You’ve probably heard how lush and green it is – and it’s a wonderfully fun, safe, peaceful place to visit in Central America. Costa Rica is especially comfortable for solo female tourists. So how do you have a prolonged visit without spending a lot of money?
WWOOFing stands for Worldwide Workers on Organic Farms. There is an international website for WWOOFing, and many countries have their own website databases for farms that take volunteers. You cover your own airfare, and sometimes there is a small fee for accommodations. You cover your food, and you live in Costa Rica for two weeks, one month, three months – or more. You essentially take on a part-time job at a farm, and when you’re done working each day, your day is yours to live and explore.
You can join Costa Rica’s WWOOFing website for about $35 – or you can contact a farm directly.
Here’s a tip: A personal reference in the WWOOFing world is gold. Some farms treat their workers like slaves – working you for hours and hours with very little food. Some have owners that are not nice. Some are not upfront about what the housing situation is like. You should research as much as you can and read reviews. But a reference is always going to be super valuable.
So, guess what? I have one for you: I visited Planet Costa Rica – a vegan farm run by an American woman named Patri. If you’re willing to follow a vegan diet, you’ll work with the animals each day from 6am to 12pm or 1pm, and then you’ll be free to explore the area, in towns like Tucurrique, Turrialba, Pejibaye, Cartago – all within a couple hours of the capital, San Jose.
I volunteered there for two weeks last year, and it was an awesome experience. I dove headfirst into every task – from harvesting wild ginger to feeding chickens, bathing dogs and beyond.
(I was also covered in mosquito bites by the end of it. Pro tip: bring a strong mosquito repellant that works, and use plenty of it.)
I discovered so much about myself, about nature, and it was a truly welcome break from New York City.
Do not contact this farm if you have a problem with being vegan, if you’re scared of pigs or chickens, or if you are afraid of hard work and learning… or if you can’t deal with not having internet. Or if you’re afraid of bugs or dirt.
You’ll be off-grid while working, taking care of the property and the animals according to the owner’s very specific instructions (she’s particular – don’t be difficult, be agreeable), and if you can do that, you’ll learn and get closer to nature.
In your spare time, the casita (the little house where you’ll stay) is lovely, and Patri is always willing to teach you something about her story, the area, or the property. There is a beautiful and incredible wildlife refuge nearby (La Marta!), as well as coffee farms and a sugar mill, internet cafés and small restaurants, a bar next door, and rivers to go playing in.
The people of Costa Rica are wonderful and kind, and life is a little simpler living in the middle of the rainforest. WWOOFing was a fantastic travel experience for me.
Have you been WWOOFing? Would you do it?
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