Frequently Asked Questions
About Costa Rica
Do I need a Passport or Visa to come to Costa Rica?
You will need a valid passport to enter into Costa Rica. Please make sure your passport is valid up to 6 months after your Departure date from Costa Rica. If you are coming to volunteer or intern, a “tourist” visa is all that is required. This is automatically granted once you enter the country in the airport, per a stamp. This is good for 90 days.
Is it safe to drink the water?
Absolutely. The water in Costa Rica is safe. Be sure to bring a re-usable water bottle as it gets very hot!
Do I need to provide my own travel or medical insurance?
As a volunteer, it is recommended that you provide your own travel or medical insurance. If you are traveling through another volunteer, academic, or travel program, many of them already include insurance as part of your fee. We recommend asking your organization about this. If not, there are plenty of options for comprehensive insurance. Check with your university, school, bank, or travel agents for the most cost-effective insurance plan available to you.
ISIC card: minimum comprehensive insurance for students: https://www.myisic.com/MyISIC/WhatIsIt.aspx
What credit cards are accepted in Costa Rica? Are there ATMs available nearby? Do they accept US dollars?
In Costa Rica, most major credits cards are accepted, especially in the more “touristy areas”; however, we recommend using a Visa or Mastercard. Volunteers in the past have had problems with American Express. There are ATMs in La Fortuna and Ciudad Quesada, which are about half an hour by bus if you need to pull out more money. They will give you the option to pull out US dollars or local Colones. US dollars are accepted in most places; however, you may find that you get a better deal when using local Colones. Not many places accept traveler’s checks.
The colón (¢1,00) is the national currency of Costa Rica. The exchange rate against the US dollar can vary day by day, but currently, it is around ¢560 Colones per US Dollar.
We recommend that you exchange some money into the local currency, Colones, after your arrival at San Jose International Airport because it’s easy and convenient for some places. However, you can use US dollars in many touristic places.
Note: You will however get a better exchange rate at a bank. You are required to present your original passport when doing bank transactions.
How much extra $$ should I bring?
The amount of extra “spending” money to bring is highly based on personal preference. In general you can survive quite comfortably on $200 (USD) a month. This allows you to have money for bus fare, food and souvenirs. This is really dependent on how long you will be here, if you plan to partake in many adventure activities, which can range from $45-$100, or travel independently, you may want to budget for more.
What kind of outlet adaptors do I need if I want to bring electronics to recharge?
The electricity is 110V, 60 Hz, you can either bring an European adaptor or US adaptors…some houses have standard US outlets and some use the European outlets. We recommend bringing adaptors for both just in case.
About Proyecto Asis
Why does Proyecto Asis exist?
Proyecto Asis strives to better the lives of the local rural community by educating them on the environment, conservation, and wildlife preservation. By doing our part to help wild, endangered, or abused animals and educating the public about their struggle…we will hopefully be helping to restore the balance between nature and humans.
What kind of help do you get?
The government provides no assistance of any kind. All of our cost is paid out-of-pocket, by private donors, visitors, and volunteers.
Where do the animals come from?
We take in animals that are injured, sick, abandoned, or abused. Many of our animals were confiscated by local authorities, as poachers or individuals have tried to restrain these animals illegally as house pets, or have tried to buy, sell, or transport them out of the country. We are constantly receiving new animals that were hit by cars, abandoned by their mother, or confiscated by authorities. We have an on-site veterinarian and do our best to care for the animals and restore them to the wild.
What is a Wild Animal Rescue Center?
A nonprofit facility created to preserve the natural environments and habitats of wild animals. We protect, feed, and care for the animals that are brought to us. We always try our best to release the animals back into the wild if possible. Sometimes however, this is impossible either because the animals were raised in captivity, permanently injured, or otherwise unable to survive. We have tried our best to create natural environments for them here at Asis. Some of the animals are also released in a larger nearby reserve called, The Children’s Eternal Conservation Center.
How much of the money paid goes directly to the Animals? To my host family?
Here at Proyecto Asis, we try to give as much of the donated money as possible to the animals or to the local community.
What is the minimum amount of time I can spend volunteering?
We accept volunteers for varied durations, ranging from a few hours to a few months! We can work with you to plan your ideal experience either studying, volunteering, or both.
What are the minimum/maximum age requirements?
Everyone is welcome to visit Proyecto Asis, but we do not offer Spanish or volunteer programs for kids under 6 years old. Children under 6 years old can come with their parents; however they must be supervised by the parent/guardian. We can arrange baby sitter service, but it is not included. We often provide programs for families with younger children so please contact us with your specific need and we will do our best to accommodate you.
Are there set or preferred program dates?
No, unlike other immersion or volunteer programs, there are no pre-determined program start dates. We are ready to work with you to set up your ideal trip, when and for how long you prefer!
What are the language requirements for our programs?
There are no language requirements to participate in our programs, although brushing up on some basic conversational Spanish would be helpful. We offer customized language courses for individuals and groups wanting to learn Spanish! We may ask that you indicate your Spanish ability before arrival, so that our instructors can better prepare their lesson plans.
What protocols are set up if there is an emergency situation?
