
Our mission is to rally support for long-term, sustainable strategies aimed at the restoration and preservation of precious wildlife and land. Utilizing prime ocean front that has been generously donated to the program for stewardship, we have a singular opportunity to offer the environment a new beginning, sea turtles a fighting chance and our visitors a window into the natural world for generations to come.
Minimum stay for volunteers is one week. Exceptions are made at times for groups of 8 or more. Minimum age for children not traveling with a parent or guardian is 18 (or 16 with parent permission and an exception from our Director).
Please be aware that at Romelia we have no electricity, the nearest town (Montezuma) is 3 km away walking on the beach about 45 minutes. This is the only access to the project.
We provide the use of a two-story house with kitchen, dining area, living room and a bedroom that can accommodate up to 8 volunteers. The house has running water, two showers and a toilet. The common area downstairs boasts hammocks, chairs and picnic tables.
Volunteers are provided with three meals a day, prepared in the typical diet of the Costa Rican family: rice, beans, tortillas, soups, vegetable stews, pasta, etc. Meals will be prepared by our gracious cook, Antonia. All volunteers are asked to take turns assisting with cooking and cleanup.
Caring for and protecting Sea Turtles are big parts of what we do at Romelia. We primarily see Ridley, Hawksbill and Leatherback sea turtles. The season for these sea turtles is between July and December. But don’t worry! We have plenty of other amazing work we do throughout the rest of the year. See below for more information.
Our night patrols are made up of a group of volunteers led by an experienced patrol
leader. Volunteers will walk the 6km-long beach searching for nesting females. An average night patrol will take 4 hours but can last longer depending on the number of sea turtle encounters.
When a turtle is encountered on a night patrol, patrolling teams work directly with it, taking carapace (shell) and nest dimension measurements, collecting eggs, tagging the flippers or collect DNA samples. The collected eggs will be relocated in the hatchery where the volunteers on shift will build a new nest (according to measurements that were taken) and relocating the eggs. The number of eggs, nest location and turtle identification information (tag number) are then recorded by the hatchery attendant for further data analysis for example hatchling survival rate. The project avoids every form of confrontation with egg poachers. If a shift encounters poachers they won´t do anything. The unwritten rule in this community is that the person(s) who arrive first are the “owners” of the eggs.
The tasks in the hatchery will be taking care of the relocated nests; keeping out predators and tourists; giving information to tourists; taking nest temperatures and measurements; and releasing newborn hatchlings.
During hatching seasons, all nests in the hatcheries must be checked every 10 minutes during the day and every 15 minutes during the night. Hatchlings must be counted and released in the appropriate location and observed until they reach the sea.
The beach is constantly being filled with wood debris and trash brought from San Jose by a nearby river, reducing the nesting area available for turtles, as well as presenting risks for the turtles and the hatchlings (e.g. acting as barriers on the beach).
Because everything grows so quickly here, trails need constant maintenance – especially in the rainy season. The space of the refuge occupies 224.8 hecatres (556 acres), so you can imagine there is plenty of work to be done with the trails!
Your role as a volunteer in this part of the project is to protect the endangered environments within Romelia that are rich with diversity. This is accomplished through projects such as trail construction and maintenance, cleaning and maintenance of facilities, support in research projects, collaboration with the environmental education program, and the attention of tourists.
Another exciting part of the project is that you get to research a variety of mammals which are home to the rich forest in which you will be working. With the help of sand traps and trap cameras we analyze and research the amounts and behaviours of a variety of animals including ocelots, snakes and monkeys. The trap cameras will be placed at different spots next to the trails in the forest to see where the mammals are living.
For those with a green thumb – or those who want to learn more about gardening – there is an opportunity to help in the onsite vineyard, with the greenhouse, exotic fruit trees, and many tropical plants.
Art and Environmental Education
Every year we host the Montezuma International Art-Camp Festival “Chunches de Mar.” Montezuma International Art-Camp Festival “Chunches de Mar (MIACFCM), intends to unite a rich array of international and local visual artists, each with unique perspectives, and styles for the month of January, to create art and share ideas under the trees and on the sand of this pristine and peaceful location at “Refugio Mixto De Vida Silvestre Romelia” (RMVSR.)
