*Note* – Due to political unrest in Nicaragua, we cannot host volunteers for the foreseeable future. If you would like to be on a mailing list so we can let you know when we are accepting applications, please contact us.
As seasonal guides and educators in the United States, we have found an untapped resource in our fellow seasonal workers and others we have met along the way. The skills are varied and vast, and often unused in the off-season. Here may be a solution! We want to be a link for skilled ecotourism, education, and outdoor recreation pros to share their art. At the same time, they can build intercultural and language experience.
What volunteers could do:
As our organization grows, we’re looking into several possible projects.
– partnering one-on-one with local guides to do projects such as trail maintenance, use surveys, and outreach. This is a new and quickly developing idea using grant funds from New England Biolabs Foundation, so volunteers will have a lot of potential for meaningful input
– establishing a full certification course for ecotourism guides with requirements for continuing certification
– collaborating with a new English-language after-school program for children to introduce environmental education topics into the curriculum
– working with an established after-school program for children at risk to teach environmental education topics in Spanish
– staffing and improving the resource center in Altagracia, including being available for computer or English lessons, helping find information for locals in the library or on the internet, and helping give out tourist information.
Who we’re looking for:
– Self-starters who have a specialized skill or two.
– Spanish language skills are a must. If you don’t yet speak Spanish or need to improve, plan on coming for an extra few months to take intensive classes first.
– People with a respect for other cultures, and a desire to live and work with Nicaraguans.
– Previous travel experience is a plus.
We are especially interested in the following skills:
– Wilderness first aid/responder certifications; better yet, instructor certification
– Kayak safety trainers (in the future – kayaks are hard to come by here, but the guide organization is working on it)
– Trail crew leaders and trail designers
– Interpretation mentors and trainers
– Ecotourism professionals from private industry
Other skills we can use:
– Science interpreters with specialties in tropical botany, birds, geology, or archaeology
– English as a second language teachers
– Trail maintenance
– Minor building remodeling and landscaping
We are expecting volunteers to dedicate several months to our program. Six months would be a good amount of time to get to know the area and to be able to use your skills to the fullest. We are flexible, however – the more desirable your skill set, the more we’re willing to consider shorter stays. Those who come not fluent in Spanish and with basic interpretation skills would be expected to stay for many months so they can improve their language skills and still have time to share their skills with the guides.
Volunteering in countries like Nicaragua usually comes with paying your own way. Living here is relatively cheap compared to the US, but income is correspondingly low – paying your own way allows for our organization’s funds to be used directly for projects in the community.
We estimate a budget of $300-$500 per person per month, depending on your choice of food and living arrangements. That includes food, place to stay (on the farm where we have stayed, renting a house in town, or living with a host family), incidentals like in-country travel and medicine, travel insurance, an occasional meal in a restaurant, etc. Flight prices vary widely, but $500 from the US would be a solid estimate. If you want to take Spanish lessons, they are generally $10/hour, and for full effect, 4 hours a day/5 days a week is the usual amount. So, a three-month stay would cost approximately $1500-2000, and a six-month stay would be $2500-3500. Crowdfunding is an amazing resource. We recommend youcaring.com for volunteers looking to raise money.
We have projects that run all year long, but we will only be on site for up to half a year at a time. Jeff of Guías Unidos will be working on Ometepe for four to six months during the US winter each year, so approximately October or November until March or April. We can use your help any time. If you are interested in working with us now or sometime in the future, please email us at guiasunidosnicaragua at gmail dot com