Volunteering

The volunteer program was initiated to give any individual the unique opportunity to participate and learn from one of the most successful conservation projects in Nicaragua. Your private engagement and active volunteer service supports the local community while it also moves our social and environmental projects towards financial sustainability. Follow our slogan: Travel | Learn | Support Begin your responsible holiday here and have an amazing time whilst doing good. Volunteering is absolutely one of the best, most exciting holiday activities imaginable. Volunteers come from around the world and from all walks of life. Our volunteer program offers a once of a lifetime opportunity to work with a successful grassroots community-based project and to make some professional experience abroad.

Goals of our volunteering programs

One of our main interests is work actively in sea turtle conservation together with local efforts. Take part in a real community-based sea turtle conservation initiative and help to protect one of the most endangered sea turtle population around the world: Eastern Pacific sea turtle hawksbills. #wildlife #sea turtle conservation #rescuecenter
Working towards the protection of the ecosystems and the environment by participating in conducting research and collecting data, re-forestation efforts, educating communities about conservation, coastal protection, wastewater treatment etc. Join our Volunteer Programs and help restore threatened species habitats. The greatest opportunity we will ever have to save our planet’s ecosystems is right here, right now. #habitatrestauration #environmentalinterpretation #biodiversity
Sos Nicaragua provides a road map for volunteers who want to develop skills, gain experience or simply help out with eco-friendly projects. Recycling, organic agriculture, eco-construction or renewing energy are only a few aspects that you will experience in your day to day. #ecobuilding #organicagriculture #renewalenergy
Marine litter is one of the greatest threats our ocean and coastal communities face, but luckily it is an issue with which we can all play a part in the solution. Sos Nicaragua is at the forefront of the trash free coastal challenge in Nicaragua through the program “Costas Nicas Limpias”. Educating the next generation about ocean trash is one of our key goals. We believe that we can solve the ocean plastic crisis together. #cleanup #awareness #healthpromotion #plasticfree
Our main goal working in conservation is find the right way to make permanent changes and not just implement patches at the areas that we work. It is because we get involved with local communities, understanding their necessities and looking for their motivation to mitigate threats together. Communities are avid of knowledge and new ideas to generate incomes. What could be more rewarding than immersing oneself in a new culture and empowering communities by helping them achieve the awareness necessary to have greater control over their environment? #teaching #socialwork #community-based

We have the perfect volunteer project that matches all skills and interests. One of our goals is to make international volunteerism very affordable so more people with good intentions can travel to lend a hand.

Everything you need to know about our Volunteer Program

Take a time-out to team up with researchers & locals and get close to nature in a vibrant community on the Pacific coast of the Americas. You will join a project site and experience the local culture while you make a hands-on contribution to different topics. Volunteers say that the work makes a profound difference in their lives as they engage side-by-side with other volunteers and group members. The projects succeed because of people like you who discover the fulfillment of direct participation and the joy of vivid memories that last a lifetime.

As a volunteer you will stay in project station sharing a dorm with other participants, three traditional meals per day (vegetarian available). It is a wonderful opportunity to be immersed in a new culture and to develop Spanish language skills while becoming part of a community.

The project house has personal lockers on the rooms, electricity, fans and mosquito nets in the rooms. If you do not speak any Spanish, no worries, our staff is bilingual and will make you feel at home.

Safe drinking water, coffee and tea are always available at the station. Three full delicious local meals a day are provided daily by our local cooks. Typical dishes include rice, beans, plantains, fish, chicken and fresh fruit. Vegetarian & vegan diets can easily be accommodated.

Free from distractions and the constraints of daily schedules, meals here give us a chance to slow down and enjoy the fresh tastes and local flavours of Nicaragua.

Volunteer Requirements
Volunteers applying should enjoy manual work, handling wildlife, and working unusual hours as turtle nesting occurs during the night. No prior knowledge or experience is necessary.

