Pura Vida – Costa Rica

Explore one of the most bio-diverse areas in Latin America, and discover why the national phrase, "Pura Vida", or "Pure Life", is the perfect choice of words to describe life in Costa Rica.

Program Overview

Experience of a Lifetime

Costa Rica is a vibrant country, renowned for its warm people and very progressive, ecologically-conscience government, but the country still faces a myriad of problems related to an influx in regional migration. Some segments of the population still have limited access to healthcare, education, and social services.

Imagine your group taking part in an experience of a lifetime, traveling across the Rio Sixaola via dugout canoe, deep within the rain forests of Costa Rica to work with the indigenous Bribri people. There your group will work on implementing "Estufas Fincas" — cook stoves that burn a wide variety of dried organic material as fuel and produce biochar.

Traditional cooking methods burn up too much fuel, cause increased deforestation, and smoke inhalation is the number one cause of respiratory diseases in these indigenous communities. Volunteers will then help the Bribri to sell the biochar produced by the estufas fincas as a valuable soil amendment to local farmers, creating a valuable micro-business and access to an alternative income. This project enables the Bribri peoples of Costa Rica to keep their cultural heritage, knowledge of ethnobotanical medicine, and natural environment intact while also improving the health, safety and lives of community members.

Additional Service Initiatives

Additional service initiatives include working to improve facilities in local schools, volunteering in wildlife conservation, taking part in rainforest patrols, and working on a permaculture farm. All of the project work is heavily focused on carbon neutral energy solutions with the aim of helping Costa Rica reach its national goal of becoming the first carbon neutral country on the planet.

Spanish immersion lessons are available and hands on cultural activities include learning about millennia old ethnobotanical medicine from the local medicine men and taking part in a shaman ceremony, a tour of the local Jaguar Rescue Center, an interactive chocolate making demonstration using locally harvested cacao, hiking miles and miles of trails rich with rainforest species such as monkeys, sloths, kinkajous, and toucans, an excursion to the nearby Puerto Viejo beaches — one of the most popular surfing beaches in the world — and an authentic indigenous BBQ hosted by the local Bribri indigenous peoples, complete with traditional dances and exquisite Bribri cuisine.

Housing & Food

Volunteers are housed in a variety of safe, clean cabanas with running water — heated water is not always available, but you are not likely to miss it in this tropical environment.

Traditional Costa Rican meals will be prepared for your group daily — think of a diet of fresh, organic, locally grown fruits and vegetables, the typical gallo pinto, and banana leaf tamales cooked outside with a wood burning fire, giving it a unique, smoky flavor.

How to get involved

For those who want to experience true sustainability in action, Bright Light Volunteers' Pura Vida – Costa Rican Experience is the volunteer program for you.

Click below to contact one of our representatives on creating a customized volunteer package for your group.

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View a Sample Itinerary

Note: At Bright Light Volunteers we customize each service program for each group. This sample itinerary is only here to help you understand the possibilities available.

Remember – you get to choose your own specific service adventure!

View Sample Itinerary

Why participate in our volunteer programs?

  • I want to show my students the power of sustainable service and emphasize the importance of global education.

    – Amy, IB Coordinator
  • I want to bette the world and make a positive impact in the lives of other.

    – Annaiz, Student
  • I want to experience another culture and at the same time contribute to making the world a better place.

    – Caroline, Student
  • I want to impact the lives of those in Greece while they impact mine. I think the BLV program promotes global citizenship and provides an incredible learning experience.

    – Cassidy, Student
  • I want to go to Peru because it would be a great opportunity. It is a chance for me to practice Spanish, visit a foreign country, and offer aid.

    – Jessica, Student

Photo Gallery

Enjoy some photos from our previous trips!

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