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Sustainable Tourism Development in Nicaragua

Internship and Volunteering Possible
 
Nicaragua is one of the leading countries in the field of sustainable tourism, and the majority of tourists who visit Nicaragua are interested in packages in nature and culture. Nicaragua has the greatest potential for these two areas in all of Central America. "Community Tourism" is very popular in Nicaragua with numerous local initiatives that attempt to get into the tourism business.
 
We provide internships throughout Nicaragua in various projects in Tourism Development with INTUR, the government tourist office, and at several local community tourism initiatives. At INTUR and other tour operators, tourism marketing internships are also possible.
 
 

Project Details

 
Nicaragua's recent tourism development only began in the 1990's. Therefore, there are much less tourists visiting Nicaragua today than for instance, its neighbouring country Costa Rica, which has been explored for tourism from earlier times. However, the late development of tourism also saved Nicaragua from the negative impact of mass tourism.
 
The landscapes of the scarcely populated country are very diverse, from tropical rain forest to dry savannahs, from the beaches of the Pacific coast to the Caribbean coast with paradise islands such as Corn Island, numerous volcanoes and lagoons, and extraordinary fauna and flora. The Spanish atmosphere and history of the old colonial cities of León, Chinandega and Granada attract tourists interested in culture; further, there are numerous remains from pre-colonial indigenous times and even today, you can witness many aspects of indigenous culture.
 

INTUR - Tourism Development and Marketing

 
The areas of work and departments of INTUR (Instituto Nacional de Turismo Nicaraguense) include international tourism marketing for Nicaragua as a travel destination, development and planning of tourism in the country, project management and support of small and medium tourism enterprises, as well as improvements of tourism service quality in Nicaragua. Besides the head office in Managua, there are 15 local offices spread over the country.
 
You can choose one of INTUR's departments and then INTUR will decide whether you will be placed in the head office in Managua or in one of the regional offices to participate in project work.
 
Example of a project of tourism development: The Region of Chontales
 
In the Chontales Region, there are for instance, several archaeological sites of the Sumo Indians, dating back to 200-800 BC. These sites have been used to carry out rituals and one can find large stone pyramids and petroglyphs (stone carvings) with drawings including reptiles, shamans, monkeys, dogs, calendars etc. Only a few of these archaeological sites have been excavated and are accessible for tourism.
 
A local initiative of the village of Villa Sandino is the conservation of these monuments and is making them accessible for tourism. With funds from Finland, the initiative, which is formed by local accommodation owners and people interested in archaeology, has created a park of petroglyphs outside of Villa Sandino. Roofs have been erected to protect the petroglyphs from erosion through sun and rain; paths have been constructed, and guides have been trained. This park of petroglyphs is operational and it is visited by a few tourists. The idea is to additionally build a visitor centre/museum, as soon as further funds can be raised.
 
In the tab "More Info", you can read a report by one of our participants in this project.
 
This internship is being offered by INTUR, but you would primarily work with the people of the local initiative of Villa Sandina.
 

Recent initiatives of rural tourism

 
UCA Tierra y Agua
 
"UCA Tierra y Agua" is an association with headquarters in Granada, Nicaragua, that works in five villages outside the city, on the improvement of living standards of the villagers. This includes access to careers in the field of agriculture, the improvement of houses/flats and educational opportunities (e.g. scholarships) and the development of Community Tourism as an additional source of income.
 
One of the participating villages is called "Nicaragua Libre". The village is a 30-40 minutes bus ride from Granada, up the Panamericana Road.
 
Interns can live in the village and have access to literature on Community Tourism in Nicaragua and share best practices. Once a week, you travel to Granada to work in the UCA office there.
 
The idea of Community Tourism in Nicaragua Libre and the other villages is that the population is no longer dependent only on the income of agriculture. The tourism revenues allow a little extra income apart from agriculture, which continues to be operated on a small scale and previously was the only source of income, with only an annual household income of less than 1000 USD; this was never enough for satisfactory health care, education of children, etc. The aim of the cooperative is to raise the standard of living through tourism offers.
 
There is in the village of Nicaragua Libre, the "Albergue Comunitario", a simple Guest House with 3 rooms where food is also served. It operates several tours and sells locally made crafts. In the village, you can visit the plantations of corn, beans, watermelon and coffee; you pay $ 3 per person to the guide, who also shows cockfights and organises a tour of the volcano Mombacho. In cooperation with the members of UCA in neighbouring villages, more day trips are possible, such as a visit to Charco Muerto on Cocibolca Lake, the trails of "Los Nortenos", the Finca Posintepe and the nature reserve "Aguas Agrias".
 
