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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. Some tourism initiatives are actively involved in environmental protection and employ biologists/ecologists, so besides tourism internships, a focus on biology/ecology is also possible. "Community Tourism" is very popular in Nicaragua with numerous local initiatives that attempt to get into the tourism business. We are arranging on-sites and remote/virtual internships with various projects and organizations in Nicaragua.
Internships are possible as a Remote / Virtual internship from home! Tasks for Remote Interns: see the project descriptions below. The remote internship is 450 EUR for the first month and 100 EUR additionally for any additional month or part thereof. Just submit the inquiry/order form form and mention "Remote Internship"!

Nicaragua - A model country for sustainable tourism

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. Sustainable tourism has the potential to protect Nicaragua's rich environmental and cultural resources.
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.

Rainforest protected by an eco lodge in the Indio Maiz Biosphere buffer zone (remote/virtual internship)

The Indio Maiz Biosphere Reserve is one of the largest protected rainforest areas in Central America, located between the Caribbean coast and the Bartola River. The forest is home to 65 types of mammals including large cats of prey, 221 species of birds, 55 species of reptiles, 34 types of amphibians, 149 types of insects and many plant types such as massive rainforest trees.
In the reserve, however, illegal logging and cattle farming is taking place, which drives animal species to the buffer zones outside the reserve. An eco-lodge in Nicaragua, located in the buffer zone bordering the reserve, is protecting 50 hectares of primary rainforest that has endangered tree species such as the titor tree and the mountain almond tree, which provide food tothe Great Green Macaw. In addition, 14,000 trees have been reforested in areas that previously had been cleared.
The lodge generates income through hiking tours, bird watching and kayaking tours in the rainforest and employs a biologist/ecologist as the project manager for nature conservation activities, who provides internship supervision together with the lodge's owner.
Tasks for online interns include participation in the conceptual planning for the protection of rainforests and the renaturation of degraded forest areas with the involvement of local farmers. This also includes the development of concepts to finance such projects, both through ecotourism and other sources of funding.

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
Location: Various Locations in Nicaragua
Availability: All year, Start date flexible
Minimum Duration: 1 Month
Maximum Duration: 12 Months
Language Requirements: Average Spanish
Room with Host Family, Shared Accommodation (depending on location)
Supervision Possible: Yes
Qualification Of Supervisor: Technical personnel from the tourism industry
Minimum Qualification Of Intern:
Relevant studies
Further Contribution To Project: None
Volunteering Possible: Yes
Required Qualification For Volunteer: None
Further Contribution To Project: None
Professional Conduct, Do you have the "right" attitude?
Accommodation at your location is typically with host families. In rural areas there might only be host families of simple accommodation standard.

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+ Days
 wu servicepackage
1 Person
590 EUR 690 EUR 790 EUR
2-4 Persons
(Rate per Person)
500 EUR 600 EUR 700 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
  • Costs for 10 seedlings of indigenous trees that we plant on the slopes of Kilimanjaro

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, credit card or via Paypal. You will pay a deposit of 200 EUR / 250 USD 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.

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.

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