As a volunteer, you will receive a packet of information detailing all the emergency contact numbers, as well as the information for your host family, project site, and 24 hour contact numbers to our staff here at Proyecto Asis.
First and foremost, in an emergency situation assess your needs and call 911 if necessary (the number is the same here as in the US).
There is a hospital in Ciudad Quesada, half an hour away which we can either call an ambulance, or drive you ourselves. There are also clinics and medical facilities nearby for less severe medical situations.
If you are coming through another organization, they will most likely have emergency contact information for you as well.
The standard protocol with insurance is that you will need to pay costs onsite and later, turn your documents into your insurance company, where they will reimburse you. This may vary, according to you insurance so ask questions before you arrive.
Getting to Proyecto Asis
How is the local transportation? Is it easy to get around? How do I get to Proyecto Asis?
The local bus system in Costa Rica is much cheaper than taking a taxi. We will provide you with a local bus schedule upon arrival. The bus fare is around 1500 Colones, which is roughly $3 dollars There are local buses that take you to Ciudad Quesada, La Fortuna, and surrounding cities. We are happy to help you plan for your arrival, departure, weekend trips, and excursions while you are here!
*Please arrive at San Jose International Airport at least a day or two before your program starts on Monday.
It is about a 2 – 2½ hour car drive from San José to Proyecto Asis. If your flight lands in the afternoon or evening we suggest you spend the night in a hotel or B&B, and make the beautiful drive in the morning.
There are two different transfer options:
We can arrange for a taxi to pick you up and drive you directly to Asís. The transfer service is only $120.The taxi driver goes directly to pick you up at the airport, at the exit door. He brings a sign with your name and the name of our organization, Proyecto Asis.
If you arrive before noon you can take an official airport taxi ( Orange color) to the Interbus Station in Alajuala. The Inter Bus leaves promptly at 2pm. The Interbus Station is located about 1 mile from the airport. Once you get on the Interbus it might make several stops along the way to drop off other customers. Your drop off will be directly at Proyecto Asis. COST: $40 + taxi to the bus stop.
When traveling with children we highly recommend using a taxi for convenience reasons. You can stop for bathroom breaks and a meal when needed.
Please let us know on your Enrollment Form which option you Choose so we can make the necessary arrangements for you.
What is it like living with a host family? How do you place me in a home?
Living with a host family is one of the best experiences of an immersion or volunteer program, especially if you want to learn Spanish! Meals are provided 3 times a day, along with your own room and laundry service. “Ticos” are known for their hospitality and cleanliness, as they clean everyday and prepare fresh meals of rice, beans, fruit, and vegetables.
We ask you to indicate your living preferences before arrival, on your enrollment form. These preferences include dietary needs, as well as if you prefer to live in a home with other children, or if you like animals, etc. We then do our best to place you in a home that best fits your needs. All of our placement homes have hosted families or individuals before, and we continually place individuals with families that receive positive feedback.
What gifts do you recommend I bring for my host family?
We are often asked what you can bring for your host families. If you want to bring something, you could bring something that is typical of the place you live in. Some items that have been popular are games and small toys (especially if you are living with kids), jewelry, t-shirts, hats, and food items from your home town.
Also, bring pictures of your family, home, your life, etc. to show to the host family. They are very interested in how their guests live.
Is there internet access nearby?
We have WiFi internet access at Proyecto Asis, and a computer for volunteers to use. There are also internet cafes in surrounding cities for a small fee. Wi-Fi or wireless connection is not available in the home-stays. Please note, if there are multiple volunteers internet time must be shared with all.
What is the easiest way to communicate with friends/family back home? Should I bring a phone?
The easiest way to communicate with family or friends is via email, Skype, and phone usage.
We have internet available at Proyecto Asis for you to use or set up a Skype account.
There is a store nearby where calling cards can be purchased. We also sell phone cards here at Proyecto Asis. You are welcome to use your host family’s phone, and the phone at Proyecto Asis, however a phone card must always be used to avoid expensive phone bills.
Some volunteers have chosen to bring cellular phones, however the reception has varied. If you are going to be here for an extended period of time it may be easier to purchase a “pay as you go” phone once you arrive. Other phones like a Blackberry are set up to receive service in other countries or allow you to purchase a SIM card for your phone. We recommend you check with your phone service provider for specific options.
*Please bear in mind that phone and internet usage should be kept to a minimum, in order to respect the immersion process.
What are some excursion options available to me? What are some weekend activities that are nearby?
Costa Rica is a nature-lover paradise! There are many adventure activities in the area including; hiking through the rainforest or to the volcano, White-water rafting, kayaking on Lake Arenal, bungee jumping, canopy tours/zip-lining, rappelling through canyons, hanging bridges, trips to the beach…and much more!
We will be more than glad to arrange your adventure excursions.
Thank you so much for support! The best way to give donations to Proyecto Asis is thru wire transfers. Below, we add our bank account details:
Bank: Banco de Costa Rica
Address bank: La Fortuna de San Carlos, frente al colegio.
Account name: Proyecto Asis para el Desarrollo Humano S.A.
Account number: 346-0002359-0
Please do not forget to send a copy of the deposit. This way, we can confirm that we got it.