As an intern, you can find new ways of how the cooperative can continue to benefit from tourism and also develop Marketing Strategy and materials. An introduction and practical support will be given to you by Meylin, who comes from the village of Nicaragua Libre and works in Granada with a tour operator where she is responsible for "sustainability". She lives in Nicaragua Libre and commutes daily to Granada. More expert support will be given to you by the staff of UCA. Otherwise, you work with the people from the village in the Albergue Comunitario; for training activities of UCA there is a small office which is also used as a "community center".
 
The accommodation is with host families in the community where tourists stay. Presumably, you can change the family you stay with multiple times so that several families financially benefit from your stay (if you stay with only one, providing them income, that might invite envy from the others). None of the families speak English very well, but in most families there are members who have Basic English, since volunteers have been in the village and have taught English there.
 
Info Box
General
Location: Various Locations in Nicaragua
Availability: All year, Start date flexible
Minimum Duration: 1 Month
Maximum Duration: 12 Months
Language Requirements: Average Spanish
Accommodation:
Room with Host Family, Shared Accommodation (depending on location)
Internship
Supervision Possible: Yes
Qualification Of Supervisor: Technical personnel from the tourism industry
Minimum Qualification Of Intern:
Relevant studies
Further Contribution To Project: None
Volunteering
Volunteering Possible: Yes
Required Qualification For Volunteer: None
Further Contribution To Project: None
Expectations:
Professional Conduct, Do you have the "right" attitude?
 

More Info

 

Read More:

 
 

Accommodation

 
Accommodation at your location is typically with host families. In rural areas there might only be host families of simple accommodation standard.
 
For an internship in Nicaragua Libre, please have a look at the accommodation presented at our "Community Tourism" offer in Nicaragua (from the Top Menu choose Active Travel>Community Tourism)!
 

Rate

 

I. World Unite! Service Package

Mobile/Cell Phone Users: If you don't see the rates for your desired duration of stay, hide other (shorter) durations of stay.
  up to 60 Days
61-90 Days
91-120 Days
5 Months or longer
 wu servicepackage
1 Person
700 EUR 800 EUR 900 EUR 1000 EUR
2-4 Persons
(Rate per Person)
500 EUR 600 EUR 700 EUR 800 EUR
 
Convert rates to USD, GBP, CAD, AUD and other currencies
 

The World Unite! Service Package includes:

 
  • Individual Consultation and Preparation prior to your arrival
  • Access to the World Unite! Online Resource Centre which has Preparation Materials including Intercultural Preparation, compiled particularly for your destination (PDFs, Videos)
  • Preparation Session via Skype, together with further participants
  • Assistance with visa extension in Nicaragua or arrangement of visa (depending on duration of stay) and other official permits (if required), but not the official government fees for it/them
  • Bus ticket from Managua Airport to the the bus stop which is closest to the location of your placement. We will give you a detailled description which bus to take and where to go. You will then be picked up from the bus stop where you leave the bus and will get transfer to your accommodation (e.g. by bus to Chinandega, pick-up from there and transfer to Estero Padre Ramos). Return travel in the same way is also included.
  • Personal support staff at your location and at our international office
  • Orientation and Introduction in León
  • Accompanying you to your placement on your first day
  • 24 Hours emergency support by local support team
  • 50 USD Contribution to your project
  • Local SIM Card with 250 C$ air time
  • Issuance of Confirmations/Certificates for your university, scholarship, insurance, etc. and filling out/signing Internship Contracts for your university
 

The Rates do NOT include:

 
  • Accommodation and Meals (see below)
  • Travel to/from Nicaragua (you book it on your own; we can assist you)
  • Official fees for Visa (see below)
  • Insurance (Travel Health Insurance, Liability Insurance, Travel Cancellation insurance; you book it on your own, we can assist you)
  • Personal Expenses
  • Vaccinations
  • Local Transport (Estimated amounts see below)
  • Please note that for supervised/mentored internships, some organizations charge further contributions. You find this information in the "Info Box" below the respective internship description.
 