  • Good physical condition and ability to walk several kilometers per night if required. See “Special Considerations“
  • Work in remote areas under very basic conditions.
    Keen sense of responsibility and desire to make a positive impact.
  • Minimum age of 18 years old.
  • Available for a minimum of one month.
  • Conversational Spanish (preferred) is advantageous but not a requirement.
  • Travel and medical insurance.
  •  You must be at least 18 years old at the start of your placement. Exceptions can be made for under 18’s accompanied by a guardian or with a parental consent.

 

Nicaragua is generally a safe country, but travel to and work in rural areas where medical facilities are limited carries certain inherent dangers. Volunteers are required to sign a waiver to release our organization from responsibility for any illness, accident, or injury incurred during their stay in Nicaragua. It is strongly recommended that volunteers carry valid insurance to cover medical emergencies during travel abroad. We also suggest you bring a personal first aid kit

The idea of working to help save endangered sea turtles can seem like a very romantic getaway. However, the reality can be a quite different experience. When deciding if you want to volunteer, please remember that:

  • Most of the work is done at night working between the hours of 7PM and 5AM. While on night patrol you may walk up to 10 km in the dark.
  • There may be times when volunteers will be asked to work both during the day and at night. Work could include both a night patrol and daytime hatchery monitoring.
  • Our projects sites are located in the tropics. This means it is hot, very humid and it rains frequently, sometimes heavily.
  • Night patrols will take place during the rain.
  • There will be some nights when there are no turtles nesting, but patrols will still take place. We cannot be sure when or if turtles will emerge to nest.
  • There are mosquitoes and sand flies in the area (but not Malaria), you will get bitten!
  • Local village should be considered an isolated location. Important: ability to tolerate basic living conditions and food.

 

Past comments from turtle volunteers include “The work was too hard”, “There was nothing to do during the day”, “Too many mosquitoes” and “Too hot, couldn’t sleep”.

Working with the turtles is an unforgettable and often a life-changing experience and we really need your help, however the experience is not for everyone.

Please think about these points before applying for your volunteering!

Still want to help us save endangered sea turtles? Download our Volunteer Form and sign up today!

  • Headlamp or flashlight. It is important that volunteers bring a headlamp with a red light (or red light filter) in case you apply for our sea turtle conservation volunteering program. All night patrols to encounter nesting turtles are done using red lights as this light spectrum ensures our team not scare turtles before they have a chance to nest.
  • A small backpack is very useful to have some tours and excursions.
  • Long pants and long-sleeved lightweight shirts (better cotton) for field work. If you are applying for our sea turtle conservation volunteering program, dark colours are preferred for sea turtle patrols. Thus, waterproof pants can also make patrolling in the rain more comfortable.
  • Poncho or other raingear (we extremely recommend a good quality one).
  • Hiking shoes or boots (be prepared for them to get completely wet through).
  • Swimsuit and quick dry towel.
  • Biodegradable soap.
  • Water bottle.
  • Pocket knife.
  • Insect repellant.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Watch (better with light and water resistant) with/and alarm clock.
  • Personal First Aid (if you are taking any specific medication please ensure that you bring enough for the duration of your stay at the project).
  • Photocopies of your passport and your travel insurance.
  • If you carry electronic items think about how to get them dry and away of the humidity (dry bags, silica gel…).

Volunteers are able to join any time all year round.

Generally speaking, you can start our projects on any day. When you apply, you will specify the start and end dates. We will just check availability and inform you as soon as possible.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, so there is no firm deadline for applications.

Check our prices & payments page to see discounts according the duration of your volunteering.

You can choose to volunteer from 1 to 24 weeks. Volunteers staying 8 weeks or more have a special condition to work as project interns obtained a special discount.

Plan your dates

  • Different activities are occurring during different times of the year.
  • In-water turtle monitoring, mangrove restoration, community based tourism and environmental education activities are available all year round.
  • The hawksbill nesting and hatchling emergence seasons are limited to a few months out of the year.
  • The olive ridley turtle nesting season follows the hawksbill season and we help local partners protect nests in their project hatcheries.

