Our mission: To inspire community based, conservation-minded tourism, by unifying local and international expertise and resources.
Most of our projects are suggested by our local partners. Often they stem from ideas that the tour guides of the island had for community development, but never came about due to lack of resources or time (hustling for tours takes a lot more time than you’d think). Guias Unidos provides a location, ideas, resources, and financial support to make these projects possible.
Junior Rangers: Schoolkids everywhere need something to do over school breaks, and what’s better than getting out into nature? Seeing an opportunity, Peace Corps volunteer Kari and Ometepe tour guide Levis created a curriculum for environmental education similar to day camps in the United States that would teach local kids about the natural beauty that surrounds them.
The program includes several classroom sessions learning about environmental topics, then a Guias Unidos and the PUMAs are continuing the program, with the first Junior Rangers graduating in October of 2019. Graduates will be invited to help teach future cohorts.
Reforestation: The biggest ecological problem on Ometepe is deforestation. It is the root of many other problems – erosion and landslides, loss of habitat for native species including the endangered Yellow-naped Amazon parrot, water pollution, etc. Our guides created a tree and plant nursery in the garden of Centro PUMA in May 2019, planting seeds collected from local, native trees.
In a couple of months, we had 1000 seedlings, and for the rest of the rainy season, we have been planting seedlings all over the island. A big thank-you to the students and teachers at Si a la Vida for helping us get these trees in the ground!
English Classes: One of the biggest challenges facing tourists on the island is communication. If you are not Spanish-speaking, it can be hard to get around the island. The rapid expansion of tourism in Nicaragua, with the numbers doubling between 2006 and 2017, didn’t leave much time for preparation of good infrastructure and training. Since the political crisis began in April 2018, tourism has plummeted, leaving experienced guides without work but with skills to share.
To combat both problems, the PUMA guides are offering English classes on Saturdays, as well as tutoring throughout the week, to children in the community free of charge. Guias Unidos pays the guides for their teaching and preparation time and provides resources for teaching techniques. The future of tourism on Ometepe is bright!
English Cafe: Adults on the island have several options for learning English, but need a place to practice. After assisting many enthusiastic folks in Altagracia with English conversation, volunteer Chelsea started a bi-weekly English Cafe at Centro PUMA. This free, informal gathering includes coffee and snacks for participants, and non-judgemental, fun conversation at a language learner’s pace. Fluent English speakers are welcome to come help out!