II. Accommodation Costs

 
In Estero Padre Ramos (Marine Turtle Project):
 
Accommodation at the Finac Ecológica on Full Board:
 
In case of duration of stay of 1-8 weeks: 160 EUR per week (incl. project contribution)
In case of duration of stay of 2 months and longer: 200 USD per month for accommodation + additional project contribution of 100 USD per any month started
 
The revenue generated by short-time volunteers is a fundamental part of the funding of the project. Short-time volunteering is seen as part of the project's eco-tourism offers.
 
In Nicaragua Libre (Internship Tourism Development):
 
Host family of simple standard on full board: 150 USD/month
 
In Rio San Juan (Cocoa plantation):
 
Host family of simple standard on full board: 220 Nicaragua-Cordobas per day
 
All other locations:
 
We will communicate the costs to you!
 

Overview of other costs:

 
  • Visa 10 USD on arrival at the airport for most nationals for a maximum of 90 days. Any extra month 20 USD. If you stay for more than 180 days, you need to leave Nicaragua and go to Costa Rica. When returning to Nicaragua, you get an additional 90 days for 10 USD.
  • If meals are not included: around 70-150 EUR /100-180 USD)/month
  • Small local expenses (e.g. Internet, local transport): around 30-50 USD/Month (Estimate)
  • Insurances around 30-50 USD/Month

 

How do I pay?

 
Once all your questions have been answered and you confirm that you want to participate, we will email you an invoice. You can pay it via bank transfer or via Paypal. You will pay a deposit of 200 EUR when the invoice is issued. One months prior to your arrival you will pay the remainder for your Service Package and for the first month of rent.
 
Rent from the 2nd month, possible further contributions to the NGO or for internship supervision (see info box of the respective project description), and costs for visa and possibly further official permits you pay directly at your destination (unless we inform you differently for certain placements). There are ATMs. 
 

Extras

 

Other Projects That Might Interest You:

 
 
These projects are suggestions for alternatives that may interest you or those that could be chosen as COMBINATIONS. The combination of projects in different organizations is often possible and usually cheaper than two individual bookings. Please contact us to know more! Check out our other listings in the areas of "World Learner" and "Active Travel" at your travel destination to make your stay even more interesting.
 

Learning Spanish in León!

 
Learning Spanish in NicaraguaLearning Spanish is always helpful, and you can choose the intensity of your lessons. We recommend, however, a maximum of 10 hours per week. These are individual lessons with a teacher. Sometimes, students of similar knowledge levels can take lessons together. The cost of lessons does not vary according o the number of participants though.
 
The cost for Spanish lessons: 1 Student 6 EUR
 
Check "Language Training Required" in the registration form and specify the number of hours desired (minimum 20 hours).
 

Travel Health Insurance

 
We recommend the following travel insurance that is meant specifically for participants of internships, volunteering, language study, working holiday, and courses abroad. It is available for travelers of all nationalities and usable for all countries, except your home country. You can also add a journey liability insurance.
 
Just click on the link, fill in the form and you will get a confirmation email.
 
 
 

León

 

Check out our video on León !

 
Philippa from Germany completed a 9-month internship in the kindergarten, "Los Ositos" in León, Nicaragua. In this video, she takes us through the city of León. We also meet the Spanish teacher Aura Cristina and our (former) supervisor, Ninoska.
 
 

León - Colonial City in Nicaragua

 
León (175,000 inhabitants) is an old Spanish colonial city, located at a distance of around 90 km from the capital Managua and the international airport. The attractive beaches of the Pacific coast are only 15 km away and are easily and inexpensively accessible by public bus.
 
The city has a special atmosphere which makes one think of its wealthy past. For a long time, the university city has been the country's intellectual hub. Particularly during the university terms, the city is full of young people and has a vivid student life. Tourism is not yet developed much, but is constantly growing.
 
Problems of the country that participants will face during their volunteering or internship placement are the lack of development, poverty, high unemployment and insufficient educational, medical and social systems, particularly in the rural areas. Many rural Nicas migrate to the cities or leave the country altogether. Around 20% of all Nicaraguans live outside their own country.
 

Coordinator in León

 
Our coordinator in León is Katherine from Nicaragua and Stefanie from Austria.
 

Recreational Activities in León

 
In León there are numerous bars and night clubs; almost every night one can find live music somewhere. There are cinemas and a theater. At the House of Culture one can take dance, music, drawing, ballet and taekwondo lessons. The Nicas love fitness; there is a gym at almost every street.
 