The experience of working in a foreign country, and making a meaningful contribution to issues important to you, can invigorate your confidence in your own abilities; likewise, participating in an ongoing conservation program can renew your faith in the capacity of people to work together to make a difference in their lives and their environment. Nevertheless you need to be careful and understand well local cultural codes.

Upon arrival to the project site volunteers will be provided with a brief project orientation and training, before being immediately involved in field activities.

We enjoy sharing our way of life with visitors and firmly believe that both volunteers and local people can benefit by meeting and learning about each others’ lives. You will receive a warm welcome at Casa Carey and in turn we ask that you are respectful of communities, its norms and culture, which may be different to your own. Volunteers are expected to act in a responsible manner, eg. no drugs, and no drunken or overtly sexual behaviour. Please remember that in many ways Nicaragua is still a conservative country and act accordingly.

Field training takes place on the next two days after your arrival.

Your volunteership ends automatically on the date specified on your application. If you’d like to stay longer, we are happy to extend your volunteership, but you will be asked to pay for additional days by the original ending date. Sos Nicaragua reserves the right to dismiss any volunteer from a project site for any reason deemed sufficient by Sos Nicaragua staff. Persons subject to dismissal will be notified in writing of the termination of their volunteership or the reasons for expulsion. Expulsion of participants may result from cases such as:
  1. abuse of position as a volunteer,
  2. misuse of facilities
  3. improper professional or personal conduct
  4. misrepresentation of project and its goals
  5. violation of project policies such as reserve management guidelines and
  6. unlawful conduct


During the time with the Hawksbill Program of Sos Nicaragua, Project Volunteers are expected to follow guidelines established to ensure the quality of project activities:

Up to date, we have never had cause to dismiss a volunteer. We are confident in the qualifications and professionalism of all our volunteers and provide these guidelines so that volunteers are aware of our policy.

Be Prepared for the Real Experience

As a future volunteer, your contributions assist in building a sense of local pride and increasing awareness, demonstrating the importance and benefits of protecting sea turtles and marine resources in general. Aside from working directly with the turtles, volunteers also have opportunities to get involved in other local ecological and social issues, providing unique cultural and educational experiences for both volunteers and locals alike.

Depending on the type of work that you are performing, your hours can vary between 4-8 hours in the morning, afternoon, or night, with a minimum of one day off per week. We are flexible with long term volunteers to put together days off and organize some multy-day trips out of the project.

Our program is developing a whole program of conservation that integrates environmental education, community development and investigation enforce the well being of the local people. Our volunteer program is designed to give our volunteers a hands-on experience in sea turtle conservation.

Volunteer activities include:

  • Beach patrols to encounter, measure and tag nesting hawksbill turtles.
  • Egg collection for relocation to project hatcheries.
  • Monitoring of project hatcheries: Nest relocation, hatchling release and post-hatching nest excavations
  • Maintain construction and infraestructure of site.
  • Early morning boat patrols of the estuary to document hawksbill nesting that might have been missed during the previous night’s patrol.
  • Community Interaction (optional): English lessons, environmental education, Art programs, local tours, etc.

 
Free Time:
The activities during your free time will be dependent on your preference. You may decide to take advantage of the local culture and spend time within the community in your days off or explore nearby beaches and towns. We have available a list of local tours (volcano hiking, horse back riding, kayaking ….) that you´d do whenever you want.