We are also Implementing a program of environmental education with the purpose of educating residents and visitors about the importance of protecting coastal and marine ecosystems and biodiversity of the same.
The weather is characterized as humid, hot and very hot. Annual precipitation is about 118 inches, distributed between May and December. A lack of rain persists the remaining months with the driest of all being between July and August, during the period known as “Veranillo de San Juan,” which lasts up to 70 days. Average annual temperature is between 24 and 27 C (75 to 81 F). The aridity index is over 20% and the hydric is between 40 and 60% (Herrera 1985 quoted in RMVS-Romelia—SINAC-MIAET, 2011).
The Mixted Wildlife/Conservation Refuge Romelia was created on November 24, 1998, whose main objective is to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity in the Tempisque Conservation Area (ACT).
This refuge was born from the initiative of Albert Ingalls and Gatti Gitza, who, following their ideals of conservation, donated this land that was once his home where he saw his children grow up. It is now what is known as the Romelia Mixted Wildlife/Conservation Refuge. This generous donation contributes to the Tempisque Conservation Area (ACT) and the biological corridor of the Nicoya Peninsula, which encompases Cabo Blanco Reserve, Curu Mixed Wildlife Refuge, Karen Morgensen Reserve, Nicolas Wessberg Refuge, and the Romelia Mixted Wildlife/Conservation Refuge. Because it sits next to the Nicholas Wessbergnature Reserve and close to the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve, it is part of the very first protected area of Costa Rica. Romelia is one of the last strongholds in the entire Nicoya Peninsula which remains prinstine and one of the most important attractions in the tourist area, due to its natural beauty, bathed by the waves of the Central Pacific, and sheltered by the cliffs typical of this area, fed by rivers and waterfalls – not to mention its proximity to the towns of Montezuma and Santa Teresa.
- Good walking water shoes
- Light clothes (shorts and t-shirts)
- Beach Towel
- Head lamp with red light
- Personal First Aid kit
- Bug repellent & mosquito net
- High top hiking boots or tall rubber boots
- Biodegradable soap, shampoo and conditioner
- Biodegradable detergent
- English/Spanish Dictionary
- Table games and reading material to keep occupied during down times
- Camera (we have a solar panel for charging cameras)
- If you have a health issue, please bring extra medicine
- Bring something to share with others!
||Area with influence from both Guanacaste
dry forest and the Southern humid forest.
|Mahogany, Cedar, Tempisque, Laurel
||365 individuals belonging to 57
Bare- throated Bellbird, Trogon, Long-haired Mannequin,
||20 species, 13 reptile and 7 amphibian
||26 species of mammals, including 11
species of bats
|Deer, Greater Grison, Gray-headed Tayra, Sword-nose bat
Here is a list of supplies we currently need at the project. Please feel free to bring some or all of these with you to help us out. Thank you in advance for your generosity!
- Headlamp (with red light)
- Latex Gloves (medium size)
- Waterproof cameras
- GPS Units
- Dry backpacks (dark colors)
- Waterproof boxes
- Raincoats – poncho style (dark colors)
- First Aid Kits
- Write in the rain kits (pens, notebooks, etc.)
|Complete Project Information
||Conservation & Wildlife
||Minimum: 1 Week (Occassional exceptions made for groups.)
||Any day of the year
||See Prices page for more information
||Surfing, Spanish, Fire Spinning, Yoga and Scuba Lessons (before or after volunteer time)
- Accommodations in our Volunteer Lodge
- Three Meals Per Day while at Project
- Country Information and Orientation
- Volunteer Project Placement
- Project Training & In-Country Support
- Assistance with Planning Excursions and Activities
- Reference letter or evidence of volunteer service hours
- 24 hour in-country emergency service
||Volunteering: An average of 6 to 8 hours per day with Sundays off.
|Materials or Preparation Needed
||See list above in description.
Click on map below to see where the project is located.
View Tropical Adventures Foundation Map – Costa Rica in a larger map
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