The beaches of the Pacific coast (Poneloya und Las Peñitas) are only 15-20 km away. It is possible to surf. Around León, there are ranches where you can do horseback riding. There are several small towns around León where you can visit colonial or Indian ruins and see local handcraft production sites. In a day trip, you can visit natural parks with crater lakes or mangrove lagoons where boat trips are possible, and where you can see many birds and alligators.
 
Throughout the year, there are many festivals which are often religious.
 
On a multi-day trip, you can see the less explored paradise, "Corn Island", on the English Caribbean coast of Nicaragua.

Getting There

 

Getting To León

 
nnicaragua map
 
You book your flight to the airport of Managua (MGA). Also compare airfares to popular holiday destinations in the Caribbean and southern United States (e.g. Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Las Vegas, Panama, Santo Domingo, Cancún), from where you can book a cheap flight at www.spirit.com or www.copaair.com to Managua. From Managua airport you will be picked up and brought to Leon.
 
In the case of other locations in Nicaragua, we give you detailed information about travel. In most cases, you take a bus from Managua Airport and then you are picked up from the bus station near your place of work.
 

FAQs

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 
Are there fixed start dates for the project, which I must adhere to?
No, you can arrive at any date and you can hence, plan your trip according to your availability and the prices of flights. We can pick you up from the Managua airport even at night.
Can I stay longer at my accommodation after my volunteering/internship or arrive earlier?
Yes, this is possible and we will give you our best rates. Just let us know when you arrive and leave and we will let you know the costs.
During my stay, can I travel around the country?
Of course, you can do this - most of our participants do so. However, when the travel destination is too far away, it may not be possible over a weekend; these, we would recommend you keep for before the projects begins or after the completion. You could even plan these out during holidays (e.g. Semana Santa). We will notify you of the destinations and the recommended time to visit.
Is it safe to travel in Nicaragua alone as a single female traveller?
There is no problem travelling alone, if you keep in mind certain safety rules that are applicable to almost any other location. We will advise you on the same.
Is Nicaragua not one of the most dangerous countries in the world?
No. In the Americas, including North, Central and South America, Nicaragua has the lowest crime rates after Canada. There are, of course, poverty related crimes, such as pick pocketing and robbery using knife threats. You should therefore, avoid stepping out alone at night, travel in small groups, avoid deserted areas and carrying valuables with you.
 
Some neighbouring countries of Nicaragua, especially Honduras, can be dangerous, and we do not recommend that you travel there.
Will I be the only volunteer/intern in the project or in Nicaragua?
The total number of participants that participate simultaneously with an organization depends on the size and activity of the organization and responsibilities of volunteers/interns. We try to avoid too many volunteers/interns in an organization at the same time. It may be that you are alone in your work site, but usually there are, throughout the year, other participants in Leon, who you can meet in your spare time, if you desire so. In addition, there are also many tourists on the road, whom you can easily meet at bars, shops, etc.
What vaccinations do I need?
Our Info - PDF that you get as a participant, gives detailed information on health care. Also refer to Recommended Vaccinations
Where will I live?
In León, you live with host families. Since León is a university town, it has a long tradition of families providing rooms for young people on rent. The houses are all in the historic city of León. Usually they have a patio, which you can reach via a lockable door from the street. From there, you usually have a separate entrance to your room from where the family lives. The families generally, have 1-4 such rooms, where often more of our participants or Nicaraguan students live. You can decide how much interaction you want with the family. You can find more details in the tab "Accommodation".
How free or bound am I in my accommodation with the host family?
In general, your room has a private entrance from the patio and you have two keys, both for patio as well as for your room. You can choose to live largely independent of the family, if that is your preference; yet, the families look forward to interacting with you and you practise the language with them. However, it is not allowed that without the consent of the host family, you invite non-World Unite! participants to visit or stay there.
Does my accommodation have internet facilities?
Yes, wifi internet is provided to you at a monthly extra charge.
How can I do my laundry?
In León, there are many laundromats. These are very cheap and wash with large and modern washing machines. You can bring a big bag of laundry in the morning and get them washed and ironed by that afternoon.
Can I cook in the accommodation ?
Yes, the families allow the use of the kitchen, but may charge a small monthly fee for additional consumption of electricity and gas. The families also offer meals for you, if you want to eat with them. This, you can decide when you arrive. Details are in the tab "Accommodation".
I am a vegetarian. Can I get vegetarian food?
Yes, this is possible.
What language skills do I need?
For most projects, basic knowledge of Spanish is expected. For some projects, English will suffice, and others require a solid knowledge of Spanish. This is stated in the info-boxes of the respective projects.
 
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