Price & Payments

Why pay?
We provide a unique and well organized opportunity for volunteers to experience a truly amazing community-based sea turtle conservation project for an affordable price. However, the reality is that while volunteers provide an important boost to conservation efforts, management of a volunteer program requires substantial investments of time and effort (coordination, training, program marketing, etc.). Furthermore, our conservation efforts require substantial amounts of funding and the volunteer program was specifically initiated as a sustainable source of income to support our activities. Volunteer fees help cover core program costs, including local program staff, our egg incentive program, field equipment, boat fuel/maintenance, among other things. That being said, if you calculate the difference between travelling in a country on your own and the costs of participating in our program, you might be surprised by how little the difference is. Generated funding is also used to support local families and to carryout activities in the surrounding communities (beach clean-ups, education classes, festivals, etc.). We strongly believe that community members are necessary to ensure successful long-term sea turtle conservation efforts. By working closely with locals, many of them depend on turtles for their livelihoods, we are able to harness their vast knowledge of hawksbills and thus maximize conservation efforts. Furthermore, by generating socio-economic alternatives for these stakeholders we convert many former turtle “poachers” into turtle heroes.
Costs of participation
  • 1 Week $280
  • 2 Weeks $525
  • 3 Weeks $750
  • 4 Weeks $950
  • Each additional week* $200

    * Does not apply if you stay less than 4 weeks

  • Travel assistance packages $100

    For a modest fee, we offer in-country travel packages that make your arrival and departure simple, safer and more enjoyable. For those with other travel plans or simply looking for a bit more adventure, contact us at info@sosnicaragua.org and we can provide you with directions on getting to the project sites on your own. If you do decide to travel on your own, please be sure to arrive at the project site on the day you are scheduled!

Your project fee are used to ensure you have a fantastic volunteer experience and cover:
  •  Pre-departure orientation.
  • Three full meals a day (local dishes prepared by community staff).
  • Accommodation (you´ll have a comfortable and safe place to stay).
  • Training sessions on sea turtle biology and conservation by experienced staff.
  • Support: In-country team & 24 hour emergency support

The experience of working in a foreign country and making a meaningful contribution to issues important to you, can invigorate your confidence in your own abilities. Likewise, participating in an ongoing conservation program can renew your faith in the capacity of people to work together to make a difference in their lives and their environment.
Program fees do not cover:
  • international travel or in-country transportation costs.
  • However, Sos Nicaragua has travel assistance packages if you would like us to arrange your in-country travel and accommodations.
  • Volunteers are expected to book their own international flights, but we urge you to contact us with any questions you may have.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

The activities during your free time will be dependent on your preference. You may decide to take advantage of the local culture and spend time within the community in your days off or explore nearby beaches and towns. We have available a list of local tours (trekking, volcanoes, horses, farming, surfing….) that you´d do whenever you want.

It is extremely important to take out travel insurance whenever you go on holiday. In case of going on a responsible holiday you need to realize that some projects we offer could be more dangerous than others. Although we never had any issues we must all agree that working with animals brings in an extra risk factor. Hence it is extremely important that if you book a wildlife conservation project you need to follow safety regulations very carefully. Nonetheless you won’t be looking at elephants from behind the bars, instead will be right next or even on top of them, actively wash and feed them. The same goes with the other animal conservation projects. Please ensure that your insurance provides the following, default, cover:
  • Cancelled flights
  • Missed flights
  • The cost of cancellation of your responsible holiday by you
  • Lost / damaged / delayed baggage and personal possessions.
  • Medical expenses and the cost of repatriation in the event of serious illness or injury
  • Legal expenses and liabilities
  • Liability arising due to personal injury to you or a third party
  • Kidnapping
  • Cancellation of your responsible holiday for any other reason including our liquidation or any other reason beyond our control
It is always a good idea to have a local pre-paid SIM Card to cut down on data and roaming charges. There are three competitive network operators in Nicaragua. They are:
  • Claro
  • Movistar (soon Tigo)
  • CooTel

