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Marine Turtle Conservation in Estero Padre Ramos

Internship and Volunteering Possible
In the sea turtle conservation project in Estero Padre Ramos in Nicaragua, the hawksbill turtle eggs are brought to a safe place, hatched and the young turtles released into the sea. Volunteering and professionally supervised internships in biology, ecology, etc. are possible here.

Project Details

This community-based conservation project of the Hawksbill Turtle is carried out in Estero Padre Ramos in the Northwest of Nicaragua in the Chinandega region.
60% of the whole nesting activities of the critically endangered, Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Turtle take place in 7 areas of the sparsely populated mangrove zones of Padre Ramos. According to the local population, 15 years ago, more than 10 nests per night could be found during the nesting season between April and September. Today, the total number of nests per season is estimated at 150-250.
The problem in Nicaragua is that the local population collects the eggs for food, or for sale on the market. Due to poverty, they depend on the eggs for nutrition, and on their sale for an income. In the rural and underdeveloped region, all income generation of the locals is through the exploitation of natural resources. In combination with low levels of education and no environmental awareness, this leads to destruction of the environment. 
The government of Nicaragua banned the collection and trade of turtle eggs in 2005. This banning however didn't have any effect, as the trade of turtle eggs just shifted to the black market. This is because no alternatives were introduced to the local market as sources of nutrition and income.
The conservation project of Padre Ramos has the strategy of buying the eggs from the locals, to have them bred at a protected environment which is similar to a greenhouse, under ideal temperature conditions, and with the eggs being protected from possible pest infestation. In this way, since the start of the project in 2010, 90% of the eggs of the area have been saved. In 2010 and 2011 a total of 35575 Hawksbill turtle hatchlings were released into the ocean.
As the mangrove area is large, the project needs the help of the locals to spot nesting activities. Hundreds of locals patrol the area every night during the nesting season to spot egg-laying turtles. When they find one, they call the conservation project staff who rush to the place with a boat to relocate the eggs into the project's greenhouse. Within 5 hours after being laid, the eggs can be relocated without any problem. Locals who report nests are paid a similar price to when selling the eggs in the market. They participate primarily for financial reasons. The conservation project uses the slogan "From Poachers to Heroes".
For long-term success and sustainability of the project, the centre also works on the creation and implementation of options for alternative income-regeneration for the local population, and on environmental education. The plan is to generate income primarily through eco-tourism.
Short-time volunteering (1-8 weeks) is seen as part of eco-tourism and its program fees are a major source of funding for the project. Long-term volunteers and interns from relevant subject areas (minimum 2 months) are actively involved in the development of the project.
The "Finca Ecológica La Trinchera" has been built to accommodate foreign volunteers and interns, offering safe and clean single rooms with sanitary installations of good standard. Meals are provided at the village's only restaurant "La Enramada del Pescadito Frito". Finca and the restaurant are run by locals who have been trained in tourism service provision, hygiene and balanced nutrition.
Besides volunteering options, eco-tourists can enjoy interesting local tours, such as a boat ride on Estero Padre Ramos where many birds and wildlife can be spotted, visiting a local farm and learning how to make cheese, how to milk cows and how to bake traditional tortillas, horseback riding, Spanish language lessons, learning traditional fishing techniques, cooking lessons, kayaking, bike tours, visiting a small shrimps farm, and hiking on Mount El Tintal.
Short-time volunteering (1-8 weeks) is only possible during the nesting season between the 15th of April and the 15th of September. Anyone can participate, even without any related previous experiences. The income through short-time volunteers are a major source of funding for the entire project.
Long-term volunteering and internships (from 2 months) are for students and professionals of related subject areas such as biology, marine biology, geology, protected area management, tourism development, agriculture, development work, etc. These placements are also possible at months other than those of the nesting season, in agreement with the people in charge of the project, who will develop a participation plan for you.
The project cooperates with a marine turtle conservation project in neighbouring El Salvador. An interesting competition has been initiated to motivate the locals, giving prizes to the country that saves most eggs. It is possible to combine an internship at both countries.
Participants should be able to communicate in Spanish or English.
Info Box
Location: Estero Padre Ramos, Nicaragua
Availability: All year, Start date flexible
Minimum Duration: 1 Week
Maximum Duration: 12 Months
Language Requirements: English
Further Languages Of Advantage: Spanish
Accommodation: Finca Ecológica La Trinchera
Supervision Possible: Yes
Qualification Of Supervisor: Biologist
Minimum Qualification Of Intern:
Further Contribution To Project: Yes, 100 USD per Month
Volunteering Possible: Yes
Required Qualification For Volunteer: None
Further Contribution To Project: See Price Scheme for Volunteering 1-8 weeks
Professional Conduct, Do you have the "right" attitude?




The video shows the two marine turtle conservation projects in Akumal, Mexico and Estero Padre Ramos, Nicaragua. The project in Nicaragua is the second project presented in the video.


The "Finca Ecológica La Trinchera" has been built to accommodate foreign volunteers and interns, offering safe and clean single rooms with sanitary installations of good standard. Meals are provided at the village's only restaurant "La Enramada del Pescadito Frito". Finca and the restaurant are run by locals who have been trained in tourism service provision, hygiene and balanced nutrition.
You can see pictures of the accommodation in our Image Gallery (last few pictures).



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
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1 Person
700 EUR 800 EUR 900 EUR 1000 EUR
2-4 Persons
(Rate per Person)
500 EUR 600 EUR 700 EUR 800 EUR
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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.
The payment modalities for rent and possible further costs (e.g. internship supervision fees, as stated in info box of the respective project description) depend on your host country and placement. We will inform you beforehand. In many cases these costs are paid on site, but for some countries and placements they need to be paid partially or fully in advance.



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 8 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.



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 or 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.



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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