Come and visit El Silencio and become part of a very special community. As a volunteer you will be housed with one of the families in the village, who will provide accommodation (including linen and laundry) and three Costa Rican meals per day. Base yourself at the animal rescue centre, but if you have other skills to offer or wish to try your hand at the dairy farm or in the school this can easily be arranged. The volunteer program at El Silencio accommodates all ages (from 16 years), backgrounds and abilities whether you have experience in volunteer work or not. Any kind of volunteer work is welcome so the community is receptive to new ideas regarding community development.
El Silencio also welcomes groups of volunteers. Over the years we have hosted organizations such as Overland and the Univeristy of Vermont
As a volunteer you can work at the animal rescue center preparing food for the animals, serving as liaison between farms and the animals, feeding the animals, cleaning cages, building and repairing enclosures and feeding platforms, cleaning and bathing the animals. This also might include the following:
- General infrastructure maintenance
- Clean hiking trails
- Repair trails and bridges
- Make wood signs for the wildlife center and hiking trails
You will also have the opportunity to help out in other organization’s projects, for example:
- Dairy farm; milk cows, distribute the milk to the families in the community, herd cattle
- Vegetable garden; plant new vegetables, prepare compost and fertilizer, harvest crops, distribute crops
- In the supermarket; price merchandise, sell products to customers
- At the restaurant Albergue; helping out in the kitchen, serving the customers, working behind the bar, general maintenance
- Elementary and high school; assist with English education and after school activities
- Adult education; teach adult English classes
- General community development
We currently are involved with many international volunteer organizations, including I-to-I, the Asociación de Voluntarios Para El Servicio En Las Areas Protegidas (ASVO), Activity International, and Travel Works. However, these organizations charge program fees. We encourage you to use these organizations if you wish, but El Silencio offers its own, more reasonably priced options. In our own program, the money goes directly to the rescue center and host families that provide meals and housing to the volunteers, not to overhead costs.
Do a full volunteer program, working a full week from Monday to Sunday with one day off per week (optional).
• Cost: $140 per week (minimum of 2 weeks)
• Includes 7 nights accommodation with three meals per day.
• Working hours:
- Monday till Friday 6:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. (with two one hour breaks at 7.30 and 12)
- Saturday 6:00a.m. – 12 p.m. (with a one hour break at 7.30)
- Sunday: Day Off!
Why not try a very different travel experience, where you can combine volunteer work with time to travel and explore other areas of Costa Rica?:
• Costs $100 + personal expenses for traveling
• Includes accommodation 5 days with three meals a day and free time to travel for 2 days
• Working hours:
- Monday till Friday 6 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. (with two one hour breaks at 7.30 and 12)
• El Silencio will always be ready to help you and plan your trips during your weekends off and sometimes can even arrange some good deals for you.
When you come to El Silencio don’t forget to bring some important items, including:
• Light weight cotton clothing
• Hiking boots, sneakers, or rain boots
• Light raincoat and/or an umbrella
• Insect repellent (with a high DEET concentration)
• Sunscreen (with a high SPF)
• Mosquito net
• Pictures of family/friends from home (your hosts will love to see them!)
• Any personal medication or hygiene products since some brands that you are accustomed to might not be available in Costa Rica
Things to Do
First hand experiences
Nicole Townsend (19 years old - British Columbia, Canada): “I spend two months in total in El Silencio and had a great time being there. I worked at the Animal Rescue Center feeding and taking care of the animals. Even though I didn’t speak Spanish, my host family welcomed me in and made an effort to communicate with me. Even when I was supposed to go to another project, I changed my plans and stayed in El Silencio longer. ”
Divya Raghavan (20 years old – Harvard University, United States): “I spent an amazing two and a half months in Silencio teaching English at the elementary and high schools and getting to know Costa Rican culture. My students were absolutely incredible, friendly and funny and open-minded. The tightly knit community fosters a sense of family that really defined my experiences here, allowing for both a full cultural immersion and a sense of security and belonging. The only downside to volunteering here is that eventually you’ll have to leave El Silencio, and you’ll really miss this place. El Silencio feels like home to me. ”
Simon Gerber (23 years old – Zug, Switzerland): “El Silencio is Pura Vida and there are several reasons for that: I got involved in very interesting work from day one, and it continued through my entire time here. I got to know many nice people from all over the planet. I learned a lot about animals and the nature that surrounds them. I was part of a genuine Costa Rican family and realized that a life without cell phones and internet is possible, and more so very enjoyable. The only negative part about El Silencio is that you are going to gain weight because the food is just delicious.”
Tessa Codrington (17 years old- Oxford, United Kingdom): “I spent six weeks at El Silencio doing various kinds of voluntary work, including working at the chicken farm, the rescue center, and the dairy farm. I loved working with the locals and improving my Spanish. I felt very welcomed by my host family and they looked after me very well. The whole community is so fun and friendly, and I met the most incredible people.”
Alice Fradin (18 years old – Paris, France): “This has just been the greatest experience that I have ever had. Volunteering in El Silencio is an incredible opportunity to open your mind—not only are you living in an international community with volunteers from all over the world, but you are also in the middle of Tico culture. It was a wonderful cultural experience.”