The coverage is different as you change regions, although Claro and Movistar both have 4G/LTE networks in It’s pretty easy to get a SIM card in Nicaragua. There are tons of places offering Movistar and Claro SIMs in all major cities (Managua, Granada, Leon, etc). The SIM cost around $6 and came with 10 free minutes to call internationally. Make sure your phone is unlocked…meaning it will accept a SIM card from a mobile company other than the one you bought the phone from. You can call your mobile provider and they will provide you with the unlock code and instructions for the process
No immunizations are currently required for visiting Nicaragua, except a yellow fever vaccination if you are entering Nicaragua from an area which the World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that there is a risk of active transmission.
If you are volunteering at Los Brasiles Conservation Project (Nicaragua), you should book your flight with arrival and departure from Managua Augusto C. Sandino International Airport (MGA) in Managua, Nicaragua. The airport is 12km (7 miles) north of the city (journey time – 15 minutes). Bus and taxi services run to the city but depend on your arrival time, it would be not the best idea. The airport in Managua is small and straightforward. After deplaning, you will go through the passport control and then get your baggage from the baggage claim. You will then go through the customs, where your baggage may be scanned or searched again. Once you are at the exit of the terminal you may catch a taxi that brings you to your hotel. You should not be charged more than five to eight dollars (check “safety” below). Another option is to book our TRAVEL PACKAGE. If you book this package, we arrange personal transportation from the airport to your hotel. More information on this package can be found at the following link: (Payment&Costs)
You must have a valid passport to enter Nicaragua. Foreign citizens should ensure that their passports are valid for at least 6 months after the arrival date. Please note: due to international flight rules, you are required to have a return ticket that proves that you leave Nicaragua within your first visa (30 or 90 days). Otherwise, you may be refused on your flight. If you are travelling via the United States, you need permission to travel through the US. So if you are travelling via the US, travelers have to register themselves (at least 72 hours in advance) if they want to go to the US for less than 90 days. Register yourself via this link: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/ Visa is required only by nationals of the following countries: Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Armenia, Asmara Eritrea, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Congo, Congo (Democratic Republic), Cuba, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Korea (Rep), Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Jamahiriya, Mali, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Timor (East), Vietnam and Yemen, Palestine. For the remaining countries a visa is NOT required. You will not earn any money, so it is not necessary to ask for work permission. You are entering the country on the tourist visa which is valid for 30 to 90 days. By entering the country, you have to fill in a form that asks who you are and what your travel purpose is, you fill in that you are a tourist. A Tourist Card costs US$10 and must be paid in cash. Visitors remaining more than the authorized period must obtain an extension from Nicaraguan Immigration. Failure to do so may delay your departure until a fine of approximately US$2 per day is paid. Please note: if you have a return ticket booked within 90 days, you should receive a visa stamp for 90 days. Sometimes they accidentally give you a visa valid for only 30 days. Check this directly after receiving your stamp and talk to the customs officer if necessary. You must have a valid entry stamp in your passport in order to exit Nicaragua. There is also a $32 departure tax. Many airlines include this tax in the price of the ticket. If the tax is not included in the ticket, payment can be made at the airline counter upon departure. Nicaraguan law requires visitors to exit Nicaragua using the same passport with which they entered the country. According to Nicaragua’s Law for Foreigners, you must be in possession of a valid identity document at all times while in Nicaragua and you may be required to show it to Nicaraguan authorities upon request. Police may detain travelers not in possession of an identity document. Nicaragua is a member of the “Central America-4 (CA-4) Border Control Agreement” with Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Under the terms of this agreement, citizens of the four countries may travel freely across land borders between these countries without completing entry and exit formalities at Immigration checkpoints. U.S. citizens and other eligible foreign nationals, who legally enter any of the four countries, may similarly travel among the four without obtaining additional visas or tourist entry permits for the other three CA-4 countries. Immigration officials at the first port of entry determine the length of stay, up to a maximum period of 90 days. Foreign tourists who wish to remain in the four-country region beyond the period initially granted for their visit are required to request a one-time extension of stay from local Immigration authorities in the country where the traveler is physically present, or travel outside the CA-4 countries and reapply for admission to the region.